An Afternoon With Andy

Peter Knego visits with renowned ship photographer Andy Kilk, whose images have graced many cruise and ship-related publications, from Cruise Travel Magazine to SeaBreezes, Ships Monthly and Steamboat Bill/Power Ships.

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THE SANDS OF ALANG: Peter Knego’s brand new DVD about shipbreaking in Alang, India

All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2013 unless otherwise noted.

UPDATE:  Sadly, after a long illness, Andy Kilk passed away in Oakland, California on Febrtuary 12, 2014.  He will be greatly missed by friends and fellow shiplovers around the world.  Rest in peace, Andy.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Oakland, California-based Andy Kilk has been photographing ships for decades.  His gorgeous images have graced a bevy of magazine covers and have become joy-inducing fodder for ship enthusiasts worldwide via a diverse roster of publications, from SeaBreezes, Ships MonthlyMarine News and Steamboat Bill/Power Ships to Cruise Travel.  The 74-year-old has taken countless cruises and his Lake Merrit-adjacent apartment is literally a shrine to liners and cruise ships with a vast collection of models, books and his treasured photographs.

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Andy with a scrapbook full of images accompanying articles on ships.

At a Jack London Square eatery not far from his home, Kilk recalled his childhood in war-torn Estonia, where his family first fled the Russians, then the Germans before emigrating to the U.S.  His father was a doctor and set up a practice in the U.S. Virgin Islands, moving the family to Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas.  “At first I didn’t like it but then I got a real sense of the outside world there.”  It is also  where Kilk’s fascination with ships began.  “Every day, another cruise ship or liner came in.  At that time, you could just walk aboard any ship you wanted.  I saw them all, from the FLANDRE to the NIEUW AMSTERDAM, EMPRESS OF SCOTLAND, CARONIA, MAURETANIA, CRISTOFORO COLOMBO, LEONARDO DA VINCI, AMERICA…”

“I was such a regular visitor that the crews on board most of the ships knew me.  One time, someone on the MAURETANIA reported me as a ‘non passenger’ to the officer of the watch, who chased me up three decks until he saw who I was, then shrugged and said, “Oh, it’s just YOU!”

“I loved to buy Dutch chocolates on the NIEUW AMSTERDAM. Her officers coached me to hide the boxes under my belt so I could get past customs.  Those were very different times.”

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A section of Andy’s 1200-scale model fleet.

“Our family spent summers in New York where I got to see all the major liners.  Some days I would visit up to three ships, just because I could.  I would pay the 50 cents and go on board everything from the QUEEN ELIZABETH to the LIBERTE, ILE and UNITED STATES.  I was mostly interested in the major liners but did get to see the smaller ships like the SANTA ROSA, too.”

In the early 60s, the Kilks moved to Kansas City, then other parts of the midwest until Andy headed out to the Bay Area.

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Wall of photos with some of the ships Andy sailed aboard, including: FEDERICO C, STATENDAM (1957), FRANCA C, CARMANIA, REGINA PRIMA, FRANCE, PRINCESS MARGUERITE, HAMBURG, FAIRSEA, FAIRWIND, VISTAFJORD, QE2 and more…

“I took my first cruise out of Port Everglades on the FEDERICO C as her weekly itinerary called at more ports than the other ships at the time.  It gave me a chance to see parts of the Caribbean beyond the Virgin Islands.”  In the interim, he’s sailed on countless ships, from river barges and expedition ships to old dowagers and the latest mega ships.

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Several of Andy’s magazine covers and photography awards.

Andy still takes the occasional cruise, especially if it does not involve flying.  “My next trip is in a few days on board the GRAND PRINCESS from San Francisco to Alaska.  I’m looking forward to that and hope to see lots of other ships while I’m up there.”

Very special thanks: Martin Cox, Andy Kilk

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego
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