Tag archive for "Salvage"

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.


San Juan Islands, Velkommen

The mystery of the Blue Dolphin

No Comments 20 April 2012

Here lies the Blue Dolphin on 3-11-2012. A sad ending to a once nice boat.
Below is a Google Earth image from 8-25-2011. You can see the Blue Dolphin tied to the end of the dock. A few informative hotspots have been added.

So what is the mystery? Well, why does the Department of Ecology claim the vessel sank at Shannon Point? She obviously sank right where she has been tied up for a long time……about 200 yards west of the Anacortes terminal of the Guemes Ferry. Shannon Point is 2.3 NM to the west.

Books, Velkommen

The Hunley: submarines, sacrifice & success in the Civil War

No Comments 16 March 2012

I’m beginning to become interested in Civil War history.  The Hunley has been the catalyst.

I often think of history as  boring and dull.  A musty collection of dry facts and figures that have little relevance to the 21st century.  Who cares?  Well, now I know.  Mark K. Ragan cares.  The Hunley is fanatically well researched but assembled so it is interesting and easy to read.  The Confederate story comes alive with a new invention out of Mobile, Alabama.  Submarine warfare is born.  Charleston, South Carolina is the proving ground.

The sea trials were a little rough.  She sank twice before completing her one successful mission, sinking the USS Housatonic, on February 14, 1864.  And then she vanished for 131 years.

Her story is absolutely fascinating, as are the many old photographs and copies of documents found in naval archives and elsewhere.  I would never have believed that so much information could be pieced together after all that time.  The story and the glory of the Hunley are exhaustively researched and well told.

The discovery, salvage and preservation of the Hunley occupy only a small segment of this book. For the ongoing story of the Hunley in the 21st century, a bit of personal research is in order.   She now rests in a museum.  She has a fabulous website and a high profile list of friends.  Please, do surf the Hunley website, since you are already on the web.  It is well done, interactive and so worthwhile.  Should I ever get to Charleston, S.C. a visit to the Warren Lasch Conservation Center at the Old Navy Base is a top priority.  Should you have even a faint flicker of interest in submarines or Civil War history…..this book is the definitve statement.

Google has an image gallery, that gives a visual taste of the fascinating world of marine archeology and forensics applied to the Hunley.  Don’t miss it.  The paperback edition this book is inexpensive and would make for a whale of a read on a rainy blustery night at anchor.

Books, Velkommen

Dead Men Tapping – the end of the Heather Lynne II

No Comments 04 March 2012

Dang! this is one seriously fine book: a tradgedy that will leave your soul weeping.  Weeping for lost fishermen, but Dead Men Tapping is so much bigger than the story it tells….weeping for the human condition. Innocence that does not see the larger picture until hindsight reframes and contorts the recollected scene into a raw and ghastly house of horors.  Poingant, gripping, compelling.  Events are seen with a zoom lens that focuses on the individual fisherman and Coast Guard personnel that are part of the accident scene, then zooms out for a larger scale and new perspective.  If the available resources could have been rallied, the outcome could have been different, but everyone was so focused on the little piece of reality they assumed belonged to them. There is a slice of blame for everyone:  the Coast Guard, the fishermen, the tug captain, the salvor.  No one gets spared.  The resources were there; the urgency was there, just no one to knit them together.   Kate Yeomans had to live this book to write it; grow up on the water, be part of the close knit fishing community.

The 45′ fishing boat Heather Lynne II was run down by a 272′ barge under tow  just 10 miles off Cape Ann Massachusetts just before dawn in September of 1996.  She capsized but remained afloat with the crew trapped inside.  Tapping…..pounding, clawing on the inside of the hull.  Dead men tapping.

The courtroom struggles are an oversized chess game with strategies unfolding as  both sides vie for position. Intensely dramatic, blow by blow testimony.  At the end of t he day everyone gets up and goes home.  Not so for the crew of the Heather Lynne II.

Big thanks to Ray Robinson for the loan of this book.

B Dock

Jay Hartland to the Rescue

No Comments 22 October 2011

Saturday, October 21 was a snotty day. A stiff wind and 45° rain alternating between mist, drizzle and torrential. I had my head in the bilge when I heard the unmistakable sound of twin 454s. The day was so crappy I had to see who was  out puttering around. It was Jay and Vernessa, idling down the fairway between “C” dock and “D” dock aboard Destiny.   After a few minutes my curiosity got the better of me and I had to see what they were up to. Well….just a micro cruise. Enough to get the engines nice and warm for an oil change. After a few minutes of scuttlebutt we saw a tall mast making its way down the fairway between “B” dock and “C” dock. Since the shoreward end of the fairway is all covered moorage, a tall mast meant something was awry. It soon became obvious that the 45 Beneteau was not under command and was being blown down the fairway. Occasionally the skipper seemed to gain a bit of control and would try to initiate a turn, but as soon as he started to come around he was broadside to the wind and moving more quickly toward the steep rocky shoreline. Then he got really close to “C” dock. The dingy he was towing alongside got squeezed between the Beneteau and the pilings untill it went POP…..and expired. The parking lot gave us a better view and we watched until the boat, totally broadside in the fairway was being poked with boathooks and lassoed by well meaning cowboy bystanders. I’m sure the keel found bottom, but probably not long enough for serious damage. There were half a dozen folks on each dock, all trying to help, but really working at odds with one another. A total cluster. I heard Jay say, I can’t take this any longer” and down the ramp he charged. In less than a minute he was barking orders to the befuddled skipper and his hapless mates. The stern was secured and a bowline run down “C” dock as far as it would reach.  Several hearty lads pulled the bow around against the wind and got the pointy end headed down the fairway. There seemed to be some transmission trouble, or at least some confusion regarding the function of the levers on the binnacle. After a few minutes the Beneteau motored down the fairway and into her slip without further incident. An interesting bit of gossip floated down the dock……this was day 1 of a week long charter. OUCH!

Click on a thumbnail for a more expansive view.

If you look closely, You can see Jay in the third pic in his green sweater between the first two pilings taking charge of the situation. (Better pics next time. All I had handy was an iPhone.)

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