Sam Merrett ’01
Sam Merrett is bringing sail freight back to the Hudson River. Yes it’s true! He has been restoring a schooner named Apollonia since 2015 and if all goes as planned, she will be ready to sail this fall. Sam describes old boats like the Apollonia as beautiful work horses. Once up and running she will be the Hudson Valley’s largest carbon-neutral merchant vessel. He wants her to be the first of many boats on the Hudson moving freight up and down the river from Brooklyn to Albany using the power of the wind and used vegetable oil.
According to Sam’s website – Modern sail freight is a marriage of innovation and history – looking to our past to find solutions for the present. The technology we use is time-tested and integral to the history of our region. As communities up and down the Hudson are reconnecting with the river, we believe the time is right again for sail freight. The Apollonia is in the water, and we plan be under sail by the end of the 2018.
The Hudson River is the right place to demonstrate this model – a historic thoroughfare connecting upstate producers to one of the world’s largest markets. The Hudson has also proven itself resilient, as its ecology has rebounded and the communities along its banks re-invest in the infrastructure of their waterfronts. Sail freight meets these communities at the water’s edge.
This mission-driven, for-profit business has a transparent and reproducible business model – to provide carbon-neutral transportation for shelf-stable local foods and products. Connecting the traditions of slow food, fair trade, and carbon neutrality, we will inspire and train a new generation of Hudson River stewards and create green living-wage jobs in the growing river-based economy.
All freight is not appropriate for the Apollonia but shelf stable things like maple syrup, beer, honey, cider and many other products are perfect for it. She is a 64 foot steel hulled boat, built in Baltimore in 1946 and can carry 20,000 pounds of cargo as she moves efficiently through the water.
Sam and his team are not about just moving freight. They are planning events up and down the Hudson at the waterfront to tell the story of the cargo on board. They will use the boat to train crew and apprentices in traditional sailing techniques and how to use modern navigation equipment. They will also educate shippers, consumers and curious on-lookers about the Hudson and its continued importance to the region.
This is a win for the shipper, a win for the consumer, a win for the Hudson and the planet and a win for Sam!
Check out http://www.schoonerapollonia.com/ to learn more and get involved in this amazing venture.