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Sail Freight Projects Around the World

Sail Freight Projects Around the World
Written by Mahonri Gibson

Sail-powered shipping is experiencing a revival! We couldn’t find a current list of all the various projects around the world that are attempting (and doing) to bring back sail freight, so we made one!

Tres Hombres / Fair Transport

The Tres Hombres under Full Sail

Photo by Fairtransport

The Tres Hombres is currently the premiere commercially operating sail cargo ship in the world. The 32 meter schooner Tres Hombres has been sailing since 2009. She maintains a shipping route between Europe, islands in the Atlantic, the Caribbean and the United States.

With a capacity of 35 tons of cargo, the Tres Hombres focuses on moving Caribbean rum, fair-trade chocolate, and coffee. Crew positions are also available for any adventurous souls!

A second cargo ship, the Nordlys, will begin shipping for Fairtransport this summer (2015)!

More Infohttp://fairtransport.eu/about/

The Vermont Sail Freight Project

The Ceres, by Vermont Sail Freight Project

The sailing barge Ceres. Photo by Jim Peppler.

The most famous and successful sail cargo project in the United States, the Vermont Sail Freight Project  moves farm products from Vermont down to New York City, selling their goods at stops along the way.

Started in 2013, they have been very successful, receiving a lot of media coverage and praise. They operate during the summer, and will be starting back up again in June.

More Info: http://www.vermontsailfreightproject.com

The Sailing Ship Kwai

Sailing Vessel Kwai and Crew

The S/V Kwai and Crew, photo by S/V Kwai

The S/V Kwai has been operating since 2006, moving goods between Hawaii and the Cook islands. The Kwai is a large (140ft) cargo ship that has been converted to sail.

They provide an important service to islands in the South Pacific that are infrequently visited by other suppliers. It sounds like they deliver practically anything, accepting orders before each voyage for supplies that are needed in the remote islands.

More Info: https://sites.google.com/site/sailcargo/

The Salish Sea Trading Cooperative

Salish Sea Trading Cooperative

Loading grain unto a Salish Sea Co-op ship. Image Credit: Sequim Gazette Photo By Matthew Nash

The Salish Sea Trading Cooperative is a Seattle based non-profit, providing low-carbon transportation of farm goods between the Olympic peninsula and Seattle. Their main goal is to provide food resiliency in the Puget Sound.

Twice a month during the summer they transport fresh, organic vegetables from Dharma Ridge Farm on the Olympic Peninsula to Toast cafe in downtown Ballard by sail, selling the vegetables utilizing a subscription CSA format.

More Infohttp://www.salishseatrading.coop/

Dragonfly Sail Transport Co.

Dragonfly Sail, under sail

Photo by Dragonfly Sail Transport Co.

Dragonfly Sail Transport Co. is a Michigan based business offering carbon neutral shipping options to harbor towns on northern Lake Michigan.

Currently, they’re using one boat to transport local products up, down, or across Grand Traverse Bay by sail power. If you’re in the Lake Michigan area, check them out, they’re always looking for more partners!

More Infohttp://www.dragonflysailtransport.com/

Grayhound Lugger Sailing

Grayhound Lugger Sailing

Photo by Grayhound Lugger Sailing

Utilizing a traditional 18th century Lugger, Grayhound Lugger Sailing delivers up to 4.5 tonnes of Breton and West Country produce back and forth across the English Channel.

They ship items such as ale, wine, vegetables, and grains, while providing sail adventures to people who want the experience of working on a traditional sailing vessel.

More Infohttp://www.grayhoundluggersailing.co.uk/

The Schooner Ruth

The Schooner Ruth

Photo by the Schooner Ruth team

The Schooner Ruth recently launched last December in the Caribbean. She is going to be replicating historic Caribbean regional trading routes, utilizing wind and solar electric power in order to minimize her carbon footprint.

Capable of hauling 25 metric tons, the group seeks to promote and enhance the regional supply chain for fresh and perishable produce. A sail training program onboard the schooner is also available for those looking for some adventure.

More Infohttp://www.schoonerruth.com/

The Onion Johnnies Project

Onions shipped from the Onion Johnnies project

Photo from The Onion Johnnies are not Dead facebook page

The Onion Johnnies Project recently did their first trip between Roscoff, France and Cornwall, UK, transporting a one ton load of organic onions and shallots in their ship, Tanit.

Their name comes from traditional merchants who used to make the same journey, selling French onions in England. The next trip of the Tanit is scheduled for this September.

More Info: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Onion-Johnnies-Are-Not-Dead/897200483645273

Timbercoast

The Timbercoast sail cargo ship

Photo by the Timbercoast team

The cargo sailing ship Timbercoast will soon be undertaking a journey from Europe, across the Atlantic and Caribbean sea, through the Panama canal, and then all the way across the Pacific to Australia.

Once in Australia she’ll be used to pioneer a permanent liner service between ports along the Queensland Coast and the Great Barrier Reef.

They are hoping to demonstrate that sustainable and economically fair sea transport is possible in the modern age, and is greatly needed to reduce humanities environmental impact.

More Infohttp://www.timbercoast.com

The Greenheart Project

The S/V Greenheart design

Render from the Greenheart design team

The Greenheart Project is a collaborative initiative to develop new types of simple, sustainable, low-cost, zero-emissions, sail and solar-powered ships. Their design of the open-source ship, the S/V Greenheart, is almost complete.

The Greenheart is specifically designed to service communities marginalized by a lack of capital, that hold a poor position in the global trade system, and that don’t have access to deep water ports.

More Infohttp://greenheartproject.org/en/

Fair Winds Trading Company

The Fair Winds Trading Company

Render by the Fair Winds Trading Company

The Fair Winds Trading Company is working to develop a zero-emissions and low-impact sail cargo ship that can access goods where they’re produced.

Since many developing countries don’t have access to the infrastructure to handle giant container ships, they want to develop a ship that can bring these countries into the world-wide market, but without increasing environmental impact.

Fair Winds also has a number of other projects to help strengthen the economies of developing nations.

More Infohttp://www.fairwindstradingcompany.org/

And then there’s us.

Anchored out in Port Townsend

Photo by Mahonri Gibson

Currently we’ve become less focused on sail freight specifically, and more focused on sustainable distribution in general, via whatever means, incorporating biofuel or electric powered vehicles, as well as wind transport when it’s practical and efficient.

We are planning to do at least a few cargo trips around the Salish Sea aboard our two boats this summer however, and are actively working to find more partners. Stay tuned!

More Info: http://sailingdog.org/about-us/

About the author

Mahonri Gibson

Mahonri Gibson is a social entrepreneur, environmentalist, sailor, and photographer. He spent 6 years in the U.S. Air Force as a pararescueman, before deciding to do something more useful with his life.