Sailing with a Greater Purpose
Dykstra Naval Architects and Vitters Shipyard donate their time and talents to design a unique Expedition Schooner for Sea Mercy, a non-profit charity that is quietly becoming the benevolent arm of the international yachting community. When a non-profit charity asks you to design a low cost, versatile and sustainable service delivery vessel to serve thousands of forgotten remote island communities spread across the South Pacific, you realize the design needs are far different. Such a request would not be an easy assignment for any naval architect or builder; however award-winning sailing yacht architect Gerard Dykstra of Dykstra Naval Architects and shipbuilder Louis Hamming of Vitters Shipyard came together to donate their time and expertise to design the multipurpose Sea Bridge One vessel for Sea Mercy. Separated by hundreds of miles, one of the greatest challenges the remote island communities in the South Pacific have is staying connected to the health care, disaster response, education & research and economic development services that are only available on the few primary islands. Their shallow lagoons, narrow entrances and the cost of fuel to reach them has prohibited merchant vessels, barges, aid organizations, and even government officials from serving them.
"Sea Mercy asked us to design a vessel that would meet their various remote island program needs; becoming a transport support barge, a floating hospital, an educational research & training vessel, a disaster response & recovery vessel, an economic development delivery platform, or a combination of some or all the above."
Gerard Dykstra, Dykstra Naval Architects
Fortunately, Dykstra had extensive 'sailing ship' concept experience and with the wisdom and support of Louis Hamming, they began working on the perfect design for their client.
"Because Sea Bridge One is more of a workhorse than a stallion, our focus was more on a strong and functional vessel than on luxury accommodations. Tried and tested technologies with simple installations was the key to keeping the maintenance and operational costs to a minimum, yet ensuring the vessel was fast and capable."
Louis Hamming, Vitters Shipyard
During the past five years Sea Mercy has been building a 'sea bridge' of volunteer yachts, captains and experts that have gradually and purposefully connected the remote island communities to these basic services. Once believed to be an unsolvable problem, Sea Mercy has demonstrated that an effective solution was available by partnering with the international yachting community. However, there was one thing missing. They needed an affordable, heavy lift transport vessel that could sail long distances into harm's way if needed and operate for long periods at a time. Without this vessel, the most important and needed programs on these islands could not be provided. The Sea Bridge One design was the solution. Gerard Dykstra, Louis Hamming & Richard Hackett finalizing the Sea Bridge One drawings Sea Bridge One provides Sea Mercy with the ability to comfortably board, support and deliver medical and emergency response teams, along with their equipment and medical aid supplies to devastated areas. It also allows them to affordably transport the massive amounts of lumber, metal roofing, concrete and water storage tanks needed to help rebuild devastated villages following natural disasters. Sea Bridge One can carry the needed farming and well drilling equipment, portable saw mills, and production resources to implement major agricultural, economic development and educational research projects anywhere they are needed.
"Although our volunteer yacht owners have incredible hearts, there is only so much you can ask of them and their vessels. They are and always will be the heart and soul of Sea Mercy. Our goal with Sea Bridge One is not to replace them, but to further empower and encourage their participation within all our programs."
Richard Hackett, President of Sea Mercy
Acting as the 'mother ship' of the fleet, Sea Bridge One will handle the heavy lifting needs of Sea Mercy's benevolent programs and utilize its carrying capacity advantage (70+ tons) to travel to and from the primary islands with emergency aid (food, water, shelter and medical) and operational supplies (fuel, food, parts). Sea Bridge One also becomes the resupply station for the smaller volunteer fleet, allowing them to operate for longer periods within a devastated area for maximum impact. With the plans drawn and possible shipyards shortlisted, Sea Mercy is now seeking the final funding needed to begin the building phase of the Sea Bridge One. If you would like more information on the Sea Bridge One program or would like to support their efforts, please visit their website at www.seamercy.org/sbglobal or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sea Mercy is a US and Fiji based, 501(c)3 non-profit charity.