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The photo above was taken 19 years ago. I didn’t take it. Info about the shot follows at the end of this post.


Black-tipped red stack(s) with two white rings . . . that’s McAllister Towing. Captain James McAllister, an immigrant from Ireland’s County Antrim, started the business 143 years ago in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Here Ellen McAllister, a recently rebuilt tractor tug, escorts Sun Round, container ship, outbound from KVK.


McAllister Responder and Charles D. McAllister dock a tall ship at Pier 17 Manhattan in 2006. By the way, Charles D. is undergoing upgrades as you read this. Notice a Gemini theme going here.


Here’s a recent shot of Responder standing by, waiting to assist with docking.


Work’s here. Notice the sheet about to drape between the Responder’s rubber fender and the white hull of cutter Seneca.

The 1988 foto was taken by Daniel Hormann. You can contact him about a $15 CD with dozens of vintage 1988 NY harbor photos at danielhormann (at) comcast (dot) net.

All other images here, Will Van Dorp

In the case of K-Sea, the ancestors were a father and son in a rowboat selling used rope in the harbor about a hundred years ago. For the evolution til the present, including K-Sea’s ownership of the Mary Whalen, check this fantastic link.


Taurus has one of the best names for a tug or pushboat. Think strength like a bull. Picture powerful horns to move things in front of it. Isn’t single-minded determination a characteristic of Taurans?


Another great name, Davis Sea, honors a body of water surrounding Antarctica. K-Sea has almost 20 “___Sea” tugs. So much for the “seven seas” expression.


Falcon, another great name, alludes to tugs’ speed and sense of effortless movement.


And last and greatest, it’s Lincoln Sea. Notice the helmsman’s tiny head in the upper pilothouse. Named for an ice sea near the North Pole between Canada and Greenland, Lincoln Sea won the speed and pushing competition at last year’s 14th Annual Tugboat Race and Challenge. Well it should have, twin props nearly 12′ diameter each and more horsepower than all three K-Sea tugs above, Lincoln Sea belies its rowboat ancestry. Come find out on September 2 if she’ll be back.

And next time you have a transaction with a small family business, remember Carl Eklof and his rowboat and how that modest effort evolved into K-Sea.

All images, Will Van Dorp.

Approaching LaGuardia on a recent evening from the west and slightly south, I spotted Sandy Hook and the Verrazano. In the distinct black triangle of Raritan Bay, I picked out two lights, Old Orchard and West Bank; and recalled a cold but wonderful night last February, a six-hour sail between Tottenville and Jersey City aboard Rosemary Ruth. The airliner traversed the distance in a few spectacular minutes, defining a breath-taking arc a half mile or so above the Verrazano, lit like an elongated city itself green by its mercury vapor lamps and white by vehicle traffic, a spectacular arch over the inky water. But the two dim specks of Old Orchard and West Bank still beamed hope outward as they had that February night we sailed the winter bay.


If the lighthouse above looks familiar dwarfed by the George Washington Bridge, you may know it from a children’s book by Hildegarde H. Swift.


The lighthouse above stands quite some distance from the Harlem River; in fact, it’s a corporate logo. But wait… the company is H. W. Wilson, the folks who compile the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature, possibly your savior back pre-Internet whenever you needed to write a research paper and you sought solace in the thick green volumes that always had their own table in a library. Wilson’s mission: “To give guidance to those seeking their way through the maze of books and periodicals, without which they would be lost.”


Here are two closer images of Stepping Stones Light at the New York City end of Long Island Sound.  “Stepping Stones Light,” it deserves a reward for “best named.”


Finally, Robbins Reef Light, aka Kate‘s light, marks a reef near the eastern end of Kill van Kull. A Coast Guard vessel named for this “Kate” (Katherine Walker) appears near the end of this post.

…actually Port Albany Ventures runs a fleet of beautiful red tugs, one of which, Cheyenne, leads the “fav tugs” contest.


Kudos to PAV for maintaining such a handsome tug


and eliciting the vote, as of this publication, around 60%.


Forty-two years worked and cherished, she with a pilothouse that raises and lowers by hydraulics,


and lined up here behind Empire, PAV’s push boat,


Cheyenne, built by Ira Bushey in Brooklyn and based in Albany, does her own share of pushing though, as shown above pushing stone eastbound on East River.

Cheyenne, you are loved; may the vote demonstrate who’s “people’s choice.”

If Cheyenne’s not your favorite, go to here and vote. If the vote “doesn’t work, drop an email to

{First, an “ad” for the opera on Mary Whalen.} Great mood foto and  ticket info here.

Now . . . Defender to Cigarette . . . prey to predator; cheetah to zebra. And the outcome…

Cheetah! Busted! Hove to.


Erie Canal tug Seneca, a government boat, attends to various and sundry canal work, here accompanying a crane barge clearing tree encroachment on a boat landing.


Below is Marine 1’s John D. McKean. See this link for John D’s welcome of the QM2 on her first arrival here. John D. may have only a few years of service left; scroll down to “changing tide” for 2009 replacement plans. More FDNY boats here.


The newly refurbished 110′ cutter Tybee based in Woods Hole cruised westbound this summer. Tybee is one of about 40 110′ sisters.


Getting us back to predator and prey, conversion of these 110′ cutters to 123′ faster ones has not gone smoothly.

For fantastic video of Coast Guard rescue of tran-Pacific rowe Roz Savage, see this link from Sea Fever, long on my blogroll.

All images by Will Van Dorp.

By the way, new to the blogroll at left… World Ship Society with lots of New York links.

Labor Day approaches, bringing with it TWO seasonal competitions, not the ones involving shoulder pads or aluminum bats; but clashing bows, with rubber fenders or fiber bow pudding. Nose to nose …


in the Hudson late morning on Sunday, September 2, 2007, the 15th annual tugboat challenge, Event #1, maybe a reprise of Lincoln Sea v. Janice Ann Reinauer, or


ancients like Gowanus Bay v. Chancellor up at the Tugboat Roundup in Waterford, Event #2,  on the weekend of September 8 and 9. Like rut season for bighorns or moose…


or beauty contests with the likes of Governor Cleveland.


Throngs will descend to the Waterford bulkhead for tours, visits, and fantastic fireworks featuring mortar blasts counterpointed with blasts from dozens of tug horns, shrieks from peanut whistles.


By voting online, you can participate–whether you find yourself in Matadi, Hoboken, Dan Helder, Perth, Vancouver, Medellin, Tokyo, Gothenburg, or wherever else. Yes YOU! You can take part in the competition; there’s no residency or citizenship requirement. Here’s the voting link. (See lower left.) Vote only once–it’s all the software allows, but vote and enlist the votes of your entire tribe.

Note: Sometimes the “fav tug” folks think you’ve voted already because of their software. Try again from a different computer.

My vote goes front and center above.

I’ll never forget the disappointment I felt when I first saw the Red Sea. A co-worker drove me to a beach south of Jeddah to snorkel. The “Red Sea” had lived in my brain since hearing the stories of Moses parting it to make a dry bypass, and to my surprise, it had grown to proportions of spectacle it couldn’t match. It dismayed me that the Red Sea at first glance looked no different than the Lake Ontario of my youth. Yet, once I waded in, dove, and looked around, I could have been on a different planet. The mundane was transformed.


Now I don’t mean to say corals and tropical fish flourish at the bottom of the harbor in our sixth boro. Not at all. My point here is that the harbor bottom gets shifted around a lot, as molded and transformed to fit our needs as the dry space in the other five boros.


I am curious about the tug Little Bear shown here. What company does she work for? Is it the tug built in Florida in 1952 by that name? The size and design look right, but where is she based?


Foto quality suffers here because this procession headed eastbound on the East River on a hazy day. It’s the bucket dredge New York belonging to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company.


I’ve no idea what bottom of which harbor they work in now. Actually, GLDD Company has projects worldwide; they may be dredging the Red Sea, bringing up bottom and drying it out.

Thanks Richard for the top two fotos of Little Bear, taken along the Mahattan side of the Hudson.

Tugs operating in the harbor can be divided into smaller and larger fleets. Bouchard, one of the larger fuel barge fleets, uses distinctive colors of cherry jelly and peanut butter set off by white. Bouchard Transportation has a family business tradition that goes back to another terror attack, the infamous Black Tom explosion in Jersey City. Like any business, they’ve faced choppy waters such as the sinking of Morton S. Bouchard.


Oh, the first two words on the stern above though evoke a flood, albethey private recollections of Linda Lee Bouchard, more feelings even than Alice can, if truth be told. Bouchard really has great non-family names; my favorites have to include the one below.


Notice the helicopter below at the apex of a triangle formed by Frederick’s stern and Lady Bartholdi’s right arm.


So here’s a mystery. I love this crew boat, called Evening Light, similar name and paint scheme to Evening Tide. Is this a Bouchard boat?


Surely someone knows. All fotos by Will Van Dorp.














Perspective makes all the difference. Robert Frost concluded that was the result when he took the less traveled road? When I’m on the sixth boro, I know a little about those sharing deckspace, but a lot less about folks on other vessels no matter how loud their radio communication. Particularly on work boats, I barely see people, as they’re at work or off duty and asleep in a bunk. But when I catch a glimmer, my wonderment excites my imagination. Of course, I imagine all fiction…


Glen Cove has just dropped off a sand barge, and on this really hot day, the crewman in the forward engine room door might be catching some breeze, but next to the power plant!? He might be contemplating some feverish plans or wondering how to say something difficult to she who must be informed…


After retrieving some nasty debris with Hayward’s crane, this crewman might be chatting on a blackberry or reading Pynchon …


Furtive plotting under the lifeboat frame or telling tales of homeport loves long ago and faraway…


Checking on the refueling operation or pondering the feasability of diving for the diamond ring that just slipped out of the fingers of this nervous newlywed as he and bride set out for honeymoon on QM2…


Client representatives signing off on a docking idea or watching a rehearsal for Absinthe at the Spiegeltent

Here’s another installment in this series.


This blue vessel coming west on the East River enjoys a second life. T/V Kings Pointer, its current name, began life as an ocean surveillance vessel. See particulars with the navy here and the specs here. Example of spec info? Fuel capacity…


…almost 230,000 gallons. This vessel, which replaced an earlier “Kings Pointer” in 1992, distinguished itself in 1999 when it arrived first on the crash scene of EgyptAir Flight 990.  Kings Point, by the way, is the Long Island location of the US Merchant Marine Academy.


A year older than Kings Pointer, here’s USCG medium endurance cutter Seneca. Read through this article on some of her accomplishments. See crewman using a gun in a rescue here.


Here’s USCG ice breaking tug Penobscot Bay headed for the Verrazano Bridge; I’ve used this shot before, but for a good look at its icebreaker hull, see this link.


Based in Bayonne, as is Penobscot Bay, USCG small harbor tug Hawser has a set of siblings with similar names. See here.


Finally, here’s Corps of Engineers converted tug Gelberman. For another shot, click here. It’d be interesting to see government boats from other large ports. Any senders?

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Graves of Arthur Kill

Click to order your copy of Graves of Arthur Kill, by Gary Kane and Will Van Dorp. 3Fish Productions.

Seth Tane American Painting

Read my Iraq Hostage memoir online.

My Babylonian Captivity

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

Tale of Two Marlins

Blue Marlin spent 600+ hours loading tugs and barges in NYC Sixth Boro. Click on image for presentation made to NY Ship Lore and Model Club, July 25, 2011.


August 2007
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