Back to The Future - A New Sailing Cargo Tall Ship For Sustainable Trade

Tall Ship

Far away from Scandinavian waters, on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, a 150ft carbon-negative, sailing cargo ship is on the eve of being built by a multinational team on what aims to be the first carbon-neutral shipyard in the world.

The three-masted square topsail schooner will be regeneratively built with a focus on providing a sustainable business service that aims to connect the ethical producer with the ethical consumer and therefore be the missing link in an otherwise sustainable supply chain.

Her sails will unfurl with the power of the wind, which in turn power the state-of-the-art 100% electric engine that propel the ship when no winds are present.

Special rendering of CEIBA, designed especially for the project by DeVilliers-Van Schaik Design

The build is being done by using old-world ship building techniques and run on renewable energy, aiming to make the whole process, start to finish, ethical, economical and sustainable. SAILCARGO INC. wants to help transform the maritime industry, not only by being financially competitive, but also by inspiring other companies to make the change and help communities around the world enjoy the wealth of sustainable trade.

The vision is to create a beautiful mode of marine cargo transport using all locally-sourced Central American hardwood. Plying the waters of the The Pacific Exchange (PAX) Line, Ceiba’s crew will sail her via Hawai’i, as far north as Alaska, before making stops in Canada, Seattle, San Francisco and Mexico, and then returning to her homeport in Costa Rica.


According to the people behind SAILCARGO transports by ships represents 90% of the world’s cargo (International Chamber of Shipping) and is therefore responsible for a myriad of negative environmental consequences, including high carbon emissions which are predicted to increase by 40-50% by 2020.

Ceiba will have a 100% electric engine. The electric engine will be coupled with the most modern solar batteries, panels and wind turbines to make all auxiliary power 100% renewably sourced. An advanced variable pitch propeller will convert kinetic energy into stored electrical energy to power the ship's functions. Due to the high torque efficiency of electric engines, Ceiba's engine will only need to be about 120 horsepower, which is easy half of what would be required for other engine designs. 

We are exited to see this project from SAILCARGO. Other initiatives are also being explored to harness wind power to help global transport and thus global trade into more sustainable ways.