You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2009.

Leapfrogging from “L” to “P,” ok ok, later I’ll pick up the ones I skipped.  P . . . parks and paddling.  Like National Parks.  Try to guess where these waters flow.


It’s Sunday glorious morning, and


and the water is flat;  the kayakers stay safely out of shipping channels and “go-fast” trajectories.


A ranger stands by.  The trailer transported the kayaks to the beach off to the right.  What’s your best guess about location?

aaaap4A clue:  apartment buildings lie just beyond the beach and trees.


If I turn the other way, this tower projects itself against the sky.  The profile might lead you to wonder if it’s the newest ATB setting the record for the highest air draft (a metal swan, as Bowsprite conceptualizes it) . . . or  an airport?


It’s JFK, in the boro of Queens.  And the kayaks, believe it or not, the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy, in conjunction with the  National Park Service, runs a FREE kayaking program just east of Canarsie Pier in Brooklyn.  Yes, it’s Brooklyn, and a calm out of the way portion of the sixth boro.  Friday through Mondays all July from 10 am until 2 pm.  And someone powerful must be happy:  since the program started on July 10, the weather has been fabulous.  Over 200 folks have come out for a paddle, many of those again and again and again.

Harbor Conservancy has also created a trail for experienced kayakers in Jamaica Bay with five put-in points as well as signage for wildlife viewing.  A map will soon be available here.

Click on the map below to make it interactive.  This beach is just south of the intersection of Rockaway Parkway and Belt Parkway.  Jamaica Bay is the “only wildlife refuge in the National Park system.”  Follow some great directions in that link.


I first kayaked over 20 years ago in boats much like these, nervous before I boarded that a kayak would be unstable.  Only weeks later I was surfing down coastal New Hampshire waves that grew from three feet to four feet to . . . well, after that I usually wiped out, but got back in and tried again.  For the kids and adults getting into a kayak the first time here, where might the experience lead?    And since writing that post more than two years ago, I’ve met Rocking the Boat and  Floating the Apple.

Thanks to Rangers Jose A. Ramirez, James Keena, and Pat Given for info used in the story.  All fotos by Will Van Dorp.  City Parks info here.

Unrelated:  Read frogma and moveable bridge’s reports from “Campground Governor’s Island.”

Also unrelated:  from today’s NY Times, a “secret pool party“!!

L . . . line, of course.  No matter what type of vessel from ship to dinghy to raft to  . . . coracle, rope gets used.  And line?  My understanding is that rope used for a specific purpose is called line, e.g., clothesline.  And then line gets renamed according to its specific use, e.g., mooring line.  And not all these “renamings” involve the word “line,” e.g., halliard,  hawser.  And some line gets modified for specific uses and then renamed:  snotter.  And these modifications may be less or more temporary; e.g., knots, bends, hitches allow rope to be joined quickly to accomplish a specific task and then undone as quickly.  Too many  sentences starting with “and” and too many e.g.’s.

My friend below, identity obscured by his hat, practices throwing line over a bollard, a skill that,  when improved, reduces effort.


In other words, expertise trumps energy.


Line not in use awaits closest to where its needed and in condition to serve that use most efficiently.


The strength of line should be clear from this foto:  small diameter line relative to the tanker connects McAllister Responder during the transit through the Kills.


After transferring fuel, Capt. Log casts off lines in mere seconds.


Line appears in art because besides being functional, it’s just beautiful.  I find it gives pleasure not only to the eye but also the touch.

aaaal5Line has to be a word with one of the highest number of meanings in English, as you can see from this wikipedia list.  Before looking there, I ran a list in my own head and came up with such contrasts as “land line” and “waterline” as well as diverse uses like skyline, county line, treeline, date line, party line, blood line, fuel line . . .  you can continue this yourself if you wish.

The bottom line for me . . . line connects objects, maintaining the connection until it no longer serves a desired purpose, and then allows quick uncoupling.  There should be “line” solutions to more lived situations.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Some updates:  the tug in Jed’s foto pulling the house boat is Patty Nolan, built in 1931 in Wisconsin.  The house was towed from 79th Street Boat Basin eventually to Kingston.  I’d love to see a closeup of the tug.  Info thanks to Capt. John Johnsen.

Also, thanks to Robert Brennan for identification of the chimney in the foto here behind the pilot boat.  It’s the New York Power Authority Pouch Terminal.

Tugster can now move from the “silent” era to “talkies,” and what better way to inaugurate this to showcase Cornell leaving Krevey’s Pier (aka Pier 66) on a bright July morning and demonstrating only two of its seven voices.  First you’ll hear the New York Central #6 chime and then the “peanut whistle,” a high-pitched toot, a voice that–in a system of disappearing sound signals–could acknowledge a command.

K is a tough letter.  And I’ll mostly get to it later in the post, but for now, Cornell lives in Rondout Creek, almost 100 miles north of the sixth boro.   The Rondout flows through Kingston, formerly capital of New York.  Cornell Owner/Captain Matt Perricone here approaches barge Black Diamond for transit from Kingston to the sixth boro’s second annual City of Water Day, tomorrow.  Free boat rides . . . music from the likes of Sea Devils . . .


Once the tow is made up, Cornell


heads downriver past Poughkeepsie


and Newburgh, toward a place of many spirits


which Matt wards off by serving as the tow’s own figurehead as we head into the Hudson Highlands.


Any time I pass here I find my awe of the river’s beauty kindled anew.


Washington Irving published his satire Knickerbocker‘s History of New York in 1809, a book that begins with Hudson’s travels, surely a gone-to-dust fun read this Quadricentennial year.


More fotos of the trip will appear soon, but here Buchanan 12 pushes 15 empty stone scows northward as we pass Stony Point Battlefield and Light.


As I said, “K” is a tough one.  “Kill” (like Kill Van Kull or Catskill aka “Kaatskil”) starts with it, but of course I mean the Knickerbocker sense, not the English.  “Cornell” sounds like it could start with one.  “Kindle” does, and that’s my word.  Sometimes I find I work so many hours that I find myself interacting with such a thin sliver of life I start to feel isolated almost out of existence.  Meeting so many intriguing people in the process of blogging does kindle and rekindle exuberance for life,  curiousity, love, and all our beloveds anew daily.  Almost all people are story tellers, and I find I just don’t connect with a lot of people’s stories until . . . through experiences like traveling the river I find unexpected common ground, face to face, or  . . . VHF to VHF.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.  Off gallivanting again before dawn.  Crew in Cornell “talkie” are Paul and Karl . . . whom you hear say “all aboard.”

Remember, click on fotos to enlarge them.  To discover where Cornell has appeared in this blog before, use the blog search window.  Land background in the video is Hoboken, NJ.

H . .  Hudson and Holland aka H&H.  This year mention of H&H in and around the sixth boro happens so frequently that a friend has phrased it as the Dutch re-conquest of the erstwhile New Amsterdam.   And I like it.  After all, my Dutch identity feels at least as strong as my American one;  in fact, I’m a hyphenated person:  feeling neither wholly  Dutch nor American but some sort of fishfowl or fowlfish in between.  About Hudson, an important detail that gets lost is that our river is NOT the first place of “first contact” for Hudson, crew, and Half Moon.  That place is shown in the next three fotos.  Guess where?

Four hundred years ago–July 17, 1609–Hudson came ashore in this rivermouth looking for a tree suitable as a new foremast;  in their stormy crossing in June 1609, they’d lost their foremast overboard.


The landscape has changed little in 400 years here, I wager.


Here’s another clue to the location:  where Henry came looking for a mast, a famous American watercolorist who died earlier this year at age 91 came looking for landscapes and people to paint.  His initials:  AW.  Seeing this pristine beauty, I wonder why Hudson would sail on . . . except that a quest obsessed him.


The above three fotos come compliments of Lisa, who grew up on the banks of the St George River near Cushing, Maine, adoptive home of the Wyeths.  In fact, last Sunday when she took the foto, she inadvertently wandered onto Wyeth land;  after she snapped these shots, she was asked to leave.  The foto below shows the current Half Moon replica leaving Rondout Creek about a month ago.  A  noteworthy event that happened on the St George River  400 years ago is that Henry Hudson had his first contact with the native Algonquins, for whom Hudson’s visit was just another in a series of contacts with Europeans that dated back over a century . . . possibly many centuries.  Lamentable is the fact that Hudson’s thoughts on that first contact are unknown.  The existing log entries–written by Half Moon‘s mate–Robert Juet–are unflattering, oblivious to the natives’ perspective.  Whether Hudson subscribed to the same notions as Juet will remain a mystery unless a Hudson journal turns up.


Talking H&H . . . the latter H more relevant here . . . here’s Sandy Hook Pilots’ other station boat, No. 2 New Jersey, built in the province of South Holland by Damen Shipyards.  Info thanks to Les in his comment here.


H&H . . . some of you might consider Henry Hudson just another Eurocentric explorer who, encountering any non-Euro group, would immediately assume his own cultural superiority.  And maybe he was.  But what if he was not.  What if he was so obsessed with his quest for a shorter route to China–a civilization that produced stuff desired by the European consumer–that he was different, that he was willing to see the inhabitants of the beautiful inlet as peers?  Given how things turned out for Hudson, he surely was at odds with much of the crew.  Given how it turned out for the Algonquins, it was unfortunate that Eurocentrics dominated.  Indulge Henry’s thoughts here.

Fotos not taken by Lisa by Will Van Dorp.  Remember, click on a foto to expand it.

Off gallivanting tomorrow.

Check out Ian Chadwick’s Hudson story here.

J . . . jaded. Jaded I am sometimes after being jostled and jerked around, about to be jettisoned into the likes of Newtown Creek.  Like the joke is on me because I’ve given and given more and have’t gotten any.  Done the same things so long I can’t tell if I’m doing them or just dreaming.  It’s rained so long I’ve forgotten what the sun looks like.  I swig some wine and it tastes like water.  I make a lunch, but can’t take more than two bites.  Jaded, humdrum.  Kind of like the Staten Island ferry that ever only shuttles back and forth, back and forth between St George Staten Island and Whitehall Manhattan.

Then a friend tells me he saw the Staten Island ferry up the East River.  Another friend swears she saw it gallivanting up the North River.  Can’t be, I think.  So this morning I see a strange distant vessel east bound on the KVK.


I think . . . that color I know, and


the shape is about right, but  . ..  It turns out this ferry Michael Cosgrove runs on the Long Island Sound.


Once the spell is broken, my eyes are opened.  Bow watch on Zim Shenzhen is a freckle-faced red-headed boy, and


on Turkon Furth is a young woman.  And up on the bridge


is another.  What if –my jaded spell broken –I found myself seeing the unexpected with every glance!


And so many mariners were women that a man on a ship would draw  attention.


Anyhow, the impact of seeing Michael Cosgrove was that I turned . . . from jaded to almost jolly.  Seaweed on rocks turned glossy jade green, and even the water rats, scurrying around their habitat looked a shiny, healthy, happy nuanced gray.  I still had to go to work, but at least for a spell, I felt better.  Stopping by the river on the way to work . . . always a good idea.


All fotos by Will Van Dorp.  Remember . .  click on fotos to expand them now.

Most likely “H” comes tomorrow.

I . . . illusion.  [I know I skipped “H” and trust you’ll understand in a few days.]  Remember, click on a foto to enlarge it.

Illusion . . . bedevils me . . . and lots of other folks.  I sometimes create pain for myself by believing the “truth” I want rather than what my senses (including hearing) tell me.  Clinging to such illusions might confound lots of people;  illusions might also doom groups of people.  “Group-think” has led more than one vessel–real or metaphorical–onto the rocks.

This post is then intended to have fun with potential illusions of the optical sort.  The tall white chimney directly above the house of Pilot No. 1 New York stands at least 300 feet from the vessel.  I tend not to photoshop my fotos, but if I removed the hint of foliage between vessel and chimney set back on the shore,  I could get SeaBart kind of excited.  By the way, what is that chimney?   And, anyone know the place/date of construction of Pilot No. 1 and 2?


While on the topic of pilot boats, recently I caught Yankee and USCG Wire (WYTL 65612)  milliseconds from what appeared to be collision.


Some Native American myth calls the North America continent “turtle island,” since the “bedrock” of the  continent was in fact a gigantic turtle where a hapless “sky woman” had created a new life for herself.  In the foto below, a clamshell dredge seems to fill a vast barge on which a metropolis with a skyline greatly resembling Manhattan’s also exists.  I guess that could suggest “barge island” as a synonym for that boro.


I’m an admirer of Don Sutherland’s fotos and sense of humor.  Twice in the past year, using the magic (ok . .  illusion) of juxtaposition, he has created fun compositions.  In one, Ruth Reinauer seems to have the Statue of Liberty loaded onto its afterdeck.  In another, an unidentified tug seemed to carry a zigzag ladder on its boatdeck to reach grant access to the Weehawken cliff.  Here’s my version:  a ladder from the top of buoy 13 almost directly to Franklin Reinauer‘s upper house.


Finally, (and NO this blog is not transforming into a pet gallery but if my friend Peter can link to a LOLcats version of Moby Dick, then I feel licensed to proceed) the foto below shows the same green bird that appeared so regal and calm in yesterday’s post.  The image is a video still showing said-bird’s displeasure with a video camera.  Might this illusion give rise to a sixth boro version of the Montauk monster?  Which is the true nature of the bird–this view or yesterday’s.  Or . . . am I my truer self on one of my best–or worst–days?  Maybe the possible choice is just the real illusion.


All fotos here by Will Van Dorp except the one of the illusory evil parrot, taken by Elizabeth.

G . . . gee!  Grog, galley, green flash, gaff, and my favorite . . . gallivant, which I don’t do nearly enough.  The sixth boro encompasses two bays, spots named Gravesend and Gowanus.  Available for charter is a small boat called Big G and


and yesterday a Torm “super ice” tanker named Gotland Marieann


lightered onto the DBL 32 attached to Taurus.


Falcon sporting some new green paint sidled up to Sea Raven.  Anyone know if Allied Transportation has a website?


If you return to yesterday’s post, I mentioned a tanker named Altius having a ghostly shape;  here that tanker close up and


and then still closer up.  E-ships lists launch date on Altius as 2004. Ghostly . . . or maybe ghastly paint job, especially the partial obscuring of the a previous name.  I can’t figure what it used to be.


Fantasmic  name.    By the way, Big G used to be called Launch 13, named for Patrolman M. Mercer.

Seven days of meditations have ground away at me.  Gotta draw from a different well for a few days.  Remember, click on a foto to enlarge it.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Oh . . . I will get grief for the foto below:  the glossy green bird from Equinox,which seems never to disappear from my top posts.


F . . . fantastic or fabulous . . . as in it might exist but if I hadn’t seen it or read it in a reliable source, I’d think it of the realm of fantasies  and fantasms, i.e., incredible stuff.

Take Fractor, maybe aka GLDD’s Drill Boat No. 8, which has hidden on my header “logo” from Day 1 of this blog. Tug beside it is Melvin E. Lemmerhirt.  I admit  this is a poor quality foto, but what’s interesting is that “drill” here means creating a hole into which dynamite charges are set and then detonated for gross overburden removal, said charges having previously resided on the boat.   Safety redundancy has undoubtedly been built into drill boats, but 80 years ago  drill boat J. B. King exploded in the St. Lawrence with deadly effect.   More great GLDD vessel fotos here, including how cutter suction dredge vessels manage to move across oceans to new jobs.  If you know how to arrange a visit to the GLDD yard, please email me.


While on topic of fantastic dredge vessels, I caught this approaching the Narrows yesterday.  And what is it?  Mining equipment, I learned;  sand mining happens in various channels leading into the sixth boro.  Sand mining, as I understand it, entails keeping channels clear as well as collecting a resource to sell to the construction trade, i.e., sand.  I have more fotos of this unit including the tug, appropriately named  Sandmaster, but I haven’t found much info about it.  In the foto, notice the outline of the West Bank Lighthouse off Sandmaster‘s port, and a ghostly shape of tanker Altius, off starboard, or maybe it is.  Sand mining . . . the term reminds me of that scene in the first Star Wars movie, surface on the planet Tatooine, which was and then was no more.


More dredging fantasms  . . . I believe these disassembled parts once made up the cutter head featured here and then rendered in Bowsprite’s water color here.


Just as the cutter head looks as toothy as the toothiest of lophiiforms, so the roofless walls of Bannerman’s Castle with masonry-studded crenelation appear as fantastically hyper-architecture expected only  in video games.


Thanks to Jed for the foto below.  Suppose you spotted a house traveling upriver, like here off Croton Point.  I’d study it through the binoculars, then probably rub my eyes, check that I count exactly 10 fingers on my hands, then look back in the direction of the house to see if it was still there.  By the way, anyone know the tug?  Jed got no VHF response or identification.


Now suppose your first-ever view of a tanker were from this angle.  Then someone asked you to draw Eagle Baltimore.  Wouldn’t you draw it as a roundish tub with very little freeboard?  I’d never imagine it to be over 800 feet long.


And finally, this foto comes thanks to Bowsprite also . . . if you saw a sky like this in a movie, wouldn’t you just assume the color and texture fake, special effects?  But fantastic as  it may appear, what you see here is what we sixth boro denizens saw just a few weeks ago.

aaafcloudThe worst fantasms, though, are ones where you think someone exists, some feelings are felt, some history has happened . . . and no one, none, nothing is, and maybe never did.  I can’t even show a foto of those, the ones that rattle me most.

All fotos unless otherwise attributed by Will Van Dorp.  Cameras provide evidence  that eyes did or didn’t see; remember to double-click on a foto to double its size.

E . . . enigmas.  I encounter many in my daily walkabout.  Although I  understand what happens if I don’t pay bills and what to do when I see a fury of red lights in my rear view mirror AND I understand “No” or “Oui” or “Sayonara” or their opposites, I rub shoulders and bump heads with lots of enigmas.   Sometimes I fail to understand my boss, my best friends, certainly the parrot living in my house, and even myself.  But if I had another life to live, I’d make it my business early on to understand engines.  My brother works on truck diesels and seems just to love them.  Some of you know tugboat engines well, but then others of you  have never seen one.

So here are a few.  Pegasus, which you’ve seen here and here.

aaaae2Cornell, which you’ve seen here and here.


Orion, which you saw here and now works in Boston.  Notice the polished aluminium head covers!  For a similar engine room, see Fred Tug 44‘s fotos here.


This is the block of an engine that once powered a 150 . . . or so foot tanker that sank;  it was salvaged and will someday provide parts for a repurposed work vessel that might just catch your eye in the sixth boro one of these years.


Decreasing in size seems to decrease the enigmatic value of engines for me;  this relatively small Deere diesel powers Onrust when it moving without wind power.


I’m guessing the huge block just behind the crewman in the center of the foto is a transmission rather than an engine;  the block along with the assembly and head supported by the gigantic chain all submerge when this dredge assembly is lowered into its work environment, the bedrock beneath the sixth boro.  For a charming watercolor of the business end of this unit done in boiled crawdad red,  see Bowsprite‘s latest here.

aaaae1Having called engines enigmatic doesn’t of course preclude my using them.  Something I really don’t understand is computers and the internet and cell phones and flip cameras . . .  and yet . . .  (Double click on a foto here and it enlarges;  I learned that today with ZeeBart’s help.)    If you know stuff about these or other engines, please share.  If you’ve a lot to say and fotos to go with, email me and you can do a guest post . . . fame and glory and big bucks . . . maybe even.  Otherwise,  engine room beauty shots . . . please send them.  From Steve, see the world’s largest diesel (maybe) here:  89′ long by 44′ high and generating up to 108,000  horsepower.

If you’ve never seen the engine room of a tugboat before, would you have expected a “white room?”

One things these fotos don’t represent is the deafening noise, but one of these days soon, I’m going to learn how to make these fotos talk and roar and maybe even sing in French.  Eh bien!  Till then, check out this tour of Moran tug Cape Cod‘s engine room.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

OK, so I’m a curious blogger who  looks in on a world I don’t really inhabit, a set of professions I wish to know more about than I do, a realm where I might re-engage.  If I’d made different decisions years ago, I could have been this crewman, almost lost among the steel members of bow and crane at the dock where President Polk will discharge and accept containers with goods worth millions.  I’m guessing he’s a docking pilot, sixth boro crew as opposed to Polk crew.  Might some of Polk crew be asleep as their vessel docks, here at Howland Hook?


I might have come to work the clamshell dredge this morning on this crew boat.  Or I could have been boat crew bringing these dredgers to their job site.  English is strange sometimes:  crew boat just isn’t the same as boat crew.  The tug there is Miss Gill.  More Gill and dredge fotos soon.  Is Gill a day crew only boat?


When Grimaldi Lines Repubblica di Amalfi came through the Narrows the other morning, I first saw a RORO container ship painted the same bright yellow as  . . . a Ferrari or a Fiat.  Well, maybe less glossy.  But I didn’t think of the crew:  how many, what life stories and dramas and talents, what nationalities.  But as the vessel came closer, I noticed the bow


had five guys visible.  They were taking in the sunrise as I was.  (I’m trying to figure out how to upload fotos such that when you click on them, they enlarge, but I don’t have it yet.)  The closest guy wearing a chartreuse life vest had a phone to his ear.  Talking to whom and where, I wondered.  I’d certainly call friends and special friends all over the city just to say I was back in the sixth boro, but could he even get off the ship?


About the same time into the harbor came this beautiful tanker, Orange Wave, carrying my favorite drink fresh from groves in Brazil.  And the Orange Wave crew, what color uniforms do you suppose they wear?


But who is he?  How many trips between Santos and Newark has he made?


Robbins Reef . . . I could be wrong, but I’m guessing what we see here is the entire crew, one man sitting at the wheel.  Correct me if I’m wrong.


And the crewman of Falcon standing beside the railing near the stern of the barge, how many fellow crewmen are on the tug?


As Miriam Moran with white protective sheet over the rubber pudding  trailed a cruise ship into port last weekend, a crewman looked upriver maybe at the stern of the cruise ship, resting on the warm H-bitt.


This is one of my favorites and I posted a different shot in the series a few days ago:  one crewman of Gramma Lee T Moran working out on a rowing machine while hundreds of people on the cruise ship look on.  Does he realize he appears to be such a spectacle.  Of course, you say, those folks were looking at Manhattan, not the crewman, and I know that.


My point:  crew is crew.  They’re not passengers, family, friends, staff, associates, castmates, colleagues, teammates, partners . . . I could go on.  Crew.  They’re crew.

If I were crew, there’d be gains and losses.  I’d know some of the answers to questions like those raised, but I wouldn’t see myself or my vessel in its entirety the way I can now.  On the other hand, I’d see the world from it, see the insides.  Gain some, lose some.  Makes it hard.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp since July 1, 2009.

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