Vintage trader taking olive oil to Brazil

A West Country trading ketch, built in 1907, leaves Plymouth today for Brazil, hoping to inspire a new generation of wind-powered cargo ships.

Irene carried bricks and tiles from Somerset to Ireland in the early 20th century, but later became a charter vessel in the Caribbean until she sank following a fire in 2003.

Now restored by Leslie Morrish, she will carry organic beer from Devon to France, olive oil from Spain to Brazil and then bring cocoa, coffee, rum and Amazonian ‘superfoods’ back from South America.

Bristolian environmentalist Jamie Pike approached Mr Morrish, looking for a way to transport goods from South America under sail.

The cost was prohibitive until Irene‘s skipper Laurance Ottley met someone in the olive oil business who wanted the product shipped to Brazil and taking 2,500 bottles of ale to Brittany will also add profit to the voyage.

Mr Ottley said: ‘The bottom line is you are never in profit with this sort of vessel. It’s an exercise in mitigating the cost.

‘If we can make the same amount of money moving these specialist cargoes around as we could taking rich people out sailing, it will have been a success.

‘I believe (Irene will) be happier doing what it’s designed to do rather than pampering to the desires of billionaires. It will be doing proper work again.’

The 10-strong international crew, including Mr Ottley, Mr Pike and Mr Morrish, hope their journey will demonstrate an alternative to ‘huge polluting cargo ships’.

You can follow the crew’s exploits via their New Dawn Traders blog.

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