French Sail Cargo Ship Launched in Vietnam

sail cargo ship launched
Hull of Grain de Sail II floated out recently in Vietnam (Grain de Sail photos)

Published May 26, 2023 12:00 PM by The Maritime Executive

French sail cargo company and chocolatier Grain de Sail recently marked the next key milestone in its efforts to develop a carbon-free logistics business. The company reports that the hull of its second sail cargo ship was recently floated at the Piriou shipyard. The construction is making progress on the timeline according to the company with the commissioning of the new vessel expected in a few months.

Grain de Sail is part of an emerging cargo niche using sail-powered vessels to transport small batches of cargo. The hope is to expand the business and demonstrate the potential for the shipping industry as majors including Wilhelm Wilhelmsen and CMA CGM Group participate in projects to build large-scale commercial vessels powered by sail.

The cargo sailboat Grain de Sail II was floated out of the dock at the shipyard in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on May 9. The contract for its construction was signed in February 2022 with Piriou building the hull while Lorima, a French manufacturer of carbon fiber masts and spars used on superyachts and high-performance racing yachts, will provide the rigging. The hull of the vessel is to be transferred to Lorient, France where Lorima will complete the install as part of the commissioning.


Hull prior to the launch in Vietnam earlier this month (Grain de Sail)


Gain de Sail started its cargo transport service in November 2020 with a schooner-type 79-foot sailing vessel able to transport 26 pallets (50 tons) of cargo and manned by four sailors. The vessel has a speed of 8 knots and carries wines and other French cargo from Saint-Malo to New York. Then it proceeds to the Caribbean where it loads cacao and coffee beans that are transported back to France. Grain de Sail roasts the coffee and manufactures chocolate products from the raw materials which are sold by retailers in France. The wines are sold to restaurants and distributors, as well as online, in the United States.

During its first year of service, the company reported that around 55 percent of the cacao mass used in its chocolate factory had been transported on the sail cargo vessel. Since then, the company has also launched a commercial cargo service. Their first sail cargo ship, departed France on April 14 arriving in New York on May 6 on its sixth voyage. It departed New York on May 19.

The second vessel will be nearly 171 feet in length overall and have an air draft of over 165 feet. It will have a freight capacity to carry up to 240 pallets (350 tons) which will be loaded on two levels in two separate holds. It will also have a separate tank to carry up to 18 cubic meters of bulk liquid as well as an area to accommodate another 5 cubic meters of liquids in barrels. 


Floating for the first time the company says the new vessel will be commissioned in a few months (Grain de Sail)


The hull of the second sail cargo ship is being built of aluminum and the vessel will have 1,170 cubic meters of sail which the company says will make it efficient even in light wind conditions. The environmental footprint will be further reduced through the use of solar panels and hydrogenerators. The vessel however will also have a Tier III engine to be used while maneuvering into and out of ports and diesel generators as a backup safety precaution.

Developed by L20naval, it is designed to be maneuvered by two sail sailors although it will have accommodations for a total of nine crew. The company is promoting to potential customers that the ship will be faster than its first vessel, with a projected speed of 12 to 13 knots depending on routing. They expect the speed will permit them to make four round trips per year with this larger vessel in addition to the first ship.