Shipping News

Do you ever think about the thousands of ships sailing the sea? The visuals from these two small container ports — and a bit of the ocean in between them — are as interesting as the statistics about this hidden industry.

For example, did you know that there are over 100,000 ships plying the oceans of the world carrying nearly everything we consume — much of it in “boxes” or containers? While only 6,000 of those ships are container vessels, some of them are so large they can each carry up to 15,000 twenty foot containers, the equivalent of 746 million bananas!

With revenues of many billions of dollars, this industry is mostly hidden, international in scope, in some ways without nationality or rules, and a significant cause of particulate air pollution and pollution of the seas. You can read about these facts and more and gain your own impressions of modern day shipping in Ninety Percent of Everything, by Rose George. She says she hopes her book can help cure our “sea blindness.”

Whether you read the book or not, don’t be blind to the sea, and to the people who bring your stuff to you from the far corners of the earth. Shipping is an integral part of the modern, global economy.

Containers with Navigation Aid

Containers with Navigation Aid

Boxes of Stuff

Boxes of Stuff

Boxes On Board

Boxes On Board

Oil Delivery

Oil Delivery

Keeping Watch

Keeping Watch

Crane for Boxes

Crane for Boxes

Fender and Dock

Fender and Dock

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What the Sea Dragged In

Rusty Tank on the Shore

Rusty Tank -- 2010

Even when storms pass hundreds of miles away they can send large waves that leave surprises on the beach. The rusty tank above was most likely a fuel tank from a boat, washed away from one shore, and deposited here in front of the red fort in Frederiksted. The bold geometric blocks of color seemed to call attention to what the sea had left behind.

Rocks also seem to shape-shift and come and go from the shoreline, although in many cases they have not moved at all. It is the sand that is brought in by the waves for a while, and then carried away again, revealing the rocky remains underneath. The constant change is the only thing that really stays the same.

Living Rocks

Living Rocks -- 2010

By the Sea

Offshore reef at Boiler Bay

Offshore Reef -- 2010

Much of St. Croix is fringed by an offshore reef. On windy days or when there is a swell running large waves will crash on the reef. While the inshore waters remain relatively calm, the usual dark line at the horizon becomes snowy-white. On this afternoon some low clouds were drifting nearby, echoing the colors of the shallower water near shore.

Illusions can creep up while standing quietly on the shoreline. The lone palm tree in the image below dwarfed the few chairs and sunbathers on either side. When the sun ducked behind a cloud softening the shadows, the otherwise bald beach seemed a fairyland in blues.

Palm and sunbathers at Carambola

Fairyland in blues -- 2010

Carbon Seam and Palm Lights

Carbon Seam - 2009

Carbon Seam - 2009

The dead trunk of a palm plant washed up on the shore. At one end was the tangle of roots joined to the base of the trunk. At the other, the spiraled remains of where the living palm fronds had been attached subtly tailed off into fibrous strands. These two semi-abstracts are interpretations of each end of this single object that had washed ashore.

Palm Lights  - 2009

Palm Lights - 2009

Fish Lips

Fish for Dinner? -- 2009

Fish for Dinner? -- 2009

I saw these guys on ice in an open air market in New York last year, and finally got around to working with the image. I don’t know what kind of fish they are, but it’s clear they’d been giving the passers-by a lot of lip.

Tanker in waiting

Tanker in waiting - 2009

Tanker in waiting - 2009

The oil tankers often lurk offshore waiting for their turn at the spigot. This one was empty, riding high, eager for its fill. He chose the calm lee of the island, hovering there in the fading and hazy light of a cloudy evening.

The Baths at Wills Bay

The Baths at Wills Bay - 2009

The Baths at Wills Bay - 2009

The “baths” at remote Wills Bay on the northwest shore of St. Croix is essentially a large tidepool set among sharp jagged rocks. The water is clear and green and is refreshed periodically when a large ocean swell crashes into the rock barrier and splashes over into the pool. It’s a bit of a struggle to get there (unless you hire a jeep and guide), but is one of the magical spots on the island.

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