Monday, October 1, 2007

Gorch Fock!

This morning, leaving the house just after 7, I looked down Atlantic Avenue toward the Harbor. The sun, still achingly low, wasn’t much visible anywhere, except on the masts of a large sailing ship down there. Getting back this evening after dark, I noticed the ship was still there, the masts now lit up with spots. There’s an interesting optical effect I’ve noticed on Henry Street: objects docked appear nearer and larger from here, but once you walk down to sea level, the effect disappears. Still, this ship is large for a sailboat. Unfortunately, we’re completely cut off from the water around here, so I could not get close, but some security guy and a German sailor told me it was the Gorch Fock, a German navy training vessel. (Lots of throat clearing on that “Gorch.” And the “Fock,” that sounds just like you’d suspect. In fact, I think "Gorch Fock" is going to be my new all-purpose swear.) She’s a steel-hulled three master, with an albatross for a figurehead.

And lo ! the Albatross proveth a bird of good omen, and followeth the ship as it returned northward through fog and floating ice.

And a good south wind sprung up behind;
The Albatross did follow,
And every day, for food or play,
Came to the mariner's hollo!

In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,
It perched for vespers nine;
Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white,
Glimmered the white Moon-shine.

-- S.T. Coleridge

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