This 113-year-old sailing ship is making a comeback for maritime cargo

The company is also building a hybrid vessel to reach zero emissions.
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Sailcargo Vega
Sailcargo Vega


A Costa Rican start-up, Sailcargo, is bringing old sailing ships back for the maritime cargo industry.

In a bid to be more environmentally friendly, the company announced on May 17, 2022, that it has purchased a 113-year-old sailing vessel, and it plans to launch the ship in the last quarter of the year.

Sailcargo had purchased a timber freight schooner with three masts and a square top sail; S/V Vega Gamleby was first constructed in Sweden in 1909. For nearly 60 years, Vega was used as an industrial cargo ship. The sailing ship is 137 feet long and is now registered at 140 gross tonnages. It raises a total of 7,000 square feet of sail area by hoisting 14 conventional sails and six auxiliary studding sails. In 1967, she stopped transporting cargo, fell into disrepair, and drowned in Stockholm harbor. The firm claims that when the Bergstöm family bought her and started their laborious reconstruction, she was on her way to the scrap yard. The majority of the original ship was lost in a shipyard fire in 1993, shifting the plans from restoration to practically a new build.

They intend to start a business that will move dry products like green coffee beans between Santa Marta, Colombia, and New Jersey in the United States. Canadian coffee firm Café William has reserved all northern freight voyages to transport their coffee beans.

Hybrid cargo vessel Ceiba is under construction

Additionally, Sailcargo continues to build the Ceiba, a ship combining sustainability and conventional building techniques. The plan calls for a three-masted sailing ship with a cargo capacity of nine TEU or up to 250 tons.

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The design has electric batteries and dual propellers as underwater turbines that can produce energy when under sail in addition to the 6,300 square feet of sail area. The company is also trying the use of photovoltaic technology in their ship.

The company anticipates launching Ceiba in 2023.

Ceiba will be able to travel at top speeds of up to 14 knots, which is six knots slower than a typical container ship. However, container ships frequently purposefully slow down to half speed due to rising fuel expenses. Average delivery times are still getting longer due to bottlenecks with cargo ships at important ports worldwide.

Ceiba is being constructed at the AstilleroVerde shipyard in Costa Rica. The eco-shipyard, which translates to "green shipyard" in Spanish, also serves as a nonprofit that conducts educational initiatives for neighborhood residents and an annual tree-planting program to reduce the company's carbon footprint.

Whether the Costa Rican company succeeds in bringing the old vessels back to life to reduce the maritime industry's emissions or not, it's nice to see the effort.

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