Tag archive for "boats"

Books, Velkommen

The Grey Seas Under

1 Comment 27 November 2013

The Grey Seas Under.  Hmmmm….unusual title. Under what?  Farley Mowatt. Unusual name.  The beginning is slow and disoriented, like being in a foggy unfamiliar harbor jammed full of rust streaked vessels, succumbing to neglect.  In retrospect, the sodden tone of the beginning, that caught me off guard, was an ideal prologue.

The Grey Seas Under chronicles the life of the 156′ salvage tug, Foundation Franklin, originally christened H.M.S. Frisky, from her purchase in early 1930 by the Montreal-based Foundation Company of Canada, to her last assignment during the cruel winter of 1946.  Her battles with the sea were epic. The men who sailed her, heroic, sometimes eccentric and the rescues she accomplished, legendary. The lives she saved: grateful beyond measure.

So what makes this book a must-read masterpiece?  It is not written to highlight an exemplary vocabulary.  There are no superlative descriptions.  Displays of elite literary proficiency are missing.

The Grey Seas Under is a song.  A ballad. Farley Mowatt is a minstrel, singing of a period in his life where he felt most alive, most connected to his fiber.  Those days pass quickly for mortals but the tone is not sad. It is an adagio form, punctuated with rolling staccato storms.  This is not a gilded representation of reality seen through progressive bifocals; this is a raw and salty reality lived by working men whose poetry sails  above varnished table tops with fiddled edges and coffee mugs. The extraordinary is commonplace.  No pontifications from the podium are found.

If you have a paperback copy read it twice.  Read it to your kids and grandkids.  If you have a hardbound copy in good condition, you have an appreciating asset.

BIG thanks to Ray Robinson for the loan of this fabulous book.  The Grey Seas Under.  Under what?  Under the keel of a good ship.  A ship that does not veer from difficulty, but takes pride in accomplishment and returns to home port, time after time.  The Grey Seas Under?  As it always has been, under the watchful but impassive heavens.

 

Alaska, Books

Raiders

No Comments 11 July 2013

McCloskey makes his last set as this fine trilogy comes to a close.  Raiders characters mature just as the subject matter comes of age.  Political drama, personal intrigue, cultural differences.  Even though the story and characters are fictional, the events and emotions are very real and certainly command center stage today just as they did in the 1980s.  One of the more interesting themes is the cultural interaction between the Japanese, native Alaskan and the American fisherman.  By looking at the evolution of the fishing community we can extrapolate to predict the future of the fishing industry.  A further generalization predicts the future of many industries.  But the old days, the last third of the 20th century in this case, are gone.  It was a bold time, when men could live large, when risk rode with brains and muscle into the eye storm seeking buxom reward.  Not just to make a living, but to make a point.  A very personal point, shared with crew and friends, often, spoken only with tears.  The romance, like that of the Old West, will live on far into the future.  With the same salt crystals at the corner of the eye as grace the gunnel at sunset.

Alaska, Books, Velkommen

Breakers

No Comments 24 March 2013

The second novel in William McCloskey’s trilogy.    The characters mature and the fishing grows from smaller boats to bigger boats.  The politics get interesting, as foreign interests endeavor to use every loophole to obtain the Alaskan bounty they lost when the 200 mile limit on fishing was imposed.  Breakers is  a great read, factual in many aspects, but fictional and romanticized just enough to keep the pages turning rapidly.  It captures  the energy of commercial fishing, and superimposes human faces to weave the story.  Fishing fans should read it twice.  It is a well told story, McCloskey talking about what he knows and loves.  No more pretentious than that.  If you love big water  and big adventure.  This book’s for you!

 

Alaska, Books

Highliners

No Comments 21 February 2013

A fun and entertaining read.  Nothing too weighty; just right for a cozy night at anchor.  Highliners is book one of a trilogy including Breakers and RaidersWilliam McCloskey begins the tale of Hank Crawford, August, 1963, fresh out of college on his way to a cannery job on Kodiak Island, looking for overtime and big dollars.  The volume ends in 1975, with the fisherman characters and the changing nature of the fishery filled out.  The story is timeless and well told.  Plucky, rebellious young man leaves home to follow a dream despite parental opposition.   Gradually he finds his sea legs and charts his course.  Gradually he becomes part of a dynamic close knit community.  A viking-like adventurous lifestyle is portrayed and a bit romanticized.  Fishermen competing among themselves and then bonding together as a group, lobbying government to protect their interests and limit foreign fishing.  The story builds on its own with little need for gratuituous language.  The rhythm of the sea underlies every chapter and although the characters are fictional the times they occupy are factual.  A must read for all salty fish lovers because it defines fishing commercial fishing in Alaska.  The last frontier.

B Dock, San Juan Islands, Velkommen

Anacortes Marina Panorama     February 2, 2013

No Comments 04 February 2013


Click the image for the BIG picture.

The day before Superbowl Sunday was fabulous. Calm, sunny, warm….a taste of Spring. Of course, Velkommen went for an island cruise the following day. I’m pleased to say that all systems worked perfectly.  But he list of projects is still longer than my allowance. I’ve come to accept that, however. The day all projects are complete, is the day we do the really BIG upgrade.

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