Welcome to Sail Freighter Friday! 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 tracks sailing cargo ships both modern and historical. 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.
Schooner Apollonia is one of our favorite Sail Freighters, because she's on the Hudson River right now. She has been carrying cargo for two years now, with a bit of a preview season in 2020, testing out cargos and becoming familiar with regional waterfront infrastructure. Apollonia is currently the only active sail freighter in the US.
Apollonia is a 64' steel schooner built in Baltimore in 1946. Designed to carry cargo or operate as a pleasure yacht, she was purchased on Craigslist after spending 30 years on the hard and refitted as a cargo vessel. She was under restoration for four years before arriving at the Hudson River Maritime Museum in the fall of 2019 to build wooden blocks as she built out her full rigging. Her first official season was in 2021, when the vessel made 55 port calls at 15 ports on the Hudson River and in New York Harbor. Today she is homeported in Hudson NY, and often visits the Hudson River Maritime Museum docks as she works to connect the Hudson Valley and New York City.
Captained by Sam Merrett, Apollonia carries a lot of malted grain for breweries as the main part of her cargo, but she also carries almost anything else: Solar panels, cider, hot sauce, beer, coffee, maple syrup, flour, honey, yarn, apparel, books, vegetables, red oak logs for a mushroom farm, were all on the list in 2021, and more will be involved in 2022. She can carry 10 tons (20,000 lbs) of cargo at a time, up to 600 cubic feet.
Apollonia is a critical link in relearning the craft and trade of working sail. Inspired by the Vermont Sail Freight Project's Ceres, the project is a combination of sail freight and localized food economy with many educational side benefits. Apollonia builds connections between people and the river, as well as between businesses shipping goods sustainably by wind power, with first- and last-mile on-shore aspects done with a solar-powered cargo bike and trailer.
You can find out more about the Apollonia's Impacts from the 2021 season here, and check out her schedule and cargos for 2022 - and get involved as a "Shore Angel" or sail freight customer - at her website. If you find her at the docks anywhere on her route this season (there's a tracker on the website), she has a mobile component of our new exhibit aboard, which is worth checking out. Apollonia is also partnering with the Museum for the Northeast Grain Race and the Sail Freight Conference in November.
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.
Hudson River Maritime Museum
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