"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.

15 October 2011

A Bootleg Maakie

Right click on image and hit "view image" for best results.
(WTF, Blogspot?)

And just remember folks, the real Maakies is here: Maakies.comhttp://www.maakies.com/

06 September 2011

Jack Tar Magazine in Print: It Has Arrived

I only (virtually) met Kim Carver a couple of years ago, but at that time it seemed she had already been well into the effort of bringing her vision- a maritime culture magazine- into physically tangible existence. Well...now it's here and available at MagCloud. (Also available digitally.)

I don't think anything else I could say would do it justice. Head on over to Jack Tar's virtual home to read Kim's rationale for creating the magazine.

So again, congratulations Kim! Looking forward to a long run in print (not to mention, more calenders). -CITS

21 July 2011

Author Beach: An Appraisal

(Captain Edward L. Beach Jr. Submarine commander, Author. Photo taken from Wikimedia Commons.)

While things are slow here at Cold is the Sea, I thought I would reprint a comment that was recently left in a post that's almost exactly 51 weeks old. The aforementioned post was my take on Captain Beach's novel "Cold is the Sea", which I appropriated for the title of this blog. The author of the following comment is a former Navy scientist, and I figured since he knows of what he speaks, it was worth reprinting in its very own post. There are SPOILERS within, so be warned. So here you go Topper, you have your very own guest book review on Cold is the Sea (the blog, not the novel). Thank you for your service!:

"It's almost a year since I made my first comment following your post about "Dust on the Sea." (DOTS) It took me a while to find a copy of "Cold is the sea," (CITS) and when I finished it I decided not to immediately come back to your site to give you my update, as you had invited me to do, but to wait until I reread "Run silent, run deep" (RSRD) again, to try and find some overall perspective. Here is what I now think:

(1) RSRD is a truly excellent novel. It draws on the authors extensive experience of undersea warfare, and his evidently deep technical expertise, which are then coupled with a remarkable narrative flair, to produce a deeply convincing and enjoyable story.

There is only one slightly critical comment I can find to say about RSRD, and I think I am really being unfair in even raising it. Beach, in his prefacing remarks to the novel, states that all the events portrayed are fictional, although technically feasible. He obviously based them on his own personal experiences, as well as those of other submarine commanders that he heard about, or was told about, during his period of service. He then, very cleverly, arranged and fictionalized them to construct his narrative. The main character, Richardson (clearly based on Beach himself), is the main protagonist in most of these events. However, there are so many of them that, as I approached the end of the story, I find my credibility being stretched a little to believe that one man could have accomplished so much. At the very end, when Richardson personally directs his sub, alone on the bridge, to ram the lifeboats in his fanatical quest to kill Bungo Pete, and then (a few pages later) jumps off the sub to save three airmen from drowning, and then (a few pages again) goes to Washington to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, I really thought Beach might be succumbing to the temptation of self-glorification.

The reason I say this comment is "unfair" is that Beach, of course, was trying to create an exciting story for his readers, which he clearly succeeded in doing. The positive qualities of the story overwhelm such trifling quibbles.

(2) It is clear from the finale of RSRD that Beach did not originally intend to write a sequel. But such was its success, that his publisher probably offered him a lot of money to do so. He may have had the problem that he had used up most of his best material on RSRD, and therefore had to resort to more pure invention (which he wasn't quite so good at) in DOTS, which didn't quite ring true when compared to the authentic stuff related in the first story. It is perhaps for this reason that you found: "the book took on the turn of a Boy's Own adventure and just became so unbelievable I couldn't really get into it." I still feel more forgiving though, probably because I am enthralled by the technical navy stuff (I'm a retired navy scientist).

(3) CITS is clearly a work of pure fiction, as far as the naval action goes. Beach, however, again uses his ability to weave in his own personal experiences, together with his expertise, in a very engaging way. I found the interactions with Brighting (i.e., Rickover) absolutely compelling, and very believable. While I never met anyone as exalted as Rickover during my career, I did deal with several people of that personality type. The navy bureaucracy has (or, at least, had) many prickly martinets, both in and out of uniform. They could be difficult to work with, but they got the job done!

I also read the articles on both Beach and Rickover on Wikipedia which, if you haven't already seen them, are worth a visit. The interaction between the two of them is covered in the Beach article. I didn't realize that, at the time of his retirement, Rickover was the longest serving US Navy officer ever (63 years). Nobody was able to retire him! Finally, it took a gentle nudge from President Reagan (who Rickover probably liked and trusted) to get him to go. He sure left a great legacy for the United States."

08 July 2011

SWAG: Arctic Convoy T-Shirt

Those of you who know me well, know that I have a t-shirt problem. I love t-shirts. I have mounds of t-shirts from all over the world. From shit-hole punk rock bars in NYC to the US Embassy in Saudi . However, a quick survey of my closet reveals that the "maritime pile" is the largest, so you can imagine my delight when I espied this "Arctic Convoy" t-shirt (below) from Philosophy Football. Their range offers t-shirts celebrating everything from  Mario Vargas Llosa, to William Blake's Jerusalem.

Considering that I had an Uncle who was a Merchant Marine during WWII, the shirt below has an extra special place in my heart. All of you real, former or armchair sailors, seafarers or seamen, check it out:


When Hitler invaded the USSR on 22 June 1941 the response of Britain and its allies was almost immediate. Crucial supplies were provided via the Arctic convoys. The first of which, 'Dervish', left from Iceland on 21 August arriving in Archangel ten days later. This superb anniversary T-shirt depicts HMS Halcyon which provided part of the naval escort and lists all the Royal Navy and Merchant Navy ships plus solitary Dutch vessel which formed this first convoy. Available from www.philosophyfootball.com
Full Disclosure: I got a free t-shirt for writing this post. I'm actually wearing it right now. It's a VERY cool tee.

05 July 2011

What's in a Name?: Seaman vs. Seafarer

Today in the Marine Cafe, Barista Uno tackles the semantics of the title "Seaman vs. Seafarer". Have an opinion? Head on over there and add your voice to the conversation. 

27 June 2011


I took this photo by the Rangoon River in Rangoon, Burma in 2000. This was an event where citizens of Rangoon were forced to attend a ceremony marking the arrival of "Southeast Asia's Biggest Buddha", a Buddha so big and heavy that the Junta didn't have the equipment to hoist it up the hill where it was to stand. Note that the soldier is carrying an M1 Carbine, which the Burmese received in abundance in a US aid package probably in the 1950's.

01 June 2011

From the Vaults: The Siege at Kham Duc

Hello poor neglected blog.

Been digging through a mountain of stuff in my Man Cave/Landfill and found these two pages from an unfinished story I started doing in 1997. It was about a Vietnam War battle whose origin sprung from the Tet Offensive. I think in '97 I was actually in touch with a participant of the battle and was working from something he'd written. Yet another project that overwhelmed me in its magnitude and remained unfinished. Oh, what could've been.

For more information on the Battle of Kham Duc and the super-ballsy relief operation check out these links:
The Battle of Kham Duc (Wikipedia)
Rescue at Kham Duc (MilitaryPhotos.Net)
Kham Duc (Sgt. Mac's Bar)
Mort's Rescue at Kham Duc (Flying in Crosswinds)

27 March 2011

Riding the Shaft: Preliminary Sketch

This is a rough quick preliminary sketch for my next undertaking (suggested by a former sailor, machinist and fine art devotee, CB)... Machinist Mates "Riding the (propeller) Shaft"...Don't get caught...don't get hurt... Anyone in blogland ever do this for real?

06 March 2011

Plug: US Navy Tailor Made Dress Blues, Liberty Cuffs and Sailor Folk Art

One of the most popular images on this site is my illustration of a pair of US Navy Liberty Cuffs which I couldn't have done without the information from Navy Collector, a site by Dan Smith SCPO, USNR(Ret). Dan recently messaged me with information about his new book "US Navy Tailor Made Dress Blues, Liberty Cuffs and Sailor Folk Art", so I thought I'd give him a plug. Thanks for your site Dan! I'm looking forward to the book. Order information is at the bottom of the image posted above.

EDIT 04/21/11: While there is a lot of fascinating stuff in this book- plenty of photos and history- and while it is obviously a labor of love- I think I should note that this is not a "traditional coffee table book". It is not bound like a hardcover (or softcover) book. (It has a spiral binding). Given that I've provided the plug above, I think I should provide (relatively) full disclosure here. If there are any publishers, graphic designers or book packagers out there looking for a potentially remunerative project, I think this book is it. I encourage you to get in touch with Dan Smith and help him out on the design and presentation angle.