'Coffee Under Sail: An Alternative Shipping Option' 1

‘Coffee Under Sail: An Alternative Shipping Option’

Author: Shani Meintjes.

How does the delicious delicacy of Costa Rican coffee reach its international destinations of export? What if that coffee we know and love is grown sustainably, but once it is shipped, it has cost the environment in a myriad of ways?

What if there was an alternative for companies who already practice responsible methods of production to ship their products without contributing to air pollution, oil spills, or the release of invasive species through ballast water? Instead, if you could ship 100% emission-free while simultaneously supporting communities through education, tree-planting, and income opportunities, only by choosing an alternative transport option.

In Punta Morales, a tiny village on the Pacific Coast, nestled amidst vibrant mangroves lining the edge of the Gulf of Nicoya, a 45m wooden ship is being built to meet exactly that requirement. You may have already heard of Ceiba, a cargo schooner destined to change the way we recognize modern shipping by being the final missing link in otherwise already sustainable supply chains.

She will have 250 tonnes of carrying capacity to freight sustainably-sourced goods to Hawai’i, Canada, and mainland USA, before sailing home southwards, making a stop in Mexico en route. Also, due to available days outside of the biannual PAX route, there are proposed extensions: the Gold Lines could take Ceiba as far north as Alaska and as far south as Peru to fully use those extra days. The cargo team is hard at work, making all the necessary preparations.

'Coffee Under Sail: An Alternative Shipping Option' 3

Meanwhile, the build of the 3-masted tall- ship is on the eve of the next phase of construction: Framing hands gradually over to deck-beam construction and planking. The sternpost has been hoisted, the deadwood is complete, and the last frames are waiting, eager to be raised. Over a year of structural framing is coming to a close, giving way to planking the hull with primarily Cedro Amargo (Cedrela odorata) timbers.

August brought a second wave of rain, the almost exponential growth of vegetables in the new Huerta, and the successful closure of this year’s tree-planting program – TREES for SEAS. Astillero Verde harvests the first lettuce and cucumbers, and the planting of various fruiting tree species continues alongside the evolution of Ceiba.

Designed with ecological intention, the company behind the flagship of Costa Rica – SAILCARGO INC. – aims to not only build ships and sail cargo but influence the surrounding community at home and each port of call positively. It is providing educational courses in fading traditional skills, employment in areas that have limited opportunities, and regenerating degraded land through practicing agroforestry and supporting producers who also believe in doing business responsibly.

The result is an interconnected, increasingly self-sufficient community composed of a diverse group of people from all corners of the globe, working together with the same objective: bringing shipping back to people. Diversifying a crucial industry, connecting many small-scale, ethical producers with conscious consumers, all through several emission-free shipping lines – creating a robust and resilient trade network.

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