ISSUES: Is the New Age of Sail Coming to Atlantica?

The following was published in 2008. Fourteen years later it doesn’t seem like sail will take over from fuel consuming ships at sea!! According to the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado Boulder, a large ship might consume up to 250 tons of fuel per day. To put that in perspective, that’s equivalent to over 80,000 gallons of fuel a day. Regular-sized ships, by contrast, may use up to 150 tons of fuel per day.
Ships at sea today 22-12-22

2008 – It’s been just a few short weeks since fuel prices have really started to rise as we exceed the magical $100 per barrel. And the consensus is that its not driven by demand, but by speculation … another word for greed.

How does this play to the grand plans for “short sea shipping” with ships driven by petroleum fuels and massive east-west corridors with train-like vehicles that will bring the products of the world to feed our insatiable appetites? Will we have the dollars to feed the boats, ships, and vehicles that will deliver the products? At this point, it seems less and less likely.

I’m just old enough to have seen some of the last sailing vessels in the Bay of Fundy; mostly rotting on the shore. It has only been about a hundred years since the Bay in my area was filled with “pinkies” small, sturdy utility vessels used by fishermen and their families and the larger “fundy trader” that plied the coast between Atlantic Canada and New England. Larger vessels served the Caribbean trade and beyond. It was a dynamic and rich culture that collapsed when the steam engine and internal combustion engine entered the scene and the economic mix changed and fell under the sway of Upper Canada.

Well, perhaps the realities of global greed and manipulation will indeed change the future, creating a society that is unable to afford even the basics and has, in fact, largely lost its ability and the knowledge required to use its own resources for survival. With the oil “tipping point” looming in the near future, perhaps it is time to really get serious about looking at sail as the transportation system for the future? As we explore the virtues of the “new” thrust for “short sea shipping”, I think we may really be entering the “new age of sail”, the original sustainable shipping system that has served mankind for centuries.

That’s the way I see it tonight.


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