The Vermont Sail Freight Project

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

Month: April, 2013

Sail Transport Network and Culture Change

The Vermont Sail Freight Project is a member of the Sail Transport Network, an organization created by petro-activist Jan Lundberg that aspires to serve as a logistical and advocacy network for the (re)emergent industry of sail transport. There are exciting prospects here of stitching together the trade routes of the early adopters to accomplish even longer-distance trades that are currently being accomplished by sail. My big hope is to help VSFP link up with projects already carrying fair trade goods from the tropics, like sugar, cocoa, and coffee as well as mediterranean products like olives, olive oil, dates and figs, and to be able to distribute these products up the Hudson and in the Champlain valley.

Jan was kind enough to give me a forum at his site, so in lieu of a prolonged post here I’ll send you over there to read a piece I wrote describing the cultural shift that I believe is making VSFP and other good works like it possible.




Well, what kind of punk are we here if not steampunk?

Word is getting out about the project. Are we in danger of becoming an internet meme? Probably not, or at least not yet. But as folks hear about us, it seems it gives cause for some to pause, and to mock the idea or praise it or somewhere between. Often I hear the tired old saw that sailboats are too slow. That low tech approaches are not competitive or viable in general. I’ve been hearing this kind of critique as a small scale farmer for years, and it’s never struck me as a reason to turn away from useful work one is called to do.

Back to steampunk, though I found this funny exchange posted on the website “The Stoutorialist” I think I caught a Monty Python reference in there!

• Ask me anything
The Stoutorialist
Miriam: check out this awesomeness
Monique: ooh!
Miriam: “but as for me/the wind is free/and they haven’t run out yet”
Monique: …see I look at this and think ‘this is what Steampunk should be doing; focusing on how/when anachronistic tech worked in a superior fashion for certain functions’
Miriam: totally!
Monique: But no instead it’s lots of upholding militarism and imperialism.
Miriam: srsly
Miriam: Look, all I want is a fleet of green, vegan-friendly, anarcho-syndicalist, worker-controlled ships that support ethical organic farming and collectives. Is that so much to ask?
Miriam: Why do I get pith helmets instead?

Also we were featured in Gothamist, a trendy arts and entertainment NYC publication.

For all of you that are fans of our little ship with big ideas, I’d like to say let’s keep it up!

Meanwhile, here on the farm, we’re at work building Ceres. We’re getting the bow and stern stitch and glue curved sections assembled. The math is a little tricky but hopefully the agony I suffered in high school geometry will pay off, and there won’t be a huge pile of unusable plywood cut to incorrect curved shapes in the scrap pile. (Ha, Mr. Bleyer, see! I can do it!)Documentation of that process with photos soon to follow.

At the conclusion of that process Ceres will look like a boat! Maybe still the kind of boat that gets boos and catcalls at high-end marinas, but I don’t care about that. “Handsome is as handsome does,” goes the old New England saying. Or, as the ever-wise Red Green of CBC’s Red Green Show ( would put it, “If the women don’t find you handsome, at least they can find you handy.”

Words to live by.