But the shipping team at Moore Stephens has come up with a much more plausible definition of the term in in its latest newsletter. It explains that the evolution of the handysize is closely related to the development of the railways. It is not named after W C Handy, who got so fed up waiting for a train at Tutwiler in the Mississippi Delta in 1903 that he wrote St Louis Blues instead. Neither does it have anything to do with The Handy Shipping Guide. This was published every Saturday for 101 years starting in April 1887 and included details of shipping movements under such headings as Homeward Bound and Long Overdue. Homeward Bound was written by Paul Simon while he was waiting for a train at Widnes station, which today houses a shop and Debbie’s Beauty. There are still no toilets.
Handysize ships are so named because they are handy. They can get into small ports. They can get into big ports. They have their own cranes. Variations include the handymax bulker, which is bigger, the super handymax, which is too big for its boots, and the mega handymax, which is the next big thing.
Mark Twain said that many a small thing has been made big by the right kind of advertising. But handysize ships didn’t get where they are today by being big. Handysize is the new black. You can stop, offload your cargo in a small port, stop again, and then move on to the next job.
Every stop is neatly planned for a poet and a one-man band.