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One what? A tattoo, an unusual piercing, an implant? a “tres bon ami” up the St. Croix River? About the “ami,” well . . . as I post this, she’s up in Canadian now for the fourth time since Thanksgiving, so . . . who knows who she’s got up there? Maybe we could be talking about different Alices. The one I’m talking about has an orange thing that’s on rails ready to leave sternwise in the case she takes too long offloading at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.


It’s called a covered lifeboat. When you’re out of sight of land in frightenly heavy seas in midwinter and the forecast just keeps getting worse, it’s a thing of utilitarian beauty and an amulet you can crawl inside of. Particularly mounted as Alice‘s, it strikes me as an object for recreation like a streamlined roller coaster car or a saltflats racer. Below is another type that doesn’t evoke nearly the same fancy.


Above is a closeup of the lifeboat of Atlantic Action, taking on containers in Red Hook.

A little farther south along the Buttermilk Channel in Red Hook is this view of the multiple lifeboats on Crown Princess, by the way the passenger vessel that made the unintended “tack” last July. Atlantic Action is off the stern.
Wilmington has one, but what’s your estimate of the distance to the water? I’d say at least 40 feet here. I need to trust that the davits will release correctly.

Pioneer has a rudimentary one, and crew does safety drills periodically, even in these cold April waters.

Actually, I have different lifeboats for various aspects of my life. I just wouldn’t feel safe otherwise. Do you have one? Oh, about Canadian waters, I’m thinking to head up that way soon myself.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

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December 2006