Slow Freight Joins the Slow Movement

kathleen and may delivers wine photo

That's the Kathleen and May, pulling into Dublin with 22 pallets--that's 21,000 bottles of Fair Wind Wine--from Languedoc, carried by the Compagnie de Transport Maritime à la Voile (CTMV). They are the "owners and operators of the first European fleet of merchant sailing ships, and the current market leader for clean, environmentally friendly transport." Transportation by sail has one-seventh the carbon emissions of a container ship. (Why that much? Because they have generators for the navigational instruments and diesel for maneuvering in port or down rivers.)

belem sailing freighter photo

The Belem, another CTMV ship, recently visited Quebec

Hannah Bullock and Julia Sussams write at Green Futures:

"But doesn't the fact that the journey takes up to twice as long as it would by conventional vessel set the company at a commercial disadvantage? Founder Frédéric Albert explains that his contract with importers recognizes that the voyage varies from four to eight days depending on winds, and points out that wine sellers are keen to display the 'Carried by sailing ship' label on bottles.

He sees the enterprise as playing an educational role, too: "Consumers today don't know how long things really need — how long wine takes to mature; how long an apple takes to grow. [Slow freight] is a pedagogic thing. If the ship's late, it's because it's working with nature." He adds that there are added benefits of sending the bottles by boat, too — the rolling of the waves apparently improves the flavour of the wine." ::Green Futures

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