Welcome to Sail Freighter Fridays! This article is part of a series linked to our new exhibit: "A New Age Of Sail: The History And Future Of Sail Freight In The Hudson Valley," and tells the stories of sailing cargo ships both modern and historical, on the Hudson River and around the world. Anyone interested in how to support Sail Freight should also check out the Conference in November, and the International Windship Association's Decade of Wind Propulsion.
If you've been following Sail Freighter Friday, you'll have noticed last week was about a Fiji Government Vessel by the name of Na Mata-I-Sau. If you haven't read that article yet, you might want to catch up before you read this one. She was retrofitted with sails in 1984, but sank in January of 1985. Her rig was inherited by today's featured Sail Freighter, the Cagidonu. While the Cagidonu was larger than the Na Mata-I-Sau, the rig still proved useful, and the experiment in sail assisted propulsion continued.
The Cagidonu was a similar ship to her predecessor, in that she displaced 338 tons (64 more than the Na Mata-I-Sau), and was on a similar route. However, the Cagidonu was originally designed as an auxiliary sail vessel. Due to lack of crew training and an overly heavy set of original rigging which destabilized the ship, her rig had been cut off soon after her launch in 1978. In 1985, she was equipped with a new, better designed rig and the crew training issue was also addressed. Logs from Na Mata-I-Sau were transferred to the new ship, and the experiment started earlier was continued with good results.
Cagidonu used the modified rig for several years, saving around 21-36% on fuel, depending on her route and sail deployment. Since her engine-use strategy was to reduce port times, she rarely if ever sailed under wind power alone, so she wasn't a real Sail Freighter if we go by strict definitions. Despite pushing for the maximum speed instead of maximum fuel savings, she still performed well and encouraged research and expanded use of sail until the collapse of oil prices in 1986.
However, she played a similar role to her predecessor, and proved that wind assist as a retrofit is effective in both cost and economic benefits on small vessels. This research and development can be critical to rapidly adopting sail freight in the present day, because many of the Pacific Island States are currently suffering from extremely similar forces to the Oil Crisis Era of 50 years ago: High oil prices, and an especially vulnerable exposure to the effects of climate change and sea level rise. The use of maritime transport in a nation defined by its dispersed island nature is non-negotiable and unavoidable, meaning the use of sail will be especially important to the survival of these regions for economic and ecological reasons in the coming years and decades.
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.
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This blog is written by Hudson River Maritime Museum staff, volunteers and guest contributors.
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