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You may already have seen Vladimir’s slideshow on Facebook or on Frogma.   You may have read Ian Frazier’s New Yorker article “Seals Return to New York City.”  But this even trumps that:

Small cetaceans hanging out around the Narrows.

I don’t know if it’s a dolphin or a porpoise but it IS exciting.

And if that were not enough, last Sunday Vladimir and Johna also saw

pinnipeds.  I am surprised by the total disregard by these cetaceans and pinnipeds of regulations governing their approach of paddlers.  You’d think they’d show a little restraint, but  . . .

Here’s an interesting video about what NOT to do with wild animals, in this case an ijsbjorn.  Polar bears appeared on this blog once before, thanks to Peter Mello. 

Many thanks to Vladimir for permission to use his fotos from last Sunday.   A previous post featuring Vladimir’s fotos is here.  Click here for more stories on sea creatures that just do NOT follow the rules.

Remember, if you’re in NYC and free tonight . . .  Working Harbor Committee is presenting movie and panel:  Women at Sea.  If I didn’t have to work, I’d be there.

I’ve posted a set of fotos about this vessel here before, but still been unable to learn anything about it.  It lies where Westchester Creek (In fact, click on the link and you’ll see another foto of the same grounded vessel!)  flows into the East River west of the Whitestone Bridge.  And not that I haven’t looked, though it’s clear that my searches have focused on the wrong places.  Uncorroborated stories are these:  it was coming from South America, the owner abandoned a plan to turn Christina or Cristina into a floating restaurant . .  possibly in Philadelphia, it was dropped off there to mark a shoal.  A search of NYTimes archives from 1920 until 1980 turns up nothing about either this grounded vessel or

this one, not far away.

When spring actually gets here and work slows down, I plan to put a human powered vessel in this area and look around more.  Thanks to Robert Apuzzo for these fotos.

But . . . as often happens, I found some interesting info on other groundings in the harbor in the past 80 years . . . yes, one happened in the East River less than two weeks ago, as of this writing.  Some of these include:

May 1927  dreadnought Colorado Diamond Reef*  (between Governors Island and southeastern tip of the  Battery)

Dec 1936  freighter Malang Roosevelt Island, then Welfare Island

Aug 1951 battleship Wisconsin (actually North River near NJ across from 79th Street)

Oct 1955 battleship Wisconsin Diamond Reef

Feb 1970  tanker Desert Princess (ex-Hoegh Grace, 664′)   Mill Rock

Dec 1972  tanker Vitta (659′)  south of Ward Island, spilling 150 tons of oil

April 1979  tanker Algol East River off 10th Street.  If you have a NYTimes subscription, you can read the article here, telling that six Moran tugs came to the assistance of Algol in sprite of the strike then happening.

Apr 28 2005, a gasoline barge struck Diamond Reef, with some spillage.  See here.

Meanwhile, if I don’t find some info on that top wreck, I’ll succumb to all the imagined histories, maybe even embroider them a bit, and call it fiction.  Not so bad, eh?

Unrelated:  Check out this site dedicated to the waterway leading from Rotterdam to the North Sea . . .Maasmond (mouth of the Maas River) Maritime.

Hercules, something new,

Rae (ex-Miss Bonnie)  . . . something as old as I am (launch 1952). And what dock structures is she moving?

OSG Vision pushing OSG 350 . . . something colossal

making the racket of hooves of 12,000 horses’ hooves, not counting (1974-launch)  Jennifer Turecamo‘s contribution.

McAllister Girls . . . and something serene before

Maurania III helps

ruffle that serenity.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

As to that swan in the serene foto above, click here and scroll through for a previous fabulous encounter with a sixth boro swan, one who’ll never sing.

It’s Friday afternoon, and the Upper Bay seems congested . . .  Yano is being spun in the distance as McAllister Responder and McAllister Girls head east and Amy Moran enters the KVK.

Around the same time, here’s a shot of work in the sixth boro bookending the Yano move between my favorite cutterhead and construction at 1 WTC.

Cold, gusty Saturday the same basic area sees Taurus and Davis Sea jointly leveraging DBL 25 into a berth, and  . . .

Duncan Island heads for sea from out behind a dredge spoils scow holding station with Captain D.  Ever wonder why a reefer vessel of the Ecuadorian Line is called Duncan Island?  It’s Duncan Island aka Isla Pinzon, said to be named for the Pinzon brothers who captained the Nina and Pinta of the Columbus fleet.  Here’s a statue of the brothers, quite unknown in North America.

Most congestion as these two Moran groups cross:  left to right, Jean Turecamo, Catherine Turecamo, Scott Turecamo pushing New Hampshire, and Linda Moran pushing Houston.  Minerva Vaso lies at the dock in the distance.

At the end of this post is a video that really shows congestion, but as background, consider these two AIS screen captures, each showing about 2000 square miles.  The one below displays regularly about 100 vessels, whereas

this one .  . .  about 500 vessels.

Now enjoy as much of this 15-minute video as you have time for:  heavy traffic on Nieuwe Waterweg connecting Rotterdam with the North Sea.  Included are at least two container ships–MSC Alexandria and Maersk Edmonton— with three times the capacity of any vessels currently serving the sixth boro aka Port of New York and New Jersey.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

A floating door aka caisson can mean only one thing . . . 

something new is headed into the GMD graving dock.

It’s Yano . . . as in T-AKR-297.  named for Sfc. Rodney J. T. Yano.

Helping with the rotation is Resolute (starboard) and Maurania III, port stern, and

Charles D. McAllister.

Together they spin the vessel as

Freddy Miller stands by.

No dead ship is Yano, as she assists.

Tight as it looks, when the large vessel is

inside the graving dock, about 20′ margin exists on either side.

Thanks to John Watson for the first two shots;  all others by Will Van Dorp.

How many of these tugboats cruising through along the Brooklyn waterfront here can you identify?  One might be as rare as a Mississippi kite soaring over New York.  Answers and more info follows.

And what’s this?  Also a rare film Manhatta (click here to watch the entire 10-minute 1921 silent film) by Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand greets gallery-goers at the Whitney entering “modern Life:  Edward Hopper and his Time.”  Only a few weeks remain to see this, as it closes on April 10.  In this capture from the video, a half dozen steam tugs wrestle RMS Aquitania into a finger pier.  The film becomes tugboat-intensive at the 6:25 point.

Also, Working Harbor Committee presents a rare and exciting documentary followed by a panel discussion THIS Wednesday in New York;  tickets are available here.  I have to work elsewhere that night, but panelists will include my friends Ann Loeding (below) and Jessica Dulong (scroll through), but also

but also many others like Cmdr Linda A. Sturgis.

If you haven’t checked bowsprite’s latest work, check it out here.  What caught my attention other than the actual fantastic drawing was her use of the term “wooden freighter.”  Well, Marion M was built in 1932, and that–from this collage of fotos–was a very different era, a time when freighters could still be wooden vessels.

Back to the first foto of this post:  from left to right and excluding the white vessel in the foreground, it’s Sea Raven, East Coast, and Penn  No. 4 . . . all of which you’ve seen on tugster before . . . and can relocate by typing each name into the search window.  But that black-hulled, white and blue trim vessel in the foreground . . . is Hercules.  I believe she’s a 2011 launch from Washburn & Doughty.

Is it possibly this is her first voyage and that she’s not yet seen the GOM waters where she live?  If so, these are some rare snaps?  Here she heads for the Narrows, Miss Gill behind her and Amy Moran in foreground.  And why do I not recall having seen Amy Moran before?

Fotos of Ann Loeding and Linda A. Sturgis are used by permission from Jonathan Atkin.  All other fotos by Will Van Dorp.

An email from Harold yesterday prompts this post now, starting with this foto he sent me.  It’s Dong Fang Ocean.  Any associations?   A two-word clue is Bligh Reef.

Earlier Harold had sent me fotos of some tugboats operated by South Puerto Rico Towing, ones I missed entirely last week, ones like Mr. Frankie P (ex-El Condor Grande)

seen here again alongside Don Oscar P (ex-Miss Mackenzie and Sea Wolf).

Much newer (newest?) in the South PR Towing fleet is Hector P. I like the paint scheme.

McAllister also keeps some boats in PR, including one I’ve never seen, Brooklyn McAllister (ex-Brooks K. McAllister).  But I’ve got to return there if I want to see them.

Back to Dong Fang Ocean . . .  here’s the source and the identification.  We know it from its notoriety 22 years ago yesterday.   Thanks much, Harold, for catching some important things I miss.

I hope to get out on the sixth boro today  . . .  it seems like I’ve been away for ages.

Some great pics of a self-unloading Oldendorff bulker, Sophie, come our way thanks to John Watson, from his perch high above the sixth boro.  Alice has been around recently as well. 

Sophie delivered salt, since we don’t know how many times winter will resurrect before summer comes.. 

I’m not sure what procedure Siteam Adventurer expected to undergo, but she seems unusually positioned.

Many thanks to John for these fotos.

One of my favorite writers from West Africa compares elders with libraries, how the accumulated experiences of our lives get transformed into living, breathing archives.  Because, for me, Harold Tartell is one such person (though in no way elderly) , I’ve decided to devote a few posts to him.  And he gave me permission to do so. Here he poses at the helm of Sturgeon Bay, WTGB-109;  part of the four years (1966-70) Harold served in the Coast Guard, he broke ice aboard Manitou, WYTM-60 along his native river, the Hudson.

Growing up along the Hudson meant seeing a world now gone, like this vessel SS Santa Paula, fresh off the ways of Newport News Shipbuilding in 1958, make her maiden voyage to New York City by way of Albany.   I have my own connection with this vessel, which Harold does not know about;  I’ll reveal it at the end of this post.

A few days ago I included a note at the end of a post, saying I’d been unable to locate the name of a tug detained in the Tripoli harbor.  A few hours later, an email arrived from Harold with not only the tug name but also this foto below.  My “Asso 22 aka twenty-two” had become Harold’s “Asso Ventidue.”  And he sent not one foto but six!  By the way, have the crew and tug been released?

Here’s another recent unsolicited set from Harold in response to an intriguing foto by Steve Schulte I’d stumbled upon;  the four-engined,

four-stack pushboat made me want to head right over to the Mississippi to have a look for myself, and I will

do this once the weather clears and work gets caught up.  Less than a day later, I got 14 fotos of Federal Barge Line’s behemoth sisters, United States and America.

Harold, I’m publicly thanking you for all the help you’ve freely given over the past four years.  You ARE a living, breathing, AND laughing archive.  And much appreciated.

All fotos above from Harold Tartell.

Now my SS Santa Paula story:  if you’ve been reading this blog awhile, you may have seen the icon on the left side called My Babylonian Captivity, my memoir of the four months I spent as a hostage in Iraq in 1990.  I’d been teaching in Kuwait prior to the invasion.  Along the coastal highway in Kuwait was Al-Salaam, a ship, then only a restaurant but previously a floating hotel as well.  The 1990-1 Gulf War damaged it to the extent that it was soon therafter scrapped, right there.  Al-Salaam . . . ex-Santa Paula!

More on Harold soon.

Doubleclick to enlarge, and take this in by details . . . name on the forward portion of the cargo deck and house as well as profiles on the horizon.  Surprise at the end of the post.

Consider this different vessel, Alblasserward by name.

Short sea shipping has been figured out in Europe using

vessels like these.  The flag is the Netherlands, and crane lifts the compact car onto the hard and dry when

inland waterwayfaring is done.

Ditto Alabama, the vessel in foto #1.

I hope by now you’re asking why an obvious European self-propelled barge carries a name like Alabama, right?  By the way, a personal connection here . . . my father reported that as a kid, he imagined growing up to be captain of such a vessel in the inland shipping business, aka binnenvaart.

So the surprise . . .  Alabama (1947) and Alblasserward (1949) and many other European waterway barges were built in  . . .  Alabama!  So you’re thinking . . . somewhere near Mobile?  Nope!  Up in Decatur, on that tributary of the Ohio called the Tennessee.  As part of the Marshall Plan.  What’s interesting is that these vessels do not appear on the Ingalls (now part of Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding) record here.

The after and fore part of the vessel were built completely on the yard, living quarters including what was touted as an “American kitchen,”   engine room,wheelhouse, etc.  The middle section was shipped in crates and the engine was installed at the yard in Dordrecht, Netherlands, after traveling the Tennessee, Ohio, Mississippi to New Orleans, and then the Atlantic.    Upon arrival in Rotterdam, the crates and forward section were placed on a barge and towed to the yard, and the aft section was towed to the yard separately.

All fotos thanks to Rene Keuvelaar;  info thanks to Rene and to Jan van der Doe.  Rene runs a web-log linked here.  You might also check a different forum/database called “binnenvaart” aka inland waterway shipping, which in Europe like the sixth boro among boros and states, seamlessly connects waters through different countries.  .  And given that these vessels are still earning their keep, I’d love to hear from anyone who knows, firsthand or otherwise, about construction and transportation of these US hulls to their final destination.  If one of these were brought back to the US, would they be considered US hulls even though they’ve never . . . in over 60 years, worked in US waters?  Europeans in Europe doing short sea shipping with US-built vessels . . . who knew?!@!!

More on this soon, I hope.

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Seth Tane American Painting

Read my Iraq Hostage memoir online.

My Babylonian Captivity

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


March 2011