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August 09, 1979 - Image 6

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1979-08-09

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Page 6-Thursday, August 9, 1979-The Michigan Daily
No oil needed
Shipbuilder launches sail-powered merchant vessel

sailing cargo ship, the nation's first in
40 years, was launched yesterday from
an old Maine boatyard into a sea of op-
portunity created by the energy crisis.
A crowd of more than 1,500 cheered
as the 97-foot coasting schooner John F.
Leavitt, its flag flapping in the breeze,
glided down the ways into the St.
George River on the 11:45 a.m. high
THE LAUNCHING, under sunny
skies, capped three years of construc-
tion which began when Ned Ackerman
set in motion his dream of beating the
energy crunch by recreating the age of
Oil prices have nearly doubled in that
period, and Ackerman is betting that
the Leavitt, which draws its power
from the wind, can compete suc-
cessfully with truckers, trains, and
steamships. hauling cargoes from port
to port from Canada to Trinidad.
His optimism is graphically por-

trayed by the figurehead carved on the
Leavitt's bow: a brown and white fox
sporting a wily grin as a large yellow
feather protrudes from its mouth.
crazy when I started this," the self-
styled merchant adventurer said before
the launching. "But I think I'm crazy
like a fox. The price of fuel is not going
down. And if we have a complete crun-
ch, I may be the only kind of transpor-
tation you can buy."
Named for the maritime author who
inspired Ackerman's dream, the two-
masted Leavitt is believed to be the fir-
st cargo schooner launched in this coun-
try since 1938. She was christened by
white-haired Virginia Leavitt, the
author's widow.
Leavitt wrote the book "In The Wake_
of The Coasting Schooner."
A HALF DOZEN windjammers, cir-
cled by yachts and fishing boats, lined
up in the tidal channel for the festive
launching at the R. L. Wallace

Now showing, Campus Area Butterfield Theatres
The FIRST Certified
Crazy Person's Comedy
12:00-2:20-4:40-7:05-9:35 12:15-2:35-4:55-7:20-9:55

boatyard. A high school band supplied "I won't know, nobody will know, un-
the music, a militia unit from New til I've had a chance to go at it," he
Hampshire fired its cannons as the said. "I've resisted saying 'I told you
Leavitt hit the water, and enterprising so' and I'm not going to say 'I told you
vendors hawked "Coaster" T-shirts at so.' Not yet."
$6 apiece.
Also taking part in the launching was WITH A cargo capacity of 150 tons,
a film crew preparing a documentary the ship can carry the equivalent of five
about the Leavitt and Ackerman. semitrailer truckloads. Its six-foot
The Leavitt is expected to set sail in draft guarantees accessibility to
four to six weeks after being outfitted shallow harbors, and its lack of
with rigging and electronic gear. auxiliary power makes it exempt from
Ackerman, the 36-year-old skipper, most federal regulations governing
said he will be accompanied by a crew powered cargo ships.
of three and up to six paying Ackerman calculates fuel now makes
passengers. up 40 per cent of the cost of operating an
He has yet to choose a destination and oil-powered freighter. He said the
cargo for the maiden voyage, saying, schooner is suited for carrying bulky,
"I'm waiting to see who bids the most." oversized loads like Maine granite,
BUILT OF wood and modeled after tropical hardwoods, oyster shells, salt,
19th century prototypes, the red and firewood, and building materials.
white-hulled Leavitt gets its power Until World War II, hundreds of
from the wind pulling its 6,440 squre sailing ships roamed the coast of the
feet of canvas sails, rigged fore and aft United States doing just what Acker-
atop 80-foot masts. Its only fuel man envisions, carrying tons of cargo
requirement is a small amount of diesel from port to port, including coal, oil,
needed for its pumps, generators, and lumber, grain, furniture, granite, or
hydraulic cargo hoists. canned fish.
While estimates of the Leavitt's price The federal government has become
tag have ranged from $300,000 up, interested in the development of sailing
Ackerman refuses to divulge the cost, vessels as substitutes for oil fueled
calling it "a trade secret." And despite ships. The U.S. Maritime Ad-
his savings in fuel, he says he's not sure ministration has proposed designs of
whether his cargo business will be a sailing vessels more than 100 times the
money-maker. tonnage of the Leavitt.
U.S. marshals attack
ag ency's practices
WASHINGTON (AP) - A deputy Board, created in 1978 to protect
U.S. marshal swore yesterday he often "whistleblowers" in the civil service
was ordered over his protests to tran- who fear being penalized if they try to
sport prisoners by air without their expose corruption or waste in their
shackles so as to conceal from the agencies.
airlines and their passengers the fact Frazier and three other deputies in
that dangerous prisoners were in their the U.S. Marshal's Office in Atlanta
midst. complained they were threatened with
Among the prisoners transported that unwanted transfers to Texas and
way was an accused hijacker and Florida if they persisted in their com-
"desperate men" serving 100-year sen- plaints.
tences, often held in solitary con- The Justice Department, disputing
finement, and with records of having the charges and defending the U.S.
escaped, said Robert Frazier. Marshal Service, characterized the
HIS COMPLAINTS to superiors went four as troublemakers who "consisten-
unheeded and only landed him in tly attempted to undermine the
trouble, he charged. management of the Atlanta office" and
Frazier was a witness at the first demonstrated "disruptive, counter-
hearing ever conducted by the gover- productive, and hostile attitudes."
nment's Merit Systems Protection
Ex-dept. head files $3.5
million suit against MSU
EAST LANSING (UPI) - A former "There is no substance to my job and
Michigan State University (MSU) there hasn't been for more than a
department head filed a $3.5 million year."
suit yesterday accusing MSU officials The suit followed an ultimatum from
of harrassing her because she told a MSU Provost Clarence Winder that she
local newspaper her job lacked "sub- deny the statements or face dismissal.
stance." MSU officials said they would not
comment because the case is pending.
Christine Wilson, who has resigned Wilson also said part of the MSU ac-
her $24,000-a-year job as head of MSU's tion against her came because she is
Office of Support Services, charged in black.
her suit that she was demoted and She had been at MSU since 1973 and
prevented from gaining tenure. headed the Office of Supportive Ser-
vices, which has provided counseling
WILSON, 35, said MSU officials took and tutoring for disadvantaged studen-
the action after a May 23 Lansing State ts at the state's largest university since
Journal -story quoted her as' saying, -97..

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