Ever since reading about the Grain de Sail back in May, the possibilities for a cargo sailboat based out of Puget Sound stayed on my mind.
The 72-foot schooner completed its second transatlantic loop this year carrying wine from France to New York and then transporting coffee and cocoa from the Dominican Republic back to France. Sounds like something out of another era, right?
This kind of innovation reimagines a tried and true technology (sailing along trade routes) in our modern era. The application to luxury food items is notable, as well. The entire trip still takes three months but the promise of wine, chocolate or coffee reaching an end consumer with minimal fuel consumption seems both sincere and strategic.
Sources: I first read about the Grain de Sail on local news site The Brooklyn Eagle. The New York Times recently featured it as well as another New York-based sailboat carrying cargo up and down the Hudson River.
Quote from the captain of the Hudson vessel: “I think there were ways we used to do things that were really right, and we can learn from those. But today’s version is going to look different. And it should look different.”
As the New York Times notes, this is not the first time the idea of cargo sailboats has been revisited and those ventures did not succeed. Perhaps these iterations are bringing us closer to this “old-is-new-again” innovation succeeding.