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Adam so tugged on the imagination of Bowsprite with his April 22 Robin Knox-Johnson Day that we decided to plan a Swim Day.  (I HAD to get “tug” into this post somehow.)  July 1 got the honors as Swim Day  because, other than being peak summer in the northern hemisphere, the month gets its name from someone known for his swimming prowess.  Click here to find more about swimming, Julius Caesar, Plato, King Xerxes, and others.  Here’s more interesting history and a foto of ancient Etruscan swimmers.

The weird foto below shows tugster about 45 years ago getting it wrong and about to learn the searing, stinging pain water can inflict if you attempt to fly over rather than dive into it.   Kind of like Icarus.  The location is the pier near where I learned to swim . . . Lake Ontario.


We are our own first boats.  Thanks to my mother, I flourished as my own vessel before I was born, but I forgot how to swim after that.  I almost drowned when I was three because someone twice my size shoved me off a bridge.  My father dove in, wearing Sunday best, to drag me ashore.    When I turned six, my parents enrolled me in Red Cross swimming lessons in Lake Ontario, but I failed the beginner class three years in a row, refusing to believe even the no-doubt beautiful high school girls instructing the classes, telling me to relax, breathe deliberately, and feel my own buoyancy.  If we are our own first boats, then I was like the title of the Farley Mowat book:  The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float.  I didn’t float and hated water because it frustrated me.  And I’m grateful that my parents never let me give up.

The foto below (Lake Francis in New Hampshire, circa 1997)  shows my most utilitarian stroke, even now.  I call it the otter.  It’s also the Ben Franklin, explained at the end of this post.


I’ve swum over a mile at a stretch doing the “otter,” doing some distance on my belly before turning and swimming on my back.

Swimming exercises all parts of the body and refreshes the spirit.  As my body floats, so does my mind, travels through its own medium.  During an intensely difficult time in my life (See March 2008 post here.), I fought to get access to water, used swimming as a means to maintain fitness, swam as a mental preparation for a possible escape by water, and spend time under water imagining a less threatening location.  Swimming there provided the key to my very survival.

The foto below was taken in Noank last weekend, and given the water temperature (below 60 degrees), I would not have lasted a mile.


Here’s Mage’s preliminary swim post.  I suspect she may do more, maybe much more tomorrow.

Finally . . . Ben Franklin was an unrepentant skinny-dipper, as were John Quincy Adams and Teddy Roosevelt.

Did you ever suspect you’d see nude tugster fotos on this site?  Summer’s here and I guess  the mind turns to mush.

Seriously, if you know someone who does not know how to swim, encourage that person to learn, or you be the teacher yourself.  It’s more than a case of fun, refreshment, exercise, and inspiration . . ..  it could be a matter of life and death.

Dive in!!  Tell me one of your swimming stories.

If Xena captured first place in my heart this weekend, then second place went to Snekke 2.  Hear it


purr through a lake (in New Hampshire?) here.

aawwsNamed after a traditional Norwegian design for the smallest Viking longships, this beaut comes from the boatshop of Andrew Wallace, featured on this great vintage boat site.


Talking traditional, this is a new birchbark canoe.  Seeing it reminded me it was high time to reread


John McPhee’s Survival of the Bark Canoe, not a how-to book, but a compelling profile of a traditional bark boat builder about 35 years ago.


I saw this boat in Noank, a few miles from the Show.  Too small to read here, the name is Joshua B. Edwards, a legendary whale man of the East End of Long Island.   That name suggests the origin of the design.  Learn more at Sag Harbor.


This has to qualify as the most unusual cockpit:  notice the compass base and cask contents label.


Here’s the name.  What’s not clear is whether Winfield Lash is the 1927 Atkin boat or a replica.  Any help?


I offer this foto, but it does not do justice to Amistad, a 10-year-old replica of La Amistad. I recall the smell of new wood a cold winter day I watched her being built in Mystic.


Charles W. Morgan became this entity a century and three-fourths ago!!


The longevity of Morgan or . . . the charm of the barely visible woman wearing the hat and standing just to starboard of the bow AND whose last name is a four-letter word beginning with W and ending with D . . . so which better answers the “Why Wood” question?  Of course, you know the answer.    Yes, there was a close-up many posts ago.


Although this catboat was on the pier at Mystic, the color says Caribbean all over it to me.  Sorry . . . don’t know the name.


Final one . . . also taken in Noank, a ketch with leeboards.  It had anchored in Mystic and was headed for sea here.  Anyone know the name?  I’d like to learn more about sailing with leeboards.


All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

The question in the title got its definitive answer some months back.  For now, I want to add more evidence as collected at the 18th Annual WoodenBoat Show at Mystic Seaport this weekend.

Exhibit 1:   Xena.  Ever see a curved mast?  See more Xena and read the discussion at this site featuring fotos from the 2007 Show.  Raked masts in the background are from Amistad.


Call it curved or sickle-shaped?  Is there a technical name for the sail type?


Exhibit 2: a sweet boat.  Guess the name?




Exhibit 3:  Goblin . . . her tender is Goblette.


“Figurehead” assumes front and center location, so what should I call a figure atop the cabin roof?


Breck Marshall sailed constantly


helmed by a sailor who made it seem so simple and maneuverable that I left the Show wanting to learn this too.


After weeks of almost non-stop rain, to see these and many other wooden boats at Mystic made my soul happy.  More to come.  Xena was my favorite.  I’d love to hear from anyone else who attended and what they liked best.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Full disclosure:  I spent an hour yesterday and an hour today in the area between Piers 66 and 90, i.e., Krevey’s and the Passenger Terminal.  If I didn’t say this, you’d wonder why the light looks different.  So any idea what’s happening in this  start  foto?  That is the Hoboken Terminal tower across the river, and those are tools dangling on line lanyards, a really good idea you know if you’ve ever worked over water.  I can’t count the screwdrivers I lost overboard as I worked on planking of a wooden boat some years back until I “discovered” this solution.


Ok, so it’s head rig.  Bent  (did it strike one?) dolphin striker and figurehead . . . which vessel?


The one and only.  Marlon Brando worked here, and so did  . .  uh . .  some racier pirates.


By early August Bounty will start a European tour.  See the schedule here.


 Here Mary Gellatly  maneuvers a bunker barge away from .  . . .


Peace Boat (ex-Starship Oceanic and Big Red Boat 1).


Not unusual, some vestige of its previous lives remains.  Can you make out the previous port of registry?


Nassau.  Below is one of the megayachts  (Can you think of another name for this vast assemblage of floating stuff?) in the sixth boro.  Earlier this week I missed Le Grand Bleu,  although this foto comes from Jed. There are three “tenders” on her starboard side, but have you EVER seen a sailboat, mast stepped!!, as tender on a yacht?


Yesterday I caught Lady Christine.  Readers/commenters compared one of Bart’s recent finds, a similar yacht, to . . .  a small power tool for personal “hedge” trimming?  Can you imagine what such a yacht looks like in the body shop getting re-painted?  If you can’t imagine, check here.


Given all this transient traffic, it’s always therapeutic then to see the venerable McAllister Responder or . . .


keeping its distance over on the other side, Cheyenne.  Use the upper left search box to find many previous fotos of Responder and Cheyenne on this blog.


All fotos . . .  by Will Van Dorp, except Jed’s, for which I am grateful.

Remember . . . I might not post tomorrow because the  Appalachian Trail … or some such . . . beckons.

If you’ve never sat along the KVK, you might have no idea how much traffic passes.  I left two hours early for work yesterday to allow a 120-minute savoring.  What you see here is only the big stuff.  Zim Virginia bound for sea.  Note the apparent lowering of the hook onto the house of Maria J.


Notice the port of registry:  Haifa.


Next vessel out, bound for sea and escorted by Laura K Moran:  Ever Deluxe.


As Ever Deluxe bends to the north in the Constable Hook Reach, she passes Michigan Service and Stephen Reinauer.


Next outbound vessel is Tessa PG, with  Justine McAllister looking to assist.  By the way, where’s Douglas?  Answer below.


Actually providing the assist is McAllister Responder.


Inbound is Americas Spirit, an aframax tanker.


And just as I know I have to rush to work, outbound sashays MSC Endurance, (ex-Sea Land Endurance) guided by Marie J. Turecamo to port and . . .


Kimberly Turecamo.  See the guy descending the ladder.  Would he be


deckhand?  And all the spectators?


Maybe I’ll put up more fotos of Endurance and others later, but my point here is . . . two hours equaled five large ships with combined 278,000 deadweight tons.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp on June 23, 2009 between roughly 0700 and 0900 h.  By the way, if it seems dark in these fotos, New York has seen rain every day except a handful since the start of June, nine inches over the past 30 days versus the “normal” three.

Douglas . . .  port and largest city of Isle of Man.  Douglas population is almost 27,000!

Unrelated:  I might not post  this Saturday because I’m  . . .er . . .  er . . . going for a hike on the Appalachian Trail, probably the South Carolina portion, said to have stunning vistas, easily confused with the southern hemisphere, I hear.

Closed fist . . . not a monkey’s fist . . . evokes many, many  things.  It could signal a stop, a hold, a dramatic pause in the music, but this fist happens to be the forward portion of the tiller on Clearwater, a vessel synonymous with music.  Just over exactly 40 years ago  Clearwater came off the ways in Maine named as a wish, the thing desired itself:  clear water, in the Hudson and elsewhere.   Just clear enough water to swim in, at least.  To drink . . . and the shellfish of which to eat . . .


Captain Nick welcomes passengers on board . . .  To me his stance suggests a conductor gathering the focus of the band.


Raising Clearwater‘s 3,000lb main sail requires  “Many hands make light work,” says Pete Seeger.


Like a nautical still life . . .  all lines taut . . . let the music  . . .


begin.  I once had a dream about living in a house that transformed itself into the sounding box of an immense piano.  All the lines involved in handling Clearwater sail–were they strings of an instrument–would charming music make.  How her hull would resonate.   Pick a key . . . sort of like  . .  jib and bowsprit point to Teller Point at the south end
of Croton Point Park.


Line flemish coiled like a treble clef?   I’ve never understood clefs yet admired their curves.


The Captain’s face focused on


the space to fill with music. Tack toward Hook Mountain, looking south from Haverstraw Bay.  Let the


music begin–Rich Hines and The Hillbilly Drifters.  Check out their schedule here.


Photo credit to Rene Arnessen.  Fotos #2 and 8 by Jeff Anzevino,  who provides the ideas for the post.  Jeff is second from left above.

Final shots below are mine.


I’ve never sailed Clearwater, though I’ve surely sailed near her enough. Here canal tug Governor Cleveland chugs between us.


I guess it’s high time I step aboard.

Mark your calendars for July 23 . . . at Barge 79 in Red Hook . . . Waterfront Museum hosts a talk by Clearwater captains on her 40 years.

By the way, Clearwater‘s maiden voyage from South Bristol, Maine, involved a stop at South Street Seaport.  Does anyone have fotos of her at the Pier there?  Any recollection of the cermony there?

Anyone recognize the boat in the center of the foto silhouetted against the Brooklyn skyline?    I wrote about it almost two years ago here.


Tug goes by Little Bear, operated by Disch Construction.  Little Bear pushes bucket dredge barge into position, but to orient,  the services of the outboard work boat is required.  Any guesses on the work boat name?


Pooh Bear!   And Dredge No. 200.   Can you imagine other workboats in the fleet . . . with names like Teddy, Smokey, Yogi, Care, Running . . .


Pooh did effective assist work, though.


Little Bear dates from the same year as me, 1952; loa  48′.  Classy paint job.  Little‘s low freeboard . . .  I’m guessing that’s by design.


All fotos today  by Will Van Dorp.

The sixth boro has had a lot of weather this past month;  Bowsprite‘s drawing and writing about it.  I’m just trying to weather it.  And Andres has arrived.

Hmm.  “Weathering storms”  . . . now that phrase puzzles me.  Storms are weather.  Metaphorical storms that need weathering like illness or loss   . . . what does it mean to “weather” them?  Be a hurricane to a gale and outlast it?  Be an anticyclone to a cyclone?  Uglyships’ very own Zeebart sent these fotos along from the North Sea.  Here  gCaptain writes about waterspouts.


I’m not sure how to describe my attitude toward weather, but I show such profound respect that I might just lack the uumph to weather serious storms or wild seas.   Last summer I met a Croatian sailor who’d just sailed the Gulf of Mexico through Rita.  To paraphrase his words:  “Our container vessel was a plaything tossed by the storm:  what a rush!


I loved it!  In fact, it’s why I work on the sea rather than an office,” he stated, smiling.


From the cliffs of Lower Manhattan, Joel Milton caught this weather, an approaching Jersey storm, downpour over Newark obscuring the Watchung ridges.


Here are some of my weather shots . . .  Mary Turecamo (?) exiting the Narrows for sea.


Newark Bay in April.


Unidentified unit at the Narrows in December.


Summer dusk last year.


Here’s a link to the “eternal storm” over Lake Maracaibo (Venezuela).  All otherwise unattributed fotos by Will Van Dorp.

And speaking of “wild seas and stormy weather,” the latest report from mid-Atlantic says Henry had his foremast carried away.  Read all about it here.

Miraculously . . . rain stopped not long after the parade began.  A “traditional” pirate contingent marched with their  usual antique weapons, but stunning was


another group calling itself “somali coast guard.”  Now that was truly a first.  And they didn’t say  . . . “arrr.”  Instead it sounded sort of like “fuloose.”


Also in the pirate thread was this canoe float


referring to a set of crumbling houses in Brooklyn Navy Yard.   Here be the site for the group.  Here’s the wiki set of links and basic explanation about these mansions.  Times is running out for them.


These three figures on the prow of a Toyota leave me speechless.  Painting by Andy Golub.


This  vessel in the parade represented Brooklyn Brewery, so I guess it could be considered


a tanker . . .  a plastic tankard maybe.


Sails traveled by without hulls, this one bearing terms of unendearment and loathing for Thor, the developer on Coney Island and other places.


Religious folks marched, both high profile like Rev. Billy and


anonymous sisters of mercy, as they called themselves.


I’m speechless . . .  mmmm




mmmm mmmmm


Greenish mariners in some foreign uniforms tagged along with merfolk, but


merfolk sporting blooms from octopus’s gardens dominated in numbers.


Winding up this post is tough, but this might  do it:  this fisherman offshore far too long finds himself in charming company.  How does he do that?


No . .  this will end it:  the Polar Bears represent the diametric opposite of the summer solstice.


All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

The annual visitation of merfolk and their friends happened on cue this afternoon.  This intrepid witness scouted out the approach path (marked in orange here)  in spite of the incessant rain.  Summer begins tomorrow;  rainy season has drenched us and promoted mushroom harvest several weeks already.  An unidentified tug sallied forth to summon the assembled visitors.


Staff stood by to process the waterfolk, insisting that all bear  TWICs;  tweets were ubiquitous too.  The actual coming-ashore was deemed too confidential to film.


Dick Zigun, parade founder and mayor of Coney Island,  led the way.


Some visitors from the deep received special accommodations, as did this variety of  . . . Hudson canyon sturgeon post-makeover for the visitation?


Others moved with grace.  Some merfolk had diaphanous fins, a variety of flying fish, I’d wager.


These might be a variety of butterflyfish with camouflage eyes to confound potential predators.


These impersonated  Maine lobstermen as only mummers can.


The merfolk demonstrated good-will toward us terrans, passing along all manner of freebies;  take my word . . . this mermaid’s hug came with exotic perfume of anemones.


This merfolk defies categorization but captivates me nonetheless.


Mer-politicians or possibly their agents also proposed their own remedies for economic recovery, and hearing about the woes of GM and Chrysler,


some mer-manufacturers seemed to hurry out their prototypes, sensing an opportunity to gain market share.


All fotos by Will Van Dorp.  More tomorrow.

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June 2009