The Vermont Sail Freight Project

A Sailing Cargo Initiative Connecting the Farms and Forests of Vermont with the Lower Hudson Valley

Month: November, 2012

Excellent News

A conversation with Officer Ed Green of the Burlington, Vermont Coast Guard station has given me great hope that our project can proceed towards a 2013 launch as planned. Thanks to Kathy Pelish at the Salish Sea Trading Company (our West Coast philosophical cousin) to helping facilitate this dialog. While maritime regulations are not really written with small trading sailboats in mind, apparently they can be brought about and operated within the law for missions such as ours.

Officer Green informed me that a sail powered boat of under 15 tons would not be subject to inspections or a demanding design review process. This is really important for a volunteer-driven low-budget startup venture like ours. Maybe eventually we will be able to work within more demanding parameters, and if we ever think of taking on paying passengers in addition to cargo certainly more regulations would come into play. But for a small volume of non-dangerous cargo like cabbages and grain, there are no requirements for inspection.

However we would obtain a Coastwise Trading Endorsement which would allow us to do the kind of small time trading at waterside that the project envisions. It is very encouraging to learn that the Coast Guard is open to our project and that there is still a place in our country’s maritime laws for a little sailboat with big ideas.


Thames Rig Triloboat Synthesis

There are some significant developments to report!  The Vermont Sail Freight Project is going forward in partnership with the Willowell Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit based in Monkton, the next town over from where I live.  Details are being worked out regarding how exactly we will approach and execute this exciting project and I am very happy to be working with a great team of people.  This partnership greatly increases the likelihood of a successful launch in 2013 as originally planned.

We’re very busy pursuing questions of feasibility with the Coast Guard and municipalities, and other matters of logistics and strategy.  When these are resolved, we can begin laying the groundwork for the creation of the project in a way that will involve high school students and the wider community.

Also, we are scheduled to present the project at the ACORN (Addison County Relocalization Network) Financing the Working Landscape Conference on Nov. 29th.  If you are local, maybe we’ll see you there.