The Vermont Sail Freight Project's 39-and-a-half-foot sail barge, the Ceres, completed its maiden voyage today, gliding into Burlington Bay around 4:30 this afternoon; it left Vergennes shortly after 10 this morning. A lone trumpeter played classic tunes from a dock at the Burlington Boathouse as the 19th century-style, wind-powered craft approached.
As Seven Days reported in April, Erik Andrus, a Ferrisburg farmer and baker, conceived of Project as a carbon-neutral way to shuttle food grown and produced in the Champlain Valley to spots around the northeast.
Roughly 30 people were on hand to celebrate the vessel's arrival — including fans of the project, tourists basking in the sun, and a burly cyclist from Bike Recycle Vermont with a small trailer in tow. After a small crew unloaded the craft's cargo of grain and garlic, the cyclists delivered the produce to Great Harvest Bread Company and City Market.
Not only was today the maiden voyage for the project's barge — built with support from the Willowell Foundation and named for the Roman goddess of agriculture — it was also practice for a trip the crew will be making to New York City next month. Brian Goblick, who built parts of the Ceres and has been handling logistics for the project, explained they will be stopping at ports along the Hudson Valley to drop off goods and hold dockside events and demonstrations.
The Ceres arrives in Burlington. With his sons, Erik Andrus prepares to disembark. Photos courtesy of Charles Eichacker.