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 SV Kwai was built in Bremen, Germany in 1950, and launched as the motor vessel Bayern. After a long career she was acquired by Captain Brad Ives in 2005, who added a sailing rig and started a service from Hawai'i to the Cook Islands and Kiribati in June of 2006.
Kwai has a cargo capacity of 220 metric tons, or 300 cubic meters, and is about 142 feet long. She has a relatively small crew of 8-11 sailors, though she takes passengers from time to time. For 15 years, Captain Ives ran Kwai on this circuit, because the very high cost of fuel in these remote islands made it unprofitable for most similar cargo vessels to serve these islands. The Kwai's savings on fuel from the use of sails made her economically and ecologically viable, but her diesel engines also allowed her to keep a more steady schedule and maintain a higher level of safety than a pure sailing vessel.
In 2021, SV Kwai was sold to the Marshall Islands, where she continues to be in service today as a training and cargo vessel. Since the same economic dynamics which made SV Kwai a good choice for her original run exist in the Marshall Islands, she is a good fit there. Her test case will be the backbone of future retrofits to gain the same benefits for other vessels in the Marshall Islands fleet.
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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