Archive for June 9, 2009


June 9, 2009 5 comments


Archimedes the ship, not Archimedes the great Greek mathematician and scientist of 2200 years ago. Not that I knew of Archimedes the ship until Gail and I stumbled upon it two evenings ago. We decided to take a walk after dinner, and headed northwards out of our neighborhood into the Arboretum, crossing over the footbridge onto Foster Island and then continuing northwards, through the pedestrian tunnel under Highway 520, and on to the northernmost point of the island, where it oversees Lake Washington to the east, Laurelhurst to the northeast, Union Bay to the north, the University of Washington athletic facilities to the northwest, and the Montlake Cut due west. Just as we were approaching that northernmost point, to our astonishment, the prow of a giant blue ship broke into our field of vision past a stand of trees. What was so striking and unexpected was how high off the water the prow was. And then more and more of the ship appeared, like it would never end, akin to the appearance of the Star Destroyer in Star Wars.

When the stern finally went past, we could see that the ship was indeed Archimedes, based out of Hamilton, Ontario. I speculated, naturally, that maybe its owner was heading across Lake Washington to drop in on Bill Gates. Or farther south on the lake to see Paul Allen.

Only yesterday morning did I think to look the ship up on google. I was led to a site — — that seems to be set up to track the comings and goings of all the large private yachts in the world. People write in when they see a ship, saying where it is, and then you can track its movements. At the site for Archimedes, I learend that it is 219 feet (67 m) long, built just last year by Feadship, with architect De Voogt and stylist John Munford. Here are some of the places where it’s been:

October: Long Island
December: Fort Lauderdale
January: St. Thomas
March: Costa Rica, then San Diego
April: San Francisco
May: Redwood City
May 13: spotted coming through the Ballard Locks to Union Bay in Seattle
June 7: we saw it
June 8: Seattle, then Lopez Island
June 9 (today): San Juan Island

Reading through the entries at the site, one finds lots of rumors about its ownership. When it was seen on Long Island, Jim Simons (mathematician and financier, Renaissance Technologies hedge fund) was mentioned. Then Johnny Depp, Paul McCartney, Bill Gates, Paul Allen. I suppose none of this can be taken too seriously.

Archimedes isn’t the only large object we spotted. After seeing it go by, we sat down on a bench, and a minute later Gail noticed an eagle sitting calmly about 100 feet up in a tree that was about 50 yards away from us. Foster Island has had a nesting pair of eagles for years, so the presence of an eagle there isn’t a surprise. Ten days ago or so I was sitting out in the backyard when an eagle flew by overhead, not too far above, and seconds later a second one followed in the same path. Still, catching sight of the eagle just sitting there, sharing our view, was a surprise. I wonder what the Eagle thought of Archimedes.

Categories: Animals, Big Ships, Math