Nordlys (1873) the worlds oldest engineless cargo ship still working

Nordlys, manoeuvered entirely by the power of the wind is possibly the worlds oldest cargo ship (1873) still working. She is currently operating in the European coastal trade.

Built in the Isle of Wight in 1873 as a fishing trawler, she is now part of the Fair Transport fleet and can carry up to 30 tonnes of cargo between European ports. She accommodates a crew of 3 professionals and 6 trainees.

Like the Tres Hombres, she is also an engine-less ship, transporting her cargo with the perfect combination of skilled seamanship and the power of the wind.

Originally a fishing trawler, nowadays she is able to carry a maximum of 30 tons of rum, wine, olive oil, cider or other goods. Besides that Nordlys will raise awareness about the huge amounts of pollution, created by the modern shipping industry and affect positive change in the way goods are shipped around the world.

Nordlys specs

Built: 1873
Rig: Ketch
Length overall: 25 meters
Length on deck: 20 meters
Draught: 3 meters
Gross tonnage: 25 Tons
Cargo capacity: 28 m3
Maximum number of sails: 8
Professional crew: 5
Trainees / guests: 4

Discover more on Fair Transport.

Other sailing cargo ships


Gallant sailed all the way from the Caribbean, on schedule, using only her engine for harbour entrances. Gallant entered the Blue Schooner Company’s fleet in November 2017. She was originally a Herring logger named Jannetje Margaretha, built 1916 in Figee brothers’ yard in Vlaardingen, the Netherlands. During her long carrier, she has lived many different lives.

Bessie Ellen

Built in Plymouth, Devon, in 1904 by William Kelly, Bessie Ellen is one of the last surviving West Country trading ketches from a fleet that once stood at nearly 700. Bessie Ellen lived through an era when working sailing ships were an everyday sight in English ports and harbours.

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