Since 1970, Institute of Ecotechnics (IE) has consulted on a series of demonstration projects, aimed at harmonising technology with the biosphere. In 1974, IE’s ecologists, artists and thinkers decided that an oceangoing ship was key to their understanding of the planet’s diversity.

The distant history of oceangoing junks intrigued us. Their iconic beauty and their stability in high seas influenced the decision to design one. Ferrocement is strong, durable and easy to patch in an emergency. We had little money but many volunteers, so the low cost of the materials and labour-intensive requirements were a perfect fit. The Heraclitus was designed and built by volunteers of IE, and launched in 1975 from Oakland, California. The ship has sailed over 270,000 nautical miles through six oceans, continuously exploring traditions of those who have lived on the sea, with the aim to create an onboard cadre of contemporary sea people. Crew members have participated in numerous projects and expeditions (see Expeditions). The last expedition, Lives and Legends of the Mediterranean Sea, documented coastal dwellers affected by ecological and cultural upheaval.

The Heraclitus is now being rebuilt in drydock in Roses, Spain. Launch is scheduled for 2018.

For further history, see Past Expeditions.

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