The view from here — I have a confession to make: I was supposed to take this photo in the cab of a crane stretching 352 feet into the air. Both hands locked in alternating death grips, I began to climb from about 250 feet off the ground as I tried to make a committed ascent of the last 100 feet to the top, where crane operator Dennis Vinson was sitting. It took three painful, anxiety-filled attempts to make it over the crosswalk, a few simple slabs of wood, to the crane's main structure, secured perhaps ten feet from the building's free edge. It was a straight drop on either side. I managed to creep up another 15 feet by ladder through the crane's center before I realized I wouldn't be able to make it. I have to confess, the drop scared me. Vinson performs the same task successfully at least twice a day, six days a week, 289 days a year, scurrying up a ladder to the relative comfort and safety of the crane's cab with the day's lunch in tow. This time of year, the climb is done in the dark, well before the sun comes up. The view — even from the top floor of the new Esperia high rise complex in Bonita Bay — is stunning. Dolphins feed in the shallows of Estero bay on the West and residents go about their morning business as the day's fog burns off revealing all who are below to the east. Men look like ants from this height and a game of golf becomes a maze of manicured patterns blanketing the earth below. The view is Vinson's favorite part of the job. In ten month's time, Bonita Bay's latest building reached its full height — 27 stories. Vinson has hoisted up most of the supplies. 'He's the best crane operator I've ever seen,' says site supervisor Howard Zablo. A great crane operator is quick, efficient and above all else, safe. Good judgment skills are vital to placing heavy loads with pinpoint accuracy, even when battling changing weather conditions. High winds pose the biggest danger. The radio chatter between Dennis and the construction crew is almost non-stop. Despite the fact he's up there eight to nine hours a day, there's no time to be lonely. He's just too busy. Vinson's been busy since 1979, his first time in a tower crane near Paducah, Ky. 'I've never been used to staying in one place for so long until I came to Naples. There was just so much work,' says Vinson, who moved here 16 years ago. In that time, he's worked from the bottom to the top on at least 15 high-rise buildings in the area and helped with numerous others. 'You can tell you've done something when there's a big hole in the ground and when you leave the site after a year or two, there's a tall building,' he says. Published October 23, 2006

Photo by MICHEL FORTIER, Daily News

The view from here — I have a confession to make: I was supposed to take this photo in the cab of a crane stretching 352 feet into the air. Both hands locked in alternating death grips, I began to climb from about 250 feet off the ground as I tried to make a committed ascent of the last 100 feet to the top, where crane operator Dennis Vinson was sitting. It took three painful, anxiety-filled attempts to make it over the crosswalk, a few simple slabs of wood, to the crane's main structure, secured perhaps ten feet from the building's free edge. It was a straight drop on either side. I managed to creep up another 15 feet by ladder through the crane's center before I realized I wouldn't be able to make it. I have to confess, the drop scared me. Vinson performs the same task successfully at least twice a day, six days a week, 289 days a year, scurrying up a ladder to the relative comfort and safety of the crane's cab with the day's lunch in tow. This time of year, the climb is done in the dark, well before the sun comes up. The view — even from the top floor of the new Esperia high rise complex in Bonita Bay — is stunning. Dolphins feed in the shallows of Estero bay on the West and residents go about their morning business as the day's fog burns off revealing all who are below to the east. Men look like ants from this height and a game of golf becomes a maze of manicured patterns blanketing the earth below. The view is Vinson's favorite part of the job. In ten month's time, Bonita Bay's latest building reached its full height — 27 stories. Vinson has hoisted up most of the supplies. "He's the best crane operator I've ever seen," says site supervisor Howard Zablo. A great crane operator is quick, efficient and above all else, safe. Good judgment skills are vital to placing heavy loads with pinpoint accuracy, even when battling changing weather conditions. High winds pose the biggest danger. The radio chatter between Dennis and the construction crew is almost non-stop. Despite the fact he's up there eight to nine hours a day, there's no time to be lonely. He's just too busy. Vinson's been busy since 1979, his first time in a tower crane near Paducah, Ky. "I've never been used to staying in one place for so long until I came to Naples. There was just so much work," says Vinson, who moved here 16 years ago. In that time, he's worked from the bottom to the top on at least 15 high-rise buildings in the area and helped with numerous others. "You can tell you've done something when there's a big hole in the ground and when you leave the site after a year or two, there's a tall building," he says. Published October 23, 2006

Buy this photo

Photo Rating:

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features