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  Field Notes From
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From Author

Andrew Cockburn

ZipUSA: 48222 On Assignment

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From Photographer

Victor José Cobo

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Mark Thiessen (top), and Victor José Cobo


ZipUSA: 48222

Field Notes From Author
Andrew Cockburn
Best Worst Quirkiest
    I stayed up late one night in the wheelhouse of the freighter ship Buckeye listening to this great vintage rock 'n roll station. There was something really enjoyable about feeling myself slip along in the dark in this huge ship while complete silence reigned on the rest of the Detroit River. I've never experienced anything quite like it.

    I was climbing up a ladder onto the Buckeye's deck when the deckhands pulled me over the rail and took me up to the pilot house. Everyone looked nervous and distracted, but insisted that things were fine.
    Later I found out the situation had been just the opposite. "Oh God, we were seconds away from the worst maritime disaster," one of the crewmembers  said. While I was in oblivion, the steering system of this 28,000-ton (25,000-metric ton) boat had broken down, and we were heading for downtown Detroit at seven knots. Luckily, the helmsman regained control in time. If he hadn't I'm sure I would have been squashed flat as a pancake.

    I found a Cockburn Island on the Great Lakes. It was about eight miles (12 kilometers) long and I almost bought some land there until I finally got a grip on myself. After the initial excitement wore down, I realized that I would probably never visit this piece of land on Lake Huron again, let alone know what to do with it if it was mine.

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