Green transport ... wind power brings Portugese olive oil to Sussex

The sailing ketch Nordlys approaches her destination. Photograph by Peter Cripps
The sailing ketch Nordlys approaches her destination. Photograph by Peter Cripps

The Port of Newhaven has welcomed an unusual visitor ... a sailing ship with a delivery of 1,000 litres of organic olive oil from Portugal.

The engineless sailing ketch Nordlys arrived at high water yesterday (Tuesday).

This first sail-powered olive oil delivery to the South East is part of a global movement promoting sail transport as a low-carbon alternative to conventional shipping.

The Sail Cargo South East partnership behind the initiative consists of Brighton-based Sail Boat Project and Recharge Cargo bike couriers together with New Dawn Traders and FairTransport NL who sail Nordlys.

She is possibly the oldest sail cargo ship still active in cargo transport and was built on the Isle of Wight in 1873.

The olive oil is produced by the Reigado family who grow their olives without use of chemical fertiliser or pesticides in the nature reserve of Faia Brava in Portugal.

They harvest only about 3,000 litres per year and Sail Cargo South East said it is privileged and fortunate to be able to have access to one third of the Reigado family crops to sell to customers in the South East.

Dhara Thompson, co-director of Sail Boat Project, said: “We are incredibly proud and excited to bring you this wonderful exclusive olive oil that was bought for a fair price from an amazing family farm in Portugal.

“The oil is being sailed from Porto to the UK using only the power of the wind. The Nordlys has no engine, so people buying the oil can be guaranteed that almost no fossil fuels have been used to transport the oil. Once the oil is delivered to Newhaven it will be taken by bike courier to people’s door in Brighton and Hove as well as to collection points in London.”

Marije Passos, an olive oil sommelier based in Portugal who helped Sail Cargo South East find this special product, said: “Some producers you can only meet in small fairs in Portugal and this is how Emilia Reigado and I met. She is a very tiny lady with exceptional commercial skills. Emilia kept on chatting to me, I tasted the oils and olives and was sold.”