You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2009.

W . . . worry.  No way!  work?  nah.  Wonderment and wanderlust resonate much more profoundly, leaving me hungering for new vistas and thirsting for novel experience.  Sometimes this may be slaked by a two-hour sail on the incomparable Pioneer, a vessel with a century and a quarter’s life.


Or a sprint aboard the harbor’s greyhound . . . Adirondack.


According to IBI (International Boating Industry) statistics, 1 in 23 Americans owns a boat, whereas in Sweden that number is 1 in 7 and in China virtually no one does.  See statistics here.  Some quench their thirst for wandering then aboard their own boat, like this sloop from Rhode Island, headed up past Pier 66 or


or this mini-trawler  from Texas up by Poughkeepsie or


of this larger trawler from




Wanderlust for a vacation is real though compartmentalized into a small percentage of the year.  What would it be like to choose an occupation that would


take you all around the world (the 70.8 percent of the planet’s surface that’s navigable) all the time, as on this container vessel Zim Shenzhen.  Would it always soothe the spirit  or would it make one


wary . . . and weary.  Can feelings like weariness co-exist with wanderlust?


Where does wanderlust with all its curiosity come from?  Is it innate or learned at home?


I don’t know.  But I do know I’m grateful for my wanderlusty nature, wherever it may lead.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Unrelated:  I highly highly recommend you wander up to SUNY New Paltz to see Greg Miller‘s “Panorama of the Hudson River.”  Traveling in various boats including Adirondack this spring, Miller took about 3000 fotos  documenting every single section of the Hudson–west AND east bank–between the Statue of Liberty and Albany.  The results are assembled in a sinuous print in the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art.  Tugs by Vane Brothers, Moran, and McAllister randomly show up.  As if Miller”s accomplishment were not wondrous enough, what makes it even more remarkable is that Miller’s panorama is juxtaposed with G. Willard Shear’s 1910 panorama of all that same geography.  In other words, 2009 shot of the Statue of Liberty is directly above the 1910 one.  Ditto the Palisades, Dunderberg Mountain, Storm King, etc.  You ask about the George Washington Bridge . . .  oops . . . in 1910 the GW was not even planned for.      And the coup de grace . . . in the adjoining gallery is displayed an 1844 sketchbook designed  to help steamer passengers identify riverbank features . . . like the ones I mentioned above.  Along with towns and ridgelines, quaint drawing of steamers appear.  Like a steamer named River Witch. (Now that’s a name begging to be recycled!)  Another, a steam tug pulling a separate passenger barge, designed to keep passengers far away from the boiler.

Also, unrelated,  check out this great blog created by the crew of a tanker called Palva, which sometimes calls in the sixth boro.  Tugster examined Palva here, back in April 2007.  Greetings Palva!  When are you back in New York?

Finally related by topic:  Fielding, whom I know from sailing on Pioneer, is following his wanderlust in South America.  His blog–Under the Northern Star–is listed on my blogroll.

V . . . void is my head.  Well not entirely.  Vent . . . French for “wind” which was as abundant as rain today.  And I came up with Radio Veronica, the iconic 1960’s pirate radio station in the North Sea.  And V. and Vineland, novels written by one of my favorite writers, Thomas Pynchon, who has another book out soon called Inherent Vice . . . another V.   Pynchon, the reclusive writer, was born in Glen Cove,


New York.  The vessel here (1975) also carried the names Philadelphia and Capt. Danny once.


But on this foggy then stormy day, I’ll go with “vacation.”  Even if I tried hard today, a desire for vacation would slow me .  But . . . I took all these fotos today.  I’d never seen Great Lakes Thames River before.  Thames (1980) is ex-Lorrie S.


Margaret Moran pushes past Miriam Moran, who had just assisted Marinoula into a foggy berth.


Laura K, also part of the Marinoula assist, retrieves the docking pilot.


Turecamo Boys feigns pursuit of the small boom boat.


Michele Jeanne swings by, possibly to verify some dredging? and


appears–only appears–to make herself vulnerable in  the process, as Baltic Sea slings in a barge,


drops it, and then hurries off to other business.


Vacation . . . we all need it.  I have vacated some things/thoughts/goals/pursuits this summer, but others have possessed me.  Maybe I don’t want to vacate them and therefore will accept a degree of possession.  And these preoccupations will serve as my security  blanket, despite the cost.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp, to–foggy–day.

Click on an image to enlarge it.

U . . . “you”  as in thank you for bearing with me.  Truth be told . . . my first thought was of Bart’s beautiful site uglyships, but he does that so well, I fear to cross or even approach his wake, and judging by his enthusiastic fan hatemail, he has quite the following.  So I’m using a series of unrelated U’s.

I can tease and start with underwear, as in the bottom paint on scow 65, here moved on the hip by Melvin E. Lemmerhirt.  Wear and chemistry might be beckoning new bottom paint here.  Watch the foreshadowing in this post.


Unchanged landscape.  This is the Henry Hudson year, and Bowsprite and I are not the only ones somewhat obsessed by that Henry.  In spite of the dramatic transformation of Manhattan and environs, islands like this in Jamaica Bay might give a sense of what Henry saw when he sailed into the sixth boro.  Now if this were Bowsprite’s post, she’d inform you by block letters that clash with her charming calligraphy that the foto below is “not to be used for navigation.”


Under-reported.  That’s a series on WNYC’s Leonard Lopate show.  I love it.  John P. Brown (2002)  and Bohemia (2009) are two under-reported boats on this blog.


Unidentifiable . . . some language on the stern of this trawler.  What make of trawler?  I really don’t know.

aaau4Road Harbour is on a British island in the Caribbean, but the script looks somewhat yet not quite like Inuktitut.  What it is?


“Up” position . . . where the wheelhouse currently set.  Designed for the canal system, Cheyenne can lower the wheelhouse, if needed.


Unbounded . . . came to mind as I watched this trimaran sail towards the sixth boro, here past Hook Mountain.  Unbounded like summer when you have no ties holding you back.  Trimaran name is Friends;  on a journey with that, you’d soon make them.


Unbelievable . . .  that the mermaid parade took place a month ago already.  Tell me it’s not true.  I’ve read that Andy Golub does beautiful painting event around the boros but I’ve yet to catch one.  Remember my earlier comment about bottom paint?


Unidentified . . . this vessel moving up the Rondout more than a month ago.  I remain with two questions:  what’s its name and are there spars that make this a schooner?


U . . . actually if I might indulge in “textingspeak,”  I happy w U read my blog.  At least that’s how I do texting, lazy yet impatient as I am.  On a whim I started this meditations series, because I wanted to get out of a rut that convenience had pushed me into, but I feel the encouragement you send along, and that has given me a stretch.  Thank you for helping a community germinate and grow.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Remember, click on the fotos to enlarge them.  Do one twice, and you might be surprised.

Meditations U . . .  just realize it sounds like higher ed.   Get a pennant on your wall to show support for  . . .  Med U.

T . . . teamwork.  Not the same idea as teams, which suggests competition.  Teamwork . . . only unites all those people invested in the same project, whether they get along or not.  Like maintaining buoys marking the channel, benefitting people on the water as well as those on land.


Like USACE Hayward responding to reports of hull-puncturing, wheel-destroying debris afloat in the channels.


Like Capt Log getting fuel where it’s needed and when.


Like Baltic Sea and its entire crew–invisible here–reporting to the next job, as


is true of Comet, its dispatchers, and harbor traffic controllers.


Ditto Huki, if that’s the canoe’s name.  I love the outrigger.


As well as Spartan Service


And Morton S. Bouchard IV and Kristin Poling and every other


boat and ship that negotiates passage on 1 or 2.  Like Marjorie B McAllister and Cape Cod.


And Meredith C. Reinauer and all the boat crew as well as shore crew, professional and personal.


And Delaware Bay . . . it can dredge away sand and silt to keep the channel clean ONLY because of its talented and dedicated crew and the efforts of hydrographers who determined what invisible amounts of earth was extraneous.


So who works alone?  Nobody that I know, not even those who sit in their workspace alone like the crane operator solo in the control cabin hundreds of feet above the hoi polloi;  even that solitaire draws a paycheck and follows orders or gives them.  And we belong to all kinds of non-competitive teams simultaneously:  ones that pay for our daily food, drink, and shelter.  Ones that keep us safe in so many contexts.  Ones that make us smile and chase away our blahs and blues.  Ones that intrigue us and keep us curious.  Ones that back us up when we feel vulnerable.  Ones that trim us when we get too brazen or sure.  Even the ones we don’t get along with;  Hudson danced  teamwork steps with Juet, even while lowering Henry, young John Hudson, and eight stalwarts overboard to their deaths on the cold waters of Hudson Bay. I could go on, but you get my point.  I’m reminded of the point.  Teamwork . . . sounds trite . . . but isn’t.

All fotos . . . Will Van Dorp.

S . . . singing, songs.  Cognoscenti–of whom I do not consider myself a part–will recognize the set of five black horns below as a Nathan K5HL.  It produces what I’ll describe as a chord, as distinguished from my car’s horn, which produces only one puny tone.  Imagine the sound for now, and at the end of the post you will hear its voice, relish its sound, savor the tones.


The Nathan, about 10 other chimes, and this tiny whistle all reside atop tugboat Cornell, the workhorse of Captain Matt Perricone.  You heard a little of Cornell‘s song here a week or so ago. To show size, I put my phone next to the “peanut whistle.” The peanut whistle is the first you’ll hear; then the Nathan.  If you want to hear a Nathan on a Chevy pickup, click here.


I was unprepared for the song of Kristin Poling the other day;  please get in touch if you can help with logistics to record it.  Kristin’s song reminded me of a night heron, a most noteworthy sixth boro critter.


The GW Bridge is most commonly understood as the boundary of the North River and the Hudson;  to me, it’s all the sixth boro and surroundings.  My Flip camera missed the song Cornell sang under the GW.


After NYC, the next city on the Hudson is Yonkers, and excuse my digression here.  Yonkers, to me, is synonymous with this industrial site.  The blue crane is about to pull a clamshell bucket out of that barge.  Any guesses what industrial substance it will contain?


Sweeeeeet!  Raw cane sugar, I suppose, either to be further processed OR to add to a megalopolis-size vat of coffee needing some sweetener?  One or two tons of sugar with your coffee, m’am?  Enjoy a crumpet with your coffee, or let me offer the sweetest music of the Hudson . . .  a little later.


I missed songs Cornell bounced off the underside of the Tappan Zee and the Bear Mountain Bridges, but  sweet, even mellifluous they were.


But then I got my act together . . .  In three and a half minutes of video, you’ll hear seven or  so songs:  first the peanut whistle near West Point, then the rest “Nathan events” and their echoes bouncing off the cliffs near West Point and then the undersides of the bridges in Newburgh-Beacon and Highland-Poughkeepsie.  In the third Nathan event, look in the window near the spotlight;  you’ll see Matt’s hands playing the Nathan cord like a harp player.  And the songs, all woven around the steady percussion of the 16-cylinder diesel.

Songs from machines . . . they make the world a jollier place;  like

songs of humans, whales, birds . . . they can communicate, memorialize, or just express feeling.  Well . . . in the case of machines with wonderful voices like Cornell or less wonderful . . . like the Staten Island ferries AND every other vessel in the harbor, they really do communicate.    Here’s a whole page of links to ships’ horns.  Enjoy!!

Can you hear bird songs or gong/bell buoys while aboard Cornell?  Nah . . . but  if  I’m at a concert with my favorite sweetie, neither can I hear what she whispers in my ear.  Everything . . . in its time.

All fotos and video . . . Will Van Dorp.

Remember to click on a foto to enlarge it.

R . . . rare sights in this fascinating place called the sixth boro and its surrounding waters.  First rare foto comes thanks to Jed:  clearly it’s a Staten Island ferry, but the question is where.  Answer below.


Next . . . of course it’s the Samuel S. Coursen aka Governor’s Island ferry.  But . . . are they now transporting animals onto the island to graze there?  After millions spent in studies, a conclusion has been reached that Sheep Meadow in Central Park is no longer adequate for the City’s population, and Governor’s Island will assume the new pasture role?


R could be for rust, rust busting, and restoration, but don’t


offend this tug in Newburgh, or it might just give chase.  This SUV barely escaped being shifted into the river.  Anyone know the story of this tug, just south of where the retired DEP sludge yacht awaits its own fate?  I was told this is the location of the former Marvel Shipyard.  Anyone confirm?


Here’s a rare sight just north of Poughkeepsie yesterday:  rowers from Cleveland on their way to . . . Key West, raising $$ for Habitat for Humanity.  Don’t believe me:  check this out.  Go Tom and Jon.  They even have a blog.


Patty Nolan was the mystery tug a week or so ago.  I’d like to see this 1931 tug up closer, but I had no idea she had a figurehead . . . er . . . headless figurehead . . . er . . .er . . . figure!    That’s even more fantastic than when seen from afar.


Put a sign like this on the side of your vessel in mid-sixth boro, look up a lot, and you’ll generate some excitement, I’m sure!


Rarities are not so uncommon as you think.  I believe I’m a particularly wide-eyed gallivanter, but seeing the rare and unusual right around you generates a thirst to discover more.  As wonderful as it is to travel to exotic and uncommon places–one of my dream destinations is Timbuktu–rare gems pass before us every day, wonders catch our rye and jostle us to get that last seat of the E train . . . sights and people to treasure, tantalizing and then slipping out the door.   Summer . . . it’s the time to savor those moments, make eternal memories, hear the music of the spheres, listen for echoes of songs long ago sung . . .  To modify the title of a book I like:  Everywhere lies magic.

All fotos but Jed’s by Will Van Dorp;  all taken this Friday.

Oh . . . that Staten Island ferry . . . made a wrong turn and ended up high and dry in Virginia, Norfolk, Colonna’s.

Q . . . quit with the serious tone for today, quirky has ushered itself in, and questions . . . I always have questions.    Oh . . . and the fifth letter in the title “c” rather than “t,” I’ve erroneously misspelled that several times  since this series began.  Right now I need the therapy of making fun of myself.

First question:  I hadn’t previously noticed the hydraulic device between the wheelhouse  and the staple (?) on Laura K.  Anyone have ideas?


As Eagle Atlanta headed into the Kills yesterday, I noticed someone on the portside bridgewing cleaning or mopping.


Never noticed someone doing that before.


I’m always looking for signage that, although it may make sense in some contexts, seems quirky.    When I saw this in Mystic the other week, I wondered who or what precipitous submarines might be dropping off . . . and where the nearest pick up point might be.  Well, not really.  But wouldn’t “Warning:  Steep dropoff” be more to the point?  Am I being too much of a wise-ass of late July here?


Ah . . . one of my favorite type of signs:  ship names.  Take your pick at World Yacht . . . ride on a princess or a temptress.  If you know me, you know which I’d choose.  And while we’re on the topic of passenger ships (for which Old Salt has coined the acronym WOWO vessels) check this comparison out here.


A new sailing ship has offered proverbial “three-hour tours” from Pier 17 along the East River.  Clipper City is the name.  Previously, they operated out of Baltimore;  they’re here now, but judging by the miniscule white-painted sign indicating that, I suspect they could leave town, slap on some new paint, and have a new port before the paint was dry.


Last foto:  a 1905 tug named Sea Lion.  I had noticed the foto on Waterlogged, a blog done by a Vancouver-based blogging friend named Tana. Let me digress from my story, though, to point you to a fascinating adventure Sea Lion was involved with 95 years ago:  the Komogata Maru incident!!!  Read it here.  Colonialism, racism, and battle on the high seas (of the harbor).

Back to Tana’s foto though:  each time I looked at the text and foto, though, I read Sea Loin.  I said it couldn’t be, looked again, read it wrong again. . . .  Oh, it’s sad what happens to has started happening to my eyes and perception, misfires between the synapses.  I have bifocals already, but although they correct quite well, more areas of vision are starting to need correction.


Which brings me back to medications, which I don’t use.  For now.  Thank the water gods and goddesses.  But as my processes start slowing down in the quagmire of aging, I’m vowing to laugh more.

I’ll gallivant off again tomorrow, . . . getting sea legs while pursuing sea loins, or hobgoblins.

Except for Tana’s, all fotos by Will Van Dorp.

O . . . oil, petrOleum, fuel, which I’m guessing is the sixth boro’s most valuable cargo; not to say sand, rock, scrap, cement lack value.   Wonder fuel of the past 150 or so years, thanks to what Edwin Drake started.  But what will power home and industry and what cargo will hold greatest value  150 years from now, or a hundred, or fifty, twenty.

Tankers move crude in, and other tankers move petroleum products both in . . . and out.  We export petroleum products –like diesel–due to relative refining capacity, but I’ve no clue where Stena Performance goes when she leaves the Kills for sea.


Adriatic Sea, southbound on the Hudson near Bear Mountain Bridge, pushes what might be petroleum or might be ethanol.

aaao2Here Taurus pushes a fuel tank.


As does Curtis Reinauer.
aaaocr Bering Sea has a loaded fuel tank on the hip.


When a tanker comes into this terminal on the KVK, they hook into hoses like these.


Here’s the whole set.  Is there a technical term for these, both individual hoses and the entire set?


Scorship King Douglas, exactly a year old, came in this morning, but it hardly seems loaded to capacity.  Why not?  Tug is Rowan M McAllister.


When Eagle Atlanta came in, she seemed deeper in the water than King Douglas, but maybe  both were to capacity.  Tug is Marjorie B McAllister.


What was uncomfortable about writing this post is all the unknowns, and I know I don’t know a lot related to oil.  Yet, my daily life could not happen without oil.  Very few people on the face of the Earth can say they are totally free of a reliance on oil.  It’s an amazing admission, given that it’s a finite resource.  Yet, I think I can safely say that most of us don’t know much about the source, international supply and refining chain, and transportation of items in their lives stemming from petroleum.  Like the gas I put in my car today, I’ve no clue where it lay in the Earth for hundreds of hundreds of thousands of years before–relatively recently–it started the journey toward the gas tank of my car.  And the oil that refining transformed into plastics and chemicals in my house, which pocket beneath the surface did that come from?  If I burned wood to run a steam engine, I might at least know which tree I cut to get this nice hot fire, but oil . . . not a hint.   And it all bothers me because I’d like to know.

Metaphorically, oil as fuel and lubricant . . . it’s potent stuff, without which, nothing good happens.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Unrelated to this post, but go back to “Meditations M” . . . on masts.  Les Sonnenmark labeled almost all the units on Yankee‘s mast.  Can anyone help with the topmost one?


N . . . nudge.  A little touch goes a long way, especially on low-gravity days.  Marjorie B. McAllister nudges self-unloading bulker Atlantic Superior away from the dock where Alice sometimes offloads.


Margaret Moran tails MSC Ancona, ready to drive the stern to starboard for the bend in the KVK.  Is that graffiti on the base of the mustard-colored stack?


Miriam Moran shadows Carnival Miracle, white sheet in place on the bow fendering, in case the passenger vessel needs a smither of propelling as she eases into the dock.


Jennifer Turecamo and Turecamo Boys follow MSC Dartford, ready to check any adverse momentum (aka drift?) rounding Bergen Point.


Gramma Lee T. Moran trails Ever Refine, lest some thrust is called for.


Marie Turecamo, wedged under the flaring bow of MSC Endurance, stands by to shove as needed to keep the hull in the channel.


Nudge . . . I can do do it;  as I can guide or shove.  And . .  I need nudges myself sometimes, maybe even often.  Of course, many gradations of pressure–lateral or longitudinal– exist from almost imperceptible to measurable on the Richter scale.  It’s been a bunch of decades since I last shoved someone with testosterone rage.   Nudges may range from super-tactile to mildly-so to verbal to even non-verbals.  Non-verbals are my favorite, although I’m as fond of mock-combat as the next randy boy, so shove me if you wish;  just keep a smile on your face, and don’t be surprised if I shove you back.  Oh  . . . and you’re near water . . . soft wet landings make me jolly.  Nudge when it’s consensual . .  like the 1980’s dance called the “bump.”  Nudging and bumping have their place;  it could never happen here though, atop the future pedestrian bridge in Poughkeepsie.


But then again, I’m jollier when we just team up with no nudging required.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

M . . . mast.  I love the wikipedia disambiguation pages, where a range of contexts for words like mast or masthead defies expectation.

Cornell sports its mast toward the stern; running lights there convey information about vessel size, type, and activity.


Clearwater, a sloop, has a one mast topping out at about 110 feet.


On City of Water Day, USACE Drift Collection vessel Hayward sports code flags on its mast and a sampling of collected debris on its foredeck.


Pioneer, a schooner, has two masts, the mainmast topped out at just under 77 feet.


Sandy Hook Pilots vessel Yankee has units (besides the radar and GPS) on its mast I can’t identify.


Bunkering tanker Capt Log‘s foremast carries a red flag, signaling fuel.


So does barge DBL 76.  Mast height on Adriatic Sea is 85 feet, if airdraft equals height of the highest mast or antenna.  I fear I might be blurring a definition here.

Volunteer, air draft of 114 feet and pushing DBL 105, meets Turecamo Boys assisting Seven Express out to to sea.


USCG WPB67356 Sailfish, not surprisingly, carries mast gear not readily identified by a civilian like me.


Miriam Moran, assisting with docking, keeps the upper portion of its mast safely lowered where flaring bows cannot damage it.


Masts can signal information but of course sometimes signaling is optional or even undesired.  Masts allow things to be seen, but one has to know what should remain unseen.  An effective mast needs strength, and sometimes that means it is flexible.

Both submarines and whaling ships have masts.  For some good fun, check out this six-minute video of  a struggle between Captain Ahab and Moby Das Boot.

Also, just for fun:  How might you complete this sentence:


All fotos by Will Van Dorp.  Send me your original sentence completions.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,583 other subscribers
If looking for specific "word" in archives, search here.
Questions, comments, photos? Email Tugster

Documentary "Graves of Arthur Kill" is AVAILABLE again here.Click here to buy now!

Seth Tane American Painting

Read my Iraq Hostage memoir online.

My Babylonian Captivity

Reflections of an American hostage in Iraq, 20 years later.


July 2009