You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘virtual gallivant’ category.

First, some context, and yes, today is that day.  I celebrate it without claiming to adhere to anything beginning with ashes.  This may be grasping at long shots, but I have not visited a location that celebrates this spring event in a long time.  I know . . . shame on me.  More on that later.

Anyone know the author here?  It’s a fat tome I’ve taken it from  . . . over 1600 pages, all from the king of fat tomes and rich language himself.

“We are off!”   It has not nearly the hook of a “Call me Ishmael.”  The short second paragraph, though, is a line that needs remembering.   As to location, Ravavai is contextualized with reference to Pitcairn, at place today with a grand total population of 50.   I’m not sure what the population was 150+ years ago when this was written.

Still in the first short chapter . . .  now that’s prescient .  . in the second paragraph here, describing the skipper!

By now, I hope you’ve concluded the author here has to be Melville, one of the top five authors of the sea and gallivants thereupon.  Anyone want to fill in the names of the other four?  I have my ideas.  Mardi is one of those fat books very few folks read.  I started last night, and hope to complete it.  You can start it here.

But in the spirit of mardi gras, here’s another story you may have missed . . . the houseboat Shameless, piloted down the Mississippi by a dying man, Kelly Phillips.  His first mate was Sapphire, recently honored among the float sponsored by the Mystic Krewe of Barkus.

Here’s more on the voyage of Shameless from Wisconsin to Venice LA, and all the great folks along the river who lent a hand.

And if you need some language yourself, click here for a fat Tuesday glossary.


Many thanks to barrel for this continuing series of old USACE vessels.  Chester below was built in the mid-1930s at a yard where this set of vessels was also built.


The above shipyard link says that later she became Elizabeth, but that leads me nowhere.  Anyone help?


Frankford is older . . . 1924, built in the same yard as Wilhelm Baum, 1923.




Here’s Escort . . . Wisconsin built.  A 2001 photo of Escort appears at the end of this post:  prepare yourself to gasp.




And finally, for the oldie photos today, it’s Woodbury, about which I have no info.

bt1cmotor tender woodbury

About the Baum . . . I know it sank two years ago, at the dock, and was raised. But since then, no updates.  I took this photo and the next one back in 2008 while spending an enjoyable time at the Michigan Maritime Museum.




And here, thanks to John Curdy, is a photo of Escort taken in 2001.  I believe that since 2005, it has been part of a reef near Sea Isle City, NJ.    Has anyone dived on it?


Many thanks to barrel to his archives.  And thanks to John Curdy–with whom I took these photos and more– for his poignant last look–that I know of– at Escort.

For some similar vessels, see tugster posts here and here.

And for a clue where I’ll be tomorrow morning, click here.



A few years have already passed since I posted the first in this series, which I should have called and I’m still in search of a photo of the ITB Major Vangu back in 1973 and 1974.  But I was thrilled to open my email the other morning and find these photos taken in 1992 by Matt Schoenfelder.  Check out his impressive range of galleries here.

The huge pusher tug in the photo below is Colonel Kokolo, recently refurbished and returned to service on the Congo River.  Click here for a map of key waterways in the Congo;  upper center, I lived west of Basankusu for two years teaching at a high school.


Matt writes, “I was looking through the web for some images of the Onatra barge from the Congo River and came across your site and read that you had traveled up the Congo River some years ago (my note:  1973-4). In 1992, together with a German man I met in Kisangani, I bought a dugout canoe and the two of us paddled 4 weeks down the Congo River to Kinshasa. Needless to say it was the adventure of a lifetime! Anyway, I have just recently scanned some of the old fuzzy and scratched film and thought you might appreciate a few images. From Kinshasa I wanted to get to Zambia and the “best” option available was to get back on the river and travel by barge to Ilebo, where I could take the train down to Lubumbashi. Well it sounded nice on paper but turned out to be an ordeal (as was ANYTHING in Zaire at that time!!) After the 4 weeks on the canoe I then spent another 13 days moving slowly upstream to Illebo on the river (tug and ) barge, which was supposed to be 5 days. The 3-day train trip from Ilebo to Lubumbashi took 30 days…walking would have been quicker! I added that last bit as I will include a few shots from the river barge I took to Ilebo. The images are far from high quality but you may find them interesting nonetheless.

That (tug and ) barge was called the Wandeka IV. Actually I was only on it for 8 of the 13 days. It broke down somewhere along the Kasai River and I was able to get on a German [vessel] from the company Strabag. I don’t have any images scanned of that barge but should I get around to that I’ll send you a few.
Incidentally, in that image of the Wandeka you will notice a small bag just behind me. This was my “day pack” and all it carried was my money. In Kinshasa (after being robbed at gunpoint by the police) I was able to cash in 200$ of travellers checks – after several days of going from bank to bank and hearing that they simply didn’t have any money. At that time 1 dollar was 2 million Zaires (when I entered the country 1$ = 1,000,000 Zaires – 3 months later when I finally left it was 1$ = 5,000,000 Zaires!). The largest note they had available at the bank was 50,000 Zaires so that 200$ translated to 8,000 bills and it was a huge load to tug around with me! I carried it with me for the next 6 weeks, happy whenever I could pay for something and relieve the load a little.


I doubt I would ever repeat that journey but it was perhaps the most incredible chapter in my travels. Hardly a pleasure but fascinating and exciting nonetheless.”


I remember from my experience that riding on the tug was considered first class;  the folks on the barge in the photo above . .  well, they would be traveling second class.

Many thanks to Matt for getting in touch and sharing these photos.

Some of my scratchy old Congo photos can be found here.  And yes, that person below was me as a mere young manster.


Bokakata, DRC (then Zaire) 1973

Secret salts sometimes send along photos, and I appreciate that, since many waterways I’ll never see . . .  and that means boats I’d never encounter, like Reliance, 1979, 127′ x 40;’


Grand Canyon II, an offshore construction/ROV/IRM vessel, shown in this link getting towed from Romania to Norway for completion; and more.


Here’s an unidentified Marquette Offshore boat with an unidentified Weeks crane barge,


Paraclete . . .  look that word up here  and then see the rest of the names in her fleet,


Gulf Faith, 




Gulf Glory and an unidentified Algoma self-unloader,


and finally a WW2-era tank-landing ship turned dredger and named Columbia, ex-LST-987.



All interesting stuff from Mobile, Alabama.   Hat’s off to the secret salt.

Are those dunes beyond Durga Devi?


Sandy shore and mountains? Durga Devi is a fairly new offshore supply vessel.


In the same port, here’s Kamanga, a Cambodian-registered reefer from 1977.  But those are two OSVs or AHSVs in the distance.  So what accounts for this collection of speciality, non-cargo per se vessels?


Another reefer here is about a decade newer .. . Isleman, a name sounding like it needs a preposition.


Frontier is a Grindrod container vessel.


But here’s the explanation . . . it’s Seadrill’s West Eclipse, a semi-submersible.


Here’s an introduction to the company.


Hilde K is an anchor handling supply tug, 2008, Indonesia-built.


Topaz Xara is China-built, 2014.   They remind me of what I saw in Guanabara Bay a few years ago.


Most of this is a tribute to global oil, offshore Namibia.   Here’s more of a picture of the Namibian economy.

Many thanks to Richard Hudson for these photos.  Previous photos by Richard and crew are here.

If I ever get to Namibia, one place I’d like to see is the Skeleton Coast . . . .

If you’re not sure where to place Cuxhaven, the image below may help.  Another clue is that in Cuxhaven inbound, you could choose either to make for Hamburg or for the Kiel Canal. All these photos come thanks to Aleksandr Mariy, whose drawing we featured here recently.


Wal was launched in 1992.  Dimensions:  101′ x 32.8′ x 17 and Gross Tonnage is 368.






Luchs, 1991, 95′ x 29.5 x 15.1 and GT 229.


Wolf, 1993, 105′ x 26.2′ x 17′ and GT 368.




Bugsier 15, 1991, 92′ x 29.6 x 15.1 and GT 239.



Bugsier 10, 2009, 108′ x 42.7 x 19.3 and GT 485.




Steinbock, 1977, 92′ x 26.2′ x 14.1′ and GT 213.


And Steinbock here is underway through the Kiel Canal.


Here’s more info on Cuxhaven.

All photos here come thanks to Aleksandr Mariy, to whom I am grateful.


Sometimes getting something together for this blog depends on something I read.  Like this morning, I saw this article in the NYTimes headlines. I read as much as I can, stuff I disagree with as well as the other.  Anyhow, the photo with that article led me to pick up this photo I took from the plane a week or so ago.  Recognize it?  I has suspicions, but had to check it out.  Answer follows.


Here’s a closer up, which clinched it for me.


Try a little more context beyond the airport?


And completely unrelated . . . how is the photo below–Island A–different from


say .  . Island B, below?


And while you’re still puzzling though the answer to my second question, the one on differences, how about this as the location for the airplane photos.  They all three show different portions of the Conch Republic.

The which Republic?

This Conch Republic;  scroll through here and see the flag.  The main feature in photos 1 and 2 is the airport on Boca Chica Key.  But that secondary feature there . . . submarine pits!!  Or canals for navy housing?


Here’s identification for the third airplane photo . . . Saddlebunch Keys all the way to the west end of the Seven Mile Bridge.


Now for the question about differences between the two islands . . .  the lower photo is granite/granite-gneiss bedrock protruding above the water of the St. Lawrence River.  The upper island is the creation of Richart Sowa.  It floats on 250,000 plastic bottles. Yes, it floats!  Here and here are sites devoted to Sowa’s creation.

Do you remember the sixth boro’s summer of the floating island?  And the summer of the water pod?  And the water dome?

What new islands with surprising features lie in the future?  Get a window seat on your new flight and enjoy the view.

All photos here by Will Van Dorp.


I’d love to know more about this launch . . . in terms of engine and performance.


“Launch” is what the pilot service calls this.


And this is the PSV (pilot station vessel) Polaris, which has operated off the Port of rotterdam for three plus years now.





For some great photos of pilot vessels all over the world, check this site by Mirjam Terpstra.  Click here for more of her photos before Polaris was in service.



Many thanks to Freek Koning via Fred Trooster for these photos. Freek, a few years ago, asked me to try to discover the disposition of this former Royal Dutch Navy tugboat.  My letters to various addresses in the USCG in reference to the lost tug went unanswered.

Quick . . . name the fourth largest port in Florida?  The answer is here.  And I’ve long wanted to visit it, and my our good fortune is that recently friends–Allan and Sally–who are excellent photographers did, and here are some they share.   Click here for a photo of Cangarda they took and here for some of disintegrating ferry Binghamton.

The closest thing to Betty K VI in the sixth boro is Grey Shark.  And once I noticed Lygra, but only once.  Betty K VI–built in then-Serbia in 1988– measures barely over 200 ‘ loa.


About the same size but Danish-built in 1974, La Flecha.  She was originally Patricia S, changed in 1985 to Patricia Star, 1992 to Patricia S, 1993 to Sea Chariot, 1994 to Patricia Star, and 1998 to Sara Express, when it became La Flecha!  I wonder what the real stories are.


Ditto the much changed but inadequately painted Borocho, although I had to look


to the bow to decipher that. Borocho is even smaller than two previous, built in Japan by Honda Heavy Industries in 1977.   She was originally Yamato Maru No. 12 until 1993, then Pai Chang until 1996, then Quininde until 1998, Floreana until 2000, Genovesa until 2008, Niaski until 2012, and for now . . . Borocho.


A similar vessel is the better-painted, old design Wave Trader, here at the stern of La Flecha.  I haven’t been able to locate much more info about Wave Trader.


Lady Philomena, Norway-built in 1956,  has born 10 previous names, which you can read for yourself here.  As I write this post, she is underway from the Miami River for points southeast.


Directly forward of Lady Philomena when Allan and Sally took these photos was Eva. Built in Norway in 1968, she has been Marina Dania, Erik Boye, Katla, and Miss Eva Ii before her current designation.



A giant and a youngster, Miami Super dates from 1992 and measures just over 275′ loa.  As of this writing, she is in the approaches southwest of Santo Domingo.


OK . . . I need help with this one.  Maybe it’s deliberate obfuscation?


Family Island . . . sounds like an amusement park, but it’s a LaPaz-registered 1978 Danish-built small freighter, previously known as Ardua, Atlantic, and Queen Sea, in that order.


One more and this photo taken by Rich Taylor off Barbados, it’s the vessel currently known–so far as my info serves–as Rudisa Global.   Built in Spain in 1970, she’s since been called Manchester Merit, Manchester Merito, Fortuna, Kathleen, Kudu, Cement Two, Fortune R, and Libera.   Rudisa Global has recently been embroiled in some drug issues.

0aaaamrRUDISA GLOBAL Barbados 020815 - sc-2

Many thanks to Allan and Sally as well as Rich for these photos.  The Miami River intrigues me more than ever now that my appetite has been whetted.   I’m happy to see commerce persisting until some of these may end up as memorials on a beach somewhere like this one.   Or this.  Maybe then covered over like this.   Or never to be seen again . .  very deep-sixed.

And if these pics create a hunger for stories, some of this might be satisfied by Alvaro Mutis’ Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll.


Two years ago, I wrote about Columbian tugs here, and alluded to reading of some new ones in Colombia here.   Here and here –one more here–are some others from the great river in the Northwest.   Thanks to the Maraki crew, here is some activity from along the northwest corner of South America.  Click here to read Maraki‘s account of conditions in this corner of the Caribbean

The big tug Atlas, built in Japan in 1991, seems to have trolling rods deployed, or am I seeing that wrong.


Tayrona is from 2014 and Peru built.  Click here for more of the fleet.



GPC Tesoro is China built in 2013.



Here they escort Baltic Pride out to sea on a run to the  . . . Baltic.



Pino, China built 2007.



And Tortugas, RORO heads for the Canal, where I saw her about three years ago.  I have lots more photos of her there I’ve never used.  I wonder how long before Atlas‘ lines go tight with something huge.


Colombian Coast Guard interceptor boat?


All photos compliments of my sister.

A few more Colombian tugs can be seen here.

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