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.
The Grain de Sail is a modern small cargo schooner, launched in 2020 and in service since, carrying wines and chocolate from France to NYC and the Caribbean. The ship can carry a total of 35 tonnes of wine with a crew of 4, and takes about three months on her circuit from France to NYC, the Caribbean, and back. The plans are to have her make two circuits per year, one in spring and one in the fall, and has completed three voyages thus far.
In 2021, Grain de Sail and Apollonia met up in New York Harbor and transferred cargo between the boats, one of the first such exchanges between inland and transoceanic sailing vessels in US Waters this century.
Grain de Sail is unique, in that she is specifically designed for hauling wine. Her hold is climate controlled, the wines are types suited to the rolling motions of the ship, and other considerations have been made to ensure the wine is not damaged by transport.
She is a Marconni-Rigged Schooner, using more modern designs of soft sails than the traditional gaff-rigged schooners which are iconic parts of the Downeast Maine seascape. These allow sailing slightly closer to the wind, and they make automated sail handling far easier. Roller-Furling replaces much of the crew labor in reefing or handling jibs and headsails, and sheets can be controlled remotely. While she has an engine onboard for emergency and docking use, she uses it very rarely.
You can learn a bit more about Grain de Sail on their website: www.graindesailwines.com
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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