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I had a different post prepared and queued up for today, but then I watched one of the most recent episodes of Sal Mercogliano’s  “What the Ship…” and saw a 37-minute interview Sal did with Madeleine Wolczko, a US merchant mariner currently stuck in a shipyard in Shanghai.  That remarkable interview led me to an even more remarkable 31-minute documentary that I’ve linked to the image below.  Click on the image and the video will play.

Take it from me, watching these two videos will be the most impression-making 68 minutes you spend today, maybe this whole week.  I’d suggest watching the interview first and the documentary second.  If you’ve never been aboard a container ship, and this is a US-flagged one, this will give you a sense of who works on a ship, what spaces on a ship look like, what crew do, and in this instance, what they can be subjected to.  Technical quality may not be Academy-award standard, but the the rawness, sincerity, and power make up for that.  I give it the winner of the Tugster Academy Award in the category of “best short documentary made while facing adversity,”  clap please but no slapping.

Sal’s interview ends with the mariner performing a moving rendition of Radiohead’s “Creep” in the silent hold of a US container ship.  The hold is cavernous, dramatically lit, and silent because all work has ceased because of an extreme response to the most recent Covid outbreak in Shanghai.

If you choose, click the “thumbs up” on “Restricted to Ship, Ep. 1 – Shanghai Lockdown.” 


First, thanks to Michele for helping me find a way to adjust photos here so that they enlarge when clicked.

The KVK is one of those places where mariners can be seen working:  no gate pass or special access required.  They might be preparing the gangway, all harnessed in

as a shipmate operates the controls.

Different ship, same job.

Maybe they’re out of the wind, ready but talking.

They might be on watch high above the city,

maybe wondering about those people on shore

 . . . cold weather and fishing or taking photos.  Often they never leave the ship here;  in fact, because of covid-19 many haven’t left the ship in months even though local mariners, essential workers, come and go.

  This has prompted actions of concern and the Neptune Declaration, which you can read here. Please click on the link and see who the 300 signatories are.

International mariners face one state of privation;  US citizen Jones Act mariners face another . . . working in winter cold and finding ingenious ways to get the wind off their face.

All photos, sentiments, WVD.  For more info on how covid-19 has affected shipping, click here.

Unfortunately, I can’t go back and adjust all the “non-enlarging photos” back to October. 


I’ve been social distancing in Queens, but this didn’t prevent me from telecomexchanging the news with my sister.  She took these photos and told me about her experiences sailing in the Sea of Cortez.   You can click on the link to the article at the end of this post.

I hope to get to the Sea some day;  parts of it are designed a UNESCO World heritage site.



Isla del Carmen is a refuge for bighorn sheep whose future was threatened in mainland areas of Baja California.

The plethora of wildlife notwithstanding, the gist of the article was . . . the Sea for people in the time of COVID.  That is the link to the article.  I’d been arranging to get to Mexico a few months back, but it’s not going to happen for a while.

All photos, John and Lucy Knape.

For more of their photos, click here.

PPE, the word, was not a commonly used term in my world just two months ago when I took this photo; crew on freighters in the sixth boro typically wear work overalls, hard hats, googles, and in winter, face coverings.  After all, early March can be cold here,

and a week and some earlier, these guys could have been in Panama or Egypt, along the waterways here.  But then it was not called PPE yet.

Ditto here, except this was last week and that is a Tyvek suit, which has other associations.

Local mariners  . . . two months ago would not have had this mouth covering, even if it’s slipped off.

Or this paint/pesticide respirator . .  . it could be related to the virus.

But it’s the deckhands on container ships that show the greatest amount of prep and response to my lens.

They all have masks, as likely does the pilot.  New situations call for new protocols.


And this complete Tyvek and mask and blue gloves . . . this is the most extreme I’ve seen.

But hey . .  who wants to get sick?


All photos, WVD.


Many thanks to Phil Little, who took these from his socially-distanced perch high atop the Weehawken cliff . . .  I had thought to go out, but I didn’t want to get swarmed by “social-approachers.”  An alternative title here could be “Comfort Departs.”  I like the blue/white sign on the building off the starboard side of the ship:  “Thank you essential and health-care workers . . . .”

If I see accurately,  it’s Ava, Capt. Brian, and Marjorie that see her out.  As Phil writes, “Conditions: slack tide, wind 10-15 ESE, temp 53 deg.F. Looked like they had to nudge her around a bit into the wind, before she got underway!”

And so she got underway, exactly a month after arriving.

The closest I could find to an accounting is here from Mike Schuler at gCaptain: “While in New York, medical personnel treated 182 patients of which 70% were COVID-19 positive. More than 110 surgical procedures, 540 x-rays and CT-scans, and 1,300 intravenous and oral medications were performed, according the U.S. Navy. ”

Many thanks, Phil. Many thanks to crew of USNS Comfort.

And tomorrow, we begin our virtual canal tour of the western portion the NYS Canal system.  And thanks to a friend who pointed this out on a NYS blog a short time ago, a fascinating and profusely illustrated article about the impact of the 1872 horse epidemic on the economy and the Erie Canal.


Eric McAllister assisted Cielo di Roma, now Baki Akar and Turkish-flagged, out of her IMTT berth.

Mako, in the dawnlight, which I see through an urban window these days, waits alongside her barge.

Bow Riad meets Genesis Victory and

sails west.  She was Huron Service until some point in 2013.

I recall I got this photo as Atlantic Salvor was returning from the Caribbean, although I can’t remember where in the Caribbean.

James Turecamo was doing ship assist down here just five years ago. Here, James rotates Fidias along with Gramma Lee T Moran.

Charles A . . . and I honestly can’t recall where that was, given the background.

Here’s two

of an interestingly marked Jane McAllister, likely headed downeast somewhere.

And let’s end with three of

Simone, more here,

whom I hadn’t seen before and haven’t since.  As of very shortly, she’s on her way to Guantanamo.

All photos taken in April 2015 by WVD.  Stay healthy, keep your distance, and avoid expelled missiles with corona warheads.

Today it’s . . . .

Jeepster!  Remember Truckster! 12 about a Willys pickup project digression that was almost done? This is somewhat similar, a 1948 Willys Jeepster project that’s somewhat on hold because of virus’ suppression of travel.

Back in November, my brother heard about one languishing in a barn.  This is what it looked like. It had been off the road and stored since . . .1964!  It didn’t run.

We adopted it.  Hat tip to my brother who has the skills, tools, vision, and energy.  So what do I bring to the shop?  Well, other skills using his tools and reacting/modifying his vision, and my own pent-up energy, I guess.  And . . . the camera now and then.

Here’s the 1948 interior.

By mid-December, disassembly was underway.


revealing an unusual, I thought, frame.

Powerwashing the body revealed what indoor storage on a slightly damp floor can do.

In January, work had turned to cutting out all the floor that was compromised.

Cross support was reinforced. Templates were made and sheetmetal was cut to be tacked in.

In January, the spare engine was completed.

February in a warm garage, I was already wearing a mask while removing rust and in some places uncovering bare Toledo metal.  Wearing a mask for body work just makes good lung sense.

In March, we started using primer to determine where more sanding was needed.

A spare, entirely rebuilt GoDevil 4 was fitted to the existing and functional transmission, three on the tree with overdrive.

Since this project is ongoing in a rural upstate county and I live in Queens, by mid-March already, it was obvious that I needed to stay home.  My brother’s other projects move into the garage.  Once there’s an all-clear signal. I’ll go back up to work on it, and I’ll report back when it’s complete.  For now, it runs, shifts, and is registered.

The steering wheel will go, unless someone can explain how to re-resin it.  And I hope to pick up on this later this spring or summer.

Stay healthy.

Any other “ster crazy ideas?  Maskster?  Recyclester?  Sportster?  Galleyster?  Hugster?

. . . mermaid parade Coney Island, June 2009.

In case you’re keeping track, I’ve been home a long time quite a while, happy to help by staying put.  I’ve had harder work, and I’m really busy.  Nautical Sarah is still in town, a week and a half after she appeared to be departing.

USNS Watkins has been all the way to Florida, I believe.

Atlantic Sail is back in Liverpool, albeit briefly.

Lalinde is heading back to Guatemala.

Cardiff is underway, halfway to Brasil.

Songa Winds is anchored off Savannah. Rana Miller may be farther south than that, and Ernest Campbell is in the KVK.

An very light RHL Agilitas is bound for the Halifax portion of its route, and

Lady Saliha is in Veracruz.

Seebee,  CMA CGM Orca, etc. . . . I see your intriguing signal . . . but I’m not getting photos.

All photos here,  taken and not taken, WVD.



I hope this post elucidates what goes on in this photographer’s mind while taking photos, and later at home–in my own type of darkroom–while examining the “catch,” so to speak.

I’d seen these mergansers swim by while I was waiting for a ship.

Two minutes after that . . . in my zoom, I could make out these three tugs, clearly prepared and on their way to meet the same ship.  The mental connection, obviously, was the sets of three, patterns.

A single merganser and

a single tugboat, objectively, have no connection.  The connection is only in the photographer’s brain.

It would not surprise you either if I confessed to seeing the paint protector sheet on the tug fendering as mimicking the face masks that have become ubiquitous in my neighborhood.


Photos and tangential thoughts, WVD.


I could also call this “other peoples photos” but here is yesterday’s arrival of the hospital ship as seen from three friends’ perspectives.

Phil Little took this, and referred to it as his Normandy landing shot, an appropriate name given that this asset, arriving with a large support group, marks a surge, a counteroffensive against the invisible foe.  Note that the top of WTC1 is obscured, as is most of the VZ Bridge, center right.

To reiterate, Comfort‘s 1000 beds and 12 operating rooms will take overflow from other hospitals, overflow of NON-covid-19 patients.  Click here for much more info on the ship, medical facilities and operating life.  Click here for video of the hospital ship arriving.

The flotilla is almost to her berth, here passing Hudson Yards.

Renee Lutz Stanley took this one from a pier south of Intrepid while trying very hard to practice social distancing.

Phil calls this the “turn-in.”

This last two come from David Silver, taken looking south.

Cruise ships and hospital ship are roughly the same color, but that color gives a profoundly different impression in each.  Comfort with its relatively few “port holes” and glass is a place of intensive inward examination, a place apart, one hopes, for healing.

Many thanks to Phil, Renee, and David for use of these photos.  Please do continue social distancing and hand-washing.

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June 2023