"A sketchbook is a secret thing, a collection of unfinished and often times abandoned ideas never intended for public consumption—at least not in their current state. It’s a private space for honing one’s craft and workshopping, separating good ideas from those best left unexplored." -Brian Heater at The Daily Cross Hatch.
I have often been stymied when trying to find photos of Merchant Marines at work. A devoted reader of this blog recommended a bunch of sites including the Seafarers International Union where I pulled the photo-reference for this quickie sketch (thank you CB). I drew this to clear some frustration I was feeling after several attempts at drawing a Spek anchor on a bulk carrier for a more involved piece. Wish I had done this on a larger piece of paper in order to show this guy towering above a gray misty ocean on the Washington Express.
When I was a kid (it must've been middle school) one of our teachers brought us down to the library and spread out on all the tables were books that hadn't been checked out in years. We had to pick one and do a report on it, I chose "Kon Tiki" by Thor Heyerdahl. The book was a memoir about Heyerdahl proving his theory that South Americans could have traveled to Polynesia on a boat made out of reeds by actually making a boat out of reeds and sailing across the freakin' Pacific.
Now, this book didn't spark my interest in maritime culture/history (and, oddly we had a lot of that for a Midwestern school) but I do remember being fascinated and empathetically terrified for poor Thor as he crossed the Pacific in his boat of reeds...
...anyways, today Kim Carver of Jack Tar Magazine posted a video of some chipper bastard waking up Thor's grandson Olav for his watch on a boat called The Plastiki! Apparently, a new group of stalwart sailors has made a boat out of recylcable plastic and is going on something called the "The Plastiki Pacific Voyage" through the Great Garbage Patch of the Pacific to Oz and back to San Francisco. Think they're trying to make a point?
Wow. Good on ya, mates! Seems like a helluva project. I'm glad they don't have any swag for sale because I'd hate to break my Wife's injunction against the purchase of new t-shirts....
(The above cartoon is taken from an image of Thor on the cover of his book "Fatu-Hiva". I have no idea what he's wearing on his head. Behind him is the Kon-Tiki at dockside.)
I'm working on a bunch of very time consuming stuff at the moment, so the blog here will experience a little slow-down.
In news not related to anything maritime- the military/int'l affairs blogosphere and news-o-sphere in general is abuzz with the best President v. General showdown since Truman fired MacArthur. In my humble opinion, I think McChrystal shot himself in the foot on purpose. Realistically, we don't have the ability to "nation build" or stabilize Afghanistan in any meaningful way. The war is not going to end well, and if you were in charge...would you rather shoulder the blame for eternity (at least in Beltway logic) or (keep in mind you're a hardcore Ranger) go out getting fired by a Democrat president? Which is more face saving and as the kids these days say, which would give you more swag? Especially with the troops. Seriously, would you want to be the last man in the room, holding the bag when the lights go out? (I think that last sentence is my record for multiple metaphors in one sentence.)
You and I both know that McChrystal didn't design military policy in Afghanistan from the beginning, and truth be told I really wonder if he was always a believer in the COIN thing, or was it just foisted upon him? He's got an SF tab right above the Ranger one on his uniform- but which means more to him? And what's his conception of what "SF" means anyways? To his credit, he did implement a COIN strategy in Afghanistan (which is very unpopular with a lot of the troops- protecting the population as your number one concern always decreases the safety of the warfighter) in a very complex, ambiguous and difficult geo-socio-political environment.
Regardless, he's getting called on the carpet today and he's probably going to get the sack. President Obama wants to wind down in Afghanistan- so does it really matter? If my ass-u-mption is right, I can hardly blame him. I wouldn't want McChrystal's job if you paid me a million bucks and paid off my student loans on top of it. Good luck General, you did as well as anyone could.
Do you use the site gCaptain? It's an incredibly comprehensive resource for anyone interested in professional maritime issues, and their regular blog feature Maritime Monday is a great weekly compendium of maritime news, art and photography. They've really been on top of all the news relating to the Deepwater Horizon nightmare in the Gulf. Go check it out.