a mariner’s story

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2013/08/03


“I was walking in San Francisco on a small street not far from where I lived in North Beach.  It was spring, sunny and breezy.  The street was a quiet street of small galleries, lined with lacy locust trees.

I remember looking at a sign hanging above the door to one of the galleries.  It was dark wood, beautifully varnished, with gold-leaf lettering.  The sign was swinging slightly in the breeze and the shadows from the trees were playing across it.  As I was looking at it, I heard a ship’s horn; one long blast, then three shorts.  I immediately knew that the big dinner cruise boat was backing out of its slip.  One long blast, a warning that I’m coming out of a blind slip, and three shorts, my engines are operating astern.  I knew what the boat was saying.  I speak boat.  I didn’t know what the sign said, it was in Chinese.  Not having been distracted by what the sign said, I remember every detail of its texture, color, the play of the light across it.  Of the ship’s horn, I only remember what it said.”

— Daniel Porter, mariner 

6 Responses

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  1. alice said, on 2013/08/03 at 06:43

    great story, daniel; i especially love the line “i speak boat.” and bowsprite . . . “you speak story telling with watercolor accent.” please keep telling and DON’T lose your accent . . .

  2. walt stevens said, on 2013/08/03 at 10:52

    Thank you for Sharing, i’m going to have to listen for that Series of horn blasts on the West Side Passenger ship Terminals. Trains have a similar system and Backing up is 3 short blasts.

  3. 2geeks3knots said, on 2013/08/03 at 19:10

    Love that expression, “I speak boat.” Looking forward to seeing more stories from your drawing board 🙂

  4. doryman said, on 2013/08/03 at 22:14

    If only the rest of our lives had such clear and concise language. By the way, what does the sign in Chinese say?


  5. mageb said, on 2013/08/06 at 08:39

    You always speak boat in a color I understand. Thank you both.

  6. bluebrightly said, on 2013/08/06 at 23:49

    That’s a great story about perception and the senses…and another lovely illustration from your hand.

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