Hurricane Sandy aftermath

A ketch that broke free from its mooring in the Navesink River during Hurricane Sandy lies several miles upstream below a mansion in Middletown, NJ

I put my photo boat in the water yesterday to check out the damage to the local boats and marinas in the Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers.  The marina at the end of our street, Fair haven Yacht Works, got clobbered.  However, they actually got lucky, because the wind shifted at the peak of the storm and took the boats that had been floated off their jack stands and sent them across the river, instead of into the other boats in the marina.

Here is one shot from yesterday’s shoot.  The rest can be seen at http://www.H2Ophoto.co

Most of these were taken on the northern side of the Navesink River in Middletown, but also in Rumson, SeaBright and Highlands, NJ.  I tried to get boat names or hull numbers into the shots so boat owners can hopefully find their vessels.  If you recognize your boat and can’t tell where the boat is located, you can e-mail me at pimvanhemmen@me.com and I will tell you exactly where she is.

Let’s hope the insurance companies will come through for these boat and marina owners.

Up a creek behind a Mute Swan

While on an exercise/photo expedition in my kayak on the Navesink River this morning I re-learned some important lessons about wildlife:

1) Bring your longest lens.
2) Don’t bother trying to photograph Bufflehead right after duck hunting season ends (they’re very skittish).
3) Don’t follow a Mute Swan up a creek during breeding season
4) Make sure you know how to paddle really fast in reverse when following a Mute Swan up a dead end creek during breeding season.

I’ve always been aware that swans are powerful animals. I also know that they are capable of breaking a human limb. I also know that you don’t corner an animal. And I know that you want to be careful during breeding season.

You’d think I would have been more cautious.

I thought I was keeping a respectful distance from a pair of swans during my morning kayak.

Unfortunately, the cob (the male) thought I was too close, and as I took this photo, I realized he was beginning to busk (that’s when their neck goes into that beautiful curve and they start swelling up in size as they raise their wings like the swan boats in Boston’s Public Gardens).

Long story short, I ended up paddling for my life in reverse, and after I turned my kayak around in a wider part of the creek, he continued to pursue me. As a matter of fact, as I started going full speed in forward mode, he began to use the open water as a place to take off in full pursuit of me, which is an advanced stage of busking. When I saw how large he was and how quickly he was closing the gap I realized I would have to defend myself. Fortunately, as I began to turn the kayak’s bow back towards him so I could hopefully keep him at bay with my paddle, he returned to the water and slowed his pursuit. I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t a bit intimidated.

I wish I could have taken the shot of him taking off towards me, since it was a spectacular sight, but at that point, my life was more important than the photo.

My wife can be assured that I got my exercise this morning.

If you’d like to see more photos from the morning kayak you can see them here at my website H2Ophoto.co in the On The Navesink Gallery

Announcing IN EXTREMIS, a new project

I am very excited to announce a new project I will be working on for the next year.
It will be called, IN EXTREMIS.
As many of you know, I love ships.  I also love photography, and I also love a good cause.  With this project I will get to combine all three of these passions.
This project came about when I crossed paths with the SS United States as she lay at her berth across the parking lot from an IKEA, a Wendy’s and a Chick Filet. A not so glorious location, albeit, at least one where she can be seen by ordinary citizens like myself.
The SS United States was the Ship of State for the United States after World War II, and soon after its launch it broke the Transatlantic speed record for passenger vessels, which made it the winner of The Blue Riband of the North Atlantic.  It is a record she still holds.  This year will be the 60th anniversary of those record-breaking crossings (a vessel had to break the record both eastbound and westbound for it to be official).
Due to the jet age and the economics of the time, the SS United States went out of service in 1969 and since then she has been laid up.  She has passed through numerous hands, but currently she is on death row, or as they say in the maritime industry when a vessel is in grave danger, In Extremis.
Last year a Philadelphia businessman donated close to six million dollars to prevent the vessel from being turned into razor blades, which gave it a temporary stay of execution, but unless some investors are soon found, the vessel may be lost.
After I spotted her a few weeks ago, I approached the current owners and they gave me access to the vessel so I could photograph her.  You can see many of the photos on my new website, H2Ophoto.co.
The SS United States is a beautiful ship, even in its current state.  This effort is not meant to start a debate as to whether she should be saved.  Instead it is my hope that my photos will reach someone who wants to save her. Her current owners, the SS United States Conservancy do not plan to sail her again, but they want to preserve her by docking her in Manhattan and use her as a floating museum with restaurants, bars and other facilities.  They are looking for investors to accomplish that goal.  It will not be cheap to save her, but it would be impressive, and a sizable and significant nod to the past.  There are no other US ships like her.  Some will point to the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA, but she is a British ship. The SS America, which sailed for US Lines during the same period as the SS United States, met a sad fate on the shores of the Canary Islands in 1994.
 Even though there are still a number of US flagged cruise ships, there are no US liners from the transatlantic era other than the SS United States. She is the last one. If she is scrapped, there will be no do-overs.
Over the next 12 months I will be photographing other vessels, both large and small, passenger vessels, war vessels and pleasure ships.  All of them will be vessels in need of an assist from the public, the government, or an investor.  Some of these will be privately owned, some will be museum ships that are threatened with sinking or worst, and others may be little known ships that have already been forgotten, but still have a shred of hope that someone will save them.
I hope you will help spread the word about this ship and others I will be photographing in the next year.
I will be selling limited edition gallery prints of these photos and a portion of the proceeds will go to the organizations that are trying to save these ships. The sale of the photos will not raise enough money to save these vessels, but I hope that when people see the photos they will feel compelled to spread the word, donate to the cause or contact those who can save them.
If you know of any vessels you feel should be saved, please drop me an e-mail, and I will add them to the list of vessels I have under consideration for this project.
Stay tuned for next month’s vessel and please pass along the link to this post.

10 (to 17) Best Things About The Grenadines

I asked the 4 kids who accompanied us on our two week cruise of the Grenadines what the 10 best things were about the trip.  There were 3 common threads in the lists.  Not surprisingly animals and sweet drinks were in every list, but I was heartened to see that the kids all loved meeting the local people, and that the friendliness of the locals and making new friends ranked high every time.

Below is a compilation of their lists:

1) Looking at the stars through the open hatch of the cabin

2) Exploring the islands, especially the rainforests and waterfalls.

3) The monkeys

4) Swimming with the turtles in Tobago Cays

5) Making new friends with the native kids and the friendliness of the people in general

6) Keshoin’s guided tour on St. Vincent

7) Steering the sailboat

8) The hammocks in the tower at Dennis’ Hideaway on Mayreau (and the baby goats)

9) The AMAZING views

10) The Fruit Cocktails (Virgin Coladas for the kids).

11) Walter’s banana bread and croissants (see previous post about Walter the boat boy and the banana bread)

12) The local sodas ( a moratorium on soda was lifted for the duration of the trip)

13) Basil’s Bar on Mustique (ie that means the consumption of Virgin Coladas courtsey of Uncle Nabil)

14) Johnny’s tour of Mustique (where we saw Bryan Adams’ place and walked on Mick Jagger’s beach).

15) The piles of conch shells on Mustique behind the fishing village.

16) Christmas dinner on Petit St. Vincent

17) The beach barbeque in Chatham Bay on Union Island

 

In Defense of Boat Boys

Before going down to the  Grenadines I read a lot about the pushy behavior of the boat boys down there as they try to hawk their wares and/or services to bareboat charterers.

Let me just say this:  Nothing could be further from the truth.

The boat boys of the Grenadines turned out to be one of the highlights of our sailing trip (they are really boat men, since the majority are adults).

One boat boy in Mayreau refused to take money after helping us find an anchoring spot.  We paid him a small tip anyway, and later that night when we tried to get onto the dock in the dark in a huge swell he guided us to the safest spot and then proceeded to help everyone out of the dinghy while the incoming waves were wreaking havoc.  He stayed there until I returned later with the rest of our crew to do the same thing.

In Mayreau we also met Carlos and when we told him we did not need fish that night he left us alone.  A couple of days later in the Tobago Cays he spotted us looking for a mooring and helped us tie up.  This is not as easy as it sounds, since they do not provide pennants.  You usually have to back your stern up to the mooring since the ball is too far below your bow, get a line through the ball and then work the line forward to your bow.  Carlos made it easy by taking our lines and feeding them through the ball for us.  He also refused to take pay.

We asked Carlos if he had bread and other goods.  Carlos said he only had fish and he later returned later with a beautiful hunk of big eye tuna which he sliced into steaks right next to our boat.  I doubt I have ever had such a delicious piece of fish in my life.

Carlos also sent his friend Walter over for the bread and other goods we needed.

Both days in the Tobago Cays Walter delivered everything we needed at the exact time he said he would.  He sold us everything from Pain De Chocolat to  french bread, soda and even gasoline for our dinghy.  It was all done with a smile, good-natured banter and efficiency.  There was never a hard sell.

The biggest treat of all was probably Walter’s sister’s banana bread (without nuts so it wouldn’t kill our son).  The banana bread would die an early death every morning as our crew would devour it within minutes of delivery.

When we inquired about going to Petit Tabac by boat boy, because our dinghy was too small and the weather too rough to take us all to the island, Walter turned us onto Mandy Man.  Mandy Man (in the green shirt) drove us there in his colorful boat.

Again, good service for a fair price.  I am not saying it was cheap, but considering that we were having everything delivered to and from our boat without ever having to lift a finger, it was a good deal.

So, if you want to go sailing in the Grenadines, don’t let the boat boys scare you away.  They are actually part of the experience and for most of us they were among the highlights of our trip.

Welcome to Waterlogged

Waterlogged is a place to learn about great photography and videography, whether mine or people whose work I admire. I’ll share my photos and videos, my watery travels, my experiences, my techniques, the equipment I use, my impressions, things I find interesting and relevant, and anything important in the world of photography or our watery world.

Welcome and enjoy.

Pim