Lucy and the New Dawn Traders

Fare Traded by Sail

Category: Pre voyage

Tale of our ale

Valentines day. A bright start to the day.

Work on board started early. Damon has been preparing the sails and testing the staysail.We were eagerley awaiting our first cargo, the ale from Exeter brewery.

It finally arrived on pallets at 2.30pm! (We had been expecting it at 10am. Imagine the frustration!)

We quickly got it to the pontoon.

We were joined by Alan and Ali from Exeter brewery. They were excited to be sending their 2 nd cargo of ale to France. The first time was last October with the tall ship Tres hombres.

We quickly formed a human chain, passing creates of ale from person to person.

Leslie popped out to observe us loading our precious cargo and joked about how long it would last with us lot around.

Jamie assured him that the ale is in safe hands.

The ale was predominantly stowed in the saloon with some in the forepeck and the master cabin taking care to ensure the cargo is evenly distributed through the ship.

The forepeak is the cabin at the front (bow) of the ship which contains 6 crew bunks.

Our captain, Laurance, presented the sailing plan to the crew before supper.The wind is forecast to be Force 7-8, northerley so we will be running / broad reaching to Brest. Our scheduled departure time is 1200 hours.

Our day ended with purple thai curry and a celebration for Ramon’s birthday. Happy birthday Ramon!

We were absolutely exhausted. We dispersed early to our bunks to get all our kit stowed, packed ready to sail and to get an early night.


Muster – to call troops together – as for inspection!

My morning started off rather bureaucratically (is that a word?). I thought I had managed to escape the computer work and form filling but alas not today. There were a range of important but rather mundane tasks that required taking care of. Like preparing the crew lists, assembling the passports and filing the next of kin documentation for each person.

I got to have a private quiet snigger at all our passport photos which made up for it though… 

The deck hands hoisted all our individual crew flags today. We are carrying 6 different nationalities on board the Irene so we are flying a flag for each country. The shrouds look great decorated with all our national colours!

Our ale delivery destined for Brest in France was finalised this morning. We will receive this precious cargo of custom labelled ale from the Exeter brewery bright and early on Valentines day ready to be loaded by hand.

The final tasks required of the Marine and Coastguard Agency (MCA) have been largely satisfied (we think!). We took Irene out once again, this time with the MCA officials on board. They were keen to see the Irene with her New Dawn Traders in action.

I did wonder whether this was all in aid of getting a cheeky play on Irene – she is pretty magical!

It has been really difficult for the boat and this crew to meet the multitude of regulations. Not because we are doing anything dangerous necessarily but because we don’t fit into neat categories of the rule book. The rules have been written for vessels of a different nature as far as I can tell.

The only way for the authorities to make decisions is based on seeing the boat and her crew in action hence our little escapade today. It’s been hard for us but we hope that its worth it and that other ships can follow us in trading fare by sail without leaving  polluting footprints in our wake.

We glided out of the harbour across the Plymouth Sound to Cawsand bay. We all got a chance to helm (steer) Irene and test the emergency drill procedures, alarms and protocols. Check out Antje, our trainee from Germany, pictured above taking the wheel for the first time. It is pretty damn incredible helming 200 tons of wooden sailing ship to say the absolute very least.

…getting bruises from pinching myself… I’m living out my wildest adventures…!

We are proud to say that we pulled together and put on a great show for the inspectors. There was an immense amount riding on today. We tested the man over board drill, checked the flares and life raft drills, the fire drills, manned the fire hoses and lowered the anchor.

Lowering the anchoring and then retrieving it is no mean feat by the way. It weighs nearly a ton without the chain! Everything on the boat is manual and requires our collective strength and a range of pulleys to get things moving. There are no electric winches, no auto helm to steer the boat, no carbon fibres sails etc. She is wooden, hand crafted and sailed with human efforts.   Sailing back in time.

When we  finally returned back to port we found Pat, Leslie’s wife (Leslie is our skipper and owner of Irene), waiting for us with a delicious meal ready to heat up. We massively needed it. Safe to say none of it lasted very long!

Thanks Pat. It was supremely delicious. We are very happy crew!

As we set about laying the table for supper I recieved a tweet from a friend  with a link to the Guardian newspaper. Front page of the website no less! Was quite a shock to see myself in my sailing overalls squinting into the sun. There was a really superb shot of Irene on the pontoon in the dawn sunlight.  Dreamy.

Completely beyond our wildest expectations.

Happy Valentines everyone!

With love to Rio – This week of pigeon flying has been kindly sponsored by my dear newly wedded friends Alex and Anna. XX

Trade Craft

New Dawn Traders

It’s an icy but bright day on Irene. We were woken early by our crew boss and put straight to work fitting Irene with safety nets along the sides which we are hand-splicing. Hand splicing ropes involving splitting the thread to weave very strong bonds to create a web which will prevent us going overboard in heavy swells.


As we set to work, the photographer, Adam, from the Guardian arrived along with a news reporter to find out more about our voyage. He busily set to work capturing a range of pictures of crew and ship culminating in a crew photo with us all perched along the boom.

We have made our first batches fresh bread. I have to say it is absolutely delicious. We have come up with a great system that will enable us to make bread in any weather. Check out our sexy bread bucket!

We received all our provisions yesterday for the voyage. In keeping with the ethos of the trip we have made great effort to source as locally as we possibly can.

Fortunately we are very close to Riverford Farm and were able to source great value dirty potatoes, carrots and root vegetables. It was important to source our root vegetables with a fine dusting of soil as this will help preserve them on our long crossing.

We have now sorted all the food into specific areas on the boat so we can easily access and track what we consume. Much of which is cleverly stowed within the seating and under the floor boards.

Our other main priority is negotiating our return cargo. Jamie is liaising with a range of rum producers, superfood and cocoa exporters to fill our hold with delicious bounty destined for the UK market.

I can’t wait to slip the ropes and sail off into the horizon on Tuesday. The reality has sunk in but am so very E.X.C.I.T.E.D

…..Dances massive jig around the room…..

It’s the grit that makes the pearl

At the start of any great adventure there are teething problems and clashes of personalities. The New Dawn Traders are no exception. I’m onboard with an incredible international team of highly skilled creatives and independently minded sailors. There are bound to be a few disagreements and clashes of personality as we find our groove.

These last few days I’ve been finding my space on the ship. It is difficult being the last member to arrive.

I’ve been finding my way around the kitchen and crews food preferences. We all have quite different ideas about how we are going to manage provisions causing Jamie and I much anxiety. If mismanaged we run the risk of food spoiling or running out in the mid Atlantic. We all share a passion for food but these does also mean we want things our own way.

The main debates have been around the balance of meat in the diet for our carnivorous ship mates (there is a 50:50 split veggie:meat). We have only very limited freezer and cold storage space so meat with every meal is simply not practical (sustainability arguments aside). But I’ve been accused of forcing vegetarianism on people.

Jamie pointed out that it isn’t helping that I refer to bacon as ‘atoms of the lost amazon’ in light of the impact of the industrial animal feed market…

But on balance we are ironing out these issues and coming up with a plan that will keep us all happy and healthy for our long uninterupted weeks at sea. The evening meal design is around a rotating base carbohydrate (rice, potatoes, cous cous, quinoa, pasta), sauce option (tomato, cream, coconut), vegetables (diverse choice first 2 weeks, thereafter only carrots, onions, and tins). We will then carry a diverse supply of dried and frozen meats that can be easily added for flavour. By having a rotating range of ingredient options it will allow the cooking teams an element of personal creativity in preparing the food while allowing Jamie and I to track our rations. One thing we do agree on though is that we all like pancakes, which I made today (sunday) for breakfast which went down a treat.

We are thinking about creating a cookery book of our endeavours. Capture the flavours of our voyage.  

The other issue is the physicality of the space. The boat is a relatively confined space for 10 people and will be more so when we are underway carrying laden with our cargo. The officers are getting weary reminding us to keep our shared space tidy.

The diversity of languages spoken on the boat means we do have many lost in translation moments.

However tensions were eased on Friday night when we ventured out to sample the Plymouth night life. We stumbled upon a bar playing raucous gypsy folk. It appears that a common thread uniting our crew is a love of ridiculous dancing. Thank goodness for that!

We have another week in port (frustrating). Our departure has been delayed to Valentines day (February 14th) due to delays with the bottling of the Ale.

There is a plus side: Valentines day is an apt date for setting the sails for new rum-antics on high seas.

Happy Imbolc

Today is the spring celebration of ‘Imbolc’. The sun is beaming and the air is freezing my lungs. I had a fearfully cold last night on the boat in London as all my bedding was already stored ready for my departure. I need to be used to it though. Jamie texted last night reminding me to bring thermals! I woke early (I barely slept), prepared my bags and nipped next door to my neighbour Gini’s boat to defrost my fingers and get a hot cup of tea.

Writing this from the train as it speeds through the sun drenched countryside making a beeline for Plymouth. My train is called Mayflower. This makes me smile. I’m so excited I could burst. The last 48 hours have been non stop. Finishing up at work, saying goodbye to friends, backing up data, sorting out IT communications and packing the last of my belongings. I am looking forward to having some new stories for you all.

Earlier this week I had a breakfast meeting with Diane from B9 Shipping. Diane is coordinating the building of hybrid tall ships designed for cargo shipments. She is working with an incredible consortium of partners including the Met office, Rolls royce, Tata steel to name a few. The ambition is to build sailing ships with hybrid biogas engines to supplement the sail power and reduce the levels of uncertainty in delivery times. B9 shipping are part of the same company as B9 Organics which have been in the Anaerobic digestion industry for 20 years. The aim is that the biogas from AD will fuel the engines of the B9 Ships. The Met office are working with Diane to model the winds and the speeds of the ships under different cargo weights and different conditions. This is to provide data to potential importers and exporters on delivery times and lead times for cargo. An incredibly exciting proposal. And the ship designs are beautiful.

So why would Diane want to meet with the New Dawn Traders? Diane explained how even though we are a small boat and may never be economically viable, we have an important role in telling a story around sail freight of cargo and inspiring a generation to create a future beyond fossil fuels, to conscious trade by with tall ships. Diane and I both felt that it is a very British trait to have a strong calling to the sea. Our nation and culture has been built on sea faring and ships criss-crossing the oceans exchanging goods. And while there are negative aspects to our history there is also much to be celebrated. We both feel that a return to sail power is both inevitable but also highly desirable. The sight of tall ships in harbour provokes such a strong emotional reaction in me and I’m certain it does for many others. The combination of high tech innovative sailing boats with fair trade cargo along with creative crew of sailors and the options of carrying fee paying passengers looking for a mind expanding experience is great. Create a business model around diverse ideas of trade; trade in cargo, ideas, culture. I’m certain this is the start of something magical.

I feel the emotional memories of watching ancestors go to sea, or return home is coded in my DNA. Many of my ancestors went to sea or lived on boats, the most famous of which is my great uncle Admiral Jack Tovey, who famously orchestrated the pursuit and destruction of the Bismarck during WWII. I love the fact that now I am going to sea with an international crew (german, spanish, french, finnish) on a mission of peace and fair trade. We are super lucky to have had such long lasting peace in Europe. Long may it continue.

Pausing to gaze out the window. Speeding passed snow on the distant hills (exmoor I think). Today is really the most perfect day for a cross country train journey….

Mmmmm. The vision of racing tall ships / clippers racing each other to get the finest the cargo and race home (See the Great Tea Race of 1866 – famous race of tea clippers from China into London) and create new opportunities for young people to see the world in a creative and exciting way. Dreamy…

…..I’m pulling into Plymouth…. hello Irene!

(Sent by email via mobile from the train- apologies for any typos)


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