On Monday, I noticed that there were no fishing boats moored at the wharf next to the Maritime Terminal building. When the big reefers come in, this is where they tie up to offload whatever perishable cargo they’re carrying. I kept on walking down the waterfront, and as I was standing on State Pier, I could see a good-sized ship slowly coming through the hurricane barrier. Since it was a nice sunny fall day, I decided to stand there and watch it come into New Bedford harbor. A police boat raced down the harbor to escort the ship to its berth. When the ship got close enough, I could make out the name on her bows: Nova Zeelandia. The tug Miss Yvette was attached to her stern, and the tug Jaguar circled around her bows, occasionally tooting its whistle at the big ship. One of the water taxis sped out towards her, presumably ready to take one of the officers to the Customs House. The swing-span bridge swung open, and I watched long enough to see the tugs and the police boat escort her through, while the little water taxi sped after them all, trying to catch up.
Yesterday evening at about ten o’clock, Carol and I were driving back into New Bedford across the harbor on Route 6. We passed the Nova Zeelandia, all her lights on, still unloading her cargo at that late hour. It looked like they were unloading boxes of fruit — perhaps oranges or clementines from Africa (you can track her position on this Web site, which shows her leaving Morocco sometime before 11 October, and passing by the Azores). Forklifts were running back and forth, and several tractor-trailer rigs were backed up to the wharf, ready to take on pallets of the fruit.
We don’t seem to have many of the big ships coming in during the summer, but one of the signs of autumn is the return of the reefers, offloading fresh fruit for New England markets.