You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2009.

Like most folks’ personal trajectories, mine arcs through unlikely sequences, unpredictable turns.  Before moving here, I lived in coastal northeast Massachusetts and southeast New Hampshire for 15 years.  I might be biased, but modern lobsterboats, I still think, are beauties.  The sixth boro needs a dozen lobsterboats to enhance the diversity of vessels working here; of course, I don’t know what work they would do. 

Here are some fotos taken very recently in Portsmouth, New Hampshire,

Gloucester (Choice made with Peter Mello in mind),

Seabrook (I needed to fit a tugboat in here) ,

Seabrook again and

again and


and yet again.

I  just love them.  Some background links here on two places synonymous with wooden square-sterned lobsterboat construction:  Beals Island once and Beals Island again.   A good although slightly dated book is Mike Brown’s The Great Lobster Chase

Some interesting short videos from GoodMorningGloucester follow:  lobsterman venting about snapping two wooden davits in three days and talking about his new steel replacement

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

One more link:  check out Gloucester’s answer to the Rockerfeller Center Christmas tree, a NYC tradition begun by construction workers back in 1931.

After bidding farewell to the fine folks and selkie of Gloucester, Bowsprite and Tugster left the site of the famed Sean Dive and headed around the corner to Essex to visit the historic Burnham yard, place of a recently started blog Boatbuilding with Burnham and

birthplace of 4000 schooners, including the current resident of the sixth boro known as Lettie G. Howard .

Our mission was to investigate the prolific sawdust output in Essex, daunting research requiring breaks between work.

After seeking high and

and low, we found it.  I felt silly not knowing how a riverbank  winding through the Essex marsh can produce thousands of finely-crafted wooden ships without generating heaps of sawdust!  After all, long ago I’d read and reread Gordon Thomas’ Fast and Able.

With this task completed, another identical twin of Bowsprite appeared, astride the tiller and protected by the pinked stern, offering to whisk us away to the next aspect of our mission.

Many thanks to the Burnham family.  Bowsprite’ and Tugster’s saga continues;  after all, some things Tugster can just NOT find by or for himself, ya know.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Unrelated:  something’s in the “whaata” (as Bowsprite’s identical twin would say)  here and here.

A brief update from Gloucester:  Bowsprite and I traveled up there to investigate reports of sightings of Bowsprite’s identical twin.  Sure enough, we found reported twin working away at Captain Joe & Sons lobster dock.  Captain Joe & Sons is also home to GoodMorning Gloucester, also the source of the reported swimming twin.

home of some very handsome crustaceans aka Homaris, but

as we approached the brown-jacketed employee, fright swept across her face and she leapt

into the inner harbor, disappearing underwater only to re-emerge some minutes later on the other side to chat with some “homie” gulls about

whatever they had to sort out through intense discussion.

Some time later, and possibly after a fresh underwater meal, said identical twin returned to resume her work.

Bowsprite and I (and Monkeyfist) thanked Captain Joey and all the good, hospitable folks (like Frank,  Paul and Jay)  of Gloucester for their warm reception (Thanks again).  Then the yin and yang of the sixth boro continued

on their mission.  More of that soon.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp, except the last, which was snapped by a timer.

Here’s a great set of Gordon Bok songs, well worth the 9+ minutes.

is actually a euphemism for “catching up,” which is all that’s on my plate today.  Like a month ago, I intended to put up a link to a west coast tugboat blog.  So here it is:  fremonttugboat.

Otherwise, this post comes from scrolling back through fotos I’ve taken (and not used, I think) since late spring 2009.  Try it yourself:  Put up your number of images (your fotos, else’s, your drawings, else’s) and comment on their place in your life.  Go back your chosen length of time, et voila, you have your very own retrospective!

Communication:  nothing fancy here as the deck keeps eye on work and skipper while the skipper pokes head out the window to see and hear.  Makes for clear communication, without which we in any endeavor  face peril.

aaarb3Community:  it takes a strong bond between several rivertowns and watersheds to build a boat.  If I squint, I see this motely corps of volunteers literally carrying Onrust to the water on their shoulders.    Ok, I squint hard.

aaarb4Comraderie:  Harold and a thousand other folks have acted as comrades in my life, and I am grateful to you all.  Gracias y merci buckets!

aaarb5Contentment:  or “peace” if you will.  What matters it that this man is sitting where he finds it;  it matters not that he’s across from a huge oil depot and a dredged waterway allowing ingress and egress for dozens of billions of dollars or ducats of goods each year.  Here he is content.  Like someone I know who spent weeks living beside refinery and tolerating it by imagining the hiss and roar emanated from a pristine jungle waterfall.

aaarb7Charm:  the Hudson River Valley happens to be a place of profound beauty and it mesmerizes me.  But the eye of the beholder generates a portion of that charm.  Open eyes will find it anywhere and in everything.  A resident of this Valley published THAT BOOK on this date in 1851 . Know which one?  Answer at end.

aaarb6Curiosity:  the sixth boro is a complex place geographically, historically, … you or I could continue this list.  Here, like anywhere, it seems the more you notice, the less time remains to wonder about all the new things.  What is this cove called over just north of Fresh Kills?  Writing on vessels from foreground to back say RTC1, Crow, Relentless, and Cedar Marina.  Does a road lead here?


More curiosity:  What is this vessel that traversed to the north in front of Bowsprite’s cliff this summer?  What cargo did it transport?  What time warp did it emerge from?


Craziness: since writing about faces as prompted by the Robert brothers tome, I’ve had a blast with this.  This one . . . an orange boar (not bore) with tusks in place of dolly partons.  May some craziness–and a sense of humor about it– be evident everywhere.


Constancy:  1965  Near the St. Lawrence Seaway my father took this foto of a 13-year-old who became tugster.  I was already out tracking down info for the yet-to-be blog back then, way before blogs, digital cameras, computers of the ilk we know.  Some stuff doesn’t change.  Shouldn’t disappear.


It’s unrealistic to stop after a half dozen fotos, but . . . discipline is imposed.

My last post fer a while . . .gone fishing for something.  See you in a few with new tales.  Sindbad calls us to muster.   I tried unsuccessfully to find a Gordon Bok video-version of this, but this and this . . . a nice  innocent feel too.

All fotos, except the ones by bowsprite and my father, by Will Van Dorp.

Moby Dick. Thanks, Herman.  And apropos of nothing in particular except nature, see this video.

. . . actually I wanted to call this “Ida don’t exist,” at least not as a hurricane, as remnant winds tore through the sixth boro in the past 24 hours . . .  I’d guess we saw barely a moderate gale, force 6 to 7?  Dangerous enough, and from the breakers I spotted looking southeast from the high point on the VZ Bridge, seas to take seriously out in the Ambrose Channel and beyond.


But sludge still needs shifting,


ships with prophetic names have to be sent packing,


Mount Salt requires tending,


chemicals transfusions must flow,


contents of many  hundreds of containers cannot be done without.  Bruce A. McAllister escorts.


Danaos Maersk Messologi‘s bow watch stands his station, as


only 18 or so hours are allotted to the task.


Robert IV (1975) also has work to do, and so do I.  Ida has mostly blown herself out and that has


all the difference.  Now Odin . . . the ultimate “house” to avoid windage!

aaaaaiAnd speaking of windage and waves, check this out:  barge La Princesa broke free from Sentry off Virginia Beach while bound from Puerto Rico for Philadelphia area.  Another job for Titan?   Slideshow thanks to Harold and YouTube thanks to Joel.

I’m off gallivanting soon, following Ida downeast, from a distance.  “If the sun were shining, I’d’a gone today.”

Here’s to three-word sentences:  Ida don’t exist.  Ha!  like “diamonds are forever.” Yeah right.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Names 10 is OK, but Names 9 has more staying power, taps into classical thoughts.  

If I came up behind a vessel with this name, my non-existent Greek would not let me know that


the name is Zim (that part is easy) New York!  Remember, double click to enlarge an image.


Here’s an attractive bulk carrier with a great name that


again . . . from  the stern I’d not recognize.  Time to start studying Greek.  And I thought– besides Greeks–only budding North American theologians would benefit from.


The name here is straight forward, but some mind-changing or dissembling seems afoot with the port of registry.


Check out the comment Rick Old Salt did recently relative to PCTC design on Kennebec Captain’s post here.


I know this fleet borrows names from operas, but I’m not sure I’d be happy to sail the seven seas in vessel whose name stems from a libertine who seduces only to move on and on and on . . . .


and on.  Looks like the rolicking rakish RORO above took a blow to the portside cheek . . . or is that a poorly-pencilled-in moustachio?


Then there’s avid fisherfolk given to cliches. . . I’m mean . . . here’s a place to paint   πόρνη  (Greek or some other relatively arcane script) at least to keep folks wondering.


The bathroom signage here is at least novel . . .  at least I’d never seen it before.


All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Weather in the land areas surrounding the sixth boro has been glorious!  This gleaming white stuff from beneath the earth’s crust has not been needed to


melt equally gleaming white stuff that leads to ice and treachery for car drivers.  For now it’s just stockpiled, hugely heaped


on the location on a wet but delightful fest 10 weeks back.


Ever wonder who runs this company and what the history of the area is?  Check out this very informative article.  It even sports a foto of Mr Mahoney, Atlantic Salt founder.


In various places along the coast–like Chelsea MA and Portsmouth NH–there are similar operations.  In Portsmouth, the piles are called the “white mountains,” an allusion to a range a few hours north of that port.


Salt pirates??  Check out this story.


If you haven’t read Kurlansky’s book on salt; check out a summary/review here.  Some info on the salt carrier KT Venture here.  The second foto was taken on Nov. 11,  two weeks or so after all the others;  notice how high the salt mountain of the KVK has grown.

All fotos here by Will Van Dorp.

Loretta B Moran is not yet ready for a christening, but the shell leaves little to the imagination.  Stuart Pate took these a few weeks back at the Washburn Doughty & Associates yard up in East Boothbay, Maine.


Looking at these newbuilds prompts some questions:  How many tugboats* are there in the world?  How many in the US?  What is the average age of the US fleet?  What is the only country counting MORE tugboats than the US?  Answers at end of post.  (* counting only “seagoing” and greater than 100 gross tons.)  I guess this is a miniTugsterteaser, since you get the answers by the end of the post.  The tug in the water might be Catherine C. Moran.


I’m guessing the other tug-in-progress here is Lizzie B. Moran.


Thanks, Stuart.  Stuart’s fotos were previously  featured here and here.  I love the primer colors!

The numbers are :  13,473, 1489, and 33 years average age.  Country is Indonesia, a nation of 230 million people scatttered over more than 17,000 islands.  The source is Marcon International.

And a followup question:  ever hear of Rufus W King?  According to this article in 1828 it was the first tugboat in the sixth boro . . . possibly anywhere.

Rust never sleeps; nor do fungi.  My first and second posts on this yard are here as one and two;  I’d love to imagine these boats could be restored like this ACF J’Ador III, but mosses and mushrooms are powerful and mahogany though beautiful is vulnerable, and


with neglect,  hardwood turn soft and planks split apart at the seams once so tight.  Wood that began life in Central America or Southern Asia might turn to dust in North America.


Beams and structures lose their strength, their integrity . . .  and


this fleet (1940 Chris Craft 33′ and 1939 ACF)  might never again ride


or be ridden upon, unless love and dollars get lavished upon them.  Some like


this Owens get reprieved and


others (like this 1963 Century Raven) hang in the balance


although once the wood turns fertile for new life, the


old one is lost.  These vessels may be preserved only on old photographs, which themselves are at risk of


leading nowhere if no identifying info is written on the back.  I wonder sometimes as we steer madly into the digital future what will


become of digital images like mine once computers update so much the old files no longer compatible  are as undecipherable as hieroglphics.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp at Miller’s Marina in Lyons, New York.  Telephone number available on google.

Note: the 1940 ChrisCraft in the second foto above has twin K 6-cylinder Hercules.  There’s also a 1964 ChrisCraft Challenger for sale, last in the water three years ago.  $3000.  I’m just the messenger.

For more boats of this type, check boneyard boats.

Labor Day in the sixth boro . . . and now at Lock 28A, Urger‘s winter port.    Near Lyons.  Near my “grow-up” years, where I enjoyed my 40th high school reunion last night.


Urger from the other side of the lock.  Notice the plastic hoods over vent and mast and


weather cap added atop and bronze plaque removed from the stack.


Nose to nose with Urger is HD-1, the cutter head dredge that sank last July in Palmyra and was raised by Titan.


Closer and


closer-up shot of that head.

aau8Lyons . . . farm country.  I just had to.


Here are some fotos I took last spring in the Lyons Canal Corp. yard.

Last foto by Elzabeth Wood;  all previous by Will Van Dorp.

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Graves of Arthur Kill

Click to order your copy of Graves of Arthur Kill, by Gary Kane and Will Van Dorp. 3Fish Productions.

Seth Tane American Painting

Read my Iraq Hostage memoir online.

My Babylonian Captivity

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

Tale of Two Marlins

Blue Marlin spent 600+ hours loading tugs and barges in NYC Sixth Boro. Click on image for presentation made to NY Ship Lore and Model Club, July 25, 2011.


November 2009
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