OPINION – Short Sea Shipping! Did I Doze Off or What?

This article was first written in 2008. Today in 2022, the cost of fuel for the huge ships that bring our increasingly expensive essentials from far afield may indeed see us returning to local produce and coastal sail. What do you think?
No wonder we are constantly in trouble. It seems to me that every ten years there’s a fresh bunch of “new-borns” entering the market place. Unfortunately, in spite of their MBA’s they apparently have no historical knowledge about the place on which they decide to bestow the benefits of their superior intellectual prowess. “Eureka! I have it! “Short Sea Shipping” for Gods sake – it’s neither new, nor novel. Small coastal freighters have been plying back and forth since the days of sail. As a matter of fact, my uncles were somewhat famous (or infamous) for the runs they made between Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon and the Maine coast not that many years ago. All of my seafaring relatives from Grand Manan ran coastal freighters under both sail and power up and down the coast, into the Caribbean, and further afield on the mammoth sailing ships that that were built along our coast to move our white pine, fish, gypsum, and other products around the world.
Coastal freighters are still at work coming quietly into Boston, Portland, Halifax, Saint John, Saint Johns, and smaller Ports like Eastport and Bayside on the Maine-New Brunswick border. If the demand is there … and it will be with rising congestion and shipping costs, then the fleet of coastal freighters will grow. Some, I think, will be considering a return to sail. It was these vessels that built our society. Perhaps they will rescue it in the end.
Of course we tore down the wharves and most of the coastal infrastructure that supported coastal trade and now we need it. Didn’t we do the same with the railroad? Beware the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed young folks who are smarter than everyone else. There is too much at stake this time to let them play with our world.
Read some history kiddies and just do good business that respects all of the others that are currently using our ocean resources. That’s my opinion tonight.


Photo: “Bay of Fundy trader Mildred G. Myers passing George’s Island, Halifax Harbour” Nova Scotia Archive

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