We bought our 39ft New Zealand built sailboat at the beginning of 2013 and after putting work in to get the vessel seaworthy, have since lived aboard and travelled thousands of miles from New Zealand to Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Australia.
Before getting the boat we had very little sailing experience but wanted somewhere affordable to call our home. Being able to travel the world was a very big bonus.
In the past, we were involved with The Nature Conservancy, working in remote places in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea on community managed conservation and climate change projects.
We have both studied Permaculture and have integrated conscious, ethical, regenerative and chemical-free living principles into our daily lives- growing food, reducing waste, eating vegetarian and seafood caught ourselves, buying locally produced and quality second hand goods, and enjoying the simple things in life.
After spending months at a time in remote places in the South Pacific where there were no other ‘white fullas’ to be seen, we learned a lot about the different cultures and languages and saw the problems and issues affecting these mostly subsistence people. As these once remote and inaccessible places are becoming more exposed to imported goods and westernisation, especially the young people are forgetting the traditional ways and opting for a more money-based westernised lifestyle that is generally less healthy for themselves and their environment.
Organic agriculture for South Pacific Islanders is a way of life, they have been doing it for thousands of years without detrimental affect to their environment. We want to support them through organic agriculture by buying the foods, spices and other plant products that can only grow close to the equator and sail them to countries such as Australia and New Zealand where they have a higher value.
Being on the sailboat has it’s advantages. We can access the most remote places unaccessible by large cargo ship, meet the grower in person, see where the foods are grown and how they are processed and develop a trusting relationship. All while having an adventure at the same time. A sailboat doesn’t rely on fossil fuels but utilises clean energy – the power of the wind on the sails, and solar.
The Little Shipping Co. was founded in late 2015 just before sailing from Fiji to Vanuatu. We chose to spend our time in Vanuatu searching for growers of vanilla, cacao, peppercorns, coconuts and other items that are dried or cured, keep well on a boat and don’t pose a biosecurity problem on entry to other countries. Unlike other cruisers who spend alot of time relaxing in idyllic places, we were always talking to the locals asking if they knew anyone who grew these things and travelling by boat, dinghy, horse or four wheel drive to distant villages in the hope we would find someone.
Direct Trade and Fair Trade
Deals are done face to face and the goods are purchased at a suggested price from the grower or at least current Fair Trade prices. That way we build happy and trusting trading relationships through respect.
From the first Vanutau trip at the end of 2015 we have found producers of quality vanilla beans, cacao beans, coconut oil, kava, peppercorns and coffee. These can all be purchased in the online store. Once all the current stock is sold, we will prepare to sail back to the tropics to purchase more and make more connections. Ocean passages to the tropics can take anywhere from 6 – 12 days depending on the destination country.
In the future we would also like to educate people in the South Pacific on how to start and manage a small organic plantation. Also if we can get the funds together, we would like to purchase equipment and help communities set up coconut mills for extracting cold-pressed coconut oil, as coconuts are so abundant, and the return they get from exporting copra (smoke-dried coconut flesh) is not much for the amount of effort they put in.