Glub, glub, glub


Titanic mistake
Glub, glub, glub… Well with plenty of notice, fanfare and a drum roll preceding the new Outer Cove money confiscation scheme thinly disguised as a “safety” issue, Tony Benavente over at the Department of Lands and Natural Resources has implemented one of the silliest, most unreasonable and most damaging pickpocket schemes in recent memory.

Destined to reduce, not increase government funding. Destined to go down (pardon pun) as one of the most counterproductive bureaucratic boondoggles of all time. Destined to fail like a dog in grad school. Destined to snarl up boat traffic, cause huge delays and piss off our tourists and our boat operators. In fact I am hard-pressed to find anything at all positive to say about it other than it sets a new, higher standard for poor, unimaginative planning.

In a nutshell, the idea is to close the Outer Cove Marina because it is unsafe. Fact: it was unsafe the day it opened more than 20 years ago. Ask any boat operator who ever used it. DLNR has done nothing over that 20 years to mitigate the problem. It is no more unsafe now than it was 20 years ago. It will be no less unsafe 20 years from now than it is today. The true reason, of course, is to narrow access to only one boat channel so DLNR can better monitor pax numbers and extort a fee for each passenger who embarks on a boat.

That one boat channel is the narrow, shallow, dangerous one into the Smiling Cove Marina where all boat traffic will now be forced at government gunpoint to embark and disgorge passengers. There is not enough room at the transit “convenience” dock to load and unload the tourists and local passengers. There is not near enough room in the dangerous boat channel to accommodate all the boat traffic. The idea is unworkable.

There are 20 better ways to force blood money out of the tourism turnip than this ill-conceived piece of drivel. My boonie dog, a near graduate of the Wharton School, could come up with a better one. Tax them at a toll booth just off the airport property. Tax them a higher fee at Managaha (which is where 95% of those boat using tourists are headed anyway – and where money collection infrastructure is already in place). Allocate part of that new higher fee to DLNR for whatever nefarious scheme they plan to use the money for. Newly paved driveways for all! Heck, just break into their hotel rooms and confiscate some of their cash. Think of the jobs that would create.

So what will this new impediment to business accomplish? It will not fix the Outer Cove in our lifetimes. The ill-gotten funds will not be spent to “maintain” the little transient dock (which has the magical property of being able to expand itself to five times its size when needed). It will, without a doubt, cause some, maybe most, of the existing watersports and boat operators to go out of business. It will thus reduce, not increase, the legitimate taxes and other revenue streams going into the government coffers. It will not cover Rover’s tuition.

Bad dog. No dinner for you.

Tinian on a roll
With a roll-on, roll-off vehicle/passenger ferry due to start operations in just a few months, Tinian is poised to begin their much needed tourism comeback. Affordable transportation to and from our neighboring island is the key to International tourism and for local visitors too. The ability to take a car along on a weekend trip to Tinian means folks from Saipan can go over and explore the history, culture and beauty of our neighboring island without breaking the bank. It means the beautiful byroad scenery of Tinian will soon be seen by passengers in pink Mustangs and neon yellow Camaros with up-fold doors.

Local tourism and day trips will be very important in this early phase because without the 400-plus room inventory of the Tinian Dynasty, hotel accommodations are limited to about 60 rooms in boutique hotels and inns scattered around San Jose village.

In addition to helping Tinian generate some much-needed cash via tourism, a handy byproduct will be price reductions. Groceries, and most everything else, will likely get cheaper to buy on Tinian with regular ferry and cargo service available every day.

Finally keeping the 25-year-old promise and opening the Tinian International Airport to direct international flights is the key to large volume tourism on Tinian but that is not an option until the room shortage is cured by the big Wyndham opening, or the Dynasty being refurbished or by Alter City Group’s planned development for a multi-phase hotel/casino/integrated resort and 18-hole golf course on idyllic Turtle Cove being phased in. The ferry is an excellent start.

Thank you, Bridge Investment Group


“What went down well?” Mum asks, coming back to the table.
“Nothing,” I say.
“The Titanic,” Elliot says.”
—Zoe Sugg, Girl Online

“It’s all about perspective. The sinking of the Titanic was a miracle to the lobsters in the ship’s kitchen.”
—Wynne McLaughlin

Full fathom five thy father lies.
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
—Ariel, The Tempest

Bruce Bateman (Special to the Saipan Tribune)
Bruce A. Bateman resides on Saipan with a wife, a son, and an unknown number of boonie dogs. He has owned and operated a number of unusual businesses and most recently worked as the marketing manager for MVA. Bruce likes to read, travel, tinker with bicycles, hike, swim, and play a bit of golf. He is opinionated and writes when the moon is full and the mood strikes.

Bruce Bateman (Special to the Saipan Tribune)

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