Archive for the ‘Boats’ Category

Important safety tip (#19 in a series)

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

I understand the desire to Instagram your travels. Especially if you are on an long cruise going to exotic places. And especially if you are a decently attractive woman.

But you might want to think twice about drawing attention to yourself.

Especially if you are carrying nearly 210 pounds of cocaine in your luggage.

“Traveling is one thing,” Roberge wrote on Instagram. “But traveling with an open mind, ready to taste everything, see everything, learn everything and get yourself out of your comfort zone … is probably the best therapy and lesson ever. I used to be afraid to get out of my little town and now I feel like I don’t want to see that little town anymore cause it’s beautiful out there and it’s sooo worth it.”

Yeah, she’s probably going to be spending a long time out of her comfort zone.

On Monday, the trio appeared in court in Sydney, charged with importing a commercial quantity of cocaine, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, authorities said.

I don’t know if Australian law is anything like US law, and that “maximum penalty” is more public relations than reality, especially for a first offense with no previous criminal record. I’m also guessing, though, that only one of them is going to get to play “Let’s Make A Deal”, and that the other two will be spending at least tome time making new friends.

The cocaine was packed into suitcases so tightly, agents said in a Facebook post, that “these three Canadian nationals did not have much room for clean underwear or spare toothbrushes.”

Ewwwww. Then again, this was a cruise ship, right? I’ve never been on one, but I assume they have a little store where you can at least get a spare toothbrush and perhaps some clean underwear? I actually checked the Princess cruise lines website, and while they claim the ship has “boutiques”, there aren’t many specifics beyond that. Maybe you have to pick up clean undies and a toothbrush when you go ashore?

Quote of the day.

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

(Valuable context here.)

This is intended to enrage you. (#7 in a series)

Monday, April 11th, 2016

Okay, the title may be somewhat of an exaggeration. I’m guessing the only people enraged by this will be:

But I’m willing to be proven wrong. Feel free to do so in comments.

Anyway. A long time ago – 1987, to be precise – a group of John D. MacDonald fans put up a plaque at what was Slip F602 at the Bahia Mar Marina. Slip 602 was also renamed Slip F18.

What was the significance of this? MacDonald’s most famous creation, Travis McGee, docked his houseboat, the “Busted Flush”, at Slip F18. I know it probably sounds kind of silly and trivial to a lot of you, but it always seemed to me to be a nice gesture in honor of a man who has influenced more writers than you could fit into a 1936 Rolls-Royce pickup truck. (Just a few names you may have heard of: Michael Connolly, Randy Wayne White, Lee Child, Carl Hiaasen, David Morrell, and some guy named Stephen King.)

But I ramble. My point now is: the plaque isn’t there any longer. It has been moved to the harbormaster’s office. I can’t really get a sense of how easy or hard it is to find from the photos online. But more to the point:

The relegation seems particularly poignant in 2016, McDonald’s centennial birthday year. Sarasota, where MacDonald lived, will be staging a big celebration in July. But there’s nothing going on in Fort Lauderdale.
“I had tried to contact the Bahia Mar offices to see if anything would be done to celebrate the 100th Birthday of JDM but I received no answer,” Calvin Branche told me via email. Branche, who runs the John D. MacDonald website and will be staging slideshow presentations in Sarasota this summer, suggested that the marina place the plaque somewhere more conspicuous. “But nothing came of it.”

It just seems kind of a lousy way to treat a good man and a great author.

(Hattip: Lawrence, via email.)

Random notes: February 15, 2016.

Monday, February 15th, 2016

It was a busy weekend; by the time I found out about Scalia, I was out and around and unable to blog. Now it feels like we’ve reached Scalia saturation, and I’m not sure I have anything to say. Except: I would have liked to have met the man. Lawrence has some links up over at his site.

Something that mildly amused me, and that I also didn’t have a chance to blog over the weekend: remember the Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Anthem of the Seas? The one that sailed into a storm?

Well, it turns out there was a NYT reporter on board. Not that they were expecting a storm: the reporter was apparently on board to cover the first voyage of Royal Caribbean’s brand new super ship. Instead…

There were two things that happened during the storm that made me begin to believe that my life was in jeopardy.

Not exactly the kind of thing your company wants to read in the paper of record.

The second thing I began contemplating was composing farewell messages to the people I love, as well as apology notes to people I have let down. The ship’s vaunted Voom Wi-Fi was somehow holding steady during the storm, presenting the opportunity to send some emails or perhaps post a blanket statement to social media. I also contemplated writing a sweeping goodbye note on paper and sealing in the Ziploc bag I had packed my toothbrush and toothpaste in, hoping that it might float to the surface and be discovered by rescue crews.

2016, ladies and gentlemen. Speaking of 2016…

Like, who dies at sea anymore? This is 2016, after all, an era in which we build giant, floating sea fortresses and have apps on our phones that can predict when it’s going to rain down to the minute. This is not the 1700s.

“Who dies at sea anymore?” That was just stupid. Setting aside for the moment the immigrants who die at sea (while their deaths are tragic, and I don’t mean to diminish them, I’m sure the NYT author would argue that’s not the kind of “death at sea” he’s thinking about), ever hear of the Costa Concordia? Where are the paper’s editors?

One more thing that tickled my funny bone: a vaunted feature of the Anthem of the Seas is something called the “Bionic Bar”: “Attended by two robotic arms that mix cocktails amid an array of flashing lights and thumping techno music, patrons sit a few feet away from the bar and order from a menu of available drinks, many of them coming in bright neon colors that evoked thoughts of nuclear waste, on a tablet computer.”

How’s that working for them?

A friend I had made on the ship met me for drinks there one night after the storm and we sadly couldn’t bring ourselves to order more than one drink each, agreeing that the cocktails in our first round were, well, kind of terrible. Score one for human bartenders; your jobs are safe for now.

Historical note, suitable for use in schools.

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

40 years ago today, 29 sailors died when their freighter sank during a storm on Lake Superior.

By late in the afternoon of November 10, sustained winds of over 50 knots (93 km/h; 58 mph) were recorded by ships and observation points across eastern Lake Superior. [Arthur M.] Anderson logged sustained winds as high as 58 knots (107 km/h; 67 mph) at 4:52 p.m., while waves increased to as high as 25 feet (7.6 m) by 6:00 p.m. Anderson was also struck by 70-to-75-knot (130 to 139 km/h; 81 to 86 mph) gusts and rogue waves as high as 35 feet (11 m).

I refer, of course, to the wreck of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald.

S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald Online.

Coverage from MLive.

Mariners’ Church of Detroit.

Obit watch: July 8, 2015.

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

Author John Maxtone-Graham.

Safe Return Doubtful: The Heroic Age of Polar Exploration is the book that sparked my ongoing interest in polar exploration.


Mr. Maxtone-Graham married Katrina Kanzler in 1955; they later divorced. Survivors include their daughters, Sarah Francois-Poncet and Emily Maxtone-Graham; their sons, Ian, a longtime writer and producer for “The Simpsons,” and Guy, also a television and film comedy writer who worked on “Beavis and Butt-head”; two grandchildren; and a twin brother, Michael.


He also claimed a more unorthodox cultural credit: an appearance as a lecturer on the fictional Royal Valhalla in Episode 505 of “The Simpsons” in 2012.

Down to the sea.

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

I hope all my readers are either enjoying a day off, or a quiet day at work if they have to work.

To fill time, I offer this long but fascinating piece from the NYT, “The Wreck of the Kulluk“.

The Kulluk was a drilling rig that Shell bought for use in the Arctic. Things did not go well at first. Then they started going badly. Then things got really bad.

There was a loud boom and a shower of sparks. It was gone. Matthews turned to see why the captain was so anxious. He found himself staring at a wall of water — a 50-foot wave, the biggest they had seen. The Alert went straight up its face. “There was this feeling of up and up and up and up and up and up,” he said. He put his hands against the back window to stabilize himself. White water was running over the front window. They couldn’t see anything. “When is this going to stop?” the captain asked.

There are times when I think it’d be interesting to become a seaman. Then I read things like this or Wired‘s story about the Cougar Ace and I remember why I didn’t choose that career.

Random notes: December 3, 2014.

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

It is official: University of Alabama-Birmingham is shutting down the football program.

On the one hand, I feel a little sorry for the players and staff who are getting jammed up, especially since there’s a lot of speculation that the regents (including Bear Bryant’s son) have been out to screw UAB and the football program. On the other hand, I really want to see more schools shut down their football programs. If the NFL wants a minor league, let them start their own, instead of riding on the backs of universities. On the gripping hand:

UAB is also cutting its bowling and rifle programs.

They cut the rifle program?! Philistines! (“Don’t shoot my sacred cow!”)

This could turn into something interesting:

Criminal investigators with the U.S. Coast Guard are probing an elite group of Los Angeles firefighters at the city’s port to determine whether federal licensing records were falsified for crew members assigned to large fireboats, The Times has learned.

Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadian Navy.

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

I remember Guy Lombardo from when I was a wee lad. Every New Year’s Eve up until roughly 1976, there was Guy and his Royal Canadian Orchestra hosting their New Year’s Eve special. Sometimes I was able to stay up and watch at least part of it.

I associated Guy and the RCO with Lawrence Welk and Liberace and, for want of a better word, the kind of music my maternal grandmother and grandfather liked. But at the time, there were only three real television channels, I never really got into Dick Clark, and “Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadian Orchestra” flowed trippingly off the tongue.

I hadn’t thought of Guy in years, until a few paragraphs in The Power Broker got me wondering about him. How did he end up hosting those specials? What else did he do, and where did he come from?

Wikipedia turned up one of those odd historical byways that I’m so fond of. In addition to being the leader of the Royal Canadians, Guy raced boats. Seriously raced boats. As in, he won the Gold Cup (which is the biggest prize in boat racing) in 1946.

From 1946 to 1949, he was the reigning US national champion. Before his retirement from the sport in the late 1950s, he had won every trophy in the field.

Before his retirement, he was planning to make a run at the world speed record on water. His retirement may have been prompted by the fact that the boat he was planning to use disintegrated during a test run.

(As a side note, that record isn’t for the timid. Wikipedia claims “an approximate fatality rate of 85% since 1940“, though it should also be noted that this statement is tagged “Citation needed.” No matter what the actual percentage is, looking over the history of attempts makes it very clear that this is an expensive way to kill yourself very fast if anything goes wrong.)

And what’s the relationship between Guy and Robert Moses that brought this up in the first place? Guy and his RCO were basically Robert Moses’ house band. Moses set them up at Jones Beach and gave them an incredibly sweet deal: Moses didn’t just pay Guy and RCO to play at the park, but also absorbed all the costs of running the venue, and allowed Guy and the RCO to keep most of the ticket money and advertising revenue. In return, not only did Guy and the RCO play at Jones Beach, but they also entertained at various other offical functions for Moses, and Moses used them to impress people he needed to impress. For example, if you had a small child and Moses needed your help with something…well, Guy entered the Jones Beach theater every night on one of his speedboats. Wouldn’t your kid love to ride along with Guy as he made his grand entrance in Tempo? Of course they would.

(There are a couple of good biographies that need to be written. I can’t find any evidence that there was ever one written of Guy and his brothers, and it sure seems there’s more to their story. I think you could also get a good book out of the story of Rosebud Yellow Robe.)

Leadership Secrets of Non-Fictional Characters (part 9 in a series).

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

He was tireless, honest, and smart, and getting smarter all the time as he made a strong team stronger. His subordinates responded well to his leadership, but he wanted more. He would encourage and recruit the hardheaded, iconoclastic, passionate original thinkers whom others would often dismiss as too much trouble. They not only followed him, they challenged him to be better. They pushed him. They questioned him. They constructively, fearlessly voiced dissent if warranted. He did the same with me. That’s a mark of superlative subordinates; they make their bosses better leaders.

–Henry A. Crumpton, The Art of Intelligence: Lessons from a Life in the CIA’s Clandestine Service

If I had a pony, I’d ride him on my boat.

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Back in the old days, before he was driven from office by prosecutoral misconduct and later killed in a plane crash, Ted Stevens managed to get a prototype “amphibious assault vessel for the Navy” diverted to Alaska. The plan was to use it as a commuter ferry between downtown Anchorage and suburbs to the north of Anchorage. (Wait. Anchorage has suburbs?)

A $4.5-million passenger terminal was constructed for the state-of-the-art, ice-capable catamaran, and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough proceeded with big plans to expand its port, link it to an interior railway and foster communities in the remote farm fields that surround the proposed ferry landing — defying critics across the country who held up the “ferry to nowhere” as an example of wasteful federal pork-barrel spending.

None of this ever happened.

The end of Stevens’ reign in 2008 meant no more federal handouts, leaving little money to build landings, insufficient cash to subsidize operations and no means of convincing Anchorage to build a dock on the other side.

Now the Matanuska-Susitna Borough is offering the boat for free to any “government entity” that wants it. Guess who is in “very preliminary discussions”?

“We think a ship like that could provide us with a versatile public safety asset for emergency response, mainly to Catalina Island, where the ability to move people and equipment and firefighting apparatus is currently a challenge,” said Ryan Alsop, Los Angeles County assistant chief executive officer.

I wonder; if it didn’t work for suburban Anchorage (which apparently needs a $750 million bridge), is it going to work out for Catalina Island?