Tuesday, April 30, 2013


One of my favorite shots from Saturday - nesting osprey on the platform on Canarsie Pol. I need to find a weekend when I can paddle out here on my own (or with a birder friend or two) with my Lumix and my zoom lens, but this was pretty good for the Optio! Click on the photo for detail

Eastbound Brants meet westbound 'yaks. Passing on two whistles, or was that two honks?

Monday, April 29, 2013

6 months ago - plus congratulations to PortSide NewYork

That was my last trip outside that day, 3 in the afternoon. The trees had begun to lash about by midmorning, when Sandy was still 200 miles away; by this time the storm was arriving. I only went because I had a cold and I suddenly realized that I'd run out of cold medicine -- I have asthma and if I don't keep myself on decongestants when I have a head cold the sniffles and coughs can turn into an attack. Needed to make sure that didn't happen on a day when it was getting to be a worse and worse idea to leave home if home was someplace safe. There's a drugstore on the next block over that was still open and after that I watched it from inside. 

My neighborhood did relatively well. We have these beautiful big old trees and a lot of those went down, causing damage where they hit cars or trees (and sadly one did kill a young local couple who took their dog out for a walk during the worst of it), but we're far enough inland that it would take a much worse storm to flood us. Midwood begins just inside the last evacuation zone. If we ever have a storm where we're asked to move I really hope that there's been enough advance notice that I can go stay someplace further inland. Like maybe Michigan. That's not one I really want to be here for. For Sandy, there was a lot of cleanup but nothing like that that faced residents of lower-lying areas. Sebago Canoe Club actually did pretty well too, we did get flooded but we have a lot of professional contractors among the membership and they were absolute troopers about taking care of the stuff that required real knowledge to fix (wiring, drywall, etc), and then the stuff that just took a lot of willing hands (cleaning out the containers, moving boats and racks and walkways and stuff back to where they'd started) was taken care of with a couple of workdays that may have had the highest attendance in club history. Or at least it seemed like there were an awful lot of us there.

Long story short - I felt very lucky after that storm. I'm still grateful.

You still see damage all over in areas closer to the shoreline, but there's been progress too - and the main reason that I'm tossing this up on my lunch break is because I wanted to join the Old Salt Blogger and others in saying "Congratulations" to Carolina Salguero and company at PortSide NewYork, winners of a 2013 White House Champions of Change award for their work in helping their Red Hook neighbors rebuild. The link goes to a very nice post by Rick, I couldn't say it any better!  

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Opening Day at Sebago Canoe Club, 4/27/2013

From Sebago Canoe Club Opening Day 2013 - 4/27/2013

We had spectacular weather, we had paddlers, rowers, and sailors, it was a great day. Click on the link for more pictures.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Work day at Sebago, 4/20/2013

Been meaning to put these up - getting ready for the season at the Sebago Canoe Club, last Saturday. It's Opening Day at the club today!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Lifejackets save lives

Amazing story floating around teh intertubes this week about a brother and sister who were fishing on a boat that sank and happily lived to tell the tale. The headlines call it a miracle and they were really lucky -- but some of their luck was that they'd chosen a boat where the captain had lifejackets on hand and accessible in case of emergency, and then they also made their own luck by doing a mind-blowing job of staying calm. Lifejackets save lives. So does not panicking. Read all about it!

Oh, and as long as I'm talking boating safety - don't forget that here in the northeast, the air's warming up but the water's still cold. Lovely time of year to start the boating season but also potentially treacherous - if you're going to go, there's stuff you should know. I've got a bunch of favorite cold-water safety sites over in the "Off-Season/Cold Water Boating links" in the sidebar to the right that are all good reading (although the last one is actually mine, something I wrote once when a friend who's an actual reporter saw an opportunity to get some cold-water safety info in the press - we jumped at it and it worked).  

And don't forget, if you are out in New York State waters in ANY recreational craft of 21 feet or less here in New York, state law requires that you wear a lifejacket up through May 1st. It's a good law, too - nobody ever plans to fall in, but if they do at this time of year, having that lifejacket on could very well make the difference between a funny story and a sad one. Let's go with funny.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Good morning, good day!

Greetings from the hectic tail-end of budget season. Everybody sing along!

Good morning, good day, How are you this glorious day? 
Have you seen a lovelier morning? 
It's too nice a day, to be stuck inside of a cube 
We should all be getting our faces 

Wouldn't it be something if we all took off from work 
Leaving all our managers without a single clerk 
Why not have a picnic, I could bring TQ's preserves, 
Champagne might be nice with hot hors d'ouevres! 

Somewhat paraphrased from the opening number of the musical "She Loves Me", by Masteroff, Harnick and Bock, and a most excellent song to sing to yourself when it's a glorious day outside and you're stuck in a cubicle PowerPointing. Song starts at 0:59 if you don't want to listen to the whole overture. 


Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Earth Day!

Let the gardening begin!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Hang in there Boston...

remembered this lovely video, thought I would share it again.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pegasus's Progress

I've been posting updates on Facebook and somebody suggested a flip book. I had been collecting pictures of each stage and here's a slide show. May go and try to line up the boats a bit better sometime when I have time but this does sort of give the general idea.

It is actually coming along ok. Not bad for a finance analyst, at least!

I am gaining great respect for actual artists with my little foray on beyond doodle. Not that I didn't have it already but jeeze, this really takes some patience. I came pretty close to wrecking it earlier this week when I got too eager to do the portholes and the door before the deckhouse had had time to dry. More or less fixed but it was touch and go there for a while.

To be continued, of course. I'm having fun with it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


From the inimitable George Takei. I shared it on my wall with the comment: "This is true. As one who survived 9/11, I have some frightening memories - but mixed in with those is still amazement at all of the big and little courageous and helpful acts that happened. And not just from the people in the uniforms, but from people from all walks of life. That was happening in Boston today, suspect it's the same anywhere in the world."

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Brigantug! The Pegasus Gets A Refit

We had a lovely brief warm snap here this week, the temperatures were up in the low 80's on Monday, but things went back to normal yesterday and the cool air moving back in brought on a spectacularly stormy night - lightning, thunder, rain and hail. Good night for taxes, and with that task out of the way I decided to work on my Pegasus again. This business of not trying finish the entire thingummy in one go is something I picked up from Carol Lois Haywood, a wonderful California artist who like to show pictures showing what she calls "process", where she'll show photos of stages of things she's working on. I'm actually having a lot of fun NOT rushing through this and working on one piece at a time. Turns out you can make things look better that way. Who knew, right? :D

Last night I went to work on the details of the hull. I'd filled it in in black one night last week when I got home pretty late but still felt like doing a little work on it, that didn't take long so I'd actually tried to start on one of those three raised strips that run the length of the hull, but I got off to a bad start and decided I should call it a night (I was at least able to repair the damage). Last night I got back to those, proceeded with a lighter touch that worked much better, got them looking OK, did some shading, gave the puddenings (the big rope fenders) some lines to hang from and finished off with water, first the little spout that's coming out of the side of the boat and then the surface (more bubbles! more bubbles!). I was pretty happy with what I'd done and decided to share the progress on Facebook, where it met with an enthusiastic round of "likes".

My favorite response of the entire day, though, was waiting in Messages when I got back from a noon meeting. It was from a paddling friend who happens to be a graphic designer by trade (and a really good one, too, check out his website - you may not know his name but unless you're that hermit guy they just arrested for camp burglaries in Maine, you've almost certainly seen some of his work).

The message read:

Here. We're done. Now can we go kayaking?
Nice painting.  

And then I opened the attachment and nearly fell off of my chair laughing. Faaaaantastic! 

Updating on 4/12 - Copying in a comment that I made because I realized it would actually add some interesting real info to this flight of sail-conversion fancy:

The timing on this one was actually really funny because the night before I got it, I'd been hoping to go to a presentation called "Sailing Ships At Work - Past Present and Future". Rick Spilman, the Old Salt Blogger, was one of the presenters,
<>sounds like it was a good evening. I couldn't make it in the end but Michael's conversion of the Pegasus came in while I was still thinking about that. Wind power is actually being seriously revisited these days, I wish I could have gone to the presentation.

There's also a great Tugster post in honor of the presentation, incorporating photos Will had done of a Mast Brothers Chocolate cacao delivery by schooner and a lot of other info - <>click here for that.

What really cracks me up is what a really sort of decent-looking tall ship the Pegasus's hull would make. She does have very nice lines though, one of my strongest recollections of a very interesting talk on the restoration of the Pegasus given by Capt. Pam gave once at the Waterfront Museum was when she started showing slides of the original designs and pointing out the beautiful curves of the hull (you can see some of those pictures on the restoration log.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

USS Thresher - gone 50 years

Note: I'd originally posted this thinking that the anniversary was the 9th. The title on links still reflects that but the actual date was 50 years ago today. 4/10/1963.

It was 80 degrees yesterday, but I got a chill when I signed onto Facebook in the afternoon. Rick Spilman had posted a link to his wonderful Old Salt Blog.

The post was in honor of the USS Thresher on the day before the 50th anniversary of her loss with all hands

My father had wanted to be on that boat. My mother was a bride of less than a year (we celebrated their golden anniversary last fall). My sister was negative two years old. I was negative four.

My father was a career Navy man. He had first joined the Naval ROTC to get a scholarship at Cornell. The money came with a requirement to serve a certain number of years, nothing excessive, but as an extremely bright chemical engineer, my dad qualified for the Navy's still very new nuclear submarine program, headed by the legendary Hyman G. Rickover.

It was an exciting program to be part of. My dad doesn't have any good Rickover stories himself (his theory is that it was mostly the Anapolis grads that the vice-admiral liked to unsettle, especially in the initial interviews that Rickover had with all aspirants to the program - Rickover had a frequently contentious relationship with the Navy's top brass and may have been testing the Anapolis grads for the bureaucratic attitudes he'd had to fight so much, while graduates of civilian institutions were less suspect), but I think one of my favorite Thanksgivings in recent years was when my folks and I went up to Mystic, CT, and had dinner with very old friends of the family, another retired submariner and his wife. The two retired sub captains got to reminiscing and I think even my mom and Mrs. F were hearing stories they hadn't heard before. I just wish I'd taken notes. We listeners were all in agreement that my dad and Capt. F could write a book if they wanted to, but that's just not likely to happen, neither of them have a drop of publicity-hound blood in their veins.

Anyways - it was a great time to be in a great branch of the Navy, my folks found they liked it and they ended up staying in for good.

Submarines were going
 through a massive change. The submarines of the first half of the twentieth century looked very much like scaled-down surface ships, and in fact spent much of their time there, seeking the depths to hide and to hunt. In the fifties, they began a rapid evolution into something much more specialized, suited to extended underwater operations. The reshaping of the hull into something more fishlike was successfully carried out in a boat named the Albacore, launched in 1953. The very first nuclear submarine, the Nautilus, was launched in 1954. In 1959, the Skipjack was launched, that being the first sub to combine the fish-shaped hull and the nuclear power plant (and I think that was the boat that my father was serving on when my big sister was born in 1965).

These were all fine boats, but the Thresher was the boat that everyone wanted as the 50's gave way to the 60's (her keel was laid in 1959, she was launched in 1960 and commissioned in 1961).  The lead boat in a new class that pulled together all of the research that had been done on the earlier subs, she was designed to be faster, quieter, harder to detect, more comfortable to live aboard, and the deepest-diving sub ever made.

My father was a fine and well-respected young officer, one of the best of the best (Rickover wouldn't take less for his boats), but he still didn't quite make the Thresher. He didn't miss by a lot - I think he was something like eighth on the list of those who missed the cut.

Sometimes it's best to not get what you want. I wouldn't be telling you this story if he had.

My baby cup. Navy-style, late 60's. "Wardroom Henry Clay". The Henry Clay was my dad's boat when I was born.

I wouldn't know, of course. That's the part that's really strange to consider. It wouldn't have been me carrying any of the grief - I would've either just not happened, or maybe I would've been someone else - who knows? It was those older than my sister and I who would have had to carry the grief - the wives, the children who were old enough to understand, the families and friends and colleagues of the lost crew.

As it was, my folks say that it was a terrible time for the submarine force, which was and still is a very close-knit community. Everyone knew someone, everyone mourned.

Here's to the memory of those who were lost. And here's to those who responded by saying that that could never happen again -- thanks to the efforts of the safety programs that were developed and put in place after the tragedy, I don't think we ever really worried when we sent my dad off to sea for three months at a time.

We missed him of course, but we always knew that the boat would keep him and his crewmates safe and bring them home again.


Well. That ended up being much more of a tale than I'd envisioned telling when I sat down to write tonight. Certainly a lot of the story is mine, but there would have been a whole lot more vagueness about the details of what was going on in submarines at the time without the information I found on some excellent websites. The timeline of the early development of the modern nuclear submarine is paraphrased from Submarine-History.com. I refreshed some of my recollections of Rickover's career over on the Wikipedia article about him. History.navy.mil had a good brief history of the boat, plus a link to the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, which in turn gave a link to a set of documents collected by the Navy Department Library, including original brochures touting the advances the Thresher represented, which really gave me a better sense of the excitement that the submariners of my father's generation felt about the Thresher. All really worth a visit if you found this strange departure from my usual style to be at all interesting.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

80 degrees?

Let's pretend it's summer! 

Unfortunately there was no fresh basil at the greengrocer's, but she did at least have some beautiful ripe tomatoes to go with my Joe's Dairy mozzarella. 

Last Sebago Pool Session of the 2012-13 chlorine season!

Note - lots of fun pictures down below the verbiage!

By Sunday morning, TQ and I were back to our more habitual fun of kayaking! It would've been a bit on the gusty side outside, but guess what, it's always perfect in the pool, and with Sunday being the last session of the 2012-2013 pool season, we didn't want to miss it. That actually had a lot to do with the weird Friday baseball whim, with a good "yoga in a boat" session planned for Sunday I didn't feel like I really had to get out on the water on Saturday.

I'm very glad we made a few more pool sessions this year. We spent plenty of time in the pool during the winter of 2011-2012, but we were actually teaching basics, and between that and the winter being a very mild one, it was a little hard to talk ourselves into Sunday mornings at the pool, too. I'd also done something peculiar to my shoulder during the 2012 New Year's Day frostbite regatta - again, because it was so warm I did about 30 New Year's Day rolls instead of the usual half-dozen or so, which was just stupid - the first 29 were fine but I was getting a little lightheaded by the end (which is generally a good sign that you should stop) and the 30th went wrong, somehow I blew an offside roll, got flustered, went for the on-side without a proper setup and although I came up in one piece I pulled something in the shoulder area in the process. It wasn't bad enough to send me to a doctor but even after the actual soreness went away it didn't feel quite right for a long time. It left feeling a little timid about doing anything much more adventurous than basic sweep rolls (a very simple roll and the one that I actually do when I get knocked over in surf) over the summer. I'm not sure anyone I paddled with during the summer would have noticed that I was being more restrained than usual but I was, and I knew it. I did finally try a hand roll at Orient Point in August - I failed the roll but the shoulder didn't complain at all, which was nice. 
TQ and I had agreed that we didn't want to let another winter go by without some good practice, and the club's getting invited to go do a rolling demo at the Southern Connecticut Small Craft Symposium back in February was of course a BIG motivator in actually following through with that. Sure enough, a few sessions in warm clear water restored the fun factor nicely. I'm still missing a lot of the Greenland rolls I used to be able to do but the basics are re-solidified and guess what, my hand roll came back. Phew.
And of course I couldn't resist taking some pictures as clubmates got in their last hurrahs. A good end to pool season. Now all I have to do is remember to keep practicing once the water warms up in the bay, especially if I can't make it to the Hudson River Greenland Festival, which I suddenly decided on Sunday that I wanted to do but which may already by booked solid - gotta move fast for that one!

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Random Pitcher

Tired of my random pictures? Here, how about a random pitcher instead?

Lovely weekend and ordinarily TQ and I would've gone boating or hiking on Saturday, but I've been feeling a bit frazzled after meeting the usual string of March deadlines at work and as I was listening to all of the Opening Week chatter among the office sport fans, it suddenly hit me that I was really in the mood for a really low key day - boating this time of year is nice but still involves collecting an awful lot of crap. I checked ticket prices and then fired off an email to TQ - "Unusual question: You wanna do something whacky and go see a baseball game tomorr

Him being the one who's actually the Mets fan (I'm not a real baseball fan myself, although I do enjoy the occasional game, but TQ's been rooting for the Mets since high school -- anybody can be a Yankees fan, but it takes fortitude to be a Mets fan!), he was of course up for that.

It was a little bit weird, I'd envisioned sitting in the sunshine with a beer and a hotdog, but there was no sunshine the in Promenade Gold section (great view of the game, though, and the shade would be a plus in the summertime), and we ended up with hot dogs and coffee instead - coffee at a ball game just seems wrong but those cries of "Cold beer here!" aren't very appealing when you're all bundled up and regretting wearing a baseball cap instead of a wooly winter hat. Ended up being a good game, though - and I took the Lumix and the zoom lens and had a very good time taking pictures. Click here for more.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Coney Island Feb 2012

Coney Island Feb 2012 by bkfrogma
Coney Island Feb 2012, a photo by bkfrogma on Flickr.
Oops. Back to random pictures. Here's one from a walk on the boardwalk early last year.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

My lucky night!

Oh wow oh wow oh WOW. Am I ever glad I made it to that - aside from catching up with a lot of old friends, look what I brought home, without breaking the bank (in fact I didn't even put a noticeable ding in it)!!! Two of my favorite local tugs by two of my favorite local maritime artists, the Pegasus by Bowsprite, and the W.O. Decker by Frank Hanavan. I was doing a little happy dance all the way home. Well, at least in my head I was.  

Great night, and it also got me to come home and do a little more on my own attempt at painting the Pegasus. I'd started in on this last week with a sketch of a picture I'd taken after Capt. Pamela had invited me on a ride from Red Hook up to Pier 40 in Manhattan. The sketch came out OK. 

Then I spent the next two nights that I had to paint messing around with the water, then it was Easter weekend and we had a dog to take canoeing on Saturday and Easter dinner up in CT with TQ's folks on Sunday, no time for arts and crafts. 

Tonight I came home from the Tug Art Show in the mood to do a little more, so I added in the red stripe of bottom paint, plus puddenings and passengers. And I messed around with the water some more, but I suspect I will keep doing that every time I have time to work on this. Here's where things ended up. 

To be continued. 

Tug doodle

Tug art on the brain! Did this yesterday while processing invoices (I had a whole bunch come in at the same time & there's a moment after you hit "Approve" that the system pauses while it decides whether it really wants to let you or not). Came out kind of cute. See yesterday's post for why I have tug art on the brain. Hoping to make it to the Ear tonight!" 

Monday, April 01, 2013

Tug Art Sale for the Pegasus - Tuesday 4/2/2013 at the Ear

Just the quickest of posts here, this one totally snuck up on me - tomorrow night there's going to be a fun benefit for the Tug Pegasus - an art sale at the oh-so-salty Ear Inn (actually the gallery upstairs). Entry starts at $50.00 but it's to support the Tug Pegasus Preservation Project, one of my favorite local waterfront not-for-profit groups. Click here for full details on the sale and the group!

Duke, official boat's dog (and oh-so-handsome winner of the Best Mascot contest at the 2012 Great North River Tugboat Race and Competition) says "Support my boat - and don't let Capt. Pam forget the doggy bag, OK?"