You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2009.

Imagine this post–in honor of April 1, ie, the start of the second month of the year (?…explanation later)–assembled like the films done on the streets, buildings, and parks in the land areas surrounding the sixth boro:  directors lead camera crews to gather countless short snippets, some a second or two long, into a reality with or without resemblance to the calendared and salaried world.  So here goes a movie, silent of course . . .

The trip up Rondout Creek began without incident; from the waterside we documented no flora or fauna but technologica like Gowanus Bay andaatugsgb

Spooky Boat facing down both Petersburg and Hackensack.  When we landed to foto from the shore, camera-bearing guardians


surprised us as we attempted to decipher the decals,  thunderclouds, and underlying paint.  We fled


and pursuit ensued.  (We need a chase scene.)


When eventually cornered, we learned that we had misunderstood a reception intended to be friendly.  That led to an invite to visit Cornell


and  smaller vessel that incorporated a novel steering system controlled by finger pointing that signaled  return to


the mouth of the creek where the lighthouse stood


and beyond which the fog shrouded in mystery;


modern aids to navigation gave way to


more primitive but equally effective ones, and time


regressed, first by smaller increments and then


with one long barbaric yawp, we found ourselves back almost 400 years or so, from where Henry will be channeling again soon.


Hope you enjoyed the movie.  Happy April 1.  Top seven fotos by Bowsprite.  The rest, by Will Van Dorp.

The calendar . . . counting back using the names we still use like December (tenth), November (ninth),  October (eighth) and September (seventh)… we get to the Roman calendar with March as the first month.

A week into spring, with ice long gone from the mid-Hudson and  a forecast for rain,  Bowsprite and I decided no better time offered itself to go north from the sixth boro.  Along the way, river traffic charmed us with  hide-and-seek in the blurs, like this unidentified Bouchard unit upbound or


Norwegian Sea in the mist downbound.  And when the stillness of an overcast noon found us at Saugerties,


and  Justine McAllister glided past,  Bowsprite, Jeff Anzevino, and I had no choice but to


to record the beauty of this one face of spring upriver.


And when the day ended many hours later but much too soon, we thanked our hosts as they motored their way back to Kingston and we caught the train for the sixth boro.


More on the trip soon.

To see the same day in the Bronx, check out Voyages.

All fotos above by Will Van Dorp.

It felt like spring this past week along the Arthur Kill, where Sarah and Shannon Dann gathered, maybe their crews spoke of fleetmate Allie B now approaching Gibraltar.  But the the boats, what secrets might they have shared?


Responder was light and downbound;  Rowan M in pushgear upbound.  When they met, I heard a hailer and Responder turned 180 and followed Rowan M back toward the east.


Later, Shannon, awaiting orders, stayed fast to barge Prysman 1 , while in the distance, Sunny and Rolf Williams, just forward of an unidentified K-Sea tug, delayed, as if asleep in a double bed.


Meanwhile this amorous couple weren’t waiting for anything . . . in March, things could turn too quickly turn cold again.


Maybe Cupid really did operate from the unidentified boat that sped past.


Unrelated:  see this article from the University College of London on mermaids assisting seismologists detect potential earthquakes on the seabed.   Really!!!  Mermaid, in this case, expands to Mobile Earthquake Recorder in Marine Areas by Independent Divers.  Now spring, pairings, Cupid, and deep earthquakes . . . might they actually be related?

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

This foto arrived today by USPS mail, and I’m eager to learn details I do not know.  I’ll disclose details later.  Clearly it’s the East River with stacks where they no longer stand.  Just to the left of the Chrysler Building, the skyscraper now known as Met Life  still carries the Pan Am name, and that change (on paper) happened in 1981.  The tug is Dorothy McAllister;  the ship might be


Wavertree, although the foto below shows the current color and head rig.  The foto above also seems to have a figurehead, which Wavertree at one point sported although it was not “original equipment.”


Here’s a detail of Dorothy McAllisterTugboat Enthusiasts Society‘s  Carl Wayne database shows a Dorothy McAllister built in 1973 (1971?).  Currently a Dorothy works in Charleston.


Here’s a bow detail of the ship, and one


of some crew on the afterdeck of  Dorothy.

aaaaem4And my questions are:  is this Wavertree?  How much clearance would there have been between the top of the masts and underside of the East River bridges?  What year would this have been?  Would Wavertree have been coming from the Brooklyn Navy Yard at this point?

Yesterday luck moved me, literally;  on a work break I headed to one of my spots on the Arthur Kill.  Soon after I arrived, an unusual green shape emerged from the steam and miasma of the refinery in Linden–no tug or other 21st or even 20th century workboat.  Instead a 19th century workboat powered toward me–Lettie G. Howard, built 1893 in Essex, Massachusetts.  If you want to have a sense of Essex, don’t drive through it.  It’s tiny 3000 and a few dozen more.  Instead, read  Gordon W. Thomas’  Fast and Able , which profiles a few dozen of over a thousand vessels built in Essex.  Lettie headed back to the East River from New York City’s southwestermost corner, where routine maintenance and inspection ensured her more years.


Essex built vessels to fish.  A very few like Lettie have survived;  those that did reinvented their make-up and mission multiples times, as has Lettie.  Some, like Adventure, were built with an engine, which was removed when it initially converted to windjamming in 1954.  Lettie was built without an engine and now sports two, although maybe a more erudite reader than me can tell the year she was first powered.  Some like Gertrude L. Thebaud, which wrecked off Venezuela in 1948 while serving as a cargo vessel, first fished, then served as a U. S. Coast Guard vessel, and then began its ill-fated life carrying cargo in the Caribbean.  I thought of Gertrude L. Thebaud‘s fate as I watched Lettie pass by Howland Hook container port.  Here a short vid of a young Thebaud racing Bluenose a century ago.


The scale of the cranes here show how shipping has changed;  Lettie was not designed for containerization.  And if Lettie sans masts were loaded aboard a container vessel like President Truman, a regular at Howland Hook, Lettie would look like a tender.


If Lettie or any vessels had a consciousness, the Kills might terrify with its wrecks of metal and wood.  Yet,


as she continued her return to the East River yesterday, she might also have felt the cheering spirits of schoonermen, the ghosts of men who spent their last years at Snug Harbor, a few miles east of where these fotos were taken.    Meanwhile, Lettie, no ghost, is as beautiful as the day she came off the ways into the Essex River.

Photos, WVD.

Short post . . . enjoy the fotos of more lights around the sixth boro.  Below, Great Beds Light in the northwest corner of Raritan Bay alludes in its name to the oyster populations of that part of the Bay.  Thanks to Jed for this foto.


Travelling counterclockwise around Raritan Bay we arrive at  Twin Lights, unused now but still perched  high above the approaches to the sixth boro.


A little over 30 miles upriver is the Stony Point Light, built right about the time the Erie Canal opened, the first lighthouse on the Hudson.


Continuing north, the Light at Esopus Meadows stands at 70-plus miles north of the Battery.  Just north of the Esopus Light is Norrie Point, pictured with the pilot boat in yesterday’s post.


Rondout Light, about 80 miles north of the Battery, marks the mouth of Rondout Creek into the Hudson.  Of Rondout Creek, John Burroughs wrote, “If I were a trout, I should ascend every stream till I found the Rondout. It is the ideal brook.”  Hmm.. if I were a sturgeon, what might I do?


All fotos here except Jed’s were taken by Will Van Dorp.  I never made it up to Esopus and Rondout while the ice was in this past season, but fotos I saw showed these two lights in a very different setting.

Here’s a 1903 movie (It moves!) showing a three-minute trip up the Hudson from Haverstraw to Newburgh… no lights but interesting traffic.

While researching this post, I stumbled upon a blog that seems to have ceased after a quite promising start.  Check out this Norrie Point pilot boat along the Hudson here.  Tom, I’d love to hear from you.  I believe the foto below (I took it a year ago in Tottenville) shows a Hudson River Pilot boat of the sort I’ve seen from a distance at Norrie Point.  Besides Ambrose,  many vessels do  Hudson River Pilots operate?  Is this the 1979 Gladding Hearn Ambrose?


Below is the a foto showing the closest I’ve ever come to Norrie Point, with pilot boat on station.  Is the building the Norrie Point Environmental Center?


Sandy Hook pilots recently acquired two Derecktor-built 53-foot pilot boats.


Coming or going or


holding station with a famous marine photograher (not me!)  on the foredeck,


I’m impressed by these vessels.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Unrelated:  today is EVR Day.

Lettie first touched water in the Essex River of Essex, Massachusetts in 1893.  Her  hull  (125′ loa x 21′ x almost 11′ draft)  evolved through scores of  schooners pre-dating her to operate in the Atlantic fishery.


In 1885 Pioneer (102′ x 22 x 4.5′) launched into the Delaware River, shoal-draft to allow hauling sand off beaches to greater Philadelphia’s foundries.  A large centerboard can drop to 12′.


Today wood-hulled Lettie carries two


engines, whereas


the iron (now mostly steel) hull of Pioneer carries only one.


The hull lines reflect the difference in habitat:  Lettie has cleaved many sea miles of rough blue water, slicing through waves and rollers, whereas


Pioneer has slid onto and then back off sandy beaches, gliding there almost as on water.


I love looking at hulls on the high and dry.  If you have kids, see if they like Wreck of the Zephyr.  I like reading it to grandkid since it gives me an excuse to look at the art.

All fotos here by will Van Dorp.  Lettie fotos from March 2009; Pioneer fotos from over a year ago.

Unrelated:  Check out the youtube here that Harry sent along of Allie B & Goliath headed for sea at the start of its 6000-mile journey.  Great speeded-up video and haunting music.    ETA in Gibraltar:  before April 1.

Uh . . . no doghouse.  Too bad if you have to work the aft control station in driving rain.


Marlene Green has an enclosure over controls for each deck crane, but maybe those carry a non-doghouse label, as


is the case with Marina Star.


Kimberly Poling (ex-Jaguar) has a doghouse, but the glass looks quite fogged up.


Susan Miller has one starboard, and


Catherine Miller‘s is portside.


More doghouses to come, although a doghouse of sorts I’m hoping lies not in my future.

Napeague Stretch , early March 2009,


KVK, early March 2009, a glazed Bruce A. McAllister,


farther east on KVK, early March 2009, a rimed Falcon,


Elizabeth, NJ, February  2009, an Allie B lost in a snow squall and dreaming of Gibraltar ,


Coney Island, June 2008, mermaid paraders reflecting on past ice and snow for an instant while welcoming summer.  With equinox past, I find myself so ready to welcome summer too, only about 90 days away.


As Dorothy Parker said, “now … the terrible slow loveliness of spring.”

And for some levity, here’s more Parkerisms:

[On the most beautiful words in the English language] The ones I like…are “cheque” and “enclosed.”

They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm.

That woman speaks eighteen languages, and can’t say No in any of them.

Ok, if you want more, here’s where I found them.  Now for the next 90 days, the fun, gallivant, bacchanal, and frolick (or anticipation thereof).  I said that.  And Dorothy, would would you say about a guy who speaks nineteen languages?

Napeague foto, thanks to Joel Milton;  others, Will Van Dorp.  No fotos at all by Dorothy Parker!

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March 2009