Books, Velkommen


No Comments 18 December 2011

Now here is a cool book that you might have overlooked.  Perhaps you don’t have much interest in squid.  Perhaps you should.   Kraken by Wendy Williams is one of the most compelling and mind expanding books I have come across. Everywhere you look there is praise for this book. Perhaps she was inspried by the ghost of Buckminster Fuller. How else to take a squishy topic and unfold and expand its origami into a fantastic alien universe……and it’s one you live in…..we all live in it. Talk about overlapping universes, the truth is wilder than science fiction. What a ride! And it is so well written that the pages flow effortlessly into a wide panorama with electron microscope vision of a James Michener-esque timeline. Kraken deserves a privledged position in your library; it is one of those books that you will want to reread after a few months.  I can’t wait to read her latest bookCape Wind.

Books, Velkommen

Lost at Sea

1 Comment 12 December 2011

Patrick Dillon writes a decent story and one that needs telling.  Most of the facts are there, a bit thin in a couple of areas and definietly biased in a few others.  What really ticks me off is that Lost at Sea is a whitwash on two levels.  First, you have to ‘read between the lines’ to get a glimpse of the real story; the really compelling one. And second,  Lost at Sea is written to aggrandize Patrick Dillon instead of really probing deeply into the lives and community directly involved in the tragedy.  He gives ‘lip service’ to real human tradgedy and pathos instead of doing his homework.  The story should flow with empathy and  detail.  Since I knew many of those involved, it grates on me that those valuable details will soon be lost, despite our lightening fast hard drives and terrabyte servers.

Nevertheless, it is a highly recommended read, but look beyond its scope at a bigger landscape and you will find the real story.  The one Patrick Dillon didn’t tell.   First of all the book needs pictures.  Pictures to focus the imagery in the minds of the readers.  These are recent events, with real people and the small town of Anacortes is a pretty good mirror for every other small community.
This is what Dutch Harbor might  have looked like in the early morning hours of Valentine’s Day, 1983.

Images of the Altair and Americus are not easy to find. But if you scour the web you can find these old black and whites, taken before the trawling gear was added. Their Valentine’s Day voyage was truncated; the locations well known. No doubt they were overloaded and top heavy, but the seas were nearly calm, probably a modest swell, but no unusual conditions were noted by other vessels in the same general area.
Running out of Dutch Harbor, past Priest Rock standing in front of Lava Point in search of King Crab. Tons of it. There are a number of unanswered questions, some missed completely in Lost at Sea. The two boats left port 6-1/2 hours apart. Why were they found 3-1/2 miles from each other. Did the Altair slow down and wait for the Americus? Isn’t unusual that both should capsize so close together. Was it a simultaneous event, or hours apart? Questions without answers.
Morning Star is a sistership. Stability test show it actually weights in 60 tons heavier than it’s recorded weight. Why? No explanation.
But a few pics are informative and they show the trawl gear added to the stern.
The unanswered questions keep on coming. The stability expert, the naval architect, the shipyard, the Coast Guard, the owner. Everyone owns a piece of the tragedy, but no one claims their piece of  responsibility. Even politics plays a significant role. Unfortunately, with Dillon’s sophmoric bias for the Democratic party, the reader gets a myopic view, intead of the 360° panorama. It’s just one more example of the real story being embedded between the lines on the pages.
But enough of Dillon’s faults (yes, it sucks to be him); let’s look at some Anacortes features to sharpen the focus. The original location of the Seafarers monument was near the pay phone at the head of “B” dock. The gas light was placed here after the A-boat loss. But the gas light kept blowing out in the wind and the heavy monument developed a list from the unstable fill on which it was placed. When Cap Sante Boat Basin underwent a redevelopment in 2004, Seafarers Memorial Park was created and the light moved and electrified and the monument moved and placed on a substantial foundation. There is an interesting plaque on a stone at the head of “B” dock. In a few lines it captures the spitit of the Anacortes townsfolk. The spirit that Dillon missed.
Beyond the Seafarers Memorial is the eternal flame.  A lamp, shining with the eternal hope of a happy ending, and lighting the path to the Lady of the Sea, forever looking out over the bay. The park is nicely done and well worth visiting.

Dakota Creek shipyard is the birthplace of the A-boats; a long walk down Commercial Avenue is the Anchor Inn and the salty characters found therein. In particular, George Nations gets painted with a dark, moody and jealous brush. Perhaps Dillon felt his story needed a dark hero, an antagonist, of sorts. In any event, by trying to describe people he does not know, Patrick Dillon looks like a carpetbagger and a lightweight.  The more polite fisherman would call him a puke.

So, without delay, read Lost at Sea. Patrick Dillon lays out the story along with plenty of facts and figures; names and places. And for that I commend him. But Patrick Dillon is all about Patrick Dillon. He missed the real story; the great and universal story; the human and empathetic story. Yes, it’s a tragedy. So many of them are.

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