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Correspondence with US Senator
and President of the United States

April 1979

Dear Sir,

I think it’s time to stop and think about oil, the ocean and the wind.

Generally one would conjure up some picture of a shiny black slick being blown upon some shore following a shipping catastrophe.   I see something very different.  I see wings of white oil, transforming the endless currents of the ocean of our atmosphere into silent clean power, moving goods and people al over the earth.

Humans have such self-serving memories that they cannot reach back even 40 years to a time when there were still lumbering, heavily rigged, undermanned sailing vessels with natural fiber sails competing on an open market with steam and oil powered ships.  And that was when bunker fuel cost $1.30 a barrel!  What has happened to the true seafaring tradition of the American nation?  We are in an oil crisis, or so we are told, and still there is no move to return to sail as an alternative.  All we seem to get instead is rotund financiers speaking of nuclear fuel as the only alternative.  What of those dangers?  Oil spills will be nothing compared to nuclear ships colliding, grounding, breaking up, and melting down.  No thanks!

A sailing ship travels without a trace (except cooks garbage to feed a hungry crew that have probably worked up an appetite) and it can do it again and again on the same original “oil investment.”  Out of all the oil consumed in the U.S., only 1% is used to produce synthetic fibers.  What small portion would be needed to produce the fabrics and cordage to operate fleets for many years!  How many barrels would we save every time an ocean was crossed with the wind for fuel?

Too much work?  I say yes and no.  Perhaps a man (or woman) would have to stand a night watch and handle sails and lines but it will make them strong and healthy.  Need jobs for people without jobs – convert the merchant marine to sail.  Don’t laugh at it.  Think about it.  As my representatives, I want you to speak for me in this regard.  The sooner the work begins, the richer we all shall be for it.  We have the broadest technological base and have long been the best sailors on the planet.  Let’s take advantage of these facts and be first with the fastest most efficient sailing fleet that can happen.  Those who are first with the best seldom follow.  Let’s haul that grain to the Saudi’s using our own oil in an economical and environmentally conscientious manner.  

I would appreciate a response to this letter to get your views on this matter.

Yours very truly,

Barry Spanier

Spanier & Bourne Sailmakers
111 Hana Highway
Kahului, Hawaii  96732



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