In May of 2022, the Hudson River Maritime Museum will be running a Grain Race in cooperation with the Schooner Apollonia, The Northeast Grainshed Alliance, and the Center for Post Carbon Logistics. Anyone interested in the race can find out more here.
This May, the Northeast Grain Race spanned the Hudson Valley: Two vehicles entered with impressive scores for each, pitting Solar against Wind power. There were far more shipments, and we'll get to those shortly.
First, let's take a look at the shipments:
Solar Sal Boats entered a cargo in the Micro Category of 550 pounds of flour and grains from Ithaca Mills, which they brought to the People's Place in Kingston. They picked up the grains with an electric car which was charged by an off-grid solar array, then transferred the load to a Solar Sal 24 solar boat at Waterford, NY. Then, down the canal and river they came to Kingston, docked at the HRMM docks, and unloaded to another electric car.
This is when things get really great for this particular delivery: While the car was parked and the boat at the dock, there was some time before the stated delivery needed to arrive, so the car was plugged into the solar array of the boat. By the time they departed to make the final 2 miles of delivery, the car was charged enough to make it at least that far on just the boat's contribution. Everything about the entry was completely solar powered, and off grid, so no points were lost to fuel or energy use. Thank you to Dr. Borton of Solar Sal Boats for the video.
The second entry was by Schooner Apollonia, running their usual May cargo run full of Malt and Flour. Technically, this was a few different entries spanning from Hudson NY to New York City, and used a similar combination of vehicles and methods.
The Malt they carried was from Hudson Valley Malt, in Germantown, and moved to the docks with a vegetable oil powered truck. Then, of course, the Apollonia sailed the entries south, delivering the last mile by solar-charged cargo bike. The flour they carried was from Wild Hive flour, and made it to the dock in an electric car charged at the farm's off-grid solar power system. The flour was only about 425 pounds in total, but there were over three tons of malt on board.
The malt and flour got dropped off at various locations, making score calculations complex, but the impressively low use of the engines on Apollonia meant points against for fuel use were minimal: The engine only got used for 105 minutes, and burned under 2 gallons of fuel. In total, there were 7 entries onboard Apollonia.
Now to the big question: Who won?
For the Micro Category: Solar Sal Boats, Ithaca Mills, and The People's Place, with 21.5 points.
For the ½ TEU Category: Schooner Apollonia, Hudson Valley Malt, and Sing Sing Kill Brewery, with 212.5 points.
Overall, Apollonia wracked up 245 points, an impressive score to beat next year. The ingenuity of the Solar Sal entry in using a solar boat to charge an electric car sets the bar high for future competitors, and even points out another use for solar boats and vehicles which I don't think has been looked at very closely thus far: How they can directly contribute to balancing each other's energy needs.
Planning for next year's Grain Race is underway, and I'm looking forward to more entries and greater ambitions in the coming year. Until then, keep an eye out for more developments on Sail Freight, Sustainability, Resilience, and Climate Change here at the Hudson River Maritime Museum.
Steven Woods is the Solaris and Education coordinator at HRMM. He earned his Master's degree in Resilient and Sustainable Communities at Prescott College, and wrote his thesis on the revival of Sail Freight for supplying the New York Metro Area's food needs. Steven has worked in Museums for over 20 years.
If you enjoyed this post and would like to support more history blog content, please make a donation to the Hudson River Maritime Museum or become a member today!
This blog is written by Hudson River Maritime Museum staff, volunteers and guest contributors.
Hudson River Maritime Museum
50 Rondout Landing
Kingston, NY 12401
The Hudson River Maritime Museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the maritime history of the Hudson River, its tributaries, and related industries.
Become a member and receive benefits like unlimited free museum admission, discounts on classes, programs, and in the museum store, plus invitations to members-only events.
The Hudson River Maritime Museum receives no federal, state, or municipal funding except through competitive, project-based grants. Your donation helps support our mission of education and preservation.