Nov. 9th, 2010

petermarcus: (Default)
I casually mentioned this on Facebook, but I've been thinking about it all day.

With the Green movement and worries about carbon footprints, especially with shipping, I'm wondering if we couldn't bring back square-rigged sailing ships. Some of those suckers were 200-300 feet long and could hold 1500 to almost 3000 tons of cargo.

It would need to be relatively compact cargo -- no automobile transport, for example. Shipping cars wouldn't exactly be the business model for a low-carbon shipping company, anyway. Most things shipped overseas to the States include textiles, food products, and high tech (chips and parts).

I figure modern technology could improve a lot on the clipper ships. GPS, weather radar, instant communications with land. These ships could find the wind and avoid storms instead of sailing into the unknown. Maybe fiberglass composite over a wooden or composite frame, modern synthesized sails and rigging with some automated sail furling/unfurling to reduce the risk of most dangerous jobs. Diesel only used for power generation and perhaps emergency propulsion.

Maybe a modern cargo ship could carry the same amount of t-shirts as three or four modern clippers, but would people pay a couple bucks more, the way they do for organic food?

I think I would like to be a shipping magnate.

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petermarcus

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