Transatlantic Voyage
Wooden Tallship Vega to Embark on Atlantic Crossing

AUTHOR: Hannah Southcott

A beautiful wooden tall-ship is moored in a Dutch canal's still, murky waters. This beautiful wooden ship is VEGA, a Swedish-built, top-sail schooner, and she will soon leave the flat waters of the canal and embark on a transatlantic voyage. She stands out amongst the hulking steel ships sharing the quay - a star shining a little brighter than those surrounding her.

SAILCARGO INC. recently purchased VEGA. Sailcargo is a shipping company building the wooden cargo vessel CEIBA in Costa Rica. The company is amassing a fleet of cargo vessels to transport products such as coffee and cacao under sail and is on a mission to prove the value of clean shipping.

The construction of CEIBA is taking place in Punta Morales in Costa Rica. The shipyard, Astilleroverde, is now operating at maximum capacity, and they make tremendous progress in building the ship every day. In recent months, the team has worked tirelessly to complete the steel weather deck strapping, wooden lodging knees, and portside weather stanchions. The next major task is the interior: planking, starting with the bilge and turn-of-the-bilge sections.

Four planking teams are working parallel to increase efficiency, targeting two installations every day. Elsewhere, teams finalize the construction of the galley and fairing of the ship's exterior. Once complete, the hull of CEIBA will become enclosed, and her true cargo-carrying purpose will become ever more prominent.

But she's not ready to launch yet - which is why SAILCARGO INC. moved forward with purchasing VEGA earlier this year, responding to demand from clients to start shipping cargo under sail as soon as possible. VEGA sailed from Sweden to the Netherlands in May this year. It was supposed to be in the Caribbean undergoing a refit to transform her into a cargo vessel.

Instead, for the past five months, VEGA has been moored in a canal in Harlingen, The Netherlands - a tall-ship mecca of Europe. It was supposed to be a quick visit to do routine maintenance and load some supplies. It became a huge challenge when they discovered that all three masts and the bowsprit would need replacement.

The entire ship was down-rigged, a spar hall opened, and work began crafting a new bowsprit, masts, and cross-trees. The carpentry team worked tirelessly crafting incredible new masts sourced from a timber mill just down the road. They painstakingly shaped lumber that was more than 20 meters long, work that was huge in scale and had to be precise to a matter of millimeters. Meanwhile, other crew members upgraded and did maintenance on the rigging and conducted the transforming VEGA from a sail training vessel into a cargo ship.

Transatlantic Voyage - VEGA crew member Dylan Davenport
Transatlantic Voyage - VEGA crew member Dylan Davenport

Hoisting three huge masts is no mean feat; it involves careful planning, the right machinery, and an expert crew to ensure everything goes smoothly on the day. It's been a considerable undertaking for the crew and an immense success, with the entire rig back in its rightful place aboard VEGA. In just three days, using a crane and a cherry picker - VEGA stood tall again, with her masts and topmasts proudly on display. 

Now the crew is working hard to finalize all the preparations for VEGA's big journey down to the Canary Islands and across the Atlantic Ocean. By November, she will be ready to leave Harlingen and European waters for good. 

Once she has crossed the Atlantic ocean - she will begin a new chapter, transporting coffee under sail between Santa Marta in Colombia and New Jersey in the US, the first SAILCARGO INC. ship in the water. 

Once the CEIBA is complete, she will join her sister ship VEGA - and work will begin in the shipyard on the third ship, Pitaya."

Transatlantic Voyage - VEGA in Full Sail

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