Tall ships make a comeback as oil price hits exports

Monday, July 28th, 2008

Tall ships make a comeback as oil price hits exports:

A British schooner docked in Penzance yesterday carrying 30,000 bottles of wine on a voyage that enthusiasts believe will herald a return to wind power in merchant shipping.

The first commercial cargo of French wine to be transported by sail in the modern era is due in Dublin this week after a six-day journey, which is being touted as a green and ultimately cheap alternative to fuel propulsion.

The 108-year-old, wooden, triple-masted Kathleen & May has been chartered by the Compagnie de Transport Maritime à la Voile (CTMV), a shipping company established in France to specialise in merchant sailing. “This is beyond anybody’s dreams,” said Steve Clarke, the owner of the Kathleen & May, which was built in 1900 in Ferguson and Baird’s yard at Connah’s Quay near Chester.

“When I bought this boat in 1966 it was going to be cut up with chainsaws. Nobody ever imagined it would ever sail again.” He said that amid high fuel costs and concern over carbon emissions, commercial sailing ships could have a future. “I think they might have hit on something.”

Amusingly, the Kathleen & May site is still offering “an exceptionally rare opportunity to purchase an important part of Britain’s maritime heritage”:

Built in 1900, the Kathleen & May is the only wooden triple-masted sailing schooner still in existence. One of only 60 famous tall ships on the UK’s National Register of Historic Vessels, neighbours include the Cutty Sark and HMS Victory. Beautiful and graceful, this tall ship has been completely and sympathetically renovated to its original 1900 specification.

Leave a Reply