Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday Morning Mariner: Sailboats, The Jones Act, Gas Prices, & The Great Blizzard of 1888

Giles Martin-Raget/Americas Cup

On this date in 1888, a huge blizzard struck the northeast United States and adjacent areas of Canada. Snow piled up several feet in just three days, and winds blew 40 to 50 miles per hour with gusts up to 80 miles per hour. Four hundred people died, a quarter of whom were seamen on the more than 200 ships that were wrecked or driven aground. "A ship in port is safe, but that's not what ships are built for," goes the old saying attributed to Admiral Grace Hopper, but that's not always true.

Shipping out can be a dangerous occupation although, frankly, I feel safer on most ships than I do driving on most Interstate freeways. The insurance industry doesn't agree with me. When I recently went looking for private disability insurance, I found that many companies wouldn't even consider me because I was Class 1A or not eligible at all. So, I'm happy to have the Jones Act in place, even if I'm only covered when "in service of a vessel."

But, once again, the Jones Act is under attack. Last year the Congress approved, and President Obama signed, the America's Cup Act of 2011. When the world's premier yacht race series scheduled some of its events in Newport, Rhode Island and San Diego and San Francisco, California, the normally logjammed federal government found a way to get together on something. The Act allows yachts, support vessels, and other vessels to operate without Jones Act restrictions during the event, which runs through 2013.

On another front, gas prices threaten to become an issue in the 2012 presidential election and with rising prices come calls to rescind the Jones Act. Republican Newt Gingrich has made "$2.50 gas" a talking point of his campaign; last week following the Super Tuesday voting, Gingrich supporters could be seen waving signs decorated with that figure over a gas pump. It's unclear how rescinding the Jones Act would help lower gasoline prices, which are not based on supply but by investor reactions to political events in the Middle East, specifically the current saber rattling between Iran and the US and Israel. Once again, the Jones Act is being used as a political straw man.

Related Posts
Monday Morning Mariner: President Barack Obama
The Republicans On Maritime Issues
Monday Morning Mariner: Jones Act Update

Related Articles
Madden Maritime: America's Cup Act of 2011 (H.R. 3321) UPDATED -- Turns Out It IS All-American.
US News & World Report: Rescinding Jones Act First Step To Lowering Gas Prices.
MarineLog: With Pain At The Pump, AMP Moves To Head Off Jones Act Waivers.

Ships Are Safe in the Harbour
(Author Unknown) 
All I live for is now
All I stand for is where and how
All I wish for are magic moments
As I sail through change
My resolve remains the same
What I chose are magic moments
Because ships are safe in the harbour
But that is not what ships are made for
The mind could stretch much further
But it seems that is not what our minds are trained for
We call for random order
You can't control Mother nature's daughter
Ships are safe in the harbour
But that is not what ships are built for
The witch hunter roams
The scary thing is that he's not alone
He's trying to down my magic moments
As we sail through change
Ride the wind of a silent rage
And sing laments of magic moments


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