VoyageVert, a Bristol, UK based company, is raising funds to begin a transatlantic ferry service that will operate entirely under sail and renewable energy.
The pilot project will ferry 26 passengers from Bristol to Boston in around seven days, with the eventual aim of scaling up to between 150 and 200 passengers at a time on custom built catamarans.
“Quite simply, there is absolutely nothing like this at all,” says Ross Porter, VoyageVert's founder. “Which is really, really exciting, and quite daunting.”
The company aims to attract those who are looking for a sustainable alternative to flying, as well as those looking for adventure. Passengers will also have the opportunity to participate in a unique experience, living on board as part of a community and taking their place as part of the crew if they wish. They can learn about navigation, meteorology, marine biology and more. Guest speakers will lecture on aspects of the marine environment, one of the world's last remaining wildernesses.
Ross Porter began sailing in Torbay at the age of eight. He spent many years working on boats throughout the world, in Greece, the Caribbean and New Zealand. By his own count he has notched up enough miles to take him around the world more than one and a half times. He then returned to England to set up a company delivering yachts for clients. This lead to him being contacted so many times by people asking if he could take them from one place to another that he realised there was a market for transporting not just boats but people too.
“I thought: I’m a marine engineer, a captain and a project manager. I could deliver a project that would mean that people could buy a ticket on a sailing boat and get themselves from A to B. All I need is a sailing boat,” says Porter.
The past few years has seen a growing movement for transporting goods under sail. There are now more than ten large boats and many smaller ones in Europe and North America, trading everything from chocolate to rum, from cider to salt cod, in a way which is completely carbon free. With 120,000 available seats on planes, every day, to cross the Atlantic, Porter believes that there is a very viable market for passengers looking to make the crossing by other means.
VoyageVert has one month to raise the funds to launch the pilot project, which would mean that the first trip could come as early as 2018. “The vision is for a truly global passenger transport network, one that’s totally sustainable and high speed,” says Porter. “Cheap and fast has had its day, and it's now really becoming a problem. We’ve got to do away with cheap and fast, and start travelling with intention. If the public want this, then it’s going to happen.”
To see how the project is getting on, go to: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/voyagevert-crowdfunder