In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Friday, June 25, 2010

the fog horn collector

When we were away last January, we got an email from Randy Van Buskirk. He collects fog horns, he wrote us. He had bought one from a gentleman in South Carolina much earlier, but he hadn't been able to figure out how to get it to Carleton Village. And he had just heard we were in Florida! Could we possibly pick it up for him on our way home? And he hoped it was okay that it weighed three hundred and fifty pounds.

We were glad to have a chance to do something for our good neighbour Randy. The patient fog horn seller was Tom, who very kindly drove two hours from the South Carolina coast to meet us at the Interstate for a hand-off. We met him at a truck stop in the early morning dark. The fog horn did weigh three hundred and fifty pounds. But Tom and Greg managed to wrestle it from Tom's car into our truck. In this picture, Tom's looking mighty happy to be sending it on to its new home.

And we were happy to have its weight in the bed of the truck as we drove slip-sliding through a tough winter storm into Carleton Village. Randy had gone out and shoveled off our boat that morning so we wouldn't have to contend with two feet of fresh snow. We handed over the fog horn and sailed away to the island. It seems like it was a long time ago.
Now that lobster season is finished, Randy has had time to tune the fog horn and install it on his boat, Sea Arrow. He has a couple of other big horns on Sea Arrow, and he can really manage a floating concert when he's inspired. It's amazing how much he can do with three notes.

On Friday evening we heard the sound of a gigantic tanker steaming directly toward the shore: this time the sound was a bit intimidating, really. When we looked out, we saw Sea Arrow approaching our dock.
Here's Randy, in post-lobster season mode. The fog horn we brought back from South Carolina is the one closest to him. He built a wooden box for its housing. He fabricated the other two horns -- which are really beautiful -- himself, because, he said, somebody told him it couldn't be done.
It turns out that this old fog horn has an amazing history. It was salvaged from USS Neosho A23, a fuel tanker built in 1939. She delivered fuel at Pearl Harbor the day before the Japanese attack there. She escaped during the attack, and continued to serve in this crucial capacity in the Pacific until 1942, when she was severely damaged in the Battle of the Coral Sea.
We love hearing Sea Arrow as she travels the harbour. Thanks to the fog horn collector, she reminds us how much the world is connected in all sorts of odd ways we never could have imagined.


Piecefulafternoon said...

Super story. Fog horns are one of my favorite sounds. We still have a bouy in Bellingham (WA) Bay that sounds when the fog is thick. Sometimes late at night we will drive down to the docks just to sit and listen and feel the fog.

Anonymous said...

This tale of the fog horn is so neat! It would make a great children's story - similar to Theodore Tugboat.