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Two and a half decades ago (almost) I was entering New Hampshire from Quebec and was stumped: the US border agent brought his face to about a foot from mine and asked: “How does someone from Massachusetts (my drivers license) and someone from Maine (her drivers license) meet?” I knew he wanted a short, convincing answer, and I thought in paragraphs and chapters even.
This shot immediately reminded me of that experience: how does a tugboat from San Francisco and one from New York end up lashed together, no longer floating,
Even Bohemia comes by.
From this angle, Mighty Servant thusly loaded reminds me of an ocean going sidewheeler, like SS Savannah.
More may follow. All fotos by Will Van Dorp.
Oh . . . sorry, Johna. I could say I picked her up hitchhiking . . . to spice up the story. The truth is we were coworkers in a publishing company and that led to some fairly spiced up waterborne adventures; we were just returning from a jaunt up the St. Lawrence northeasterly from Quebec City. If you want more on her . . . Diana, a major true love and heartbreak, you’ll have to read My Babylonian Captivity. Diana is not her real name.
No phantasmagoria today, just the cold hard facts, or in this case . . . the wet, crumbling ones: exploring Binghamton felt like visiting a hospice. Hopes to see what remained in the engine room were dashed halfway down the companionway below the main deck. Nasty cafe au lait post-Irene river water, at least five feet of it at this point, barred the way. It didn’t seem a heathy or productive place to snorkel.
In this section of the menu, I love the last sentence of the fifth paragraph: ”She took the population of the eastern United States eight times around the world,” and she did so without leaving that section of the river between Barclay Street pier (now no more) and Hoboken. Fotos of Binghamton at work can be found in Railroad Ferries of the Hudson: and stories of a deckhand by Baxter and Adams, which I highly recommend.
The craziness of the internet where nothing dies is illustrated by this restaurant review of Binghamton. Wonder what would happen if you called that number to make a reservation.
name I’ve heard, I can’t recall it. (Note: thanks to Les, pantograph gates, they are.)
On the floor of the main deck . . . lay this 3′ x 4′ foto of an unidentified happy couple from maybe not even that long ago who chose this vehicle to take them to “that other side . . ,” a foto soon to be obliterated by . . . the river and time.
the serene before Irene. As of Friday, the USCG Captain of the Port announced the following: ”Commercial deep draft vessels greater than 300 gross tons are not authorized to remain in port alongside a pier after 1800 on Saturday, August 27, 2011. All vessels must be out of Bay Ridge, Stapleton, and Gravesend Bay Anchorage Grounds by 1800 on Saturday, August 27, 2011. Only one barge per commercial mooring buoy, with a tug in the vicinity, is authorized after 1800 on Saturday, August 27, 2011…”
NYC officials dictated that 300,000 residents of certain low- lying zones evacuate. Public transportation will cease at noon today, Saturday. From the morning NYTimes, find these other announcements. Doubleclick enlarges most.
the 1958 Black Knight, the Goudy & Stevens yacht featured here three years ago . . . then also running from a storm albeit a thunderstorm that time.
… is that a terrified face appearing like stigmata on the second porthole from the right, and a grinch-like demon on the one to its left? … will ride it out at the dock. I hope the “custodians” in the SSSM offices know our eyes are on them as those same eyes are on the vessels left at the dock.
And who will be in the harbor . . . I’m guessing these folks and ones like them–police, Coast Guard, mariners working on the big ferries and certain private commercial vessels … For frequent updates, read Hawsepiper, Paul the pirate, a scholar who works on an oil barge. Paul . . . if you could get me keys, I’d move your truck outa Zone A.
Be safe. I’m staying on high ground inland.
Since I posted here a half month ago about WIX-327 USCG cutter barque Eagle, visiting the sixth boro, I’ve read Capt. Gordon McGowan’s The Skipper & the Eagle, which details the months he spent in 1946, post-war Hamburg, refitting Eagle (his orders were that appropriating Eagle and getting her safely to the US should happen at NO EXPENSE to taxpayers in this country). If you need a good read, to end the summer, this is it. McGowan’s success depended on many things, maybe the foremost of which were Eagle‘s seaworthiness and the brotherhood of the sea that bridged the divide between Capt. McGowan of now-christened Eagle and Kapitanleutnant Barthold Schnibbe of ex-Horst Wessel.
A hurricane struck Eagle on the final leg of the journey–between Bermuda and New York. As Irene approaches, consider these excerpts from McGowan’s book, written about the experience of being in an open bridge, exposed to wind, rain, and wash.
“In the rising seas the swells were beginning to overtake us, each crest coming in from a slightly different angle, and delivering a wallop to the underside of our old-fashioned overhanging counter” (195). [McGowan added six additional helmsman to the two then on the three linked wheels.]
“Whitecaps had long disappeared nd been replaced by angry streaks gouged on the breast of the waves by the claws of the wind. Puffs became roaring blasts of wind. The average velocity rose above fifty knots. This brought another change. The streaks on the surface vanished, giving way to clouds of spray as wavetops were sheared off by the wind … The stinging pellets of water fly horizontally downwind” (196).
“The early skirling and piping of the fresh gale through the rigging had risen in volume and in tone to belowing and shreiking. The vast sound seemed to fill the world. Voices of men died away and became inaudible. Lips moving, neck cords and veins standing out recalled the silent movie days. Here were faces transmitting thoughts by expression alone. Here was sound without sound. It pressed upon eardrums and bodies as a solid thing. The singleness of this mighty roar brought about a solitude … The voice of the storm was more than a roar. There was a sharp tearing sound–the ripping of the fabric of the gates of hell … The fore upper and lower tops’ls were the first to go. One moment they were there; a second later they had vanished. It seemed incredible that all that remained of the broad spread of sail were these ragged little ribbons” (200).
“I turned to the idea of heaving to. The ship had begun to dive and wallow like a wounded wild thing. Each time a wave overtook us I looked apprehensively astern. As the stern began to lift on the face of a wave, the bowsprit dipped deeper and deeper until it disappeared from sight. When each crest swept from aft forward, the stern settled deeply upon the back on the wave, and the bowsprit pointed toward the sky” (202).
Sorry . . . you’ll have to read the rest. Then there’s also Drumm’s book, which I haven’t read.
All fotos taken Friday by Will Van Dorp, who might not post tomorrow.
A South Street Seaport update: Pioneer and Lettie G. Howard have departed for Kingston.
No . . . this site is NOT transforming into a book emporium. But I can make some recommendations, good reading whether you’re on the water, at the beach, or in a house . . . The last time I revealed this much about my bookshelf was in 2007 here and here.
Numero uno: A “must read” We the Drowned . . . I guarantee it’ll be the most enthralling and fastest 675-page novel you’ve ever read. Read a review here. I’ll even send my copy once a few more friends have read it; my copy was sent to me by Les Sonnenmark, a frequent commenter here. It’s a saga of 100 years of lives of folks whose starting point is a Danish Baltic Sea island town called Marstal featuring naval prisoners of war, St. Peter’s triage style, mariners by sail and steam and diesel, Samoa, Greenland, Captain Cook’s shrunken head, haunting red lights (and more) for a character who survives World War II aboard convoy after convoy in and out of Murmansk, and some poignant stories of loves lost and long deferred. This is a story of resurrections. Hear an interview with the author, Casten Jensen, here. Read an interview focusing on storytelling craft here.
Unrelated: can you identify the sailing and diesel vessels here? Identification to all will be at the end of the post.
Second suggestion: Fire on the Horizon (267 pages) by gCaptain‘s very own John Konrad, with Tom Shroder. This book walks you minute by minute through the last days of Deepwater Horizon, with compassion for the crew and their families. You will learn much about a drillship, of which many exist today. Konrad and Shroder tease out responsibilities of BP, TransOcean, and Halliburton. I hadn’t known until reading this book of John Konrad’s unique qualifications to write this book: he learned of the blowout while in the Southern Ocean, delivering a similar Korean rig called Deepwater Ascension from Korea to the Gulf of Mexico; moreover, he knew some crew aboard Deepwater Horizon. Konrad shows his knack for telling a tragic story quite well, throwing in compelling backstory along the way. In the first 50 pages alone, you’ll learn something about offshore drilling in 1896, SUNY Maritime, and the Hyundai shipyard in Ulsan, Korea. In our age of petroleum and time of peak oil, this book will leave you with greater understanding.
Third suggestion: Also related to the blow-out of last summer, A Sea in Flames, (352 pages) by Carl Safina. In the preface, Carl Safina calls this “a record of a technological event . . . a chronicle of a season of anguish . . .” It’s an informal book in which Safina records his observations and vents. He, like Konrad and Shroder, makes the arcane world of deepwater drilling understandable and interesting to the layperson; in the first 50 pages, you learn about the decisions made throughout the six months of drilling at Macondo, which he compares to a “high risk pregnancy.” Safina’s voice evidences his ecology background (Ph. D. from Rutgers and President of the Blue Ocean Institute), and he’s clearly fuming, incensed; he reports statements from officials from BP and government agencies and then (as if we were watching or listening to some broadcast news with him) we hear his reactions . . . be they sarcasm or refutation. He acknowledges his anger, though: e.g., “I am not impressed with the Coast Guard so far. Admiral Thad Allen becomes to me a one-dimensional talking head: the Thadmiral. Does he deserve to be a caricature? Of course not; does anyone? But in my anger, that’s what happens” (96). And he’s particularly angry about private security guards interdicting the public from . . . public parks . . . when they are officially open (207-10). Ultimately, near the end of the book, Safina reports on having coffee with Allen and another of the caricature’s in the book, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, NOAA administrator; here . . Safina listens and in his reportage, transforms what had been one-dimensional into nuanced people. And I admire that. Read the book.
I’d love to hear your reading suggestions . . . in part because I’m fishing for my next book. I always can fall back on rereading the standards by Herman Melville, Joseph Conrad, Farley Mowat, or Jan deHartog . . . but would rather have my horizons expanded.
Otherwise, in summer the temperature makes it a whole lot more comfortable than winter to just while away some hours doing the Otis Redding thing . . .
All fotos by Will Van Dorp in the past two weeks.
Oh . . . right . . . here’s another review.
When I got to the wreck Easter morning, as you know, I spotted a seal. In the fog and from a distance, I first imagined it another creature–one more typically associated with Easter but for some reason with a flattened tail and sleeping on the beach. I gave it wide berth, but when it turned
and looked up, I noticed it was either a deformed bunny sans ears OR NOT an Easter bunny but rather a seal that seemed to has a sense of boat survey work, the clue being that it was reading Colvin’s Steel Boat Building, Vol. 1.
Having with me a silkie speaker of Halichoerus grypus aka hooked-nosed sea pig, I thought I’d ask a few questions via translation. After dispensing with initial interview protocols, I learned that ᐅᒡᖪᒃ , as this young male gray calls himself, witnessed Le Papillon arrive on the beach and was calculating odds of it rolling off the beach in like but reverse manner. ᐅᒡᖪᒃ demonstrated as he spoke, and
after astounding me with jargon like panting, racking, hogging, sagging, and hogging some more, he grew quiet, pensively stroking his juvenile whiskers. ”Sooner . . . would have been better than now, but, in my not-so-humble seal opinion, it needs a strong vessel . . . of several hundred orca-power at least (must be how seals calculate terrific torque) to wrestle the pinky free of this entombing sand and
I turned back once while leaving; ᐅᒡᖪᒃ must have felt bad. My translator told me she heard him mutter something about “I can’t believe I said that. I need to learn a bit of tact with these terrestrials.” Then, he said something about heading for South Street Seaport next . . . . hmmmmm!
Here’s a game: I show part of a foto, and you might try to identify the vessel . . .
an answer of Marion C. Bouchard would have been correct. Doubleclick enlarges most.
Let’s start here. Although I didn’t take this foto, I did refer to it recently on this blog. Note the logo. Any guesses?
those can’t be superhigh steamer stacks, can they?
angular hull profile
tiny tires as fenders, or …
Terrapin Island has a stack forward of the house.
The unique Odin tailed by Ross Sea over by the Goethals Bridge. Ross Sea seems to sprout a massive starboard stack here. Anyone know whose stacks those really are?
Lois Ann L. Moran
Huge tires, actually, on the gargantuan Atlantic Salvor.
And here’s the final one. It’s Break of Dawn. When I read that the tug that had the misfortunate to take the job of towing Mobro 4000, I assumed it was a local independent tug, not a fleet sibling of Dawn Services. This blog has run fotos of Baltic Dawn and Atlantic Dawn.
For a fuller story of the motivations behind the “garbage job,” read this, starting from p. 243.
For the artistic story behind the children’s book, see this link for the series of decisions and sketches involved in creating the story. As a disclaimer … I haven’t read the book and realize some controversy surrounds it, but check out the Amazon page video about the author’s process in creating the artwork. To me, one important story here is an honest ambitious crew doing a job that captures them, transforming them into pawns of a diverse, far-flung, and powerful interest groups.
The Break of Dawn fotos come thanks to Harold Tartell. All others by Will Van Dorp.
And talking about being pawns . . . my account of my time as a hostage in Iraq exactly 20 years ago is reaching its climax on the Babylonian Captivity site. If you’ve not been reading it, my detention lasted from August until December 1990; to read the account in chronological order, see the note upper right on the homepage.
On trains, subways, ferries … the past few years, I’ve seen them, the Girls . . . . Though intrigued, I resisted picking one up.
What I mean is the Larsson books: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. But on Thankgsgiving Day, I watched Yellow Bird‘s adaptations of the first two. And now I’m hooked.
So, what’s this . . . or who’s this? Note three different ferries in the background. The land there is Red Hook Brooklyn.
Here’s the first one . . . the girl who … glides just forward of the tanker’s prop. Clue: the tug has a woman’s name. Hazard a guess?
Same deal . . . the girl who shifts ships and heads east past the girl who used to be a distinctive orange?
The girl who sports a mighty wheelhouse . . .
The girl with the exhaust-tinted neck . . .
The boat whose name is impossible to read at this distance . . .
She who shifts is Miriam Moran, headed past Sarah Ann, who used to display the most distinctive paint in the sixth boro.
She of the mighty wheelhouse . . . Helen Parker. I think this was the same hull, but I really can’t be certain.
closer and closer on Chemtrans Sky.
As to the person cloaked in the face of the unidentified merchant mariner from the 1942 incentive poster . . . I’m sworn to confidentiality . . . although the finger bling might offer a clue. So, bowsprite . . . contact me and I’ll identify the mariner before he ships out . . .
All fotos by Will Van Dorp, who wonders what other Larsson parody titles you might deposit in the comment scow, with pix of course.
Unrelated: Here’s an interesting merchant marine index.
Need sunglasses for this drama on the Hudson? “Random” means … spotted in a plethora of places, like Elizabeth, passing the Hudson waterfront at dusk with a barged Weeks crane 532 in tow. Note the Crow or Cheyenne in push gear with barge on the far left.
Paul T Moran at Gulf Marine Repair in Tampa. Not to be insensitive to customary modes of dress, but–as east river pointed out– doesn’t this vaguely like a burka or abaya from the eyes down on the tug?
Atlantic Coast pushing Cement Transporter 5300 south of –you guessed it–Cementon, NY.
Sea Hawk in Brooklyn Navy Yard last June appearing tied up to sludge tanker North River.
Connecticut (1959?) crosses the Sound north to south.
That’s it for now. Thanks to Deb DePeyster (who previous contributed to this) for the foto of Elizabeth, and to east river for the foto of Paul T Moran. All others by Will Van Dorp.
A year, a month, and three days before I was born, Joseph Mitchell published the essay below in the New Yorker. I don’t know when the first dredge appeared in the sixth boro, but
in Mitchell’s day, as now, dredging fleets and their crews sculpted the invisible portions of New York harbor. The above hard-to-read text made its way into the beginning of the essay “The Bottom of the Harbor” in Mitchell’s Up in the Old Hotel. For fotos of the crew of dredge Florida at their various duties, check through several dozen new ones on my Flickr stream to the left.
And it does take a fleet of specialized craft, like Apache, which
drills holes into “hard rock,” inserts explosive charges, and blows bedrock into fragments. Here’s a KVK blast video from USACE. This is how the process looks at a site in Finland. For images and description of blasting in Hell Gate in the 19th century, click here.
The next three fotos come thanks to Allen Baker. Loose clay mix slop
looks like this dropping into scows and smelling, by Allen’s description, as
“aroma there’s not enough vocabulary for.”
Drier particles, chewed up by the cutter head, might
get scooped by an excavator like 996 on
dredge New York. Here is video of a very scary day a few years back aboard New York.
Other areas of the harbor bottom get sculpted by vessels like Padre Island and (below) Terrapin Island.
And performing liaison duties among all the ships and machines in the fleet are crew boats like Brazos River
here driven from the exterior control station by Capt. Bill Miller.
And finally . . . back to the teeth: cost is between $150 and $180 each, depending on size and manufacturer. And ,
Also, in case you wondered about the date of Mitchell’s essay in the New Yorker: January 6, 1951.
Every now and then I feel conflicted by a set of “fresh” fotos, each interesting in itself, but maybe not enough for an entire post. I don’t know where my notion of “enough” comes from, but clearly the limitations exist in my head. So I’m trying out titles like “salmagundi” or “gallimaufry,” partly because alternatives like “mixed bag” or “miscellanea” don’t thrill me. Salmagundi exudes New York, and “gallimaufry” suggests that other “galli-” word I often use for … travel.
First, this oil painting of the Weehawken docks 1939 by Robert Bruce Haig captures what must have been the rough smoky port, now long-disappeared.
Bowsprite caught this foto of “red tide” riding up past Battery Park City on Labor Day.
She also took this foto of fireboat John D. McKean, riding water reddened by sunset.
The Waterfront Museum, currently over halfway to the Roundup in Waterford (aka waterchevy?) travels with an exhibit of encaustic paintings by Rich Samuelson. The show, up only until October, is called “tugboats and waterfront scenes.”
structure, Jeffreys Point Lighthouse, clearly at least 10 years senior to the bridge and deserving of respect therefrom.
And a menacing tentacle of “Hurricane Earl” crawled over Manhattan midafternoon last week as I viewed from a vantage point just south of the Tappan Zee Bridge.
First foto thanks to Arlie Haig (daughter of the artist), next two merci a Bowsprite, and the last ones by Will Van Dorp.