Friday, January 31, 2014

Late January afternoon - Hudson River Palisades

The Left Coast Lifter Arrives in NY

A six thousand mile tow via the Panama Canal brought the giant crane from the SF Bay Bridge to the Verrazano Narrows.  It will be a key tool in building the new Tappan Zee (Pete Seeger?) Bridge.  Photo by Will VanDorp/Tugster.  - GWC

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Due in New York - The Left Coast Lifter

The Left Coast Lifter - a Shanghai-built giant crane - fresh from finishing up the new San Francisco Bay Bridge is due in New York on Thursday where it will help to dismantle the old Tappan Zee and build the new span across the North (Hudson) River.  It displaces 6,750-tons and can lift 1,900 tons according to the Times report on its voyage through the Panama Canal.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A successful winter

I knew it would be a good winter when the northwest passage froze over in September, three months before it had the past couple of years.  The high temperature in the past three days is 19 F.  It is expected to touch 37 for a couple hours on Monday. Then it heads back down to the temperatures that fill the North (Hudson) River with ice - as in this view from the window of our apartment just above the George Washington Bridge. - gwcPartly Cloudy

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Freighter Palisades Evening Light

A big bulk carrier passes southbound on the North River passing  Castle Village. = Ben Berry photo

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Starling murmuration

Starling murmuration over the River Shannon, Ireland.  The issues are discussed in this Wired article

Aurora Australis Icebreaker Reaches Australia with 52 Rescued Passengers | gCaptain Maritime & Offshore News

File Photo: Researchers from Aurora Australis observing a pair of penguins

Aurora Australis Icebreaker Reaches Australia with 52 Rescued Passengers | gCaptain Maritime & Offshore News: "The 52 passengers rescued from a Russian expedition vessel that became stuck in an Antarctic ice floe over the holidays have reached Australia safe and sound.

The passengers began disembarking the Aurora Australis icebreaker Wednesday morning in Hobart, Tasmania three weeks after their dramatic Southern Ocean rescue.

The 52 people, mostly scientists and tourists from Australia, were passengers onboard the Russian ship M/V Akademik Shokalskiy, which left New Zealand on November 28 on a private expedition and became trapped by ice on December 24 just off the coast of Antarctica.

The Aurora Australis, along with the Chinese icebreaker Zue Long, were diverted to assist and spent almost two weeks trying to reach the vessel. The passengers were eventually airlifted from the ice floe January 3 by the Zue Long’s helicopter and transferred to the Aurora Australis for transport back to Australia."

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Climate change - if you see something, say something

Observing melt water on a Greenland glacier
If You See Something, Say Something -

by Prof. Michael E. Mann // Penn State University 
 "If scientists choose not to engage in the public debate, we leave a vacuum that will be filled by those whose agenda is one of short-term self-interest. There is a great cost to society if scientists fail to participate in the larger conversation — if we do not do all we can to ensure that the policy debate is informed by an honest assessment of the risks. In fact, it would be an abrogation of our responsibility to society if we remained quiet in the face of such a grave threat.
This is hardly a radical position. Our Department of Homeland Security has urged citizens to report anything dangerous they witness: “If you see something, say something.” We scientists are citizens, too, and, in climate change, we see a clear and present danger. The public is beginning to see the danger, too — Midwestern farmers struggling with drought, more damaging wildfires out West, and withering record summer heat across the country — while wondering about possible linkages between rapid Arctic warming and strange weather patterns, like the recent outbreak of Arctic air across much of the United States."

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

For Seamus

For Seamus Heaney - a short film - NY Times
It must have been a spot like this where Seamus watched his father digging.  
By God the old man could handle a spade.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

5 Years Later, Still Feeling Impact of Plane Down in the Hudson -

Jim Dwyer's photo.
5 Years Later, Still Feeling Impact of Plane Down in the Hudson -
by Jim Dwyer
 "Plane down in the Hudson. No sign of it at 42nd and 12th Avenue. Where was it? Moving downstream, or downtown, fast.
I chased.
A colleague says she took notes by phone from me as I ran. My only memory is of the rod of ice that seemed to have grown inside my body, from both the wind whipping off the river on a frigid day, and the dread over what was sure to be an awful loss of life. Maybe a few people had been able to get out alive.
It was a cold day, about to get awful.
Somewhere, past the towed-car pound, maybe around the Javits Center, I spotted it. Well, not quite. What you could see from the street was a flotilla of ferries, nestled around the downed plane, keeping perfect pace with it as the Hudson currents pulled it toward the ocean.".....
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Fog on the North River

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Circumnavigation Abandoned – Heading to Cape Town | Dr. Stanley Paris – Kiwi Spirit, a custom designed 63-foot yacht

When you are 1,700 miles from Capetown in the South Atlantic, bound for the southern ocean and your jib furler is held in place with a C-clamp, it's time to quit.  75 Year old Stanley Paris - on strong advice from Farr - the designer of Kiwi Spirit - will do just that.  He'll (hopefully) make it to the Cape of  Good Hope, ship the boat back to Lyman Morse in Thomaston, Maine, and enjoy the rest of his days in Kiwi Spirit doing sensible things. 

Update: But there are some disturbing things: Farr "recognizes that the rigging attachments" are inadequate to the task - ocean sailing!  Why didn't LM recognize that?  Paris refers to returning the boat to its original purpose "a fast family cruiser".  So it looks like this guy succumbed to his biggest bucket list item "round the world record breaker" and tried to convert a boat designed for less challenging purposes.  As to Cabot Lyman - who has sailed around the world - why did they not realize the design was not up to the re-purposed  task? - GWC
Circumnavigation Abandoned – Heading to Cape Town | Dr. Stanley Paris – Kiwi Spirit, a custom designed 63-foot yacht:
The President of the boat designers at Farr Yacht Design, after seeing the photos of the failures and repairs, as well as his recognizing that the design of the rigging attachments to the yacht were inadequate for ocean sailing, emailed me to say:“I have to say looking through them that I’ve become really concerned. My recommendation is to stop and regroup. I know that isn’t what you want to hear, but I don’t believe that you should continue into the Southern Ocean in this state. I think it would be irresponsible to do it. I think you have too many substantial problems to head into harm’s way. The boom end failure is a substantial one. The jury rigged mainsheet arrangement looks very prone to chafe. That, combined with the jury rigged reefing arrangement, leads me to believe that a substantial failure is possible. If that occurs, you will quickly end up in a loss of mainsail situation. That by itself could quickly lead to a dismasting… I think the widespread failures across so many systems, would have kept a crewed grand prix boat on shore. To have this combination of problems in your injured state is inviting disaster… Please make the prudent decision and stop.” From Commanders Weather who have been routing me, stated after a comprehensive outline of various strategies:“I am very sorry, but the safest decision will be to head for Cape Town.  And, getting into Cape Town is sometimes not very easy!” From Cabot Lyman, the owner of Lyman Morse, the builders:“I am in complete amazement and awe of your accomplishment so far -you have  the complete respect of everyone who has any knowledge of this project and  the many thousands of miles you have already sailed puts you in the category of the very few. Is it prudent for you to stop in Cape Town. Yes, are we all disappointed – yes – extremely so.

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Cuthbert and the Otters - Paul Muldoon in memory of Seamus Heaney

The monastery and lobster boats at Lindisfarne
The Sea obeyed the word of the monk Cuthbert, allowing sailors to return home safe, the Bede reports in his hagiography The Life and Miracles of St. Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindisfarne, who died on Farne Island in 687.  That is the Cuthbert of the title of Paul Muldoon's long poem which appeared in the Times Literary Supplement in December.  Muldoon like Heaney is from North Ireland.  He teaches at Princeton and is ensconced in Manhattan where he is poetry editor of The New Yorker.  His "three car garage" rock band Racket performs occasionally.

The poem, which is not the easiest read (e.g. a hauberk is a chain mail tunic; to "thole" is to tolerate), is a read-aloud to grasp the sometimes gruff onomatopoeia which evokes Heaney's language.  The first three stanzas are below.  Click on the title to go to the full poem on the TLS website.

Cuthbert and the Otters

Paul Muldoon: In memory of Seamus Heaney

Published: 20 December 2013
Notwithstanding the fact that one of them has gnawed a strip of flesh 
from the shoulder of the salmon, 
relieving it of a little darne, 
the fish these six otters would fain 
carry over the sandstone limen 
and into Cuthbert’s cell, a fish garlanded with bay leaves 
and laid out on a linden-flitch 

like a hauberked warrior laid out on his shield, 
may yet be thought of as whole. 
An entire fish for an abbot’s supper. 
It’s true they’ve yet to develop the turnip-clamp 
and the sword with a weighted pommel 
but the Danes are already dyeing everything beige. 
In anticipation, perhaps, of the carpet and mustard factories 

built on ground first broken by the Brigantes. 
The Benedictines still love a bit of banter 
along with the Beatitudes. Blessed is the trundle bed, 
it readies us for the tunnel 
from Spital Tongues to the staithes. I’m at once full of dread 
and in complete denial. 
I cannot thole the thought of Seamus Heaney dead. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Can shop class save small-town America? -

Can shop class save small-town America?Can shop class save small-town America? -

"If you need a midwinter pick-me-up, and a break from the usual round of bad-news ideological bickering over American public education, both arrive at once in Patrick Creadon’s provocative, inspiring and mostly optimistic documentary “If You Build It.” (Which, fittingly enough, was largely funded by Kickstarter.) There have been plenty of other movies about attempts by idealistic outsiders to reform or reinvent aspects of public schooling, and Creadon’s movie follows a familiar pattern to that extent. In 2010, Emily Pilloton and Matt Miller, a pair of former corporate design professionals who quit their jobs and started an educational program called Studio H, arrived in rural Bertie County, N.C., with big plans that confounded some locals and excited others. This movie is in part the story of their struggles, setbacks, successes and failures."

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Chasing Shackleton - Episodes 1 and 2 | PBS

In 1999 I went to the Shackleton Antarctic Expedition exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History.  I was stunned by the beautiful photographs of Frank Hurley, the amazing story of survival after the Endurance was crushed in the ice, capped by Shackleton's rescue mission from Elephant Island 800 miles across the southern ocean to South Georgia Island in the 21 foot James Caird lifeboat (which was there at the museum).
For months I was obsessed, reading the many accounts of the journey.  Though nothing can match South - Ernest Shackleton's own account - the most vivid and dramatic is journalist Alfred Lansing's Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage.

But my obsession pales in light of mountaineer Tim Jarvis, who organized an expedition to repeat the legendary voyage of the Caird, in a replica - The Alexandra Shackleton.  They undertook to repeat it in original equipment - oil skins clothing, contemporary rations (4,500 unpalatable calories/day of "hoosh"), sextant, compass.  Though regulations required an escort vessel, VHF and AIS those electronics systems proved to be shaky.

Jarvis and crew did have cameras, which made  possible much of the video in the excellent PBS film, the second episode of which will air January 15, 2014.  Meanwhile the link below will bring you to Episode 1.   Enjoy.  - GWC
Chasing Shackleton | PBS: Episode 1
Episode 2
"The series follows a crew of five intrepid explorers led by renowned adventurer, scientist and author Tim Jarvis as they re-create Shackleton’s epic sea-and-land voyage in a replica of the original explorers’ boat, using only the tools and supplies his team used.
Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Trans-Antarctic Expedition, which launched in 1914, met with disaster when his ship The Endurance was crushed by arctic ice and sank. His heroic leadership in the face of almost certain death saved the lives of 27 men stranded in the Antarctic for more than 500 days, and has inspired explorers and leaders across every continent over many generations."

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Sounds of the Sixth Boro: Environment, Law, and History

David Schorr points to an archive of the sounds of the City.  New Yorkers have been complaining about the noise and the smoke and the dirt for a long time.  The truth is that things have gotten a lot better.  Except for the subway platforms, and the sirens.  But those sounds are distant eough now to evoke nostalgia.  I particularly recommend clicking on Horns in the harbor section of this audio archive - for videos of a fog horn and a McAllister tug. - gwc
Environment, Law, and History: The hidden histories of environmental law:
by David Schorr
NYC smog 1966
 "Thanks to the Legal History Blog and Slate's "The Vault", I came across "The Roaring Twenties", a digital history site self-described as "an interactive exploration of the historical soundscape of New York City". The site has historical newsreel footage of all kinds of loud noises from early twentieth-century New York, along with published materials and hundreds of original documents from the municipal archives relating to noise complaints (see the explanation of sources under "Info"), all organized by date, by type of noise, and accessible by location on a historical map of the city. In addition to the material on noise, other environmental issues pop up as well, such as in a 1930 video of a staged confrontation between two boys over a banana peel thrown on the sidewalk in Manhattan's Lower East Side (check it out for its great accents and slang). (And if you want to understand why New Yorkers for years turned their back on their waterfront, watch some movies of tugboats and other watercraft at work.)"

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Sunday, January 5, 2014

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star to assist vessels in Antarctica « Coast Guard Compass

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star to assist vessels in Antarctica « Coast Guard Compass:
Written by Coast Guard Pacific Area.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star is responding to a Jan. 3rd request from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, AMSA, to assist the Russian-Flagged Akademik Shokalskiy and Chinese-Flagged Xue Long that are reportedly ice-bound in the Antarctic. The Russian and Chinese governments have also requested assistance from the United States.

Coast Guard Pacific Area Command Center received the request Thursday evening from AMSA after they evaluated the situation and determined there is sufficient concern that the vessels may not be able to free themselves from the ice. AMSA has been coordinating rescue operations since the Akademik Shokalskiy became beset with ice on Dec. 24. The Polar Star will cut short its planned stop in Sydney to support the AMSA’s request for assistance.

“The U.S. Coast Guard stands ready to respond to Australia’s request,” said Vice Adm. Paul F. Zukunft, commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area. “Our highest priority is safety of life at sea, which is why we are assisting in breaking a navigational path for both of these vessels. We are pleased to learn the passengers of the Akademik Shokalskiy have been transported safely off the vessel. We are always ready and duty bound to render assistance in one of the most remote and harsh environments on the face of the globe.”

- See more at:
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Friday, January 3, 2014

Friendship Harbor - 1 Fahrenheit

Lobstermen are not snowbirds.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Not a fit night out for man nor boat!

West Penobscot Bay, Owls Head data buoy

National Data Buoy Center
Station 44033
44.060 N 69.000 W
9:04 pm EST 01/02/2014
0204 GMT 01/03/2014
Wind: NNE (30°), 19.4 kt
Gust: 29.1 kt
Seas: 5.9 ft
Peak Period: 5 sec
Pres: 30.06
Air Temp: 7.2 °F
Water Temp: 38.8 °F
Visibility: 1.6 nmi

Man overboard -

Man Overboard
John Aldridge fell overboard in the middle of the night, 40 miles from shore, and the Coast Guard was looking in the wrong place. How did he survive?

04547 Current Conditions, Friendship, Mid-coast Maine

National Data Buoy Center
Station 44033
44.060 N 69.000 W
9:04 pm EST 01/02/2014
0204 GMT 01/03/2014
Wind: NNE (30°), 19.4 kt
Gust: 29.1 kt
Seas: 5.9 ft
Peak Period: 5 sec
Pres: 30.06
Air Temp: 7.2 °F
Water Temp: 38.8 °F
Visibility: 1.6 nmi
  • Tonight: Snow. Low around -2. Wind chill values as low as -25. Blustery, with a northeast wind 20 to 25 mph, with gusts as high as 40 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. Total nighttime snow accumulation of 3 to 7 inches possible.
  • FridaySnow before 2pm. High near 9. Wind chill values as low as -24. Blustery, with a north wind 15 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 40 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.
  • Friday NightMostly clear, with a low around -4. Wind chill values as low as -18. Northwest wind 10 to 15 mph.

The Antarctica Rescue

A helicopter from Xue Long 龙雪- the Chinese icebreaker polar research vessel, has airlifted 24 passengers from Australis Borealis, a Rusian scientific ship with paying passengers trapped in the ice of the Ross Sea.

Why The Cod On Cape Cod Now Comes From Iceland : The Salt : NPR

"Good luck finding local cod in Cape Cod, Mass.

The fish once sustained New England's fishing industry, but in recent years, regulators have imposed severe catch limits on cod, and the fish remain scarce.

"I've never seen cod fishing this bad," says Greg Wilinsky, who has been fishing on Cape Cod for more than 30 years. "It looks to me like it's over. And I can't catch any codfish."

It's so bad, many fishermen say, that for the first time, they cannot catch enough cod to even reach shrinking government quotas.

At Finely JP's, a seafood restaurant on the Cape, owner John Pontius says he has always served local cod, but the shortage caused prices to skyrocket. So for a while, he took it off the menu.

Now Pontius serves cod imported from Iceland. He is not alone."

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Midcoast lens: Sea smoke sunrise

Midcoast lens: Sea smoke sunrise Rockport harbor. Photo by Bruce Hilsmeyer/Rockland Courier Gazette, December 31, 2013.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Daunting Calculus for Maine Shrimpers as Entire Season Is Lost -

High Roller, a Port Clyde dragger
Port Clyde Fresh Catch is the brand of one of the last dragger fleets on the coast of the Gulf of Maine.  And that handful of boats is grounded now because the winter shrimp fishery is closed by government order.  I've told the story of Waiting for the Margaret E, to buy shrimp right off the boat.  Now climate change is threatening that stock - actually interfering with reproduction, the Times reports. - gwc

Daunting Calculus for Maine Shrimpers as Entire Season Is Lost -
by Jess Bidgood
“I can honestly say it was the worst catch that I’ve ever seen in my career,” said Mr. Cushman, 51, who has captained a boat for more than 30 years. “I was calling people and saying, ‘Let’s shut this fishery down, this is stupid.’ ”
Regulators recently did just that, closing the 2014 Gulf of Maine shrimping season — which, in a normal year, might have run from December through the spring — to give the supply time to recover. The unusual step has brought some hope to Mr. Cushman and to other fishermen and processors whose livelihoods depend in part on the shrimp’s making a comeback, even as they wonder how to weather this season, and perhaps longer, without it. But others say closing the season completely will deal too heavy a blow to the tiny, specialized market, eroding another part of New England’s imperiled fishing economy.

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