Most modern sail-cargo startups focus on luxury goods created by artisanal producers, like gourmet cocoa, French wine or organic food. The low sailing speeds and labor-intensive breakbulk loading – combined with very limited economies of scale – tend to work best for high-margin shippers, who can absorb the extra expense. The sustainable, low-carbon shipping method can also be a valuable advertising tool for certain target demographics.
Another group of entrepreneurs has long recognized the value of sail transport for one of the most luxurious artisanal cargoes of all: cocaine. On October 16, Spain’s National Police and Portugal’s Judicial Police seized 5.2 tonnes of the valuable drug from a sailboat about 300 nm off the coast of Portugal – the largest amount of cocaine ever seized from the hold of a sailing vessel. Read on.