Archive for April, 2010

April 30, 2010

oil spill actually a leak, or “drainage”

image112 Maritime Monday 211Deepwater Horizon

So what happens if an active oil rig blows up and sinks? And the well-head isn’t capped off? It turns out oil continues to rise to the surface of the sea and feed a perpetual fire there. Yikes.

Deepwater Horizon story still unspooling. State of emergency declared in Louisiana, oil pool broadening uncontrolled, nearing coast. Not obvious what anyone can do right now…

April 29, 2010

de zuipschuit: the demon drink and the second East Indies voyage

De terugkomst in Amsterdam van de tweede expeditie naar Oost-Indië, 1599

de zuipschuit

Apropos of nothing: The apotheosis of V&D, Leiden.

April 28, 2010

Rorotoko: interviews with scholars about their books

Does what it says on the can. The list of authors is intriguing, too: for my own topics, Miles Ogborn on global lives (1550-1800), Nancy Um on the merchant houses of Mocha, and somewhat more distantly Ian Almond on the long history of Islam in Europe.

Of more general interest: Eric Ames on the 19th century primitives-and-animals exhibit (a sibling to the circus and the theme park), Peter Wilson on the 30 years war, Charlie Hailey on camps: from festival- to disaster relief- to man- (which might be an interesting meditation on the sociology of gathering and gesellschaft or might be vague waffling in roadside mud, I’ll have to read it to find out), what looks like a paranoid conspiracy theory rant by Jan Birksted on the occult significance of le Corbusier, and a challenge to a thesis of which I knew nothing: Thomas Bisson on the crisis (not renaissance) of 12th century Europe and the difficulties of running a small barony instead of a big kingdom. Curious.

April 24, 2010

stories lurking in DAS

So in 1794s VOC ships were being captured left and right by one or another player in the Napoleonic wars. Up to December 93 the record of arrivals at destination was almost perfect, but beginning with the Faam (a packet of 136 tons) Company communications with Batavia were badly crimped. Out of 22 ships sent out only 13 reached their destinations, and 4 of those were subsequently captured at the Cape or Ceylon by the English.

And yet Dutch ships still called at English ports. The packet Kraai and the 500 ton ship Resolutie sailed into Portsmouth on 9 September 94 and sailed out again 2 days later. The Nieuwland was not so lucky: it called at Plymouth on 10 January 1795, was embargoed and eventually confiscated, while the Oosthuizen, having called at the Scillies on the 28th of December, 1794, was confiscated in December 1795 (without ay indication of what it had been doing in the interim.

Strangest of all, though, is the Zorg, a 900 to pink and penultimate entry in DAS, sailing for the Zeeland chamber out of Texel, with a crew of 99 and 52 soldier-passengers. The Zorg put in at Plymouth on Boxing Day, 1794 and stayed over 10 months until 4 November, 1795. “Three days after the departure from Plymouth the ship ran aground off Boulone and was wrecked.” (DAS II, 765)

Now you might run aground off Boulogne if you were trying to get back to the Netherlands and didn’t know what you were doing: Boulogne’s pretty much at the mouth of the bit where the channel narrows to 22 miles or so between Dover and Calais, and is only 30 miles from its opposite point in the UK, Folkestone. But it’s not that likely. I wonder what that ship was up to. And who was sailing it. And where its original crew were.

April 22, 2010

Turmoil and Tranquility: site of an NMM show on Dutch maritime painting full of gems

“Gallery” site allows access to large number of images. Especially valuable: grisaille of the port of Surat, Dutch ships in a gale (that appears to support Goedde’s thesis that these are allegorical paintings of maintaining control in a stormy world), merchantman attacked by an English privateer off La Rochelle, a Battle of Gibraltar, 1607 by Van Wieringen, from 1619, a French ship attacked by Barbary pirates, 1615, and ships trading in the East, sometime during the 12 years’ truce, and 2 VOC ships coming to anchor. Best of all The wreck of the Amsterdam (prob. of 1597). Check for others.

April 22, 2010

women and children first

from a review on History Cooperative (Journal of American History 96.1, June 2009):

In January 1852 the Birkenhead sailed for South Africa, carrying soldiers and some families. On February 26 the ship struck an uncharted rock just off the South African coast and joined many other sunken ships around the peninsula aptly named Danger Point. …The lifeboats on the Birkenhead were inadequate, and the soldiers were ordered to stand fast until their families had been evacuated. All the women and children (some 20 or so) survived, but 454 of the 600 military personnel either drowned or were eaten by the great white sharks that infested the sea off Danger Point. The courage and discipline of the soldiers was celebrated by Thomas Hemy’s 1892 painting The Wreck of the Birkenhead; recorded as “Birken’ead drill” in the 1896 Rudyard Kipling poem “Soldier an’ Sailor Too”; and in 1917 exalted by King George V as “the splendid tradition of the Birkenhead, ever cherished in the annals of the British Army” (“The Birkenhead Tradition,” London Times, March 29, 1917, p. 7)

from Women and Children First: Nineteenth-Century Sea Narratives and American Identity. By Robin Miskolcze. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007. xxiv, 220 pp. $45.00, ISBN 978-0-8032-3258-7.)The View from the Masthead: Maritime Imagination and Antebellum American Sea Narratives. By Hester Blum. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008. xiv, 271 pp. Cloth, $59.95, ISBN 978-0-8078-3169-4. Paper, $22.95, ISBN 978-0-8078-5855-4.)

seems to suggest that the famous cry dates from 1852. There had to be some start date, I guess.

April 20, 2010

Architectural history of mountains

This is about as far from the sea as you can get: when Viollet-le-Duc wasn’t rewriting the medieval French past, he was trying to understand Mont Blanc as a massive crystal formation or similar.

Through the sand glass has a bit more. The obsessive study of the massif has its own bizarre poetry.

I am frustrated by my inability to adjust this wordpress theme to shorten the header. Big wasteful white stripe, you are my whale.

April 20, 2010

Tous les bateaux du monde

On now at Musee de la Marine, Paris

virtual exhibition here (nicely done). Organised by Eric Reith, with some consultation from Pierre-Yves Manguin.

April 19, 2010

Would-be sovereigns of the seas

Cruise ship The World offers ultimate retirement home.

Ocean University hopes to repeat the success of The Scholar Ship. Not to be confused with Ocean Univerity of China.

The Seasteading Institute doesn’t aim to travel anywhere, it just wants to get away from all the filthy tax-grubbing landlubbers.

MS Sovereign, formerly one of Royal Caribbean International’s cruise ships, shows what ventures like The World ultimately model themselves on. Oasis of the Seas, with 6296 passengers and a strangely recursively watery name, far exceeds it. The extent of Royal Caribbean’s fleet is staggering: The Oasis class is the world’s largest class of passenger ships, and RCI has 2. It took the title from RCI’s own Freedom class (3 members, and fourth being built, 3634 passengers). Then there’s Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 (which is a liner, something rather different. 3056 passengers), then 5 Voyager class vessels (3114 passengers), 4 Radiance class (2500 passengers), 6 Vision class (2074 passengers, 2 of the ships having on-board golf courses), 3 Sovereign class (including the Sovereign itself, which has officially been expelled from the class following its shift to Pullmantur, a Spanish subsidiary of RCI, 2700 passengers), and the Empress (1850 passengers), operated, like the Sovereign, by Pullmantur.

Including Pullmantur passengers, I count a total fleet capacity of 71,458 holidaymakers. Since (I am told) cruise ships generally carry at least one staff member per passenger, that means they should have at least that many staff at sea.

They have sold 5 more ships to other seaborne entertainment and tourism companies.

April 13, 2010

what I should have done instead: landscapes of ugliness and dissuasion

With enormous and heartfelt thanks to [info]cdkExcerpts from Expert Judgment on Markers to Deter Inadvertent Human Intrusion into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Sandia National Laboratories report.

The place should not suggest shelter, protection or nurture…it should suggest that it is not a place for dwelling, nor for farming or husbandry.

We decided against simple “Keep Out” messages with scary faces. Museums and private collections abound with such guardian figures removed from burial sites. These earlier warning messages did not work because the intruder knew that the burial goods were valuable. We did decide to include faces portraying horror and sickness

This is what I should have done my PhD on: landscapes that are deliberately made forbidding and ugly. Amazing. The whole thing is worth reading. I find the suggestions for actual interventions in the landscape curiously attractive, though, like perverted Richard Long works.

The heat of this black slab will generate substantial thermal movement. It should have thick expansion joints in a pattern that is irregular, like a crazy-quilt, like the cracks in parched land. And the surface of the slab should undulate so as to shed sand in patterns in the direction of the wind.
That could be Walter de Maria talking.
concrete thorns (in Landscape of Thorns), and zig-zag earthworks emanating from the Keep (in Menacing Earthworks). The shapes suggest danger to the body…wounding forms, like thorns and spikes, even lightning. They seem active, in motion out and up, moving in various directions. They are irregular or non-repetitive in their shape, location and direction. They seem not controlled, somewhat chaotic

Tell me you wouldn’t go to see that in an art exhibit. Expressionist Caligari meets land art. The pictures are fabulous, too. They should totally build it, in Buffalo.