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Looking for a Ship

av John McPhee

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
688733,609 (4.06)16
This is an extraordinary tale of life on the high seas aboard one of the last American merchant ships, the S.S. Stella Lykes, on a forty-two-day journey from Charleston down the Pacific coast of South America. As the crew of the Stella Lykes makes their ocean voyage, they tell stories of other runs and other ships, tales of disaster, stupidity, greed, generosity, and courage.… (mer)
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Pirates, storms, shipwrecks, oh my! The first two chapters detail just how hard it is to get a berthing on an American Merchant ship. The author and second mate Andy Chase who the author stays with as they await a ship. They wind up on the S.S. Stella Lykes and meet Captain Washburn. A lot of stories about the Merchant Marine are told, most exciting is the chapter on storms and the effects on ships. After the author gives numerous examples of the devastating effects on shipping and crews, the TV Weatherman states the "Storm has passed, and is safely at sea", not so safe for the sailors.

The last chapter is kinda poetic, as the ship lies dead in the water, much like the American Merchant Marine industry. Seems like there is more future in coal mining then shipping.

( )
  kevn57 | Dec 8, 2021 |
John McPhee, because he appears to be interested in many things, is capable of interesting the reader in many things. He immerses himself in a subject (fish, oranges, trucking, the New Jersey Pine Barrens), extracts its lifeblood, and puts in on the page. This time his subject is ships, specifically ships of the U.S. Merchant Marine. More specifically the Stella Lykes. He rides the ship on a South American run and describes the crew, the cargo, the ports and the business of running a ship.

He also observes and describes nature: “We saw whales on the way south, and were led by porpoises. Albatrosses flew beside us, motionless to the point of impudence, their eyes on our necks, their great wings fixed, their iron momentum matching the ship’s.”

He gets on the Stella Lykes by accompanying an officer, Andy Chase. The intricacies of getting a ship are just as compelling as shipboard operations. The entire book is fascinating. ( )
  Hagelstein | Sep 6, 2021 |
McPhee's first person account of a 42 day trip to South American he took with the Merchant Marines a quarter century ago is entertaining and informative. One of my friends from high school became a merchant mariner and now I have some idea of the kind of career and life he's led. McPhee discusses how older union cards trump younger ones, the decline of the American Merchant Marine, the mechanics of ships, navigation, different ports of call, piracy, and the men who choose this life. McPhee, observes everything, including the minutia of the ships' cargo. He recounts his and others' adventure. His writing is crafty and precise, if a little impersonal. It dwells on exteriors and surfaces, those of people and boats, not inner or emotional lives. There are characters, but it is not a character driven narrative. Stylistically, it took getting used to but over time I warmed up to it. ( )
1 rösta OccassionalRead | Oct 1, 2013 |
This is McPhee's report of his voyage on a freighter, the Stella Lykes. Another thing I really want to do before I croak. He travels for 42 days, through the Panama Canal and down the coast of South America delivering containers. The are attacked by pirates, navigate around storms, and discuss the decline of the American Merchant Marine. My father actually took a trip on one of the Lykes container ship and was stuck for several weeks on the west side of the Panama Canal during our invasion of Panama. Highly recommended for nautical buffs. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
An interesting read. I've often looked out at cargo ships passing through the bay of my home town and wondered what happens onboard. McPhee provides an insight into the decreasing size of the US Merchant Marine and paints it as a dying industry.

Unfortunately, the book meanders along without ever really reaching any high point or having something grander to say than describing the minutiae of every day. I think there were plenty of missed opporunties with this one. I haven't read any other of McPhee's works though, so this could be stylistic. ( )
  kenno82 | Jan 1, 2012 |
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This is an extraordinary tale of life on the high seas aboard one of the last American merchant ships, the S.S. Stella Lykes, on a forty-two-day journey from Charleston down the Pacific coast of South America. As the crew of the Stella Lykes makes their ocean voyage, they tell stories of other runs and other ships, tales of disaster, stupidity, greed, generosity, and courage.

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