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OOCL Melbourne docked at Red Hook late May. I’m completely unaware of the cargo on this “plum vessel,” plum blossom being the decoration inside the second “o.” But I located this under-reported tale about an additional cargo she picked up 800 miles out at sea a few months back, a live cargo that was delivered into the hands of the Coast Guard just before she entered the Ambrose Channel.



Makes me wonder where the 14 Senegalese are today. Will they go into the desert so that never again will they face the sea?  What stories might they tell in villages or quartiers about the deep blue sea?



What did they think as the Coast Guard carried them to detention right past the chin of the Statue of Liberty? Also, makes me wonder how many such mariners from waters way adjacent to the sixth boro have disappeared forever.



Back to Melbourne, though, and the loads of containers on some ships . . . I recall the term “deckload” as it related to schooners hauling hay or wood from “downeast” a century ago. Cargo might be stacked so high that one crewman on watch would sit atop the load and call out commands to the helmsman blindsided behind the deckload.

Photos by Will Van Dorp.

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June 2007