Saturday, January 31, 2009

Birds: Miradas Cantabricas

What can I say - it's  a bird blog Miradas Cantabricas

The Winter so far

The world order seems about right today, the last of January.  It's 26F in Friendship, 21 at our place overlooking the North River, 4 in Anchorage, and 23 in Beijing.   There have been a lot of below zero readings in Friendship - none in New York - and 40's in Anchorage.

There was ice in the river this morning at 8 but it's gone now as the rising tide brings sea water north.  But we've had ice most of the time - except for the sloppy thaw a couple of days ago, which Bill Cunningham records in his On The Street audio photo essay with his Boston accent and chahming eccentricity.

He ridicules the men who wear dress shoes knowing they are going to confront the ponds at every corner when a day of rain melts the snow and the drains clog with ice.  I did that.  I put on my best winter suit and wanted my shoes to match.  I couldn't find those Totes rubbers.  I was just getting a bit tired of winter and didn't want to wear boots in the overheated law school all day.  Besides they didn't match my suit and were stained anyway with fuel I'd spilled.

Finally the unlikely event of a water landing was the biggest maritime happening on the North River- as Sully Sullenberger brought an Airbus down off the ferry terminal just below the Intrepid and the pilots of New York Waterway promptly rescued the passengers who lined up on the wings (some of them knee deep in the brine)  like Londoners in a dark moment rather than New Yorkers pressing to get on the cross-town bus in the rain.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Vendee: Desoyeaux set for Sunday finish

Michel Desjoyeaux, who beat Ellen MacArthur four years ago, is on track to repeat.  He is expected Sunday afternoon back Les Sables in France, an 84 day circumnavigation.  

Rich Wilson, the sole American, is about 5,000 miles back, heading up through the South Atlantic.

Here's a link to the Vendee Globe news

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Volvo Race: Luzon Strait to Hell

There are five Volvo 70's in Qingdao - soon to be six, one with a cracked hull in Taiwan and another given up the effort in the Philipines.

2,500 hundred miles - much of it hell.  At the Luzon Strait a 50 kt storm opposed tide, pushing up 14 meter seas, a steep, short chop.  Boats anchored, took refuge in harbors and suspended sailing but not racing.

Ken Read of North Sails, skipper of PUMA describes their comeback to take second, though he and boat suffered nasty injury - a finger crushed in a winch and a boom broken in two.  Here's his report from the Chinese city.

And Green Dragon (Irish/Chinese collaboration) video: Battling the Conditions

Today's report of the condition of the fleet is here.

Nextstop: Brazil.  40 days.  Around the Horn.  Makes one wonder if they aren't taking unjustified risks in their Volvos.

Faces in Inaugural Crowd - Susan Sermoneta

Our Castle Village neighbor Susan Sermoneta likes to get up close.  Her inauguration photostream on Flickr is great.  Go there and run her slide show.  It'll make you teary. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cape Cod and East

Joan Lebold Cohen, wife of my China law patron Jerome Cohen is a very talented photographer (among other strengths).

She has been traveling to Asia since 1961.

Here are some of the shots from the Pamet River, Truro, Cape Cod, and from trips to China.

And a link to her website.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

At the Lincoln Memorial

January 19, 2009 - Martin Luther King's Birthday - the day before Barack  Obama's Inauguration Marilyn and I went to our usual D.C. stops - the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial (remembering Mike Cunnion, Bob Donovan, and Jack Martin, my Holy Cross classmates) and the Lincoln Memorial.

This was Black Liberation Day.  The mostly black crowd was friendly, happy like I have never seen people happy before.  You could feel the weight of 400 years lifted in the faces of African American families posing at the Lincoln Memorial, standing in front of the statue, or reading Lincoln's 2d Inaugural address, carved in stone.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Inaugural Address

Don't count me among those who say it wasn't FDR, or JFK, or Lincoln.

It was a great speech - for the moment - and for a long time to come.

It declared itself - announced aims, a willingness to change where plans don't work, a commitment to recognizable goals: to mobilize our intelligence, and our people to meet the challenges of the day.

Stanley Fish points out in a careful analysis that "the inaugural address is proving to be more powerful in the reading than it was in the hearing".  Here is his commentary on Barack's Prose Style.

It is in his spare phrasing that Obma achieves the greatest power.  Some of my favorites:

"Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real.  They are serious and they are many.  They will not be met easily or in a short span of time.  But know this America:  They will be met."

"The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.  Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward.  Where the answer is no, programs will end. "

Obama's masterstroke is the catalog, the litany that sums up the welcoming spirit that we heard sung at the Lincoln  Memorial where Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen led the crowd in singing Robert Kennedy's theme song -Woody Guthrie's This Land Is Your Land:

"For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.
We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers. 

We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; 

and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, 

we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; 

that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; 

that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and 

that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace."

Here are the video and the text from the source -

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Southbound 650 at The End of the Road:

Jesse's odyssey ended January 14 at the end of the road.  

Ruta 3 at the Tierra Del Fuego  National Park is the southernmost point one can reach by road.  

It is south of the world's southernmost port - Ushuaia (54º48'S  68º18W) on the island `discovered'  by Magellan in his search for a route to China (the Strait of Magellan), explored and studied by Darwin (the Beagle Channel), a bit north of the island we call Cape Horn (55º59'S  68º13W).

The end of the road is 1,913 miles from Buenos Aires, and 11,090 miles south of Alaska.  

We'll have to wait for Jesse's return home to get the road miles from his odometer of his Kawasaki 650, which hopefully will find a home in a museum.  It is an icon symbolizing the will power it took to start in Delaware County, NY, 4 months ago head north, cross Ontario, cut southwest to San Diego, then reach his destination.

Here are Jesse's closing shots, images of others who have gotten there (google images search:  ruta 3 tierra del fuego, and a link to Ushuaia weather.

Congratulations, Jesse - we'll see you soon!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Andrew Wyeth

Wyeth - The Sisters

Andrew Wyeth has died.  He has high art critics it is said.  Not me.  I am a great admirer.  For me the pantheon is Ansel Adams, Monet, and Wyeth.  They taught me to see.  

Georges Harbor is  the place where Maine was founded.  Weymouth  landed there in 1605, erected a cross, claimed it for England and named the islands for the King - George.  In 1905 a memorial cross was erected there on the north end of Allen Island by the State of Maine. Thousands gathered for the Tricentennial.   Across the gut between Allen and Benner the Wyeths have a home.  

In these photographs of Georges Harbor and Allen Island Sea Station (a Betsy Wyeth project), a favorite place of mine, I have tried to capture the light that Wyeth celebrated, and for which we love the St.George River, Maple Juice Cove, Cushing where he painted the lives of Alva and Christina Olson.  We have been nearly neighbors 2 weeks a year there.  We will miss him.

Home Run is Andrew and Betsy's.  The dinghy is a Joel White-designed peapod. The lobster boat - Archangel - is the namesake of Weymouth's vessel. 

For the record here is the New York Times obit.  If you don't know the Wyeths'  Maine work the place to learn about it is in Rockland, at The Farnsworth Art Museum and Wyeth Center
 Portrait of Andrew Wyeth by James Graham, collage by The Farnsworth.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Vendee: Samantha Davies rounds the Horn

And she is having a blast.

Today - day 62 she rounded - in 40 knot winds and huge, short seas as it gets shallow at the Horn.

Here's some file stills of Samantha and Roxy

And the day's news at

And some shots from the fleet for good measure

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Vendee - Rescue at Sea

"After a tense morning of waiting, there was huge relief for Vendée Globe organizers and competitors this afternoon with the news that Vincent Riou (PRB) had arrived 200 miles west of Cape Horn at the scene of VM Matériaux’s capsize at 1421 (GMT) and made contact with Jean Le Cam" stranded inside his boat which turtled.

On the fourth try Riou was able to pick up LeCam, though the rescuer PRB sustained some damage when the boat snagged the remains of the upright keel - which had lost its ballast bulb.  

Even with the EPIRB signal's guidance (emergency position indicating radar beacon) it is very difficult to locate a capsized boat awash in in 4 - 5 meter seas.  

Above rescued and rescuer, LeCam turtled,  Riou in a file shot.  For more go to

Monday, January 5, 2009

1000 days at sea??


I have been a Reid Stowe skeptic.  

When I heard his pitch at a New York maritime event "If we don't think humans can spend 1000 days non stop at sea, how can we expect astronauts to spend 1000 days in a tiny capsule in space?", and saw the girl at his elbow, and saw his unromantic steel schooner Anne at the 23rd St. RR barge - I thought the real objective was to set the Guinness record for man alone at sea with a woman half his age.  And when he set off with novice crew I was sure, but Soanya proved herself game, if not up to the whole voyage, departing off Perth after 300 some days.  

Reid has continued on his own sailing idly across oceans, contemplating the meaning of it all.  Now at New Years 2009, day 618 he was approaching Cape Horn, with tales of gales and repairs, and still dreaming his dreams. 

He may not be much of a philosopher but he's proven he's a hell of a sailor. You can follow his voyage and his musings at

Vendee - Desjoyeaux First Around the Horn

      At 0310 this morning (UTC), leader Michel Desjoyeaux on Foncia rounded Cape Horn after 56 days, 15 hours and 08 minutes of racing — a little faster than the time taken in 2004 to reach the Horn (56d 17h 13’), even though this year’s route has been extended by some 1200 miles.
Foncia is the first boat to exit the Pacific and enter the Atlantic Ocean — and begin the final climb north to the finish line. Mich Desj passed just a couple of miles off the coast of the fearsome landmark, reporting squalls of 35-40 knots, gusting 45, at around midnight in local, Chilean time – his path flagged by the famous lighthouses on the rocks. However, on rounding the tip of South America Foncia is experiencing flatter seas. After a strong NW'ly wind this weekend, the leaders are being greeted by a 20-25 knot westerly, likely to ease further as a high pressure zone develops off the tip of Patagonia.  For more go to 

Sunday, January 4, 2009

January 4 - Winter has come to New York

Failed winters are the bane of life in New York.
Winter means ice in the Hudson as the North River is commonly called.
Today winter came to New York.
At the Execution Rocks Buoy three miles east of City Island, outside Hempstead Harbor, just off Sands Point at 8 AM the wind is west gusting to 17.5 kts, it is 28 F, and the apparent temperature is 17.2 F.
Modest sheets of ice calm the North River outside our window and fragments bunch along the shore.