Friday, December 31, 2010

As The Sun Sets On The Calendar Year...

Above photo and information below are used with thanks to owners of this blog site where additional text and informative, entertaining photos are to be found:     

Washington Island, Wisconsin -

Our foreign reporters in the Caicos have updated their blog site with more information on the C.G. RICHTER, now TREASURE SEEKER.   The red-hulled pirate-like ship was recently towed from protected but shallow harbor to deep water where an ocean-going tug took her astern for a long tow to a repair facility in Puerto Rico.  There, from what we understand, a new rudder will be fabricated and installed while the boat, or at least the stern, is out of water.   The owner's marine insurance company has apparently authorized both this tow and the repairs necessary to get the vessel seaworthy and on its way to the end-destination of St. Thomas, where it will be placed in a charter capacity for cruise ship visitors on shore excursion.    

Given the somewhat difficult trip thus far, we wish the owners better going the rest of the way, and with their venture.  They are now some 14 months since sailing the vessel for the last time from Detroit Harbor, Washington Island as the C.G.RICHTER.

  -  Dick Purinton

Thursday, December 30, 2010



Ten days ago we had a beautiful, soft snowfall, backlit by a full moon at sunrise.  Extraordinary morning light.  

Today, by contrast, the air temperature is up to 39 F, it is drizzling, and the snow has melted into mush.  True, island roads have mostly cleared of ice, but the unpleasantness of plowed up hunks of lawn sod and the residue left by town sand trucks is exposed, reminder of a long slog into summer.  

Out on the ice this past week, local fishermen had towed their ice shacks out from shore and tried their luck perch fishing.  We had gotten used to watching their activity, from early morning before daylight to late in the evening after dark, as trucks, snowmobiles and four-wheelers came and went.  This morning many of those same shacks have been towed back to the safety of near-shore, where the ice is safe.  Puddles caused by rain and melting snow have created small ponds here and there ten inches deep.  The pulling vehicles created a wake as they negotiated their way back toward the end of Main Road.  

Jeff Andersen, Andrew Rainsford and Jack Rose had just removed an ice shanty, a dark mass appearing out of the fog as they headed toward shore.  Then they contemplated their next move.   The pattern of winter recreation for these fishermen will be adjusted for a few days until temperatures get below freezing and the harbor ice becomes solid and slick once again.   Fishing for perch in Detroit Harbor had been more a testing of the conditions, anyway, they told me, with small perch few and far between.

No Ice Enroute, Yet

On the open water, there has been almost no floating ice seen beyond the island docks, and none at Northport, either, although the breakwall shows off a thick winter coat of ice from the last wind storm.  Ice beards hang at an odd angle from the entrance light structure, stalactites formed in the 40-50 mph freezing gales.

Kite Flying

Late Tuesday afternoon grandson Atlas and I walked out on the  ice-covered snow to fly kites.   

It was 37 degrees,  a raw but yet ideal, steady wind from the SW, and a clear sky.  It was perfect for launching our kites.  After removing a few tangles, Atlas had his kite up and flying, a parachute-style with lots of pull.  I encouraged him to give it more string as it rose higher and higher, while I broke out kite #2 and readied it for flight.  

By the time my kite was airborne, a simple trapezoidal kite that flew almost directly overhead, Atlas had released some 300 feet of string, out to the final knot on the spool.   

I suggested we trade kites so that I could wind a few turns back on the spool as a safety cushion.  That's where we ran into trouble. 
While passing it between our thick gloves, gusts tugged at the kite and the spool lifted off across the snow,  almost like slow motion, it seemed.  A quick sprinter could retrieve it from just beyond where we stood, I thought, and with my encouragement Atlas took after it.  But he slipped on the snow as the spool bounced, then became airborne, heading for the passenger side door of a parked fisherman's truck.   Atlas regained his feet, giving chase, but another gust pulled the spool up and over the truck (rather than snagging on the side mirror, as I had hoped), and all we could do was watch it sail smartly toward Holiday Inn and a large grove of poplar trees.   

This is where our kite came to rest, some twenty feet off the ground, a colorful fixture until the next gale plucks it from the branches, or it becomes shredded material for a squirrel's nest.   

This had been a completely typical kite experience:  tangled tail and string, then a successful launch, a good flight, and, finally, loss of kite in nearby trees.  My only regret, one that marred our experience, was when I muttered "Dammit" as the spool jumped from our gloved grasp.  That would be the only thing I would want returned, if I could.
  -  Dick Purinton      

Thursday, December 23, 2010



Christmas is upon us:  a season;  a special day but yet more than just one day;  Christmas rituals;  holiday excitement;  and for many, Christmas rekindles our strongest memories with family members.

I realize this note may not hit the mark for everyone.   Even in the best of family situations there exist  unspoken tensions, goals never met, acts or words we wish we could undo.  But there needs to be a few days of truce from all of the negative, and with Christmas the joy of a special birth provides that opportunity.

Our lives can be infused with pleasure from the unbounded excitement of young children, something holiday pageants and stories have tried to capture time and again.  The lives of young children are pure and innocent and are not yet conflicted.  For them excitement, especially at Christmas time, takes center stage as each day they rise only to be themselves once again.

Here on Washington Island we'll host our children, now grown adults, and our young grandsons.  While we are excited thinking about each of them being in our home, our attentiveness will center around the youngest.

The top photo shows Kirsten and Hoyt's two boys, Aidan (with screwdriver) and Magnus (pliers), attempting to take apart an old compressor.  They've learned "scrapper" habits, that there is value for wire and old metal.   It's a good occupier of their time and they pitch in on any project allowed, expecially because it involves using tools.  In scrapping, they are encouraged to disconnect or break apart an old tool or appliance.  We'll anticipate seeing more of these two boys in the next few days.

Hosting holidays has shifted downward a full generation.  In the bottom photo, I join sisters Martha and Helen with Mom, 93.   This was a gathering held at Martha's home that lasted a few hours on a Saturday  following Thanksgiving.  It's not easy getting everyone together, but it's even harder when health and mobility make such an outing difficult for Great Grandmother.

With gatherings including our eldest participants becoming more rare, memories of the olden days are even more special.

For old, young and the many in between, have a Merry Christmas!  

-  Dick Purinton

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Washington Island, Wisconsin -     

BRIDGES ARE STILL NEWS  [Order Form At Foot Of Blog]

This posting announces my new book with an order form enclosed (below) that you can print.   Publication and delivery is anticipated to be the end of this coming week (by Dec. 17th) and order requests will be filled first, prior to distribution to area retail outlets.

In 2009, I was very fortunate to have Words On Water published by Norbert Blei's Cross+Roads Press.  Based on my ferryman's journal of 2007, it was well-received by the public, with reviews that were also very supportive.   During the three years years since writing Words On Water, I've worked on other projects and polished pieces written prior to 2007.  Many of these appeared on this blog, along with other poems and essays.  It is a selection of these pieces, then, with further editing and the inclusion of many photos, that makes up my newest book, Bridges Are Still News.

Putting this book together was more difficult than I had anticipated because of so many different pieces, but it would have been impossible without the help of Amy Jorgenson who composed the pages, had great graphic sense, and made this, in my opinion, a most appealing and readable book.   In one sense, it is literary, both poems and prose.  On the other hand, if you like history, essays or photos, you should not be disappointed.  The inclusion of so many color and B&W photos, over 100, would have been unthinkable 15 or 20 years ago due to production difficulties and cost.


Norbert Blei was kind to publish my last book. By his own policy it is something he does only once per aspiring writer in order to give them exposure, and encourage their continuation and success.   His accepting my book for publication was of immense value to me.  But now, if what I write is to see the light of day (beyond these blogs), in what is primarily a limited, local / regional market, the establishment of Island Bayou Press for self-publication seemed to be the only probable course.

While e-books are the coming trend, and many small-run books can be purchased on-line, I think local history and regional literature will continue to be with real books, read and placed on shelves alongside like books from the past.

Here is something I copied from an on-line site which throws a huge element of concern into anyone who considers going this route.  It reads:

 Before traditional self publishing, you may want to make your work available in electronic form, carefully monitoring the response, and then building on it.  If that appears unreasonable, keep in mind the following statistics:

  1.  around 1 million manuscripts are apparently looking for a US publisher
  2.  only 1% of manuscripts will probably be published
  3.  33 percent of high school graduates will never read another book for the rest of their lives
  4.  42 percent of college graduates will never read another book after college
  5.  70 books published do not earn back their advance
  6.  70 percent of books published do not make a profit
  7.  art, literature and poetry together account for only 3.3% of the  US book market

Daunting.  So, to the readers of these blogs and of all regional literature, to the readers of local authors and poets...thanks for your support.




We are connected to a broad section of the upper midwest by this storm system that is slowly passing through.  High winds, over a foot of snow in many places, blocked roads, closed businesses, canceled church services, falling temperatures... a day that makes us feel very much alive, and connected to the rest of the huddled midwesterners!  The shoveling, the plowing and cleaning up will begin once the wind begins to subside.  There are no ferries today, and may not be on Monday, either, since storm force winds, reducing first to gales, will blow through Tuesday night.

This morning the amber flash of the town plow told us it was time to get up.  The howl of the winds made it hard to sleep, anyway.  We made our way downstairs and turned on the outdoor floodlight to watch the fury, impressed with how this blizzard blocked out neighbors lights, except during slight let-ups in the gusting, drifting snow. Washington Island was out far enough in Lake Michigan to escape the heaviest snowfall. We were located on the regional weather radar within that pink band that defined the heavy snowfall to the west and south with sleet over the open lake.   Was it ten, eight or six inches of snow that fell here?  Who knows?  Drifts one to two feet have formed in our driveway, but they are saddled by black patches of bare asphalt.  Hard to tell.

Game boards will be brought out, crock pots filled, cookies baked, and holiday lights trimmed - if they aren't already - and the NFL will have one of its strongest viewing days in the midwest states ever.  If only our power stays on!


I had the opportunity to hunt last week in southern Iowa with sons Hoyt and Thor.  Hoyt has traveled to the same territory annually for the past nine years or so to hunt.  I've joined him there one other time.  Thor has not hunted at all for nearly 15 years and never in Iowa.  This outingwas set up several years ago when we applied for Iowa deer tags.  It takes a few years in the queue and the purchase of "preference points" to get an out of state tag for an antlered deer - a buck.  Doe, or antlerless, tags are easier to obtain as an out-of-stater, but at nearly $450 each, they are almost as pricey as the buck permit.  Add in the gas, food, lodging and the accessories ranging from shotgun slugs to handwarmers, not to mention time away from work, and there is a significant commitment.

So, is it worth it?

Yes, it is, when you like spending time with your sons and that time has not been as frequent as you would like.  The hunting becomes an activity around which that time is centered, with fewer interruptions in the flow of conversation.   It is also just being in each other's presence, even when there's no talking, Thor in the back seat doing crosswords, Hoyt listening to the radio, me reading the paper through the miles on the way to the camp.   For all of the above, it was fun, the trip was a success, and we enjoyed the time we had.

Viewed from the narrower aspect of hunting, our trip was also successful. Each of us shot one or more deer.  Hoyt, as unofficial guide, organized our day, told us where to sit and how to approach the terrain for best results.  We brought home approximately 150 pounds of boned venison, and we gave one deer to a party who wanted venison but had no source.   (During the hunting season, so far Hoyt has donated three deer to a food pantry.)   None will go to waste, and all of it will be enjoyed later as either roasts, stews, sausages or ground meat to be used throughout the year.

But, it is the time together that cements us as friends, as well as father-son-son.

A Pirate Ship Sails Into Harbor

In the ongoing story of the former ferry C.G. Richter, now Treasure Seeker owned by Ray Hixon and his family of St. Petersburg, FL, we offer the following photo taken from an internet blog site.  The site is named, "Two Gringos in the Carribean" and only a brief mention and the accompanying photo is made as the author cited the sight of a strange vessel under tow near the Caicos harbor.  Date the photo was taken is also unknown, but is presumed to be around mid-November.   It does show that the old ferry, now pirate ship, is on her way further south, enroute to the new home port of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.   The link to that web site is:

I will speculate that it is the draft of the vessel (not mechanical fault) that put her on the towline as she entered port, but we will have to wait for more details to find out.   A rather impressive, pirate ship-like profile, don't you think?     -  Dick Purinton