Monday, September 21, 2009

Sep 21, Astoria: Ships, bananas, raccoons

The Hickson, an ocean-going survey vessel home-ported in Astoria, Oregon It was gorgeous this morning, with wind on the river churning up whitecaps and cooling the air. We're supposed to have a warm day today (low 80s) and a hot day tomorrow (88 degrees). Anyway, it was wonderful out when I took this photo. It's always interesting to find out what the various ships and boats are about that pass by here - there are so many, and they come in such variety. The boat in this photo is the Hickson, "Portland District's ocean going survey vessel home ported at Astoria, Oregon." It carries state-of-the-art equipment for surveying the bottom of rivers and bays along the Oregon coast i the "dynamically acrtive reaches of the navigation channels." You can read more details about it in this PDF file.

Choppy water, nice breeze.

This next ship is the Essayons. The lettering on it says, "Essayons, Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army."

It looks like it's fitted out to do some heavy-duty work. I guess it should, it's a dredge. Here's another photo of it from above. Interesting. It has a helipad at the back. Along with the Yaquina, it's one of two hopper dredges that keep the Columbia River shipping channel open. On a web page that was updated in 2005, it says, "The Dredge Essayons is the latest dredge to be built for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Delivered to the Portland District in 1983, the Essayons helps to maintain the entrance bars and harbors on the coasts of California, Oregon, Hawaii and Alaska." It has a crew of 23, who work one week on and one week off. A lot of the operation of the ship (such as the engine room) is automated. Well, OK. I learned something :)

It was nice on the back deck last night, so I went out there with my camera, fiddling with the flash and nighttime exposure. It would help if I read about it, but I can't seem to learn much from the pamphlet that comes with the camera. I should really figure it out. It just seems so obtusely written. The spot of light under the catwalk is from a window of the pilots' building. The tide is way out, and that's probably mud, but it's close to where the water line was at the time.

Yes, there is something here. If you click on it, you'll see boards and an old tire in the mud. And a banana I dropped. I'm glad it wasn't my cell phone. I think about that a lot when I'm standing near a rail and talking. They used to have hand straps on phones, but no, now you can't get them that way. They're made slick and shiny and SLIPPERY. Why, I don't know. I'm surprised I haven't dropped mine more than I have. Knock on wood. I do try to be careful, but . . . you know? Things happen. Just try to find a case with a stap on it. Not happening.

I promise, the banana looked much better before I dropped it. And no, I didn't try to get it back. I hoped maybe the raccoons would come by and eat it. I hear them sometimes at low tide, and I've seen them on occasion. Apparenlty they dig for clams and dig worms out of the pilings. A couple of times lately after dark when the tide has been out, I've heard a wave crashing in, caused by the wake of the pilot boat or a ship maybe, and simultaneously the screeches of several surprised and angry raccoons. I wonder if I could see them at work if I got the right kind of light? Or would it require infra-red?

Here's the deck at night.

No comments: