Ships that Scour the Seas





There are 254 ships in the fleet, pretty evenly scattered in the five ocean gyres of plastic waste.  They fuel themselves using the recovered material and will work until the seas are clean.

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1977 DREAMING....


In 1977, while living in the little yellow house by the River Vaipoiri, a different boat came to paper and then lived on as a dream.  Patrick Humbert was my friend though all of the adventure beyond the end of the road. We lived the barefoot vagabond life and dreamed of new boats. 

 We would spend lazy hours in deep discussion about making boats with the fewest moving parts, the simplest of everything, and even limited use of metal.  So we drew dreams of cargo space, deck living, shallow draft, up-the-river kind of craft. The junk rig was logical and would be cheap and could be repaired anywhere with just about anything you can find. There were asymmetrical lee-boards externally like Dutch canal boats. We even fantasized electric power or none at all. All a little crazy for 1977.

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Barry Spanier

Barry Spanier became involved with sailing in 1956 and windsurfing in 1979. His designs have been used to set world speed records, and powered one sailor to a dozen consecutive PWA World Championships.  Now the full circle, the love of voyaging, a sail loft, 

and a needy but solid vessel 

keep the days full. 


Jim and Randy Coon of Trilogy Excursions, knew who to ask when they wanted to open up Maui’s only full service, ground floor sail loft. West Maui Sail & Canvas was born. Check it out!



I’ve been thinking about how to get the oceans clean of plastic for a long time. However, on December 9th, 2018, I found myself on Cornelia in the harbor. It was a nice afternoon with a good breeze through the cabin, and I felt directed to gather some drawing tools, a scale ruler, a blank sheet and an eraser. Previously I had sent a sketch to a friend and he immediately wanted a real drawing. 

It just went down, like a fluid thought. Not just the drawing but a flood of ideas about where this can go. All the research into gasification, the possibility of the idea being self-sustaining until the sea is clean, filled the moment. At one point it was so emotional I was sobbing and asking, ‘Why me?”

I made a long career out of ideas, but only because they were actually realized. Ideas are free. It takes calories to make them reality. I now more than ever believe there are so many calories waiting for us in the ocean, we will be stunned. All that remains is to find the skills in the community (ship design, gasification engineering, plastic-to-oil technology, raw guts) and STSTS will abound. 

It’s now just a matter of time.




SV Cornelia is a 1974 Westsail 42.  Bought in 2009 and named after Barry's 102 year old mother, Cornelia Spanier,  Barry has completed 4 haulouts, rig replacement, installed a  new bowsprit and  stern pulpit, engine overhaul, complete interior renovations and  electrical rewiring, deck resurfacing, rail replacement, new dodger and awning; new mainsail tracks and mainsail cover....and more.

 Commercial Sail Associates (CSA) was formed to encourage shipment of product by sailing vessels, saving on fossil fuels. 

"Sailing  ships are powered by an energy source free of direct cost,  political control, and pollution, and available in unlimited supply.  Escalating oil prices will continue, and costly “efficiency” improvements on existing cargo delivery systems will never result in stabilized costs for us, the users of the service, as long as ships burn oil."
Barry Spanier 



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