Now this is what I'm talking about , Paul from Maryland sent me these photos and this poem about the Renown at the end of the San Diego bay in the 70s..Thank you very much Paul. email@example.com
Her many coats of paint of varying hues long since flaked and abraded by the transit of time, a broken keel deeply imbedded in the soft silt and eelgrass of the bay, she’ll nevermore ply seas in search of a pelagic harvest. But she still is an elegant lady; her timbers whilom fashioned by the sweat and callus of an accomplished shipwright, now she a lonesome monument to an era that has dissolved into memory. Salt and ship worms have wasted her once embowed hull planks’ leaving her ribs exposed like the long beached remains of perhaps a migrating gray whale gone astray but is now a splendid sanctuary for barnacle and mollusk.
The “Renown” had been grounded on the western perimeter of A-8 for a long time. She must have been floated here, the anchor let loose and then abandoned. Anything below the water line had mostly rotted away; indeed her bilges were open to the sea. All fixtures and anything of value had been salvaged or were in an advanced state of disintegration. The bulkheads and passageways were grim with grime, forlorn with neglect, dark excepting where shafts of light penetrated ruptures in her superstructure. Funereal perhaps, but startlingly, a white ceramic commode in the fo’c’s’le proved that men once considered her home and a source of their livelihood.
At the probable risk of great bodily injury we’ll explore the machinery spaces which can only be accessed through this hatchway and down that ladder from which every other rung has fallen away due to deterioration by clammy sea mists. Do be careful. Here, let me help you. That aggregate of corruption you see before you, wallowing in dark green and gray water, a mass of iron and steel, engine, pumps, pipes, fittings, cables now in full decay by oxidation, was in fact the pulse that drove this vessel through seas fair and foul. Not always was this chamber so crypt like, heat, noise and vibration was normally unremarkable. Listen to the rumble of the diesel engine, smell the acrid fumes of exhaust, fuel and lubricating oils just barely overpowering the pervasive nauseating stench of putrescent fish. Note the engineers fine-tuned auditory discerning any deviation from normal, changes in the whine of bearings, the clatter of valve trains, fluctuation indications of pressure and temperature gauges, confirming all is well by a delicate placement of a hand on a turning propeller shaft thereby sensing its health by the response it emits. That rag hanging from his pocket is a most important tool, used to wipe sweat from his face and neck, grease and dirt from his hands. Shall we go up to the bridge? Again, I urge caution for the railings have long ago fallen away and the decks may be slippery with bird droppings. I wouldn’t want you to strain your enchanting ankle. Here step on these planks I placed here on my last visit, just keep clear of that viciously looking rusty nail.
Welcome aboard the “Renown”, formerly the “Natalie Munson”, formerly the “Sharon DeLuca”, formerly the “Magritte” and in your honor I have renamed her “Butterfly Moon”. Not at all, that is an excellent question.
This was a commercial tuna boat, a live bait boat to be exact, once roaming large tracts of ocean, where men hung over the railings in a sea seething with fish kept in proximity by the expert chumming of live bait and so hauled in tons of tuna with poles strung with wire, terminated with barbless hooks. Yellowfin, Albacore, Skipjack that were processed in one of a dozen canneries right here in San Diego and fashioned into a delicious casserole by your Grandma Clarabelle.
As you can see there is not much left here on the bridge but if you close your eyes feel the stateliness that once prevailed. This corroded steel protrusion once mounted the ships wheel. I am guessing it is now hanging over the bar of some dimly lighted watering hole in the Stingaree district. Perhaps at this moment some well sotted seaman struggling to maintain his balance is blurrily staring at it and recalling long hours of standing watch at the helm. Here the remnants of the ships binnacle the compass it once housed probably languishes on the fireplace mantle in the office of a corporate lawyer whose only direction he is interested in is profit. On this bench facing the helm, certainly comfortably padded, the captain would sit with his feet on the wheel and in that manner responding to sea conditions. A pair of binoculars at ready for the instant affirmation of the presence of fish by the occurrence of a sea surface disturbance or perhaps a flock of seabirds feeding on bait fish. Captain Yngve would call for full power as he attempted to chase the school down then fingered a medallion emblazoned with an image of his God Odin. Near bedlam below as the crew of twelve were called to quarters. “Koke , bringe meg noe kaffen I full fart”, in the excitement of the hunt the Norseman often forgot that the cook spoke only Portuguese but Timoteo understood and like some of other crew he never endured the masters wrath by the full and prompt execution of his duties.
Mirar Pilar, here is Yngve’s quarters, so very convenient to his command post. On the left is the chart table and drawers to store same, well, what’s left of it anyway. There the skippers bunk, I’m thinking because days at sea were sometimes excruciating long and the boat was only tied up to the wharf long enough to unload the catch, receive fuel and supplies, wouldn’t the Capitan’s lust have summoned his sweetheart into this cabin when in port, drawn the curtains and exact a months’ worth of passion? Of course I am not suggesting anything to you, I was merely surmising. What, Pilar what are you doing?
But it the sea, the sea and skies that with good fortune is blessedly languid but often times viciously cruel and totally unforgiving. Envision a horizon flat for 360 degrees, a ballet of nimble clouds dancing in the winds aloft, an albatross gracefully skirting ocean swells. A sky that at seven bells was black and sparkling with the effervescence of galaxies but now brightening orange rays of sun streak up and so lightening the soul.
But there was another vessel at the A-8 anchorage that peaked interest even more. A black, necromantic, one hundred and thirty foot long steel hull with classic lines that had undergone the ravages of fire at sea, she anchored not more than a half mile away and I shall be her next Commander.