Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hi all,

Back from a wedding on Cape Cod, saw a lot of the area and was certainly admiring of the preservation of both small boat cruising and vintage(read practical) types of boats. It is so very important to realize that boats are expressions of their environment and tasks, and that no type of boat is equally successful in all environments.

It is critically important to understand just what one is going to expect a sailboat to do.

Had an interesting conversation with a fellow from a local maritime museum. He was familiar with my projects and very supportive of the need to preserve sail-handling techniques. The museum had just completed a replica of a typical cape cod fishing cat boat and was actually going to exhibit scallop fishing under sail for the first time in nearly a century. I was very keen on the project indeed, as net handling under sail is something I know nothing about but certainly have a good deal of interest, and would say that THIS is the sort of preservation programs we need to see more of--and less of the tall ship bullshit that really teaches very little but exclusivity and bad renditions of watered down sea-chanties.

The great PROBLEM with the program, however, was this--we're talking about a $300000 30 foot boat. Sure, a beautiful thing for certain--solid old-growth cypress with a spit shine--but all in all wholly misses a very critical component of traditional sailing: COST EFFECTIVENESS. I wonder if the boat will actually ever break the 100 dollars a scallop mark for return on investment. I doubt it. There is no way in hell that such boat represent anything working craft at all--it's purely a rich man's toy to dabble with playing fisherman--and in some ways an affront to the whole idea. I'm not against building such a boat, but I'd probably not launch it--rather put it in a glass case for people to look at. If you want to fish scallops, build a boat that's similar in concept but built out of old car hoods or ferrocement--something that will actually fire at cost effectiveness. We'd learn more all in all.

Working sail craft is on the cusp of viability as we speak. Ocean freight for small packages is currently selling at 5 dollars a cubic foot to major ports, more expensive to small ports. Fishing open source fisheries under sail becomes profitable as fuel for run and travel time becomes more and more expensive and the fish of less value. Sail has the potential to be very very very cost effective indeed, especially with long lived modern materials--and I really hope we don't loose all the skills needed before it all comes back. The average sailor doesn't know what he doesn't know, and it will be a rude awakening for many to rediscover these skills.

Just proves again how important the Oar Club and Seasteading projects really are.

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