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I love the freshness and colors of sunrise.  Specialist II danced past as I prepared myself for work one early morning last week.  At this hour the water, sky, and human culture between


changed hues as often as  . . .  dawn light does.


And not to be undone by Specialist II, Pegasus sashayed in from the east, as the two ducks positioned themselves to ride a bow wave.  Surferducks, according to my field guide.


do-si-do with a bluish bone-in-the-teeth


and keep going


and away they go and


although I saw a friend arrive from inland headed for sea, my work compelled me inland, and we passed like  . . ..  I knew that after watching this dance in this light, no work or life  challenges, no — anything could  fluster me for at least a day and longer.


Specialist II:  1956, ex-The Chief and Curly B.  84′ loa x 26.  run as its own company out of Montauk.

Pegasus:  2006, ex-Al Cenac.  75′ loa x 26′.  run by Metropolitan Marine Transportation of Staten Island.

Photos, WVD.

aka closer-up shots from Saturday’s departure.  Might we have to wait til the Gilbraltar port call to get the next closeups?  And is the person on the barge just forward of Tibbetts the last one to set foot there until Europe?  If I could get a cheap ticket to Gilbraltar in two weeks or so . . .


Liberty glided to starboard


and then port


to line up through the bridge.  (Yes, I was shooting through chainlink.)  Does Liberty have z-drives?


Less than a quarter-mile from the “slip” Allie B showed signs of settling into the harness.


Brooklyn Bridge‘s cargo has robust bracing forward


and aft.  And are those bundles corrections to balance?


Not every early March day lends itself to so much outdoor activity.


Towmasters’ comment leads to a link about another crane named Goliath in Belfast’s Harland & Wolff, builders of the Titanic.  Belfast landmarked the crane to ensure that it stayed in the port.  And that led me to a link to about Kockums Crane here and a poignant site in Swedish (if you don’t read Swedish, you can surely read the fantastic fotos) about a crane that, like Quincy’s, went away.

If you’re interested in a soundtrack to this series, try Downeaster Alexa even though it laments a different Northeast maritime industry;  it just happened to play on my radio Saturday . . . as if anything “just happens.”

All fotos here by Will Van Dorp.

Enter Katie G McAllister towing a barge from the East River.   What follows puzzled me–I admit–the first time I saw it, but it happens all the time.


The tow slows gradually to a halt.


The tug bears off,


The towline goes slack.  I’m not quite sure how the uncoupling occurs, but


it does, and the tug sidles alongside the barge,


shifting the barge onto the hip, so to speak, and


once all lines are secure, the tow proceeds into tighter waters, in this case, westbound on the KVK.


When I say it happens all the time, I mean it happens frequently right in front of a certain cliff, I know.  Almost makes me think it happens there for demonstration purposes.  Some day a denizen of the cliffs may hold up placards with numbers, like 5 for form, 4.5 for expeditiousness, 5 for safety precautions, 4 for protocol, etc. ,  rating the execution of different aspects of the dance involved in remaking the tow.

Photos, WVD.

Imagine you worked at the shipyard for 10 or more years.  You put in the strength of your best years with friends who did the same.  You were young then and eager to get out of bed in the morning to hurry to the job you loved:  building LNG tankers, huge vessels that sailed the world’s oceans and delivered fuel and  withstood the challenges of the roughest seas.  Then  the shipyard gates closed and the 300-foot-high Goliath idled and rusted.  Weeds grew up where 32,000 workers once built ships.   Today, between the fence and the tow, several acres of unsold automobiles stood parked there, awaiting buyers.


Here’s Allie B about a half hour before departure today.


And this is how a voyage of more than 4000 miles begins:  assist tugs Liberty and Vincent D. Tibbetts Jr.  ease the barge Brooklyn Bridge into the Fore River, and Allie B moves the tow seaward.


Liberty and Tibbetts guide the tow through the 3A bridge between Quincy and Weymouth and


and then you hurry to Great Hill to watch your crane disappear towards Peddocks Island,


and Hull Gut, past the other islands of Boston harbor, and then


to sea, over the horizon, to build great ships elsewhere.  And you may never see it again.  How would it feel?

See sackrabbit’s fotos here, and check back there for updates over the coming month.

All fotos here by Will Van Dorp.

Click below to learn what sixth boro lighthouse commissioned in 1886 had a beacon 305 feet above the water.  A final clue:  the mystery lighthouse was functioning a full 30 years before the lighthouse below at Jeffreys Hook was.


Click here to see George’s foto of the Little Red Lighthouse.  And the beacon up at 304 feet, why it was atop our Lady of the Harbor. Can you place the red lighthouse below?  Answer at end.


Thanks to Joel Milton for the fotos of the lights of the Lower New York Bay:  Romer Shoal and


West Bank.


And thanks to Tom Mann for the fotos of Boston Light in the foreground  and Graves Light distance, and for


this shot of Minot’s Ledge off Cohassett.


Mystery light is Grand Haven Light in western Michigan.

An unforgettable lighthouse collage appears as cover art for Howard Norman’s dark novel  The Bird Artist.  Here’s the cover and a synopsis.

Preliminary question:  When is Brooklyn Bridge not a bridge?  Answer below.

Thanks to George Graham of, (link below)  here’s news of a foto contest and an epic voyage for the vessel below, which I foto’d in KVK in late January 2009.  It’s Allie B., with vitals:  1977, 106′ loa x 32,’ ex-Express Explorer and ex-Janet Graham.


The story:  at low tide (11:30 am) on Saturday, March 7, Allie B will depart Quincy, Massachusetts, towing a barge carrying the disassembled 1200-ton Goliath crane formerly of Fore River Shipyard, the structure that for several decades dominated the Quincy skyline.  My eyes used to gravitate unconsciously toward the structure every time I traveled I-93 south of Boston.  For the sake of redundancy, here’s info on the foto contest.

Destination for the Goliath:  the Black Sea port of Mangalia, Romania.  Mangalia was mentioned in this blog back in November 2007, as launchplace of Alice‘s sibling, Harmen.  Read that here.  And has anyone seen Alice lately?  Foto below shows Allie B eastbound approaching our Brooklyn Bridge in 2006.


Can anyone augment my limited imaginings about vessel and crew preparations for the trip.  Fuel of course.  And spare parts and provisions, obviously.  Crew size minimal?  Duration of the trip . . . three weeks?  Any planned stops?  Chance of finding a return tow?  By the way, in trucking, a tractor not pulling a trailer is “bobtailing” or “deadheading.”  Besides “light” what terms describe a tug without a tow?

Oh, Brooklyn Bridge is the name of the barge carrying Goliath to the Black Sea.  More pics of Goliath in this slideshow.

Again, thanks to George Graham.  Now, can I get up there by Saturday morning?  Anyone up for a field trip to Boston?  If I don’t make it up to Quincy, could someone email me some fotos?  Are credit, attribution, and fame–coins of my realm–dazzling enough?

Images, WVD.

In my short tenure in the harbor, I’ve never heard a name other than “Governors Island ferry” for the vessel below, but according to this Albany Times-Union article, it’s Coursen, as in Samuel S. Coursen, after a Medal of Honor winner who died in Korea at age 24.  Queen Elizabeth rode Coursen, as did Mikhail Gorbachev.


A plan saw Coursen‘s labor complemented by  Islander purchased in 2007  for $500,000.  In this March 2008 article from the NYTimes, it seemed Islander had a future of carrying up to nearly 800 passengers at once to Governors Island.


Oh what a difference a year brings.  As happened to Wall Street and lots of folks “savings”, so has transpired with Islander, sold late February to the winning bidder on EBay for less than $24,000, a paltry ( . . . criminal?)  five percent of outlay two years ago.   Whose money was lost there?!   Am I missing some detail?  Is there an argument supporting this turn of events, or has a travesty been wrought with the $476,000?  I’m wondering about the quality of the survey Governors Island Preservation & Education Corp did prior to the 2007 sale.


Coursen . . . glad to know your name and namesake, but you’re left on your own.

Meanwhile, if anyone sees Islander dead ship on a tow, take a foto for me.

Images, WVD.

I got the image below mere seconds after the lead foto in yesterday’s post on Katherine Walker.  The port cranes behind Shooter’s Island stand a good two miles away on the other side of  now-deserted land called Port Ivory, named for the soap manufacturer.

Maybe you should forget I wrote that, and just imagine more exotic origins to the name.  Like . . . “area of Staten Island where the largest indigenous mastadon herds still roam.”  Those cranes do look like ultra-large mammals.  Nice try, you say?  Would I push over the limit if I said these saber-toothed Staten Island cats had corralled the mastadons in that location?  . . . I’ll drop it.


Of all the stats in this link on the brawny Atlantic Salvor, I register only a few :  built 1977,  135′ loa (or 151′ depending who you read) x 40′ x 20, 6480 hp combined from the ALCO engines and 11′ diameter props.  Eleven foot diameter!  If I were to stand on the hub of the prop, I’d be only a bit taller than the blade!  Below, Salvor passes Taurus, whose stas:  1979, 79′ loa x 25′ x 12, 1860 hp;  all of which just means the two vessels occupy different niches.


Salvor is classified as an anchor-handling tug, like Bart’s Smit Kamara, featured here a few weeks ago.


To get back to the beam on Salvor, 40 feet equals three Prius’s parked end to end with a little overhang across the widest part of the deck, or six Smarts.  Ten Prius’s bow to stern, or twenty-five Smarts!


Anyone willing to share crew size and sample ports of call outside the North America for Salvor, either under its current name or as Mister Darby?   Salvor seems to share lines, pedigree, and dimensions with Barents Sea, ex-Mister Pete.

Speaking of crew, over at the Henry’sObsession project, read news of one unique criterion Henry Hudson might have used for hiring men to sail the Half Moon.  Check out the latest fortnightly aka halfmoonthly channeling from 400 years back.

Unrelated:  See tana’s comment for link to an animated youtube short of the Hudson River landing of USAirways Flight 1549.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Atlantic Salvor sees Katherine Walker on two whistles and overtakes around Bergen Point.  To my untrained eye,  Salvor is as formidable as  Walker is  specialized.  More on Salvor soon.


I’ve posted about Katherine Walker several times before, most recently here.


Given the pressures of storms and wind, possible impact (literally) of shipping, and


changes to channels,  Katherine Walker performs one of those never-ending,


thankless jobs of keeping the channels well-marked, a task critical in  getting imports from faraway to the familiarity of our lives.

George Conk has fotos here of Katherine Walker using bow and stern thrusters to power away from a newly placed buoy just north of the George Washington Bridge.  George’s blog VOYAGES on my blogroll offers views along not only the North River but also in many other nooks and crannies of the wateryworld.

Finally, here’s another take on last Friday’s waterbloggergathering from John of summittoshore.

Images, WVD.

Thanks to Joel Milton for this foto.  Romer Shoal Light dwarfed by the sky?  If so, here’s some info on origin of name, which I wanted to spell “roamer,” which would make it an especially treacherous shoal and ingenuous light.   Zeebart recently sent this lighthouse link.


This foto illustrates the profound attraction big water exerts:  openness, uncluttered vistas, an antidote to hustlebustle.  Melville nails it in Moby Dick Chapter 1 paragraph 3 especially with the lines starting . .

” 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?”

Other sights to behold may be haunting, like this one from Punta Arenas, shared by Jesse, who took the foto as he neared the southern end of his many-thousand-mile motorcycle journey from New York to Tierra del Fuego and as documented in this compelling blog southbound650.


Above unidentified square-rigger may have launched from the same yard, same year–124 years ago– as Wavertree, below, benefiting from several decades of volunteer work in lower Manhattan. Notice the location of the two hawses on both vessels.  Two guys on the bowsprit on next two fotos below are jerseycity frankie and … tugster, taken by Maggie.


Bowsprit painters show scale and size of the headrig.


See  Tierra del Fuego on the distant horizon.  In foreground, the decrepit handiwork of the industrial past gets re-purposed as docking


extraordinary, profoundly unique.


Might she of the intriguing name Wye River (unless you know the Chesapeake watershed) be afloat 124 years hence (2133 AD or CE)?  Re-purposed?


There’s something about spring’s unstoppable approach out of the frozen grasp of winter that raises questions about past and future.

Good time for me to write and read blogs, devour good books, and seek out the challenging in other print.  Make lists.  Listen to haunting music.  Gather with kindred spirits.

Good book:  The River Why.  Here’s a summary.

Challenging article:  Harley enthusiasts in Havana, Cuba,  transcending politics. I’ve tried to weave this into the blog almost two months now.  It’s the transcending ideology that appeals to me.

Haunting music:  Gordon Lightfoot “Wherefore and Why.”  Lyrics.  Youtube cover.

Gathering:  I added some links since posting this yesterday.  Eager for the next waterbloggergathering.

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March 2009