SAIL FREIGHT COMES TO THE 21ST CENTURY
What started as one man’s Quixotic dream has turned to reality. For the past three years, the 65-foot Schooner Apollonia has been delivering goods up and down the Hudson River by sail sans fossil fuels – a throwback to a day when there were 1,200 such boats on the river each day. It turns out buyers prefer the non-polluting, anti-Amazon way of making deliveries.
or the past few years I’ve watched a singular sailing boat being renovated in various ports along the Hudson. The original purpose of the Schooner Apollonia, a 64-foot, steel-hulled sailboat built in the 1940s was to carry and deliver up to 20,000 pounds of cargo by sail. Their team of ambitious, young adventurers, led by Captain Sam Merrett, have been working steadily to restore the dilapidated hull, overhaul its engine and sails, carve new booms and mast and return it to the water.The Apollonia has been trawling ports from Hudson to Kingston, Beacon, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, Piermont and Ossining, its hold stuffed with all kinds of Upstate goods headed south – and products made in Brooklyn and Manhattan returning back north – using only sustainable energy – sail power and/or vegetable oil!
Red oak logs, pumpkins, hundreds of thousands of pounds of malt headed to the boom-market of craft brewers, finely-made barrels (and whiskey), honey, hot sauce, and on and on, finding increasingly bigger markets in Red Hook, Brooklyn and the South Street Seaport as savvy shoppers get used to the boat’s once-a-month deliveries.
At a moment when global shipping is in the news every day for its Pandemic-spawned slowdown, and as people consider the carbon footprint of those overnight Amazon orders, shipping by fossil-free sail freight makes more and more sense.