Tidewater Current





Original Content & Curated News Featuring Sustainable Endeavors in Coastal Virginia & beyond.

John Collamore of the Colonia Seaport Foundation with Model of the LunaPresident of the Colonial Seaport Foundation, John Collamore, exhibiting a model of the of the Luna, a colonial era sloop that will serve as a floating classroom and haul goods in the Chesapeake Bay. Image: City of Hampton, VA


Charting a Course for Sustainable Transport:  Luna Project Aims to bring Sail Freight to the Chesapeake Bay

Posted 5 March 2017 by Carol Brighton

The Colonial Seaport Foundation, based out of Deltaville, Virginia is undertaking a massive reconstruction project. With the hull of a 1976 gaff topsail ketch, they are recreating a colonial era Bermuda sloop painstakingly pieced together out of parts salvaged from destroyed vessels. A project 8 years in the making, the crew hopes to put Luna in the water this summer. Measuring 76 feet in length with 50 feet on deck, the vessel will be used for educational outreach and, in keeping with its historical objective, cargo transport.

The foundation team is being helped by a troop of Sea Scouts from Mechanicsville, VA. Ship 530 has played a hands on role in the project participating in the construction process and in return, the finished vessel, named the Luna, will serve as an integral part of their curriculum as a floating classroom. John Collamore, a project founder, notes that in the colonial era, the sloop was considered “an 18 wheeler of the day moving goods up and down the coast.” Designed for hauling goods, much of the ship's interior was reserved for the cargo hold. While Luna’s primary mission is geared toward education, focusing on maritime science and historical reenactments, he notes that “Luna will also be used as a sail freight vessel giving small and eco-conscious businesses a green shipping option in the region.” 

The Tres Hombres crosses the Atlantic trading fossil free / Image: © courtesy Fairtransport BV Shipping

Still a fledgling enterprise, sail freight has achieved success in Europe. Through a “ship-share” investor platform, Fairtransport began operation with one vessel to deliver goods via European and transatlantic trade routes including the Caribbean and South America. Now, in a sail cargo alliance, they manage a small fleet of vessels hauling sustainable cargo carbon free. Pioneering engineless sail powered trade, the Tres Hombres began life much like the Luna with owners that had a vision and procured a hull that needed to be transformed.  With a cargo capacity of 35 tonnes, she has been transporting goods since December 2009 across the Atlantic.  Wine carried as ballast is aged at sea and the vessel conveys a rum brand bearing its name. In addition, coffee, tea, spices,olive oil, ales and chocolate are traded emission free. The Avantuur, a newly added vessel under Fairtransport management with 114 tonnes cargo capacity also recently traversed the Atlantic and plans have her expanding sail trade to the South Pacific. By taking on paying crew, the Fairtransport model generates income through a secondary revenue stream. Offering unique at sea sail training over both long and short hauls, paying crew enjoy life changing experiences. Check out Martin Blouet's experience via Youtube.

Demand for sail cargo is growing. The Sail Cargo Club has advertised tonnage requests upon sailing vessels in the Caribbean, along the west coast of the Americas and from West Africa to the UK.  This year the Fairtransport trade route will also expand adding a U.S. port to their itinerary. Beginning in late 2017, Charleston, SC will serve as a port of call.

Sail freight ventures in the US have had a tough time staying afloat.  The most successful endeavor, the Salish Sea Cooperative sustained a Community Supported Agriculture venture for six seasons, delivering organic produce grown in the Olympic Peninsula to downtown Seattle carbon and traffic free. Unable to muster a crew, the operation shut down in 2015. The Vermont Sail Freight Project, which was featured in a National Geographic production (found here), delivered goods from verdant Vermont to Manhattan. Unfortunately, the wind likewise fell out of its sails.

Despite recent cargo by sail failures, there’s great potential for the Luna Project.  Like the Fairtransport model, the Colonial Seaport Foundation is not reliant solely on trade to support its operation. By linking educational outreach with the historically correct use of the vessel in trade, the foundation is creating a multifaceted platform with broad appeal extending to students, sailing enthusiasts, history buffs and business.  Looking to promote social responsibility and lower the carbon footprint of their operations, the Colonial Seaport Foundation is attracting corporate interest and developing partnerships for the sail freight component of their mission. When sailing, they plan to move coffee, beer and wine around the region.

Human and financial resources are still being sought to get Luna in the water and support her operation afloat. Visit the Colonial Seaport Foundation website for information on volunteer and sponsorship opportunities.

Learn more about the Luna Project in the City of Hampton Youtube on the Colonial Seaport Foundation below.


Read more about sustainable transport here and in these prior Tidewater Current posts:

Wayfinding Explorers Sailing to the Chesapeake Bay

Hermione - A Heroine of the American Revolution Returns

Reviving Sail Transport

Wind Propulsion Back on the Horizon




Check the Archive for Previous Posts

All Rights Reserved: Disclaimer

Top of Page