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First you decide on a course. Or someone commands you to steer a course. Then, if you’re at the helm of 80-year-old tug Governor Cleveland, here’s what you act on, a conventional wheel.



If you’ve at the helm in the upper wheelhouse of Janice Ann Reinauer (see bottom foto at that link), you’ll steer just as well with the tiny monkey-fist knob on the joystick lower right.



I wonder how helmsmen will steer ships 80 years from now and what courses will hold value.

Steering or not, we’re all nearly at the end of another year. This is my last post for 2007 and until mid-January. It’s time –as happened last year– to head up the Winooski.  If you’re in New York, steer your way down to South Street any day now to see the Peking move!  Or steer yourself down to the Narrows to see the three Queens . That’ll happen a week or so after Three Kings Day.


All photos, WVD.


2007 has brought me its highs and lows. Thanks for reading and commenting. Enjoy the archives. I wish you all a better 2008. Peace everywhere and joy!  This last foto by coyote.

Petroleum based or corn-based ethanol, it moves by pipeline, highway, or water. And to do it safely is hard, pains-taking work. “Mess up, and we go to jail,” said a captain recently. Below, Nicole Leigh Reinauer approaches Shooters Island.


According the Lisa Margonelli, 194 million drivers burn a collective 36, 000 gallons per hour. That’s only driving and gasoline.  It doesn’t include home heating or other industrial use. Below, Eileen M. Roehrig westbound under the Brooklyn Bridge. More interesting statistics in the second paragraph of Prof. Greenwood’s article here.


According to Margonelli in the Times, moving fuel by water involves half the spillage of pipelines and almost a third that of highway transport. Here’s how Margonelli puts it: “From 1980 to 2003, for every billion ton-miles of petroleum and petroleum products, pipelines spilled 27 gallons of oil, trucks spilled 37 and barges spilled 15, according to Environmental Research Consulting.” Unidentified tug and barge wait dispatch in Gravesend Bay anchorage.


Below, Franklin Reinauer westbound under Manhattan Bridge.


Below assist tug Janice Ann Reinauer approaches tanker Clipper Kylie offloading into a fuel lighter. Foto taken Christmas Day 2007.


This happens every day on the six boro.

Some folks work in the kitchen today; others fly planes, drives buses and trains, milk cows, sell last minute groceries, etc. Still others keep the harbor working. Some tug crews today were visited by elves bearing packages with cookies, pies, and fresh newspapers.


Some packages travel over the bulwarks . . .


and others come up in buckets on a line.


Christmas on the harbor can be so quiet that elves’ visits–especially those bearing fresh cookies, newsprint, and just-plain-cheer—are welcomed.


Visionary and leader of these elfin deliveries is Carolina Salguero of Portside New York.


Especially festive is Janice Ann Reinauer, whose presence and crew were themselves a Christmas miracle. But that’s a story for another day. Merry Christmas.

All fotos except the one of unidentified harbor elf/blogger below by Will Van Dorp.

Coyote has generously given permission to use these life at sea fotos taken on the runs between Nova Scotia and Hudson River ports as well as other locations along eastern US. Imagine coming aboard and facing this crew. Would you think this something other than a gypsum carrier? How many nanosecond would a prospective pirate coming aboard hesitate before swan diving back into the wet?


Non-officers spend time rust-busting on the hatch covers.


or checking the crawl space between the inner and outer hulls.


Off duty it’s rock ‘n roll and on sunny days,


barbeque fit for a holiday.


Hey . . . if you’re not home for the holidays, you make yourself at home no matter where at sea you might find yourself. Thanks coyote, et bonnes fetes.

In the local waters of the sixth boro, get ready for Operation Christmas Cheer. See fotos here from Portside’s 2006 campaign. I’d recommending them for any year-end contributions.

And then there’s Seamen’s Church Institute. Check out “letters from mariners” on the left side.

Moving fuel, Reinauer barge on McAllister hip, on a gray solstice afternoon.



Ever notice the masthead light banner midships high on a barge?




and chain towing bridle dragging through the water ready to be snagged when needed?




I’m surprised to learn this tug, Michaela McAllister, one I don’t recall having seen before, has homeport of Charleston. Will this crew spend solstice plus other holidays at sea?

Photos, WVD.

Blogging–you know this–means maintaining a log, with all the benefits. Here‘s what I logged a year ago.



The solstice this year happens 12/22 at 1:08 am EST (6:08 UT). For this post, I wanted only fotos I took on the 12/21. Above a very crowded Arthur Kill: (foreground left to right) Thomas D. Witte, APL Virginia, Atlantic Ocean, Turkon’s Dilara Kilkavan, and a tiny work boat.



And here’s more: aft of APL Virginia lies APL President Polk, Ellen McAllister at bow and Eileen McAllister abeam. And you thought the highways were jammed. And I wonder whether these containers hold spring fashions and summer clothes.


It’s 4 pm here, already dark at nine hours before the solstice; 182 days from now, come summer solstice, folks will lie still sunning themselves. Peace on earth, calm at sea, and quiet at anchorage . . . like the crew on this Reinauer tug and barge.

Only 91 short but lengthening days til spring!!!

Photos, WVD.

First, kudos to him who goes by “Danny from Bruklin” for identifying fjorder’s scene with the sea otter as Monterrey Bay, specifically Santa Cruz harbor. Danny, you’re up . . . when you’re up for it.

The next two fotos come from coyote, who submitted earlier gypsum 1 and 2 foto sets. Below . . . what executes turn decisions aboard Gypsum King.



Blue and rust red outside, but mostly white inside: it’s the inside top end of Gypsum King‘s steering system showing hydraulic actuators. Make a decision and one cylinder retracts as the other extends. Great tech stuff at this link; find steering gear along left navigation bar.



Here’s the analogous piece on an antique canoe-yawl, braided twine replacing steel cylinders on this portable vessel. See the pivot in the bottom-most large drawing at this link.



Executing decisions isn’t the problem; developing the judgment and assembling the self-confidence to make good decisions are the sticking points.



Executor on USCGC barque Eagle, built circa 1936



Rudder on Sakura Express, three years old,



Rudder on Peking, built 1911 and –tell all ship fanatics–to be moved into drydock in the Kills on January 7ish, 2008. Bring your camera; i won’t be around:((



Rudder on London Express, built 1998. Repeat: the hard part is the decision, not the execution.

Photos, WVD.

I wrote “Balancing” a year ago and the “. . . or Not” version in July, and still feel the same. Change feels threatening; even my familiar looks quite gawky when he molts.



Here’s my latest Red Hook sugar mill ex-Revere Sugar space foto, looking like a war zone. Change–improvement or degradation– is threatening, generating equal stress levels. Names change too. Bay Ridge, for example, used to be Gelen Hoek (“yellow hook” in Dutch for the mud color) and the Indians called it something else before that.



Recently the NY Times ran a story about an impending name change for the Molly Pitcher rest area on the New Jersey Turnpike. No! Please. Molly Pitcher sparked my interest in history in sixth grade. Several unforgettable Mollys have enriched my inner life since then. Ships attract me in part for their names; Surfer Rosa, featured earlier this year, is poetry in steel. See the bridge below and imagine some new names.



So the name “Bayonne Bridge” may lack the art of the girder assemblage, but I’d rather pay tolls than have it free but corporate sponsors calling ( repainted) Golden Arches or Dunkin’ Donuts Bridge. Goethals could become Gucci or even a menacing-sounding Gap Bridge. Yikes. And then the Verrazano Bridge might be the Verizon Bridge or *intriguing* Victoria’s Secret Arch . . . I hope the energy drink Propel never sponsors a bridge.

Please make “Molly Pitcher” stay; I’d never have been interested in history had it not been for the foto of Molly in my history book, a passion that keeps me sane whenever I must drive the NJ Turnpike.

Photos, WVD.

This verb or noun or adjective seems popular in large vessel names. A century and a half ago Currier and Ives depicted this vessel called Ocean Express. Suppose Columbus really wanted to dub the Nina “India or New World Express”? Or Ulysses the “Itaka Express”? “Argo Express”?



Is there even a local to Ludwigshafen



or Turin?


This one never goes to Oslo.



I doubt this carries anything made from cherries. Might Fedex order a future genration of sail vessels? Might these vessels get slippery bottom paint and rechristen (as Federal Express did) . . . turning these into Ludwex, Turex, Osex, and Sakex?

Which also brings me to this consumer season, transportation of consumables, and a kids’ book called Polar Express. Let’s mess with Van Allsburg’s story a bit: It’s Christmas Eve and a restless child named . . . Pat living near the top floor of a high-rise apartment block waits to hear the sound of the mythical elf. This apartment is near the sixth boro. Instead of sleigh bells, deer hooves, and laughter, Pat hears a ship’s horn. The ship is anchored at the edge of the channel closest to the apartment. The lifeboat is lowered and some crewman invite Pat to come with them to . . . what’s left of the northern polar ice cap, promising all the hot chocolate he could drink and a chance to meet the red-clad elf . . .


You know . . . I don’t think this story works. How come as Van Allsburg’s kids’ story or Zemeckis movie it works, but when I try it out here, it sounds more than a little creepy?

Of course, NYPD would rescue Pat and arrest the crewmen, who would likely be convicted and expressed behind bars on some island for a long long time.

Would it work if it were set in the harbor but 150 years ago and with sailing ships like Ocean Express? Or if I made the steel ships more conventionally magical . . . like back before sunrise with Pat holding a noise-making gift (a mini ship’s horn or bell, of course) that only the youthful and innocent can hear? If the book–or blogpost–ended with a line like Van Allsburg’s does:

At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even [my sister] found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.”

Photos, WVD.

Small indie tugs need character maybe? Can you beat the color of Jenny Anne and Hubert Bays? Do you suppose fashion designers seek inspiration here?



Donjon’s Thomas D. Witte sports the best ice-blue under a wintry sky.



Coral Sea and



Barents Sea project exotic shapes to match their names against a monochomatic Staten Island and Bergen Point. That’s the west pylon of Verrazano upper left, 600+ feet high over the north ridge of Staten Island. More on the bridge soon.


Odin, Sakura Express, Kimberly Turecamo (right to left) eastward toward night movements.



All photos by Will Van Dorp

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December 2007