Against the winds of allSnapshot, a sailboat crew attempts to forge a carbon neutral supply chain between the Hudson Valley and New York City.
The clouds swirled, the wind roared and the waves pounded the hull of the schooner Apollonia, but the ship maintained its course along the Hudson River in New York. Commanded by Sam Merrett, it carried Ayurvedic condiments from Catskill; spelled flour, hemp ointments and malted barley from Hudson; woolen yarn from Ghent; and other local produce for the hundred mile trip south to New York.
"This is a case of the start-up, the question of saying yes to everything and see what sticks, ”said Mr Merrett, 38, on the phone from somewhere near Peekskill, diminishing winds from Tropical Storm Henri roaring in the background . "In this case, it delivered 3 600 pounds of malted barley at a port in Poughkeepsie in pouring rain. "
At the age of flight shaming , car shaming and even meat shaming , conscientious consumers with disposable income are increasingly aware of their carbon footprint and interested in buying local . The producers are experiment cleaner, greener packaging and delivery methods. Image Brad Vogel greets buyers at an event featuring featuring products from upstream producers at the Gowanus Bay terminal in Brooklyn. Credit ... Jeenah Moon for Hfrance.fr
With his new "expedition clean, "Mr. Merrett hopes to help them all.
In 2015, he and two business partners purchased the Apollonia, a workhorse from a 64 foot steel hull sailboat, on Craigslist for $ 15,000. Built in the 1940s, she had been out of the water for 30 years before the crew sailed her from Boston to their new home in Hudson. They then spent three years rebuilding the rigging and adding elements of confort, such as composting toilets and bunks, some of which are 20 inches wide.
The remade ship made its maiden voyage in May 2020, and in 2021 it will have sailed almost every month from late spring to fall l, forming an environmentally friendly supply chain to link the Hudson Valley and New York Harbor. Carbon neutrality is built into every aspect of its operations, right down to its last mile delivery plan, which involves solar-powered electric bikes and sometimes, thanks to partners at Prospect Park Stable in Brooklyn, horse-drawn carriages.
For centuries, wind-powered boats have transported goods along this same route, and although there is a certain romance to it Old in business plan, Mr. Merrett says the business is This is not a game for nostalgia.
" It's not that I wish it was 1823 again "he said, after helping hoist an 1890s tabletop printing press into the cargo taken. "I think there were ways we were doing things that were really good, and we can learn from those. But today's version will be different. And it should be. different. " Image What is greener than plants? Credit ... Jeenah Moon for Hfrance.fr
As in the past, the products transported in the hold the vessel's 20,000 pounds are limited (nothing that requires refrigeration, nothing too perishable), and logistics unpredictable (they are subject to factors as changeable as the breeze and as difficult to navigate as the port charter policy is. municipal waters in small riverside communities in upstate New York). But Merrett and his partners hope to provide a model for the future.
" We provide a counter-narrative to this dominant narrative of 'more, better, faster,' said one of the partners, Ben Ezinga, 42. He previously worked with Mr Merrett to convert car engines forr that they run on vegetable oil in Oberlin, Ohio. “Some things have to be stopped overnight; most things don't. There is an incredible carbon footprint at this speed. We give people a way to think about this. "
Consumers can feel virtuous by buying products that haven't been overnight, but some producers say it's just good for business. Dennis Nesel, a 61-year-old maltster from the town of Hudson, said he was "very serious" about this method of shipping his local malt to beer makers in the area. .
"Shipping today, after Covid, is a nightmare," he said. "With semi-trailers picking up our freight, sometimes the things we planned to go to Brooklyn endnt in Herkimer or Syracuse, and things that were supposed to go to Syracuse end up in Brooklyn. This doesn't happen with the Apollonia. "
Laura Webster, a 35-year-old entrepreneur who makes hot sauce, uses the Apollonia to send it fermented, probiotic pepper products downstream from the Hudson.
For all the efforts his Poor Devil Pepper Company is putting in into environmentally responsible practices - like sourcing from farms focused on regeneration and manufacturing zero-waste packaging from recycled pepper pulp - she said adding the wind shipment to its distribution methods "was a given ". Image Ah, Brooklyn! Credit ... Jeenah Moon for Hfrance.fr
Likewise, Nika Carlson, the owner of Greenpoint Cidery, described Apollonia as "the opposite of Amazon. She grows apples and forages for other ingredients of the cider, such as mugwort and goldenrod, on a property owned by Mr. Merrett near Hudson.
"I think people are looking for such relationships, especially as the world is transforming climate change and everything that is going on with Covid, ”she said. “They're looking for community, they're looking for stories, and they're looking for what ethical consumption can look like these days. It sounds like a luxury, but it shouldn't be. "
The small eApollonia crew - members include a carpenter, a set builder, a summer vacation teacher and a colleague of Mr. Merrett's at the Hudson River Maritime Museum, his other part-time nautical engagement - has its work cut out on Plate. For starters, being a captain is not easy. "If that goes well, I have nothing to do, but I never do " said Mr Merrett, sitting next to the helm as he was moored on the Red Hook's waterfront and eyeing a long to-do list scribbled on a whiteboard on the companionway door: "Seal the gaff cracks; touch-up varnish - rubbing in the wind; provisions. "
The exhilarating freedom of a life on the water is interrupted by the reality of not showering for days, eating pasta with salty olives for dinner on several nights in a row or being disorganized by a lack of wind or a gust of windunexpected.
And while the crew members of the Apollonia did not experience episodes of scurvy or take the art of scrimshaw to get through long isolated trips, the unconventional work schedule - two weeks, two weeks off - can negatively affect their personal lives, says Merrett.
There is always work to be done, even in the off-season, when the Hudson freezes over and over again and there is no money to be made. In 2018, the owners had put more than $ 110,000, collected from a few investors, in the title Apollonia renovation - and the spending never stops. This winter, the gear will have to be sandblasted and have its jib repaired; it will also require adjustments to the cockpit scuppers, which surround the drains on an aft portion of the deck. Image Alexis Lambrou, a crew member, passing a cargo. Credit ... Jeenah Moon for Hfrance.fr
It may not be not be surprising, then, that a number of organizations have already set out to resuscitate wind-powered navigation on the east coast, and are no longer here to tell the story. history.
The Vermont Project Sail Freight raised $ 13,000 on Kickstarter in 2013 for its first cargo shipment but folded two years later for lack of sufficient funds. A effort in Maine experienced The same fate. Of course, there are worse ways to go down in this business: In 1979, a former high school English teacher sailed from New York to Haiti in a lovingly restored 97-foot schooner with a cargo of chemicals and canned wood, and a dream of wind-powered sailing. But the craft sank in 20 foot waves about 190 miles off Long Island; the nine people on board were were rescued.
These failures have not dampened the enthusiasm of those who believe in the commercial potential of tranclean maritime sport. the world, new operators are repairing old ships, building new ships from scratch, and aligning their efforts under banners like the Sail Cargo Alliance. In Europe, some climate-conscious sailing freight operators have managed to stay afloat for more than a decade . Departing from Brittany, France, the Grain de Sail, a 72-foot aluminum cargo schooner, sports a state-of-the-art wine cellar designed to carry pallets of biodynamic wines on the high seas. (This year she brought back in France coffee and cocoa from the Dominican Republic on its return trip .) In Costa Rica , Sailcargo Inc. is developing a plan - and a fleet - to be launched in 2022.
Even the shipping giants, like Maersk, the world's largest operator, are exploration of wind transport . The company last month hired 1 , $ 4 billion for carbon neutral innovation .
"Is it profitable? Absolutely not," Merr saidett. For now, he says he remains focused on achievable goals like establishing trade routes, making deliveries "to see if it works " and "trying to pay the crew " a salary. hourly $ 20.
Mr. Ezinga, his business partner, said: “This is the new green economy. These are green jobs. Two years ago they didn 't exist. We make them exist. "
But Mr. Merrett said " it doesn't work as a single boat doing one thing ". as a country, we have to start reinvesting in waterfront infrastructure to make this work, "he added." One boat will never do that. It has to become a model. "