Sail-Powered Rum Will Help Us During the Zombie Apocalypse

When zombies are busy eating your friends, and zero fuel is left on the planet, there's only one way to get your mitts on food and booze in the apocalypse. Luckily, one company is already spearheading a green transportation revolution the old-fashioned...

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24 October 2014, 3:13pm

Photo via Fair Transport

When the apocalypse comes and zero fuel is left on the planet (and there are zombies munching on your mates, too) the only way you're going to get your mitts on bananas, ostrich meat or some other far off exotic food produce is the old-fashioned way: sail-powered trade. Trust me when I state that it's the (post-apocalyptic) future.

Some of us aren't hanging around for the end of the world though. Sail-powered trade is already a thing. In 2007, Fairtransport's Tres Hombres, an engine-less schooner-brig, set out on its maiden voyage. Only this was a trip with a difference: A ship carrying cargo in the 21st century without the use of fossil fuel.

The Tres Hombres has since completed five transatlantic roundtrips (you can track its current whereabouts through one of its cargo partners here). The world's first modern emission free shipping company, every bottle of wine and barrel of rum delivered by Fairtransport shows a sticker supporting what the crew calls a 'Green Shipping Revolution' and comes with a 90-percent CO2 reduction guarantee.

It's an idea that others have cottoned on to. Alex Geldenhuys of Bristol-based New Dawn Traders encountered the Tres Hombres when the vessel stopped off in England upon the ship's return to Holland from the Caribbean in the spring of 2013. It is capable of carrying 35 tonnes of cargo. Geldenhuys says she fell in love the minute she stepped onboard, and ended up working as the ship's chef—sailing for eight months to Norway, Brazil, and back again.

Whilst on her travels, Geldenhuys purchased a barrel of rum from the Dominican Republic, which was subsequently bottled in Cornwall, blended with Cornish spring water, and labelled as New Dawn Rum: It was the first sail-shipped rum barrel to be landed in the UK for nearly 100 years. This led to New Dawn Traders becoming Fairtransport's brokers for any cargo bought into the UK and they, too, hope to have their own sail-powered ship in the forthcoming years.

"At the moment, 90 percent of what we buy comes off a container ship. How much of this do we actually need? We are not looking to replace all container ships with sailing ships, [but] we want people to rethink their consumption habits and fulfill most of [their] wants and needs locally," Geldenhuy says. 'The cargo that we want to sail over from distant lands are of value because they are either products that cannot be grown in England or are of cultural significance and curiosity. We believe that fine quality, especially in food, is intrinsically linked to ethical production and that therefore an epicurean nature is something to be nurtured in everyone, and need not cost the earth."

But there's more than just the environment to Geldenhuy's ethos. There's what Geldenhuy calls the "Slow Food Sailing Circus"—a ship that not only carries cargo, but has sailors who are also artists, teachers, musicians, scientists, and chefs. "A community," as she puts it, "who not only values good ethics from the sourcing and transportation of cargo, but understands the importance of celebrating these cargos and voyages as well."

Geldenhuy believes that culture needs to be international in order to "re-enchant a culture around the stuff we make and trade and consume. A ship is itself a metaphor for the Earth and her limited resources. When at sea, you rely on the ship and her crew for every aspect of survival. It is the perfect social and technological test bed for community building, understanding the issues of our times and exploring the potential of a world beyond the perils of climate change."

New Dawn Traders and Fairtransport aren't the only ones looking to the fuel-less horizon.

The Greenheart Project describes itself as "a zero-emissions, low-cost, sail/solar-powered cargo ship that lets marginalized communities participate in the global economy." Once the Greenheart is built (it has backing as a nonprofit organisation in Japan) it will embark on a 20-port, two-year circumnavigation of the globe in order to "promote and encourage global commercial use of renewable energy systems, hold events, coordinate research, training, and school programs, and connect with local green shipping and ethical trade initiatives."

The Vermont Sail Freight Project is another project on a much smaller scale with a similar ethos at its heart. Recreating a historic regional "food-way" in Vermont, for the last two summers, the project has shipped products such as maple syrup and herbal teas down the Hudson River to New York, stopping off at 20 small towns along the way.

Projects such as Skysail and KiteShip (hoping to equip modern cargo ships with huge sails) and Australia-based Solar Sailor (promoting solar and hybrid marine power) show that it's not just small projects considering an alternative to the gas guzzling cargo ships of present day.

At first glance, Fairtransport, New Dawn Traders, Greenheart, and VSFP might look like romantics trapped in the past, but when the oil bubble finally bursts, they're going to look like pioneers of the future. The future without fuel.