Almost everything you consume, from your weekly supermarket trip to the presents you order online, arrives by cargo ship. Shipping is the engine of the world economy, transporting eleven billion tonnes of goods each year. Despite the clear environmental crisis, shipping emissions have doubled since 1990 to more than one billion tonnes of CO2 – more than aviation, more than all of Germany, or even France, Britain, and Italy combined. As the shipping industry is forecast to grow threefold by 2050, full decarbonisation is urgent to limit catastrophic climate change. To understand whether there are any realistic alternatives to the polluting status quo of the container shipping industry, in 2020, Christiaan De Beukelaer spent 150 days as part of a sailing crew aboard the Avontuur, a century-old two-masted schooner fitted for cargo. This book recounts both this personal odyssey and the journey the shipping industry is embarking on to cut its carbon emissions. It shows that the Avontuur’s mission remains as crucial as ever: the shipping industry needs to cut its use of fossil fuels as soon as possible. Otherwise, we will face excessive global warming and the dire outcomes that will bring. The book explores our path to an uncertain future. It argues that shipping symbolises the kind of economy we’ve built: a gargantuan global machine that delivers the goods at an enormous environmental cost. Merely eliminating carbon emissions or improving efficiency won’t solve the underlying issue. If we can’t make shipping truly sustainable, we can’t solve the climate crisis.
actually needed. What changed in the meantime is that the remaining ‘tall ships’ typically run as sail training vessels. That’s the model that has proven its worth since the time Alan Villiers bought the Joseph Conrad in 1934. Having people pay for the privilege of working aboard a sailing cargo vessel was not new. The stingy Åland-based Finnish shipowner Gustaf Erikson started doing it in the 1920s. But Villiers explored it as a model to run a sailing ship with no cargo. Today, it’s the most common model of running
. Simply put, if commercial sailing ships had not stopped trading, we would not have had sail training. Sail training as we know it today emerged in response to the disappearance of working sail, in a romantic attempt to preserve its living heritage. The life of ‘trainees’ cannot, though, be compared to the lives of seafarers before the mast. Without sail training, the appeal of sail would have been far more limited than it is now, leaving little space for sail cargo initiatives to raise funds through paying shipmates
work. Not that Timbercoast or Cornelius were to blame. All voyage brochures explained the organisation of both time and space at sea. It is, however, probably easier to understand these things when you have previously sailed on a ‘sail training’ vessel. I remember how clueless I was before my first tall ship voyage on the Tenacious , despite their detailed joining instructions. ‘Are not sailors very idle at sea?’ asks Richard Henry Dana Jr. No, he responds, ‘the discipline of the ship requires every man to be at
years. This was his first time back at sea. There he was, stuck with a bunch of hippies on a sailing ship. It wasn’t just a matter of cultural difference. Sailing, unlike cinema and literature, was something totally foreign to him as he joined the Avontuur in Tenerife. This lack of sail handling skills is common among professional seafarers today. The Dutch Enkhuizer Zeevaartschool , or Enkhuizen Nautical College , Europe’s leading school for training seafarers to operate under sail, has trained the crews of ‘sail
had replaced the handson experience gained by seamen of sailing fleets. Sail training for naval ratings finally ended in 1903 when it was replaced by further mechanical instruction. 37 Yet, boarding pikes were still carried on board ships and cutlass drills continued to be taught, despite the fact that the navy had not engaged in ship-to-ship combat since Navarino in 1827. 38 Navalism and naval scares
, military transport, compensation payouts, administration, ‘other non-pay military expenditure’, the Civil Defence Board, the Irish Red Cross Society and Coiste an Asgard (the State’s sail training organisation under the aegis of the Department of Defence). 8 The Defence Forces Annual Report 2003 put the