"Seventy five percent of the planet is wet...."

"Sail across an ocean in a small boat and the vastness of it will stun you into the realization of our insignificance.   All life on Earth is completely dependent on this watery covering.  Yet most of humanity lives outside this recognition never considering its importance to our survival or seeking much knowledge beyond superficial awareness."  Barry Spanier

"Sailing ships are powered by an energy source that is free..."

"Sailing  ships are powered by an energy source that is free of direct cost,  political control, and pollution, and is available in effectively unlimited supply."  Barry Spanier

"Escalating oil prices will continue..."

"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


There is a valuable opportunity in recreating a sailing merchant fleet. The technology is not far-fetched or imaginary.  Based on a very successful sailing system now in existence and well proven to work on vessels the size required to service small markets.  In a short time it could be scaled up to do the same on major trade routes.  Job creation and capital investment in a functional infrastructure will go hand in hand with achieving the other goals of improved sustainability.

•    Within 10 years save more oil than we currently import from the Middle East and Venezuela combined.
•    Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.
•    Increase Fuel Economy Standards.
•    Deploy the Cheapest, Cleanest, Fastest Energy Source – Energy Efficiency.
•    Make the U.S. a leader on Climate Change.


In 1980, when Spanier & Bourne Sailmakers was just formed, the focus of the company was heavy duty charter boat and yacht sails, rugged and tough enough to handle serious daily use in the harsh conditions of the Hawaiian trade winds. All this work on these big boats and the history of working with large vessels of all kinds drove my interest in promoting the idea of manifesting the return of sail power to our merchant fleet. I registered a company called Commercial Sail Associates with the idea of working as a consultant for the sails and rigs of craft such as imagined.

This effort began with some well considered hand written letters to the senior Senator from Hawaii, ‘Sparky’ Matsunaga. He was very responsible and quickly returned the correspondence, beginning a long relationship by mail. His prompting motivated me to join up with the librarian from Kahului, Jill Leveroni, who was also a personal friend. She was really into helping and added her expertise to the research, and together we created testimony and evidence to support our ideas.

Senator Matsunaga followed through admirably by supporting a Bill in the Senate (SB 2992) that was delivered using our evidence as the basis for consideration. As is usual with most bills, it went nowhere, regardless of its quality or potential effect. But just getting the idea in front of Congress was a good beginning.

Thirty years later, I found these documents, and re-read them, finding them to be just as relevant as they were back then. To demonstrate the concept was valid then as now, the whole communication, proposal, and bill was resubmitted to President Obama, Senators Akaka, Inouye, Kerry, and Representative Pelosi for consideration.

What follows is the original 2008 and 2009 submissions, and even now in 2020, I think you will also find there is every reason to consider this as a meaningful way we could demonstrate to the world our total commitment to reducing carbon output, restoring American shipbuilding, utilizing our superior sailing technology, and putting a large number of souls back to work again.


Barry Spanier
Maui, Hawaii


A vision for the future

Photo credit to Onne van der Wal Photography