Marja-Leena Rathje
Home ::: ship in the night

ship in the night


As I seek something warm to drink and soothe me to sleep,
the lights of a ship anchored in the sea light my way to the kitchen,
I hope to dream of exotic voyages to romantic southern isles
but not the dark terrors of the night.

Added several hours later: I just remembered this much earlier post of a truly dream-like nightship.

Marja-Leena | 12/10/2010 | 14 comments
themes: Being an Artist, Photography


What a remarkable, even eerie, image! I hope you eventually floated off to sleep.

Sweet dreams, have a nice week!
Ps. You`ve got a charming view!

Read Malcolm Lowry's "The Forest Path to the Spring" where he writes about the great ships moving out the harbour past Dollarton in the early 1940s. His description of the lights on them and the nearby refinery are memorable.

Lorianne! Eerie in a way, yes. And thanks, I did get some sleep eventually, such an insomniac that I am.

Leena, kiitos! We enjoy our water and mountain view very much. We don't often have freighters this far northeast, only when there are too many waiting at the working docks in the city. At night their lights are a delight.

Black Pete, I was just adding a link to another nightship I'd featured three years ago as your comment came in. Then and now, you mention this book, how's that for synchronicity. Now I really must find and read that book. Lowry lived and wrote for a while right by these waters, in a park a little to the south of us!

Eerie photo indeed, but also a haunting memory of the change of seasons and the coming of longer nights I used to experience living in Vancouver.

I found a certain comfort in the long nights in the cold seasons. We have everything here except coziness: no fires or warm drinks or woolen garments. We experience the seasons in an episodic way, as we spend about three months a year on the Mainland. We'll be back in January to look after our grandkids, so will experience the blasts of winter. Our closets at the condo have our long-sleeved shirts and long pants, our coats, hats, etc. that we never need here.

One regret I have is that I missed the opportunity to travel on a tramp steamer. Once upon a time you could just go to any destination you wished - it was cheap but even if you didn't have much money it was often possible to work as a cook's helper or deckhand if you were strong . Then came container ships that don't look like fun at all; neither do cruise liners.

Your beautiful photograph here and those on the old post are very evocative of a far slower time.

Beautiful photo (and love the ones from 2007, too!). Dreams have such a watery quality, drifting off to sleep and floating. Hope you sleep well with these longer nights.

Maria, I hope those memories of Vancouver aren't too haunting!

Hattie, I like that coziness too when it gets colder, so long as one's home heating and fireplaces work. Don't you find it a bit if a shock to your system moving back and forth from semi-tropical to winter and back? Pacific Northwest winters are relatively mild though. Anyway, it's only just fall here.

Susan, is that why Crow travels so much on steamers? My in-laws once came back from Europe in the early 70's on a freighter, bringing their new VW camper van with them, and they enjoyed it and saved money. I'm not sure the freighters and container ships like this in our port have that cachet but it's amazing how much better they look at night lit like Christmas trees.

Leslee, thanks, and I agree about dreams being watery and floating... which is why this photo seemed so fitting for the subject - or was it vice-versa? I do wish I could be cured of insomnia though, it doesn't make a difference what time of year it is.

I always feel like I age 10 years when I leave Hawaii! Luckily, I manage to get back to normal after some rest when I return. But my children and grandchildren live in Seattle. What can I do?

I like the idea of looking out at night-lit ships from one's home, imagining the life on board them. Glad you slept OK in the end.

Hattie, the important thing is that you love where you have chosen to live and return to from your many trips. I love where we are and don't ever want to leave until that last journey.

Lucy, the ships of the night do inspire much imaginative thoughts, for sure. Just like other kinds of lights and fires at night must have inspired the myths and fables and stories by our long ago ancestors.

Not wishing to put a damper on things but the ship looks like a tanker - a reminder of all that's going wrong with the world: diminishing resources, pollution, political power struggles - you know, the funny bits of the evening news. But that's the ship as a symbol. In reality all ships (even grotesque and otherwise ugly container ships) have a special apartness that I find thrilling. And this one with many of its telling details hidden by the dark is just that: a mobile world that could be en route to Bahia Blanca rather than (more likely) an oil terminal just up the coast. When sailing off the Brittany coast in my brother's yacht we found ourself on an intersecting course with a huge tanker, gaily coloured, authoritative, seemingly well made. I enjoyed the fact that we'd entered its exotic sphere of operations and that we and it were apart from humdrum landlocked folk. Gosh, this has become far too flossy. THE END

BB, you are right, it is an oil tanker, I thought it to be a container ship. Ships look so romantic at night but the reality is quite scary. Us residents in the area are shocked to have learned those ships in our lovely inlet are oil tankers. Since the Gulf of Mexico tragedy, Greater Vancouverites are looking harder at these tankers in our inner port. The numbers have quietly grown tremendously in the past few years as crude oil is sent by pipe to Burnaby then loaded onto these tanker ships heading south and to Asia. Also there is a battle over a proposed pipeline from the oil sands of Alberta across our northern wilderness to the pristine west coast. How safe is all this? What happens if there is a spill? There is now a protest movement underway called NO tankers. I could link to more but that gives you an idea should you be interested.