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Captain’s Log: Downside to Cruise Ship Visits

We’ve been through a season of frequent cruise ship visits, and I sincerely hope our town has received enough benefits to outweigh the down side. The upside is easier to understand than the downside.

The upside is cash inflow — new (to us) money coming into town. In this day of demise for mom-and-pop retail stores losing out to online superstores, our local consumers don’t seem to think enough about how their money leaves our local economy and kills local businesses when they save five bucks buying something online.

So, it is nice to see some new money come to town to help offset the hemorrhage of money to distant online giants.

I have a retail store myself, and it kills me when people — who used to be my good customers, but who now buy from Amazon — bring their kids into my store and ask if I’ll buy event tickets, cookies or magazines to fund their youth sports league.

I tell them to contact Amazon headquarters and ask them to support the team. I continue to provide lots of such support to the kids of my loyal customers. Fair is fair, right?

The downside to cruise ship visits can be measured in terms of infectious risks, dangers and damage on the ocean and inside the harbor, encounters with overzealous security people, and pollution.

I’m stating my personal opinions and I am entitled to do so.

In my opinion, cruise line companies should rename their ships to Petrie Dish I, Petrie Dish II, etc. Disease can sweep through those big floating petrie dishes very fast. Then the passengers come ashore to share with us. I wish they were required to wear breathing masks.

Being a charter captain who spends a lot of time on the water, I’ve seen those shore boat skippers do some ridiculous things quite regularly. I swear they get their licenses out of a box of Cracker Jacks.

They have been known to ram a boat or dock, cause damage, back their shore boat away and try to leave. Whether on land or sea, that is called hit and run. They don’t always show they understand who has the right of way on the water.

To be fair, I’ve seen a few of those skippers operate courteously and carefully, but that is the minority.

When the ships come in, an impressive set of canopies, people-herding rails and guards and security people show up. Those vessels use Sea Landing’s docks, so the secure area skirts Sea Landing.

I recall one time when I was walking to Sea Landing to buy some bait for a charter, the security guards challenged me and physically got in front of me until I satisfied their interrogations.

Since I was outside of their people-herding apparatus, I did what sea captains have always done — I bellowed at them.

I told them to stand down and let Sea Landing customers come and go. Fortunately, they complied, or it might have turned ugly.

I mentioned pollution. Yes, my experience shows they pollute our local waters. The huge petrie dish ships are supposed to shut down discharge of yucky stuff when anchored off our town.

Perhaps they do, however I’ve seen instances where I doubt that rule is always followed. Furthermore, it isn’t feasible to run a dozen shore boats back and forth from the petrie dish ship to Sea Landing inside the harbor all day long for days on end and not mess up the water.

Do I wish the ships would not stop here? No, I won’t go that far because our local business community does benefit, no matter the costs to the rest of us. But I felt compelled to share my observations, experiences and opinions.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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