A multi-disciplinary journey in music, sound, and field recording.

The MV Uchuck III

Posted: April 10th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: field recording
The MV Uchuck III, passenger vessel and freigher on the west coast of Vancouver island.

The MV Uchuck III, passenger vessel and freigher on the west coast of Vancouver island. Kayak for scale.

One of the many reasons this site experienced an almost 1-year hiatus was a self-supported 2-week kayak expedition (check out the video of this amazing trip) on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island. The island is so riddled with deep networks of inlets that it’s actually quite hard to actually get to the exposed west coast. So, at the tiny logging town of Gold River, BC, we put our kayaks on the MV Uchuck III to get motored out to the coast.

The MV Uchuck III engine room, starboard engine.

The MV Uchuck III engine room, starboard engine.

The Uchuck III is a lifeline for those that live on the edge of the world, where no roads exist and all travel must be by boat. The Uchuck III brings mail, deliveries, empty dumpsters, groceries, supplies, fish farm provisions, passengers and kayakers from Gold River out to Kyuquot, where we started our trip. It plays a vital role in this extremely remote region, and many generations of skippers and engineers have plied this route. The boat is so storied that there’s even a book about it and its predecessors.

The Uchuck III is a heavily modified World War II minesweeper. The inner double hull and stabilizers were removed to make room for a cargo hold, a crane was added, and the pilot house was moved astern. Its two propellers are powered by one straight-eight diesel engine apiece (a more cranky and surly version of the MV Tutoko, which I rode and recorded in the inlets of New Zealand’s Fiordland), and the skipper can’t control the engines from the pilot house: An actual telegraph is used to relay coded bell rings to the engineer below to take certain actions and “shift gears.” When this thing breaks down, parts need to be machined in Vancouver, from the original construction plans kept aboard.

The engine telegraph unit.

The engine telegraph unit.

Because we were just passing through, essentially, I didn’t get a chance to record too much material, but this post contains some of the perspectives I captured of the ship’s engines and cargo crane. Being a kayak expedition, I only had room for my Sony PCM-D50 recorder, which sucked for nature recording while kayaking…but it was more than sufficient for the loud pounding of the Uchuck III’s twin diesel engines.

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Sliding Door Stutter in Maine

Posted: January 30th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: field recording, found sound objects

My father was recently in the hospital, so I visited him in Maine. While in Brunswick, my mother and I stopped at Barnes and Noble to pick him up a crossword puzzle book to occupy his mind until he was released. The sliding doors of the store opened with a strange stuttering, sputtering, and nearly-pneumatic flanging, and I stopped in my tracks. “Whoa, did you hear that?” My mother looked at me quizzically. “That door, wow…that was a great sound!” She picked up her pace to look like I wasn’t shopping with her, surely thinking I was hearing things.

The dynamic range of the H2’s mics isn’t as good as my other recorders, but to paraphrase Saint Chase, the best audio recorder is the one you have with you. Better to have this odd and very distinctive mechanical sound than miss that chance…only to, I’m sure, return someday and hear that B&N fixed the doors.

SlidingDoorStutter by noisejockey
[Zoom H2 recorder]

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