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Next Stop Cornwall

The second start of the Trans-Atlantic Race is underway. The Maltese Falcon has but one turn to make at the start line then it is almost a straight shot to England. That’s good because this behemoth is not at all maneuverable. Most racing sailboats set their sails shortly before the start and, during, the countdown, take a run or two at the start line, to properly time the start. Maltese Falcon went several miles off shore to set sails. What a spectacular sight – almost 300 hundred feet long and who knows how tall.

It was grand to be mixing it up with the spectator fleet out to see the big boy off. I drove and Dee shot. I am envious of her opportunity. On the other hand, it was good fun figuring out the start watching the pattern of spectator boat movement to look for clear sight lines to the racers right at the start. I got her good sight lines and Dee did us proud.

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Sunday Racing

Sunday on Narragansett Bay has the promise of big doings. The schedule is full but it’s still early in the season so we wake up to almost white out fog conditions. Committee boats are out to set up races before the fog starts to lift but lift it does. Always busy on Sunday but no more so than today. Small boat races are in the Bay – maybe five scattered about. The big boys have their own race set up outside Castle Hill, outside the Bay. You see a bunch got together and decided to race to England. (http://www.transatlanticrace.org/)

This area’s typical summer southwest wind sea breeze filled in nicely so racers big and small enjoyed a good day on the water. All that is needed to complete the day is to be able to retire to one’s favorite club to replay the races. Sea breeze is now down. Fog is back. That’s OK because we know how to get to our favorite club.

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Mystic’s Attic

And what an attic it is. Over 400 boats stacked and packed tightly in some  two sprawling warehouses. Maybe a couple hundred engines ranging from steam engines to naphtha engines and outboards. All the engines are in working order. The boats remain untouched in the same condition they were upon arrival – some with straps holding them together. This is not exhibition territory. Not public territory. It is Mystic’s Seaport’s Study Collection. These boats are collected for historic purposes, for research purposes. They are examples of a class of boat, one of kind, first of a kind, only known specimen. Has to be of historic importance (not necessarily old) to get placed in this collection.
The space is so tightly packed we couldn’t get at some boats. No matter. It was just super to hang out and commune in spirit with such great hardware. Dim light, heavy shadows, muted colors helped to tell us we were in the presence of something special.
People who want have a research need are routinely admitted to Mystic’s Study Collection. The real story lies in how we got a tour. I am pretty good and chatting up folks and in gaining access here, there & yonder. Our minimal photography credentials work wonders. That’s how we got invited into the Charles W. Morgan. This morning Dee spent some time talking to a volunteer about old cars and steam boats and next thing we know, Roger is getting a key to the Collection to show us some steam engines and much more. Now Roger is quite chit chatty and I am anything but when working a camera. So we must all thank Dee for hanging with him thus limiting her photography. We also got into their machine shop where a steam engine, two WW II Packard torpedo boat engines and a radial airplane engine were being worked on. Neat stuff.

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In We Go

Were we ever excited when we saw the steam box leaking steam first thing yesterday morning. That meant the crew would set a new plank in the hull before lunch. The interior planks are steamed for three hours to allow them to be bent into shape on the hull. They will stay pliable for about 15 minutes.
It’s actually quite remarkable to see a monster board so pliable it is bending to its own weight when suspended. It’s quite impressive to see how nimbly the plank moves when suspended at the end of a fork lift boom. Just slip it up into the hole. Over head lift rails in the hull will maneuver the plank into position. We are now about seven minutes from opening the steam box so there is little time to waste. Once in place, all that remains is for a worker to wedge the plank into final position and then drill holes and pound pegs to secure it. Piece of cake.

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Restoration, An Inside Look

An inside look at the restoration of Mystic Seaport’s whaleship Charles W. Morgan. An inside look because this is not public access space on the ship. We were fortunate to be invited up a ladder and through access cut in the hull for a look at the restoration work.
Also an inside look because this view shows the interior planking work underway. The planks are 3″ yellow pine – quite remarkable material to find these days. Seems a quail farm in Georgia periodically cuts old growth pine to pay real estate taxes. When the interior planking is complete the hull’s exterior planking will also be replaced. In a couple years the restoration will be complete so the Charles W. Morgan will go sailing – to show off the restoration and, of course, to raise money.

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Firing Up Helen

Helen is a one cylinder engine used to raise the anchor on the  L. A. Dunton, one of Mystic Seaport’s active museum boats. Mike here tells us that Helen is temperamental and hasn’t been running of late. Today, the engine ran so the anchor raising demonstration was not done all by hand.

We came into the Seaport by sail boat many years ago and remember it as a special (and quite expensive) treat. The experience hasn’t changed. It’s great to come and go from the comfort of home during the day. After hours the place is almost ours. We have fellow boaters here and some boats have permanent crew. So we must be quiet in the morning for two folks were sleeping on deck in sleeping bags. The sleeping bags I’ll buy but the hard deck?

Photography Note: Success always asks a basic question – what are you willing to do to be successful. I know of photographers who have climbed to the top spire of the Empire State Building to shoot the changing of a light bulb up there and have hung out of helicopters for the one shoot. Me? I’m just willing to appear to embarrass myself. A small crowd blocked any standing view of Mike and Helen. I had to crawl in front of the crowd and had to lay on my side to get any shot. Must have looked like a beached whale. That’s OK. Deck level was THE shot of this event.

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New York Harbor

New York harbor has just about everything a sightseeing boater could ask for.
It has the usual, the well known icons that always merit another look and more appreciation: the Statue of Liberty with its ever present tour boats, water taxis & ferries galore, what has to be the biggest orange school bus in the world – the Staten Island ferry, interesting bridges and a spectacular skyline.
It has the unusual: a wedding couple being filmed on a Brooklyn beach on the East River. On a Monday afternoon no less. Who would have thought it.

It has the new as the World Trade Center replacement is joining the skyline scene.
Ultimately it always has what every photographer wants: something previously unseen and not yet photographed, In this case the light was just right for Dee to do studies with the almost abstract appearance of New York sky scrapers.

 

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Big Lunch

Conventional rules of wildlife photography ask that there be no butt shots. Images of birds should be from the front or side. Other principles of photographic aesthetics place high value on gesture and suggestiveness. So today other principles trump the butt shot rule. It’s a small scene, almost intimate. Perhaps this is why the image appeals to me. And we all know if it appeals to me, I stuff it down everybody’s throat.

Intimate scenes are unusual on the water as we will demonstrate with our next post card drawn from our quite nice and visually productive run through New York harbor.

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Red 2R

A bird on a navigation mark – a scene we see often. Mostly, it’s just there. Nothing with any pop and little compositional value. When fog or heavy haze isolates or subject colors and light improve. My subject has promoted itself to having potential.  Several excellent photographers tell us that, when in this situation, they play with texture overlays for an artsy tartsy effect.  And that’s what I have done.
Something to do when hanging on the hook in bad weather. Nothing to shoot. Nowhere to go so let’s experiment with images.

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Broken Wing Routine

We heard that birds will lure potential prey away from a nest with a fake distress show. Perhaps we also know people who put on such displays to get attention. Well those folks should take lessons from this little Killdeer. Its nest was on boat yard gravel under a trailered boat in storage. We walked within a couple feet of it and would never have seen the bird if it hadn’t popped out to lure us away. As flamboyant as the display was, we can’t give an acting award. All it managed to do is to get us in between it and the nest. Then it had a problem. Plan B to the rescue. Intimidate those monsters by staring them down and charging them.

All’s well that ends well and we have a broken wing routine on record.

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