Costa Rican hybrid sailboat aims to cut shipping costs


Some 200 workers from 27 countries are building a hybrid sailboat on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast designed to carry 350 tonnes of cargo, hoping to demonstrate that in the 21st century, it is possible to transport cargo without polluting the environment.

Inspired by the historic Finnish commercial schooner Ingrid of the Aland Islands, Sailcargo Inc claims to have designed the vessel named Ceiba “to be the first of its kind in the world”. It will rely mainly on wind power with two auxiliary electric motors for maneuvering in ports and in light winds.

“One of the most important things is to prove that it is financially profitable” as well as being environmentally and socially sustainable, Sailcargo chief executive and founder Danielle Doggett told Reuters.

The ship is being built in Punta Morales, a poor fishing community 125 kilometers (78 miles) west of Costa Rica’s capital, San José.

Doggett, a professional ship captain, founded the company with his partner Lynx Guimond, an adventurer and cabinetmaker. The Canadian couple and a Costa Rican partner plan to complete the prototype in 2021. The Ceiba is named after the sacred tree of the indigenous peoples of Central America.

Ceiba will be commissioned in 2022 on the links between Canada, Ecuador and Hawaii, and the firm plans to recover over six years the private investment of $ 4.2 million needed for the project.

“We want this to be a flagship ship that carries the Costa Rican flag with products that can truly be sold under the ‘zero emission’ seal like coffee, turmeric, salmon, barley and others.” said John Porras, co-founder and legal representative of Sailcargo.

Amid the incessant noise of saws, sanders, and mallets, the 45-meter-long (148-foot-long) Ceiba is built using timber from secondary, cultivated forests, or fallen trees nearby.

(Reporting by Alvaro Murillo; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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