* Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of TIMBERCOAST.
Well friends, life has caught up with me. It’s time for me to bid farewell to TIMBERCOAST for now. Why, you ask?
As I consider you all my friends, I’ll give you the truth. It’s a ‘I met a girl story’ and I couldn’t possibly let her go. If only she was German, damn. Life is taking me to Denmark, away from this beautiful, most organic community of inspirational people that have filled my heart, strengthend my belief in the innovative resolve of the human spirit, and finally given me an abundance of grey hairs… so many.
For the past 3 months, I’ve been wondering how I could possibly say goodbye to all of you. Where would I start? What could I possibly say? Could I even begin to express how much this experience has meant to me? For anyone who knows me personally, they know I would have an easier time expressing this in Deutsch as my “Wortschatz” is ummm… shall we say more direct. That said, I like a good story especially one with adventure, adversity, and transformation. My experience at TIMBERCOAST working alongside the resilient, driven, and undeterred Cornelius Bockermann has been nothing short of such a tale.
Originally, I was only going to be volunteering in Elsfleth for this sail ship project for 2 weeks in February 2015. Elsfleth? Sail Ship Mission? I had just as little experience with the first as I did with the second. Nonetheless, like so many of you, I was attracted to this radically traditional concept of going back to transporting goods at sea by wind. As I know very little about sailing, the draw for me was not the romanticism but rather the call to climate action.
The adventure was already in full throttle when I arrived. Refitting the AVONTUUR was an incredible test of will for Captain Cornelius and we so-called volunteers. There were many occasions where failure seemed like a distinct possibility. What kept us going was our sense of community and the relentless pursuit of our shared cause. The 18-month refit was an emotional rollercoaster shared by an extraordinary group of people who I am now privileged to call friends.
The adversity we’ve faced has not been limited to the AVONTUUR’s refit, financing, operations, or fierce seas. Many have called our cause into question. Why do any of this in the first place? A ‘tiny’ old sail ship has basically zero impact on the overall decarbonisation of shipping not to mention, it’s not time efficient nor are the cargo freight rates competitive. There are many reasons, not the least of which is that sea aged rum is just far superior. Furthermore, we are modeling a new path forward toward the full decarbonisation of the shipping industry. We are creating the conversations that will someday (hopefully soon) lead to a full transformation of the global shipping sector. I believe this is evident in the countless news articles that have covered the mission of the AVONTUUR and others in our sail cargo community. This growing community includes an international group of like- minded producers, suppliers, brokers and transporters of sustainably produced cargo, who sell to shops, cafes, restaurants, and eventually the consumers. This ‘new age’ global supply chain calls into question current harmful practices and provides a path forward. The size of the AVONTUUR is also symbolic of our focus on consuming less and putting even more emphasis on buying and producing locally.
When I look back at the past half decade with TIMBERCOAST, it’s not the growing interest around sail cargo that brings me the most joy but rather the incredible people I’ve met along this adventure.
We’ve had a good time in the process, haven’t we?
Whether you were around during the epic refit, worked at world headquarters, are an investor, joined as crew, a cargo client, trade our products, came to an event, involved in another such project, or just came into our shop, I know that at some point we shared a smile. I have been truly humbled by this experience. I may have arrived into this incredible country as Ben, but now I feel forever changed rather transformed into that name you gave me, Curly Ben.
From the bottom of my heart thank you Bockermann family, thank you friends, and a thank you to all those who offered up all those words of encouragement and support over the years. Please continue to rally around TIMBERCOAST and other such projects as I know you will.
And for the record this won’t be the last time we hear from each other. Also, Cornelius can I finally go sailing already?
Ps. Anybody have an idea about what I should do in Copenhagen?
PPS… By the way my absolute favourite Rum is the Deck’s Cargo from Madeira (Single Cask). Salty, strange, and delicious. Unlike any rum, I have ever tasted. If you’re lucky, hopefully you can get a bottle while they still last. Use rebate code AVONTUUR_100 for a 10% discount 😉