AMA about our sailing fishing boats that don’t pollute or contribute to global warming, and eliminate the cost of fuel for the fisherman.

Tim Mann
Oct 26, 2017

We’re building sailing fishing boats that eliminate the cost of fuel for the fisherman. They don’t pollute or contribute to global warming.

They’re sustainable because they’re built out of local waste wood that would otherwise end up in the green waste dump.

"The Splash Project" is named after the first of our boats under construction now: “Splash”, a 37-foot sailing fishing multihull. You can read more by going to our website: .


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Tim, it was good to read about your ideology of a clean environment. I gave up eating meat and seafood because I believe overfishing and overbreeding will lead to ecological imbalance. So while in the existing scenario your eco-boats are definitely a savior (and kudos to you for that) don't you think they still contribute to eco-imbalance? 

Oct 27, 2:02AM EDT0

Great question! The basic answer is NO, our sailing fishing boats won't still contribute to eco-imbalance, if they are fished within a paradigm of intelligent fisheries management combined with adequate scientific research to ensure we are fishing well within sustainable catch limits.

I'm in a unique position to have an accurate opinion about this, because I've been part of the local fishing community for the last 40 years. Also, I read fisheries journals and oceanographic research papers, something that few of the local fishermen do. I have seen the local yellowin fishery deteriorate from about 1984 until around 2015.

There's a lot of concern about overfishing, and decimation of species, etc. However, in the Eastern Pacific, for a radius of about 1,800 miles around Hawaii, overall fishing activity has actually been decreasing for the last 8 to 10 years.

Here's why: the bulk of the fishing vessels in this area have historically been Asian longliners from Taiwan, China, Vietnam, Japan; and purse seiners from all over the world. They have been coming for years, even though it’s 5-6,000 miles, because fuel has historically been CHEAP. Because fuel has been cheap, there’s been absolutely no reason for them not to travel this absurd distance to their fishing grounds, and then all the way back home. These are BIG boats: 120 to 180 feet long, and they use a LOT of fuel to come all the way from Asia to the Eastern Pacific.

And guess what? In spite of our US gas and diesel prices being low (they do that every election year, have you noticed?), they're NOT LOW in Asia any more. And I think the longliners are fishing closer to home because of the economic pressure from the cost of fuel, because they're not doing it around Hawaii the way they used to.

The seiners HAVE to fish within a certain distance of a cannery; because the quality of their catch is only suitable for canning. So that means they're usually within 1,500 miles of American Samoa (we're 2,600 miles from there), or South Africa, or several ports in South America. Hawaii hasn't had a functional cannery since 1980 sometime, so they stopped fishing the waters around Hawaii in the mid-80's.

Now, we think this development is a GOOD thing for Hawaiian fishermen. Just two years ago (summer of 2015), we had the first "good" summer for yellowfin tuna in years. And it's been good since then. So I think, with less pressure on the fishery because these boats are all fishing further away from Hawaii, the fishery is responding and rebounding.

We believe this trend is going to continue: fuel will cost more and more. We will have "plateaus", where prices are relatively low for a time (during presidential election years, for instance), but the general trend will be upwards. The net result at some point is that NO ONE from outside will be fishing around Hawaii, and unless Hawaiian fishermen have sailing fishing boats to counteract the rising cost of fuel, they won’t be fishing around Hawaii either!

But with good sailing fishing boats that can economically access the waters within 1,500 miles of Hawaii, we are uniquely positioned to benefit from this situation (this is the 75-foot Tropic Bird, which is the next boat we build after Splash). If we combine the abilities of our sailing fishing boats with intelligent fisheries management that is designed to help all our local fish stocks recover to maximum health and productivity, we could end up with a large and sustainable fishery based in Hawaii that no one from Asia or the mainland could economically compete with.


Last edited @ Oct 28, 1:15AM EDT.
Oct 28, 1:14AM EDT0

I am from India, Asia! So I am looking at this as a Global Issue and not localized.

Any which ways, having read your answer, I am happy at least the thought process is there to limit it to sustainability. All the best :) 

Oct 28, 2:34AM EDT0

What species of wood will you be using? What mechanical propulsion will be used other than sail?

Oct 26, 1:23PM EDT0

We are lucky on the Big Island to have numerous species of Eucalyptus, that were planted up to 120 years ago. We have an arrangement with the local arborists (tree services), and when they cut a tree down for the land owner, we show up to haul away the logs, and don't charge the arborist anything for this.

The arborist charges the land owner $500-1,000 for getting rid of the logs, and because they didn't have to cut that 3-foot log into 2-foot long pieces and haul it to the local County Green Waste facility, they're happy.

We get to haul away $3-4,000 worth of boatbuilding lumber in log form, and we saved a valuable tree from going to the Green Waste, and we're happy.

The types of eucalyptus range all the way from E. Saligna, which is like a very dense Honduras mahogany, (only it never rots, even in the soil), to a light-colored, lightweight E. deglupta, which looks like Phillipine mahogany. All in all, a perfect range of woods from which to build boats, and they're free!

About your question about mechanical propulsion, I answered that in a couple of other places in this AMA. I'd be happy to paste those answers into this one, too, if you'd like.

Last edited @ Oct 26, 3:07PM EDT.
Oct 26, 3:05PM EDT1

What kind of fuel do you use in this boat that you can say it will not contribute to global warming?

Oct 26, 10:51AM EDT0

We use wind.

The last time I checked, that was made by the interaction of the warmth of the sun on the planet's surface, was completely renewable and sustainable, and did not contribute to global warming or pollution.

We will use a small amount of regular gasoline. We can substitute ecofuels such as propane or alcohol for this, but our ultimate goal is to put an electric motor on the boat for an "auxiliary engine", which will be run from batteries which are charged by solar panels and by the wind. This is a whole 'nother development cycle, because just as the boat, this type of propulsion system doesn't exist yet.

We say "she doesn't pollute", because where an equivalent motorized fishing boat would use thousands of gallons of fuel over its lifetime, this boat will use almost nothing in comparison.

That's because she's a sailboat, and will do around 98% of her moving about under sail. This type of boat will sail well on very little wind, so there's seldom a need to turn the outboard motor on to get back to the harbor. And sails don't pollute!

As a result of using a boat that doesn't use a motor to fish, as compared to an equivalent motorized fishing boat, will be an approximately 97% reduction in fuel use, pollution, and contribution to global warming. No diesel exhaust, no bilgewater with oil in it getting pumped out onto the ocean, It's not NONE, but it's a HUGE improvement over the way they're doing it now.

We will have a small outboard motor, because maneuvering under sails alone in crowded harbors endangers not only our boat, but other people's boats as well. But when it and the boat are both 20 years old, this motor will probably have a couple of hundred hours on it. And as I mentioned, we are also going to do an electric propulsion development project once we've got the first boat in the water.

During that same time, the motor on a motorized fishing boat would have been replaced two or three times, and would have gone through tens of thousands of gallons of fuel.

Last edited @ Oct 26, 3:57PM EDT.
Oct 26, 2:57PM EDT1

Why is it good to buy Ecolabelled products?

Oct 25, 9:00PM EDT0

What do the locals think about your project? Will you be working with native Hawaiins who want to fish but might not have the financial means to get started?

Oct 25, 8:16PM EDT1

Aloha DougD

One of the "locals", a guy who has been building and sailing traditional Hawaiian canoes for the last 40 years, dropped by the other day and contributed $200 to the project. For him, that's like $2,000 might be for you or me. Or $20,000. He really wants to see this happen.

We've gotten similar reactions from other locals. But, until the boat hits the water and we can take people out and show them, it's really all talk. We know what this boat will be, and do, because I've built and operated sailing fishing boats before (see our website at for details). So we expect to get a lot of attention, and a lot of traction for this project, once the boat hits the water and it becomes "real" to everyone else on the island.

Please also see my answer to "Will fishermen be able to afford this boat?" later in this AMA. In brief,

The average Hawaiian fisherman already cannot afford the conventional motorboats that are on the market.

We're in "prototyping" now, and the "first model" of anything costs a LOT more than the ultimate production version. However, we have a long-term goal of making the boat as affordable as possible to as wide a range of local fishermen as possible.

To facilitate that, we're shooting for a market price of $72,000, fully equipped, out of our shop, for our 37-footer that has an equivalent carrying capacity to an equivalent motor boat. Not a promise, but that's our current goal: to be able to sell them for that relatively affordable price.

In addition to doing our best to make the 37-footer affordable for local fishermen, we're going to build a 24-foot "simple, simple, simple" version of the same thing that should sell for around $27,000, which makes it much more affordable for the beginning fisherman.

Last edited @ Oct 26, 4:13PM EDT.
Oct 26, 3:15PM EDT1

What is an eco label?

Oct 25, 3:38PM EDT0

What does being Green mean?

Oct 25, 12:49PM EDT0

Who manages the project at national level?

Oct 25, 12:12PM EDT1

This is a fun question! I wish there WAS a "National Level". But,

We're just a small Mom-and-Pop boatbuilding shop, we're not a big corporation.

But we have a BIG mission: We're building sailing fishing boats to change the world, under The Splash Project.

The Splash Project is me, my wife Susanne, my sons Victor (22), Jack (16-1/2), Lucky (15), and my daughter Rose (12). We all work in the boatshop, and we're all planning to fish these boats together.

Yes, "boats" plural: as soon as we finish the first one, we'll start the second one.

Oct 25, 3:28PM EDT1

How did you come up with the name "The Splash Project"?

Oct 25, 6:46AM EDT1

We read Steve Job's quote years ago: "We're here to put a dent in the Universe", and were inspired.

We're planning to make a dent in the Universe with our sailing fishing boats, but when you try to dent the "universe" that boats operate in (the ocean), you get a Splash!

"Splash" is what happens when kids go running into the waves at the beach; this symbolizes Fun for us. Because if it's not fun, why are you doing it?

Alternately, if you have to do it, why not figure out how to have Fun doing it?

Oct 26, 1:57PM EDT1

Why are eco products better than conventional ones?

Oct 25, 6:22AM EDT0

Where is you boat available?

Oct 24, 5:28PM EDT0

We're building her on the Big Island of Hawaii. With any luck, she should launch in the summer of 2018, and be fishing within the first month.

Last edited @ Oct 25, 1:12AM EDT.
Oct 25, 12:05AM EDT1

Aloha to all Friends who asked about "ecolabels", "ecoproducts", and the like:

First, you need to make a distinction between "ecolabels", and "green stickers": an ecolabel is a voluntary label that anyone can create, with little or no verification of its standards.

As a result, an ecolabel may mean almost nothing, such as the ecolabel "Certified Naturally Grown". This is a label whose holders certify themselves, then sign their names and can say "I'm certified". There is no certifying body involved to check whether or not they're telling the truth, and no penalties or consequences for gaming the system and using this "certification".

A good example of a "green sticker" is USDA Organic Certification. We know about that, because our aquaponics farm was the first in the world to get USDA Organically Certified in 2008.

This kind of certication or label is issued by a professional certification agency or a government body, and has definitions, laws governing their use, and penalties if you use them to abuse the trust of the public and consumers.

Another good example of this type of label is the "Energy Star" rating labels that are on American-produced electrical appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines; they indicate that the appliance is energy-efficient.

There are a couple of fledgling ecolabels for seafood now, and we are considering getting our fish catch certified that way. We're concerned about the expense, and whether or not they will mean anything to our target market; they are rather obscure and not mainstream yet.

We are also looking into getting the boats themselves LEEDS and ISO 4000 certified, because a sailing fish boat that doesn't use its engine much, or at all, is a potentially carbon-negative piece of equipment.

And we need lots more of those!

Last edited @ Oct 25, 1:28AM EDT.
Oct 24, 5:23PM EDT1

What is your pricing strategy? 

Oct 24, 12:09PM EDT0

Do you mean our pricing strategy for selling these boats? (because we are also a professional boat building operation), or our pricing strategy for selling the fish we catch with these boats?

Oct 25, 1:14AM EDT0

Will the average fisherman be able to afford this boat?

Oct 24, 11:13AM EDT1

The average fisherman here on my island uses a 25-foot to 30-foot Radon or Force Marine (brands) of commercial fishing boat.

These boats range from $50,000 to $75,000 new, AND these prices do not include motors, steering gear for the motors, engine throttle and shift controls, or trailer.

Add a minimum of $40,000 for twin outboards plus this additional hardware for the smallest boat, and up to another $100,000 if you're putting twin diesel inboards in a 30-footer, and the "real" boat prices are from $90,000 for a 25-footer, up to $170,000 for a 30-footer with twin diesels.

The average fisherman already cannot afford this conventional motor boat.

Although we're in "prototyping" now, and the "first model" of anything costs a LOT more than the ultimate production version, we're shooting for a market price of $72,000, fully equipped, out of our shop, for our 37-footer that has an equivalent carrying capacity to these boats. Not a promise, but that's our current goal: to be able to sell them for that relatively affordable price.

Last edited @ Oct 26, 3:30PM EDT.
Oct 25, 12:23AM EDT1

How important are environmental factors in production?

Oct 24, 10:32AM EDT0

I'm not sure how this question applies to building and operating a sailing fishing boat, but we're all about keeping the world we live in clean.

We're the ones who will end up breathing it or eating it if we manufacture and put toxic substances into the world. No way!


1. The boats we're building are made out of wood; which grows on trees, and is thus a completely renewable and sustainable resource. Trees are not only attractive, but also put oxygen into the atmosphere, so they have other benefits, too.

We use an absolute minimum of non-renewable epoxy resin to make these boats waterproof; this is in contrast to conventional boats which are made ENTIRELY out of these resins and fiberglass cloth.

Although epoxy resin is currently made from oil and/or coal, there are research projects underway right now that make epoxy resin out of sugarcane and pine tree sap; both of these have huge potential because those are both renewable, sustainable resources (that ALSO put oxygen into the atmosphere!).

2. When these sail boats fish, they use hardly any fuel, compared to the huge amount of fuel a motorized fishing boat uses. Besides the fact that you can make more money with a sailing fishing boat (because you don't have to pay for all that fuel), this huge reduction in oil use and pollution is the real reason we're building these boats.

Also, the fishermen who fish them can make a decent living for a change.

Oct 26, 3:44PM EDT1

What is “Greenwashing?”

Oct 24, 7:00AM EDT0

Greenwashing refers to the practice of making goods or services look more sustainable than they really are. A good example of this is our local dairy, which has put in t massive biodigestor to make electricity out of the cow poop. Everyone touts this as sustainable, but as long as six or seven 18-wheelers drive in every day bringing corn that has been shipped 5000 miles to get here, it's not! It's better than nothing,  but let's not kid ourselves - if those trucks stop bringing in food, the whole thing falls apart, but the greenwashing has everyone thinking it's sustainable.

Oct 26, 3:39PM EDT1

Are consumers interested in ecolabelled products?

Oct 24, 6:41AM EDT0

How do consumers recognise products and services awarded the Ecolabel?

Oct 24, 2:50AM EDT0

What are the general principles that Eco product uses to determine whether a product is eco friendly?

Oct 24, 1:42AM EDT0

What is green marketing?

Oct 23, 11:43PM EDT0
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