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My Tramp Steamer Sets Sail

I blame my Midwestern upbringing for my deep and entirely unconsummated love of ocean travel. Lake Michigan may stretch over the horizon, but the Atlantic is a whole 'nother story. As a boy, I always figured I'd grow up to join the Merchant Marine, hop a tramp steamer, and sail off to Batavia, Shanghai, Singapore, and Trinidad. Maybe round the Horn.

Yeah, I had it all figured out. I'd make scrimshaw and get a tattoo, drink in Asian bars and befriend a Javanese headhunter. Marry a Filipino bride, fight off pirates in the Straits of Malacca. Never happened. Closest I came was writing an unpublished work called "Slow Boat to China", set in the 1930s heyday of Pacific crossings. Well, if the heyday had included eldritch things from beyond, but close enough.

Anyway, a boy's dreams die hard. And some days, like, say, today, I just want to hop a ship so bad it makes my teeth ache. As always, for solace I turn to the Internet, source of all good things. It turns out that hopping a freighter is still doable, as this Guide to Freighter Travel makes clear. Harbor Island in Seattle could be my embarkation point. I have a duffle bag and a dream. Expect no further posts until next week.


( 3 sutras — Your wisdom )
May. 18th, 2004 02:21 pm (UTC)
Two excellent books on the merchant marine:

Steaming to Bamboola, by Christopher Buckley
Looking for a Ship, by John McPhee

The first is fiction; the second not. But both give very accurate accounts of the seagoing life.

May. 18th, 2004 03:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the recommendations! They've gone directly onto my list.
May. 18th, 2004 08:30 pm (UTC)
My pleasure. Happy sailing.
( 3 sutras — Your wisdom )

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