Revolutionary electric powered small ships

Revolutionary electric powered small ships

Three new, evolutionary small ships, the brainchild of Derek Ellard and Annette Hollis from Go Sail Cargo, have been announced. Designed and destined to be built in Australia, these relatively small (48′ – 160′) sailing boats/ships can carry cargo, tourists, or both and are powered by wind and solar.

The three new super-efficient, solar-sailing vessels are designed for mass production and for use as sensible, achievable zero emission transport and tourism. All the design and prep work for the vessels has been completed and Go Sail Cargo are now seeking equity partners to join them in the venture.

The first of the three vessels is a reworked version of Go Sail Cargo’s, existing Clipper 100, essentially an early 20th century steel ketch with a finely tuned hull, electric auxiliaries and utilising solar panels. Lithium batteries will power the engines. Over three years work has gone into every aspect of these ship designs from efficient cargo handling to the ship’s boat (sail-electric of course) to washing machine placement.

The same common-sense parameters are applied to the second ship in the range, an all new three-masted schooner. This will take 6 x 20′ Containers, a couple of 40-footers and assorted pallets. This new Clipper 160 can also accommodate twelve passengers and it’s envisioned that, as part of the charm, passengers would be encouraged to assist the crew with the sailing aspect.

Like the Clipper 100, it too can be mass produced. The business case is simple and involves standardised key components, built to last and lots of them. Economies of scale lower the building costs dramatically and the vessels can be exported as kits and smaller yards worldwide will be able to complete the assembly.

Utilising the very best of modern manufacturing technology these smaller ships don’t push the boundaries too far, think WWII Liberty Ships with fine ends, efficient rigs and dagger boards. The result is zero emissions, zero fuel costs and economically viable manufacturing.

The third new ship in the range could not be more different. A 14.5 metre fibreglass-hulled catamaran with a lugsail rig. Echoes of the 15th century seagoing Junk rig and the Pacific Crabclaw sails, but with alloy masts and carbon-fibre yards. The fibreglass hulls are, in effect, stretched micro cargo ship hulls with nice easy entry and exit lines and sensible square sections in between.

The superstructure is all aluminium. On test the prototype 14.5 metre cat did 6 knots with 2 small diesels merely ticking over. That’s one easily driven hull, perfect for sail or electric propulsion and available off the shelf, for mass production. The lug rig is perfectly suited to cats whose wide beam allows for multiple sheeting points and downwind the lugger’s inherent “lift” is exploited for those balmy trade wind voyages.

The concept was borne out of an invitation from the Cerulean Project, a South Pacific decarbonising initiative on behalf of eight Pacific Island communities that aims to provide viable sea transport options to deliver more equitable, efficient, and comprehensive transport services to connect the remote populations widely distributed across the Oceania.

The ships’ designer, Derek Ellard, has spent most of his working life around boats and the sea. In 1991 he started Scruffie Marine with a simple theme – take the best of traditional rigs and efficient hullforms and combine them with modern technology. The same principles apply to his current Clipper series.

Scruffie Marine has sold 340 boat kits and boats worldwide and earned many accolades, providing valuable and well-designed boats or projects for schools, outdoor education and private use. Derek’s ‘Secret 33’ ferries look like boats from the 1920s yet incorporate a wealth of 21st century features and remain a perfect example of his vision. He is one of the few people in the marine industry who actually builds the boats he designs.

Derek has always tried hard to produce boats that look like boats, not boxes. So the new clippers don’t have flat sheers, sawn-off sterns and “brutalist” superstructures. “I’d like to think our customers would be proud of the ships as they see them sailing in. A good example is the humble Thames Barge, a superbly efficient sailing ship and a joy to behold. We too aim to bring a little joy to the seascape”, said Derek.

Revolutionary new technology is reinventing the wind-powered ship and making use of wind and solar power with less reliance on fossil fuels is vital if we are to flourish as a race. There remains, however, a valid argument for building on tried and tested solutions, particularly on smaller ships.

Go Sail Cargo are now offering a range of boats from a 3-pallet, 12-passenger lugger to the schooner, all of which can be assembled on the islands. Further, all of them can be serviced or repaired with basic equipment and minimal fuss.

“All the hard work has been done, we’ve even got a shipyard (in NSW) organised and ready to go, we’re just looking for a suitable equity partner to join us in this exciting new venture, that we feel has such enormous potential,” said Derek.

For more details visit:

Pictured below: Harwood Marine’ Shipyard on the Clarence River in NSW where it’s envisioned the new ships will be built.