Thursday, July 22, 2010

Damn The Luck!

Last night, right around the same time, I was standing out right next to that big freakin’ tree in the foreground, lamenting that I’d missed the peak of the light.

Tonight,I was about to start cooking dinner when I glanced out the window and saw a Jayhawk hovering over the Terrapin, which is back in the river, visiting and training.


This is a severe crop from a frame taken with the G zoom at 300mm, which equates to 450mm in 35mm film terms.  I propped myself up against the front porch railing to steady myself.  Since the Terrapin was still making headway, there wasn’t much question about grabbing a tripod or monopod… had to work with the support available.

There are two humans dangling between the helo and the boat.  It’s just a drill.  Just another evening framed by my windowsills.

ISO 200, 1/250th @ f/5.6.  Massive crop.  This probably uses 1/10 of the frame.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Little Catching Up

I’m somewhat envious of Joanne Rideout’s “vacation” this week.  She was aboard the CSL Acadian as I shot this on Friday evening.CSLAcadianPilotTransfer

I shot several frames from downtown Astoria as the pilots made their transfer.  I’m surprised I’ve never really noticed this ship before.  The deck gear is unusual, maybe even unique.


We’ve had a handful of actual sunsets in July.  This is from a couple of weeks ago.  Conventional wisdom dictates that one simply doesn’t include the sun in the frame.  There are lots of reasons for that to be good advice most of the time, but not always.


The Granby is allegedly homeported in British Columbia , but I found her rotting away quietly a few miles west of Longview.

US CGC Terrapin:


Sure doesn’t look like a turtle to me! 

It’s one of a couple fast boats based in Bellingham that have been spending time in the Columbia this… almost-spring,  wannabe-summer… whatever you want to call it.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Put Lipstick Behind a Pig…

…and it’s still a pig. 


Even the truncated glory of Mt. St. Helens can’t do much to mask the clunkiness of a car carrier. 

There’s a reason for all of the visual shortcomings.  With Ro-Ros (roll on, roll off vessels), mile-high freeboard and ungainly appendages (fold down ramps, ventilation stacks, etc.) come with the territory.  They’re all part of getting their job done with maximum efficiency and without killing anyone.

If memory serves me correctly, this is one of the older car carriers in service, having been in the workforce about as long as I have.

Details really show her age.  Her hull plates are buckling twixt her frames, and she’s badly in need of the attention of grinders, needle guns and paint.  But, when you hear her pass, you know her heart’s in good shape.  The thrum of her screw blades thrashing the water were backed up by the steady drone of her power plant as the threw out her formidable bow wave.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Acres of Memories

For the last several days, Joanne Rideout’s Ship Report segments have had to do with “life at sea”. 

The recollections have been very interesting (especially regarding the Marcus G. Langseth being attacked by pirates off Somalia).

They’ve also kicked the anthill that is nostalgia within me.

In the overall scheme of things, my life at sea has been pretty miniscule, an extremely small percentage of my existence.  And yet the memories loom large and far out of proportion to the time allotted to them.

Part of that probably has to do with the time of my life.  I was in my early 20s.  And part probably has to do with the scale of the job (or jobs) at hand.

This wave of nostalgia led me to Google Earth and the image shown here, snagged from an overview of the Bremerton shipyard in Washington’s Puget Sound.


Left to right, as best as I can tell (and counting only the carriers):  CV-62, the USS Independence; CV-63, the USS Kitty Hawk; CV-64, the USS Constellation; and CV-61, The USS Ranger.  (There is no doubt about the Kitty Hawk… her deck number is plainly visible in Google Earth view… the others are at least partially obscured, but I have an eye for these things)

I served aboard both the Kitty Hawk and Ranger, though for a considerably shorter time aboard the latter.  And, for a day or so, the Constellation steamed alongside the ‘Hawk while both ships were on the other end of the world in the Indian Ocean.  Somewhere in my slide archives I have a picture of the Connie in the middle of nowhere.  It was taken from the flight deck of the Kitty Hawk.

So, nostalgia abounds this evening, and even starts a feedback loop as I look more closely at the satellite image.  The two diminutive “boats” lashed between the Connie and Ranger appear to be Oliver Hazard Perry-class fast frigates… the same type of ship that I wrote about a couple of years ago in a different blog

Those aren’t boats… they’re real ships.  But they look so tiny when squeezed between the giant, retired queens that they almost disappear. 

There are four acres of real estate (minimum) atop each of the carriers.  And on the Kitty Hawk in particular, I still feel familiar with every square inch of it, even though I last saluted her standard in 1984. 

On that deck, I was fried, frozen, baked, bruised and battered and came away with a knee injury that haunts me to this day… and yet I still think of it as the most exciting job of my life.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

On The Road Again


In the early ‘80s, I was deployed aboard the USS Kitty Hawk.  As we headed for open sea with Point Loma to the starboard, the song that was piped over the 1MC announcement system was Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again”.

As I watched the Port Alice slip downstream tonight, I wondered if the crew aboard each had a particular song in their heads, or if it was just so old hat that they paid no notice.

It would be a shame to me if they paid no notice. 

It’s a job, I know, but it’s a job that’s done in and on an incredibly variable and often incredibly beautiful environment.

This evening was quite breezy, but still the warmest that we’ve had in 8-9 months.  It would have been a remarkable time to be on deck as the ship made the turns toward the bar with the sun setting nearly over the bow.


The Arrow 2 bashes past the East Mooring Basin on the way out to intercept the Port Alice.

Both photographs with the 70-300 “G” lens, ISO 100, f/8. Opening shot at 1/2500 second (-2 stops compensation), second shot 1/100 second, no compensation.  No crops, developed in ACR.