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Home BLOGS Random Part 2 of Life and Work on a Containership: The Last Leg of a Long Journey

Part 2 of Life and Work on a Containership: The Last Leg of a Long Journey
Written by Marty Machado   
Monday, 06 September 2010 10:12
by Martin Machado

Well the last time I wrote in to Fecalface I was approaching Dubai on the last of my three fifty-seven day trips from New York to Singapore and back. In typical shipping industry fashion, there was a drastic change of plans at the last minute. The head honcho’s at APL decided to start sending this fleet of ships through the dry-docks in Singapore and we were to be the first. So unfortunately I was not going to be home for the holidays as planned and my stay on board would now exceed six months. However, I was going to get to spend two full weeks in Singapore, after which our ship would start a Pacific run, hitting several new Asian ports and eventually sailing back under that beautiful Golden Gate into my home port of San Francisco.

The Dry-Docks in Singapore

So after leaving our pals in Dubai, we sailed straight to Singapore and unloaded all of our containers at our normal dock. We then sailed completely empty, and very high in the water, to the shipyard in an industrial area on the west side called Tuas.

It was quite an operation getting everything in place. Huge overhead cranes assisted us with many mooring lines, making sure the we were in perfect position so that the keel would rest upon pre-positioned blocks and the ship would not tip over when the water was pumped out. Almost instantly we are flooded with hundreds of workers from the shipyard. Welders, pipe fitters, electricians, and specialists of all kinds, climb aboard as the ever-looming cranes drop their massive amounts of tools onto the hatch covers. Most of the laborers are on two-year contracts from their homes in India. While friendly and good workers, they immediately steal anything that we have not locked away: spare line, flashlights, shackles, life-rings, etc. They make so little that we don’t blame them and nobody puts up much of a fuss, but we are careful to lock our cabin doors. The heat is sweltering, it rains insanely hard every afternoon, and the noise is constant and unbearable without earplugs. There are hundreds of projects being worked on, but the main objective is stripping/painting the hull and inspecting/cleaning the prop.

In the deck gang, for the first few days we work very hard, stripping the hatches of thousands of heavy steel lashing rods, turnbuckles, and container cones. We become day workers, meaning we get to work regular 8-5 hours and even have the option of taking weekends! I take advantage of the opportunity to see more of Singapore as much as possible. There is a great subway system around the island and finding new areas to wander becomes my favorite pastime: Little India, Club Street, Boat Quay, Arab Street, the standing wave on Santosa Island, the Night Safari, Chinatown. It feels great to call a place home for a while but in the dusty shipyard it doesn’t take long for everyone to get a bit antsy. A couple of crewmates have spent nearly their entire paychecks ashore on tattoos, booze, and women. There seems to be a unanimous desire to get back to sea, sailors weren’t meant to be onshore this long.

Finally the necessary work is done. We have a bright new paint job, a shiny prop, and although the decks are a complete mess, they fill the dry dock with water, open the gate, and we get underway. After several engine failures and a quick stop to pick up a full load of empty containers, we are happily back at sea, en route to China.

Asian Ports

As we wind between oil rigs of the South China sea we begin getting the ship back in shape. Scrap metal on deck and other garbage is thrown overboard. It still seems a little weird doing it, but at a certain distance offshore it is legal, and pretty necessary at times, to throw basically anything but plastics overboard. Inside the house the ship is a total mess from all the shipyard traffic. Decks are mopped, bulkheads are sooged, and I go back to my crazy hours as a 12-4 watch stander. In a matter of days the temperature drops dramatically as we get closer to China. Huge fleets of fishing vessels become more prominent and we must keep a sharp eye out for the incandescent flashing of their buoys at night. At times they are so thick that we must cut between small fishing boats and we usually get a sort of “F.U.” from the fishermen in the form of a bright spotlight in our eyes on the bridge.

Unfortunately our Chinese visas did not arrive in time in Singapore so we were not allowed ashore in Qingdao. I wish I could say more, but I really didn’t see much, a thick layer of smog/mist filled the air so that I could barely see the landscape. The local longshoremen were rosy cheeked and smiling, wearing black Russian looking hats with ear-flaps. We left China quickly and in a day we were in Pusan Korea, where I spent Christmas Eve wandering the winding European looking streets of downtown. I was really impressed with Pusan, super nice people, delicious street food, and cheap shopping. Christmas was spent en route to Japan. The cooks made us a big feast and even broke out some boxed wine for the crew. I made a Christmas tree out of an old green tarp and my pal Charlie helped me decorate it with paper ornaments. We pulled into Yokohama the next night and were in and out of port way too fast. I ran ashore with my crewmate who was appropriately named by his parents “Rowdy”. As usual the cab driver automatically brought us to a sort of red light district. Brothels advertised their services with Anime women in various poses with prices next to them. We met some friendly locals who helped us order dinner in a pint sized restaurant. We shared some Sake, said goodbye and headed back to the ship, unsatisfied with our short exploration of Japan but so happy to finally be heading home.

The Pacific and Finally Home

The Pacific was surprisingly mellow. I really wanted to get some kick ass storms so I could brag about how the Pacific should be re-named El Diablo compared to all the other wuss oceans, but aside from the cold drizzly weather, we managed to avoid any really bad systems. We took another “Great Circle” north up under the Aleutian Chain. Working on deck was very cold, but we had some nice clear nights with bright stars out. On New Years Eve we crossed the international dateline, so as we counted down, the calendar switched back and it was New Years Eve all over again, a little anti-climactic. With the swell behind us we cruised steadily toward Los Angeles. On the day of our arrival I woke up to Santa Rosa Island, my old crab/lobster fishing grounds, on one of those crisp and clear Southern California winter mornings with Santa Barbara looming bright in the background. It was pretty ridiculous: the sun shining, dolphins all over, some literally leaping high out of the water, like Walt Disney himself had set up a slightly creepy welcome into LA. The port stay in LA seemed like it would never end. Luckily some old friends came down to see the ship and bring me some beers and In-N-Out burger. After three days and several engine issues later, we were finally heading north along the coast towards home. I happily volunteered for bow lookout at dawn, I didn’t care how cold it was, I was too excited to be home. The fog seemed to split as the wind sucked us under the Golden Gate. The green starboard light of a small fishing boat eased past us, and an awakening San Francisco was a sight for sore eyes. The sun came up over Oakland as we pulled in near Jack London Square. We had gone the long way from New York Harbor to the San Francisco Bay. Not a full circum-navigation, but pretty dang close. I’m very happy to be home now. Time to catch up with family and friends and start painting full time again. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed my stories. I’ll leave you with a few inspirational posters from the ship and some recent paintings. thanks- martin

John Felix Arnold III on the Road to NYC

Well, John Felix Arnold III is at it again. This time, he and Carolyn LeBourgios packed an entire show into the back of a Prius and drove across the country to install it at Superchief Gallery in NYC. I met with him last week as he told me about the trip over delicious burritos at Taqueria Cancun (which is right across the street from FFDG and serves what I think is the best burrito in the city) as the self proclaimed "Only overweight artist in the game" spilled all the details.


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Ever Gold opened a new solo show by NYC based Henry Gunderson a couple Saturday nights ago and it was literally packed. So packed I couldn't actually see most of the art - but a big crowd doesn't seem like a problem. I got a good laugh at what I would call the 'cock climbing wall' as it was one of the few pieces I could see over the crowd. I haven't gotten a chance to go back and check it all out again, but I'm definitely going to as the paintings that I could get a peek at were really high quality and intruiguing. You should do the same.


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I just wanted to share with you a piece I recently finished which took me 4 years to complete. Titled "How To Lose Yourself Completely (The September Issue)", it consists of a copy of the September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine (the issue they made the documentary about) with all faces masked with a sharpie, and everything else entirely whited out. 840 pages of fun. -Bryan Schnelle


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The Albatross and the Shipping Container

Beautiful piece entitled "The Albatross and the Shipping Container", Ink on Paper, Mounted to Panel, 47" Diameter, by San Francisco based Martin Machado now on display at FFDG. Stop in Saturday (1-6pm) to view the group show "Salt the Skies" now running through April 19th. 2277 Mission St. at 19th.


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For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to quit my job, move out of my house, leave everything and travel again. So on August 21, 2013 I pushed a canoe packed full of gear into the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Lake Itasca, Minnesota, along with four of my best friends. Exactly 100 days later, I arrived at a marina near the Gulf of Mexico in a sailboat.


Flavio Samelo's Downtown Sao Paulo Murals

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"Portrait of a Slugger 19" by Hiro Kurata

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"Veins of Octulen" by Curiot at FFDG

"Salt the Skies" opened on the 21st at FFDG and features this great piece by Mexico City based Curiot (Favio Martinez) whose sold out 2013 show Age of Omuktlans ran at FFDG. His forthcoming solo show is slated for March 2015.


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Rome based multimedia artist Alice Pasquini emailed over a recent mural completed in the historic working class neighborhood of Rome called Tufello.


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"John French with Hasselblad", photo collage/ hand cut paper on wooden panel, by Lola Dupre which will be part of tomorrow's opening of "Salt the Skies" at FFDG in San Francisco. 2277 Mission St. (6-9pm) - RSVP here.


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contact FF

Nychos Friday @Fifty24SF
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SAN FRANCISCO --- You've seen the murals pop up around town the last week from this Austrian street artist as he prepares for his solo show at Fifty24SF opening this Friday, 4/18.

GET THE SHOW DETAILS --- a bunch of NYCHOS

 

Banksy's Mobile Lovers
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Speaking of Banksy (wait, were we speaking of Banksy?)... In any case, love his newest creation "Mobile Lovers" located in Bristol, England.

I love you, dear.... Huh? Wut?

 

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Wednesday, 16 June 2010 16:39


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Check photos from his last San Francisco solo show in 2012, and mark your calendar for August as his next solo show opens at FFDG.

Beering with Fish at his favorite watering hole, Zeitgeist

 

///
Wednesday, 25 April 2012 10:56

 

Statue Of A Homeless Jesus Startles A Wealthy Community
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Think how high those throw ups can be now.

 

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Have you been to the Headland Center for the Arts in the Marin Headlands?

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Some galleries have been forced to close due to 300% rent hikes. Many artists have fled to Oakland, LA and NYC in search of affordable housing and a more vibrant art scene... But we wanna know what you think of how it's going here in San Francisco. How are you making it work? What's your take on the art scene or lack there of? Do you think things are on the up and up or down and out here in San Francisco? Are artists a bunch of complainers and every thing looks great or is it curtains for San Francisco's artistic community? Thoughts

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Nikki McClure at Needles & Pens, Friday 4/11
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This approach was born and bred out of the Olympia, Washington independent music scene. There, local artists emphasized everything handmade and self-published. The idea was to do a lot with a little. The result was a rich community sharing artistry and ideas. McClure found herself deeply embedded in this community which shaped an ethic of hands-on and accessible artmaking. - show details

 

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Wednesday, 25 August 2010 11:50


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FULL CALENDARS: BAY AREA | NYC | LA

 


 

 

 

John Felix Arnold III on the Road to NYC

Well, John Felix Arnold III is at it again. This time, he and Carolyn LeBourgios packed an entire show into the back of a Prius and drove across the country to install it at Superchief Gallery in NYC. I met with him last week as he told me about the trip over delicious burritos at Taqueria Cancun (which is right across the street from FFDG and serves what I think is the best burrito in the city) as the self proclaimed "Only overweight artist in the game" spilled all the details.


FRENCH in Melbourne

London based illustrator FRENCH recently held a show of new works at the Melbourne based Mild Manners


Henry Gunderson at Ever Gold, SF

Ever Gold opened a new solo show by NYC based Henry Gunderson a couple Saturday nights ago and it was literally packed. So packed I couldn't actually see most of the art - but a big crowd doesn't seem like a problem. I got a good laugh at what I would call the 'cock climbing wall' as it was one of the few pieces I could see over the crowd. I haven't gotten a chance to go back and check it all out again, but I'm definitely going to as the paintings that I could get a peek at were really high quality and intruiguing. You should do the same.


Mario Wagner @Hashimoto

Mario Wagner (Berkeley) opened his new solo show A Glow that Transfers Creativity last Saturday night at Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco.


Serge Gay Jr. @Spoke Art

The paintings in the show are each influenced by a musician, ranging from Freddy Mercury, to Madonna, to A Tribe Called Quest and they are so stylistically consistent with each musician's persona that they read as a cohesive body of work with incredible variation. If you told me they were each painted by a different person, I would not hesitate to believe you and it's really great to see a solo show with so much variety. The show is fun, poppy, very well done, and absolutely worth a look and maybe even a listen.


NYCHOS Mural on Ashbury and Haight

NYCHOS completed this great new mural on the corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco on Tuesday. Looks Amazing.


Sun Milk in Vienna

With rising rent in SF and knowing mostly other young artists without capitol, I desired a way to live rent free, have a space to do my craft, and get to see more of the world. Inspired by the many historical artists who have longed similar longings I discovered the beauty of artist residencies. Lilo runs Adhoc Collective in Vienna which not only has a fully equipped artists creative studio, but an indoor halfpipe, and private artist quarters. It was like a modern day castle or skate cathedral. It exists in almost a utopic state, totally free to those that apply and come with a real passion for both art and skateboarding


"How To Lose Yourself Completely" by Bryan Schnelle

I just wanted to share with you a piece I recently finished which took me 4 years to complete. Titled "How To Lose Yourself Completely (The September Issue)", it consists of a copy of the September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine (the issue they made the documentary about) with all faces masked with a sharpie, and everything else entirely whited out. 840 pages of fun. -Bryan Schnelle


Tyler Bewley ~ Recent Works

Some great work from San Francisco based Tyler Bewley.


Kirk Maxson and Alexis Mackenzie at Eleanor Harwood Gallery

While walking our way across San Francisco on Saturday we swung through the opening receptions for Kirk Maxson and Alexis Mackenzie at Eleanor Harwood Gallery in the Mission.


Jeremy Fish Solo Show in Los Angeles

Jeremy Fish opens Hunting Trophies tonight, Saturday April 5th, at the Los Angeles based Mark Moore Gallery. The show features new work from Fish inside the "hunting lodge" where viewers climb inside the head of the hunter and explore the history of all the animals he's killed.


The Albatross and the Shipping Container

Beautiful piece entitled "The Albatross and the Shipping Container", Ink on Paper, Mounted to Panel, 47" Diameter, by San Francisco based Martin Machado now on display at FFDG. Stop in Saturday (1-6pm) to view the group show "Salt the Skies" now running through April 19th. 2277 Mission St. at 19th.


The Marsh Barge - Traveling the Mississippi River from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico

For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to quit my job, move out of my house, leave everything and travel again. So on August 21, 2013 I pushed a canoe packed full of gear into the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Lake Itasca, Minnesota, along with four of my best friends. Exactly 100 days later, I arrived at a marina near the Gulf of Mexico in a sailboat.


Flavio Samelo's Downtown Sao Paulo Murals

Our buddy Flavio Samelo down there in Brazil does all kinds of great work including this recent mural project in downtown Sao Paulo in front of one of the most important modern buildings of Oscar Niemeyer from the 60's, THE COPAN.


John Trippe, FFDG and Fecalface.com Founder, Stepping Down From Daily Operations

John Trippe, founder, owner and curator of FecalFace.com and the Mission District art gallery FFDG, announced today that he will stepping down from daily operations of the two ventures to seek new career opportunities.


High 5s - Get Your Feet Wet

I purchased one of the first digital cameras when Fecal Face went online in 2000. It was a massive Kodak with 2 mega pixels


"Touching Base" by Schuyler Beecroft

San Francisco based Schuyler Beecroft emailed over the great new series of paintings he's completed entitled "Touching Base", 16x20in on mounted wood panel. Like them.


Flume - Space Cadet (ft. Ghostface Killah & Autre Ne Veut)

Buddies Jay Howell & Jim Dirschberger did this great video produced by Forest City Rockers.


Fire Shelter for Papay Gyro Nights 2014

Last year we posted photos from another one of Simon Hjermind Jensen's Fire Shelters he's made in Copenhagen. This time around the Copenhagen based artist/ designer created one for the Papay Gyro Nights 2014 way up in on the Orkney Islands in Northern Scotland.


"Portrait of a Slugger 19" by Hiro Kurata

Beautiful painting by NYC based Hiro Kurata now on display at SF's FFDG through April 19th as part of the group show "Salt the Skies".


"Veins of Octulen" by Curiot at FFDG

"Salt the Skies" opened on the 21st at FFDG and features this great piece by Mexico City based Curiot (Favio Martinez) whose sold out 2013 show Age of Omuktlans ran at FFDG. His forthcoming solo show is slated for March 2015.


Rome's Alice Pasquini ~Mural+

Rome based multimedia artist Alice Pasquini emailed over a recent mural completed in the historic working class neighborhood of Rome called Tufello.


Project M/3 in Berlin curated by NUART

BERLIN --- Project M is a temporary art project with the objective to improve the neighborhood, to push creativity and to connect people. At regular intervals Urban Nation with director Yasha Young invites a group of internationally reclaimed contemporary urban artists to re-design the facade and shop windows of a prominent residential building in Berlin, while it is being reconstructed.


John French with Hasselblad by Lola Dupre

"John French with Hasselblad", photo collage/ hand cut paper on wooden panel, by Lola Dupre which will be part of tomorrow's opening of "Salt the Skies" at FFDG in San Francisco. 2277 Mission St. (6-9pm) - RSVP here.


"Salt the Skies" at FFDG Opening Fri, Mar 21st

FFDG's spring show "Salt the Skies" is set to open on Friday, March 21st (6-9pm) -- Featuring works by Brett Amory, John Felix Arnold, Mario Ayala, Jud Bergeron, Curiot (Favio Martinez), Christopher Burch, Lola Dupre, Michelle Fleck, Matt Gonzalez, Hiro Kurata, Marty Machado, Mark Mulroney, and Nicomi Nix Turner


Brian Barneclo's 225' Food Chain Mural

San Francisco based Brian Barneclo was commissioned in 2006 to paint a HUGE mural on the side of Foods Co on Shotwell at 14th Streets. After some time on its own, it got pretty taxed by misc graffiti and pigeon shit.


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