Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The “S.S. Cork”

Entering San Diego 4-27-2008 3-47-35 PM Preparing to launch with the crew looking on 5-4-2008 1-22-31 AM

So we transited the Pacific Ocean, all 5,618 miles of it, finally arriving at San Diego at midnight. What a sight. The ship, surrounded by the lights of the city, gently coasted through the bay, past the center of the city, to dock at the 10th. Avenue Marine Terminal, a mere 20 minutes walking distance from the down town convention center. We left Nagasaki on the 15th. April at 1:00 A.M. and traveled North East along the coast of Japan until we reached 40 degrees of latitude, 5 degrees lower than is customary. A severe low pressure area in the North Pacific caused us to take this slightly lower and longer course. The weather turned chilly and brisk in spite of our more Southerly route. Eventually we turned South East arriving in sunny California on the April 26. We crossed the International Date Line which provided us with two April 19th’s. This threw Heiner’s well organized diary into some disarray. His PC made an automatic adjustment, but his diary was not prepared to repeat a day! So how did we spend our time for 13 days? For the first three days Mal read and I became obsessed with a 1,000 piece jigsaw. Then the fun began. Among the many gifts that we received during the bon voyage party at Lillian and Ed O’Connors’, was a copy of an abcNEWS article, “River of Dreams: the First Cork Boat”, a tale of a 22 foot boat built out of 166,000 corks. (http://abcnews.go.com/print?id=4103111) We also received a wooden statuette of a peg legged Captain, complete with pipe, and, to everybody’s amusement, a bird in a bird cage, who responded to loud noises. If you read the blog entry on Genoa you will recall that Paul and Mal brought many bottles of wine on board. As we opened the first bottle, it occurred to me that it would be fun to build the “Second” Cork Boat in the World. We started to collect corks. With one chopstick, easily obtained in Asia, a box of toothpicks, courtesy of the ship, and a bottle of glue, purchased in Nagasaki, we were ready to proceed. Every morning Mal and I were to be found, hard at work, at the Boat Works, aka the passenger lounge. Our industry was interrupted periodically by the cacophonous serenading from the bird cage. Fortunately, for the sanity of all in her presence, the bird came with an on/off switch. Various bits and pieces were donated by the other passengers, including cordage for the rigging, and a set of flags representing the nationalities of the other passengers. A special thanks to Paul who diligently worked at increasing our cork supply. Our progress was monitored, with some smiles and head shaking, by the crew and officers. When we were finished we were very proud of our little Viking cat boat. We continued in the Rickmers tradition of naming their Pearl String line after ports, and named our boat the S.S. Cork. Our captain, Sir Beaufort O. O’Scale, in spite of his somewhat overly abundant proportions, courageously took the helm on launching day. In the presence of the Officers, passengers and crew, all well supplied with beer, wine and soft drinks, (any excuse for a party), we gently, and with great ceremony, eased the S.S.Cork into the swimming pool, by means of a sling and a fishing rod. Heiner supplied an iPod and speakers, along with the appropriate music. In the absence of champagne we formalized the launch with liberal sprinklings of beer. The “VIP’s and spectators” cheered. No sooner was our little craft launched than she caught a puff of wind and sailed magnificently to the other end of the swimming pool. Thank you to Dick and Pat Cooper for supplying this article, and to John Pollock who built the “First” cork boat that inspired this project. We and our fellow passengers had a wonderful time sailing across the Pacific.

Sunlight on the Deck Cargo - Crossing the Pacific 4-26-2008 4-52-28 AM
The Shipyard with assembly of the The SS Cork in an early stage 4-18-2008 9-02-55 PM
Photo of Sir Beaufort O. O'Scale (the O stands for Out)
The SS Cork under full sail flags flying 4-26-2008 8-36-24 PM 3872x2592

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