My Life On the Water

Down To The Sea Again

It should be no surprise that my art tends to focus around maritime and coastal subjects(like pirates).  I have spent most of my life on or around the water.

Star Sailing in Japan; 1957 vintage

I learned to sail and pull an oar at seven years old, crewing in STAR and SNIPE and lifeboat races for my father.  Since then I have sailed on and skippered boats from fourteen to 100 feet; racing and cruise, power and sail.  I am one of the founding members of the “RESOLUTE SAILING FOUNDATION,” a non-profit organization that owns, operates and maintains a 44 foot, USCG passenger certified wooden yawl for the purpose of training youth in sail and maritime skills. I have assisted in building two wood/fiberglass powerboats and one steel sailing yacht.  As a young naval officer, I was the deck officer one of the largest US Navy ocean-going salvage tugs. (That part of…

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Yes I am a Pirate.

Got a little Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer or for that matter a little Becky
Thatcher in you?

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Marine Industry recognizes Breast Cancer Awareness

Pink stripe on big boat sends a big message
Great video. This vessel was designed by a friend of mine.

Sheila BordelonNEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — It’s Breast Cancer Awareness month, and everywhere you look, you’ll see a whole lot of pink, even in some unlikely places. Bordelon Marine in Houma makes offshore vessels and they wanted to raise awareness in their own way.


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Virtual travelling to harbors and ports around the world.

Interested in seeing what’s happening on the waterfronts around the world? I ran across this site of live webcams and videos of ports, harbors and cruise ships around the world. Enjoy a little virtual world travelling.

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Bertholf: Coast Guard Commandant or Reindeer Herdsman?

Hint: The first in class of the new National Security cutters bears his name. We’ll get to the answer in a bit, but, first the story.

In the late 19th century, several whaling ships became frozen and trapped in the ice at Point Barrow. This might not seem like a national emergency, but, it was a time when the country depended on the oil drawn from whales to heat homes in the winter. Without, this source of oil, it would be a hard winter for a great many citizens. A rescue attempt was made, but failed and most of the crew of the ships perished. The government decided this was not going to happen again. But—it did, with the same result.

A decision was made to transport reindeer north to remote sites and pay local citizens to care for and propagate the herd. The next time the whaling ships were stranded, the reindeer would be moved across the ice to the ships to provide food for the crews until the ice thawed in the spring and they could free their ships.

Well, of course, it happened again. In 1897, in fact, when Bertholf was assigned to the US Revenue Cutter Bear. usrc_bear_ice

The Bear was tasked to cross through the treacherous Bering Sea into the Arctic Circle and get the pre-positioned reindeer to the stranded whalers. The Bear was not an icebreaker and was stopped at the ice pack near Nelson Island. The Bear’s Captain put ashore three officers, including Bertholf, to retrieve the herd that the government had been supporting for this moment, and drive them overland to the stranded whalers—roughly 1500 miles. The caretaker of the herd, however, had other ideas and refused to give up the herd. To shorten the story, Bertholf did finally convince the caretaker to acquiesce. Because of the distance, the team required sled dogs. But because of the lack of trained dogs, Bertholf had to pull from many Inuit villages. Finally, after gathering sufficient transportation as well as collecting up the reindeer, the team reached the whalers in March of 1898. For this feat Bertholf and the rest of his team were awarded Congressional Gold Medals for their heroic efforts. Their expedition has been hailed as one of the most perilous rescue missions in maritime history.

In 1915 the “Act to Create the Coast Guard” was signed into law. Ellsworth Bertholf was appointed the first Commandant of the US Coast Guard.

So the answer to the question? Both

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HISTORY-Lest we are doomed to repeat it

Today I sent the following letter to the White House and the President

Dear Mr. President,

Today I found myself in a place that caused me to reflect on history in a way I had never known. Much to my surprise, it was a very emotional place for me. I was reminded of a time when Americans were still reeling from economic devastation-I was reminded how weary of war they were and how much they were clinging to isolationism. I was reminded of why and how we finally joined the fight-reminded that the Congress and the President did not engage the enemy until we were directly attacked by the Japanese and a madman had engulfed Europe.

Taking a line from the film, “Beyond all Boundaries”–How far do we have to go, what line do we have to cross to stop this evil? I do not know, but, Mr. President, it is time to take care of business. Mr. President, please do not allow our grandchildren and great grandchildren become the next “Greatest Generation.”

Ralph Duncan Lcdr, USN (ret)

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Wires Under the Ocean???

One could think that with communications satellites gumming up our space,  laying cable across the ocean might be out of date.  Not so my friend.

Samuel F. B. Morse, –remember him- you know, “Morse Code and all -experimented with the first cable between Castle Garden and Governors Island, in New York harbor, in 1842. But it was not until 1850 when the first submarine cable  in the world was laid, connecting Dover and Calais by telegraph.

Today I visited one of the largest cable laying companies in the world, TE SubCom out of Baltimore.  What I didn’t know about cable laying!! Met with their Director of Remote Underwater Vehicles and was treated to a fantastic tour of the Cable Ship Decisive.Tyco Decisive

Great fun. Always Learning something new.



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