You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2011.

What does 63 degrees in February look like?   After a snowy and cold stretch since late December as documented here . . . and a gusty November here, the harbor exudes an otherworldly moodiness as Charles D. McAllister moves a car float into the rail dock over by BAT.    Doubleclick enlarges most fotos.

Foto taken from the fishing pier in Owls Head.

Fisherman and crabbers in the Bay –come sunshine or sleet–can take off some layers and roll up their sleeves.  Note Pier 6 in the background, and appearance  of Staten Island as a Downeast maritimes village.

Likewise, crews on service boats in the harbor, like Becky Ann here southbound on the Arthur Kill and passing Howland Hook, have an easier time than a week or so back.

Vega Nikolas, here south bound past Hoffman Island meets

more fishing vessels and Ludwigshafen Express, itself on its way into MOT Bayonne.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp lst Thursday and Friday, who’s elated that another six weeks might bring scenes like these, if Chuck can be believed.

A big smile covers my face now.  Call me Jane (or Call me, Jane.)  Address me as “sixth borough president and historian” if you like;  I don’t cost taxpayers anything.

Three weeks ago just before I headed for work, an email popped onto my screen from Alexis Mainland.  She explained she does a NYTimes column called “New York Online” and wanted to profile “Tugster.”   The 30-minute telephone interview lasted for a fun hour, and Alexis Mainland’s good questions yielded a fine article here (already online and in the Metropolitan section of 2/20/2011 Sunday’s paper) .  If you read it online and wish to leave a comment on the Times site, please do so.

Since the article mentions some of my “offices,”  I pasted in this map; click on it anywhere to make it interactive.  You can follow Richmond Terrace starting westward  from the northeast corner of Staten Island, a locality called St. George.  The dotted lines in the water leading to St. George reflect the Staten Island Ferry route to Manhattan’s Whitehall.  Richmond Terrace offers great views of the Kill Van Kull, the curvy strip of water separating Staten Island from Bayonne, NJ.  If you follow Richmond Terrace to the west, past the Bayonne Bridge and Shooter’s Island, you see a strip of green on the Elizabethport, NJ side called Arthur Kill Park, another of my “offices.”

Seriously, the article gets it and takes the “sixth boro”  seriously, and I’m grateful for that.  I think it’s important that we be cognizant of  the seminal value of the harbor and its pivotal role in this becoming a metro area of 20 million people.  Out of 192 countries on the face of the earth today, 135 have a smaller population than metro NYC!

Last summer thanks to a passage to Philadelphia I made on Gazela, I finally read Harvey Oxenhorn’s Tuning the Rig.  Gazela fotos here and here (scroll thru).  Here’s a favorite section of the book, in which Oxenhorn describes an encounter with a Greenland family in Nuuk (Gothab), and he locks eyes with a young woman standing with her daughter and husband:

“When those eyes met mine, she realized I was staring at her.  She stared back and then began to laugh.  That got me laughing too.  My presence was a bit preposterous.  But not unwelcome; they had joy to spare.  Soon everyone picked up on the joke and joined in.  They laughed at me looking;  I laughed at their laughing while watching me laugh.  I laughed.  They laughed.  We laughed together until the reasons for the laughing were forgotten and the only thing that mattered was the pure free pleasure of it all.”

Doing this blog and getting your comments and support gives me that “pure free pleasure.”  And if you learn something from the blog, great because I learn several things every day from it as well.  And if you wish to  disagree with or add to anything I write, send a comment or a private email.  And I love it when you send along fotos or suggestions about posts.  Huzzah the NYTimes.  Huzzah the sixth boro!

I last used this title over three years ago, and every day  since then, fuel has flowed through the harbor, as blood through healthy veins.  And it will keep on doing so by an impossibly wide array of vessels.  Below, yesterday afternoon the 1934-launched ship Kristin Poling pushes over 21,000 barrels of oil in the direction of the 1931-opened Bayonne Bridge.   Kristin‘s destination COULD lead it through the ice-choked waters up the Hudson, captured here less than a month back by Paul Strubeck.  Part of what the foto below says to me is the immense care and maintenance in keeping both these harbor icons in use.

Lucy Reinauer pushes the 2008-launched RTC 83 southbound on the Arthur Kill.  Lucy was launched from Jakobson’s in Oyster Bay in 1973 and since then has borne all the following names: Texaco Diesel Chief, Star Diesel Chief, Morania No 5, May McGuirl. I’d love to see a foto of her when first launched.

Lois Ann L. Moran (2009) pushes barge  Philadelphia out toward the Newark Bay portion of the sixth boro.  The destination of the fuel beyond that I can only guess at.

As an indication of changes in scale over the decades, load capacity of barge Philadelphia is 118,000 barrels, relative to Kristin Poling‘s  . . .21,000 and a bit.

Fuels moved through the harbor have a range of users:  Vane’s Doubleskin 301 moves in to fuel container vessel NYK Delphinus even before containers start moving off the ship.

Maneuvering 301 is not a Vane tug but Dann Marine’s East Coast.

All fotos in the past 48 hours by Will Van Dorp, who is convinced that millions of dollars will go to whomever figures out how to move food and retail goods through the sixth boro to the consumer as efficiently as all our fuels already are.  All fotos were taken from Arthur Kill Park in Elizabeth, NJ.

This foto comes compliments of Lauren Tivey, a poet from Vermont College of Fine Arts.  Question:  where/what?   Note the person in doorway just behind the lion “figurehead.”  Answer below.

Since my goal here is to post unexpected fotos, enjoy this shot of the befigured Patty Nolan, a unique tug itself towing something different last summer.

Behold the sixth boro’s own Dal Lake or Sausalito or Lake Union.    Guess where?

Behold the glorious Gowanus!

And some of its exotic fauna.

These last three fotos come compliments of intrepid paddler Vladimir Brezina, whose fotos have appeared here, among other places.

Lauren’s foto at the top is a restaurant on a barge on West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province . . . just south of Shanghai.

Other than the anchor chain scars, what struck me about this vessel was the apparent lack of a bulbous bow and the long straight lines of depth marks:  red coating changes to blue at 47.’   Any idea on cargo?

If that’s graffitti around the  plimsoll marks, then this is the first time I ever noticed it on a commercial vessel in the sixth boro.  Work boats are remarkably free of the paint pirates that mark land structures like rail stock and all manner of non-moving walls.

Vessel so-marked was MTM Westport (ex-Chemical Venture and Chemstar Eagle).  She does look “MT” and riding high (Sorry, I couldn’t resist). Launched in 2000, she is listed as having a Burmese and Russian crew, and in this foto from almost a year ago, that mark is already present.    Alexa J crabs away.

Sorry for the fuzzy foto, but this vessel’s intriguing name compels me:  Sextans, ex-Overseas Sextans.  I am curious.  I imagine . . . let me see . .  there are farmers tans, bathing suit tans, etc.  Or let’s compare Teva tans and then sex tans.  Or maybe, maybe the painting of the attempted name “Six Tens” was performed by students of the type Richard Lederer mentions who think “Abraham Lincoln became America’s greatest Precedent. Lincoln’s mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin which he built with his own hands.”  Many more such bloopers here.

Another shot of Ipanema leaving the sixth boro on Saturday morning.   Homer uses the phrase “wine-dark sea” repeatedly in the Iliad and Odyssey, but here, I see an unmistakeable lager-bright dawn.

Enjoy a piece of “my”  MOL Partner.

Have you figured out the cargo in Irida, the vessel in the top foto above?

Salt.  Oh, and the name of the vessel  . . .  it’s a translation of the word for my favorite blue flower of the lowlands . . .

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Featured many times on this blog:  McAllister Responder (ex-Exxon Empire State, Empire State) launched in 1967 in Jacksonville.  Note the deckhand’s communication.  If my info is correct, then ghosts

live there today.  Here’s a haunting timeline and set of b/w fotos.  That’s tanker Lian An Hu in the background.

Weeks tug Robert (ex-Emily S, 1982) stands by Crane Barge 532 in midstream off the Financial District, awaiting more “erosion mats.”

Austin Reinauer (1978, ex-Mobil 5, Morania No. 1, Tamarac) heads across from the KVK toward Erie Basin.

Jill Reinauer (1967, ex-Ranger)  southbound past Ellis Island, the place the Lenape knew as Kioshk . . . or Gull Island.

Peter F. Gellatly (delivered just over a year ago)  heads in the same direction as Jill Reinauer.

Eagle Service (ex-Grant Candies, 1996) and crabber Alexa J off the wintry dunes of  “Konstapel’s Hoeck.”

Jakobson-built, 1967   Ruby M, ex-Texaco Fire Chief, pushing fuel barge Fire Island.  Now if you didn’t know this to be the name of local geography, wouldn’t such a name as “fire island” make you nervous?

Lincoln Sea, used to be blue, anchored off Red Hook a few days ago.  Off to the left, Moran barge Massachusetts anchors.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Teaser:  When you get to the last foto in this post, you’ll see a foreign icebreaker operating on the Hudson, but I believe the assigned registry is wrong.

I almost called this “maritime monday morning after ….”    I’d rather think of it as a fashion shoot given the sopping right side of my middleparts below, but for full disclosure, neither I nor the guffawing bowsprite to my left spilled the delicious beer onto my lap. But you’ll have to decide on a caption.

Some suggestions might relate to the hazards of having uncapped liquids on a table in an establishment old enough to be haunted by poltergeists  OR strange rituals among waterbloggers seeking solace from seasonal affective disorder OR the hazards of drawing SUCH lifelike figures on a tablecloth and talking about them (in recollection of last summer’s adventures) that they might twitch … because a shark’s tail MIGHT just spasm and flick.   Truth be told, Brooklyn lager rained down off the side of the   table and I didn’t immediately standup because the downpour by then was over and soaked through my winterchill layers.

Previous accounts of our “conference” left out  the miracle of our putting the  Earmaid to work carrying beer or handing out coasters decals . . . OMG . . . those were DECALS, folks!!   It also failed to mention

how lively the shark became when a drawing of the east end of Long Island sprouted teeth . . .  north and south fork transforming into upper and lower jaw seemed somewhat menacing to the otherwise confident porbeagle.    Thanks to Carolina Salguero for these fotos.

Saturday morning after . . .  I was there to catch the sweet sashay of Ipanema heading to sea  (and then to Savannah) into the dawn between the Narrows and the Highlands a dozen miles away.  “When she moves it’s like a samba that swings so cool and sways so gently . . . ” yeah . . . that’s what I thought walking in the morning yellow and feeling truly blessed.  Doubleclick enlarges here and the next.

Maybe you wonder why I hang my free time on the water and blog about it . . .  I wonder that too sometimes, often in fact, and just conclude it’s what I do to feel happy . . . corny, maybe but true.

The water that is the sixth boro is many things to many folks:  an obstacle, a place of employment, a zone to regulate, a playpen.  For me, it’s a teacher and guide, a mentor whose help and consolation I sometimes need, a place where I’ve found many rewarding friendships . . . yeah . ..  with humans.   (Like the one who sent the last foto on this post . . . not the foto below, which shows Eagle Atlanta and Eagle Beaumont, slightly nearer, older and smaller of the two, at anchor in the vicinity of the Narrows.)

OK, that “foreign icebreaker” was represented to me as Norwegian.  And I fell for it in Dave’s email subject line . . . even though I’ve seen this guy on several other blogs previously.

I beg to differ . . .  the lines and attitude convince me this icebreaker must be Dutch.    And here I issue a challenge . . . how about a series of fotos of such water denizens as . . .  maybe more Dutch icebreakers, a Chinese submarine, a Welsh dredge . . .  help me out here.

Fotos 3 through 6 by Will Van Dorp, and the foto 7 . . .  sent to me by a friend but watermarked to

Totally related to today:  bowsprite redux for V-Day.

I promise some wilder pics from the Waterblogger Fest of the other night, but for now. . . .  I spotted so much pink and red as I strolled along the west side of Manhattan . . .   on my way to the fest that I presume some thing must be afoot.  To understand, of course I headed for the water.  AIS said to expect the vessel below.  AIS is a fantastic tool, because if I’d monitored only the VHF, I would have heard  “mole partner.”    And the possibilities for this boggles the mind, starting with Kenneth Grahame character with fur . . . to some sort of spy.  Greetings, MOL Partner.  Doubleclick enlarges most fotos.

Last year I experienced Affinity.  Partnerings are ubiquitous:  like here, many thin single wires do one strong wire rope make.

Ditto fibers of other materials conjoined in whatver which fashion as a single line.

Many rocks do

one long-lived weir define, like this one from Cherokee County, Georgia.

Making many into one defines this structure as well, but otherwise I have no clue what means this assemblage in Philadelphia’s Wissahickon Creek.

Today I salute all my partners of all sorts.  Thank you for keeping me afloat, thanks for being a part in one way or another.

All fotos in the past half year by Will Van Dorp, who found no pink or red ships in the bay yesterday.

By the way, would a “mole partner” be one who… like a groundhog … only emerges now and again unpredictably?

When January has ended and winter still holds us in its icy grip, some folks around the sixth boro get together and engage in group therapy to exorcise the  demons of  cold and isolation.  Here and here are previous sessions.

Here’s a group shot of those seeking solace from the debilitation of February fevers and agues last evening at the Ear Inn about 8 pm.

Frogma, who issued the convocation to gather, launches into the treatment:  evoke summer future  and

conjure up villains of summers past, no

matter how toothy.

There’s always next summer, when spirits will be again youthful and carefree,


Here’s Adam’s account of last night.  Besides Frogma and TQ, also representing different takes on the sixth boro last night were Carolina of PortSide NewYork, Peconic Puffin, Rick Old Salt, John and Vicky (who drew the mermaid above) of Summit to Shore, Bowsprite (who shaded in the shark and breathed life into it) , and yours truly (whose fingers extruded the outline of the shark, as if from tribal memory of terror).

And this just in:  Puffin Michael’s version of the events.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp .  . who was particularly geography-challenged last night.

D … as in departure …  moment 00:00 for me, the observer with a camera over on the other side of the Kill, fascinated.    This foto is an arbitrary starting point for this series.  I love it about digital fotos that snap-time is recorded in the file.  By this instant, crew on Torm Carina have Margaret Moran‘s towline on.

00:03   Three seconds later, the same crew makes their way forward to stand by at Torm Carina‘s forward docklines.

00:45  45 seconds later, crew is standing by.

01:07   Just over a minute later, shore crew stands by to release the line on command.

15:40  Note that 15 minutes in, bow lines have been released and taken aboard the tanker. Margaret Moran throttles up to take slack out of the tow line.

17:21  A little later Joan Moran throttles up to move tanker stern away from the the dock.

19:16  Pilot and tanker crew monitor from the starboard bridge wing.

19:25  Margaret’s crew maintains a slow steady pressure.

21:38  I’ve no clue why this member of crew is stationed here, maybe he’s just taking a break, standing by.  My attention gets drawn to people, though.

26:40  Tanker has left the dock area and is proceeding westbound on the KVK.

30:22  Tanker passes R. H. Tugs with Margaret and Joan as escorts.

These fotos were taken on 1/27/2011 by Will Van Dorp.  As of this writing on 2/11/2011, Torm Carina is off Galveston, where … at sunrise today, Friday, the air temperature is not that much different than it is in NYC.

Realizing my role as outsider here, I know there’s a lot I don’t see, which reminds me of Mark Twain’s brilliant observations in “Two Views of the River.”   (…) mean I’ve taken liberties and edited Twain, for which I hope to get some forgiveness from Mr. Clemens.

“…when I had mastered the language of this water … every trifling feature that bordered the great river… , I had made a valuable acquisition. But I had lost something, too … which could never be restored to me …. All the grace, the beauty, the poetry, had gone …! I still keep in mind a certain wonderful sunset which I witnessed when steamboating was new to me. A broad expanse of the river was turned to blood; in the middle distance the red hue brightened into gold, through which a solitary log came floating black and conspicuous; in one place a long, slanting mark lay sparkling upon the water; in another the surface was broken by boiling, tumbling rings, that were as many-tinted as a opal; where the ruddy flush was faintest, was a smooth spot that was covered with graceful circles and radiating lines, ever so delicately traced; the shore on our left was densely wooded, and the somber shadow that fell from this forest was broken in one place by a long, ruffled trail that shone like silver; and high above the forest wall a clean-stemmed dead tree waved a single leafy bough that glowed like a flame in the unobstructed splendor that was flowing from the sun. There were graceful curves, reflected images, woody heights, soft distances; and over the whole scene, far and near, the dissolving lights drifted steadily, enriching it every passing moment with new marvels of coloring.

I stood like one bewitched. I drank it in, in a speechless rapture. The world was new to me, and I had never seen anything like this at home.

But as I have said, a day came when I began to cease from noting the glories and the charms which the moon and the sun and the twilight … upon the river’s face; another day came when I ceased altogether to note them. Then, if that sunset scene had been repeated, I should have … should have commented upon it in … this fashion: ‘This sun means that we are going to have wind tomorrow; that floating log means that the river is rising, small thanks to it; that slanting mark on the water refers to a bluff reef which is going to kill somebody’s steamboat one of these nights, if it keeps on stretching out like that; those tumbling ‘boils’ show a dissolving bar and a changing channel there; the lines and circles in the slick water over yonder are a warning that that troublesome place is shoaling up dangerously; that silver streak in the shadow of the forest is the ‘break’ from a new snag, and he has located himself in the very best place he could have found to fish for steamboats; that tall dead tree, with a single living branch, is not going to last long, and then how is a body ever going to get through this blind place at night without the friendly old landmark?’

… the romance and beauty were all gone from the river. All the value any feature of it had for me now was the amount of usefulness it could furnish toward compassing the safe piloting of a … boat. Since those days, I have pitied doctors from my heart. What does the lovely flush in a beauty’s cheek mean to a doctor but a “break” that ripples above some deadly disease? … Does he ever see her beauty at all, or doesn’t he simply view her professionally, and comment upon her unwholesome condition all to himself? And doesn’t he sometimes wonder whether he has gained most or lost most by learning his trade?”     (1883)

And I will content myself to see this from the other side . . . .

Unrelated but reminiscent:  See a C tractor close up on Mage’s Postcards.  Thanks, Mage.

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Graves of Arthur Kill

Click on image below 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.


February 2011
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