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Old 06-03-2008
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Sailing Ships and Wine !

A few of you may know that I owned a winery for 25 years, so I get a lot of wine related emails. I found this one very interesting.


France Ships Their Wine by Sailing Ship

Some sixty years ago the small sailing coaster played a major role in the movement of goods from one part of the country to another. To walk along the waterfront of any of the smaller ports and harbours was to see at least one brig or brigantine, together with numerous tops'l-schooners and ketches, all discharging alongside the quay in a general aroma of salt air, tarred rigging, and horses, the very thought of which brings a feeling of sentimental yearning which now can never be appeased. In its place we have the smelly exhaust gases of great multi-wheeled trucks, pounding up and down the highways by day and night, as noisy and unpleasant looking as they are odoriferous. The passing of many of these things I greatly regret, and I admit that I could be perfectly happy with the old standards, particularly in the field of transport, for I doubt whether we are really so very much better off today.

Now however there is another 2008 organization under the leadership of Frederic Albert, founder of the shipping company Compagnie de Transport Maritime a la Voile, who assists French vineyard owners reduce their carbon footprint by returning to a slower pace of life by starting to export their wine by sailing ship - a method last used in the 1800's.

At the start of this month 60,000 bottles from Languedoc, France have been shipped to Ireland in a 19th-century barque, saving 18,375lbs of carbon. This three-masted barque Belem, which was launched in 1896, the last French merchant sailing vessel to be built, has sailed into Dublin following a voyage from Bordeaux that has lasted four days. The wines were delivered to Bordeaux by barge using the Canal du Midi and Canal du Garonne, which run across southern France from Sete in the east, via Beziers in Languedoc.

Each bottle carries on the label the message "Carried by sailing ship, a better deal for the planet". Although the whole process will end up taking up to a week longer than a flight, it is estimated it will save 4.9oz of carbon per bottle, move 50 trucks off the road every week and cut carbon emissions by 80per cent. The additional time taken also compliments the ageing process inherent in the wines maturing . The Tesco Supermarkets in Britain have already started moving the cargo via canal last October ferrying wine by barge from Liverpool to Manchester along the Manchester Ship Canal. This newTesco cargo service involves three journeys a week, delivering an estimated 600,000 liters of wine on each journey along the 40-mile stretch of the canal.

This development has created a great deal of interest with some 250 wine producers in Languedoc alone, keen to use his ships delivering "green" wines. But despite the time involved in transporting it, the wine has remained relatively cheap, at between seven to twenty pound per bottle.
The 170ft Belem, which was first used to transport chocolate from South America and is named after a Brazilian port, is the first of seven ships planned to be working by 2013.
Seven private investors have contributed 70 per cent of the business's start-up costs of 40 million pounds.

Australia to Ship Australian Wine by Sailing Ship

A Western Australian organization approached Frederic Albert the founder of the French sailing barque. They requested that a West Australian sailing ship could be used to transport Australian "green " wines via other ports of call on passage to the United Kingdom to deliver some 450 tons of the best 'green' wines, using as natural a product as possible to distributors in countries like the United States of America, United Kingdom, New Zealand, South America and Canada. A return cargo of non-perishable foods from various supermarkets would be delivered back into the FoodBanks of Western Australia to be distributed out to the poor and needy. Frederic Albert considered this to be an excellent idea. Also on visiting American or European ports we can on return to Australia deliver wines from these countries.

So our organization, Ashronia Christian Cadet & Mission Ship Association, is seeking interested parties that can sponsor our request for financial assistance to build a new 200ft sailing Barquenting called the Sovereign of the Seas. This will be built at the Henderson, Western Australian Tenix Ship Building yard under the direction of the operations manger Mr Luke Simmons. We also need vineyard producers and distributors that can supply their wines for transport to overseas destinations on commercial freight rates. This will be a huge saving of carbon emissions in transporting 450 tons per cargo to world markets. This cargo of some 900.000 bottles of wine will be a saving 135 tons of CO 2 carbon emissions. This would be a sound solution for the future as carrying freight by sea is an eco-wise investment . It uses 75% less fuel than shipping or road haulage which contribute sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere.

By comparison, a long sea voyage from Australia to the United Kingdom - a voyage of some 90 to 120 days - would reduce co2 emissions equivalent to that which 30 cars produce in a year.
Now this is something worth toasting with a glass of wine! It's also been found that a sailing ship on a passage will experience, under sail, plenty of pitch and roll which contributes to the taste of the wine being fuller, more open and apparently palpably advanced by the constant motion on a fairly rough crossing. These several factors have evidently pleased the customer in the United Kingdom as sales have increased 5 fold.

The solution for the future may lie in the past: a return to sail power

Our proposed new sailing ship, a 200ft Scandinavian Barquentine of 450 tons is to be called the "Sovereign of the Seas". This vessel will be built as a replica of the "Barden" which visited the ports of Rockingham in Western Australia and Hobart in Tasmania to load a cargo of timber in 1892. In keeping with today's technology, this vessel shall be transformed into a modern day sailing ship that will have all the advanced navigation aids, rigging and accommodation and will be built to the highest standards as set out by the Australian Maritime Authority. However the vessel shall be traditional in every other way and updated with sea proven technology as it shall have the role of a Cargo-Cadet Training Sailing Ship that would be built as a commercial vessel. It will be fitted with stainless steel standing rigging as the primary support system for all the masts. This is state of the art construction as it never rusts, lasts almost indefinitely at sea, weighs less than alternatives and offers less wind resistance. Similarly nylon rope halyards, Dacron sails and hydraulic power winches at the base of each mast will further update this timeless form of transport to present day technological standards.

We are now entering a new period of history where the cost of energy is slowly but inexorably rising. In 2000 crude oil was at $11 per barrel. Seven years later December 2007 the price was $80 per barrel of crude, but today May 2008 it has reached $127.00 per barrel. I would suggest by Christmas 2008/9 it may reach near $200.00 per barrel. Economic constraints and environmental demands point to 'now' being the time to recapture the romance of a bygone era. As the financial cost of living soars skywards, the cheap winds are still blowing in the right direction around the world and we are once again forced to reconsider transporting cargos over long distances using sailing ships again.

This idea is now ahead of it's time; weather patterns around the world can be forecast with increasing accuracy by satellite, so course changes can be made to take advantage of wind speed and direction. As the bridge on a modern sailing ship has all the technological navigation aids, the vessel can take advantage of a fast passage with a minimum of risks avoiding storms and calms and maximizing cost saving wind power.

For more inquires please contact us at the below address .

In His Service
Pastor Lawrence(Lofty)Shave
Ashronia Christian Cadet & Mission Ship Association
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Last edited by Freesail99; 06-03-2008 at 11:46 AM.
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Old 06-03-2008
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This could be an opportunity for some of the world sailors on this site. With shipping costs so high, let me tell you what I do and maybe you can somehow use it to pay off. I never thought about it as a commercial venture, but it could be.

I put Chardonnay in my port water tank and keep fresh water in my starboard water tank. I switch between them depending on whether I am at sea, and of course not drinking wine, or at harbor where I do.

I did make a mistake of taking a Chardonnay shower a while back. It was a mess.
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Old 06-03-2008
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Northern Europe is ideal for what's called "short-sea" trading, and if you look at a map (chart) you'll see why. Lots of land with short stretches of water inbetween. So there are many small cargo ships, making frequent trips between the countries, or sections of one country. With a non-perishable cargo (like wine) this could be done as easily on a 5-knot cargo sailing ship as on a 13-knot freighter (though it would probably take a few sailing ships to equal the cargo capacity of one freighter).

So it wouldn't surprise me to see this happen, at least on a small scale, in Europe. Ulitmately, it's more a question of economics than ecology, unless bunker fuel prices shoot up way more, or the carbon-footprint issue becomes much more critical.

But in the US, we have mostly straight coasts, and rail (or barge in mid-country) will be way cheaper per ton/mile too move cargo domestically, and other countries are too far away from us to make it efficient or economical to ship by sail. Possible exceptions could be in the New England/Canada Maritime trade, or maybe western Florida to the Central or western Gulf, or to the Yucatan, or the Caribbean trade generally.

I'd love to see it happen. Maybe I could upgrade my aux. sail license and start a new career. But economics ultimately will be the deciding factor in whether cargo-sail is practical.
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Old 06-03-2008
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Free, this is an excellent idea.
I can take 5 cases of good wine on my ship and deliver it to a destination of your choice.
There is no guarantee that we will deliver all the cargo (or any cargo), but you should try us. If we drink it all before we rich the destination - please do not wait to us.

On a more serious note: This reminds me on a sailing ship sunk (was it in Gulf of Mexico) while delivering tea.
The cargo ships are relatively fuel efficient compared to other transportation methods. The problem lies in globalisation: we move around too much goods.
Why do we need to import bottled water from France to Slovenia and export Slovene water to France. On a picture from Giu (taken in Portugal) the water on the table was from Croatia (I know the brand Jana).
We can save a few barrels of oil by transporting goods by sailing ships, but is that really saving? We will still need to upload and offload it (perhaps using more fuel transporting all the workers around then by using efficient container ship terminals . . .
So it is not that simple. It may work with wine, but it will not change the global picture.
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Old 06-03-2008
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I find this very interesting. I once read that one of the biggest enemies of fine wine is vibration, and, as a result, shipping fine wines on merchant ships is detrimental to their quality. Perhaps shipping them under sail will make the fine wines even finer for those of us remote from the world's great wine growing regions.
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Old 06-03-2008
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I read this the other day and thought it to be pretty cool, going back in time a bit, then I heard this morning the statewide shipping here in the US was going back to railway, I hear there is a major back log from rail shipments.

Oh yeah, the auto industry wants to add $2000.00 to the MSRP to cover the type of shipping..........go figure
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Old 06-03-2008
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I can see it now, new boat builders marketing cargo room designed to carry cases & cases of wine and ways which you could support a life at sea delivering wine...I love it
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I wonder if we are not approaching a day when sail is becoming more and more practical?... again.

Not exactly shipping related,... but I had the idea of obtaining a good sized barge and crane and using it for a mobile rigging/boatyard.
With a maneuvering engine in each corner to get you to open water and a huge spinnaker flying from the crane I could move north and south with the seasons.
There would be lots of deck space and plenty of side ties all around.
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It's a great idea. But unlike a motor or steam ship, if you are a sailing ship carrying cargo, you can't reliably predict your arrival time, any more than you can predict the wind. Merchants and their customers depend on predictability. If you, and they, can't predict it, the price will be adjusted accordingly.

Ulitmately the market, along with whatever "green" or other regulation is in effect, will determine by trial and error whether it's practical (meaning profitable) or not. I personally hope it is, but who knows..
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