This July 28, the Newcastle/Gateshead quayside hosted the Tall Ships Races, an annual celebration of nineteenth-century maritime technology. A flotilla of over one hundred ships, their decks filled with activity, left Newcastle to a backdrop of waving flags, music, and more onlookers than the city ever expected. As the ships departed and the crowds moved from the banks of the river to return the city to normalcy, a single, small boat sailed up the river, past the BALTIC arts center and through the Millennium Bridge, specially raised for the occasion. The boat’s deck was empty; it was entirely unmanned. Those watching did a double take as the crewless craft slipped through the waters. The poetic quietude of this moment took those who witnessed it by surprise—and not simply because of the seeming impossibility of a boat operating without a crew. Self-sustainable yet vulnerable, it evoked an
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