Sea-Fever blog


Ice Boating Championships: Always On Thin Ice by Peter A. Mello
February 11, 2010, 12:03 pm
Filed under: sailing | Tags: ,

You thought that organizing the America’s Cup is challenging. From this article in the Wall Street Journal, it seems that ice boat racing has many more obstacles but none of the lawsuits. These guys travel a whole lot faster, up to 100 MPH, and, man, they are accepting and adaptable to changing conditions. Interesting read and cool slideshow.



A ship designed to knock those “condescending, supercilious bastards” down a peg by Peter A. Mello

Jesse Pesta wrote a great piece on the SS United States for the front page of today’s Wall Street Journal. Fans of World’s Fastest Ocean Liner Put Out a Distress Call Sept. 29, 2009) (free content) There’s a great nostalgic slideshow which includes the below photo of the author onboard at 2 years old.

Wall St. Journal article author Jesse Pesta onboard the SS United States at 2 years old. Courtesy of Jesse Pesta via the Wall Street Journal

The quote in the title of this post comes from the naval architect, William Francis Gibbs, a very interesting character who prided himself in beating his British counterparts in designing the fastest ship in the world. In fact, this was more a matter of national than personal pride during the post World War II technology boom. That’s him in the below photo watching his ship leave NY harbor.

Naval Architect William F. Gibbs watching the S UNited States in NYC. courtesy Susan Gibbs via the Wall Street Journal

If you’ve read Mr. Pesta’s article in the Wall Street Journal and you’re still not convinced that this grand old ship should be saved to preserve an important piece of America’s maritime heritage history, please watch this trailer for the PBS documentary by Big Ship Films, Lady in Waiting.

Here’s another promo for the documentary that has some different footage and is worth watching.

Wonder what it was like to sail the Atlantic on the SS United States? Here’s a home movie from the 1950’s (via ShipGeek):

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyI2ay1Mcww]
YouTube – SS United States Unknown Home Movies

Unfortunately, things look a little different now. Here’s a video from Phillip Buehler great Modern Ruins website where he rollerblades the Promenade Deck to music by the ship’s orchestra that he found on eBay. Make sure you check out all of the amazing then and now photos in the SS United States section of Modern Ruins.

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6gA7mHB6MA]
YouTube – Rollerblading on the SS United States Prominade Deck

This is a project of monstrous proportions.  We can only hope that this old grand dame does not end up on a beach to broken up somewhere far away. She deserves better than that.  Please raise awareness, spread the word and share this post with people you know who might care. Thanks.

Important links:

SS United States Conservancy (website / blog)

Coalition to Save the SS United States

Mike Alexander’s SS United States Site

The “SS United States Group” on Yahoo Groups



It’s Not Your Father’s Lobster Boat Race Anymore! by Peter A. Mello
August 25, 2009, 11:12 pm
Filed under: life, maritime | Tags: , , ,

Stevie Johnson's boat, "Sunbird," features a Pontiac convertible.

Robert Tomsho wrote a great front page article for today’s Wall Street Journal (August 25, 2009) titled In Maine, a Rivalry Boils Up On the Lobster-Boat Racing Circuit (free content). From above and the video belows, you can see things have changed.

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ioqv4yhsYZA]
YouTube – Crazy Boating in Maine

Here’s the current speed record holder. Now that’s an impressive powerplant.

Galen Alley's boat "Foolish Pleasure" set the speed record for Maine's lobster boat racing circuit earlier this summer—64.5 miles per hour.

Welcome aboard the Foolish Pleasure for wicked good, rip roaring ride.

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0DnPMvutSQ]
YouTube – 2009 pemaquid races



Maritime Art: J.M.W. Turner’s “Fighting Temeraire” by Peter A. Mello

J.M.W. Turner is, without a doubt, my favorite artist of any age. I’ve spent many a day over the years standing in front of one or another of his mysterious pieces in the Tate Gallery in London breathing in the incredible atmosphere he created in his paintings. I used one of his images, Whalers 1845, for the frontpage of the Sea-Fever Consulting LLC website.

Today, Mary Tompkins Lewis, an author and art history professor at Trinity College, wrote a great essay for the Masterpiece column of the Wall Street Journal about one of Turner’s most powerful paintings, Fighting Temeraire. (The Tale of the Temeraire: A Great Painting Tells of the Ship’s Final Passage)

J.M.W. Turner's Fighting Temeraire

Lewis writes:

Under a pale sliver of a moon at left and a sun that hovers on the horizon of a sanguine sky at right, Turner’s majestic Temeraire glides soundlessly on the river’s broad, glass-like expanse. Powerless now and pulled by a stalwart, steam-powered tug, an icon of the new technology that had replaced it, the hulking ship seems wraithlike, its image all but disappearing into the waters that capture so clearly the tug’s reflection. A second steamer emits its own sooty trail in the background, and smaller sailing ships recede into the middle distance. Fog- and smoke-shrouded factories or storehouses appear on shore at right, and a skiff with tiny figures and a shadowed buoy float in the shallows closer up. There is little to distract us, however, from the arresting vision of the Temeraire on its final voyage, and the ineffable sense that we are witnessing the end of an era, a stately passage from an age that had harnessed human valor to one of machine-driven power. Turner’s “Fighting Temeraire,” in fact, is a history painting of the highest caliber.

Please read Lewis’ entire essay.

In a poll held by the National Gallery and the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, members of the British public voted “Fighting Temeraire” as the Greatest Painting in Britain.

If you want to experience this masterpiece in person, stop by The National Gallery in London. If you can’t get there, check out the cool interactive 3-D gallery Tate Britian’s website which is chockful of Turner information.

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Wall Street Journal reviews “Down at the Docks” by Peter A. Mello

image

Bill Kauffman reviews Down at the Docks a new book by Rory Nugent about life on the New Bedford waterfront. (That Sinking Feeling – The last of the independent fishermen – and their troubles. – free content)

I haven’t read the book yet but plan on picking up a copy ASAP.  Regular Sea-Fever readers know that New Bedford is my homeport so I’ll be really interested to read Nugent’s take on things. From Kauffman’s review:

Mr. Nugent decries the regimentation of “ill-mannered watermen” who once did business by handshake and lived by codes that an outsider might appreciate but could never really understand. He and his dockmates prefer the yesterdays when “every fisherman was an independent cuss working alongside an independent cuss who happened to own a boat. It worked damn good for a hundred years.” Another of Mr. Nugent’s characters, the superannuated mob fixer Pink, worries that small-scale commercial fishing is going the way of whaling and that soon, in Mr. Nugent’s typically pungent paraphrase, “the docks will turn into some sort of Sturbridge Village by the Sea, sanitized and saltless, with college boys pretending to be deckhands and former pencil pushers posing as captains.”

If this is any indication it should be an interesting read.

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Pirates Invade Wall Street Journal! by Peter A. Mello
November 19, 2008, 1:34 pm
Filed under: maritime | Tags: ,

Chad Crowe for the Wall St. Journal

Today’s (Nov. 19, 2008) Wall Street Journal has three first section articles/editorials about modern day pirates which might indicate that mainstream media is finally beginning to understand the serious nature of this international waterborne form of terrorism. Hijack a supertanker full of oil valued at over $100 million and you’re bound to attract attention. 

On page 12, JOHN W. MILLER wrote Piracy Spurs Threats to Shipping Costs (free content) Accompanying this article you’ll  find a slideshow, video and interactive graphics that shed more light on the problem.

On page 20, OpinionReview & Outlook you’ll find an editorial titled Pirates Delight – Other thugs will come if we don’t punish the Somali pirates

On page 21 OpinionDAVID B. RIVKIN JR. and LEE A. CASEY, two Washington, D.C. lawyers who served in the Justice Department under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush wrote an editorial titled Pirates Exploit Confusion About International Law.

Additionally, JOSEPH SCHUMAN’S The Morning Brief (a look at the day’s biggest news which is emailed to subscribers by 7 a.m. every business day) dealt with the subject. Failed State: Pirate’s Life For Somalia, Shippers

image

Back in April 2008, I wrote a post titled Modern Day Pirates: No Kidding Matter. Unfortunately, the problem has gotten a lot worse since and there’s no immediate solution in sight.

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Global Shipping Has That Sinking Feeling by Peter A. Mello
October 28, 2008, 9:13 pm
Filed under: maritime, work | Tags: , , ,

Something Old, Something New

The financial crisis is creating some rough waters in the shipping industry.

Here’s what By CHUIN-WEI YAP and MOHAMMED HADI had to say in the Heard on the Street column (Credit Crunch Meets Global Trade, Oct. 29, 2008)

Evidence is mounting that the credit crunch is obstructing global trade.

The drumbeats began in August when two Korean ship builders canceled orders because buyers weren’t able to produce initial payments.

The beat got louder as the Baltic Dry Index of shipping rates plunged. It’s now down more than 90% from its mid-May peak.

Then the Globus Maritime shipping company said on Friday it had to sell one of its ships for 29% below an earlier agreed-upon price. Globus, which is listed on London’s AIM exchange, blamed falling shipping activity and increasing difficulties in securing trade finance.

Broadly, shipping and commodities markets are rife with talk that banks are refusing to honor letters of credit from other banks and holding back guarantees commodity buyers and sellers need to ship all manner of metals and soft commodities.

Spurring some of the chatter early this month were the widely disseminated, gloomy remarks of a Thai shipping executive at an industry conference in Singapore. His view — that credit was frozen — was echoed by Moody’s Economy.com, which last week said stocks were piling up as cargo ships got stranded at ports pending the flow of financing. A Maersk Broker report made similar points.

The near-cessation of global credit is at the root of this particular rout.

Also in today’s Wall Street Journal, MARSHALL ECKBLAD wrote an article titled Shippers Hit by Credit Crunch where in he describes the trickle down effect of tightening credit on global shippers. Continue reading



Management Gurus Are Human Too! by Peter A. Mello

wsj_logo In today’s (May 5, 2008 ) Wall Street Journal, Erin White wrote several interesting pieces about current business management thought leadership. New Breed of Business Guru Rises: Psychologists, CEOs Climb in Influence, Draw Hits, Big Fees and What Influential Business Thinkers Focus On: Top Guru’s Ponder Managers Worries, New Approaches. (subscription required)

Popular business thinkers can reap big rewards. Speakers’ bureaus say most of the top-echelon business speakers charge between $50,000 and $75,000 a pop. Among the most in-demand are “Good to Great” author Jim Collins, “Death by Meeting” author Patrick Lencioni, Dr. (Gary) Hamel, Harvard’s Prof. (Michael) Porter, and “Our Iceberg is Melting” author John Kotter, speakers’ bureaus say.

Fees are rising, notes Ron Christman, who runs executive-development workshops for nGenera Corp. and frequently hires gurus. Speakers “who five years ago might have been at 25[,000] are now at 50,” he says; less-prominent names can command $15,000. Throw in book royalties, and a top-ranked guru can reach at least $1 million a year.

Thomas H. Davenport, PhD and management professor at Babson College, compiled a ranking of influential business thinkers for the Wall Street Journal using the same methodology he used in his 2003 book, What’s the Big Idea? At the top of the 2008 list is Dr. Gary Hamel whose website is headlined by “Fortune magazine has labeled Gary Hamel “the world’s leading expert on business strategy” and The Economist calls him “the world’s reigning strategy guru.””

Unfortunately even gurus are not infallible. The first edition of Dr. Hamel’s 2000 book, Leading the Revolution “lionized” Enron Corp but thanks to some nifty editing, they were removed from subsequent printings. It’s not the first nor last time that this type of thing will happen. Seems gurus are human too, only just a little better paid.

For another view of influential business thinkers check out Thinkers 50 where Dr. Hamel currently ranks #5, up from #14 in 2005.

Cross posted in Center for Leader Development and Sea-Fever blogs.

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