Sunday, June 27, 2010

port stop: seattle

It's about 4:25pm in Seattle right now. We arrived at port at about 10am after almost 4 hours of traveling throughan overcast but gorgeous Puget Sound to get to port. The first mate, Bjork, told me 2 days ago that during this sea voyage I'm fortunate to be visiting 2 of what are in his opinion the world's great ports: San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, and Hong Kong. If things go according to plan, I'll see Hong Kong too.

After snapping hundreds of shots of the ship docking and the start to a busy day of uploading and unloading massive containers for the crew late this morning, I headed downtown where I'm typing from a small, hip cafe called Cyber-Dogs at the moment.

All crew and me (the sole passenger) must be back on board by 12am before the Hanjin Yantian begins its long return through Puget Sound back to the Pacific beginning at 3am.

Most of the photographs I've taken have been in a format known as RAW. Consequently, some of my most exciting images are available to be be posted. In order to open RAW files, I'd need Photoshop which I don't have access to on the road. That will just have to wait until I return home. Despite this, below are just a few. The first 5 images were taken this morning as the ship berthed at the port, which is just blocks from both Safeco and Comast Stadiums. I've fallen in love with photographing the matchbox-like containers and the flurry of activity around them from the decks of the ship while berthed. It's so fun trying to capture their geometric beauty and simplicity. The remaining shots are from my walk through the city's famous, tourist-laden Pike Place Market. Its fishmonger stands are amazing to see. Fresh, huge salmon, crabs, shrimps, clams, and so much more. Incredible! The market's fruit and vegetable stands are impressive too.

The Hanjin Yantian has a crew of 23 plus myself. The ship is led by a German captain of about 60 years old who has sailed all over the globe. He's a real character: smokes a lot, bot belly, imperfect English, funny, but can curse and be intense when the ship is docking or leaving port. The rest of the officers and engineers are German. The first mate or 2nd in command after the captain is Bjork, who has turned into my go-to guy on board. He's probably in his low to mid thirties appears very fit and speaks very good English. His girlfriend is French. The rest of the crew (the so-called seamen) are Philippino. They're very warm and laid-back. Cool-guys.

The work on board is long and hard for the crew. A lot of it is solitary work. Meals (breakfast: 7-8am; lunch: 12-1:30pm; dinner: 5-7pm) and the occasional party seems to be important times for socializing. I was told that Saturday nights is generally a time for a party and karaoke but because it was the night before arriving at port that was canceled. Again, when it port, the degree of seriousness is acute. For the Philippinos especially, the prospect for earning more money at sea draws them. They can earn so much more on the freighter than they can back home. It's clear that it's difficult for them being away for blocks and blocks of months out the year, but it's what thousands and thousands have done.

My room is great. It's called a supercargo cabin, which is located on the ship's F-Deck two below the bridge, which I've visited several times thus far. The room is immaculately clean. I have several windows, my own bathroom/shower, a large bed, desk, chairs, sofa, and TV/DVD player. Th ship is large enough for each member of the ship to have his own room. Last night for the first time, I used the ship's fitness room which is equipped with a small sauna, stationary bike, elliptical bike, and free weights as well as a small pool that is filled with salt water when at sea (but it's too cold for me to go in).

I've started to read some of the many books that I brought abroad. Besides reading, I've spent the time aboard photographing, observing the crew performing their specific functions, and talking to them about themselves, the ship, and home.

Well, I've been typing for awhile now and need to get going. The Space Needle and a couple more attractions need to be explored before 12 midnight.

At the moment, I'm not sure of the ETA in Busan because we left Oakland a bit later than expected. It could be as early as July 6th or as late as July 12th. The captain should know the ETA when we leave Seattle this morning.

Hoping everyone is well. Miss you all!

Oh and before signing out, please let me acknowledge my good Vassar bud, Chris, who showed me a wonderful time last Monday evening in San Francisco. Of particular importance was this fantastic Chinese restaurant in the Richmond District where we enjoyed some kick-ass dim sum. Forgive me for the late shout out dude! :)


Comment Anonymous EFG said...

wow great photos and report. bet you will have many awesome photos of amazing bridges......can't wait to see.
bon voyage into the open Pacific stop Asia.

8:50 PM  
Comment Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's better! --Chris

11:13 PM  
Comment Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an incredible trip! I can't wait to see the photographs. You might see if you can open/edit the RAW photos in Gimp, a free open-source editor. I use it for most of my editing.

Janet (Quetzal)

10:34 AM  
Comment Blogger Tom (dB) said...

Just catching up on my RSS and I see it's actually happening! What a great trip; what an experience to go aboard a ship like this. Keep us informed.

1:31 PM  

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