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Thread: VT sail freight

  1. #1
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    Default VT sail freight

    Not seen this before.
    Modern Thames barge.
    http://www.vtsailfreight.net/ceres/

  2. #2
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    Default Re: VT sail freight

    There was a thread here a few years ago when they were just starting to put together a plan for commercial freight south to NYC.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: VT sail freight

    Been little about it in the news here. Love to see them do well!

    Wish the forum search worked better so I could post a link to the other thread.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  4. #4
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    Default Re: VT sail freight

    The project went into hiatus (open to offers) last fall when the realities proved how difficult it is actually carrying freight on a tight schedule. The insurance to tie at town docks along the way cost more than the ship. The outboard was used more than the sails, due to the pre-set schedule.

    To make it work you need passengers as well as freight, forget paying yourself for many years, and maybe paying apprentice crew. Plus optimize the vessel, 3 crew can handle a 100 ton load as well as a 10 ton load, but capital investment is far higher.
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: VT sail freight

    It would be nice if that sort of venture worked, but let's be realistic here, that mode of freight transport went out with the horse and buggy.
    I was born on a wooden boat that I built myself.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: VT sail freight

    The rig shown is really small for any performance - meaning the ability to meet a schedule.
    The boat would have sailed well with a better hull shape.

    Simplicity is not the best thing for needed performance.

    Real pity about the insurance aspect. Nothing like crippling an initiative for no good reason. I wonder what was the justification for a high premium?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: VT sail freight

    Eric, the visionary behind this project, is a farmer not a sailor. They learned a lot on their first (only) voyage in 2013. Eric thinks that they could keep this project going by making 8 round trips per year, but that means the boat is underway a lot. That requires competent crew on the boat, and someone really competent doing dispatch. It's a more than full time undertaking which requires a special skill-set and a different mindset.

    The insurance issue was just one problem, crew (and how to pay them) was the much bigger problem. Then there's the sailing aspect and how much sailing do you do to justify "delivered under sail". Delivered by outboard doesn't have quite the same appeal.

    Just dismissing the concept with "let's get real" and "it can't be done" does not move anything forward. Building wooden boats isn't realistic either, but people continue to do it because it makes some sense to them. As for sail freight, it can be done, but the huge subsidies (and public costs) offered to other transportation modes need to be recognized and some of that re-directed to making alternatives possible. Actually doing it, as Alex did, is the only way to get the message across, and others will learn from VSF's experience.
    ___________________________________
    Tad
    cogge ketch Blackfish
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    http://www.tadroberts.ca
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: VT sail freight

    The message was unfortunately not a very good one.

    It Failed.

    Do you have solutions for the issues identified?
    So the next attempt might have a better chance.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: VT sail freight

    These Folks are having a go at it also: http://www.sail-freight.org/single-p...first-shipment

  10. #10
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    Default Re: VT sail freight

    Quote Originally Posted by upchurchmr View Post
    The message was unfortunately not a very good one.

    It Failed.

    Do you have solutions for the issues identified?
    So the next attempt might have a better chance.
    I think Alex has explained the problems and possible solutions very openly in his blog.https://vermontsailfreightproject.wordpress.com/


    Professional crew are required, and almost all professional crew require compensation. To run a boat 24/7 in this world you will need two skipper's and probably 4 deckhands that can switch off. 30 years ago we would run a boat 24/7 with one skipper and one deckhand. See Bob Roberts film on carrying freight with the Thames barge Cambria. In Canada to operate any commercial vessel 24/7 you must have 3 crew and all are certified at some level.

    I also do not see the failure. They built a sailing barge and delivered 10 tons of cargo from Vermont to New York. They learned stuff along the way. Now the principals have moved on to other things and the project is available to some new visionary. I believe the original intent was to inspire others to take up this concept, that hasn't happened, so perhaps the failure is not Alex's, but yours and mine.
    ___________________________________
    Tad
    cogge ketch Blackfish
    cat ketch Ratty
    http://www.tadroberts.ca
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: VT sail freight

    Amazing double think.

    It requires things you can't afford and it is a success?

    Just getting 10 tons of stuff someplace does not qualify as a success.

    We could use a submarine - one time.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: VT sail freight

    The boat uses canals to the Hudson. Up to the early 1900's much of the trade between VT & south was by schooner:



    That's a replica built by volunteers led by Paul Rollins a few years ago. http://www.lcmm.org/our_fleet/lois_mcclure.htm for some history.

    Even into the 70's most of our gasoline & heating oil came by (motorized) barge on the same route. When double hulls became mandatory, the company running the barges couldn't afford all new ships, so they folded & now we get most by truck.

    To compete with trucks, fuel prices will have to rise. The old saw about "when gas hits $5/gallon" is probably quite true in this instance.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  13. #13
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    Default Re: VT sail freight

    Quote Originally Posted by Garret View Post

    To compete with trucks, fuel prices will have to rise. The old saw about "when gas hits $5/gallon" is probably quite true in this instance.
    Realistically you can't compete directly with trucks. Trucks make sense in many applications. You have to find a cargo that makes sense for a sailing barge. For instance, here in BC a great deal of the logs and fish transported along the coast is by water. Two big reasons for this, there are no roads, and the destination (sawmills and canneries) are sited on waterfront. In Amsterdam freight is being moved around the city on small power barges, because the canals exist, there're not congested with traffic, and the shippers and receivers are sited on the water rather than on highways.
    ___________________________________
    Tad
    cogge ketch Blackfish
    cat ketch Ratty
    http://www.tadroberts.ca
    http://blog.tadroberts.ca/
    http://www.passagemakerlite.com

  14. #14
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    Default Re: VT sail freight

    Marcus and Freya have been having a good crack at it with Grayhound, aswell as usual charter operation.

    http://www.grayhoundluggersailing.co.uk/

  15. #15
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    Default Re: VT sail freight

    Quote Originally Posted by TR View Post
    Realistically you can't compete directly with trucks. Trucks make sense in many applications. You have to find a cargo that makes sense for a sailing barge. For instance, here in BC a great deal of the logs and fish transported along the coast is by water. Two big reasons for this, there are no roads, and the destination (sawmills and canneries) are sited on waterfront. In Amsterdam freight is being moved around the city on small power barges, because the canals exist, there're not congested with traffic, and the shippers and receivers are sited on the water rather than on highways.
    For sure - but the route from NYC to Albany to Lake Champlain still has lots of the infrastructure left - including rail & truck depots. Not saying it's good for everything, but there are a lot of things moved cheaper by water - as you mention.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  16. #16
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    Default Re: VT sail freight


  17. #17
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    Default Re: VT sail freight

    How can these people ask for money with no plan?

    Newick and Brown had a design for a trimaran to do the same thing in an undeveloped area - where I can't remember.
    I wonder what ever happened.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: VT sail freight

    I've been following these efforts for some time. It seems that a viable form of sail transport usually involves paying crew, that is, the crew pays to be on the boat. So, more about tourism and "learn to sail old school" than an actual freight hauler, cargo being as much bait as catch.

    TR, Your points are well taken. I think Ceres really provided a fantastic body of knowledge and powerful inspiration.

    Some thoughts on Ceres: moving perishables seems like one mistake--though I love the soul of the idea. Also, a fixed schedule seems a problem just waiting to be fixed by an outboard. Finding products to move that don't spoil and that already have a wiling, educated audience and some level of affluence, that seems like it would be more conducive to success. Wine, cheeses, fair trade goods, things that can have an individual sticker that says "shipped by wind", and allow the buyer to say, 'oh this came by sail', as she pours an upstate wine at a party in the City.

    Another thing would be to find big buyers for chic goods. Move wine for a single buyer all with the 'sail freight' idea. Any big chain in any area will have a buyer who will at least listen to the idea and then offer some real advice on the whole concept. You might have to provide display stands, or something. Otherwise, you're stuck having to deal with retail sales at the end of every journey. Me, I'd rather off-load the stuff and be done with it.

    Another idea, instead of finding paying crew, would be to go the old Tramp route (that word is still used in the Coast Guard Regs). Build a boat that requires only the skipper--a self tending jib, loose footed lugger, that sort of thing. I don't know, you're the designer, but you get the idea. a single-hander for freight. One the skipper can anchor as the sun goes down--only running on rivers and lakes, not sure if regs would allow catnapping while auto helm sails the boat.

    I saw somewhere, TR, that you'd suggested a flat bottom schooner to somebody looking to haul freight. I'd been thinking along the same lines. In Cere's website he mentions that the Coast Guard scrutinizes cargo haulers under 40 feet a lot less. I'd think a centerboard, lugger, a scow sharpie, something like that with the requisite 'cool' factor, but meant to run at a heel on a chine, might be ideal for a freight hauler. Make sure all cargo gets a full dose of compression straps and is distributed equally.

    As much as I like Ceres, I think some clarity of purpose would help the boat's chances. Is it a farmer's market, carbon free shipping, a real business, a lifestyle? Are they running cargo back upriver? When I was in retail the worst time of day was when the doors were locked, because money was just pouring out of my pockets with no hope of it coming in. Same would be true for a boat, why not haul something back up river?

    More and more people are becoming aware of the disastrous environmental effects of shipping, of buying coffee in Seattle that has been shipped from Nicaragua. If I had Ceres in that region I'd be looking at finding a wine merchant in NY and a few Organic wineries up river, find a fair trade product to run back up river, and go from there.

    Forget schedules. Forget trying to run a market at the end of the journey. Just show up with ten tons of wine and offload it to a merchant who knows how to market something like that. Pick up some brewery's beer for the way back up.

    Last i checked, Ceres was taking freight orders, btw. Sail freight will work, eventually, a boat can't catch enough solar, even theoretically, and climate change will force the hand of the denialists soon enough--well maybe not soon enough for humanity, but we shall see.
    Last edited by SVDandelion; 10-25-2016 at 09:15 PM. Reason: clarity

  19. #19
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    Default Re: VT sail freight

    Thanks for the clarifications.
    I guess the sail market has not changed a lot in the last year.
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    Alexandra from Montreal

  20. #20
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    Default Re: VT sail freight

    Reading this thread for the first time, interesting.
    Some years back there was a similar idea on Long Island. A guy built a cargo schooner to sail freight across. It failed because the cargo was brought to the dock by truck, unloaded, loaded, sailed across unloaded and loaded back onto trucks. Much cheaper, quicker and easier just to take the ferry with the original truck. Which supports the point that in order to succeed at any level the freight should start and finish at the waterfront.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: VT sail freight

    Years ago, we were in a little harbor in Paris France and the "wine peniche" just docked. Everyone grabbed their empty bottles and lined up. It was excellent wine and quite charming. That day has passed ...... my friend who still lives in that harbor says he hasn't seen the barge in years.

    The French have made a valiant effort to keep their water freight transportation system alive but it really only basic low value commodities are shipped. They can still do it because they kept the infrastructure, namely the small inland freight harbors. Their river and canal cruises are booming, hence ads on Masterpiece Theater, so passengers are where it is at. Maybe there is a opportunity for passengers but the regulatory costs would probably be staggering.

  22. #22
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    Default

    When you add in the costs of things like the harbor tax (for maintenance dredging) and longshoremen unions you can forget about it.

    What’s really wrong with this idea isn’t the sailing so much as it is the idea of “short sea shipping”, that is to say: moving cargo short distances (usually coastally) over the water. Between the lobbying power of the teamsters (who don’t want to see anything moved by water that might be moved by road), the longshoremen unions, and the various and sundry taxes and regulations that make the USA in general unfriendly to small businesses it’s one big maelstrom of “ain’t gunna happen”.
    "And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by..."

  23. #23
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    Default Re: VT sail freight


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