|CERES, launched, rigged and ready!|
SPLASH! CERES Launches the Vermont Sail Freight Project
A while back, I was approached by Erik Andrus regarding TriloBoats as freight (cargo) carriers.
His plan was to build a small, engineless sail freighter which could carry stable Vermont produce (rice, wheat, maple syrup, lumber(?)) the 200 odd miles from Lake Champlain, VT to New York City, where it would be sold directly from the docked vessel. Where possible, back-haul commodities would be arranged to further cut overheads.
This plan cuts out middlefolk, and taps into several market cachets:
The Locovore Movement
Historical Precedent / Romance of Sail
Low Carbon Footprint
Direct link between consumers and providers (F2F)
To work, the project must be accomplished on a small-scale, DIY basis by a network of farmers, builder/riggers, sailors, historians, educators and other interested parties. Construction, administration, operations and maintenance included.
The figures he'd found for more standard approaches to vessel construction or purchase hovered around the $1M mark, unreachably high. The TriloBoat approach -- forgive a proud godpoppa! -- sounded more like $15K; plus or minus depending on construction choices.
So Erik ran a successful Kickstarter campaign quickly raising construction funds. Just as important, he established partnerships with interested groups (the Willowell Foundation among them).
CERES (named after the Roman Goddess of Grain) was designed by Erik, generally following TriloBoat principles and using an Advanced Barge approach (profile and plan curves matched... a skosh more curvy than a straight box barge). While Erik has done much of the work himself, he's been joined by a fascinating stream of participants, helping at various stages.
CERES is 39ft long by 10ft, and will haul 12 ton of cargo. At this size, she is the maximum vessel in the least costly operational liscencing bracket.
She's laid out as a flush deck freighter with accommodations for working crew in house and fo'c'sle. She's rigged as a Thames sailing barge... sprit yawl with a mast that can be raised and lowered quickly with on-board gear. Traditionally, the sprit boom doubles as a cargo crane for longshore operations.
On Saturday 27 July 2013, CERES was launched into Lake Champlaign with all pertaining honors! Four and a half months after beginning construction, she is a flagged and documented vessel of the US Merchant Marine.
Several tasks await (seatrials and crew selection/training among them), and many details have yet to be worked out. But CERES, and the Vermont Sail Freight Project, are well under way!
And, as a byproduct of this slick business venture, the romance of sail rears its lovely head. In Erik's words:
Just speaking frankly and personally, the sight of Ceres gladdens the heart, in a way I suppose I hadn’t anticipated, and I think the other participants in this project feel the same way. Much like when the local community gathered here on the farm to roll the barge over, we maybe doubted our combined strength, but stuck with the task, and in the end we all surprised ourselves with what we could do.
Congratulations and FAIR WINDS!!!
For more information, and how you can participate, see the following:
vermontsailfreightproject.org/design.html (about the design)
vermontsailfreightproject.org (worth looking around, if only for the great CAD art!)