The Sail Boat Project was born from a pure drive to make the world a better place. What Dhara has built is truly amazing, and it all started when he fell in love with sailing and watersports in the Western Isles of Scotland. He lived on a narrowboat for 12 years, and truly experienced how the sea can heal other humans as you will hear… The Sail Boat project has now developed into a massive project of trying to change the way cargo moves around the world for good. If you don’t believe me when I say it’s amazing, Dan Huss (a Sail Cargo customer) tunes in later on to back me up, and we all chat a bit about food, wine & the future of cargo.
00:00:00 Marks introduction
00:01:59 Meeting Dhara Thompson, setting the scene in Brighton
00:02:42 Dhara’s first experience of community projects
00:04:04 Where did the interest in sailing & water sports come from?
- 00:04:15 “A few of us went on a sailing course in the Western Isles of Scotland, and were completely bitten… It was an absolutely amazing experience.”
00:05:27 Living on a narrowboat for TWELVE years
- 00:06:00 “I guess it taught me a lot of skills about being resourceful and the kind of stuff you do need when you’re at sea, because there’s no garages or service stations out there. You’ve kind of got to look after yourself.”
00:07:00 How being on a sailboat helps with mental health & team building
- 00:07:27 “It’s all encompassing. Trying to make the boat sale to its best, just getting into a rhythm – especially on a passage. Just getting into a rhythm of eating and sleeping and just getting on with the jobs that need doing… It’s very settling.”
00:08:05 Why did Dhara move to Brighton ten years ago? Moving to set up the Sail Boat Project
- 00:08:40 “Some of the experiences we’d had on some sailing trips were that it’s quite sort of shouty, blokey, if you don’t eat bacon you’re a weirdo and even if you read a book you’re a bit odd… So we wanted to replicate some of the environments we were used to working in where you look out for each other.”
- 00:09:28 Buying a fleet of inflatable kayaks!
00:10:03 How was Dhara funding the project?
- 00:10:13 “The main thing was sweat-equity. We didn’t pay ourselves for the first few years.”
00:10:32 Buying their first sail boat & staring the Sail Boat Project in full swing – running sailing courses as well as working with the community
- 00:12:22 “Also give them some group work skills, build their confidence, its great for their mental health and their wellbeing, and then we attract people to volunteer with us… We’ve got about 40 volunteers in our group which is amazing, they keep us going.”
00:12:42 Stories of people that have been helped by the Sail Boat Project
- 00:13:57 “One of the participants said that she saw where she used to drink on the beach – she saw her life from a different perspective… And it gave her a different perspective on what she could do with her life. The managers were crying, I was crying!”
00:15:12 Sail Cargo – where did this idea come from?
- 00:15:45 “One of our core founding aims was about widening access to the sea, but it was also about sail transport of people and cargo.”
00:18:18 Trying to get to a meeting with the Sail Cargo Alliance on his boat, Jalepeno, but failing!
00:20:06 The Sail Cargo Alliance – motivated by climate solution and a love of the sea
00:21:02 Where is the issues in cargo? Chatting sustainability & climate change
- 00:21:40 “There’s impacts all over really. It’s a systemic thing as well though isn’t it: you’re bringing in large containers full of stuff we might not necessarily need, we’ve got really large systems like the big new docks at tilbury – a massive infrastructure. Is that really an appropriate way to go?”
00:26:40 Chatting about seasonality
- 00:26:59 “The idea that a ship arrives at a certain time, get in and buy what you need for six months – is kind of getting us back into those rhythms. And it’s fun as well!”
00:27:10 Back to the Sail Cargo Alliance, how they’ve grown across the globe
00:29:03 What’s a port ally?
- 00:29:40 “It’s convincing everyone that it’s worth having a go. The one we had a few weeks ago in New Haven – it did go really well, but what’s the most important thing for us about it is that it can now just be repeated.” [Talking about getting odd sized boats in a marina or port]
00:31:23 Dharas first time coordinating an import in November 2017
00:33:12 What else the Sail Boat Project does – trainees learning to sail, events etc.
- 00:34:00 “But it is about making a practical climate solution as well. It brings people together, and through it we’ve generated interest in what we do in a wider sense.”
00:35:25 Getting technical… Cabotage – what does this mean?
00:36:30 The Gallant – what’s the latest cargo being shipped in and what are the logistics behind it?
- 00:37:11 “We had 5 litres olive oil but in bag-in-box, so it’s like a wine box. So it’s cardboard, a thin foil inner, much less packaging, much better for the oil because it stays out of the air and the light.”
00:40:06 Who buys the cargo? Introducing Dan Cuss of the Herb Kitchen
- 00:40:50 “We wanted to bring our take from the stuff we have learnt in restaurants over the years to refresh the world of catering and events.” [Dan talking about the Herb Kitchen]
00:43:32 How did Dan Cuss come across the Sail Boat Project/Sail Cargo?
- 00:44:13 “If you can’t use local, I guess the olive oil, but you want to use the olive oil – make sure it’s got to you in a better way.”
00:44:45 What’s the benefit for Herb Kitchen to purchase with Dhara? It’s more expensive, byut people love the story
- 00:45:54 “For us the story is more important. How it got to us, where it’s come from, the farming process, the people, the fact a massive chunk of money goes back to the farmer.”
00:47:54 What does Dan want to see from the Sail Cargo? Chatting about bringing wine into the UK
00:52:16 Is Dan a ‘typical’ customer for Dhara?
- 00:52:32 “If we find a group that we like, get on with, and is easy to relate to – then we make a connection and kind of keep that going.”
- 00:52:45 A growing customer base of plastic-free shops
- 00:53:00 “The core of it really is the individual customers and what we try and say is – buy your five litre tub of olive oil, its £45 if you buy it in advance, £50 when the ships here. That feels like a lot of money to people, but if you break it down per litre for the quality that it is… we like to think it’s a good value product. The idea is that you as an individual would get together with two or three neighbours and split it into bottles.”
00:54:01 Stock & where it’s held & how its scheduled across the seasons
00:56:01 Is the Sail Boat Project viable in terms of making money, and could it be scaled up in the future?
- 00:57:11 “Where we are getting to now is – we’ve got a really good model with New Haven port and New Haven marina which gives us a bit more of a stable basis to look at the future of cargo deliveries and the costs that are involved.”
- 00:58:00 If need be, could Dhara ramp up production & supply?
01:00:05 On the hunt for a new ship!
- 01:01:35 “There might be one sat in a port somewhere that you guys could utilise better than it is at the moment, presumably?” “Yeah totally. And it doesn’t have to be purposed specifically for cargo.”
01:02:47 Does Dan think there is a demand for this Dharas business?
01:03:43 The sea being perceived as a connector and a divider
- 01:04:35 How long it takes to sail to Portugal – it changes every time
01:05:33 Where you can find out more about the Sail Boat Project and Dhara Thompson?
01:06:00 Where to find out a bit more about Dan Cuss, his events and the Herb Kitchen
01:07:05 Marks final thoughts and sign off
If you would like to learn more about Dhara Thompson, the Sail Boat Project and its mission to improve the cargo industry for good… Check out their social media channels and website:
You can also check out the Herb Kitchens social media and website below, to get a-hold of some Sail Boat produce or learn more about Dan Cuss and his events: