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As a down river denizen, I’ve followed the Onrust story for only about a year now, chancing upriver to see progress whenever I could.  The project is aiming for a late summer 2009 rendezvous with Manhattan . . . the ship will ply the sixth boro waters then, we all hope.  Yesterday though I saw their major display right at the entrance to the Javits Center (inland east of Pier 76) and a “even-more major” demonstration area farther inside.  Be forewarned of my prejudices here, Onrust‘s demo area was the only place at the show where you could smell the pine tar, see a small traditional wooden tender being built sur place using 17th century fire-bending techniques, hear a master sailmaker’s palm shove a needle pulling beeswaxed thread through heavy sail cloth . . . I could go on.


Here the figurehead is taking shape.  Come see the chips fly to release the tree’s inner-lion and wood-perfume.


Here a volunteer has just completed his first ever rope fender.


Here the sail maker does a warm-up project –a drogue–before taking on the main spritsail sewing later this week.  His fingers flew as he regaled me with stories of ships‘ sails he has known.


The rigger serves shrouds and stays with a serving mallet.  Notice the pine tar drips on the plastic-covered floor.


Granted, my head got turned a time or two especially seeing friends at the show but also seeing a “cute”–and that’s a word I rarely use–Ranger (a “tuglet” from the Pacific Northwest) and a new Hacker (a beaut from way upstate New York) . . .  but where Onrust is coming together, restless to meet the appointment as an integral vessel, that’s where I spent most of my time.  And I’m headed back for more.

All fotos here by Will Van Dorp.

I think of the phrase “ships passing in the night.”  Random encounters also happen at dawn  (like Donald C and McAllister Brothers),


December afternoons (like Maryland and Evening Mist), or


mid morning ( like Aegean Sea and Laura K Moran), and every hour in between.  Sometimes they prompt a spin for second glance,


sometimes they lead to joined forces (like Jill and Kristy Ann Reinauer) and other times


there’s  just a perfunctory  wave as they steam by (like Thomas D. Witte and Christian Reinauer)


The challenge is to know when to steam by, when to get a second and third inquiring look, and when to form alliances.  Form ye alliances while you might . . . hmmm . . . is that like “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may . . .”?  Rest of Herrick’s poem is here.

Traffic crowded this end of the Arthur Kill the other afternoon:  count the three tugs and two ships and lots of petrol engines crossing the Goethals Bridge.  Andromeda, the handysize oil tanker dead center, heads for sea.  The voice of the AK RR bridge might be about to announce a lowering, and all who know better scramble to distance themselves.


Of course, Andromeda still needs to negotiate  twists and turns and smaller vessels like the NJ State Police and Odin who motor helterskelter around front.  So “Andromeda” I learned in science class as a constellation, a word that felt nice dripping off my tongue.


Smaller traffic gone, the Tsakos Energy Navigation (TEN) tanker turns to starboard past NYK Daedalus,


the front of its house like a billboard proclaiming the company mantra to the few who see.  And such a megamantra:  “No smoking” and “Safety first” are intended for crew working out front.   But who is the audience for “Protect the environment,” except of course everyone, but does writing that on the house make a difference?  Most tankers have at least two of those messages, but since when?  How long ago did this trend begin?  The really unusual text is is “Trust Tradition Teamwork.”  Is “Tradition Teamwork” the object of the command “Trust”?

Yeah, I know, we all know that our surroundings are filled with text, some of which is critical and other . . . fluff.  Being able to distinguish the two is a survival skill.


As she heads for sea, consider whether Andromeda as a name of your vessel might make you comfortable.  Some info on the mythological reference below.  Meanwhile, have you ever seen a foto of the tanker Condolezza Rice?  See it here.  Might there be a tanker needing renaming before the incoming Secretary of State is confirmed?


Andromeda, the myth persona,  was offered as a sacrifice to the sea to atone for the sins of her bratty mother Cassiopeia, only to be saved by the adroit bladesman Perseus.  Enjoy the wild 19th century paintings inspired by the myth:  reading the paintings suggests Andromeda, the daughter,  came close to being lunch to some vile sea beast or dessert to some lecherous sea dog.  The good news is that actual ship names don’t matter.  So what if she’s called Andromeda;  she’s not a sacrifice.  And the bad news is that actual ship names don’t matter . . . disappointing that we don’t at least fit these stories into contemporary context.  Suppose they paint the house, at least, with mantras related to protecting Andromeda, not sacrificing anyone to anything, and trusting something or someone decipherable and reliable, whoever that might be these days.

By the way, the NYC National Boatshow has begun.  See you there.

Here, all images by Will Van Dorp.

Barney Turecamo seems so self-contained,


so huge, especially


when compared with James Turecamo.  Why IS James following so closely?


Check it out . . . James assists on the turn to port just past Erikoussa.


Considering it that way, James too is equally self-contained and exactly sized for what it needs to do, today as well as almost 40 years ago.  Built at Matton Shipyard for the canals in 1969, the crews back when James (1700 hp) came off the ways could hardly have imagined assist jobs for fleet fellows like Barney (5100 hp) pushing barge Georgia (110,000 barrels).  By the way, tanker Mary Whalen, built in 1938, had 8000 barrel capacity.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

In they come, ship after ship, day in and day out, all these containers like those on APL Jade earlier this week, standardized thanks to the innovation of Malcolm McLean.  But then what happens?  By the way, Jade is less than a train car shy of 1000 feet!


And out they go, some to clutter the highways , some by rail, but more and more containers move along coastal waters thanks to a concept called “short sea shipping.”  Here Joan Moran moves several dozen containers at once to points or ports north and east . . . or downeast.


Short sea shipping . . . too bad we don’t see a lot more of it.  Think of that next time you’re surrounded by trucks on the highway.

By the way, check out the dirty white clouds like thick textured paint, prevalent the  past three days;  they’ve brought rain here, not snow like down south.

As we approach winter solstice in the north, noon light can be dull enough for me to wonder if my eyesight might be failing, my glasses opaque with greasy fingerprints.


But yesterday my company was luminous (solar bright, even)  and the movement on KVK exciting (with stellar choreography), so we watched Sea Venture pivot with the assistance of McAllister Responder and Ellen McAllister and


like a mere tub toy, this


570′ loa vessel did a 180,


fired up the M. A. N.  engine and


headed for sea even if


for now she headed only as far as Stapleton anchorage.


Still,  this overcast December  light really makes me rub my eyes.

Related:  To take the fotos above, I stood in front of the entrance to Snug Harbor, Staten Island.  If you haven’t seen the exhibit “As Tugs Go By” yet, make a point to get there.  It’s fabulous.  Recently, as I re-read Fast and Able, it amazed me how many fish-schooner crew of vessels the vintage of Lettie G. Howard spent their last days on Staten Island at Snug Harbor.

Note:  Sea Venture is fleet sibling of an ITB featured here a year ago.

Launched a month before the big stock market crash,  drafted into submarine hunting duty during World War 2, and here three years back sailing past the sugar dome no more in Red Hook, it’s Shearwater, a product–like some of the new Moran tugs–of Boothbay, Maine.


Below, she exits the northern end of Arthur Kill, after no doubt returning from post-New York sailing  season maintenance.  Unlike Lettie G. Howard, also a New England-built schooner, Shearwater was never a fish boat.  Oyster Bay of the Gatsby-era was her first port, and any oysters aboard were harvested by another vessel.  I’m told there’s a spiral staircase leading below.  I must make a point to sail aboard her next season.


Anyone know where she winters this year?  Anyone have fotos of Shearwater as a gray-painted sub chaser?


All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

First, frogma put up a great post about Saturday, culminating for her in a ride on Pegasus.  Pegasus is as miraculous as a clear-headed 101-year-old relative, kind of like the remarkable woman whose 90th birthday I attended some years back in Pasadena.  The transformation Pegasus has lived is depicted quite well in this website.


She came calling at Whalen’s party (That’s Ellis Island in the background),


she was part of OpenHouse New York,


she even participated in the Labor Day 2008 tug race.


And . . . could it be, Bonnie, the inimitable kayaker, now plies the waters of the sixth boro on Pegasus?   If so, bravo!!


All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

In Moby Dick, Chapter 36  aka “The Quarter Deck” depicts a muster aboard Pequod in which the captain calls the crew to dedicate themselves to a project.  If it were possible to factor the melodrama out of Ahab, you’d have a lesser novel but a better leader, one who creates a shared vision.  Mary Whalen‘s  70th party helped forge a clear vision.

The  foto below shows a serene tanker reflecting on her past and future and the communities peopling both.  Communities already lived within her and those yet to come converge in what becomes more than cold steel.


By land,  people came, as well as


by muscle-powered craft, and


by diesel.  Shown below are Pegasus (1907)  and Janice Ann Reinauer (1967).


Just as the muster aboard Pequod pulled together a global array of mariners, so the Whalen party brought together young and old folk, students, retirees, artists, seafarers and their families, business people, politicians and policy makers,  as well as fans from all walks of life.  That’s what moved me:  Mary A. Whalen on her birthday party got attention and gave the gift of community to all who came.

And to all the readers of this blog who I met either for the first time or for the n’th time yesterday, it was a great place to see each other.

Speaking of blogs, bowsprite is now ready top share her blog with the known universe:  check it here.  Her most recent post shows the poster she created on the event of the Whalen birthday.  Help me welcome bowsprite–with her own take on the sixth boro–to the BlogSea.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Six score lacking five years, and still awork as a school ship, it’s Lettie G. Howard, one of 4000 (yup!!) vessels built in tiny Essex, Massachusetts.


In the first score of years of its life, Lettie‘s dorymen would fill her hold with Banks fish, then race them back to the fish market . . .


to be first schooner-load in, which collected highest prices.  Highliner, such a vessel would be called.


Here Lettie glides alongside Amistad in the Chesapeake Schooner Race in October.    Thanks to Jed for this foto.


By the way, if you’re in New York Saturday, December 6, stop by the Mary Whalen for some birthday cake.   She’s three score and ten, and got this streak going.  Pegasus, a 1907 tugboat, will glide in on her own power.  Lots more.

Except for Jed’s foto, all taken by Will Van Dorp.

ps:  Check new blog 70.8%.  It’s on my blogroll too.

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Graves of Arthur Kill

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December 2008
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