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Canada Now: Shelburne , Nova Scotia June 20, 2005 :

Boston to Nova Scotia ferry project sinking? 

Three days remain until “kill date”, says Shelburne mayor: The Boston-to-Nova Scotia ferry project proposed by a Boston-based company has three days to sign all necessary contracts in order to proceed with the service, according to Parker Comeau, mayor of the Town of Shelburne on Nova Scotia's South Shore , the proposed landing port for the service. The June 14, 2005 Shelburne Coast Guard quotes an “optimistic” Mayor Comeau as saying that he was told by ferry backers if arrangements are not solid by June 23, “it won’t get done his year.”

In a private, closed-door session, the town gave Shores Atlantic, LLC a six-month exclusive right for ferry service in Shelburne and has given Mr. Comeau the go-ahead to order the required off-loading barge, should the final deal be consummated. In 2000, Mr. Comeau stated that Shelburne had in excess of $400,000 ( U.S. ) set aside for the ferry project. According to interviews with Comeau and Shores Atlantic principal Gene Hartigan, the arrangements with Shelburne are the only confirmed part of the deal to date.

The ferry service is scheduled for three weekly crossings each way and plans are underway by Shores Atlantic to employ the cruise ship Scotia Prince, though no lease has been signed. Matthew Hudson, owner of the Scotia Prince, is quoted in the June 1, 2005 Portland Press Herald and Sunday Telegram as saying he "...didn't know Hartigan and hadn't heard of his plan."  Port of Boston spokesperson Danny Levy said in an interview that,  "various permits and agreements are proceeding apace, but regulatory and community approval hurdles have not been cleared." 

Arrangements with Port of Boston, Scotia Prince Cruises, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Homeland Security Agency, Canada Transport, Canada Border Services Agency and Nova Scotia Tourism have not been made to date. 

Earlier this month, according to Mayor Comeau, Hartigan assured the Shelburne Town Council that he has discussed the project with Premier John Hamm and Mr. Hamm and the government were "on board". Hartigan suggested council members contact Premier Hamm to verify, but to date, no calls have been made. The spokesman for Premier Hamm says that "no discussions with Hartigan, the Town or others have taken place with the Premier" about the service. A spokesman for Rodney MacDonald, Nova Scotia Tourism Minister, says that there is no record of the Town of Shelburne, Hartigan or Shores Atlantic contacting the tourism department. The Canadian Border Services Agency, Transport Canada and Customs Canada show no record of contact from the town or Shores Atlantic.

In the wake of 9/11, the customs and security issues are something the promoters are “struggling with”, according to Mayor Comeau in the Coast Guard. Gene Hartigan agrees but insists that things have moved forward in a positive way, but would cite no specifics. A spokesman for the U.S. Customs & Border Protection Agency could not confirm any attempts by Shores Atlantic to obtain the required inspections, permits and permissions.

Though unwilling to be quoted, a government official involved in the myriad approval process told Canada Now  that, "it would be an absolute miracle if the ferry service began this summer." If Shores Atlantic and the Town of Shelburne can conjure that miracle, getting customers might be the next big hurdle. Shores Atlantic's Hartigan says that there are no plans for marketing the service, but that it can break even with a 25% ridership. 

Shores Atlantic, LLC was incorporated in Massachusetts in 2001 and shows Gene Hartigan and David Shagoury as sole officers and co-managers. Both are well-known Massachusetts republican political operatives. Shagoury is a regular conservative radio and TV talk-show commentator. He was forced in 1999 to resign amidst a sex scandal scandal from his post with the Massachusetts government of former U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Paul Celluci. Shagoury's immediate boss, the state's economic development director resigned days later under widely reported accusations that the two engaged in an inappropriate and possibly compromising on-the-job romantic affair. On a Washington D.C.-based republican fundraising web site, the two are shown smiling in the close company of Karl Rove, closest advisor to U.S. President George W. Bush and primary architect of the war in Iraq. 

Updated information about the proposed ferry service can be viewed online at: www.ShelburneNovaScotia.com

 

Previously announced ferry schedule for 2005

  • Route: Boston Harbor to Shelburne
  • Projected launch date: August, 2005
  • Schedule: Evening sailings, Monday, Wednesday & Friday from Boston: Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday from Shelburne
  • Sailing time: 12-14 hours
  • Vessel: Scotia Prince (tentative)
  • Fares: Not announced yet
  • Ferry Company: Shores Atlantic, LLC, registered in Massachusetts 

Previous failed Shores Atlantic ferry services to Shelburne:

1999: Massachusetts-to-Nova Scotia Ferry proposed by Mayor Comeau and Massachusetts senator Bruce Tarr. "Things are going very well," says Mayor Comeau. 

2001: "Shelburne-Glouster ferry possible for 2002", Mayor Comeau. "Everyone is coming on board", says Gene Hartigan.


Bound for Boston?
Group near deal for ferry to Nova Scotia

A proposed ferry between Boston and Nova Scotia that would let passengers bring their cars, gamble, eat, or shop during the trip could set sail as early as next month.

Shores Atlantic LLC, the group that would operate the new service, is in final talks with the owners of the Scotia Prince, the 300-cabin ship they hope to lease, and with the Massachusetts Port Authority for dock space, said Eugene Hartigan, one of five investors in the venture.

If all goes well, final contracts between the parties could be signed this month, clearing the way for the inaugural 14-hour cruise sometime between July 1 and Aug. 1, he said.

The ferry would be the first such regular service connecting Boston's waterways with Canada's Nova Scotia, and could boost Massport's efforts to bring more cruise passengers through the Port of Boston. The number of passengers taking cruises from Boston has risen and tumbled in recent years, even as Massport has worked to draw more ships and more passengers.

Several cruise lines offer Caribbean, trans-Atlantic, and Bermuda cruises from Boston. This year, Massport expects 225,000 passengers to board cruise ships here, up from 199,453 in 2004.

Massport spokeswoman Danny Levy confirmed the talks, but said that several regulatory and community approval hurdles still need to be cleared.

The group is negotiating with Massport over the use of two potential docking locations for the ferry. Hartigan said the group prefers a deep-water berth along the Mystic River in Charlestown, a site that has ample parking.

''We look at the ship as a fun vehicle for people who maybe wouldn't take a Caribbean cruise, but would take a two- or four-day trip to Nova Scotia," Hartigan said.

If the new ferry sees the light of day, it would replace a defunct service that until last year ran between Portland, Maine, and Nova Scotia. Scotia Prince Cruises, the company that used to operate that service, canceled its 2005 schedule in April, citing ''dangerous levels of toxic mold" infesting the cruise terminal it had leased from the City of Portland, according to a statement from the company's chairman, Matthew Hudson, posted on its website.

Officials for Scotia Prince Cruises did not return calls from the Globe, but Gary Wood, Portland's city attorney, confirmed that the cruise company has filed a lawsuit against the city.

''Our view of why they stopped running out of Portland is very different from their view," Wood said. The city plans to countersue and has leased the terminal space out to a bus company that is running trips to the Foxwoods casino in Connecticut, he said.

Portland's loss could end up the gain of Bostonians and others willing to travel here for an overnight cruise filled with gambling, shows, or just relaxation.

Hartigan said the Portland lawsuit should not affect his group's efforts to lease the Scotia Prince. The ship can accommodate 1,000 passengers and about 185 cars, and the fares would range from $100 to $200 per round trip. He said the company could be profitable with roughly 250 people on each trip.

The ship carried an average of 700 to 800 passengers per trip when it was running from Portland, Hartigan said.

Initial plans are for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evening departures from Boston to Shelburne, Nova Scotia, with return trips on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings. Shelburne is a two-hour drive south of Halifax.

On Sundays, the group would operate a $50 per person ''family cruise to nowhere" that would take between four and six hours and travel a short distance into the Atlantic and back to Boston.

The cruise season would last through October, Hartigan said.

Once onboard, passengers could play slot machines and other gaming tables, watch a show in a 237-seat theater, or use a spa.

Could the Scotia Prince find a new home in Beantown? 

Wednesday, June 1, 2005
Maine Sunday Telegram
Bay State investors eyeing Scotia Prince 
By TOM BELL and TUX TURKEL, Staff Writers

A Massachusetts investment group hopes so. It wants to lease the Scotia Prince this summer and set up a ferry service between Nova Scotia and Boston, replacing the service that operated between Nova Scotia and Portland for 35 years. 

The Massachusetts group wants to start the service this summer to take advantage of Portland's loss, said Gene Hartigan, one of the investors with Shores Atlantic LLC. 

He said a Boston-based ferry could pick up customers who bought Scotia Prince tickets before its season was canceled in April. He said the ferry would keep the same crew. 

"Our one goal is to get in the water and begin sailing some time this season," he said. "What better time to fill the vacuum than when the vacuum is created?"

The proposal calls for the ferry to sail from Boston in the early evening on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Rather than sail to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, the ferry would sail to Shelburne, a town of about 2,000 on the southeast corner of Nova Scotia, about an hour's drive from Yarmouth. The ferry would make the 12- to 14-hour trip from Shelburne on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The ferry from Portland took 11 hours, allowing for departures daily.

Shelburne Mayor P.G. Comeau, who has been pushing for such a service for years, said the town is ready to do whatever it takes. 

I'm enthused about it," he said, "but I'm telling the media to use some caution. It certainly isn't a done deal."

Hartigan said a representative of his group is scheduled today to inspect the Scotia Prince, which is sitting in a dry dock in Charleston, S.C. 

He said the group is finishing negotiations with the vessel's owner.

Mark Hudson, vice president of Scotia Prince Cruises, said he didn't know Hartigan and hadn't heard of his plan. He said that 25 to 30 parties have offered to buy the ship. 

"I'm not aware of any (potential buyers) being involved in a trip to Nova Scotia," he said.

International Shipping Partners, the Miami brokerage firm that is selling the ship, declined to comment. 

Mike Leone, Boston's port director, said Massport is examining the proposal. "It's an intriguing proposal, and we intend to continue discussions," he said. "We think there is a strong market between Boston and Nova Scotia."

One obstacle is that both Boston and Shelburne lack the infrastructure to load and unload cars from a ferry. Hartigan and Comeau said the problem could be solved easily with a ramp system using barges as a floating dock. 

A similar problem faces Portland and the owners of The Cat, a high-speed catamaran that now operates between Bar Harbor and Yarmouth. The Cat's owners, who want to bring the ferry to Portland this fall, are struggling to find a cost-effective way to retrofit the city's docking facility so that cars, trucks and buses can be driven on and off The Cat.


Unless that problem can be solved soon, other obstacles, such as the cost of starting the service and marketing it to passengers on short notice, won't matter.

"We're basically hung up on a technical thing," said Jeffrey Monroe, Portland's transportation director. "I'm not sure if we can engineer a solution and get it installed in time."

The city and engineers from Bay Ferries, the company that owns The Cat, have been exploring several potential solutions. They would cost between $200,000 and $750,000, Monroe said.

Neither the city nor Bay Ferries wants to spend a lot of money on a short-term solution. A ramp that can handle both kinds of ships will be part of the new Ocean Gateway waterfront terminal, which is expected to open in 2007.

A ferry between Boston and Nova Scotia would pose tough competition for a ferry out of Portland. Unlike Boston, though, Portland could offer daily service because the trip is much shorter, Monroe said.. 

Monroe said studies have shown that a ferry service between Boston and Nova Scotia would be reasonably successful. 

"But I can't imagine this happening this summer at all," he said.


Halifax Herald, May 29, 2005: Brian Medel
YARMOUTH, N.S. -- A group of American investors hoping to set up a ferry service between Shelburne, N.S., and Boston is negotiating a lease for the M.V. Scotia Prince.

The proposal calls for the ferry to sail early-evenings from Boston on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays beginning this summer.

It would make the 12 to 14 hour trip from Shelburne on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Gene Hartigan, one of the investors with Shores Atlantic LLC of Boston, said an announcement could be made in a matter of days.

"It's less about whether it will become a reality but more about when it will begin,'' he said.

"I would say the window right now would be between July 1 and August 1. Obviously it would be an abbreviated season.''

Lydia Deinstadt, manager of the the Shelburne Visitor Centre said it would be the economic boom that the town needs.

The ferry can accommodate one-thousand passengers and 185 vehicles.

Earlier this year the owners of the Scotia Prince cancelled service between Portland, Maine, and Yarmouth, N.S., after 35 years of operation and put the ferry up for sale.

Scotia Prince Cruises has filed a $20-million claim against the city of Portland for its alleged failure to address toxic mould at the city-owned International Marine Terminal.

City officials claim to have made $1.2 million worth of improvements to the ferry terminal and were looking for another tenant, possibly The Cat, the high-speed ferry that runs now between Bar Harbor, Maine, and Nova Scotia.

Portland officials acknowledged the potential loss of revenue, but defended their decision to terminate the ferry's $400,000-a-year lease after the cruise company cancelled the 2005 season.

Proposed ferry run excites Shelburne
CBC News May 30, 2005
SHELBURNE, N.S. – The ferry that used to stop in Yarmouth may now run between Shelburne and Boston.

A group of investors from New England is trying to lease the Scotia Prince ferry for a new service starting this summer.

Shelburne Mayor P.G. Comeau, who has been pushing for the service for years, says he's looking forward to seeing the ferry in his community over the next few months.

"It's certainly going to be a change in the lifestyle here and there's going to be a tremendous amount of traffic. We're going to have to address additional accommodations, additional retail outlets, other services."

Comeau says having the ferry stop in Shelburne will make for shorter drives on the mainland because his community is an hour closer to Halifax than Yarmouth.

Scotia Prince Cruises cancelled its 35-year-old ferry run between Yarmouth and Portland, Maine, last month, citing unsafe facilities at the terminal in Portland.

The move left only one ferry service connecting Nova Scotia and Maine: Bay Ferries' high-speed Cat in Yarmouth and Bar Harbor.

If the deal goes through, Comeau says the Scotia Prince ferry would offer a 14-hour service between Shelburne and Boston three days a week. He expects a decision within 10 days.

 

Previous ferry stories:
December, 1998: Mayor Comeau announced that a new, high-speed ferry from Massachussetts to Shelburne would begin in 1999

December of 2001: Gene Hartigan of Shores Atlantic, announced that a ferry service from Massachussetts to Shelburne would commence in May of 2002. Mayor Comeau committed $400,000 (U.S.) to required engineering work.

 

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