Saturday, May 30, 2009

Luxury Shipwatching

Coffee Girl at Pier 39, Astoria.
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Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Visit of the Eagle, June 2008

Joanne mentioned the USCGC Eagle on the Ship Report the other day, which reminded me that I shot a lot of photos during her visit. That was all before this blog existed, though, so I thought I would throw some up.

The barque made her visit just about a year ago.

The lead photo here was just pure luck. As I was making my way back from my scramble out to the beach at the NW tip of Fort Stevens, I saw three Bald Eagles perched along the abandoned trestle bents. This was unusual enough, in my experience, but to have the barque Eagle passing at just that moment was something that I had to try to catch.

Since my viewpoint was limited to me, standing on tiptoes, I had to close the shot down to just one of the eagles, or the ship itself would have been obscured by the aging structures. Still... it was a once in a lifetime shot.

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Technical Issue

This was supposed to be included in the post that follows. I have no idea why it wasn't picked up! Just one more aspect of that ship that just can't stay away.
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Stalking the Wild Sammi Crystal

A while back I posted a note (see Revisit) about "that same ship" showing up in the anchorage almost exactly a year after it had appeared in one of my favorite shots from the breakwater. Since I wrote that, I realized that "that same ship" has been coming and going a lot more often than some of the absentee homeowners around here, and had likely been through town at least a couple of times between its registering in my cortex.

The first (and least interesting) shot was just the last one that I took. I was heading home just barely ahead of a rain squall and saw the now-familiar king-post rigging and deteriorating orange paint through gaps in the waterfront buildings. Unlike most of her other trips, she didn't stop in our waters this time. Her anchor stayed snugged up in the hawsepipe and she churned on upstream. I only made the photograph because by then I almost felt obligated to.

I've been living in Astoria for about two and a half years now, and from my front-row seat in Alderbrook, I've come to think of the ships stopping and passing outside my windows as itinerant neighbors.

The Sammi Crystal stands out because of her mix of structural features. She's probably not unique, but she's the only ship I've ever seen in our waters with three sets of king-posts. Put those together with her rust-streaked orange hull, slightly upswept sheer line and her canoe stern, and she's really hard to miss.

Some nautical terms are familiar to me... it happens by osmosis even in the "brown shoe" (Naval Aviation) community. I worked the flight decks of a couple of different aircraft carriers when uprooted from my "homeport" of NAS Miramar in the '80s.

For those features that I wasn't familiar with ("canoe stern", "king-posts" for example), Bobby L. Basnight and his book "What Ship is That?" have come in very handy.

And, of course, there's always the stuff you can pick up from listening to Joanne and her guests!
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Sparkling Morning

Finally, a warm, calm morning that I was around to enjoy!

The Little John must be the handsomest little working boat in the harbor. All squared away save for the cups and saucers sitting aft of the house, she's tiny and "all business".

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Floating Oxymoron

The General Somervell, a large vehicle landing ship, tied up at the 17th Street Pier this morning. The terms "Army" and "ship" just have never fit together in my mind, and this ship is a visual example as to why that is.

It just looks like a blunt instrument. There isn't a clean, efficient line on her.

I know she's built for a specific job and is doubtless quite good at it, but when not sliding up to a beach, she looks like a bouyant brick.

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Wind, wood, canvas and...

So, you come home from work, make yourself some dinner and take care of some other chores. You glance out the bedroom window and you see this... what do you do?

Well, after my neck recovered from the violent double-take, I ran downstairs and and started changing lenses. After my vantage point from across the street couldn't do me any better than this, I ran back inside, grabbed The Bag and plopped it all in the car and took off. The drive is only a few blocks, and I'd normally walk or run it, but the ship was really clipping along, and I knew it would be out of sight soon.

I parked the car, grabbed the gear and crashed through the Scotch broom along the makeshift trails in the filled lagoon until I popped up to the abandoned railroad tracks, and found the ship plying along directly in front of me.

As I composed the shot, I noticed the oncoming freighter for the first time, and my eyes widened again at the cargo lashed atop her decks... sections of stanctions for wind-turbine generators.

Just how long are those odds, anyway?

I waited for the ships to line up and squeezed off a series of shots.

When I got back and did some quick edits, I sent a copy to Joanne at, amongst other people.

Joanne asked permission to use the image at the website, and I was happy to grant it. I didn't think a lot more about that until our UPS driver said "Hey, I heard you have a photo on the ship report's website"

Joanne's comments were very nice to hear. I just feel extremely lucky to live where I do, and to have the vantage point that I do from my living room and bedroom.

The tall ship is the Hawaiian Chieftain, and the bulk carrier is the Blue Marlin I.  Both were shot just west of Tongue Point.

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Outbound Celebrity

Saddle Mountain is in the background. The ship was just pulling away from the dock as I was passing on my way home. I headed north over the Astoria-Megler Bridge to "race" it out to Cape Disappointment. This was the first of the big cruise ships to make a port call in Astoria this year, but she won't be the last.
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