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Our ferry – yes, it will always be our ferry – is now in Denmark.

The ship is now called Dolphin Jet and it travels the sea between Aarhus and Kalunborg.

Built in Australia, the Spirit of Ontario arrived in Rochester in 2004 for service to Toronto. It hit a dock in New York City on the way. When the daily trips launched, the ship had some engine trouble and the winds on the lake sometimes forced it to shut down. Add in the whopping price of gas, inability to fill 774 seats, and really crappy business plan, the venture sank. The City of Rochester bought the vessel in a bid to save it, but ended up losing many millions of dollars.

The boat sailed off into the sunset in 2006. It ended up in Morocco, where it was christened Tangier Jet II.

Now on its third paint job, the Dolphin Jet started runs in Denmark over the summer after many delays. The venture got into more trouble when Denmark officials insisted it slow down in a sensitive wildlife area:

In 2012 the entire Kalundborg Fjord area was designated a conservation area – the so-called Natura 2000 area. The requirement for Dolphin Jet to slow down is set forth mostly to protect local birds, porpoises and seals. Therefore, Dolphin Jet will have to slow down to even 12 knots at the bottom of the fjord.

So, that’s the latest on our ferry. The news stung those who noticed the boat is named after the Buffalo Bills’ chief rivals. Seems kind of fitting.

Links of the Day:

– How would you feel if a police officer saw your car was unlocked, reached in and locked it? Troy, N.Y. police want to do just that after a rash of break-ins, but residents are concerned about privacy:

The city police department is considering having officers walking a beat keeping a close eye on parked cars in an attempt to cut down on thefts of iPads, GPS devices and other items left behind in unattended vehicles.

“There are a number of issues: liability, privacy, personal responsibility,” Councilwoman Nina Nichols, chairwoman of the council’s Public Safety Committee, said Wednesday.

Deputy Chief Richard McAvoy said the proposal is for officers to check parked cars. If the vehicles are unlocked, the officer would open the door, put in a blue form advising the resident of the situation and the officer would then lock the vehicle.

I didn’t have a huge problem with this, but I received several tweets like this one:

[tweet https://twitter.com/Dan_Gross/status/203094822238687232]


– When I covered the fast ferry, George Conboy of Brighton Securities was my go-to guy for deciphering financial information. He quickly became a critic of the project, saying the numbers weren’t adding up. George is in Morocco right now on vacation and rode our old ferry!

– Can the Finger Lakes Racetrack survive another 10 years? The Democrat and Chronicle has a great look at the track’s future challenges, as it celebrates 50 years in business.

– Nik Wallenda is at risk of losing sponsors if he doesn’t wear a safety harness during his tightrope over Niagara Falls. Politicians were totally cool with it. Businesses, though, are showing some sanity.

– Twins Steve and Mike Barnes have worked at 13WHAM News for decades. Magnum photographers took this awesome picture of them.

More women – even wealthy ones – are coloring their hair at home.

Links of the Day:

– Cleveland hopes to succeed where Rochester failed. A ferry service has been proposed from the Ohio city to Canada. A businessman would like to restart ferry service from Rochester to Toronto, but it won’t happen this year.

– Rochester was named one of the top 10 affordable housing markets in the U.S. in a recent survey. The study divided each region’s median housing price by median household income to come up with the list.

– The I-Square development appears stalled. The builder, Mike Nolan, referred me to his Facebook page. The posts are a bit a rant. Nolan is a rookie developer. This is a popular project, but did he think this would be rubber-stamped?

– The Buffalo News editorial board compares Kodak’s bankruptcy with the decline of Buffalo manufacturing:

As neighbors in this end of the state, Buffalo and Rochester have had much in common as manufacturing powerhouses that went into decline. The Buffalo Niagara region had 92,600 manufacturing jobs in 1990, compared with 49,200 in 2011, according to the state Department of Labor. The Rochester area had 124,100 manufacturing jobs in 1990, compared with 60,000 last year.

Remember during the fast ferry days when people said Canadians would never want to come to Rochester?

They’re flocking in droves to Buffalo and Syracuse – to spend money.

Sales tax receipts in Erie and Niagara counties are surging. Local officials credit Canadians. From the Buffalo News:

So what’s fueling the growth?

“There’s a one-word answer I can give you right now: Canadians,” said Gary D. Keith, an economist with M&T Bank. “They have been helping our retail sector significantly throughout 2011, and, in fact, the nice growth we’re seeing in Erie County has been topped by what’s happening in Niagara County.”

The Syracuse Post Standard reports Canadians are coming by the busload to Carousel Center, Wegmans and the Waterloo Premium Outlets:

The two currencies are about par right now. A big reason Canadian shoppers are coming to the U.S., and Syracuse in particular, is for the wide variety of stores and variety of goods they cannot purchase in Canada. And to escape goods and services taxes and other sales taxes, which are, they say, much higher in their homeland.

Rochester may not be as convenient as Syracuse and Buffalo, but I’d be willing to bet we’re getting at least some of that traffic. We have the unique attractions of The Strong and George Eastman House, but the shopping opportunities are no different. Maybe it’s time to figure out another kind of attraction to capture the Canadians!