Out on the water, at any one point in time, you’ll see a few boats that appear to be stationary or drifting. Perhaps, they are fishing? Perhaps, they are taking a break? Perhaps they’ve dropped anchor or have paused for some other reason.
In contrast, the majority of boats seem to be chugging right along. Many are working vessels, commercial vessels – transporting goods or doing other things that need to be done.
In Seattle, year-round, we have ferries that transport vehicles and/or passengers. We also see a wide assortment of ships. These range from massive cargo ships (and, in tourist season, cruise ships) to our ubiquitous tugboats – which, like ants, somehow manage to tow and guide barges and other vessels much bigger than themselves.
Especially during the warmer months, we see a wide assortment of pleasure craft. They run the gamut from expensive and impressive yachts to more modest ski boats. We also see amazing sailboats – vintage vessels, as well as modern ones.
As well, I see a lot of human-powered vessels: rowboats and dories, kayaks, canoes, and people on stand-up paddle boards or sailboards. Even in December, I’ve noticed a few of those hardy souls out on the water.
Our area’s aging fishing fleet vessels still head to Alaskan waters each season, and return for the winter. These days, I don’t have as much visibility to their comings and goings. Most are based out of a marina some miles north of West Seattle.
I do have a fairly steady view to vessels that make long voyages, as well as to those making short crossings to our nearby islands.
I see some boats laden with heavy loads. Others seemingly carry light loads and no ballast at all. Some boats seem to be on peaceful voyages or exciting adventures, and some are without a doubt on very difficult journeys. Others are cruising fast, bouncing or even skimming over the water. A few others barely look seaworthy…I worry about them and wonder if they will reach their destinations.
It always strikes me that this kaleidoscope of maritime traffic is heading in all different directions – from, and to – many far-away places that I may never see. Some of these boats call Seattle home, while many others are just passing our shores.
I enjoy the views from here, as well as the perspectives I’ve gained from my observations over time and over different seasons. Some of these perspectives are metaphorical, of course. Most of these lines that I’ve written about boats just as easily describe people.
Last December, I discovered this wonderful timelapse view of Seattle. I think it captures the essence of our city well. More importantly, it offers an opportunity to see views of our city cumulatively. I especially enjoy the many scenes of boats, and the beauty of the patterns formed by their movements. The accelerated scenes on the lake remind me of ice skaters. My favorite scenes are of the houseboats, and the boats in the Bell Harbor marina; they gently rock, as time literally sweeps over them.
This video also illustrates how many years feel to me: so fleeting.
As 2016 draws to a close, I’ll wrap with a hat tip to the late Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot speech. He brought a wonderfully broad and unique perspective to our world, and this video clip includes some great imagery.
On the radio recently, I heard someone (obviously a boater) say of a similar image, “Looking at that globe – all of that water!”
Cheers to all of this wonderful water, to all of the wonderful boats and people in this world, and to another remarkable year here together!