Please select your home edition
Edition
InSunSport - International - Tough

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.

Harken AUS Reflex 660x82Fremantle to Bali Race 660x82Wildwind 2016 660x82

Related Articles

Reducing weight aloft with composite backstays
Reducing weight aloft is one of the most cost effective ways of increasing your boat speed and performance. Reducing weight aloft is one of the most cost effective ways of increasing your boat speed and performance. Every kilogram you take out of the rig is roughly equivalent to 4kg added to the bottom of your keel!
Posted on 26 Jul
Bavaria STYLE 46 Australian Premiere at Sydney International Boat Show
For everyone who appreciates luxury on the water, the STYLE package is now available for the Cruiser 46 and Cruiser 51?. For everyone who appreciates luxury on the water, the STYLE package is now available for the Cruiser 46 and Cruiser 51?. Making the most of your time on board, be it with family or friends, is becoming more important. Yacht owners want certain levels of comfort and an onboard living experience coupled with versatility.
Posted on 26 Jul
What to look for when buying a modern lifejacket
There is no doubt that modern lifejacket design has changed considerably. There is no doubt that modern lifejacket design has changed considerably and one of the biggest drivers of this change has been due to personal ownership. Rather than crew relying on lifejackets being on-board a boat, they want to own their own lifejacket as part of their kit bag.
Posted on 25 Jul
The New Bavaria Cruiser 34 - you won't believe this is a 34' yacht!
The Sydney International Boat Show sees the World Premiere of the Bavaria Cruiser 34 - 2 Cabin version. The Sydney International Boat Show sees the World and Australian Premiere of the Bavaria Cruiser 34 - 2 Cabin version. The new Cruiser 34 offers more space and more comfort than ever before with a bigger cockpit, dual helms and ergonomically designed seating. This is the first time the entry level Bavaria cruiser has been offered in twin helm!
Posted on 19 Jul
Navathome Australia brings RYA Theory to your door
The RYA Cruising Syllabus has been built up over years of best practice development in Sail and Power Boat skippering. The Royal Yachting Association Cruising Syllabus has been built up over years of best practice development in Sail and Power Boat skippering. Split into a theory and practical syllabus the training modules take you in steps from a Start Yachting orientation through to Yachtmaster for either power or sail.
Posted on 5 Jul
Free $US3,000 Carbon Vang with SouthernFurl boom orders in July
Southern Spars is giving a free carbon vang - valued at US$3,000 - with SouthernFurl in-boom furlers ordered in July Southern Spars is giving away a free carbon vang - valued at US$3,000 - with all of their SouthernFurl in-boom furlers ordered in July. Carbon gas vangs make a great addition to the furling boom package, though if you’d prefer to keep your existing one, Southern Spars will offer you a 5% discount on the price of your boom instead.
Posted on 29 Jun
Newport Bermuda Race - High Noon takes honours
As the Newport Bermuda Race fleet rushed to the finish line on Monday in the wake of the first-to-finish boat, As the Newport Bermuda Race fleet rushed to the finish line on Monday in the wake of the first-to-finish boat, the powerful 100-foot grand prix Comanche, to the surprise of many they were led by an unusual boat and crew. High Noon, at 41 feet, is fully 59 feet shorter than Comanche and tens of feet shorter than many other entries.
Posted on 22 Jun
Platino recovery - Family confirms that tug has made rendezvous
Reports in social media say a salvage tug has made a rendezvous with the Platino earlier than expected. Reports in social media by family and friends of Nick Saull, the crew member killed during a catastrophic incident abroad the 66ft yacht Platino say the salvage tug which left on Tuesday night has made the rendezvous earlier than expected. The Facebook report says the tug, Sea Pelican, arrived on Friday morning, the weather in the area has eased and with a more favorable outlook.
Posted on 16 Jun
Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron to ban bottled water
Approval has been given to create a ban on bottled water that comes in plastic containers. The RQYS Management Committee has confirmed that approval has been given to create a ban on bottled water that comes in plastic containers. This will place the club as a leader in environmental impact management in Australia and around the world. The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club earlier this year did likewise. Who’s next?
Posted on 16 Jun
Platino recovery operation well underway as crew arrive in Auckland
An ocean-going tug has left Whangarei to locate and attempt to salvage the luxury yacht Platino An ocean-going tug left Whangarei late on Tuesday night to locate and attempt to salvage the luxury yacht Platino which has been abandoned 550km NE of New Zealand. Weather dependent, we could reach Platino by Saturday and have the yacht and body of the person on board back in New Zealand early next week,” says Inspector Graham of the NZ Police.
Posted on 16 Jun