You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2007.

This’ll be my last post until mid-July. The Winooski and the Green Mountains beckon again. So what follows will “keep station” until then. It could be called +sum of parts 2. Decker pictures and tour dates/times follow. A full technical report of its 2005-06 rebuild is available here. Here’s my original tug tours post.


Starting in the wheelhouse, notice the elegant simple controls. The brass handle on right controls both engine rpms and transmission.  The wooden handle just right of the wheel locks the steering.


On the shelf under the wheelhouse, the vertical shaft transfers wheel spin to chain movement, which connects to horizontal conduited rods going astern along the house to the rudder. Think brake cables inside tubing going to calipers on a bicycle.


The army surplus GM 6-110 diesel has powered Decker since the early 1950’s.


Notice the wood planks, the stuffing box,  the after-portion of the propeller shaft, and bearings.


From starboard aft of the engine looking forward back toward the steering mechanism and small window to port.


Here’s that same window from the deck looking forward to the h-bitt and stem. That “window” pre-World War 2 was the coal chute opening for the original steam boiler that ran Decker.

For reservations, email RESERVATIONS@SOUTHSTSEAPORT.ORG.  Tours leave Pier 16 at 10 am on the following  dates:

Brooklyn Waterfront– June 30, Aug 4, Aug 18, Sept 22, and Oct 13.

Newark Bay –July 7, Aug 11, Aug 25, Sept 29, and Oct 20.

Upper New York Bay– July 28 and Oct 6.

North River –Sept 1 and Oct 27.

Oh, while I’m away, if you see something, say something by email or such.

Fotos here by Will Van Dorp

Previous posts here have mentioned pirates; an experience I had yesterday prompts another. I was eating a late midday lunch on the third floor balcony of Pier 17 before going sailing a shift of public sails as volunteer on Pioneer. Beside me on a teak deckchair sat a Chinese woman and a 10-year-old I took for her grandson. She was having lunch too while the boy crouched at the front of her chair immersed in a hand-held video game. The scratchy sounds emanating from the v-toy bothered me, but I felt generous, buoyed by a general joy about my life and the sights and sounds of the East River. No, Alice was nowhere to be seen, but so what. The grandmother, however, seemed unhappy; to any question she posed the boy [in some dialect of Chinese I understand nothing of], he grunted in a way that in any language means “don’t bother me.” Any food she offered, he declined. Any sight she pointed out, he ignored. He contorted his body such that his vision and his hands converged around the game. His avoidance of her and tuning into what I deemed grating electronic sounds went on for about 15 minutes. Then the black ship below approached the pier.



In tones less whiny than before, she called his attention to the ship. She repeated a sound that I took to mean “ship.” The excitement in her voice became palpable. “Ship, ship” she repeated, and for once the boy looked up. “See the captain,” said she, pointing to the helm where a man in black hat sat with a mysterious double.



A loud distant voice rose from the ship, counting down; then a simultaneous puff of white smoke and a loud boom, followed by echoes clattering off the buildings of the island of Manhattan, echoes like impact, tangible impact and not just sonic ones.

The grandmother’s voice had energy now, and the once ensnared boy put down his v-toy. Another puff and boom and he handed the toy to his grandmother, who took it as she continued to narrate the events to her grandson. She had all his attention now, she and the black ship.



Young voices now roared from the deck of the black ship. As the red-capped pirates lowered the sails and furled, the young pirates waved swords and shouted.





And the grandson, only moments before begging in a whiny voice for his grandmother to leave him to his electronic device, now seemed petitioning her as the powerful one in his life: “Please, grandma, may I go? Please let me join this band? This would be exciting. My life is so boring. Let’s go meet them at the dock.”



So grandmothers and grandfathers of all ages; hope for v-toy addicted young’uns exists only as far away as the end of Pier 16. Pirates sail again to liberate us from electronic dreariness!

Departing at 1 pm July 22 and August19, both Sundays at pier 16. $20 for young’uns and $30 for adults. Reservations: 212-748-8786.

All fotos, you guessed, Will Van Dorp

Yes, it’s a former island, truly unique, and the Mermaid Parade this year carried a subtext of fighting words. Btw, the wiki link embedded in “island” does a fantastic job of the full story from Narrioch to the Thor development controversy. It fails to mention the yellow submarine of Coney Island Creek, however.



My best costume award goes to the Goth mermaids calling for unionizing barristas. Just seeing them compensated for my otherwise poor viewing location at the very end of the parade. Although “nets” might have been a better word choice than “chains” maybe?



Weariness after too many years of war even manifested itself. Maybe someone with more years at the parade than I have can recall if a previous parade had an anti-war component.


“Save” [Coney Island as we know it] and “fight” [development] appeared in many places.


The blog linked here captures a lot but possibly only a few captured this demonstration of weird powers… a real 8-foot boa constrictor minded by a shadow and slithering the sand in search of… a sampling of the rabbits that gave the island its name? a lost silver pendant? dialog with the woman in the lime gown? wildlife in an arboreal habitat?



Here’s wildlife in the form of Sea Lion that prowls just offshore. Maybe Sea Lion was in search of a reed boat to tow as it had a few weeks ago off Morris Canal.



Save Coney Island!! For a smattering more fotos of the day, check “special mermaid edition;” you may have to scroll down.

All fotos here … Will Van Dorp

Never did find out the last one, but in a quick post, here are three more. Pix all by me in the past week.



That clearly says “Japan Coast Guard,” and last I checked, Brooklyn is not along Japan’s coast; in fact, it’s not even in the sixth boro. Hmm? If anyone reads Japanese, here’s a closer up shot of the stern.



Gojiba? Someone translate the hiragana?



This long shot shows a commuter boat I spotted twice last week, each time when I was headed the other way and busy. This time it was leaving the East River headed into the Hudson past Pier A. Looks like a classic, and I’d like to know more. Anyone?

All photos by Will Van Dorp.



Finally–I know it’s in Gowanus Bay, not the East River. Loujaine, visible from the BQE, has been here at least a half dozen years. I recall reading a Times story long before I moved to New York about a skeleton crew left on a ship in Brooklyn after the owners declared bankruptcy or some such. The crew were from South America and threatened with harm if they left the ship even though they were no longer paid. But I can’t locate the article now. Anyone know the story of Loujaine?

PS: Pete Hamill, whom I respect mostly, made a blanket statement about bloggers doing what they do without leaving their apartment. What?!!? Kind of a reach there, sir?

Underestimate C & J Marine’s Jayne Davis at your own peril: twin Cats delivering a total of 630 hp can push a respectable load.



Also eastbound the same morning on the East River near the Brooklyn side was Annie G II, shorter by two feet and less beamy than Jayne Davis.



At work on the Hackensack, Christy Anne was recently attached to a barge carrying this blue machine with a pithy name. Here’s some shots from Tug44, currently lost somewhere in upstate waters.



I can’t pass on this:  that yellow machine on the spud barge moved by the tug… I guess that’s a tuggable truck.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.



Of course, truckable pushboats aren’t the same as mini-tugs, which are truckable too, pickup truckable even.



Sails . . . .and migratory birds share rhythms: following the coast in tune with seasons. New sail and birds appear after having wintered southward over the horizon.



Inbound a week or so ago was Juno, launched 2003 in Massachusetts. Scroll down for info here.



Arriving about the same time was When and If, built for General Patton in Maine to sail around the world “when and if” he survived the war; most of the rest is history, but he didn’t survive long the postwar long enough to circumnavigate.



The vessel above is the length of Juno and When and If combined, although you’d never guess that from this foto. Knickerbocker, less than 20 years old was built—in Wisconsin!



And here for a few more days is Pride of Baltimore II.

As Herman Melville says in the first chapter of The Classic,

“Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath afternoon. Go from Corlears Hook to Coenties Slip, and from thence, by Whitehall northward. What do you see? – Posted like silent sentinels all around the town, stand thousands upon thousands of mortal men fixed in ocean reveries. Some leaning against the spiles; some seated upon the pier-heads; some looking over the bulwarks of ships from China; some high aloft in the rigging, as if striving to get a still better seaward peep. But these are all landsmen; of week days pent up in lath and plaster – tied to counters, nailed to benches, clinched to desks. How then is this? Are the green fields gone? What do they here?

But look! here come more crowds, pacing straight for the water, and seemingly bound for a dive. Strange! Nothing will content them but the extremest limit of the land; loitering under the shady lee of yonder warehouses will not suffice. No.

They must get just as nigh the water as they possibly can without falling in. And there they stand – miles of them – leagues. Inlanders all, they come from lanes and alleys, streets and avenues, – north, east, south, and west. Yet here they all unite. Tell me, does the magnetic virtue of the needles of the compasses of all those ships attract them thither?”

My answer: Yup. Always did and always will.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

About to appear on stage it’s the summer solstice 2007 and . . . Ambrose. This one’s for Tana for her tour of  Vancouver’s water space.



Ambrose‘s gongs are silent; she doesn’t sing, dance, or play music . . . although those mushroom anchors resemble “bells” of brass instruments . . . right behind one of the four stages for the River-to-River festival that goes all summer.



Monday as Pioneer crew returned from Clearwater at four in the morning on this dock shared with Ambrose, we saw four tango dancers gliding off to the port side of the red ship, possibly kept awake by midsummer and memories of the light beams from the ship and moving to the music in their heads. Never in their wildest hallucinations could a lightship crew on station back 50 years ago imagine a future where tangoistas would move off the port of their feuerschiff.



Some disparate New York area activities around solstice approach . . .

Mermaid Parade and Ball on Coney Island!!!

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

And a little later, Great Hudson River Paddle!!! If you haven’t registered, you can still attend the festivals.

Any good solstice and water events elsewhere? Daylight hours get shorter in the northern hemisphere after this weekend, so use those hours before they darken.

Study the foto below snapped about a week ago on the East River. How do you interpret it? The vessel in the foreground is 226 LOA and can have a crew of 40.



It’s Powhatan, an ocean/salvage tug of Donjon Marine. What looks like a pilot house on the after deck of Powhatan is actually what’s moving the larger vessel toward the Upper Bay, Donjon’s Kendall P. Brake. I can only guess at the reason.



Here’s a link to another still-active “Powhatan-class” Navy tug. If you want to scroll about 3/4s down to Powhatan class fleet tugs, click here. Certainly, I could call this post a “second lives.”



Above is another Donjon tug, Atlantic Salvor, same company, big tug.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

Any guesses on the origins and current use of Bold?



After only 15 years as a Navy vessel, Bold was transferred to the EPA. Gray feds to blue feds, I guess.



Here’s the schedule.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

Some fotos first . . . and text will go up later when I’m caught up on sleep. The Clearwater festival ended just hours ago.



Pioneer anchored…



with Clearwater



all manner of craft and info about even more… and music too.



All photos by Will Van Dorp.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,566 other subscribers
If looking for specific "word" in archives, search here.
Questions, comments, photos? Email Tugster

Documentary "Graves of Arthur Kill" is AVAILABLE again here.Click here to buy now!

Seth Tane American Painting

Read my Iraq Hostage memoir online.

My Babylonian Captivity

Reflections of an American hostage in Iraq, 20 years later.


June 2007