Please select your home edition
Edition
X-Yachts AUS X4 728 - 3

Sailing barge brings trading goods down the Hudson to New York

by Amy Langfield/Sail-World Cruising on 6 Oct 2013
Hudson River sail trading route - the old days .. .
There are many reasons why people become sailors, but one of the earliest ones - to make your living - has largely disappeared from the First World. That's why it's so interesting when a modern sailor takes up an old trade route to make to come to life again. Here CNBC's Amy Langfield tells the story of an old Hudson River trade route from Shoreham to New York City, made new by some crowd-funded sailors on a sailing barge.

The old trade route used by the Mohawks, missionaries, fur traders and colonists will take a step toward revival this weekend as the Vermont Sail Freight Project embarks on a 330-mile journey downriver, stopping at historic river towns along the Hudson River.

Along the way to New York City, they'll pick up everything from honey to sauerkraut from 30 farmers and sell the goods at pop-up markets.


'We're trying to rebuild a whole sector that's been decimated and open new opportunities for young farmers and rebuild a whole aspect of the culture that's very nearly been lost entirely,' said project director Erik Andrus, who also farms rice and grass-fed beef at Boundbrook Farm in Ferrisburgh, Vt.

The crowd-funded sailing barge, named Ceres, will ply the Lake Champlain-Hudson River Route from Shoreham, Vt., to New York City.

'It was a very busy route,' Dan Ward, curator at the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse, N.Y. told Amy Langfield. 'The river once had so much shipping it even had stores on boats that sold household items such as candy and other goods to the river traders, who didn't have time to get ashore. 'That was also the alcohol route during Prohibition,' said Ward, describing boats with secret compartments. 'Alcohol was massively produced in Canada, and it was massively consumed in New York City.'

The cargo in the Ceres will be sold at existing farmers markets along the route and under a pop-up tent the Vermont crew will set up when they need to go solo. They will also do direct-to-door delivery at ports, where individuals and businesses have placed orders in advance. For big orders, trucks will be used. But individuals in New York City will see their orders arrive via Revolution Rickshaws, a city pedicab and freight company.

'We're flexible about our approach. The delivery of pre-ordered goods can happen in any location,' Andrus said. 'The ordering is a bit like Amazon.com, and the boat is the delivery mechanism like UPS.'

Northeast shoppers can order online though Good Eggs, a San Francisco-based online marketplace that specializes in delivering farmers-market type goods directly to people's homes. In the San Francisco Bay Area, Good Eggs has 150 local farmers and foodmakers offering goods for sale, said Cathy Bishop, spokeswoman for Good Eggs.


They're currently expanding with other farmers to select neighborhoods in Los Angeles, New Orleans and Brooklyn. Manhattan is next, Bishop said. Good Eggs makes its money by charging a transaction fee for each order, plus a small delivery fee.

The Vermont Sail offerings through Good Eggs include 100 items such as maple syrup, honey, apples, heirloom beans, potatoes, onions, garlic, squash, sauerkraut, tea, sea salt and soap.

And by no means is this a Luddite-inspired adventure. The on-board Wi-Fi powers a mobile office suite allowing the crew to access their bank account and print invoices. However, there are space issues. 'You have to lie down on your back to put more paper in the printer,' Andrus said.

They're navigating by old-school methods, but the chart-plotter back-up is an iPhone app. And the wind-powered boat also has a motor, just in case. And shoppers can track their orders via the barge tracker on MarineTraffic.com.

The project intentionally mixes old- and new-school philosophies. 'I think small farmers know implicitly that you have to adapt to the world as it is,' Andrus said. 'And the Internet is a great way to tell people about this project and why it matters to the river. If you're invisible, you're dead. If you can't convey the story, the supermarket wins every single time.'

'In many ways we have our work cut out for us,' Andrus said. 'The market is always able to provide the lowest common denominator food from somewhere inexpensively. We have to tell the story why our neighbors ought to support local agriculture instead of just buying from the cheapest possible source.' Quality, taste and political reasons are key factors, he said.

The Vermont Sail project will have its official send-off this Sunday and finish in New York City on Oct. 27. The Ceres will return to Vermont and plan for a regular season of runs after the winter. If they're successful, they will add boats and additional river routes.

The buy-local concept is clearly growing, said Liz Comiskey of the national Farmers Market Coalition. She referred to current USDA numbers that list 8,144 farmers markets in the United States, up from 5,000 in 2008.

The Vermont project isn't the first to add a maritime element to the modern-day farmers market. Other recent maritime purveyors include the FarmBoat in Seattle, the Dragonfly Sail Transport Company in Michigan and the Harvest Harbor and River Vessel Transport Company still in the works for New York Harbor.

However, the Ceres may be the only project with its own lyrical sea shanty, written expressly for the boat. Andrus played down any notions of the crew merrily crooning along. 'The other two guys I'm sailing with are not really singers,' he said. 'But I'm going to bring my accordion and might be persuaded.'

Could something like this be possible on a river near you?

For more information about the project, go to http://www.vermontsailfreightproject.com/
If you are anywhere along the route, you can find out how to order goods at http://www.goodeggs.com/


Follow Amy Langfield @AmyLangfield.

North Technology - Southern SparsX-Yachts AUS X4 - 660 - 1Fremantle to Bali Race 660x82

Related Articles

Knowing Harken takes years and years (Pt.II)
We looked at how Grant Pellew became the MD here in Australia, and how they rigorously go about testing their gear In Part One of getting to know Harken, we looked at how Grant Pellew became the MD here in Australia, and how they rigorously go about testing their gear. We also looked at some of the other brands Harken distributes in Australia and so we move on to the last category.
Posted on 25 Sep
Olympic Gold medalist and Volvo Ocean Race winner up for WS Board
Torben Grael (BRA) is amongst the 15 nominations for one of seven places on the Board of Directors of World Sailing Torben Grael (BRA) is amongst the 15 nominations for one of seven places on the Board of Directors of World Sailing in November. The five times Olympic medalist, Volvo Ocean Race winner and several times America's Cup competitor will bring a much needed sailing edge to the Board of World Sailing if he can navigate the politics of the controlling body of the sport.
Posted on 25 Sep
Amel - Do you fit the bill?
Perhaps it is equally as fascinating as the many features that go into either the Amel 55 or 64 It is certainly an interesting set of criterion. Perhaps it is equally as fascinating as the many features that go into either the Amel 55 or 64 and make them a definitive part of the quintessential bluewater cruiser armada. We’ll come to all of those in due course, but firstly we’ll tackle the hero image and why in so many ways, this explains, so, so much.
Posted on 21 Sep
Knowing Harken takes years and years (Pt.I)
You could imagine that being familiar with all that Harken produces and stands for is a lengthy process. You could imagine that being familiar with all that Harken produces and stands for is a lengthy process. So if you were going to be the person at the top in Australia, it would be best for you to have immersed yourself in sailing from an early age. When you grew up, being one of the technical service team would be more than a handy apprenticeship, as it were.
Posted on 19 Sep
Brookes and Gatehouse Videos with Knut Frostad
Navico, the parent company for Brookes and Gatehouse (B&G), Simrad and Lowrance have prepared some terrific videos Navico, the parent company for Brookes and Gatehouse (B&G), Simrad and Lowrance have prepared some terrific videos with Knut Frostad, the legendary Volvo Ocean Race sailor and former CEO. See him talk about sailing in general, the B&G product choices and placement he made for his own boat, and then why he loves his Outremer 5X.
Posted on 8 Sep
Boat Books of the Month - How to Read Water and False Flags
How to Read Water: Clues, Signs & Patterns from Puddles to Sea & False Flags: Disguised German Raiders of World War II. This month the Boatbooks Australia: Boat Books of the Month are How to Read Water: Clues, Signs & Patterns from Puddles to the Sea and False Flags: Disguised German Raiders of World War II.
Posted on 6 Sep
Soft Padeyes – light, strong and versatile
Several types of soft padeyes are now available and are proving increasingly popular over traditional stainless steel pa Several types of soft padeyes are now available on the market and are proving increasingly popular over traditional stainless steel padeyes. They all capitalise on the incredible strength to weight ratio and abrasion resistance of Dyneema® which offers a reliable, robust, flexible and safe termination.
Posted on 6 Sep
The X Factor starring X-Yachts
X-Yachts do indeed have plenty to sing about. X-Yachts do indeed have plenty to sing about. Testament to that is the three-year-old Xp38 on display at the recent Sydney International Boat Show still looked brand new. This was no mooring minder either, but rather a boat that had gone up to Hamilton Island Race Week for each of those years and campaigned hard.
Posted on 31 Aug
The C Beetle Project
Every now and then something comes along your way and you just have to read it. Every now and then something comes along your way and you just have to read it. Such is Phil Smidmore’s tale of Mick Miller and if I could be so bold as to implore you to read, then I know your life will be the better for it!
Posted on 30 Aug
Zhik sailors win 17 sailing medals at 2016 Olympic Regatta
The 2016 Olympic games are over and what a Games they have been - Zhik sailors dominated Zhik sailors won almost 60% of the medals contested at Rio de Janeiro. It was a regatta which tested sailors and gear - with one day being the most severe conditions ever experienced at an Olympic regatta. For the Zhik team riders on the waters of Rio, four years and more of hard work and dedication have paid off for many.
Posted on 29 Aug