ancestryink fisherman

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Ship Tunnel?

I am wrung out.  Since Monday, like most of us, I have been tensely-riveted to the Boston news, following the pursuit and capture of the two Marathon bombers.  I find it hard to cheer, exactly, since the events of last Monday have such long-term devastating results for so many.  However - a huge sigh of relief to find the second suspect taking refuge under the tarp of a boat,  up on chocks, wintering over in a backyard in Watertown, MA.  (Now, probably one very un-seaworthy boat!)

This brought to mind how many times men have taken refuge in boats, either as stowaways to a new land, for pleasure, or simply to earn their living on the high seas - a place they felt most at home. I happen to know that my (now infamous) master mariner great-grandfather once spent at least part of a year living on his boat, landlocked in a friend's backyard, in Owl's Head, Maine while he was working on barges for a fishery in Rockland.  His census record for that year actually included this detail.

Ship's tunnel. BBC online news magazine article. AFP photo.

With all this boat stuff in mind, this morning I noticed that the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, Maine (one of my Facebook friends)  just happened to post a link to this BBC news article on their Facebook page, entitled "Who, what, why: Why Build a Ship Tunnel?"  The Norwegian government has okay-ed the massive project to construct a "ship tunnel."  This will be the only existing ship tunnel, built through solid rock, and will accommodate large freighters and passenger ships.   Though canals are not new, never has an actual tunnel for ocean travel been constructed.

According to the article, this fascinating and massive project was originally imagined in the 19th century.  Engineers explain that its purpose is not for speed of passage, but for safety, mentioning the history of accidents and deaths since WWII on Norway's ocean shipping lines - a country that relies on shipping for a great deal of its trade.
The Russian cruiser "Murmansk" wrecked off Norway coast, 1994
 The tunnel, unlike a canal, will remove the threats of extreme weather and bad seas, citing among others,  the 2004 near-wreck of a cruise ship carrying almost 200 passengers, due to rough weather. 

Safety in boats did not work out too well for the 19 year old Marathon bomber, but perhaps the Ship Tunnel will serve a better purpose, in this respect.  And if they complete the project, it would be a incredible voyage to make.

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