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Just a quick update: I’ve heard from 11 people–some on email–willing to put up some money. I intended this as pledging a la Public Radio/Television. I had imagined that once a sizeable amount of money was pledged and a goal for the money was agreed upon, we could collect the money. May Day–the seasonal one–arrives soon. The dire one I hope never arrives. To fuel the discussion, I’m putting up fotos never before (I think) never posted here. Like Peking,
I’m offering to give away a Benjamin Franklin, or a half dozen. And I’ll do it before May Day!! See the end of the post.
The foto below–never posted here before–comes from 2005 and shows “the schooners,” a handsome Pioneer (1885) and elegant Lettie G. Howard (1893), 244 years of sailing between them. On a personal note, I logged in over 600 hours as a volunteer on these two boats as well as on W. O. Decker between 2004–2006. That means winter maintenance as well as summer sailing.
Such nautical treasures are these vessels (left to right: Marion M, Wavertree, W. O. Decker, and Peking) and so many fine folks, volunteers as well as professional crew, did I meet during this time . . that
When word on the street says Museum administration is looking to ”send its working ships to ports elsewhere for long-term storage” and otherwise declining comment on the crumbling state of affairs, I hope to hear that these same administrators abdicate their positions. These vessels are no white elephants. These are no “floating paperweights.”
During my years as an active volunteer, I knew this place could be much more than a red barn with seven masts sticking up above it.
Conditions of giving away my Benjamins: current Museum president Mary Pelzer resign effective immediately and a committee focused on the vessels be installed forthwith. And, I’d like 1000 people (former volunteers, boat fans, former professional crew members, just plain fans of these vessels, or friends and friends of friends of any of the above) to pledge at least a Benjamin each to be deposited with a trustworthy and maricentric steward by May 1, 2011. This could be the “seaport spring.” Let’s not let this go to May Day.
See the selection below from yesterday’s New York Post. Here’s info on a “Save our Ships” meeting for April 28. All fotos above by Will Van Dorp.
“Abandoning ships: City’s old vessels lost in fog of debt, neglect,” New York Post, April 25. “Rotting wood covers their decks, their masts are flaked with rust, and their hulls are corroding.
New York’s last tall ships — once-proud symbols of the Big Apple’s rise to greatness — are in a shameful state of disrepair as the museum that’s supposed to care for them sinks in a Bermuda Triangle of debt and bad management. Seaport Museum New York has closed its landside galleries and is looking to send its working ships to ports elsewhere for long-term storage.
The museum’s stationary ships — Peking, one of the biggest sailing ships ever built, Wavertree, a three-masted cargo ship, and Ambrose, a lightship that a century ago guided sailors into New York harbor — face an unknown fate. ‘Those ships, which are emblematic of our heritage on the waterfront, are almost being left to rot,’ said Roland Lewis, president of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, a coalition of nonprofit groups. . . . The museum declined comment, except to say it is ‘exploring various options’ to maintain its vessels.”
Elizabeth Wood took the following pics just over three years ago; I hated the gloomy light that day, but now I find it appropriate given the topic this post. Below is a letter from Peter Stanford, founder of South Street Seaport Museum, who thinks the current chairman and director should resign.
<< … a long slide from four piers under Seaport Museum control and a museum that was operating in the black until corporate managers took control, who sold out to Rouse in 1980. In those days you helped lead “a revival of spirit” (as a NY Times headline called it) in 1980, when Jakob (Isbrandtsen] and the Wavertee Volunteers turned to, supported by NMHS, and saved the ship from the sale or scrapping as set forth in the Rouse plan. Today we have one pier and have lost our urban renewal status which gave the Seaport Museum control of waterfront development which now proceeds regardless of museum needs and interests.
Seaport management asked Terry Walton and myself, with another seaport founder, Robert Ferraro, to develop an outline plan for the ships. We’ve now done this, after consultation with leaders in the Mystic, San Diego, and Erie maritime museums. These good souls run active, creative ship programs. And they have the vision to see that failure of the historic ships’ cause in New York would deal a deadly blow to the movement nationally – and in fact, internationally. As soon as we have final approval by Ray Ashley in San Diego, Dana Hewson in Mystic, Walter Rybka in Erie we’d like to circulate a summary of the Ships Plan to bring fresh life and interest to the ships of South Street.
We might also hold a meeting of informed people on what the Seaport needs and what it can deliver. We might hold this meeting on Maritime Day, 22 May, during the scheduled visit of the Gazela of Philadelphia, the last square-rigger in the immemorial Newfoundland fisheries – Jakob’s old skipper Robert Rustchak is relief skipper and trustee of the ship, and I hope he can help us do this in proper style. And I hope others of like mind may also weigh in to get a public campaign rolling.
ACTION THIS DAY! Meantime we urgently need e-mails to Mayor Bloomberg (www.nyc.govt/mayor) and the NY Times (212) 639-9675), to let the Mayor (www/nyc.gov/mayor) know that the fate of the Seaport Museum cannot be left to real estate interests in high cabal, and to alert Times readers to back-alley dealings over an institution which has been a resource and inspiration to many New Yorkers – which needs their support to tell the story of New York as a city built by seafaring, which is vital its well-being and progress on the sea trades today and tomorrow. >>
To any who wants to e-mail Mayor Michael Bloomberg, put this address on your browser line http://www.nyc.gov/html/mail/html/mayor.html This will bring you to a form to email the mayor. Max 300 words. What to write?
Whatever you want, whatever you know. If you don’t know much, keep in mind that ( as Rick Old Salt reports) Peter Stanford, Museum founder, has so little confidence in the the current leadership of the Museum that he calls for them to resign. I’m not privy to the inner workings at the Museum, but I did invest 1000 volunteer hours there, ending a few years back because the low morale among folks who worked there just broke my heart. If you know anyone who has ever worked there, ask them.
A vibrant port city, with its active sixth boro, deserves an energetic and maricentric museum, determined to provide residents and visitors to New York “ a living maritime museum … on New York’s historic waterfront, where a century ago a thousand bowsprits pointed the way to commercial greatness,” as Robert S. Gallagher wrote in October 1969. And a functional research library . . . that would be nice, too. May brighter days lie ahead. And may Peking and her sister vessels breathe again.
First, to get back to the mystery tug . . . It was taken in Dordrecht, a city of about 120,000 whose history goes back 1000 years. In this area about 20 miles southeast of Rotterdam, the rivers Noord, Oude Maas, Dordtse Kil and Beneden Merwede meet. That foto–as well as all the others in this post– comes via Jan van der Doe, frequent commenter on this blog. According to Jan, Dordrecht is the busiest shipping intersection in Europe. It has been and still is very important for the inland shipping.
Tug below is Rotterdam, 22,000 hp, formerly owned by Smit, then Smitwijs, and now Switzer. A foto of a Smit tug (or related subsequent) company towing bark Peking into the sixth boro appeared here. Rotterdam towed SS France on its long journey to Alang here (scroll about halfway through).
Study this foto Jan took on the waterfront in Rotterdam; look for odd features.
Dockyard IX is a 500 hp steam tug, currently owned by The Maritime Museum. It was built in 1940 for dockyard work and owned by the Rotterdamse Droogdok Maatschappij (literally, “Rotterdam Drydock Company”). The stack location allows the skipper unobstructed view while towing and assisting during docking and un-docking.
Variable height houses are used in the Netherlands, like on Maasstroom 9 (1957), here near Vlaardingen (my father’s birthplace!!), and
Matricaria. (Note: in this link, check out all the wind turbines in the background; the Dutch seem to have traded old model windmills for new.)
Left to right, MTS Vengeance (1988) and Koral (1976).
I love the colors. Vengeance is UK-registered and Koral Maltese.
These last two foto make me wonder when last a foreign-flagged tug traversed the sixth boro.
All fotos by Jan van der Doe. Jan, hartelijk dank.
Unrelated: I’ve NOT seen Rosemary McAllister for some time now. Anyone know where she is?
February 24, 1836 . . . is the birthday of my favorite watercolorist. Who? Answer follows.
For most of these shots, some of which remind me of watercolor, I’m not going to identify the vessel, although all (except the orange one below) floated somewhere in the sixth boro. As to the watercolorist, he died at age 74. As to the orange one, the watercolorist died less than 100 miles north of where that lobster boat, which has appeared in this blog before, docks.
Some of my favorite works by this artist featured scenes in the Keys and points east and south.
He did some stunning war work, too, like one of a Union sharpshooter aka sniper in tree.
Peripatetic, he got up to the Adirondacks to paint a lot of canoe and fishing tableaux.
Some of his sunsets immersed maritime subjects–lots of schooners– in Gloucester.
The vessel, high and dry below, is Peking, which Winslow Homer never painted, but I’ll bet he wished he had the chance. See 481 of his works here. Peking, featured here many times before, launched a year after Winslow Homer died.
He would have turned a mere 174 today, and I’ll bet he’d be waterblogging and watercoloring.
All fotos by Will Van Dorp. This post is dedicated to my second . . . well, actually first among those I know, favorite watercolorist.
Technically this is a post about the effects of weather; I couldn’t document the wind-driven snow because it happened in darkness. Maybe you witnessed it; I took the coward’s way out and crawled into bed early. I trudged out early to record these effects like the wreath on Liberty IV having more frosting than two days back; in fact the after deck
Wherever Morgan Reinauer’s headed from seemed to offer a glazing.
A crewman on Pegasus (the younger not the ancient) demonstrates why a snow shovel is standard equipment.
Wavertree sprouts some fangs around her stern.
Austin Reinauer heads eastbound past the crushed stone piles deposited by Alice and her sisters or cousins.
Amy C. McAllister looked somewhat hoary this morning, and
Marjorie B. McAllister, house up, moves this barge into a snow-sweeping wind for the first time since last night.
Ancient Helen, it piled up on her.
And the final shot for now . . . I believe it’s Emma Foss (a really outa-towner) pulling an interesting but unidentifiable barge; the tow was too far past when I noticed. Had I stayed along the East River a bit longer, I would have gotten a close-up. Anyone have an idea? ((Thanks to Stan Willhight, the answer follows. Much obliged, Stan))
All fotos by Will Van Dorp today.
Answer to the mystery tow above, Emma Foss is towing barge Columbia Boston, the fifth Cianbro module for a Motiva crude refinery in Port Arthur, Texas. Watch a video showing tow departure from the Cianbro dock on the Penobscot here. Interesting close-ups, interactions with the USCG Bridle, and perfect illustration for Bowsprite’s boat time post on a three-watch system. FYI, the tow left the sixth boro aka exited the Narrows around 1300 Sunday headed south.
Doesn’t that look like the Staten Island shore out beyond this color foto of Utrecht? And the towline stretches taut with 3100 gross tons of steel, a hull that wants to sprint its 16 knots and some:
the bark Peking, late summer 1975, approaching the Narrows for the first time ever, as its previous route took it around Cape Horn.
Let’s walk around the foto a bit. Invisible on this foto, some of the missing spars lie on deck.
The 1975 paint scheme differs from from that on the 1929-30 foto, and from the current one. The assist tug appears to be a McAllister.
And on its 17-day passage from the UK, a “riding crew” rode Peking, there to stand watch and perform any as-needed functions excluding anything involving navigation, as Peking had non-functional rudder and no means of propulsion. Several people are visible on deck below. Lots of questions come to mind: would a “dead ship” in general and Peking specifically have a generator on board? What navigation lights are required? What damage control would they have anticipated? How different was radio communications tug-to-Peking 34 years ago? Did watches include bilge and hold checks? Who was this crew and what specialties did they have? Did they take any fotos, and if so, where might those fotos be?
Peking masts are all steel; topgallants were shortened.
What tales the crew of this tow must have told! I’d love to learn more of the details of Peking‘s most recent passage, recent although 34 years ago.
Thanks to John for sending a link to the story (and many pics) of Bear, which after a long life and many roles, sank while under tow from Halifax to Philadelphia for conversion to restaurant on the Delaware, a role currently played by Moshulu. If you’ve seen Peking, you must visit Moshulu–and eat there to see the tweendecks. Moshulu launched seven years before Peking also for the nitrate trade but from Scotland.
I’m curious: any readers who know the ports of Chile today . . . is there recollection of the time a century back when these large commercial sail vessels arrived and departed with raw materials from the the Atacama Desert? I’d love to hear.
Many thanks to Charlie Deroko for images and information.
No, here Peking gets escorted up the East River a mere 14 months ago, almost like a human nonagenarian, for a 97-year-old she was when my partner Elizabeth caught this portentous shot. Portentious, maybe? Even the tug name–McAllister Responder–sounds like an anonymous institutional care-giver, as in “Hi Peking. I’m on-call as your responder today. I hope you’re having a lovely day.” No offense meant to Responder (ex-Empire State, ex-Exxon Empire State); it’s just that here the name adds to the pathos of this scene. But despite the leaden water, the monochromatic palette imposed by the threatening, dark sky, a few spears of hope zapped through, for at this point, some thought she might receive more than a make-over; she might be fully rebuilt with new structure as well as cosmetics, we hoped.
Alas, 14 months later, to this passerby, Peking still languishes in a form of ship purgatory.
Recently Joe sent me these fotos, taken at sea by his uncle Frank sometime in 1929-30. It’s Peking mid-Atlantic: a vital cog in an economic machine, working sail that sprinted the seas less-trafficked today between Northern Europe and Southwestern South America, a “fast” one-way passage taking over two months. Northbound to European industries, she carried nitrates, a vital raw material in producing fertilizer and explosives.
A few years after these fotos, Peking came off the high seas into the confines of the River Medway to Shaftesbury Homes–aka the National Refuges for Destitute Children– and re-named Arethusa, appropriate maybe, since the original Arethusa was a shape-shifting nereid who transformed herself into a stream to avoid the advances of a suitor more powerful than she. By the way, Shaftesbury Homes still exists, still performs a variation on its function to provide a practical education for young people otherwise destined to a purgatorial life of poverty.
Here, 80 years ago, she still breathed vigor, flexed steel sinews, a titan of merchant sail as expeditious as steam power. On that day 14 months ago, I put my ear to her deck, and for a few seconds I thought I heard raspy breaths, felt a flutter that could have become a pulse, but
I now suspect I was mistaken. Can I, might the armies of willing hands perform CPR on Peking and coax some vitality back? Might transfusions help?
A hero of mine, Joseph Conrad wrote these lines in “The End of the Tether,” Chapter 6: “A laid-up steamer was a dead thing and no mistake; a sailing ship seems always ready to spring to life with the breath of the incorruptible heaven; but a steamer, thought Captain W, with her fires out, without the warm whiffs from below meeting you on her decks, without the hiss of steam, the clangs of iron in her breast–lies there as cold and still and pulseless as a corpse.”
Conrad might just have been wrong about sailing ships: the last lines on Peking need still be written, and I cringe to think what these words may tell. For now, we keep watch.
The artistic Bowsprite infuses the lines and colors of Peking with new energy here, as she starts a series on the moribund barque.
And if you try some Spanish, here’s naveganteglenan‘s post from Spain on Peking.
Many thanks to Joe for sharing these black-white family fotos.
Left to right: Laura K Moran, new this year; Edith Thornton, 1951; and Pegasus, 1907. Laura K didn’t race on Sunday but escorted in a cruise ship moments before. Built in Maine, New Jersey, and New York, respectively.
Rosemary McAllister , 2008, raced, a stand-in for Andrew McAllister, also 2008, Florida.
And while we’re on McAllisters, this foto taken back in January shows McAllister Responder, 1967, escorting Peking; in the foreground in Helen McAllister, 1900, recently disappeared from South Street Seaport. Built in Florida and New York. Hope Helen comes back a tractor.
About a year ago, I used this title in modified form to tell of Alice and the Congo here. I use it again because I received these fotos recently, thanks to Trixi and to Jochen Schultz.
The lines looks familiar, and
this looks amazingly like a certain drydock on Staten Island, but
it’s a Rickmers vessel in Hamburg. Rickmers-Rickmers was a teenager when Peking was built; she ran Germany-Far East for 15 or so years before going on the same line to Chile that Peking ran. Later she sailed as Flores, then Sagres 2, until in 1983–at age 87–she returned to Hamburg, where Jochen took those fotos. Some differences: Rickmers Rickmers has twin diesels, and their relative dimensions in loa, breadth, draft–Peking (377′x45′x26′) and Rickmers Rickmers (318′x40′x20′).