The Gallant is returning to London on 11th July when cargo can be collected from the ship at St Katherine Docks. Click here to place a last minute order
The Gallant arrives in Greenwich
On board, we met Alex Geldenhuys who explained how she started this unique project.
“We are very excited because this is our first visit to London and we believe this Cargo has not been delivered here by sail for forty years or more. We have olive oil, olives, almonds, honey, port wine from Portugal and chocolate and coffee from the Caribbean.
I set up New Dawn Traders in 2013. At first, we were working with ships crossing the Atlantic once a year bringing chocolate, coffee and rum but then I started the European voyages three years ago. We do two or three voyages a year which means we are learning more quickly.
With the captains, we decide when and where we will go and what we will pick up. We started in Portugal and most of our suppliers are based in the north of the country, small family farms producing olive oil. They give the best care for the land and contribute most to the local community. These farmers do mixed agriculture and so they also produce honey, almonds and chestnuts.
We look forward to working with Thames barges, meeting the Gallant in the estuary after the long distance voyage and delivering the cargo to London, just as they were designed to do. We will be back in the spring and customers can order online and then come down to the dock to collect their produce.”
The Gallant is a handsome schooner and we were delighted to explore this fine vessel moored in the shadow of Tower Bridge while the tanned and scrawny crew were unloading crates of olive oil, coffee and rum, loading them onto bicycle panniers for transport to the warehouse in Euston.
“I am co-owner of the ship with Jean Francois, we take it in turns to be captain. The Gallant was built as a fishing boat in Holland in 1916, but, when we bought her two years ago to use her as a cargo vessel, she had been converted to carry passengers so we had to build a hatch for loading and enlarge the hold.
We are both professional seamen who have worked on big ships in the merchant navy and we want to do something about Climate Change, but the only thing we know is how to sail a ship. As well as delivering cargo by sail, we want to spread the word to encourage others so this can be the beginning of something bigger.”
Jean Francois outlined the pattern of their working year, making me wish that I could stow away on the Gallant.
“This summer we did two voyages to northern Europe from Portugal, two ports in France, a lot of ports in England – Bristol, Penzance, Newhaven, Ramsgate, London and Great Yarmouth. Next we go to Holland to deliver cargo there.
Over the winter, we will do maintenance before we sail across the Atlantic to the Caribbean and Central America to load rum, chocolate, coffee, mezcal and spices, and stop off in the Azores on the return voyage to pick up honey and tea. And we will bring this cargo back to London next year.”
I will report further on this remarkable project but in the meantime you can sign up to the mailing list at New Dawn Traders and be informed when you can next order goods to collect in London. You can also follow the voyages of the Gallant online by GPS at the Blue Schooner Company.
The crew of the Gallant
Alex Geldenhuys, founder of New Dawn Traders
Guillaume Roche & Jean Francois Lebleu, Captains of the Gallant
Celestin, First Mate of Gallant
Davide, Deck Hand
The cargo is delivered to the warehouse by pedal power
Photographs copyright @ Rachel Ferriman
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This post first appeared on Spitalfields Life | In The Midst Of Life I Woke To, please read the originial post: here