Djibouti, Yokohama

Posted in cargo, NYHarbor, vhf by bowsprite on 2009/06/19

2232h, June 18, 2009  On VHF channel 13:
A man called out to the cargo ship, and was answered back: “Djibouti.”

“Yeah, Djibouti, I’m coming over, they dropped me off on the wrong ship, or I got on the wrong bus, they’re going to bring me over now.”

Good Heavens! where is the man?djibouti


2355h: Ships called out to each other, warning them of a Yokohama in the water. “We see it, thank you.”

I had heard whales were used as fenders, but I had thought this meant the way camels coddle the cruise ships, and dolphins stand at the mercy of the Staten Island ferries…but, indeed, in Japan, they used once-live, real whales–until the town of Yokohama came up with these BIG black, heavy industrial strength rubber fenders.


One small working boat captain found a new Yokohama floating in the water. It measured 6′ in diameter and 8′ long. He got a line on it, towed it home, and very quickly found someone who offered to buy it from him, but upon examining it, he noticed it was property of the USNavy.  The Yokohama was valued at the time at $17,500 (probably now, about $20,000). The prospective buyer had offered $10,000, but as it was government property, our gallant captain filed a salvage claim, which entitled him to 10% of its value. He towed it to the Navy Yard, who seemed reluctant to take it back, but 6 weeks later, he got his govt check for $1,750 and this good story.

13 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. tugster said, on 2009/06/20 at 06:34

    you hear the craziest things, most cryptic snippets of lives, on vhf and your drawings tell a story that grows between the lines . . . so to speak . . . between the few words, really. you’re a treasure. please keep listening and drawing. but . . . prithee . . . pray tell the source on the japanese use of real blubbery whales as fenders . . . sounds fishy to me . . . or whaley.

    • bowsprite said, on 2009/06/20 at 07:01

      I read it on the internet, so it must be true! Saw it mentioned in a few places, most notably, here on gCapt.

  2. Michael said, on 2009/06/21 at 20:51

    On the whole, I’d say that whales have some reasonable grievances in regards to the Japanese. Bumpers?!?!?!

    For fun, I refer you to the intersection of whales and Japan as it takes place in Laurie Anderson’s sperm whale skit:

    • bowsprite said, on 2009/06/21 at 21:07

      Ah! i LOVE Laurie Anderson! and I love the imagery of 400 “blind and desperate” whales charging 15,000 mph into Japanese waters…carrying information and sent for a purpose. POW!
      I volley back with these: OldSaltBlog‘s essay & Kennebec Capt‘s collection–with one brilliant idea: Deadliest Swap!

  3. Michael said, on 2009/06/21 at 21:42

    Deadliest swap!!!
    I saw Laurie do this skit once at the Beacon Theater when the Save the Whales movement was big (and you know her routines are a bit different every time) I remember vividly as she had it something like this: “Imagine 300 sperm whales pulling into Tokyo Bay at 1500 miles an hour…” the audience was laughing so hard people were in tears. Whales at mach 20 goddamnit!

    I have a different Laurie Anderson video slated for an upcoming holiday post.

  4. Mage Bailey said, on 2009/06/22 at 09:02

    Oh delightful. Whole new vocabularies. Leave me delighted especially with the wrong boat sketch.

  5. Kennebec Captain said, on 2009/06/22 at 12:56

    We used to stop in Italy on our way around the world. The union dispatcher would tell sailors we were “going to Italy and back”. The sailors would ask why we had cargo bound for the Persian, Singapore and Japan, I would tell then yes Italy and back, but back the long way.

    • bowsprite said, on 2009/06/22 at 13:39

      mmm! all that sea time!!!
      Shipping friends had circumnavigated the globe just to avoid the Suez Canal toll. That’s not as farfetched as it sounds, is it?

      • Kennebec Captain said, on 2009/06/23 at 10:14

        Some ships go around the Cape of Good Hope. I don’t know what the canal tolls are. I have heard 1/4 to 1/2 million in some cases. A ball park figure for a medium size ship might be operating costs of $20,000 – $30,000 a day. Persian Gulf to Gulf Coast USA via the Cape add about a week. Depends on fuel costs and cargo urgency.

  6. […] . .  there’s interest in a tubing party at sea.  If you haven’t already, check out Bowsprite’s reflections of prototypes for Yokohamas.  On those prototypes,  wonder how this is dealt with in […]

  7. […] experiences like traveling the river I find unexpected common ground, face to face, or  . . . VHF to […]

  8. […] -fenders that were once upon a time real whale bodies, but today, BIG black, heavy industrial strength rubber bumpers. One captain’s fender story is here. […]

  9. […] – fenders that were once upon a time real whale bodies, but today, are BIG black, heavy industrial strength rubber bumpers. One captain’s fender story is here. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: