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Oslo Express draws more than 33 feet, making her by no means the deepest vessel in port. Channel depth excludes the largest vessels from entering our fair port already. So what has that to do with the orange boat in the foreground?


The small orange vessel, aka Michele Jeanne, does hydrographic surveys, seeing the invisible, mapping the infinitely complex bottom of the harbor, ensuring avoidance


of incidents like that of New Delhi Express, April 2006, when the bottom came too close;


and so much more. Hydrographic data collection begins when the globe-tipped rod on the bow swivels 180 degrees and all systems get powered up. Quite a leap forward from the tallow-tipped lead line. See a century-old chart of the harbor here. Find out about June 21 here. Maybe more later.

Fjorder, a yachtsperson on the sixth boro who came close enough in the ferry contest to get an invite to post the next puzzler, came up with this obscure one: name the harbor/wateryburb below. Some clues: that’s a sea otter in mid-foto and this harbor is frequently dredged, visited by sea lions, and near a national wildlife refuge. Name that harbor–or bay.


Sea otters, Enhydra lutris nereis, Fjorder says, make industrious feeding noise cracking open shellfish by banging them together.

New York harbor environs, although not pristine, enjoy a coexistence of humans and non-humans depicted in previous posts.


Gulls belong to genus larus. I’m guessing this specimen guiding APL Brazil under the Bayonne might be the rare Larus pilotus newarkus, a variety known to live symbiotically with humans, assisting mariners through shipping lanes and channels. Suppose that APL logo on the bow is another Larus variety?


Above a member of the eagle family, possibly Haliaeetus ferus brooklynesis, also somewhat rare.


With a legendary nose for sweetness and rarest of all are the otaridae, this one being Otarus dominosis williamsburgus, metallic-skinned cousin of the one that frolicks in the mystery harbor above.


By the way, the Larus pilotus maybe sub-species newarkus must be quite high on the avian socio-economic scale, given habitat such as this wired multistory luxury waterfront dolphin-condo. What programming might enthrall this L. pilotus?

Finding the optimum balance between design and performance is a process that never ends. Notice any unusual design about Oslo Express below?


Here’s midships. Anything strange there?


View from the stern shows a single stack off center.


The bridge is way forward; the overall profile resembles a LASH vessel, a Great Lakes ore carrier, or a pickup truck of a certain era.


With the bridge way forward, can you imagine pitching through heavy sea? Can you feel the motion way atop the bow? How often might the bridge windows get buried or splashed?


Some Moran tugs moved in to assist in departure Howland Hook a few days ago, but before they moved her out, darkness prevented clear fotos.

Oslo Express has carried five previous names in 20 years afloat.

Here is an interesting discussions about evolving c-ship design.

A long-standing genre, so to speak, within ship modeling is ships in bottles. Friends in Massachusetts sell their bottle craft for over $1000 each. Since I was a child, I wondered how they got the ship inside the bottle. Was the bottle cut open and then invisibly reglued after the ship was inside? This was a version–at a certain age–of my wondering how babies got in “there,” a puzzle solved long before the ship-in-bottle one. Finally, in my 30’s I grew aware, fondly listening to these modelers’ descriptions of the meticulous technique involved in inserting the vessel inside the vessel, stepping the sail rig with thread then cut.


Lacking the patience for this fine craft, I hereby launch a sub-genre of blogging ship fotos: ships on walls. If you’re wondering . . . No, I was not driving while fotografing, DWF.

Wall vessel exhibit A might be Al-Hofuf, named for the Saudi oasis town home to star-crossed lovers Laila and Majnoon, unrequited love like a certain blogger and a certain Alice. That’s the Layla Eric Clapton alluded to, but I digress.


Here’s another, although this tug, Barents Sea, to be profiled later, on a wall next to a graving dock. I love these obscure bodies of water K-Sea calls up in their fleet names, but again I digress.

So I’ll digress one last time: these fotos remind me of stories I heard from my father. A herdsman/dairy farmer all his life, he spent his adolescence in wartime Netherlands milking cows in a pasture beside a canal. Sitting on a one-leg stool beside the cow, he looked upward to see canal traffic pass as he mindlessly handmilked the small herd that was his charge. Oh the weirdness of living in the low country: looking up–skyward–to see a ship pass. Hmm: shades of Chris van Allsburg‘s Wreck of the Zephyr, one of the best kids’ books ever, Zephyr being a sailboat named for a wind. Buy the book for someone–maybe yourself–this season.

Oh, and send me your “wall vessel” shots so that we can develop the range of this foto-subgenre.

Last spring this blog featured a DEP sludge tanker here. So here’s that same vessel North River in the buff.


The sludge tanker shrinks when blocked at bottom of a dry dock. Study the hull closely way below the blue letter E.


It’s the North River bow thruster tunnel.

PS:  My old red kayak shown at this link will be given to the first person who picks it up in Queens, NY.  Wilderness Systems Sealution.  It’s in good shape–I’m not, and I’m losing my storage.    Free.   Email me.


All images by Will Van Dorp.

A few summers ago it seemed every third person on the subway was reading Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. If you haven’t read and you’re drawn to hidden signs, still read it. Pick it up and you won’t put it down until you’re done. Auguries and interpretations intrigue me although it’s entertainment, not serious for me; semiotics as a spectator sport.


Take you, Alice. What can I make of your bow mast (white) folded to port? Who else reads you?


How about a container packed with four chassis?


I know masts get folded down to allow passage under low obstruction, but what else might these signal?


This reminds me of a story I heard in the 60’s about a family run farm stand; if a certain flag flew from the mast, it meant certain illicit produce could be purchased, a sign in plain view but a code like semaphores, morse, the language of flowers, fans, scarves, and beads. And then there’s smoke signals, the talking drum, the slit drum.

So Alice . . . I’ve a hard time reading you.

Vessels depicted above: Alice Oldendorff, MOL Experience, John B. Caddell, Miriam Moran as shot by Will Van Dorp

I’ve not added to this series so long now that rumor is I’m becoming pariah among those who harness the wind. Sincere apologies! I’m totally with you all, just . . . uh . . . breathless?


South Street’s Pioneer above and Pride of Baltimore II with unidentified escorts below. Would you believe the foto below was taken less than a quarter mile from the Battery on a supremely hazy early autumn day?


A green stripe along the jib . . . might it be– could it possibly be– Green Lantern?


Ventura (Herreshoff built for the founder of Citibank) heads north framed by a Trump Building (green roof) and westside pillars of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges.


Adirondack and Pride of Baltimore II, bow to bow.


About my absence . . .well Aeolus has been doing to me what he’s done to others, and I’m up to what Cavafy prayed for.

Another three-letter abbreviation serving as title? It must indicate how I think this time of year: short words, like elementary school, like basic things.

In slightly warmer weather, she asked me how Morton did it. Morton being “Morton S. Bouchard Jr.” here the “T”, nose tucked into a shallow notch on this fuel B. Being in a smart-aleck mood, I said, “Just as we do.” Her harumph signaled that my attempt at wit had failed. “It,” she clarified, meant “push the barge upstream without it snapping the cables and yawing off in its own direction.”


So, putting aside my attitude, I enlist Penn Maritime tug Julie, southbound here in Arthur Kill under goose escort, to help me demonstrate how Mort might do it.


One of a pair, this starboard hardware inside a “ring” plate is not a vestigial wheel. Neither decorative nor defensive, it’s a coupler. This link shows how it works.


Davis Sea has a similar coupler,


as do Nicole Leigh Reinauer



and Jane A. Bouchard. And as they do it, so might Morton.


So the winner of Biffle French‘s Relief Crew 6 is Jim, who identified the ferry as MV Rhododendron (aka Rhody?) of the Point Defiance/Tahlequah route. Jeff, by email, was close enough for me, putting it a little north of Vashon Island. Biffle also sent along this spectacular foto of a container ship leaving Tacoma.


New York harbor has tall architectural peaks, but none as spectacular for their mass as Rainier, some 50 miles behind the shore lights.

I’ve kayaked with seals in Maine, but in his waters, Biffle kayaks with orca. Here’s his email words in response to my asking about paddling in such company: The orca make a loud breathing and spouting sound that reminds me of a steam engine. Most whales only blow when they surface, but Orca seem to do it constantly. Since they travel in a family group (the “pod”) there are several making loud noises at the same time. They travel long distances on the surface, moving really fast and spouting constantly.

At the link to his name above or down on bloglist “I also read…” under paddling puget sound, you can read his paddling blog. Bonnie-check this out!

It’s also log raft habitat, no longer an east coast creature.

so translates the name of this vessel “erkan” coming into Howland Hook at sunrise yesterday. How many days passage from Istanbul? Answer follows.


Here Erkan has passed Bergen Point and heads for Arthur Kill.


I’m envious of the view from the bridge with all-around glass. By the bird escort, one might think Erkan a fish ship. Turkon Line starts Erkan’s route in Mersin, a southern Turkish port that gained in prominence during the US Civil War, when our southern ports no longer shipped cotton. By the way, Jane A. Bouchard to port; McAllister Responder starboard. Both have appeared in several posts already.


Erkan sails four days to Istanbul, then


from Istanbul, it sails 15 days (with two Mediterranean stops) to the Narrows, where McAllister Responder met her. Non-stop from Istanbul takes 11! See the Turkon timetable here.

Unrelated: check out frogma‘s post “enough oddness.” I like the junk; click on the fotos to enlarge.

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December 2007
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