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Have you read or heard references to a “trackless sea” or “trackless deep”?  Last night I was looking a “whole ocean” views of traffic.  Notice the magenta stream?  Recall that the magenta arrowheads show recreational vessels.  The green (cargo ships) and red (tanker) arrowheads seem much more random, but the magenta . . . pink . . . ones, they are totally following a track.

Ditto here; notice the magenta stream showing the “coconut milk run” on the tradewinds to the west to the Marquesas, French Polynesia, and beyond from Panama.

If we look at the Indian Ocean, the red icons heading east out of the Persian/Arab Gulf and the green ones heading both ways around southern Africa . . .  does rush hour on highways around any major metropolitan center come to mind?  It does for me.

Given all the sea shanties dating from the 19th century and references to Cape Horn, how about a shanty or two about the Cape of Good Hope?

Tracks in the southern Atlantic form an X. Try it out yourself.  Without AIS, we’d still talk of “trackless seas.”

A “little sister” Statue of Liberty will be displayed on a sixth boro island later this month and next.  Note the photo credit;  I wonder if the half-ton statue will arrive by CMA CGM water cargo or air cargo.

And finally . . . thanks to a Great Lakes mariner for this page from the Detroit Marine Historian Newsletter.  Grouper was a name yet to be when that publication hit the stands. The auction info is here.

I use the term “line locker” where some might say “miscellaneous.”  That’s the bright red hull of Issuma a decade ago as it encountered a local mammal while transiting the Northwest Passage.  You might wonder what became of Richard Hudson and his boat.  The good news is that he’s still sailing, and the better news is that he’s creating a rich offering of sailing videos on YouTube.  Check them out here

Screen grabs, WVD.


You may recall the schooner Issuma?  Click here for many of the posts featuring her and her skipper Richard Hudson.  She’s overwintering in the sixth boro after a truly remarkable voyage.  When he left northward from the sixth boro in the fall of 2010, inviting me to sail along as a Halloween ride, he


eventually sailed out the Saint Lawrence, up along western Greenland, across northern Canada through the Northwest Passage, through Dolphin and Union Strait, southward in the Bering Strait, eventually to Easter Island, around Cape Horn into the Antarctic . . .


to Cape Town, and then northward along SW Africa until jumping off for St Helena, and then single-handing back to the sixth boro.  That adds up to a circumnavigation of the North and South American continents and then some, and I think that’s a big deal.  If you want to read about the entire trip, click here.


All photos here by Will Van Dorp.


A Jules Verne novel set at the southern tip of South America goes by the fabulous title,  The Light at the End of the World.   Richard Hudson passed through here recently and sent along the photos in today’s post.

It’s USS ATR-20, built in Camden Maine, launched in January 1943 and ending her days in Ushuaia, Argentina.  The shipyard is now Wayfarer Marine, which I should do a post about one of these days.  The sixth boro–as does The Graves of Arthur Kill– has its very own disintegrating ATR here.


Fishing vessel Don Herman makes its way past the glacier in Seno, Chile.




Here’s a smaller fishing boat near Isla Riesco. 




End of the world aka Strait of Magellan, find tankers there?  Of course.  Here’s Sloman Herakles.


Ditto ROROs like Fuegino.




Canal Cockburn . . . they fish there too.


Puerto Eden . . . some folks live their whole lives there and like it.






Here are two more pics he sent a few months ago;  I’m impressed with this tender made of repurposed styrofoam.


Note Issuma in the background to the right.   Here are more.



Many thanks to Richard for this.  Follow his progress along the edge of the world here.


So here’s a prime example of a sixth boro delight.  No, THAT inspector is not immersed in the sixth boro!  But the object of the inspection sailed into the East River last year in late August from the Sound and then out again heading north, up the Hudson River.  Note the place and date on this foto, which I borrowed from Richard Hudson’s Issuma blog.  Click here if you don’t know (like me) where the “Dolphin and Union Strait” is located.

I took this foto of Issuma last October just off the Rondout, where Issuma anchored.  Who would have guesed that Issuma, one year on, would be NORTH of Whitehorse!

Here’s another from that same morning.  Another schooner . . . Rosemary Ruth . .  was buddied up alongside.

This foto, also from Richard’s blog, shows the exact date.

So how does one get a 50′ schooner from the Rondout to the Yukon is less than a year?   Some thoughts come to mind:  very large truck, a C-17, squadrons of helicopters . . .  or by just sailing it through the northwest passage, doing what a namesake failed to do some 400 years back!

Congratulations to Richard Hudson and his crew, who on Columbus Day 2010 poured me a distinctly tropical drink on Issuma, docked in Long Island City, Queens.  Cheers.  I trust you passed the mustachioed one’s inspection gloriously.

More snow aftermath here. . . .but work goes on . . . like Eastern Welder, great name for a fishing boat, pulling

in the harbor’s

bounty so that it could be packed away, snow or no snow.

Caspian Sea pushes a snow-whitened

and perfectly-named  John Blanche.

Torm Carina, resupplying before heading to sea,

now sports a glazed bulb.  Anyone propose a description of that winteryellow sky?

Shovels are out on both tug Penn No. 4 and barge Penn No. 90.

Snow remains where it stuck on Captain D and GL 64.

as well as the assemblage around GL Dredge New York.

Snow highlights recesses in the Global Terminal where London Express and Cap Norte shift containers.

Over toward BAT, from left to right, it’s Beaufort Sea, McKinley Sea, and North Sea.   I was hoping to catch Barents Sea.

Snow paints the stern of Laurie Ann Reinauer, here with RTC 85, orca style.

Finally, the identification of the ferry in yesterday’s post, according to Kyran Clune, is Guy V. Molinari, which along with Senator John J. Marchi and Spirit of America, began their journey in Marinette, Wisconsin.  Molinari, pre-launch, awaits below.

For fotos of snow elsewhere, check out Essex, MA at Burnham’s.  Or Gloucester  snow and so much more with Jay Albert;  I especially liked his report recently on Ocean Alliance moving into the long-empty paint factory.    Issuma feels the cold in Toronto.  George Conk watches the ice from just north of the GW Bridge.   And finally, from Australia, it looks like snow, but it’s spuma!!

Here along the edge of the Delaware,  inverted reflections of  Olympia and Moshulu  get transformed in this basin.  Suggestions of  past and future lurk  there too.

A broken edge, where anglers probe,  where finny things feed, and treasures may

await discovery . . .  along with other surprises, be they finny,  spiny, toothy, and slimy.

Trailing edge of continent or leading edge of ocean, or both, extend without clear definition, like the

undefinable edge of the moment, where commingling happens and life renews or metamorphoses.

What’s visible today wasn’t yesterday or won’t be tomorrow;  when new vistas appear, they surprise us with

unexpected edges of  propinquity.

Edge of darkness, chaos, or creation . . .

and then not, if

you brave the edge of dawn, of wonder, and find the way to your conveyance.  Some edges suffice for one environment, whereas

another more buffered suit another.

This single exposure . . . .  of bowsprite’s  not-for-navigation chart above my desk drew me into the edge of unreality thanks to the apparition of a curvedness of mermaids speaking to a diver.

Edge of another year . . . season.

A thought from Anne Morrow Lindberg about some of the edges above:  “The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea.”

A cold day’s sizzling thought from Molly M:  “I respect boundaries,” she said, “vigilantly. And I love to play right up to the edge of them, see how close I can get.” She smiled, slyly, like one who could never drown.  Edges. Places where one thing stops being itself and becomes something else. Places where one thing washes over another and changes it. Edges, where you can fall over, tumble in, be washed away.  Hard edges that cut. Soft edges that overlap and enfold. Permeable boundaries that let me flow into you and let you flow into me. Impenetrable borders that keep us apart.”

Unrelated:  If you haven’t been keeping up with Issuma, click here for some recent snowy fotos.

(Doubleclick enlarges fotos.) With a favorable weather window,  tomorrow nightfall may find Wanderbird out the Narrows and at sea, bound for Puerto Rico.    But midday today, she was

anchored off Piermont, off the old Camp Shanks.  More Camp Shanks later.

Captain Rick Miles came calling ashore in the skiff.

At daybreak Paolo and Pitsik bade farewell to Atlantic Basin as

we left  the Basin–where Clipper City and Cape Race remained–and

steamed upriver past a very sleepy version of the so-called “city that never sleeps.”  This morning I had doubts about that moniker.  And with an icy blast coming out of the north, sleeping in would not be such a terrible option, but

for me, the ride up to Piermont–in a wheelhouse listening to yarns from Culebra to Greenland and  smelling soup savors wafted up from the galley–it was sweet.

Thanks to Captains Rick and Karen for the chance to steam upriver a few hours.  Here’s their site.

For folks who want numbers:  Wanderbird‘s Industrie engine generates 510 hp, consuming a gallon a mile while cruising at 500 rpm and spinning a 8″ shaft and a 62″ four-bladed prop.

A great picture book about the hundreds of very similar North Sea trawlers, check out Arie van der Veer’s Van Zijtrawler naar Hektrawler (From Side Trawler to Stern Trawler).  It has hundreds of fotos.  An English-language article with pics on this category of trawler can be seen here.

Check out this blog from Labrador for more info on the Canadian husky above named Pitsik (scroll to August 18, 2010) AND the schooner Issuma (scroll to August 10), currently on Lake Ontario and written about here last month.  Here’s another Issuma post.    For pics of Wanderbird in the Caribbean, check out these by David Blitzer, whom I met on the trip to Piermont.  See info on David’s show at 350 Bleeker Street here.

Fair winds, Wanderbird.

Call it a reverse-Santa Claus, maybe.  In the wee hours of Halloween some unseen force snatched bowsprite and me from the sidewalks of Manhattan, peopled with sexy vampires and horrendous-but-benign ghouls, stuffed us into a dark bag, and deposited us here at daylight, where Issuma appeared and offered assistance.

Gates dominated the place–birth canal of the sixth boro … to be sure, looming huge and forbidding, yet with

passageways to somewhere, beckoning curious adventurers.

You know the story of Alice finding a bottle labeled “drink me” and then she shrank to a rabbit-hole size, . . .   well, this place had a lock master who manipulated controls like this to

bizarre circuitry

that made the icy waters boil and swirl

and levitate Issuma and all her crew, without effort.

so quickly that we surfaced only because of quick work by the captain.

It happened so quickly that I felt pinned to the deck even after we surfaced.

Atop, the lock master told us we were headed the wrong way.

“Turn back.  Return south,” he warned each of us.

But onward we went, past other vessels headed . . .  you guessed it . . .

southward, crewed by folks who had a single message:  “This is not the time for the North Country.”

Not Issuma.  Even bandstands where invisible musicians played complex chords in minor keys failed to daunt us.

Billboard-size signs with explicit messages . . .  no deterrence there.

Gates like guillotines . . .

we continued, Richard said Issuma was prepared for everything, no matter how dark the sky at noon.

There were patches of blue sky but walling off the place of sunshine stood cataracts, like sentinels.

We passed ruins of previous generations

more gates operated by lock masters who repeated the warnings “Turn back.”  But by now, dark clouds were spitting out ice (hail, sleet, flurries, something from another dimension?), and

these clouds were behind us as well as ahead.  So onward we went until night fell on us near Caughnawaga.  And we felt safe to go ashore and find food, drink, and shelter.

And when morning came, Issuma had traveled farther north without us, and a bright dawn left us with this twisty map of the previous day’s journey.  Mysteriously, my camera worked again.

Well, that’s the story I’m sticking by.

All fotos by bowsprite whose camera worked fine although seemed somewhat affected by the force field we’d journeyed through.

If you scroll back through Issuma‘s blog, you’ll see late summer found it in Baffin Island, and last winter had it  in southern South America.

For a different interpretation of the landmarks along the east end of the Canal, see Fred’s tug44.

Late summer sail might look like this, Clipper City motorsailing up the Buttermilk Channel past Caribbean Princess, and early autumn

sail like this: Gazela showing the flag in Oyster Bay.  The town dock here is roughly located in the former Jakobson yard, and that’s Growler and the Jakobson-built Deborah Quinn (1957, ex-W. R. Coe, Karen Tibbets, Ethel Tibbets)   across from Gazela.   W. R. Coe’s first work was for the Virginian Railroad.

Early autumn sailing can also look like this:  Breck Marshall‘s skipper standing while making her play in the wind.

Or this:  a heeled over Escape Plan.

or this: 1929 Summerwind playing a bit before headed for the Chesapeake Schooner race last month.

while on that same day Lettie G. Howard comes out of slumber to mingle with the likes of this

varnished catboat-with-a-blog named Silent Maid.

Getting later into autumn can mean mild weather and bright light over this aptly-named vessel–Persephone . . . preparing to head for the underworld or –at least–the southern approach to northern winter.

Or it can look like this:  skipper Richard Hudson beginning winter preparations as Issuma heads in the direction of its port of registry . . .  the Yukon.

More Issuma soon.

For now, as you make your own preparations for winter, check out this new Thad Koza 2011 Tall Ship calendar featuring a sixth-boro based schooner . . . . Any guesses?

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

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June 2023