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One ship still moving freight by sail on the Hudson River

May 09, 2023 1:01 am

Doug Bierend reports in the Times Union that the schooner Apollonia has moved around 110,000 pounds of cargo and burned fewer than 10 gallons of diesel fuel in three years of sailing on the Hudson River. The 64-foot merchant schooner is the only working sail freighter in the U.S. The boat sails between Troy and Brooklyn, full of grains for breweries, coffee beans for roasters, shiitake-inoculated logs for urban farms, and maple syrup, cider, pumpkins, salt, cider, and other of local goods. Tianna Kennedy, a Delaware County-based farmer who is also an original member of the Apollonia’s crew said, “As a business model, we’re doing remarkably well, almost breaking-even for the cargo and the crew." While others are trying to restore moving goods by sail, they have to overcome neglected port infrastructure, obstacles to funding, problematic regulations, and an aging population who have the relevant skills and knowledge of how sail freight works. “We are really just one or two generations away from people who still know how to do this stuff,” said Andrew Willner, a Kingston-based former shipwright and executive director of the Center for Post Carbon Logistics. So instead, some of the Apollonia crew has no experience, like Brad Vogel, a Brooklyn-based poet. “I came into the role with no logistics training, or really arguably any relevant training whatsoever,” Vogel said. “But I came in with lots of will and enthusiasm and energy and real belief in the cause. It’s been a wild ride, but a very rewarding one to see two full seasons of sail freight happen on the Hudson with Apollonia.” Willner said, “This is the place where the first marine highway existed, and with the addition of the Erie Canal, this became one of the largest inland waterway complexes.... There’s absolutely no reason, with all the improvements we’ve made to both sail quality and the ability to use solar and hydrogen for canal traffic, that we couldn’t replicate that — couldn’t have thousands and thousands of vessels using Hudson, New York Harbor and the coast for transporting goods and people.” Read more about this story in the Times Union.

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