Little Details About Big Ships

Small boat sailors on the Bay know the looming presence of big ships. They drift along the horizon like thunderstorms, and are almost as big. Like bulls in a big pasture, general rule is stay far away as you can, and keep watch over your shoulder. It’s a good thing if you never see one up close.

It was different when I lived in Savannah. There the harbor is a narrow river that runs like a wet boulevard right through the city. Oceangoing ships the size of office buildings glide right along the waterfront. I’d hang out on River Street and watch them go by, blotting out the sky. Close enough to hit with a baseball, you could see details – strange markings, battle scars, seams and rivets – that under normal conditions remained beyond view.

I came across an article this morning that explains what a lot of these symbols mean:

The Secret Language of Ships

Signs and symbols on the sides of ships tell stories about an industry few outsiders understand.

A ship’s markings may look like hieroglyphs, but to industry insiders they tell an important story.
Source: The Secret Language of Ships | Hakai Magazine

Brush Creek Yachts ~ Concentric Circles and Paradoxes

Doug, his son Ben, and Marvin Spencer, with the new Marsh Cat “Magpie”

 

(This is a post started last August; am just getting back to it.)

It will take nearly four hours of driving to get there, to get where the boat is, a boat built by hand in the loft of an old barn. We head out at sunrise while there’s still dew on the grass.

We don’t go east toward the coast, though, where most boats and builders of them live. Instead, we turn and go the other direction – to the southwest into the mountains. Instead of the land of crabs and oysters and skipjacks, we’re going deep into coal and bluegrass and moonshine country.

After 200 miles of driving we’ll still be in Virginia, though just barely. From south of Fries it’s just 10 miles as the crow flies to the Carolina line, and 20 to Mount Rogers, the highest peak in Virginia. This is where Marvin Spencer, proprietor and master craftsman of Brush Creek Yachts, lives and builds boats.

 

Buffalo Mountain

 

 

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Logging as an Art Form

Came across this video a few days before Christmas. Just found it again.

Cutting timber on steep mountainsides in Switzerland. So steep that no conventional equipment can be used. It’s all done by hand, with chain saws and hand jacks.

The trees have to be partially felled, carefully shaped, prepped and aligned, so when finally broken loose with the jack they shoot straight down the mountainside to the water below.

Once there, the logs are caught and corralled, then chained together in a big boat-shaped raft and towed down the lake.

 

INS HOLZ (IN THE WOODS) from mythenfilm on Vimeo.

 

 

Winter Harbor ~ Nocturnes

 

direct youtube link

 

It’s almost time to go. In the morning the Melonseed will get stuffed with gear, leaving a little room to skootch back and forth, tacking upwind all the way back. The tide will be out. Lots of short tacking. Another front is coming through, bringing rain. I’ll try to slip out ahead of it.

Most will wait another day to squeeze out the last few hours they can before heading back. A few plan to leave soon after I do. Beating my way out into the headwind, I see Wesley in his skiff on his way to the island to pick them up. He nods approval as he goes by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Winter Harbor ~ Ephemeral Arts

 

I made some things. Did you find them?

Terri had to go back early. We sailed over in the Melonseed and dropped her at the marina. When I got back, she texted clues to find things she’d hidden around the island.

It wasn’t that hard. I found her trail a few steps from the kitchen door, and easily followed her meandering path for a quarter mile through the dunes. With so few people on the island, a single series of footprints is like a story written in large print. Here she stopped to ponder a pile of bones, here at a clearing to take in the view of the marsh, enticed from here to wander in a grove of pines.

 

 

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Winter Harbor ~ Blind Woman in a Snow Storm

 

7 Down: Where Leonardo da Vinci is buried.

Oh yes, I know that one. Leonardo da Vinci is buried in the chapel at Amboise. A chateau in the Loire.

How did you know that, without even reading a New Yorker?

I always remember, because it reminds me of the night I met that charming blind woman in the middle of a snow storm.

Was that when you were in France?

No, not in France. In Fluvanna County. I was house sitting for a friend at Christmas. A big snow storm came through. I let the dog out before bed, and it did not return. I got into her four wheel drive car to go looking for him. Down the road, I suddenly came upon a woman wading through the snow. She was wearing Long Johns and a sort of antique broach.

Excuse me, ma’am, but can I give you a ride?

Oh please, I hope you can help. (She looked a little sideways as she talked. I thought from the glare of the headlights, but realized she was blind.) My husband has rearranged the whole library, and we can’t find the one book to settle this argument. Do you happen to know where Leonardo da Vinci is buried?

Strangely enough, I knew the answer. When I studied painting in Paris, I was invited to visit the Loire Valley where a chapel was built around his tomb. A beautiful chapel.

Why yes, in fact I do. He’s buried at the Chateau d’Amboise, in the Loire Valley.

Oh thank god. Will you please take me back down the road and tell my husband? He will not sleep until we know. Oh, and we have your dog. He’s been quite well-behaved. Hasn’t peed or nothin.

 

Overheard after dinner conversation.