Wednesday, 25 May 2016

A Cruise on the S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien

During a 2009 visit to San Francisco, I was lucky enough to be in town over the Memorial Day weekend, and was able to take in a cruise on the restored Liberty Ship S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien. Originally built over a period of 56 days in 1943 in Maine, Jeremiah O'Brien spent 33 years in the reserve fleet in Suisan Bay until rescued in 1980 when she was able to steam away from the mothball fleet under her own power (see the Wikipedia article).

S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien alongside in San Francisco.
Jeremiah O'Brien taken a few days earlier on a sunnier day.
Even with the growth of merchant ships in the years since the Second World War, Liberty Ships were not small.
The O'Brien is on the US National Register of Historic Places, and is normally berthed at Pier 45 in San Francisco, just aft of the restored Second World War submarine USS PAMPANITO (which I will probably cover in a separate post at some point).

Museum submarine USS PAMPANITO.
Jeremiah O'Brien makes several cruises under her own steam (yes, STEAM!) each year, so it is well worth checking out her schedule if you plan on being in San Francisco. In my case, I just got lucky that the timing worked out. 

Jeremiah O'Brien alongside at Pier 45. The port-potties were not original equipment.
The crew made sure to bring along some tunes.
Although the O'Brien's triple expansion steam engine still works and is put to use during these cruises, she definitely requires tug assistance to get away from the wharf, and the two tugs (Sagittarian and Taurus) provided an escort during the entire cruise in case the ship ran into trouble. 

Sagittarian taking a line from the stern.
Sagittarian providing escort after casting off the stern line.
After easing the ship out into the stream, the tugs cast off and Jeremiah O'Brien got underway.

O'Brien making a turn away from the city, with the Bay Bridge in the background.
The San Francisco fire boat escorts the S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien around the Bay during the Memorial Weekend cruise. The two monitors firing water on either side of the bow are for putting out fires under wharves. Alcatraz is in the background.
The cargo handling masts, booms, and cranes of the S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien.
Though a merchant vessel, Jeremiah O'Brien carried armament that would have left many of the RCN's smaller vessels in envy: a 3" gun at the bow, a 5" gun at the stern, and eight 20mm Oerlikon AA mountings.
Gun tubs and armouring on the port superstructure of the S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien.
One of the purposes of the Memorial Day weekend cruise was to place wreaths in memory of Merchant Navy veterans and others. The ship headed out under the Golden Gate Bridge and into the Golden Gate itself.

With the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, and under the watchful eye of Taurus, Jeremiah O'Brien approaches the site of the wreath ceremony. 

A collection of wreaths prior to the ceremony where they were thrown overboard.
I was able to monopolize a location on the port side just aft of where the wreaths were being thrown over the side, and used my flash to fill in the exposures.

A wreath is thrown into the bay from the S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien.
Two Oakland Police officers form an Honour Guard to throw a wreath into the bay in memory of four fallen officers.
Once the wreaths were all deposited into the Golden Gate, the ship turned around and headed back to Pier 45. Once back at the pier, the line up to visit the engine room subsided, and I headed down to take a look - as a result, I unfortunately wasn't able to see the engine in operation.

The piston rods and crank shaft of the S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien's triple expansion steam engine.
During the return to the pier, I was able to turn my lens outboard of the ship to catch some of the other sights.

An unusual view of the Golden Gate Bridge during the cruise.

Taurus following along on our way out, with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

San Francisco Bay was definitely alive with all sorts of traffic during the Memorial Day Weekend.
There was at least one race going on at the time.
I will finish off with some more photos of the two tugs.

The tug Sagittarian in a bit of chop outside San Francisco harbour.
A freighter heads out to sea in the background of this shot of Sagittarian.
Looking down from the deck of the S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien to Taurus below. It is a long way down.
There is a full gallery of my photos from this cruise on my Smugmug site, including some not shown here.

Monday, 23 May 2016

A Visit to the National Gallery of Canada

Aways a sucker for photographing impressive architecture, I made a point of heading to the National Gallery of Canada during a recent trip to Ottawa. Although I have photographed the exterior as recently as 2008, I hadn't been inside the building since about 1991. Some things were just as I remembered them.

In town for a wedding back in 2008, and staying at the nearby Chateau Laurier, I got up early one morning to get photos of the gallery in the morning light. This panorama was stitched together during post-processing.

A casting of Louise Bourgeois' sculpture Maman is in front of the museum. The glass tower framed by the spider encloses the Great Hall, with the Colonnade leading away to the right. If you look closely, the moon is making an appearance.
The interior is just as impressive. I'll start with some of the grand access hallways, ramps, and stairs. The National Gallery's website has a handy floor plan for reference.

Looking up in the main entrance hall.
After entering the building and paying your entrance fee, visitors are greeted by an impressive Colonnade that leads to the Great Hall. It occurs to me that I'm going to have to be careful not to over-use the word "impressive".

Looking up the Colonnade towards the Great Hall.

Vertical panorama looking from the Great Hall down the Colonnade towards the main entrance.

Closeup of the peaked glass roof over the Colonnade.
The Great Hall is an imp.... a towering hall supported by concrete and clad in a considerable amount of glass.

The Great Hall.
Looking straight up, the Great Hall looks like a kaleidoscope.
A stairway off of the Great Hall.

Stairway off the Great Hall.
Leading away from the Great Hall is another day-lit hallway that terminates at the Upper Rotunda.

Hallway to the Upper Rotunda.

Stairs to the Upper Rotunda. I placed the camera down low to get this angle on the "stairs", which are actually a series of ramps with a small rise between each. Not exactly wheelchair friendly, but there are elevators.

Looking back towards the Great Hall from the Upper Rotunda. I balanced the camera on the mirror-surfaced railing in order to get some reflections of the ceiling and skylight.
Another elegant stair is located off the end of the Upper Rotunda.

Other large open and day-lit spaces within the National Gallery include the Garden Court and the Water Court.

Garden Court.
Water Court.
One of the few things I remember from my visit in 1991 is the Water Court, which is kind of special. Under the centre of the water pool are 9 plexiglass panels that form the ceiling of the foyer below, from where you can look up through the panels to the skylight above.

The surface of the water pool in the Water Court.
Looking up from underneath the Water Court to the skylight above.
Being an art gallery, and aside from the architecture, there were of course some rooms filled with art. Some of these areas allow photography, while others do not. Flash photography, of course, is prohibited.

A hall in the International Art area. As I recall from many years ago, all the skylights have sun shades that open and close automatically during the day to prevent sun damage to the artwork on display.
A panorama in the International Art area.
A sculpture in the International Art area.
Whether you enjoy art or architecture, the National Gallery of Canada is well worth a visit.

Monday, 16 May 2016


The Mexican Navy's sail training vessel CUAUHTEMOC arrived in Halifax last week, and departed today. I wasn't around on the weekend, so I had to settle for getting a few photos this morning and this afternoon. 

CUAUHTEMOC alongside Cable Wharf this morning.

I waited around for the 8:00 am raising of the Mexican national flag and the courtesy Canadian flag, for which they played both country's national anthems.  

Raising the Mexican flag.
Raising the courtesy Canadian flag.

Originally scheduled to depart at 10:00, she instead moved to HMC Dockyard for the afternoon, and went with a departure in the early evening - which I didn't catch. 

CUAUHTEMOC has been here before. Here is a photo of her alongside Purdy's Wharf during Tall Ships 2004.

At least one of her sister ships has also been here: Colombia's GLORIA was here in 2000, as well as more recently.

GLORIA in 2000.
She is also related to Venezuela's SIMON BOLIVAR and Ecuador's GUAYAS.

All four of these ships were built to a design similar to that of USCGC EAGLE and the Portuguese Navy's SAGRES II.

USCGC EAGLE on 2000.
EAGLE in 2012.
SAGRES II in 2009.