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No . . . this site is NOT transforming into a book emporium. But I can make some recommendations, good reading whether you’re on the water, at the beach, or in a house . . . The last time I revealed this much about my bookshelf was in 2007 here and here.
Numero uno: A “must read” We the Drowned . . . I guarantee it’ll be the most enthralling and fastest 675-page novel you’ve ever read. Read a review here. I’ll even send my copy once a few more friends have read it; my copy was sent to me by Les Sonnenmark, a frequent commenter here. It’s a saga of 100 years of lives of folks whose starting point is a Danish Baltic Sea island town called Marstal featuring naval prisoners of war, St. Peter’s triage style, mariners by sail and steam and diesel, Samoa, Greenland, Captain Cook’s shrunken head, haunting red lights (and more) for a character who survives World War II aboard convoy after convoy in and out of Murmansk, and some poignant stories of loves lost and long deferred. This is a story of resurrections. Hear an interview with the author, Casten Jensen, here. Read an interview focusing on storytelling craft here.
Unrelated: can you identify the sailing and diesel vessels here? Identification to all will be at the end of the post.
Second suggestion: Fire on the Horizon (267 pages) by gCaptain‘s very own John Konrad, with Tom Shroder. This book walks you minute by minute through the last days of Deepwater Horizon, with compassion for the crew and their families. You will learn much about a drillship, of which many exist today. Konrad and Shroder tease out responsibilities of BP, TransOcean, and Halliburton. I hadn’t known until reading this book of John Konrad’s unique qualifications to write this book: he learned of the blowout while in the Southern Ocean, delivering a similar Korean rig called Deepwater Ascension from Korea to the Gulf of Mexico; moreover, he knew some crew aboard Deepwater Horizon. Konrad shows his knack for telling a tragic story quite well, throwing in compelling backstory along the way. In the first 50 pages alone, you’ll learn something about offshore drilling in 1896, SUNY Maritime, and the Hyundai shipyard in Ulsan, Korea. In our age of petroleum and time of peak oil, this book will leave you with greater understanding.
Third suggestion: Also related to the blow-out of last summer, A Sea in Flames, (352 pages) by Carl Safina. In the preface, Carl Safina calls this “a record of a technological event . . . a chronicle of a season of anguish . . .” It’s an informal book in which Safina records his observations and vents. He, like Konrad and Shroder, makes the arcane world of deepwater drilling understandable and interesting to the layperson; in the first 50 pages, you learn about the decisions made throughout the six months of drilling at Macondo, which he compares to a “high risk pregnancy.” Safina’s voice evidences his ecology background (Ph. D. from Rutgers and President of the Blue Ocean Institute), and he’s clearly fuming, incensed; he reports statements from officials from BP and government agencies and then (as if we were watching or listening to some broadcast news with him) we hear his reactions . . . be they sarcasm or refutation. He acknowledges his anger, though: e.g., “I am not impressed with the Coast Guard so far. Admiral Thad Allen becomes to me a one-dimensional talking head: the Thadmiral. Does he deserve to be a caricature? Of course not; does anyone? But in my anger, that’s what happens” (96). And he’s particularly angry about private security guards interdicting the public from . . . public parks . . . when they are officially open (207-10). Ultimately, near the end of the book, Safina reports on having coffee with Allen and another of the caricature’s in the book, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, NOAA administrator; here . . Safina listens and in his reportage, transforms what had been one-dimensional into nuanced people. And I admire that. Read the book.
I’d love to hear your reading suggestions . . . in part because I’m fishing for my next book. I always can fall back on rereading the standards by Herman Melville, Joseph Conrad, Farley Mowat, or Jan deHartog . . . but would rather have my horizons expanded.
Otherwise, in summer the temperature makes it a whole lot more comfortable than winter to just while away some hours doing the Otis Redding thing . . .
All fotos by Will Van Dorp in the past two weeks.
Oh . . . right . . . here’s another review.
When I got to the wreck Easter morning, as you know, I spotted a seal. In the fog and from a distance, I first imagined it another creature–one more typically associated with Easter but for some reason with a flattened tail and sleeping on the beach. I gave it wide berth, but when it turned
and looked up, I noticed it was either a deformed bunny sans ears OR NOT an Easter bunny but rather a seal that seemed to has a sense of boat survey work, the clue being that it was reading Colvin’s Steel Boat Building, Vol. 1.
Having with me a silkie speaker of Halichoerus grypus aka hooked-nosed sea pig, I thought I’d ask a few questions via translation. After dispensing with initial interview protocols, I learned that ᐅᒡᖪᒃ , as this young male gray calls himself, witnessed Le Papillon arrive on the beach and was calculating odds of it rolling off the beach in like but reverse manner. ᐅᒡᖪᒃ demonstrated as he spoke, and
after astounding me with jargon like panting, racking, hogging, sagging, and hogging some more, he grew quiet, pensively stroking his juvenile whiskers. ”Sooner . . . would have been better than now, but, in my not-so-humble seal opinion, it needs a strong vessel . . . of several hundred orca-power at least (must be how seals calculate terrific torque) to wrestle the pinky free of this entombing sand and
I turned back once while leaving; ᐅᒡᖪᒃ must have felt bad. My translator told me she heard him mutter something about “I can’t believe I said that. I need to learn a bit of tact with these terrestrials.” Then, he said something about heading for South Street Seaport next . . . . hmmmmm!
Here’s a game: I show part of a foto, and you might try to identify the vessel . . .
an answer of Marion C. Bouchard would have been correct. Doubleclick enlarges most.
Let’s start here. Although I didn’t take this foto, I did refer to it recently on this blog. Note the logo. Any guesses?
those can’t be superhigh steamer stacks, can they?
angular hull profile
tiny tires as fenders, or …
Terrapin Island has a stack forward of the house.
The unique Odin tailed by Ross Sea over by the Goethals Bridge. Ross Sea seems to sprout a massive starboard stack here. Anyone know whose stacks those really are?
Lois Ann L. Moran
Huge tires, actually, on the gargantuan Atlantic Salvor.
And here’s the final one. It’s Break of Dawn. When I read that the tug that had the misfortunate to take the job of towing Mobro 4000, I assumed it was a local independent tug, not a fleet sibling of Dawn Services. This blog has run fotos of Baltic Dawn and Atlantic Dawn.
For a fuller story of the motivations behind the “garbage job,” read this, starting from p. 243.
For the artistic story behind the children’s book, see this link for the series of decisions and sketches involved in creating the story. As a disclaimer … I haven’t read the book and realize some controversy surrounds it, but check out the Amazon page video about the author’s process in creating the artwork. To me, one important story here is an honest ambitious crew doing a job that captures them, transforming them into pawns of a diverse, far-flung, and powerful interest groups.
The Break of Dawn fotos come thanks to Harold Tartell. All others by Will Van Dorp.
And talking about being pawns . . . my account of my time as a hostage in Iraq exactly 20 years ago is reaching its climax on the Babylonian Captivity site. If you’ve not been reading it, my detention lasted from August until December 1990; to read the account in chronological order, see the note upper right on the homepage.
On trains, subways, ferries … the past few years, I’ve seen them, the Girls . . . . Though intrigued, I resisted picking one up.
What I mean is the Larsson books: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. But on Thankgsgiving Day, I watched Yellow Bird‘s adaptations of the first two. And now I’m hooked.
So, what’s this . . . or who’s this? Note three different ferries in the background. The land there is Red Hook Brooklyn.
Here’s the first one . . . the girl who … glides just forward of the tanker’s prop. Clue: the tug has a woman’s name. Hazard a guess?
Same deal . . . the girl who shifts ships and heads east past the girl who used to be a distinctive orange?
The girl who sports a mighty wheelhouse . . .
The girl with the exhaust-tinted neck . . .
The boat whose name is impossible to read at this distance . . .
She who shifts is Miriam Moran, headed past Sarah Ann, who used to display the most distinctive paint in the sixth boro.
She of the mighty wheelhouse . . . Helen Parker. I think this was the same hull, but I really can’t be certain.
closer and closer on Chemtrans Sky.
As to the person cloaked in the face of the unidentified merchant mariner from the 1942 incentive poster . . . I’m sworn to confidentiality . . . although the finger bling might offer a clue. So, bowsprite . . . contact me and I’ll identify the mariner before he ships out . . .
All fotos by Will Van Dorp, who wonders what other Larsson parody titles you might deposit in the comment scow, with pix of course.
Unrelated: Here’s an interesting merchant marine index.
Need sunglasses for this drama on the Hudson? “Random” means … spotted in a plethora of places, like Elizabeth, passing the Hudson waterfront at dusk with a barged Weeks crane 532 in tow. Note the Crow or Cheyenne in push gear with barge on the far left.
Paul T Moran at Gulf Marine Repair in Tampa. Not to be insensitive to customary modes of dress, but–as east river pointed out– doesn’t this vaguely like a burka or abaya from the eyes down on the tug?
Atlantic Coast pushing Cement Transporter 5300 south of –you guessed it–Cementon, NY.
Sea Hawk in Brooklyn Navy Yard last June appearing tied up to sludge tanker North River.
Connecticut (1959?) crosses the Sound north to south.
That’s it for now. Thanks to Deb DePeyster (who previous contributed to this) for the foto of Elizabeth, and to east river for the foto of Paul T Moran. All others by Will Van Dorp.
A year, a month, and three days before I was born, Joseph Mitchell published the essay below in the New Yorker. I don’t know when the first dredge appeared in the sixth boro, but
in Mitchell’s day, as now, dredging fleets and their crews sculpted the invisible portions of New York harbor. The above hard-to-read text made its way into the beginning of the essay “The Bottom of the Harbor” in Mitchell’s Up in the Old Hotel. For fotos of the crew of dredge Florida at their various duties, check through several dozen new ones on my Flickr stream to the left.
And it does take a fleet of specialized craft, like Apache, which
drills holes into “hard rock,” inserts explosive charges, and blows bedrock into fragments. Here’s a KVK blast video from USACE. This is how the process looks at a site in Finland. For images and description of blasting in Hell Gate in the 19th century, click here.
The next three fotos come thanks to Allen Baker. Loose clay mix slop
looks like this dropping into scows and smelling, by Allen’s description, as
“aroma there’s not enough vocabulary for.”
Drier particles, chewed up by the cutter head, might
get scooped by an excavator like 996 on
dredge New York. Here is video of a very scary day a few years back aboard New York.
Other areas of the harbor bottom get sculpted by vessels like Padre Island and (below) Terrapin Island.
And performing liaison duties among all the ships and machines in the fleet are crew boats like Brazos River
here driven from the exterior control station by Capt. Bill Miller.
And finally . . . back to the teeth: cost is between $150 and $180 each, depending on size and manufacturer. And ,
Also, in case you wondered about the date of Mitchell’s essay in the New Yorker: January 6, 1951.
Every now and then I feel conflicted by a set of “fresh” fotos, each interesting in itself, but maybe not enough for an entire post. I don’t know where my notion of “enough” comes from, but clearly the limitations exist in my head. So I’m trying out titles like “salmagundi” or “gallimaufry,” partly because alternatives like “mixed bag” or “miscellanea” don’t thrill me. Salmagundi exudes New York, and “gallimaufry” suggests that other “galli-” word I often use for … travel.
First, this oil painting of the Weehawken docks 1939 by Robert Bruce Haig captures what must have been the rough smoky port, now long-disappeared.
Bowsprite caught this foto of “red tide” riding up past Battery Park City on Labor Day.
She also took this foto of fireboat John D. McKean, riding water reddened by sunset.
The Waterfront Museum, currently over halfway to the Roundup in Waterford (aka waterchevy?) travels with an exhibit of encaustic paintings by Rich Samuelson. The show, up only until October, is called “tugboats and waterfront scenes.”
structure, Jeffreys Point Lighthouse, clearly at least 10 years senior to the bridge and deserving of respect therefrom.
And a menacing tentacle of “Hurricane Earl” crawled over Manhattan midafternoon last week as I viewed from a vantage point just south of the Tappan Zee Bridge.
First foto thanks to Arlie Haig (daughter of the artist), next two merci a Bowsprite, and the last ones by Will Van Dorp.
To see a recap of the North River fireworks, click here, and for Queens/Bronx/East River fireworks foto’d by Mitch, click here. In that foto, you can see three barges, each accompanied by a tug. Anyone know which ones? I mostly heard fireworks in what sounded like a north woods war, which must have chased all the fish into the deepest holes in the lakes.
circumnavigated this nameless
and peerless 1948 Chris Craft, which seemed to serve as waterside chase
crew for this hot air balloon, one of a half dozen launching from Poughkeepsie.
Later we headed to Portsmouth, where we talked to Bob Hassold (facing camera). Interested in his 1966 tug (ex-Matinicus)? It’s for sale. See this article. Bob runs a tugboat paraphernalia shop on the Portsmouth waterfront, where I found Thomas R. Flagg’s book New York Harbor Railroads in Color (a treasure for anyone interested in a “pre-truck intensive” when short-sea-shipping and cross-harbor shipping was the rule!) for less than Amazon’s price. If you don’t know this book and are interested in the sixth boro, this IS a “must-read” book. Tug Alley . . . it’s the most intense tug-oriented shop in the East . . . if not in the world–and I was not asked or paid to say that.
I love Portsmouth, up north in general . . . . with its lights,
blue produce and brews,
planters painted in red-white-blue,
(actually these are Hudson River bottom feeders), and
the water. Enjoy this gratuitous, top-feeder tugster-relaxing foto.
All fotos by Will Van Dorp, who continues gallivanting (from Puget Sound) soon.
And happy 234th . . . read the sentiments here.
If you’ve forgotten the context of the caption contest, click here. For another look at the misplaced boat, here it is.
Contributors: you’re all winners. I like love all the suggestions I’ve received. You can vote below at end of post.
From Buck: ‘The GPS said this was the fastest route!’
From Les: “A moment of soaring with the eagles led to an eternity of humiliation under the cormorants”
From JP: ”Winner of the 2010 speedboat hide and seek competition is announced.”
From bowsprite: “No, I did NOT forget where I docked, I just don’t remember the name of the island.”
From Elizabeth: “Strip ‘er fast, boys. The next one’ll be along in no time!” or
“Too short! Throw it back.” or
“Man! Another !@#@!! Bayliner. I was hoping we’d get a Sea Ray.”
From me: ”But I already rented this slip for the summer from the same guy who had a great bridge for sale.”
Until June 13, I’ll be “engaged” in remote Brooklyn, so each day all that can go up is one foto and a minimal caption of my own. I’d love your comments.
More seriously, I’m spending my week in Brooklyn doing a workshop called Along the Shore: Changing and Preserving the Landmarks of Brooklyn’s Industrial Waterfront, including some gunkholing all the way from Newtown Creek to Coney Island. I’ll tell you about it when I’m back.
The rest of this week . . . minimal fotos ( one pic o day) and text, some might be funny and others not. Send captions if you wish.
Unrelated but . . if you’re looking for a definitive history of doryfishing, click here. Thanks to Capt. Joey.
I call this a “water blog,” but usually avail myself only of salt water shots. Below is what I saw from my bedroom window yesterday morning: rainwater pool on roof beside my building. Foto is obviously flipped, but the vent with round hole to the right serves as “portal” for at least three raccoons who cavort and sing after dark. New York is wild.
Foreshortening . . . makes for some arresting shots: here McAllister Responder, Franklin Reinauer, Jennifer Turecamo, and RTC 150 pushed by Meredith C. Reinauer enjoy much greater separation than appears.
Left to right here are: Chemical Pioneer, Johann Jacob, and OOCL Busan. I post this foto because it suggests that the forward portion of Chemical Pioneer and its stern seem mismatched. Think about it . . . and I tell you the story below.
Foreshortening again . . . plenty of searoom exists between NYK Constellation and OOCL Busan, but for some seconds, from my vantage point, I was getting nervous.
No comment on the frothiness in the center of this foto. Notice the building on the tip of Manhattan between the red and green buoy. That is 17 Battery Place, once the “footprint” for Moran Towing. Starting on p. 273 of Tugboat: The Moran Story by Eugene F. Moran and Louis Reid, there’s an incredible story about a Captain Daniel F. Anglim that dates back to the 1927. In short, Dan had a naturally loud voice “even louder from having to yell against the wind” (pre-walkietalkie days) did dispatch from the 25th floor of that building down to the tugs waiting between Pier 2 and 4 on the Hudson. I cannot imagine. Looking for a good read: Get The Moran Story!
Today several hundred feet of landfill separate 17 Battery Place from the nearest water. See a foto of 17 Battery Place from that time here . . second foto down. I’d love to see a larger version.
Cape Melville bound for sea. I love the name . . . that northeast corner of Australia. In the background you see parts of the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, and One Court Square, Queens’ and Long Island’s tallest building. One court Square also appears in the second foto above.
Yes, this is a wild turkey in Battery Park, it looked totally indignant when I asked that he pose in front of either the Terminal or one of the Homeland Security cars in the background . Imagine that !! But the location is inland about 100 feet with the Staten Island Ferry Terminal to the left and the Coast Guard station to the right. Wild New York.
The Chemical Pioneer story: in late May 1973, a Bath Iron Works container ship called Sea Witch bound for sea lost steering and collided with an anchored tanker called Esso Brussels, resulting in a deadly fire (15 deaths, 13 of them on Esso Brussels, loaded with Nigerian crude) and New York harbor oil spill. Read the complete story here. Later, the stern section of Sea Witch was grafted onto a new forward section. For Sea Witch‘s original lines, click here; she’s the second one down.
All fotos taken on May 20 by Will Van Dorp.
By the way . . . that turkey . . . she goes by the name Zelda; be good to Zelda when you see her.