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Changing position #2

Fair-travelling research ship

To convert the Atlas into a sailing ship is an essential part of our project but at the same time the most challenging one. Sails make it possible to cross oceans as a research vessel, because fuel is very expensive and pollute the earth. Our engine consumes 30 liters per hour! We want to become self-sustainable by using all kinds of sustainable installations such as a heat pump, solar panels, water maker and sails to keep the costs low and to be autonomous. People how want to travel with us need to keep in mind that we are dependent of the elements. We can’t afford a tight schedule, for instance, which I think is a wonderful fact.

A bit similar to the Atlas as a fair-travelling vessel, are the vessels of Fairtransport. Their best known vessel is the Tres Hombres. They are shipping cargo across the Atlantic by using sails only, so without emitting CO2.


Photo above: Tres Hombres – Fairtransport. Photo below: Fishing vessel – Before it became Tres Hombres. (source:

We don’t transport cargo, but we make the ship available for artists and scientists. They can make a voyage in an environmentally friendly way. A requirement to sail along is that the voyage makes a contribution to their project or research.

Is this ship suitable for sailing? I often get this question when I tell someone about the rebuilding of the former fishing vessel into a sailing ship. The ship is heavy and weights nearly 90 tons but actually the shape of the hull is more determining the sailing qualities than its weight. Even though, it’s important that sufficient weight ‘ballast’ is present at the bottom of the vessel in order to eliminate the tractive force of the sails. Converting fishing vessels into sailing ships is more common, a lot of charter vessels are former fishing vessels. Also, the Rainbow Warrior of Greenpeace and the Tres Hombres were fishing vessels before they become sailing ships.

Photo: Rainbow Warrior – Greenpeace. (

Previously, we estimate the cubic meters of sail we need for our ship. We came at 300m2 of sail, to reach this amount we need to make two masts about 24 meters height. Soon we want to recalculate this by a ship engineer. Recently we found a similar ship to ours, a former fishing vessel the Meander (1946, Hamburg), nowadays a sailing charter ship. It has approximately the same proportions: sizes, depth, weight and the shape of the hull. The Meander has 400 m2 of sail and it’s sailing very well, it even rounded Cape Horn with 11 beaufort! Till 2007 it served as a worldwide sailing charter ship. Now she makes sailing trips from Harlingen to Norway. In December we will go to Terschelling and we hope to visit the Meander and her owners, to find out more about this ship!

Laura Schippers

Veilingkade 12b, Breda, Nederland

Blog series: 'Changing Position'

Starting point of this blog is the Atlas, a former Polish fishing vessel (1974). In 2015 Stijn de Geus and I bought this ship in Hamburg. In the same year we sailed to Breda, where Atlas Initiatief became part of the cultural area Haveneiland. It is the base from where the Atlas will be rebuild, converted into a sailing ship and equipped with sustainable systems. Also, we are preparing ourselves to sail into the world for an indefinite period. During the rebuilding there will be art projects taking place onboard.

We pursue a nomadic, self-sustainable (autonomous + environmentally friendly) and adventurous life. Atlas Initiatief is an art studio, a ship workshop & services and a research ship for artists and scientists in one. As soon as we will sail into the world (2021) artists and scientists can submit their research or projects plans. They can make a voyage on an environmentally friendly way. A requirement to sail along is that the voyage makes a contribution to their project or research. All oceans, coastal areas and harbor-cities are part of our working field. The Atlas is suitable for small research and projects that for example has to sail to a very remote area or requires a specific sailing route.

To travel, physically moving through the landscape, is an important aspect from where my visual work can be generated. Traveling fascinated me already from when I was a child. Back then I went sailing in vacations with my family. A slow way of traveling, where I experience the changing landscape and I’m subjected to the elements. The Atlas would be an ideal studio for me, because of the constantly changing position and the varying projects onboard. The projects take their own 'world' and look with them, what makes me questioning the changing world over and over again.

blog, praktijk:
Changing position #1
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