Along with the large-scale desecration of the planet in so many spheres, there are signs that aware activists are making small inroads into the task of finding out how to live sustainability - and getting back to sailing is part of the plan.
One of these is a sail cargo company that has been operating out of Den Helder in Netherlands for the last 3 years - The Fair Transport company and their sailing ship the Tres Hombres.
The 32m brigantine is on its third Caribbean voyage, and will arrive in Portsmouth ETA May 18-20 with a load of rum, chocolate and other assorted cargo. There will be a ship welcoming event/party on the quayside.
Her habitual pattern is to maintain a sustainable freight service between: Europe, the Atlantic islands, the Caribbean and America. Besides a cargo capacity of 35 tons, she has accommodation for 5 crew members and 10 trainees / passengers.
Apart from Bonaire, Curacao, and St. Martin the Tres Hombres also calls on ports in England, Portugal, Madeira, Cape Verdes, Barbedos, Tobago, Dominican Republic, Grenada, New York and the Azores.
About the cargo of chocolate:
Mott Green, founder of the Grenada Chocolate Company, a Grenada-based tree-to-bar organic chocolate cooperative, has joined the Tres Hombres voyage to become the first chocolate maker to ship a mass quantity of chocolate sustainably. He is shipping five tons of his award-winning organic dark chocolate from Grenada to New York, Portsmouth and Amsterdam. The voyagemarks the first ever carbon-neutral trans-Atlantic mass chocolate delivery.
An insulated cool room has been built on the ship, powered solely by wind and sun, where the chocolate bars will be stored. Green is also part of the sailing crew of fourteen, and he will also be monitoring the cooling system throughout the trip.
Do such ventures have a future? From where the world has now arrived it seems difficult to imagine going back to transport at such a pace. So what is the solution?
An organisation called Greenheart is trying to find such a solution, aiming first at the developing world. Greenheart describe themselves as a 'non-profit organisation designing and building zero-emissions sail/solar container-ready cargo ships, especially designed for the developing world.'
They are now moving towards their first build, hopefully in Nov 2012, launch early spring 2013. www.greenheartproject.org.
The Greenheart Dream:
At the core of the Greenheart Project is a new idea for a small ship: one that combines reliable, universal sails with a simple and proven solar panel / storage battery / DC electric drive. The present state of the technology prevents the application of this type of hybrid system to larger ships, but a one-container vessel that sails well, can use electric motors to approach and exit harbors, navigate in restricted waters, provide additional speed and steerage at sea, and reach inland ports via canals and rivers. The obvious and most pressing application for a small ship with these features is as an appropriate development tool for impoverished coastal communities. With these end users in mind, we have designed a vessel with three basic criteria: Simplicity, Economy, and Low-impact.