Around and About Athens, New York, part 1

Enjoyments of Athens, New York

Memorial Day Weekend 2019 Pam and I visited Athens, first settled in the 17th Century by an ancestor through her maternal grandmother. Click me for more about the Van Loons. Jan Van Loon is 10 generations removed from Pam and her siblings and is one of 1024 (512 pairs) of ancestors. Whatever became of the other 1022 people (and all those in between) Pam was there with me that day to enjoy the experience of walking around town and talking about Jan Van Loon’s connection to herself.

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Founded as Loonenberg, named after the first settler Jan Van Loon. today,Athens is a lovely destination, a historic village on the Hudson River.

We stopped for a very enjoyable latte at Bonfiglio and Bread on 2nd street. As we ambled south on 2nd street Pam spotted someone to talk to and I proceeded with the goal of the Hudson River, visible at the bottom of the street.

I noticed this architectural specimen and turned to capture this side in a good light and was lucky to capture a young co-admirer of its style with whom I assume is her Mother. Athens, developed as a “National Register Historic Site,” is a charming place to stroll and admire.

Southeast view on 2nd Street between Water and Washington streets. Athens, New York

Hudson Riverfront

Yesterday I did a Red Cross blood donation at an elementary school on Hudson Street here in Ithaca. Henry Hudson, the first European to sail up the river that now bears his name, is memorialized this way across New York State so much so it is unusual to find the “Riverfront Park” named as such.

The city of Hudson, in Columbia County directly across the river named its park “Henry Hudson Riverfront Park.”

Looking east toward the entrance of the Riverfront Park, Athens, New York. Found at the east end of 2nd Street.

Peace and Quiet

The Athens Park is a gathering place for the village with a large swath of grass, a short boardwalk, benches and generous shade trees along with river…….

The photograph captions will speak for themselves for the rest of today’s post. Enjoy!!

A sole reader enjoys the solitude and view across the Hudson. A large mid-stream island, Middle Ground Flats, provides a swath of green instead of a view of the city Hudson.

…and a dock.

The map shows a dotted line between this dock in the Athens Riverside Park and the Henry Hudson Riverside park of the city of Hudson. Barely visible in front of the wooded hills is the Hudson-Athens lighthouse.
A pleasure craft motoring south on the Hudson River passes in front of the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse. On the eastern shore is a line of freight cars. Amtrack uses this line for service between New York City, Albany and beyond. We have enjoyed this Hudson River view from the train and highly recommend that trip.
Built 1874, the Hudson-Athens lighthouse guides traffics around the island named “Middle Ground Flats.”

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Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Killeany Bouy

a dangerous channel

The approach to Killeany Bay of the Aran Island Inishmore is very dangerous, guarded by a Lighthouse on Straw Island to the South and the Killeany buoy to the North.

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This view is to the north, northwest from a ferry en route to Inishmaan through Galway Bay.  In the distance is the Connemara and the 12 Bens (12 Pins) mountains. Aran Islands, County Galway, Ireland.

There of stories of this buoy coming unmoored.  October 27th 2012 it went adrift.  An Aran fisherman, Micheál Seóighe (Ml Joyce) and his boat Naomh Beanán tracked  it down, hauled it back to the harbor.  The buoy was back in service shortly after.

Here is a photograph of me with the camera used.  It is a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III with a Canon lens 200 mm f2.8/L.  I am standing on the deck of the Queen of Aran ferry out of Doolin next to the Cliffs of Mohr.

Pam Wills took this photograph with her Samsung Galaxy 4 smart phone.

WillsMichaelGalwayBay2014
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SONY DSC
Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Above Muirthemne Plain

Romance of Ruins

This series of posts started with “Proleek, Grandfather McCardle’s home” where we explored the site of great grandfather James McCardle’s Proleek farm.  A kilometer from there, at Proleek Dolmen, the ancient portal stones line up to face the plain rising to Slieve Gullion, a name for the mountain taken from the Irish,  Sliabh gCuillinn, meaning “mountain of the steep slope” or Sliabh Cuilinn, “Culann’s mountain.”

There is an connection between Proleek and Slieve Gullion.  Cycles of Irish Myth place a boy named Sétanta living on Muirthemne Plain, of which what we call Proleek Townland was a part.  One day, the king Conchobar was passing his kingdom, Muirthemne, on the way to a feast on the slopes of Slieve Gullion hosted by the blacksmith Culann when he stopped to watch boys playing hurling, Sétanta among them (it is ironic the Proleek Dolmen is surrounded by a golf course in modern times).

Impressed by the Sétanta’s skill, the king invites him to the feast.  Having a game to finish Sétanta promises to follow.  As evening falls the boy approaches the smith’s house to find himself attacked by a huge, aggressive dog.  Acting in the moment, Sétanta dispatches the dog with the hurley and ball he had at hand, driving the ball down the hound’s throat.  (In another version he smashes the hound against a standing stone.)

Feeling Culann mourn the loss of his beloved animal, Sétanta promises to raise and train a guard dog equal to the one he slew.  Until that time he also pledged to guard Culann’s home.  From that time Sétanta was known as “the hound of Cullann”, Cú Chulainn in Irish.

References
Wikipedia articles “Slieve Gullion” “Cú Chulainn” and “Conaille Muirtheimne.”

Island Romance

Happy Valentine’s Day with the original Moby Dick

Thinking about the Aran Islands for my posts, “Killeany Bouy” and “Inisheer Welcomes the 2014 Gaeltacht Irish Football champions” brought me back to Isla Mocha.

Herman Melville’s thoughts were in and around this island off the central Chilean coast when he penned “Moby Dick” in the mid-nineteenth century while sitting in the city of Boston.  He was brought Moby Dick not only by his own experiences on a whaling ship, almost certainly Melville owned a copy of Jeremiah N. Reynolds’ “Mocha Dick: Or The White Whale of the Pacific: A Leaf from a Manuscript Journal,” an true-life account of adventures around Isla Mocha.  Sometime around 1810 Reynolds personally experienced encounters with Mocha Dick after the crew of an Antarctic expedition mutinied, stranding him at Valparaíso, Chile where he remained for two years.

Located  38°21’45.62″S,  73°55’6.91″W, around 8 miles in size north to south, 3.5 miles east to west Isla Mocha is surprisingly simple to find.  A ridge of mountains run the north south axis, just 20 miles off the coast, a ship following the coast will find it easily, as I did from the balcony of the Oceania Regatta during a “sea day” of travel between Valparaiso and Puerto Montt.

MochaIslandGoogleMpasNarrow

Since waking that day I was on the lookout for Isla Mocha.  In preparation for our month-long cruise around South America every mile of our itinerary was scoured for interesting sights, experiences and information.  When I first learned of Isla Mocha (Mocha Island in English) and the connection with Melville reading about it in Boston, just as I was in Ithaca, one of my goals for that day was to catch sight of Isla Mocha as it rose from the horizon.

My goal was made easier for the cloud formation from the island mountains.  Here is my first photograph, taken from our balcony on the port side.  I chose the port side just for the landward view as the ship progressed southward on the western coast of South America.  The Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III was tripod mounted with an EF 70-300 f4-5.6L variable lens set to 70 mm.  We are northwest of the island with the coast just visible.

Isla Mocha First Sighting

Another view with 188 mm focal length.  The ship must have turned eastward, as the view progressed the island came closer.  It was a fantastic thought to cruise above the subduction zone where the Nazca plate dives beneath the South American Plate.  In the distance, on a clear day, the volcanic cones Villarrea and Quertrupillan are visible.

RomanceOfIslandsMochaIsland2016-2

With the island due east, only a few miles away, the lens at 221 mm focal length.  A fisherman is having an easier day in a calm sea.  The indigenous people told stories of the souls of the dead travelling west to Isla Mocha.  Pirates used the island as a resupply base.  The fishing boat was the only sign of life.

RomanceOfIslandsMochaIsland2016-3

That was February 14th Valentine’s Day.  With Isla Mocha passing into the distance I changed for an evening with Pam.  Here we are headed to dinner, somewhere off the coast of Chile’s Lakes (and volcano) region.

Valentines Day 2016

Islands Zealous and Sombrero

Where the Andes Stride Into the Pacific

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Islands Sombrero and Zealous
Islands Sombrero and Zealous In the distance are the crags of Porcia Island separated from Zealous Island, in the foreground, by Canal Cronjé (not visible). Sombrero Island is left, Zealous is the right.

The Gulf of Penas is a sunken bowl of the western side of the southern Andes.  Instead of canyons and valleys, fjords surrounded by craggy peaks are the rule.  Sailing ships, driven by storms of the western Pacific, found ways through the fjords all the way to the straits of Magellan.  This was our route as we entered the Messier Channel, a route discovered in the earliest years of colonial exploration.

Looking back the way we came…..

Peninsulas Larenas, Fresia, the Gulf of Penas
Peninsulas Larenas, Fresia, the Gulf of Penas The view is north-northeast from the entrance of the Messier Channel

At the mouth of the channel, Zealous and Sombrero are neighboring, and isolated hills.  Surrounded by water, they are also islands.  Zealous is just under 2,000 feet.  Sombrero, at 200 feet, is prominent only for its position and shape.

Here we are crowded by headlands, points, islands all rising steeply from the water.

Here I have views of these islands with craggy peninsulas in the distance.  The view is to the northeast and east.

Sombrero Island
Sombrero Island, 200 feet tall, rounded by glacial erosion.
Sombrero Island, Peninsulas Larenas and Fresia
Sombrero Island, Peninsulas Larenas and Fresia The entrance to Fjord Eloise is in the distance where the two ridges separate. We are here sailing the Messier Channel.

Maritime Pilots, Scout Island, Scout Canal

About maritime pilots and the Chilean Fjords

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On our way to Fjord Tempanos and the Iceberg Glacier…..

Background: on a ship, facing the bow (front), starboard is right and port is left).

In the 8 miles from Tarn Bay and Sombrero Island lands press closer, higher, islands increase in number.  This is a listing of some of the islands we passed. These names reflect the history of Chile, the waves of immigrants touch the land with memories. After some of the names, below, I provide in parentheses the derivation.

On starboard was the northern Wellington Archipelago (English General): Pinochet (the Chilean dictator), Penguin, Juan Stuven (Spanish and German), Chang (the far east), Millar (German).

On port, the names have a military flavor: Zealous, Scout, Scylla (Sea Monster of Greek mythology), Alert, Orlebar (British Officer Augustus Orlebar).

These port side island names reflect what is on the minds of mariners as navigational options narrow with the channel.  Innumerable channels, points, mid-channel islets, all looking very much the same, a potentially confusing jumble.  Chilean maritime law demands ships have on board, working from the bridge, a certified Chilean maritime pilot to transverse the country’s dangerous channels and fjords.  The combination of stopping distance (multiple nautical miles) and the loss of steering when a ship moves slowly make it essential to know, exactly, the route ahead.  It was a Chilean maritime pilot who help keep us safe.

A great personal hazard for pilots is boarding the ship from the pilot boat.  From our stateroom terrace we observed fast pilot boats in all seas approach the Regatta miles from port, the pilot on the bow, pull up alongside.  Without a harness, the pilot transfers from boat to ship.  We observed this several times from our stateroom veranda.

Here are shots of the pilot boat approaching the Regatta off the Peruvian port of Matarani. The boat was mirrored by the colorfully painted houses of Peru.

Don Roberto Approaches the Regatta
A fast pilot boat from Matarani approaches the Oceania Regatta. On the bow, the pilot will transfer from boat to ship. On board he will work with the Regatta crew to safely navigate the approach to the Matarani harbor and dock. The whiteness on the land is diatomaceous earth.
Don Roberto, Maritime pilot, approaches the Regatta
The whiteness on the land is diatomaceous earth.

A cautious approach. In the third shot the boat turns to slowly approach the Regatta.

Alongside, boat crewmembers joint Don Roberto on the bow to assist in the transfer. I am not sure which of the two blue uniformed persons was “our” pilot.

I did not capture the boarding of the pilot who served the Regatta through the Chilean Fjords.  Was is at Puerto Montt?  Puerto Chacobuco?  I am not sure.  I do know a maritime pilot was on board as the channel narrowed to 2 miles, named Scout Channel were we passed Scout Island.  I was facing generally east from our port side stateroom veranda while capturing these photographs as the Regatta headed south.

Scout Island and Canal
Scout Island. The water is Scout Channel

The peak on Scout Island is about 2,100 feet. The smaller peaks in front are about 1,200 and 1,500 feet. All rise straight up from Scout channel.

Scout Island
Scout Island lies on the Scout Canal
Scylla Island
Lying just south of Scout Island, Scylla Island is between our ship, in the Scout Canal, and the Kruger Canal. The Kruger is short, between Islands Scout, Orebar, Zealous, Porcia and Tito.
Islet Alert and Orebar Island
Islet Alert is between Canal Scout and Canal Kruger. On the far left there are waves breaking on Pilot Point of Orebar Island, marking the northern end of a small bay, named Hale. You can see the bay behind Islet Alert. On the far left there are waves breaking on Pilot Point

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Views of Larenas and Fresia Peninsulas

mountainous crags over the Pacific Ocean

In English the Gulf of Penas means “Gulf of Distress.”  Open to the storms of the western pacific ocean, ships seeking refuge sail this body of water to reach the shelter of the bays around the entrance of the Messier Channel.

Stargazing Chileans named the channel after Charles Messier (1730 – 1870), author of a catalog of 110 visually diffuse celestial objects such as the Great Cluster of Hercules, the Crab Nebula of Taurus, the Ring Nebula of Lyra.  As Messier catalog objects these are listed on star charts as M13,M1,M57.

The Larenas and Fresia peninsulas of Aisen Province, Chile, on the southeastern shores of the gulf are seen here as we approach the Messier Channel.  The shore is dotted with islets and islands.  The Chilean pilot who came aboard at Puerto Chacobuco is earning his salary, keeping us safe.  To reach the channel we pass through Tarn Bay, generally north to south.  The southern margin of the bay is marked by Sombrero Island, the subject of my next blog.

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Larenas Peninsula and Merino Islets
Larenas Peninsula and Merino Islets
Close-up of the Merino Islets
Close-up of the Merino Islets
Ayautau Isles
Ayautau Isles
Larenas Peninsula from Gulf of Penas
The Northern Patagonian Ice Fields lay to the east and north of these mountains of the Larenas Peninsula.
High Ridge of the Larenas Peninsula
High Ridge of the Larenas Peninsula
Larenas Peninsula High Ridge
Larenas Peninsula High Ridge 2
Larenas Peninsula High Ridge Close 3
Larenas Peninsula High Ridge Close 3
The craggy heights of the Larenas Peninsula
The craggy heights of the Larenas Peninsula are in the rear. On the right are Fresia Point (of the eponymous peninsula) and the entrance to Fjord Eloisa.
Larenas Peninsula High Ridge Closer 5
Larenas Peninsula High Ridge Closer 5

Entering Messier Channel from the Gulf of Penas

Sailing a deep fjord

Gulf of Penas
The Gulf of Penas is exposed to the storms of the western pacific. We are here moving from Aisen Region to the Magellan Region of Chile. Also known as Patagonia. This view is the Larenas Peninsula. The Northern Patagonian Ice Fields are on the other side of those mountains, the Southern Andes.

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Taken with a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark3, the EF 70-300 f 4-5.6L IS USM lens, tripod mounted on a Manfrotto carbon fiber travel tripod.  UV filter  1/160 second at f 6.3 ISO 250.

There is a steady wind of about 12 mph driving a few white caps.  A line of surf is seen breaking against the cliffs.  Shot midmorning from our stateroom terrace as the Regatta cruises south, February 17, 2016.  We are headed to an encounter with the Iceberg Glacier of the Southern Ice Fields of Patagonia.

Photography conditions were poor: shooting into the sun from an unstable platform gives poor contrast for the mountain crags.  The stabilization of the Canon lens was helpful and I balanced the need for a short exposure with the lowest ISO possible.  No time to experiment.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Moll’s Gap on Getty

Happy New Year….starting it off right

We are near Molls Gap on the Ring of Kerry. At our feet is Eric townland, there’s an eponymous Bog Nature Reserve down there. At our feet is Eric townland, there’s an eponymous Bog Nature Reserve down there.

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Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved