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Traffic crowded this end of the Arthur Kill the other afternoon:  count the three tugs and two ships and lots of petrol engines crossing the Goethals Bridge.  Andromeda, the handysize oil tanker dead center, heads for sea.  The voice of the AK RR bridge might be about to announce a lowering, and all who know better scramble to distance themselves.


Of course, Andromeda still needs to negotiate  twists and turns and smaller vessels like the NJ State Police and Odin who motor helterskelter around front.  So “Andromeda” I learned in science class as a constellation, a word that felt nice dripping off my tongue.


Smaller traffic gone, the Tsakos Energy Navigation (TEN) tanker turns to starboard past NYK Daedalus,


the front of its house like a billboard proclaiming the company mantra to the few who see.  And such a megamantra:  “No smoking” and “Safety first” are intended for crew working out front.   But who is the audience for “Protect the environment,” except of course everyone, but does writing that on the house make a difference?  Most tankers have at least two of those messages, but since when?  How long ago did this trend begin?  The really unusual text is is “Trust Tradition Teamwork.”  Is “Tradition Teamwork” the object of the command “Trust”?

Yeah, I know, we all know that our surroundings are filled with text, some of which is critical and other . . . fluff.  Being able to distinguish the two is a survival skill.


As she heads for sea, consider whether Andromeda as a name of your vessel might make you comfortable.  Some info on the mythological reference below.  Meanwhile, have you ever seen a foto of the tanker Condolezza Rice?  See it here.  Might there be a tanker needing renaming before the incoming Secretary of State is confirmed?


Andromeda, the myth persona,  was offered as a sacrifice to the sea to atone for the sins of her bratty mother Cassiopeia, only to be saved by the adroit bladesman Perseus.  Enjoy the wild 19th century paintings inspired by the myth:  reading the paintings suggests Andromeda, the daughter,  came close to being lunch to some vile sea beast or dessert to some lecherous sea dog.  The good news is that actual ship names don’t matter.  So what if she’s called Andromeda;  she’s not a sacrifice.  And the bad news is that actual ship names don’t matter . . . disappointing that we don’t at least fit these stories into contemporary context.  Suppose they paint the house, at least, with mantras related to protecting Andromeda, not sacrificing anyone to anything, and trusting something or someone decipherable and reliable, whoever that might be these days.

By the way, the NYC National Boatshow has begun.  See you there.

Here, all images by Will Van Dorp.

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December 2008