Just as the country's sailing and yachting sector are returning to relatively normal operations, so too are innovations within Croatia's associated industries. One such innovation is that a boat made from cannabis will be built in the Istrian village of Kaštelir. Taking its power from the sun's rays via solar panels mounted atop, the boat will be an altogether green option for taking to the high seas.
Luciano Beg, the owner of Marservis, a ship construction company from Kaštelir, is the mastermind behind the scheme. He recognised the potential for using the fibres of hemp (the name of the cannabis plant when grown for industrial purposes) in tandem with resin to construct a boat hull. In cooperation with the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture in Zagreb, Marservis has designed a 15-metre long catamaran which was successfully submitted to a public contest of IRI, an EU investment fund.
'Our project passed all three stages of the contest,' the Marservis director told Time Out. 'The only stage now remaining is signing the contract to release the funds.' Beg is confident that the construction will begin within a month of the fund's release and the boat be completed within three years. Once finished, the boat would be able to carry you and 150 of your best buds.
Despite being a small company (with a total number of 15 employees), Marservis is internationally renowned for its innovation. Founded in 1994, the company gained success as a supplier of electrical components for ships and boats, before switching to make their own watercraft in 2002, with their Fisherman model proving extremely successful.
Having earned a strong reputation for building sports and recreational watercraft, Marservis have gone on to build ships specifically designed for fishing, diving expeditions and other activities. Twelve years ago, in cooperation with Swiss partners, they began making solar-powered boats (pictured) and from this eco-friendly activity, the idea for a boat utilising the cannabis plant as a raw material was born. Beg hopes the eco-friendly catamaran will appeal to those operating within the eco-tourism sector, such as Croatia's national and nature parks and the Lim canal.
Although this particular idea is innovative, it is not the first time hemp has been used as a material in sailing and wider transportation. Hemp has been cultivated for millennia and used to make clothing, paper, bio-fuel, building materials and even as a food source. Audi, BMW, Ford, GM, Chrysler, Honda, Mercedes, Porsche, Volkswagen and Volvo are just some of the manufacturers who have used hemp in their cars. The commercial production of hemp reached its global peak after the plant was successfully introduced to the Americas by Europeans. It was used there to make ropes and sails for ships which bridged the two continents. The plant is an extremely eco-friendly building option as it requires a relatively small growing area to produce a high yield, is an excellent oxygenator and can reach full maturity in as little as three to four months.