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… or “pie rats” as a friend says. Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but a reference to pirates has been on my “about” page almost since day 1. There was also an early post about the hideout of pirates in the Meadowlands. Pirates hid there when that area was covered with a cedar forest; in fact, the cedars are gone because of the desire by the “authorities” to burn the pirates out. Great move, guys; makes us wonder sometime who the real pirates are. The pirates below were filmed on New York harbor in 2006… all shall remain nameless, however, or replaced by nom de guerre, in the great pirate tradition. That’s “greenbelt” at the brass canon.
All theater aside, named pirates had a New York chapter in their lives: Captain Kidd lived here as a respectable citizen in the 1690s. Here’s more. Even Ellis Island, as we now call it, has a pirate chapter, a surprising one.
Modern day pirates, though, are no laughing matter. Check out the links below. Scroll through this outline. See the recent MO‘s. And since we hear the word often enough as related to copyright violation, try out this usage. Finally, here’s a cruise ship angle. Notice the weapon; twas no brass canon.

Photos by Will Van Dorp.

Tankerin’ leaves me hankerin.’ That’s the gist of an interesting article in the Star Ledger on Sunday 2/25. Personal disclosure: my son works on a cruise ship.
Here’s a photo of Crown Princess in the Cruise Terminal in Red Hook just south of the container terminal there. Coming into New York as a seafarer just isn’t a treat. The bright lights do not beckon; the Statue doesn’t smile. There’s no “y compris” launch to the delights ashore.
While I’m sort of somber, here’s a glimpse into the life of those aboard Alice and their concerns. See donation list #14.  By the way, as we speak, Alice is back in Canadian waters for the first time since early January.  Yeah.
Less somber, enjoy the vestigial figurehead on CP; truth be told, it looks very navel . . . not naval. See photo context above just inboard of the docklines. Bet it ain’t carved of wood.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

Personal disclosure: Twenty-plus years ago I had the opportunity to take a ship on the Red Sea from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to Port Suez, about 700 miles. All the daylight hours of this summer 60-hour voyage were a fantastic platform to watch other traffic and look down from the railing beside the bridge. From 50-feet up, I recall seeing the flying fish frightened by our bow wave and swarming sharks at various depths in the clear water. I would not have lasted long had I gone in. It was a simpler time, and the Egyptian passengers (99% of the passengers; there was one Sudanese family, and one American [me], which I know because customs cleared me last.) were most hospitable. Oh, for a return to these friendlier times.


In the green shirt, that’s a very young tugster. As we headed into Port Suez, the southern end of the Canal, we steamed past a cluster of ships waiting for traffic to be northbound. Then, traffic flowed six hours south, followed by six hours north, and so on.



Here is a southbound tanker, in ballast. Unlike the Panama or Erie, the Suez has no locks, so draft is the limiting factor. Suezmax designates maximum draft that can safely traverse; any vessels of greater draft would be Capesize.

Hmm… my pre-digital photos are quite grainy. I wonder where the closest port to accommodate Capesize vessels is.

All photos by Will Van Dorp, back in 1985.

Blogs and the internet are fantastic collaborative tools. In just a few months, this blog has introduced me to like-minded folk on all continents. Nothing from Antarctica yet. Of course, the mysteries of Alice still remain, but that’s appropriate with unrequited love. The beloved, shown below in this summer 2006 photo, is almost in Canadian maritime water returning from Gibraltar as I write. But why she dashed across the Atlantic and never communicates…. I’ll enjoy the unattention and just have to guess her motivations.

Below are some of your revelations.
Brendan: the tug being restored in the 2/22 post is New York Central Tug #13. Some info on other historic New York vessels can be found here, North River being an alternative designation to the Hudson and as distinguished from the East River.

By the way along the North aka Hudson on the cold Hoboken side, here are two vastly different projects, schooner Anne and Ferry Yankee, described in the link in paragraph above.


Fred: the delightful caravel in the 2/17 was the Nina and the “invisible” vessel in my “header” photo, top of every blog is Drillboat Fractor. See blogroll “tug44”.

Bonnie aka frogma: too numerous to list all, but notable was Rosemary Ruth, Mystic Whaler, and Klang II in the 1/23.  See blogroll.

Carolina: all about Mary Whalen in the 1/20, who floats again this week. See blogroll.
Enough for today. Thanks all.

Let me end by introducing the first blog I knew . . . er . . . blogg that is. Check out their schedule on this homepage; see them if you can… and dare.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

A night heron and a tugboat, what could they have in common? I put the link in the previous sentence because I’ve no good photos of the heron with his neck retracted. A little farther down is a night heron with his neck extended. But first, look closely at the wheelhouse of Odin.



Here’s a slightly closer view that clearly shows the hydraulic ram under the wheelhouse that could lift the helmsman up over an empty barge. The container ship in the background, Hyundai Garnet, convenience flagged in Singapore, seems to want to identify the “tiny” 72-foot Odin passing to port.



Cheyenne, below and in this link from Tug44, also has a retractable wheelhouse that can be raised or lowered. At this link, compare the position of Cheyenne‘s wheelhouse with Crow’s.


Oh, the retracted head of the night heron? It’s a fishing strategy. Compare the extended neck here with the retracted one in the link above.



At their peril, small fish swim by thinking the bird has much less neck range than it does.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

Some friends say I’m easily excited. That’s a good thing, right? Yesterday I was ecstatic to finally see the peregrine falcon soaring around the Union County Courthouse. Then, this morning in the Times and on Yahoo I read about beavers in the Bronx! Here’s the beaver that almost jumped into my kayak last summer in New Hampshire: narrow wetland creek and big beaver.
Beavers and I share an interest in woodcarving though we have vastly different aesthetics.

There are areas of progress. This barge on the Hackensack supplies a powerplant in Jersey City with coal. According to the Waterkeeper folk, this coal-fired power station is about the cleanest-burning one anywhere.

But I’m certain late-21st century folks are going to damn us about the environmental degradation we’ve wreaked with styrofoam and plastic. Look around at bags in trees, bags on fences, bags everywhere. Beavers might dam us too.
Besides the delight of the beaver, check out this site, which I just added to my blogroll. Scroll all the way to the bottom: it’s my confirmation of something else in the Bronx… across the river from Riker’s. A prison ship, a delightful cruise. Anyone add to what the Tug44 folk say?

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

Some get cut up, and only a few get saved. I don’t know what tug this is, but steady restoration progress is being made.
Belly plates were missing a year ago.

Those that don’t survive to float in restored beauty have at least been preserved in very interesting photos here (see Rossville) and here, if you fancy nudity.


What regal ship this once was and which exotic ports she entered will never be known.

Photos by frogma and Will Van Dorp.

I owe all these photos to Mike. I’ll admit to being too cold to focus on my camera.


Words cannot describe this feeling, heeled over in a good wind and running against the tide. Seamanship and design (check pinkies) are things of ineffable beauty, even on a cold day.  Some might say “especially” then.


Staying out of the wind is a good idea… ducking behind the cabin but not being overcome by cabin fever (check Feb. 20)…


…if you can.


Back in the marina just across the dock, the white stuff still emprisons. Or not… One just needs to be resourceful.

Here’s more on Thomas Colvin.


I like the New York harbor settings of such writers as Joseph Mitchell and Frederick Busch. Non-fiction writers I enjoy are William Kornblum and Phillip Lopate. And there’s the poetry of Walt Whitman and this poem of Joseph Bruchac. But I admit to knowing very few authors who used New York harbor life as an integral part of their work. Please send in your “best of” prose or poetry set in New York harbor. Meanwhile, Edgar Allen Poe used this feature in the side of a cold frozen Hoboken bluff as inspiration for “The Mystery of Marie Roget.”
By the way, just above the cave entrance is Colonial House at SIT. Inland a couple streets is Davidson Lab with its famous wet tank.

While we’re on cold “unsual frozen objects” identified or otherwise, check out this whitish material below narrowing the span of the Hudson.

Winter, it’s the perfect time to curl up with a warm book and dream of comfortable summer play on the rivers. Unless, of course, you’re the type who loves to go out sailing in February when the river is almost solely yours, but that’s for tomorrow. For now, tell me your favorite New York harbor-set writing; I’ll summarize and post.

You’ve seen some of the delights this non-river has to offer, here’s a mystery vessel I’ve seen twice, once at dusk and the other time just before a major thunderstorm. It has a black hull, natural wood superstructure, and twin masts complete with one set of shrouds. I’ve increased the contrast so that details are more visible.
Anyone identify? Is it mass produced or a one-off? An antique? If I indulge my fantasizing, I can imagine it could be a contemporary version of the Flying Dutchman.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

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February 2007