sailing the NorSea


WEEK 16 2010

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First Post, 17 March 2002
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Two Years Ago, This Week, 2008
One Year Ago, This Week, 2009

Saturday 24 April 2010
Saturday - keeping busy, doing chores. I replaced the bad tire on the lawn tractor - I'd bought it (the new tire) a few weeks ago, and took it over to the Tim Wells tire store on Sierra Highway, where three young guys with big specialized tools were able to put it on in ten minutes or so. Glad I didn't try to do it at home with a couple of screwdrivers. And they did it for only $5.

That was supposed to be the hard fix. The easy fix was to get new blades from Sears, using the serial number from the tractor. And...they don't fit. About an inch too long. The manual says 21", the computer says 21" - but the old blades were about 20" and the new ones hit the sides of the mower deck when hand spun.

The guy at Sears suggested I grind the ends down. A half inch of steel ground off four times, that'd take a while and there wouldn't be much grinding wheel left. I could just sharpen the old blades, but they are in rather poor shape, paper thin and cracked at the end.

My nefarious motive for fixing up the old lawn tractor is that the teenage boy will be more willing to mow the lawn if he gets to drive :-)

Book #25 was Iorich, by Steven Brust. This is the dozenth or so of a series set in a fantasy world. The protagonist is Vlad Taltos, a (retired) assassin, and the title of each book reflects his interaction with one of the clans of the Draegarean society he lives in. These are well written, fun, light & easy to read books. This book centers about a plot by the Jhereg (read Mafia) to enhance their power and profits by convincing the goverment to make mind altering drugs illegal. The Iorich of the title are a clan of lawyers.


Quote of the day: "I know you’re not supposed to anthropomorphise computers because they don’t like it."

Friday 23 April 2010
Friday - the USS Oregon's fate was a sad one. She became a museum ship, popular and well kept up, in the state of Oregon. When WW2 was declared the governor of the state offered her back to the Navy for service. The Navy accepted...then decided to scrap her.

The Navy scrapping a museum ship of this quality...unforgiveable.

She actually fought in the Spanish-American War in 1898, sailing just as fast - around Cape Horn - as a coal powered ship - determined not to miss the fight - could go!

    Clearing the Golden Gate on March 19, 1898, the Oregon proceeded on a voyage of 13,675 nautical miles (15,737 statute miles) to Jupiter Inlet, Florida, arriving on May 24, 1898. The sixty-six-day trip shattered previous records for ships of the Oregon's size. The obstacles that had to be overcome were substantial: the ship was shorthanded by sixty-seven deck crew and twenty-seven men in the engine room. The crew voluntarily limited their use of fresh water. Using sea water in the boilers would have impaired their efficiency, so the men made do with short rations of warm water from the ship's condensers, even when fire room temperatures rose to 150 degrees as they passed through the tropics. They were plagued with poor quality coal and fires in the coal bunkers caused by spontaneous combustion. Many tons of coal had to be dug out by hand, in terrible heat and foul air, to extinguish the fires. They stopped to take on coal at five ports, and forty-one hundred tons of coal was shoveled by hand into the fireboxes during the voyage.

Which reminded me of a page from Joshua Slocum's Sailing Alone Around the World:

I did not know that war with Spain had been declared, and that I might be liable, right there, to meet the enemy and be captured. Many had told me at Cape Town that, in their opinion, war was inevitable, and they said: "The Spaniard will get you! The Spaniard will get you!" To all this I could only say that, even so, he would not get much. Even in the fever-heat over the disaster to the Maine I did not think there would be war; but I am no politician. Indeed, I had hardly given the matter a serious thought when, on the 14th of May, just north of the equator, and near the longitude of the river Amazon, I saw first a mast, with the Stars and Stripes floating from it, rising astern as if poked up out of the sea, and then rapidly appearing on the horizon, like a citadel, the Oregon! As she came near I saw that the great ship was flying the signals "C B T," which read, "Are there any men-of-war about?" Right under these flags, and larger than the Spray's mainsail, so it appeared, was the yellowest Spanish flag I ever saw. It gave me nightmare some time after when I reflected on it in my dreams.

[Spray passed by the Oregon]

I did not make out the Oregon's signals till she passed ahead, where I could read them better, for she was two miles away, and I had no binoculars. When I had read her flags I hoisted the signal "No," for I had not seen any Spanish men-of-war; I had not been looking for any. My final signal, "Let us keep together for mutual protection," Captain Clark did not seem to regard as necessary. Perhaps my small flags were not made out; anyhow, the Oregon steamed on with a rush, looking for Spanish men-of-war, as I learned afterward. The Oregon's great flag was dipped beautifully three times to the Spray's lowered flag as she passed on. Both had crossed the line only a few hours before. I pondered long that night over the probability of a war risk now coming upon the Spray after she had cleared all, or nearly all, the dangers of the sea, but finally a strong hope mastered my fears.

Did it happen that way? Slocum was not above a bit of embroidering of his story - serialized in the American media as he sailed, it payed his way. And he often protrayed himself as as a timid sort, a picture a bit at odds with a man performing the first solo cirumnavigation of the globe.

More than likely he actually shook his fist and said "Go get 'em boys!"

Referring back to thoughts on Book #24 Sieze the Fire; this again wasn't a nearly even battle between industrial nations - Spains navy was antiquated and underequipped. The naval battle was about as lopsided as they get.

Thursday 22 April 2010

Thursday - not much to say, pretty tired still. My friend Tim managed to complete the last few tasks and get the project turned in on time - yay Tim!

So, I'm browsing through mystery bookmarks on my computer. You know, you bookmark something, then forget what and why you did it. After a while you have dozens, hundreds even. Anyway, this particular link turned out to be the Library of Congress photo archive.

I bookmarked it when I was looking for...oh wait...that's another post. I need to save that one for a rainy day.


That page had a link to the Stereograph Page, which is kind of cool with lots of neat stuff, but they also had featured  "Mystery Stereographs" - and who can resist a mystery? Particulary a mystery battleship?

Mystery Stereograph Battleship
Mystery Battleship Stereograph

So, clearly, it was a pre-Dreadnought battleship or heavy cruiser, and, presumably, American, this being the American Library of Congress. A quick Google Search brought up, and information on the Indiana Class, the first American battleships. It was clearly the BB-1 Indiana herself, or BB-2 Massachusetts, or BB-3 Oregon. But which? They were sister ships.

I downloaded and zoomed in on the 39MB TIFF stereograph, but still couldn't find any clearly distinguishing items. So, via Wikipedia (& external links from it) I started looking at the individual vessels. With BB-3, Oregon, I struck paydirt in an external linked page of the Oregon Historical Quarterly; on the battleship USS Oregon. There was this picture:

Oregon, BB-3
BB-3, USS Oregon, as a Museum ship in 1942.

And, zooming in on the Starboard stern quarter of a linked larger photo:

You can just see that her name is there on the port stern quarter as well.

From the LOC sterograph TIFF, zoomed in to the port stern quarter:

BB-3 stern quarter, with name
BB-3, Oregon.

Case solved. I'd seem the lettering orginally, but they were too blurry to resolve without knowing what they were - they could have been ventilation ports or something.

I let the United States Library of Congress know. Glad to be of help.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Wednesday - home sweet home.  The cats are happy to see me. It's raining.

Tuesday 20 April 2010

Tuesday - still working. There is some more work, added at the last minute. I spent Sunday night at a hotel, and Monday night sleeping on my friend's couch, but this evening it's my own bed in Lancaster!

I have finally finished Book #24, Seize the Fire: Heroism, Duty, and the Battle of Trafalgar*, by Adam Nicolson. I had thought it a naval history of Trafalgar and Nelson, but it was more of a...I don't know. Kind of like somebody's English or Sociology thesis on the event and it's cultural links. Interesting, but rather florid and overwrought prose.

Actually I didn't quite finish - probably 10 minutes from the end of the last CD there is a scratch, and it wouldn't progress forward. Sheesh. I'll have to get a hard copy and read the last chapter.

The author was suggesting that the victory at Trafalgar gave the British a romantic view of battle that lasted through the First World War. Hmmm. I doubt it. A century of rather bloody colonialism succeeded this - I doubt a century old victory had all that much impact. Rather more to the point, other than the American Civil War there weren't many wars between evenly matched industrialized opponents.

Books This Year

#1 Sailing from Byzantium
#2 Wireless
#3 The Riddlemaster of Hed
#4 Heir of Sea and Fire
#5 Od Magic
#6 Storm From the Shadows
#7 Krakatoa
#8 The January Dancer
#9 The Forest of Time
#10 Over the Edge of the World
#11 Harpist In the Wind
#12 Destroyer of Worlds
#13 Unknown Quantity
#14 Transitions
#15 The God Engines
#16 The Garden of the Shaped,
#17 Shaper's Legacy
#18 Wizard's Bane
#19 The Wizardry Compiled
#20 The Wizardry Consulted,
#21 The Wizardry Quested
#22 The Wiz Biz
#23 Flinx Transcendent
#24 Seize the Fire
#25 Iorich

Monday 19 April 2010

Monday - working, 7am to 10pm. We are, almost, done. Helping to update the drawings with my primitive CAD skills, among other things. Our draftsman had a flight, out-of-county, that he couldn't put off.

Sunday 18 April_2010

Sunday - still working. We are, almost, done.

The marina management is apparently get worried that I'm an illegal live-aboard. Perhaps it is paranoia, but the last few mornings the security guard has just happened to be on my dock, out of the dozens of docks and hundreds of boats he could be watching; at the moment I come out and head up to the parking lot. Today he actually unlocked the gate for me as I walked up the ramp.

I don't think they'd kick me out without a warning - times are bad and there seem to be empty slips - but do I want to get them to upgrade me to a better (upwind and away from the apartments) slip. So I'll have to knock off the boat life for a few days.

Picture of the Week
seagull in flight

Photo NotesA seagull in flight.

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