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Tall Ships & Newry Based Sailing Charity Carry Chocolate Under Sail & Oar

2nd November 2020
TS Britta waits in Carlingford Lough as the Drontheim rowers come ashore with a cargo of chocolate TS Britta waits in Carlingford Lough as the Drontheim rowers come ashore with a cargo of chocolate Photo: courtesy Columba O'Hare

It's 7000 km from the Caribbean island of Grenada to London and somewhat farther if you travel via Den Helder in the Netherlands, Carlingford Lough, the County Down village of Killowen and Bangor in North Wales. And this is how the Chocolate Maker NearyNógs on the edge of the Mourne Mountains forged close ties with Fortnum & Mason of Piccadilly in London, one of the oldest and most luxurious department stores on the planet, to help produce a 99% emission-free sailboat chocolate.

It is thus named because to transport the 25kg blocks of chocolate in a sustainable way as possible, the company looked back to its early 18th century roots and combined some old methods with modern green thinking to enable the 99% emission-free chocolate to be carried that 7,000 km. The chocolate's epic journey begins in the Grenada Chocolate Company's solar-powered factor in the West Indies, where the Trinitario cocoa beans are processed using zero emissions.

The Tres Hombres Tall ShipThe 30-metre engineless brigantine, the Tres Hombres Photo: courtesy Fair transport

So the first stage across the Atlantic used a 30m engineless brigantine, the Tres Hombres to carry the 350kg of chocolate, in 25kg blocks The ship is owned by Fair Transport. This company carries sustainable and organic cargo between South, Central and North America and Europe. Tres Hombres has become a shining example of the existing possibilities for alternative shipping methods, and she is the ambassador for sail-powered cargo shipping worldwide. Its destination was Den Helder in the Netherlands from where the chocolate began its second voyage on the T/S Britta, with Silvery Light Sailing under Capt Chris Wren, to Carlingford Lough on the east coast of Ireland where it moored close to Killowen on the northern shore.

But that was only part of the story. How to get the chocolate to NearyNógs? Now a team of volunteers heeded the call to transport the chocolate to the Neary family factory. The name NearyNógs comes from children's stories written by Johnnie Neary. Neary is the family name, and Nógs comes from the Irish Gaelic word Tír na nÓg, which means the land of the youth. This passionate team of volunteers used a Boyne Currachs Heritage Group's traditional open-ended clinker-built Drontheim rowing boat. After several trips ashore with the 48 boxes of chocolate, it was a bumpy 9 km by horse and cart to NearyNógs. There the chocolate was broken down into slates, tempered and packaged in recyclable, biodegradable packaging before the final leg of its adventure to Piccadilly.

Danish built ketch the Klevia The Danish built ketch the Klevia Photo: courtesy Anglesey Traditional Sail

The crew of the TS BrittaThe crew of the TS Britta

That final leg began with return horse and cart, and Drontheim trips to another boat, the Danish built ketch the Klevia skippered by Scott Metcalf, which transported the cargo to Port Penrhyn, in Bangor, North Wales. And to complete the virtual emission-free the final leg of this sustainable journey was entirely on land, using Fortnum & Mason zero-emission electric vans to Piccadilly.

Shane Neary, Neary Nógs chats to Gerry Brennan, Silvery Light SailingThe rowers (and the ship's dog) get ready to deliver another load of Chocolate slabs bound for NearyNógs Photo: Columba O’Hare

The mission was made possible with the help of the local charity Silvery Light Sailing and a hard-working rowing crew at Killowen. Silvery Light Chairman Gerry Brennan was delighted to help in the arrangements. "As a Newry based sailing charity, we were pleased to be asked help local Mournes business NearyNógs organise the emission-free transportation of their chocolate using traditional sailing ships. Being a part of the story of the journey from the Caribbean to the shelves of Piccadilly is beyond our normal outreach. Still, it was great to help promote the maritime potential and scenic beauty of Carlingford Lough and the Mournes."

Shane Neary, Neary Nógs chats to Gerry Brennan, Silvery Light SailingShane Neary, (right) of NearyNógs chats to Gerry Brennan, Silvery Light Sailing Photo: Columba O'Hare

Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down.

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