Article by Katrin Deeg based on an interview with Jessie Atkinson, May 2022
We are thrilled to formally introduce – and literally invite you aboard! – the newest additions to the New Dawn Traders fleet of ships.
NDT has confirmed cargo contracts for the 2022 season with traditional wooden gaff ketch Klevia and EcoClipper’s steel-built De Tukker to expand delivery routes for NDT produce between mainland Europe and the UK. Originally built as Danish workboats in 1936 and 1912 respectively, we know these two vessels have what it takes to join us on our sail cargo adventure.
But before you get to know the ships, you must meet the person who has helped make this all possible: Jessie Atkinson.
You may know Jessie from her role as the Charleston Harbour vessel manager, where she manages their flagship topsail schooner ‘Anny’ and provides marine coordination for events like the Classic Sail Festival. Today Jessie is a freelance marine consultant; she joined the NDT team in 2022 to help manage the less-sparkly admin jobs behind the sail cargo transport process.
She’s our go-to for general “boaty advice,” like wrapping our heads around labyrinthine Maritime and Coastguard Agency codes of practice for cargo vessels and, crucially, developing sail cargo contracts with new ships such as those with Klevia and De Tukker. Jessie also helps coordinate passenger voyages on said ships, which we’ll touch on below.
“It’s fantastic to be working much more closely with Alex and the team,” Jessie told us. We feel the same.
The Growing NDT Fleet
Until this year, NDT has brought to shore the fantastic products you’ve come to love by contracting a portion of cargo space aboard externally owned sailing vessels. For instance, you will know the De Gallant of the Blue Schooner Company, which has dependably packed sacks of coffee, boxes of olive oil and (so much) more into its cargo hold for NDT since 2019. Or perhaps Fair Transport’s Tres Hombres, who allotted space aboard for New Dawn Rum and cocoa beans from the Caribbean in the mid-2010s.
So What’s Changing in 2022?
The contracts we’ve built with Klevia and De Tukker mean NDT charters entire boats rather than only a portion of available cargo space. The advantage? “This gives much more control over sailing schedules, delivery timescales, engagement and welfare,” explains Jessie.
This also means a load more olive oil, wine, cacao, coffee and exquisitely earth-friendly products arriving in the UK: with Klevia and De Tukker in the game, NDT hopes to oversee the shipment of 50-60 tonnes of products in 2022, a considerable increase to the approximate 20 tonnes we managed in 2021.
Developing contractual relationships with Klevia and De Tukker means we are taking active steps towards “the creation of a holistic network of ships,” as Jessie puts it. One day, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, we will add a New Dawn Traders-owned ship to the mix.
While vessels under contract with NDT are maintained by their operator owners, they “are certainly part of the extended NDT family!” assures Jessie. In the coming years, we will continue developing contracts with sailing vessels of all sizes who want to be involved in the sail cargo industry. Jessie sums it up: “The end goal is for larger vessels to fulfil the ocean crossings and cross-load to smaller coastal boats to link up as much of the UK coastline as possible with sail-shipped produce.”
Not sure what to expect? Jessie shares the details:
NDT: What can our “sailors-for-a-day” expect on a passenger trip?
JA: Sailing on these kinds of vessels is an incredibly immersive experience and can be life-changing. There is a real sense of camaraderie on board, built on respect and working together. It is often the case that after a week on board with a group of people, you’ll have friends who you feel like you’ve known for years!
Being involved in a cargo voyage is like no other sailing holiday, there’s a real sense of purpose, and every mile under the keel with the sails drawing nicely is another mile emission-free.
NDT: Do you need sailing experience before joining?
JA: No prior experience or knowledge is required. In terms of getting involved in steering, setting sails and assisting with cargo loading, the crew are always really keen to teach and guide.
NDT: Are these trips for relaxing?
JA: We do advise that the guests who come on board with a keenness to learn are those who get the most out of a voyage, but there will also be plenty of time for sitting back and enjoying the view!
NDT: Do I need to be in shape?
JA: Life on board can be physically quite demanding, not least the effort of remaining upright on a moving deck. Basic levels of fitness and mobility are essential (we’re always happy to talk through your particular situation with you if you’re in any doubt about a trip’s suitability).
NDT: I haven’t sailed before. But I’m interested!
JA: It can be daunting signing up for a long voyage if you’ve never sailed before. Be assured that the crew we work with are lovely people and will make you feel right at home. If a voyage seems like too big a commitment, try a day trip – these are a perfect opportunity to dip your toe in the world of traditional sailing. And who knows, you might enjoy it so much that you come for a longer voyage next time!
NDT: What can I do about seasickness?
JA: Seasickness can be a worry, but if you take precautions there’s no reason why it should be an obstacle. Pressure point wrist bands or travel sickness medication both work great (different methods work well for different people, and always talk to your pharmacist before taking any medication). There are also lots of tips and tricks to reduce seasickness on board, such as staying in the fresh air, watching the horizon and moving with the ship. Ginger is also a brilliant anti-nausea remedy!
NDT: Will you, Jessie, be joining any of the trips?
JA: Yes! I’m very excited to get on board as soon as possible. I spend far too much time at my desk these days, having previously been at sea professionally for many years. It’s definitely time to dig out my oilskins and get back on deck!
Come sailing with us?
Learn more about Klevia and De Tukker and book your adventure here: