Les 5 du Vin

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Sail-sale power the way forward for transporting wine or a nice gesture?

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The Michel Patrick heading up the Thames close to Tower Bridge and the entrance to St Katharine’s Dock

Late Thursday afternoon saw the arrival of the Michel Patrick at St Katherine’s Dock in the centre of London. Amongst its cargo were bottles for the RAW wine fair (19th and 20th May) plus a few producers Olivier Cousin being the most prominent.


Olivier Cousin (light blue fleece) and Isabelle Legeron MW (red coat), organiser of the RAW wine fair, on the Michel Patrick

The voyage was organized by Guillaume Le Grand, one of the owners of www.TOWT.eu (TransOceanic Wine Transport), which arranges shipments and wine and other cargos by sailing boat. For the moment the company does not own any boats but instead hires them when required. To transport the wine over for RAW they hired the Mil’Pat or to give the boat its full name – Michel Patrick – a 22-metre traditional Breton sailing vessel.


The Michel Patrick entering St Katharine’s Doc

However, Le Grand told me that they plan to commission the building of a much larger boat to give them economy of scale. “This time we shipped over the equivalent of 4000 bottles of wine plus 200 kilos of olive oil and some tea from the Azores. Last year we shipped 8000 bottles to Copenhagen and will be sending 15,000 this year.”


Guillaume Le Grand

The Michel Patrick sailed over from Fécamp in Northern France leaving on Sunday 12th May. They enjoyed a good crossing to Ramsgate and then onto Tilbury, where most of the cargo was unloaded. They left Tilbury around midday on Thursday for the final stretch to Tower Bridge and St Katharine’s Dock. It looks a fairly leisurely itinerary. The Michel Patrick is skippered by Astérix, an archetypal French character.


Skipper Astérix supervising while the boat enters St Katharine’s Dock.

The RAW website (www.rawfair.com ) talks of their commitment to sustainability and how transporting wine by sailing boat fits naturally into their ethos. It would be interesting, however, to know whether this voyage was actually much more sustainable or had a lower carbon footprint than bringing over the wine by lorry as the wine had to be driven up to Fécamp to be loaded onto the Michel Patrick and then taken by van from St Katharine’s Dock to the RAW venue in Brick Lane, albeit a short journey. “We saved 400 kilos of CO2,” Le Grand told me.


Unloading some of the wine for RAW

Certainly the economics don’t add up as the cost of shipping a bottle over from Fécamp to London is 60 cents a bottle compared to 20 cents on a lorry. You may, however, be albe to recoup some of this cost by the Sail Power Point of Sale sticker by charging a little extra for sustainability and traceability.


Shipping wine by sail with the point of sale sticker in the middle

Whatever the result of the calculation the arrival of the Michel Patrick has raised the issue of whether it is practical to use sail to transport wines within Europe at least. Somehow I doubt if wine clippers from Australia to the States, Asia-Pacific or Europe will catch on.

There is one apparent certainty the sea voyage worked up a thirst for those on board the Michel Patrick resulting in a significant consumption of wine during the crossing.


Salt air and the wind provokes thirst in ‘modération’…


Once the Michel Patrick is safely docked Astérix relaxes with a glass of red.


‘This blogger’ in Las Vegas

Auteur : Les 5 du Vin

Journalistes en vin

12 réflexions sur “Sail-sale power the way forward for transporting wine or a nice gesture?

  1. Amusing… I’ll share this on FB ! By the way, they forgot to ship the onions from Brittany 😉


  2. Du folklore, mais pourquoi ne pas s’amuser un peu ?


  3. Very nice issue indeed, Jim. And the text adds a little extra on top of your Jim’s Loire version. But I wonder. With this extensive photographs library of yours, isn’t it dangerous to advertise transportation of beverages and food by sailing boat? People may think of shipping their meat that way. And you may find yourself competing with …. Bacon of Cowes!
    Exhilarating, is it not?


  4. Thanks for the comments. I agree why not have some fun. M. Seadog I understand there is a project to ship Belgian chocolates and waffles to Cornelia on the Riviera…..


  5. La culture de Luc ne cesse de m’espater ! Becon of Cowes indeed. This man is an encylopedia.


  6. There is already plenty of woffle in Cornelia, so some waffles would be a good addition.


  7. To all of you / A tous

    I’m afraid the chappy’s true name is BEKEN of Cowes.
    My brother, a vitiligo sufferer just as I (look at my white head of hair and the large unpigmented areas on my skin), used to be a very keen sailor and good at that. He’s the clever one of the family – and a pain in the butt. He stopped altogether because (sailing that is) of very heavy sunburns as soon as he exposes himself, even in the British Channel ! But he made his pocket money, when he still was a student in veterinary medicine, sailing (pleasure, not merchant ships) as a skipper on boats belonging to Belgian owners who spent their holidays in the British isles but were too lazy, or afraid (very dangerous strait), or so well off they couldn’t care a diddiley about sailing the unit back to its base. But we toured Britain (not Ireland, though) on motorbikes together, for sure in excess of 5.000 miles and probably twice that distance (each), and he took me to the Solent on several occasions, poney trekking in the New Forest on our way, visiting Tintagel (not Estagel) Castle and taking advantage of numerous camping girls as we progressed as well, drinking cider in Taunton, eating Cheddar cheese in the Gorges, swallowing scones and Yorkshire cream at the Brontë’ Parsonage … you name it. Apart from the Lake District (still to come ?), there is not one single county in Scotland, England, Wales (Yes even at Shetland, spent 10 days there in August 1985) I never paid a visit to. And Beken’s pictures are a marvel to look at. I love photography, taking a lot of snapshots myself – without talent but tons of dedication that make up for it.
    Je suppose que David a voulu écrire “épater”, Michel. Le plus étonnant dans le verbe dialectal « espanter », c’est le glissement sémantique. En catalan normatif, « espantar » signifie faire fuir, effrayer. « Espantosament » est un adverbe qui signifie à peu près « en poussant des cris de putois ». Or, il a pris l’acception, dans le français du Roussillon, de surprendre, étonner, frapper de stupeur sans connotation de frousse. On peut le ponctuer de l’onomatopée « Oh-Hue », dont le Huuuuuue dure d’autant plus longtemps que la surprise est de taille. De grands poète, les Catalans du nord !
    Et pour ce qui est de la culture … J’ai fait du sport jusqu’à l’âge de 20-21 ans ; je veux dire à un niveau correct. Après, ce fut la Bérésina. Je n’ai jamais mis les pieds de ma vie dans un dancing ni une boîte de nuit et je ne joue pas d’instrument de musique. Je n’ai aucun intérêt pour le sport professionnel (pas de télé). Je ne suis pas allé 100 fois au cinéma dans ma chienne de vie. Je suis timide avec les femmes mais étais beau gosse dans mon jeune âge. Donc, pas trop de temps perdu avant d’aller à l’essentiel non plus. Il me restait la lecture et des goûts de mélomane. Et voilà comment on retient certaines choses … de peu d’intérêt d’ailleurs.


  8. Quelle mémoire, Luc!


  9. Quelle vie! Au moins 100 ans déjà!!


  10. Bonjour from the Seattle sailors at Salish Sea Trading Cooperative! We’re engaged in coastal trade (short-sea shipping) in the Puget Sound. Glad to see the shipment of wine arrived safely; our little hardy band has shipped cider but our favorites are the vegetables for our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and Theo Chocolate.

    Because we are a co-op, our skippers donate their boats and skills to make the trips. For landside delivery to the boats, we use a little electric truck, so carbon footprint is minimal. Not making any money yet but having fun and patiently preparing the ground. Er, I mean, seas. 🙂 Fair winds to all!


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