After decades, a cargo sailboat delivers again to the shores of Brooklyn


The Grain of Sail, a seven-sail vessel that arrived at the Navy from Brooklyn Bridge Park after a 27-day crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. Photo courtesy of Grain de Sail

Bringing back the days of wind-propelled freighters, a unique 72-foot sailing schooner, loaded with 15,000 bottles of organic French wine and chocolate bars, arrived at the Brooklyn Bridge Park Marina after an adventurous 27-foot crossing. days across the Atlantic Ocean. .

This is the second crossing of the Atlantic for the ecological cargo ship of the French company Grain de Sail, which left from the north-west region of Brittany.

Grain de Sail, a coffee bean and chocolate company, says the seven-sail ship “isn’t your great-grandfather’s sailboat,” but is part of the company’s green supply chain. While the sails are propelled by the wind as before, the electronic and navigation needs of the ship are supplied by wind turbines, photovoltaic panels and hydroelectric generators.

After dropping off its cargo in New York, the ship (also named Sail’s Grain) will head to South America to pick up coffee beans to bring them back to Europe. It will make two round trips per year; each round trip lasts about three months.

A map showing the crossing of the Atlantic by the Grain de Sail. Card courtesy of Grain de Sail and ONE ° 15 Brooklyn Marina

The evolution of the city’s waterfront

Bringing back a sailing freighter to the same Brooklyn shore historically dedicated to navigation reflects the evolution of the city’s waterfront, Estelle Lau, CEO of ONE ° 15 Brooklyn Marina, said to Brooklyn Eagle. Grain of Sail “brings traditional shipping, sustainability and education to the New York waterfront, while recreational interest in the waterfront is emerging,” she said.

Sail’s Marina and Grain have been working there for over a year, but due to Covid restrictions, the ship had to dock at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in January after its maiden voyage across the Atlantic.

Lau added that she spoke to a woman who tasted one of the wines on the expedition, which came from her region in France. The bubbly strain she sampled was “fantastic,” she told Lau.

Visitors to the ship “are quite impressed that the sailors are crossing the Atlantic on this large sailboat but small freighter!” said Matthieu Riou, director of American wines and spirits at Grain de Sail.

The Grain of Sail has attracted the attention of other ship owners docked at the marina, he said. “Lots of other owners came to ask what this freighter was about.”

Shortly after docking at the marina, a huge rental sailboat docked right next to Sail’s Grain, he told the Eagle. “Now that there is a gigantic sailboat right in front of us [and] it feels a little smaller, but it’s still amazing to be in brooklyn with the world’s first modern cargo sailboat!

Visitors can book a visit to the ship this week. About 100 people have already booked, said Riou, “and most of the slots for the week are full!

The company plans a fleet of cargo sailboats

The artisanal niche occupied by the company’s products is well suited to its green delivery system, said Sam Barrett-Cotter, dockmaster at ONE ° 15 Brooklyn Marina.

“By harnessing only the power of the wind and increasing revenue while doing it, Grain de Sail demonstrates that you can have a business model that is both environmentally and economically sustainable,” he said.

“The growth of the company and the market demand for their exciting product are clear – they are currently building an even larger vessel with double the capacity for their next transatlantic voyage,” Barrett-Cotter said. The company’s turnover has grown from around 350 euros five years ago to around 5 million euros today.

According to the company, plans for an entire fleet of wind-powered freighters are in sight.

“Our vision is to operate the world’s first modern sailing cargo ship routes between Europe and the Americas. By harnessing the power of the wind, Sail’s Grain can produce and sell excellent, low-carbon gourmet products to transatlantic consumers, ”the company said.

The company calls its “old is new again” approach “retro-innovation”, which combines ancestral techniques with modern technologies.

The concept is also about adventure, said Grain of Sail. “Grain de Sail is both an adventure and a company that unites around the same values. Goulwen Josse is the captain of the ship; Thierry Monnerie is second; Julia Guérin is a deck officer and François Le Naourès is a sailor and “mediaman”.

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