Ships of the Fleet: the vessels that inspired the covers for Fleet

We’re approaching the home stretch. Fleet: Horizon, the conclusion to my ongoing science fiction serial novel, premiers on December 2. Each installment features a distinctive cover, featuring one of the ships in the Fleet. The ship on each cover is a real vessel, photographed during one of my many field expeditions. In honor of the completion of Fleet, here are the real stories behind the four vessels featured on the covers.

FleetCover1-REACHFleet: The Reach features the ship that inspired (loosely) NC-3502-WM. The actual vessel is an ocean tugboat that I encountered in Antigua, at the conclusion of JC82/83 — my research cruise to the Mid-Cayman Spreading Center and tag-along cruise to the seas around Montserrat. The noticeably aging vessel was living out its latter years as a pilot boat, delivering pilots to cruise ships and other large vessels so that they could navigate into Antigua’s port.

Maritime Pilots are an old and honored profession. Many ports are dangerous, with local hazards that shift, sometimes as often as the tide. Because of this, large vessel require a local mariner, someone who knows their waterways, to guide ships into port.

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Three Stories of Shipwrecked Sailors

Last week I flew out to Salt Lake City for the bi-annual Ocean Sciences meeting, bringing together 4300 scientists from around the world to discuss the current state of the ocean and present their latest findings. To mark the occasion and pass the time on a series of long flights, I loaded my kindle with my latest addiction, Amazon singles – short form ebooks, longer than a standard article, but shorter than a full book (and really convenient for an hour layover). In honor of the Oceans meeting, the flavor of the downloaded books was disaster and survival at sea.

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