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This verb or noun or adjective seems popular in large vessel names. A century and a half ago Currier and Ives depicted this vessel called Ocean Express. Suppose Columbus really wanted to dub the Nina “India or New World Express”? Or Ulysses the “Itaka Express”? “Argo Express”?

 

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Is there even a local to Ludwigshafen

 

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or Turin?

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This one never goes to Oslo.

 

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I doubt this carries anything made from cherries. Might Fedex order a future genration of sail vessels? Might these vessels get slippery bottom paint and rechristen (as Federal Express did) . . . turning these into Ludwex, Turex, Osex, and Sakex?

Which also brings me to this consumer season, transportation of consumables, and a kids’ book called Polar Express. Let’s mess with Van Allsburg’s story a bit: It’s Christmas Eve and a restless child named . . . Pat living near the top floor of a high-rise apartment block waits to hear the sound of the mythical elf. This apartment is near the sixth boro. Instead of sleigh bells, deer hooves, and laughter, Pat hears a ship’s horn. The ship is anchored at the edge of the channel closest to the apartment. The lifeboat is lowered and some crewman invite Pat to come with them to . . . what’s left of the northern polar ice cap, promising all the hot chocolate he could drink and a chance to meet the red-clad elf . . .

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You know . . . I don’t think this story works. How come as Van Allsburg’s kids’ story or Zemeckis movie it works, but when I try it out here, it sounds more than a little creepy?

Of course, NYPD would rescue Pat and arrest the crewmen, who would likely be convicted and expressed behind bars on some island for a long long time.

Would it work if it were set in the harbor but 150 years ago and with sailing ships like Ocean Express? Or if I made the steel ships more conventionally magical . . . like back before sunrise with Pat holding a noise-making gift (a mini ship’s horn or bell, of course) that only the youthful and innocent can hear? If the book–or blogpost–ended with a line like Van Allsburg’s does:

At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even [my sister] found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.”

Photos, WVD.

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?

 

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

 

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

 

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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.

Photos, WVD.

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

 

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Here’s midships. Anything strange there?

 

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View from the stern shows a single stack off center.

 

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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.

 

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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?

 

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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.

Photos, WVD.

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