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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First off, I am no stranger to work, I have recently had the idea of purchasing a sailing vessel for the purpose of transporting cargo without fossil fuels, I mean why not? It seemed a revolutionary idea to me, come to find out, there are some companies that have already started this idea and seem successful. One company took an old WW2 German ship and converted it into a sailing vessel and are now shipping wine and beer among other products around Europe with plans to build 1800's era schooners to increase their business. My idea which I wanted to throw around is to find a sailing schooner (and I found a few small schooners from 96 feet to 74 feet) and repurpose it. I could figure out or hire someone to figure out a plan in order to strip it of luxury accommodations and in fact build a cargo bay into it. Of course we would leave leave necessary living quarters inside the ship enough for a crew and some passengers to haul around with cargo perhaps. The questions I have however for you experienced ship builders and imaginative folks. What kind of Schooner would I be looking for in order to be able to make a conversion like this. I think the cargo hold/holds should be center of the sip capable of holding at least 20,000 lbs or more. Another Idea would be to replace a diesel with an electric motor for those windless days and setting up solar panels in strategic locations to charge the batteries. Many of you are sickened by my idea and there for no need to comment you can move on and enjoy your day. If anyone out there can help me figure out what kind of ship or schooner I should look for to be strong enough to carry such cargo or what I should look for in a Schooner please let me know. Very much appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
there are others way ahead of you. it doesn't make sense to me at all I'm just passing it along

I have read about them
there are others way ahead of you. it doesn't make sense to me at all I'm just passing it along

I understand. I have read about them. One thing I have to say is that these companies seem to have investors and money and that's a problem for a guy like me. This is more of just an idea I am pushing around because I believe it will become a larger market and I am not trying to start a world class sailing cargo fleet. Just pushing around the idea and tapping into likeminded people's knowledge. Thank you for the link sir!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
You could lose a lot of money with a buisne model like this. Between purchase and refit costs, crewing costs and insurance you could be in the hole to the tune of hundreds of thousands a year. Might be less, but big losses are likely.

If you have some magic potion or investors that can afford to lose a ton of money, maybe.

If not, might be cheaper to buy a 767 and charter it out on cargo runs to China.
I believe, correct me if I'm wrong ( and I'm confident someone will oblige),
If you're not hauling anything that talks (people) and you're under a certain tonnage and loa, no coast guard license is required
And few other beaurocratic obstacles, or even insurance!
The major impediment I struggle with is- what can you consistently haul ?
The few sail freight operations I've seen are mostly ( not All) hauling " specialty" freight, like high end organics, wines,coffee,cheese.
Overpriced stuff for people with means.
Finding freight is,I believe, the lynchpin.
You seem like a reasonable forward looking fellow with good information. Thank you for replying. I know some companies make it work by transporting goods as you said fancy organics and the way the world is today there is a growing demand for organics and if it's transported under wind sail then that's great. I have a blue collar back ground, finishing college soon, tossed the idea to my brother who Is all about it. I have one brother who is a cook, one who is a builder and a roofer and I am skilled in electrical and mechanical systems courtesy of the Marines. I am trying to become an officer now and aiming to become a pilot. I plan on saving every penny and in six years from now I may revisit this idea and research the market further. It would be awesome to make a family business out of this idea as I'm not aiming to build a world class fleet but just to repurchase a ship. I suppose I would try and make a video blog as some families make damn good money showing their struggles at sea on video. I would look into investors which I'm sure I could find green loving individuals willing to invest. I am in Alaska currently and there may be a market here. Or down the coast since everything is shipped here. But possibilities are endless I think. Again, thank you for the info.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
You could lose a lot of money with a buisne model like this. Between purchase and refit costs, crewing costs and insurance you could be in the hole to the tune of hundreds of thousands a year. Might be less, but big losses are likely.

If you have some magic potion or investors that can afford to lose a ton of money, maybe.

If not, might be cheaper to buy a 767 and charter it out on cargo runs to China.
I would start it as a family business, I think me and my willing and skilled brothers and sister have the skills between us to reduce refitting costs and I could take on trainee volunteers possibly. It could be expensive but if the right research is done and a passionate and willing crew is put together then I don't see why we can't make this happen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
You'll want to plan on loosing a boatload of money, the sails and rigging alone will end up costing you much more than the price of commercial diesel. Your hypothetical customers will most likely find cheaper rates using air freight. Besides, unless you plan on hauling only marshmallows, potato chips and toilet paper, a sailing vessel needs to be designed from the beginning to haul freight, it can't be repurposed.
Thats why i'm here and asking, to learn. I figured a vessel would be unlikely to be repurposed into and i know diesel is a cheaper option "for now as prices continue to skyrocket" but i would be looking at tapping into the market of eco friendly companies looking for shipping through green energy. however, there are vessels out there that were built for cargo and repurposed as passenger vessels. I could look into purchasing something of the sort and turning it back into what it's original design was. I do understand that this idea would be to move products at a more expensive rate but there are other ways to help cheapen rates and raise money.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Green as in it's not a giant cargo ship burning thousands of pounds of fuel per trip because it will run on wind and electric motors. Also you think fuel is going to remain cheap? no it is going to rise and fall, rise and fall but ultimately become more expensive until it is ultimately too expensive and wind and electric ships take over. Fossil fuels will also be depleted by the end of the century anyway. Of course a schooner isn't a Boeing 767, but it can get to places where A Boeing can't. you are right I think maybe a 70 foot to a 100 foot ship that can carry tonnage such as an actual purpose built cargo schooner would be the way to go. This isn't a money chasing idea if I can do good enough to pay off the ship, maintain it and pay fair wages to a small crew than I am doing good. Another option is to subcontract it to a already multi million dollar green sailing company such as Sail Cargo or other currently successful companies. The thing is fuel will become expensive and like it or not electric and wind power will be the future in my honest and humble opinion. Also check this out https://graindesail.com/fr/content/14-notre-voilier-cargo-grain-de-sail
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
These guys are making sail work with 50 metric ton loads going transatlantic in a purpose-built schooner 72' long. They're doing 2 to 3 round-trips a year from France:https://graindesail.com/fr/content/14-notre-voilier-cargo-grain-de-sail. They import the raw materials that they process and sell, and export their finished product along with other luxury goods. They are well financed by an ongoing successful company. If you can find a business that doesn't mind long delivery times and which is willing to absorb some of the added costs in order to be "green", you may have a niche you can make work. Used boats big enough to be useful for carrying freight are not easy to find. Many that might seem affordable at first may not be in good condition. Good luck.
That's great information and a great idea. Thank you for sharing, let me know if you have any other good info you don't mind parting with! fair winds!
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Green?
I doubt it. Yes it may use less tons of fossil fuel/year but probably more per pound of cargo.
Your crew taking 3 months to do a trip that a cago shop takes 8 days think of 3 months of food, fuel, effluent, ropes (made of fossil fuel plastics) sails made of plastics) etc compared to 8 days /pound.

Further you state a few time fossil fuel prices will rise in the future. Why? How? Most economists think it will drop are other energy comes on line as tgeres a world production glut by countries like Iran. That won't be over in a week.

There's different ways to rape the earth, and sailing cargo around it may turn out to be one way.

Mark
It will increase due to inflation, and the fact that it is increasingly difficult to find or extract oil. Demand is high and supply is low and that is why oil is increasing in price as it is. I've never heard of an economist saying that the price of oil will fall ( maybe next year but not in several or ten years) in fact I only here them talk about how it will continue up to increase. You seem to be under the impression that this idea serves the purpose to compete against large cargo ships which it is not. Some cargo companies are experimenting with with new ways to run props using wind and solar and are becoming quite successful. This idea I'm thinking of, It is a way to tap a market and find a nich between companies that would like to transport their products under less carbon emissions. There is a market for it and I think it would be a worthwhile venture. Plus there are other materials to make reliable ropes and sails other than plastics made of oil.

Joey
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Btw, I have solar electric auxillary propulsion on my sailboat :) I have no issues with electric propulsion.

My thought is that a traditional 70 ft schooner may have too small of a cargo capacity to be profitable.

Consider crewing costs. For a cargo vessel to be competitive on long range transport, ideally it would be carrying, loading or discharging cargo 24/7 or close to it. Say you can get away with 6 crew per rotation. $500 000/ year in crewing costs. Times 2, because most sailors are looking to work time on for time off these days. That puts your crewing costs at a million dollars a year? Give or take a few hundred thousand?

Say the buisiness is delivering supplies to island out stations in Alaska and BC (I see you posted this in the BC/ Alaska sub forum), you could probably get away with daylight only operations and only a single crew, but that still leaves you competing with small fast power boats carrying similar volumes with one or two crew at 2-4 times the speed
Btw, I have solar electric auxillary propulsion on my sailboat :) I have no issues with electric propulsion.

My thought is that a traditional 70 ft schooner may have too small of a cargo capacity to be profitable.

Consider crewing costs. For a cargo vessel to be competitive on long range transport, ideally it would be carrying, loading or discharging cargo 24/7 or close to it. Say you can get away with 6 crew per rotation. $500 000/ year in crewing costs. Times 2, because most sailors are looking to work time on for time off these days. That puts your crewing costs at a million dollars a year? Give or take a few hundred thousand?

Say the buisiness is delivering supplies to island out stations in Alaska and BC (I see you posted this in the BC/ Alaska sub forum), you could probably get away with daylight only operations and only a single crew, but that still leaves you competing with small fast power boats carrying similar volumes with one or two crew at 2-4 times the speed
That's a good point to consider, but there are other options than paying $500000 per year. I used to work as a wildland firefighter after the millitary, I happily made 20k to 25k per fire season I'm sure there is a way not to get "cheap labor" but to find yound willing college kids looking to learn how to sail. Realistically, you only need one or two good sailors that can teach a crew. Fair transport charges for people to ride as a trainee. However, crewing costs are definitely a consideration. I am in the Alaska area and coastal trading is an idea to think about. Most people here get around on motor fishing boats. But I could be willing to go to where there may be more of a market. I. Sure some wealthy California's would love some alaskan goods shipped by sail... just saying. Yes there are lots of expenses and considerations price of a small crew. And what the ship can hold. I think 70 foot cargo sailing ship depending on build could carry 100 tons. Some ships twice as long are capable of carrying 400 to 500 tons. Thanks for sharing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
Direct trade between California and Alaska probably wouldn't work with a solar electric sailboat. The California current makes northbound coastal voyage very difficult. Typically to get to Alaska from California one would sail via Hawaii. On a route like this you would clearly be competing directly with 800 foot ships on a transoceanic voyage. College kids wouldn't cut it, you need professional mariners for this route.

*as was pointed out above, a deisel powered ship may well have a smaller carbon footprint than a small electric boat on this route due to the economies of scale.
Let
Direct trade between California and Alaska probably wouldn't work with a solar electric sailboat. The California current makes northbound coastal voyage very difficult. Typically to get to Alaska from California one would sail via Hawaii. On a route like this you would clearly be competing directly with 800 foot ships on a transoceanic voyage. College kids wouldn't cut it, you need professional mariners for this route.

*as was pointed out above, a deisel powered ship may well have a smaller carbon footprint per ton of cargo carried than a small electric boat on this route due to the economies of scale.
hey! it's an idea. worst case scenario I take on my two skilled brothers my sister or some volunteers and we go for a Pacific sail! as long as I make enough through trade to upkeep the ship and pay into a refit fund then I'm doing good! not trying to be a millionaire here just looking at an alternative lifestyle. Im aiming to be a pilot with the millitary and when I get out I may take this on as a side project, go fly and fight some wildfires during the fire season and head down to conduct trade off my little schooner in the south pacific or the carribean. Hell, possibilities are endless with determination and willingness to action. Could even see if sail cargo or current successful sail cargo companies would hire or subcontract my ship on occasion to run a transatlantic route. They have the routs and volunteers I would have a sailing vessel... ideas. ideas. ideas.
 

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Discussion Starter · #44 ·
I applaud the OP having a dream on the water, although, it sounds like there is insufficient capital to give it a go and it does seem like a stretch to be viable. A shoestring, family run, single cargo carrier isn't going to be very reliable, let alone likely profitable. It's described as a very small carrier, which would be inefficient. Sailing isn't free. The sails for a vessel of this size will cost tens of thousands of dollars, plus running and standing rigging, and wear out far more often that a weekend warrior's. Down for repairs is one thing, but I'll bet it won't be that much cheaper to operate per mile than a slow displacement diesel barge, when you factor in the life cycle of the sailing bits.

Time is money, as they say. The longer the stuff sits in transit, the more it costs whomever made it. Most companies have borrowed money to fund their inventory, because that's the cheapest way. Shareholder capital demands much higher returns. Most "green" things need to be priced up or government subsidized to work. I figured the niche was going to need to be wealthy areas that would pay up to feel better.
I was naive in my vehicle description. The ship I will be looking for or to build would be a cargo schooner capable of at least 50 tonnes that can be used for day tours and long term expeditions all based on A loose schedule..have the cargo holds be able to turn into birthing if necessary. No need to worry about my capitol or how I will pay or if it's a good idea or not. This thread is simply to get ideas on the kind of ship I would look into and if anyone has any ship builders/designers they could turn me onto. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #45 ·
I am in St Martin in the Caribbean. Here is the largest supermarket in the French side :

View attachment 141323

View attachment 141324

Whatever product I am selling I want it IN my store on the agreed date. Not one month later because the wind didn't blow somewhere.

If it's expensive, organic wine/chocolate/coffee-from-a-cats-butt it's all the more likely I need it on time because my customers are rich and demand so.

Sailing a cargo boat might sound very, very romantic but, inho, could send the operator broke.

Mark
Sounds like you are not a viable customer then. No worries.
 

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Discussion Starter · #48 ·
Cool thread. I am chief mate on towing vessel in Alaska and I have the very same thought as the OP.
There are countless little communitues that rely on goods being flown in or coming in by tugboat. I wonder if by focusing on remote, difficult to access areas you could carve out a niche? Many of these villages band together in to form co-ops and corporations and what not. Their world is effected by global warming and "going green" even if minimally might appeal to them even if just for promotional purposes. Things like clothing and electronics, that don't need to be flown in and could be made cheaper might be an option for you? Also I have seen tons of broken down equipment, everything from outboards to ATVs to snowmobiles, that could be purchased and parted out back in the lower 48.

Anyhow, cool idea you got.
Welcome to the thread. I also appreciate your appreciation to the idea. Seems this is a black and white matter. I have some ideas I think are good to help supplement the potential business other than straight cargo sailing, let alone I will be living pretty meager to invest my savings, and capitol into a ship that would work fine but by no means will it be a luxury ship or have fancy accomodations for crew or guests but just enough for a fun adventure. Me and my brother are both skilled blue collar workers with different trades and other members of the family want to help with marketing and other important aspects of the business when we aquire the ship. I may just have the bones built professionally and build the rest with my brother. I would like to install an electric engine or a diesel even with carbon filters at least. I do believe I could find a green niche somewhere here for sure, most business here is tourism or fishing, not much trade with islanders. Maybe I could take the occasional winter to head down to the south pacific to trade Alaskan goods and come back with some Island goods. I do realize of course that this will be my life style and I'm buying a ship instead of a house :sneaky:
 

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Discussion Starter · #50 · (Edited)
I would think that in an ideal world, you might try to find a boat like the Liberty Clipper. (Originally the Mystic Clipper). I worked on the drawings for the Liberty Clipper when I worked for Charlie Wittholz in the early 1980's.

She was a steel hulled schooner built for the short trip charter trade. For a slew reasons she had a very large carrying capacity, was designed to be handled by a very small crew and was very robustly constructed.

But frankly, if I was committed to doing what you are talking about doing, I would consider a purpose built vessel. She would not necessarily look like any traditional working vessel out of the past. She would need to be 70 feet minimum up to maybe 100 feet. The hull should probably be multiple chine steel and the rig a more modern sail multiple mast rig with square top sails. She should probably be a centerboard boat with a retractable rudder so you could get into shallow enough water to do a roll off-roll on loading onto the shore.

That would be an expensive way to start, but it would give you the ability to have enough carrying capacity and operating efficiency to make the idea work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #51 ·
I see passenger operations with some freight being much more viable for this kind of operation than cargo. Passengers will pay a premium for an eco experience, freight is going to be more about cost, reliability and speed.

Check out this operation around the Darien Gap. Sailing around the Darien Gap on the Stahlratte
Thanks for sharing the link. That is an awesome operation, small with a good ship. looks family owned. I noticed the part where they operate on a loose schedule, I would definitely want a motor sailor with an electric engine just to be a little better with time. Would be nice to work for me and not for the man.
 

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Discussion Starter · #54 ·
Very interesting thread, with many comments about profitability and viability of the pursuit. I would add another consideration (without getting into it too much): politics. The spending bill just passed by the House included literally billions for getting the US greener. Many (not all) other countries seem to be onboard (some more seriously than others). So there is the possibility that Uncle Sam might provide subsidies to help the green sailing cargo transport industry become economically feasible. The seaweed farming industry has exploded in recent years; providing not only a food source but absorbing CO as well.
This is where my green sailing idea came to mind. Some countries offer 250k euros to help build green infrastructure including, ships. I wouldn't be able to get a ship for several more years so with that in mind I forsee the U.S. co tinuing down the green side of things.
 

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Discussion Starter · #57 ·
Yes, that is the Liberty Clipper. I worked for Charlie Wittholz when she was being designed and constructed, doing a lot of the drawings.

If I were doing her today as a cargo-hauler. The hull shape would be a little different and her rig would be very different and a whole lot simpler.

Jeff
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A design similar to this but with two masts instead of one and maybe a slightly different layout is what I had in mind. such as dividing the owners quarters into officer quarters for the captain and first mate. The front berthing's would be for 2 to 4 trainees. With the ability to install racks and berthing's in the cargo holds for passenger cruises, I would be looking for designs or a ship that was comfortable sailing blue water and can handle rough weather with a steel hull. Alaska is a big place to get around, lots of places to get grounded if not careful and can have some nasty weather. Also, again I wouldn't mind the occasional south pacific trading/ adventure excursion to get away from Alaska during winter time which we could play into a video vlog and be good for marketing. Any ideas what else I should think to incorporate in the ships design?
 
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