Setting a new course




Silver sea

Aesthetically, it’s hardly a difficult choice is it? But logically it makes a lot more sense than you might think too. Yesterday I immersed myself in the fair transport movement, joining hundreds welcoming the Tres Hombres (the world’s only engineless sail cargo ship) and New Dawn Traders into Falmouth after a nine-month voyage collecting the finest produce from Norway to Brazil.

Slicing through silver seas aboard the good ship Bessie Ellen (Britain’s last wooden coasting ketch still under sail), I hoisted the mainsail, blistered my hands, got hollered at, scandalized the mizzen, did the ‘galley ballet’, and even took the helm. After catching the haunting sight of the Tres Hombres’ nine sails like a mirage on the horizon, we raced to catch up (hearts-alive, ye ragamuffin rapscallions!), then sailed alongside her for the last three hours into Falmouth.

An unforgettable experience, yes. But what really blew my mind were the arguments, stories and facts behind the fair transport movement later that evening.

Like the one about the three friends who had a vision to ship trade cargo under sail, harvesting the power of wind and tide to move goods around the world without using a single litre of fuel. Who managed to scrape together half a million pounds and 400 volunteers from New Zealand to Alaska to make it happen. Who took Europe’s first cargo of humanitarian aid to Haiti… then filled their hold with rum to sell on the Dutch market and cover their costs. Who are now blazing a trail to tackle the one billion tons of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere each year by cargo ships, by developing a high-tech sailing ship that can carry dozens of industrial containers and be navigated by a single crewmember.

Or the one about the Line Islands in the South Pacific – the world’s biggest tuna fishery – where factory fishing means 20,000 tuna are caught every 15 minutes. But they’re selling the locals tinned tuna (shipped to Asia for processing then all the way back to the Line Islands) because they can’t fish their own fish anymore… And how sustainable cargo projects sailing produce between islands are having a huge impact on clawing back islanders’ independence.

Or the one about 800 million people starving in the world, while 40% of all food is wasted…

I’ll be writing a full magazine feature in the coming weeks, but in the meantime here are a few links to feast on…

Tres Hombres

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