REGISTER VIEWPOINT: Full speed ahead on shipyard

A shipyard? Nice work if we can get it. What's proposed for the Kelleys Island Boat Line property west of downtown is in keep
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

A shipyard? Nice work if we can get it.

What's proposed for the Kelleys Island Boat Line property west of downtown is in keeping with Sandusky's history and it's present.

We have a shoreline. We have the remnants of a nautical tradition. We have our stake in Great Lakes shipping, which not only provides jobs but could even be a tourist attraction if we did it right (check out boatnerd.com or anything from Port Huron, Mich. -- or for that matter, the cars that congregate at Shoreline Park or the Jackson Street Pier every time a freighter rounds Cedar Point -- for proof of that). We have, yes, condos and rumors of condos.

And it doesn't hurt that chasing the shipyard, if we can swing it, represents cooperation between Sandusky and a neighbor, in this case the Put-in-Bay Port Authority.

Some of the particulars of the proposal give us an idea of what the project would entail, slated for land west of the Geo. Gradel gravel dock near the Shelby Street Boat Ramp. A boat lift capable of 700 tons, repair capacity. One can expect business from, for example, the Coast Guard, which keeps motor lifeboats at Marblehead and an icebreaking tug in Cleveland, which might not have to be sent to Wisconsin or off the Great Lakes for repair and inspection, saving a great deal of money. Any number of larger recreational boats might be able to come to Sandusky for repair work.

That means skilled workers. That means jobs that pay well, even if only a dozen or two.

The big boats -- the 730-foot lake freighters and similar vessels -- would still put in at the big shipyards in Wisconsin, Toledo or Port Weller, Ontario, for their needed work, so the few, increasingly desparate naysayers need not worry about giant freighters cluttering up the bay while waiting for repair.

And for those worried about whether a ship repair facility would clash with the condos being built and sold downtown, we offer this fascinating little bit of information:

That Web site we mentioned earlier, boatnerd.com, is a gathering place for Great Lakes freighter fans. They track the progress of their favorite big boats, take pictures and post them on the site, trade news and information and even buy and sell souvenirs -- stuff as cheap as ball caps and as expensive as framed art and nautical antiques. According to quantcast.com, which provides site traffic information to potential advertisers, the people visiting the site tend to be older and wealthier than the norm -- mostly age 45 and above, making $60,000 and above and about half of those 65 and older, making $100,000 and above.

The kind of people who buy condos.

So, yeah, a shipyard fits.

Let's get this if we can.