Sunday, March 28, 2010

Atypical Saturday

As in: clear blue skies and unusual activity in the anchorage.  Not really the norm for this time of year.

I’m pretty sure that it was a fuel barge alongside the Royal Ocean.  The tug that was tending the barge was the Lucy Franco.  I was lucky enough to catch her as she ambled into the east entrance of the East Mooring Basin. 


Since I was young, I’ve heard rumors that tugs are the best vessels to crew on if for no other reason than that the food is best on them.  Look closely at the afterdeck and you’ll see a Weber 22” kettle… some evidence that the rumors might be true.

The Jin Ao’s stern is visible in the frame above.  She was busy “sunning” herself with the hatches to her cargo holds in various degrees of openness.


Lucy Franco: 105mm Sigma Macro, ISO 100, f/8, 1/400

Jin Ao: 70-300mm zoom @ 160mm, ISO 100, f/8, 1/500

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Another Ode to a Rustbucket

Really, that same old rustbucket.

The Sammi Crystal is at anchor a few hundred yards outside my front door and once again (really twice again… long story) I was out photographing it.

With the Lavadara

An ant and a Snickers bar… a fly and… OK we won’t go there.  Whatever.  There’s an attraction.  At first it wasn’t one that I was even conscious of.  When I first started photographing the transient traffic on the river, I thought there must be at least several ships that look something like “that one”.  After all, in the Navy, we had whole classes of ships that you couldn’t tell apart except for the hull numbers

She couldn’t possibly be unique.  Could she?

I still don’t know that.  I checked the roster of her parent company (STX) and didn’t find another that looked like her.  So, does she have other siblings separated at birth?  Don’t know yet, and maybe I never will, but I do know that for the almost four years I’ve lived here, she’s THE ONLY ONE that looks like that.

Like what?

Hmmm… how about a beat-to-death shade of orange and iron oxide for openers?  STX ships are almost always orange, but it looks like the Sammi Crystal has been wearing the same overcoat for all of her 31 years.  It’s worn, tattered… and it fits her.

Her rigging looks positively 19th Century.  I mean, really… cables, pulleys and king posts hauling those low-slung booms around?  You’d half expect to find that she’s still steam-powered with gear like that.

I’ve regularly wondered if there isn’t some not-fully-realized similarity between this old tub and the log ships that used to ply the Willapa River on their way to the long-gone log dock at Raymond.  My grandparents’ house was situated so that even though we couldn’t see the river from the property, when the ships came up the river, it looked like they were going to tie up at the front porch.  Those things fascinated and scared me… we could hear the “swoosh” of the screw blades in the water, slow and somehow menacing.

Those memories are 40 years old and older now, but the no-nonsense, nothing fancy lines of the ship just north of me bring them back sometimes.

She just looks old.  But strong.  Too stubborn to scrap.

Swinging on the tide

Both photos with the old 70-300 Minolta zoom, 300mm, f/8.  Monopod used on the last shot.  I counted five crewmembers visible in the lower shot.  Don’t know if they’ll show up at web resolution.  You’ll have to click and see.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Signs of Times Past

In downtown Boston, it seems as though you can’t walk five blocks without tripping over another crop of centuries-old headstones.

Astoria is the oldest English-speaking settlement west of the Mississippi, and, while considerably younger than Boston, it shows its headstones everywhere, too.

But these don’t mark the places where people are buried, they mark the places where people made their livelihoods.

From my neighborhood in Alderbrook, through downtown, Uniontown, out to Desdemona Sands and then back up into Young’s Bay, remnants of industry jut out of the water. 

A boatwright’s ways show themselves across the street from my place at low tide.  Canneries, net sheds, a ferry slip, remnants of a plywood mill… all businesses that relied on the river… expose their bones on the ebbing tides.

They mark the comings and goings of industry as much as they show the comings and goings of the tides.


The STX Crocus has been lolling about at anchor nearly long enough to get its own address.  It framed itself nicely beyond the pilings adjacent to the Safeway parking lot.

The really persistent observer will also find a gull, a Bufflehead and a Coot in the frame.  No, I’m not talking cranky crewmembers, though I’m not counting that out, either.


The point of my getting in the car this evening was to restock the pantry, but I knew better than to leave the camera bag behind.