Sunday, November 20, 2011

Take Me Down to the Sea Again . . . to Sail in a Ship of Dreams . . .

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...The Lost Lady of Locquénolé
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How many times did we run out to sea
Out to the British Channel
Descending the Bay of Morlaix
So early in the morning
With the tide just starting to turn
And every time we motored by
The Chateau du Taureau in the fog
That fort out on a cold rock
In the middle of the bay
I swore I heard the ghosts of prisoners calling
Those who drowned while trying to swim
From that accursed jail out on the wide water
Where chill currents could drag a man under
Never to be seen again in this world
Those prisoners from fine families of old
Who had found no useful place in life
And turned to gambling and liquor and gold
Or maybe those ghostly cries were from
The souls of 114 men who drowned
When the Alcide went down in 1747
Two days before Christmas
The bay is full of hungry water and cold bones
Yet we motored on out to sea
Time and time again
Day after day, year after year
In fog and all sorts of weather
Reading the compass bearing due north
Heading for open water
Seeking the spots where the sea bass rise
Pulling up traps full of lobster and crabs
Dreaming of mackerel while mending the motor
Some days simply just drifting
Watching the wind play on the waves
Our faces weathered by salted spray
But nothing lasts forever
We grew old and grey
Feebled and hobbled
Our lady put to sea no more
There she lies tied to the shore
For years she'd float when the tide came in
But now she floats no longer
Graffiti grafted on her sides
Perhaps the ultimate insult
Time's cruel work persistant
Broke open her joints, splintered her planks
Before long there will be naught but the engine block
Rusting away in the mud and the flood
And the dream of a seagoing lady
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The photos above were taken in 2008. The hull was still fairly well intact, I don't know if she could have been restored from that state, but perhaps at least salvaged to sit on dry land to be admired for some years to come. But that was not to be, and this past summer I took the following photos as she lay split open and filled with water with every high tide. She will surely soon disintegrate. From dust to dust.
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30 comments:

Catherine said...

weathered wood and trusty rust....beautiful close-ups of your favourite themes - what lovely colours, patterns, and textures....

Steve said...

There really is something magical about boats - even broken ones - that speaks of journeys made and journeys to come and the last journey of all. Beautiful.

Pastelle said...

Il est émouvant ce bateau.
Et les couleurs et textures de peinture écaillée sont merveilleuses...

:: Karine :: said...

eh oui mon owen adoré tout cela nous rappelle que nous ne sommes que de passage sur cette terre et que les objets comme les humains finissent en poussière ...
c'est dommage pour cette vieille coque qui aurait pu être sauvée mais le temps passe inlassablement sur nous !
très belles photos, émouvantes ...

mythopolis said...

Fabulous shots!!

Mary Ann said...

I'd love to drag this boat home, take it to pieces and find some new use for the wood. It would be lovely to have, say, a desk or a cabinet made from these weathered planks.

the fly in the web said...

Poor old lady.

Springman said...

Mr. Owen,
I come here, of course, looking for a little inspiration, something to set the wreck of my mind afloat, back where it is fit again to row securely past the shoals. You do not fail me. Great food the soul here buddy.
What came to my thoughts were Tipping Points. When does a thing, an invention of human igenuity, reach that moment when it becomes useless for the thing it was intended, it's tipping point? Seeing the hull of this boat laid bare looks an awful lot like a ravaged ribcage to me. Death? Boom, the connection between growing useless and the icon of a weather beaten boat on a beach becomes vivid.
Afloat, every boat rocks the wave on it's tpping point. You can find that vulcrum by standing up in a row boat on the water. Be careful, you might get wet, and your ticket to shore is not guaranteed. You make that point clearly.
Maybe I'll watch The Seventh Seal tonight, nothing like Bergman when your in this mood, though Fanny and Alexander might be a better choice this time of year!
Cheers to you Sir.

Bienvenue chez French Girl in Seattle... said...

Dear Owen. First of all, thank you for visiting my blog this week - twice! Thank you, too, for the information about Elliott Erwitt. I have been wondering forever about that iconic photograph of the man and the boy on the bicycle. You were right about his dog collection. Lovely shots in there!
As for your beautiful post, I love everything about it. The poem. The boat. The sea. I live with a sailor. Boats and the ocean are often part of our lives here in Seattle. Je te tire mon chapeau. Tes photos sont magnifiques! --- Veronique

Stickup Artist said...

What an excellent theme. Of course I've seen zillions of old abandoned rusting cars, but not boats. Not even when I lived on the coast. I don't know why, but a weathered abandoned boat seems so much more forlorn. This post really has me thinking...

Owen said...

Hi Catherine, most certainly some of my favourite themes portrayed here, an infinity of texture here, and a symphony to what is lost, what was and will be no more. And yet beautiful in its own quiet way.

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Steve, so true, and I've been giving a lot of thought as to how we acquire that perception of something magical about boats. I can remember very young going out in the rain and creating small boats to sail down the "rivers" that flowed along the edges of streets as the rain ran off, and running after them to follow their every movement and moment before they disappeared down storm drains. So it certainly starts early, the fascination for things that float...

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Salut Pastelle, très émouvant, suis content si tu as trouvé un moment de détente ici en contemplation de ces bois et peintures en décomposition... bonne semaine...

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Chère Karine, et oui, tout cela, et plus. Comme j'aimerais ramener ce qui reste et le mettre à l'abri quelque part. Penses-tu que la grenouille accepterais de l'avoir dans notre salon ? :-)

Owen said...

Merci, errr, many thanks Dan, had to switch languages there, not always as seamless as it seems...

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Hi Mary Ann, you and me both ! I've been thinking seriously about going back there and trying to save some of it before it disappears entirely. Seems criminal to just let it rot away to nothing there. I have no idea as to whether removing parts of it would be considered as theft, or simply as concern for cleaning up the coast there.

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Dear Fly, At least she gets to finish her days in her elements...

Owen said...

Good Sir Springman,
How I would love to sit and drink a beer in your company, and explore some of these themes while hearing the inflections of your voice, seeing the expressions in your eyes. As always you offer a wealth of profundity. Don't you have plans to come to Paris one day soon ? Were I to come to Detroit could you give me a guided visit of some of your favorite abandoned buildings, burned, scorched, or just falling down ? Or perhaps of your favorite birding sites ? I'd promise to be very quiet...

Very interesting thoughts there about Tipping Points, fulcrums, points of no return. I'm wondering now if humans also have a tipping point, and if so, how does one realize when it happened, or if it hasn't happened yet, how to put it off ? Do we have any say in the matter ? And by definition is a tipping point something that is final, once passed, no going back ? Ah, this beautiful old boat has clearly gone beyond. Oh, by the way, the last time I was taking pictures of this boat last August, there was a lovely white sea bird floating deceased in the water right by this wreck. Seemed rather poetic. I thought about posting an image of it for a WBW, but thought maybe that ex-birds, defunct, expired birds might not be appropriate in that fine and lively company, celebrating the beauty of living birds. Be well friend, stay warm as winter arrives, and may your photos be rich and plentiful. Does photographic work also have a tipping point of sorts... where above a certain number of simply phenomenal photographs, a photographer is recognized as something other than a passionate amateur ? IMHO you have long since passed that point, I honestly hope to hear one day of major recognition of your most wild wildlife photos.

Owen said...

Hi Vero,
It was a pleasure to visit your baguette blog post more than once, and I would have stayed longer, but each time after looking at your photos I got a terrible craving that led me quickly into the kitchen where bread was carved and cheese was eaten ! Washed down of course with a glass of some of France's finest liquid refreshment, as is necessary and rightfully proper. (I imagine you will soon be doing a post about wine, to add to your list of French icons, but it may be a rather long post, as when you start getting around the country there is rather a lot of important wine to discuss, from Bordeaux to Burgundy, the Loire to Cahors, all the way down to the Bouches du Rhone and across to Banyuls, and many places here and there and in between. Oh, Chablis, we mustn't forget Chablis !

So, tell me, you said you are living with a sailor... is that your son, husband, daughter ??? And truly a professional sailor, or a sailor by passion ? You are lucky, in any case, I think, if you get to spend time on the water... something heavenly in that.

(oh, and I agree with you, Nutella is good on baguettes too... la Grenouille thinks it is our daughters who empty the jars of it so fast... ssshhhhh, don't tell her ! :-)

Owen said...

Dear Stickup, well, I guess you are just going to have to come over here for a visit then and I can show you a place or two where some old boats are quietly weathering away. Now, if you were to hire a boat and bring with you a few carcasses of automobiles that you have found in the desert, maybe ones that go back to the Great Depression days, or at least the '40s or '50s, I'd be happy to have one or two in our yard here...
:-)

louciao said...

A strongly descriptive tale of a fisherman's life. I felt as if I was motoring along with him, and could hear the ghosts calling out; feel the ache in his bones as he could put to sea no more.
The peeling layers of paint and weathered wood provide hearty subject matter for photos and contemplation of the impermanence of life. The last photo in the series encompasses all of the above: the form is barely held together but still floats in the boat's memory of her better days; much as with her seafaring master of days gone by.
I hesitate to leave such a comment as it seems obvious and redundant, but neither do I want to merely say, "I like the words and pictures." But maybe that would suffice.

Robert said...

J'adore les vieilles coques abandonnées.Plein de petit details superbe. Une serie très sympa, merci.

Céline said...

Une série magnifique, qui fait réfléchir sur le passage du temps, le vieillissement qui nous guette tous... Et tes photos sont magnifiques, un coup de coeur pour l'avant dernière où le ciel est beau.
Bonne semaine cher Owen !

PS : je n'ai pas eu le temps de passer rue de Prony :-( Donc si jamais tu exposes sur Lyon, cette fois j'y serais !!

Owen said...

Dearest Lynne, nothing you could possibly say would ever seem obvious or redundant to this croaking toad, who shines with pleasure from all his many warts and bumps whenever you drop by... even when bearing rubber chickens to toss in the soup pot ! Hold the pepper spray though... Yes, whatever you choose to say always is stamped with your inimitable style, and even were you just to say you like the words and pictures, or perhaps, you don't care for them at all, at least I'll know you stopped by and thought about whatever has been presented here for a second or two, perhaps three, or even forever, because "now" is "forever", right ? (see what you started ??? :-))

Owen said...

Merci à toi Robert, suis content si cela t'a plu...

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Bonjour Céline,
Merci bcp, et bon, les photos devraient restées affichées rue de Prony encore deux mois au moins... si jamais tu repasses à Paris...

Mais sinon, j'adorerais trouver un petit coin un Lyon pour accrocher qqs photos... cela donnerait une bonne raison d'y descendre.

Lydia said...

I could almost cry for this boat. Your photos are so great that I can smell the rotting wood, the rust. So glad you got these images before she gives herself wholly to the sea.

Can't say exactly why...but these are my favorite lines:

Heading for open water
Seeking the spots where the sea bass rise
Pulling up traps full of lobster and crabs
Dreaming of mackerel while mending the motor

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

I've got as wrapped up reading everyone's words and your responses as I did in the photos. This series of comments really imbues your observations with synergy. Sad, lovely: all that winding gear, those layers of colour, flaking, blistering, and being renewed still by graffiti taggers. The billowing letters seem to suit her swim somehow. It would be lovely if you could salvage some of her timber for some loving project. I have a block of elm that sits on display looking like a lump of firewood - a piece of our narrow boat's bottom showing the 100 year depth of wear on one face.

Peter said...

A poet in words and images! A fantastic post!!!

clo said...

Coucou cher Owen...
c'est toujours un peu triste de laisser les choses se dégrader jusqu'a leur disparition..mais c'est aussi dans l'ordre naturel de la vie...
Et puis personnellement je suis tres sensible au charme patiné , écaillé , érodé, usé des vieux objets...ils nous racontent le passé...un peu comme les anciennes personnes...ils transmettent un savoir vivre , un savoir faire..
A nous de savoir tendre l'oreille ou de savoir ouvrir les yeux ,pour être le témoin de ces histoires ,de ces moments,de ces images qui sans cela tomberaient un jour dans un total oubli..
je t'embrasse Owen..:)

S.D.Walker said...

What else can I say? Splendid work!!

Gwen Buchanan said...

Beautiful Compositions! Looks like the works for a new show..
the words befit the images..perfect for a book!

The Sagittarian said...

The Owl and the Pussy Cat have long since left their boat, but hopefully not their dreams....

Oakland Daily Photo said...

Sad to see yet somehow understood to be the natural cycle of things. Photos 2 and 3 are my favorite. When I came to them, I stopped and went "oooh". Do you think our fascination with the sea and shore are built into our DNA the way the urge to dig and plant in the earth is?

Nathalie said...

Marée basse, marée haute, une très belle épave dans un fond de baie non moins photogénique. La seule chose à laquelle je ne m'habitue pas du tout, c'est le tag sur le bateau. Ca non !

elena nuez said...

colors and texture are just outstanding!!!!