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No . . . this site is NOT transforming into a book emporium.  But I can make some recommendations, good reading whether you’re on the water, at the beach, or in a house . . .  The last time I revealed this much about my bookshelf was in 2007 here and here.

Numero uno:  A “must read”  We the Drowned . . .  I guarantee it’ll be the most enthralling and fastest 675-page novel you’ve ever read.   Read a review here.  I’ll even send my copy once a few more friends have read it;  my copy was sent to me by Les Sonnenmark, a frequent commenter here.  It’s a saga of 100 years of lives of folks whose starting point is a Danish Baltic Sea island town called Marstal featuring naval prisoners of war, St. Peter’s triage style, mariners by sail and steam and diesel, Samoa, Greenland, Captain Cook’s shrunken head, haunting red lights (and more) for a character who survives World War II aboard convoy after convoy in and out of Murmansk, and some poignant stories of loves lost and long deferred.  This is a story of resurrections. Hear an interview with the author, Casten Jensen, here.   Read an interview focusing on storytelling craft here.

Unrelated:  can you identify the sailing and diesel vessels here?  Identification to all will be at the end of the post.

Second suggestion:  Fire on the Horizon  (267 pages) by gCaptain‘s very own John Konrad, with Tom Shroder.  This book walks you minute by minute through the last days of Deepwater Horizon, with compassion for the crew and their families.  You will learn much about a drillship, of which many exist today.  Konrad and Shroder  tease out responsibilities of BP, TransOcean, and  Halliburton.  I hadn’t known until reading this book of John Konrad’s unique qualifications to write this book:  he learned of the blowout while in the Southern Ocean, delivering a similar Korean rig called Deepwater Ascension from Korea to the Gulf of Mexico;  moreover, he knew some crew aboard Deepwater Horizon. Konrad shows his knack for telling a tragic story quite well, throwing in compelling backstory along the way.  In the first 50 pages alone, you’ll learn something about offshore drilling in 1896, SUNY Maritime, and the Hyundai shipyard in Ulsan, Korea.  In our age of petroleum and time of peak oil,  this book will leave you with greater understanding.

Third suggestion:  Also related to the blow-out of last summer, A Sea in Flames, (352 pages) by Carl Safina.  In the preface, Carl Safina  calls this “a record of a technological event . . . a chronicle of a season of anguish . . .”   It’s an informal book in which Safina records his observations and vents.     He, like Konrad and Shroder, makes the arcane world of deepwater drilling understandable and interesting to the layperson;  in the first 50 pages, you learn about the decisions made throughout the six months of drilling at Macondo, which he compares to a “high risk pregnancy.”  Safina’s voice evidences his ecology background (Ph. D. from Rutgers and President of the Blue Ocean Institute), and he’s clearly fuming, incensed;  he reports statements from officials from BP and government agencies and then (as if we were watching or listening to some broadcast news with him) we hear his reactions . . . be they sarcasm or refutation.  He acknowledges his anger, though:  e.g., “I am not impressed with the Coast Guard so far.  Admiral Thad Allen becomes to me a one-dimensional talking head: the Thadmiral.  Does he deserve to be a caricature?  Of course not; does anyone?  But in my anger, that’s what happens” (96).   And he’s particularly angry about private security guards interdicting the public from  . . . public parks . . . when they are officially open (207-10).   Ultimately, near the end of the book, Safina reports on having coffee with Allen and another of the caricature’s in the book, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, NOAA administrator;  here . .  Safina listens and in his reportage, transforms what had been one-dimensional into nuanced people.  And I admire that.    Read the book.

I’d love to hear your reading suggestions . . . in part because I’m fishing for my next book. I always can fall back on rereading  the standards by Herman Melville, Joseph Conrad, Farley Mowat, or Jan deHartog . . . but would rather have my horizons expanded.

Otherwise, in summer the temperature makes it a whole lot more comfortable than winter to just while away some hours doing the Otis Redding thing . . .

Fotos show: 1)  Clearwater and Atlantic Salvor, 2) Norwegian Gem, 3) Remember When,  4) Susquehanna . .  I believe, and 5) Turecamo Girls.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp in the past two weeks.

Oh  . . . right . . . here’s another review.

Note to Kees Kuyper . . . “your foto on page 18 here of New York from the bridge of Blue Marlin is fabulous!  Please take more during your stay in New York.”

Note to all blog readers . . . scroll through to the top of p. 18 to see Kees’ foto.

What follows is another assemblage of fotos from yesterday’s unproductive loading of tugs and barges onto Blue Marlin, a few repeat fotos enhanced by Rod Smith of Narragansett Bay Shipping.  Thanks, Rod.

Gabby Miller and (?) Nicholas and crews at 5:38.

Heading for Blue Marlin at 5:39.

Blue Marlin and “floating cargo” at 6:32.

Fog has partly  lifted by 6:43.

Blue Marlin crew climbing the port aft “tower” at 6:52.

A closer-up of crew going aloft.

Crewboat bring the towline “on deck” at 7:01, and

beginning to make fast at 7:02 to Maverick (ex-YTB 801 Palatka, launched 1969).

Dace leaves the notch over behind Maersk Matsuyamato ogle the scene at 7:09.  By the way, outatowners . . . the land on the other side is Bay Ridge Brooklyn.

Pilotboat Yankee rushes by at 7:17.

Elizabeth McAllister (1967, ex-J. A. Witte and Fournier Boys), which we imagined would be bringing out some barges, arrives on site by 7:25.

With the loading “scrubbed” for the day, Blue Marlin‘s workboat voyages over to the bow at 7:49,  and

by 8:30, the stern has clearly risen at least 10 feet.

By 8:39, Blue Marlin has swung with the ebb, as Staten Island ferry Alice Austen arrives through the Narrows.  Now if you know anything about the ferry routes, this is unusual indeed, but Alice Austen may just be a contrarian ferry.

At 8:46 in the distance Maryland heads out the Narrows to bunker  cutter moored in Gravesend Bay, while a night heron (aka “big pella’) contemplates.

this loading attempt.

By 11:07, more of Blue Marlin has re-emerged, and by mid-afternoon Monday, she has repositioned over to the mooring it occupied earlier off Owl’s Head.

And the suspense goes on.  And if anyone wishes to confide in me info on the day and hour of the next attempt, I’ll be watching.  Oh, discretion and circumspection are my creeds.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp, who would love an email from Kees.

Unrelated:  For a slideshow from National Tug Day in Maassluis, Netherlands, birthplace of the Dutch towing industry, click here.   Fotos are copyright of Frans de Lijster and Willem Kruit.

Note:  Doubleclick enlarges most pics.  Don’t know if I should keep saying this.

5:25 this morning . . . Buono Beach in Rosebank was the appropriate place to be on a Memorial Day weekend as well as the opportune spot to watch the big event on Blue Marlin; the  motley crew of photographers sat and talked, excitement tempered by

threats of a fog bank creeping in.

A few miles to the north at Miller’s Launch, conditions still looked auspicious.  Here Susan Miller with Curtis, almost invisible Dean on the portside…

while  Freddie K Miller had John, soon to add Janice Ann on starboard.

But by 6:30 as cargo began arriving, fog had already obscured the Rosebank anchorage, visibility  . . . half mile or so.

Note Catherine C Miller here with Maverick.

By 6:45, we saw this as a farwell portrait;  we talked about the money shot . .  sans fog . .  we hoped . . ..  all five tugs and seven (?) barges, nowhere to be seen yet, raised high and dry.

Maverick would be first, and she moved toward her cradle while

the “docking crew” positioned themselves atop at the portside winches.

Line was paid out, and

made fast.  Photographers on shore were accompanied by

photographers aboard Dace, the best seat in the bay.

7:15 . . .just when we thought Maverick was in her cradle,

Murphy’s Law applied itself:  something went awry and mission was suspended.

Freddy K headed back to the yard with John and Janice, and

the rest of the cargo and assist vessels followed.

Winch crew descended and boarded the small boat to get back to

Blue Marlin‘s bow.   The semisubmerged portions re-emerged.  Too bad my spy seagull has not  reported back on conversations aboard the ship . . .

Back in the yard, Susan and Curtis and all the others wait for the next attempt.

For a very good video version of part of the morning, click on stewwfinch’s YouTube here.

This is getting better than Groundhog Day (the movie);  maybe we need a sequel called  . . .”blue marlin day.”  All fotos by Will Van Dorp, who may put up better versions of some of these fotos tomorrow.

Guest post by Sandy Eames, a friend, a South Street Seaport Museum volunteer since 2001, and a Save Our Seaport steering committee member. Sandy read this at Community Board 1 meeting of 5/24/2011.  In my 2006 foto below, Sandy is working on Pioneer‘s tender, named for a museum volunteer John Willett.  In the background, left to right are Helen McAllister, Marion M, Peking, and (barely visible) Pioneer.

“I do not want to run anything, I simply want to be able to learn how to cut wood better and varnish it so that it onlookers say “oooh”, and steer a historic schooner again through the night under the stars. Of course, being able to do this with the ships under the capable care of the leading maritime museum in America in New York would be wonderful too! But we are not there yet!

I wonder how we got to live in New York City. Our forebears came the hard way – by sailing ship on journeys often taking a month. I came here in 1980 the easy way, on a Laker Skytrain into JFK. But are we going to teach our children and visitors here that everyone arrived by jet at JFK in the 1600’s? I don’t think so.

What has happened to the South Street Seaport Museum over the last decade or more simply appalls its friends, supporters and volunteers. Take a favorite schooner away from a sailor and you have trouble!

But what’s much worse is the secrecy of the Seaport Museum’s administration, its failure to outreach to its members, volunteers, the local community, and the maritime community, and the management’s ineptitude in running the museum effectively. The result is now that the museum is on the rocks, mostly out of business, yet the existing captain and admiral remain at the helm. It’s no wonder that a large group of people is upset, wanting change, and making noise.

I hope I speak for the many volunteers, museum members, local waterfront supporters and many maritime leaders across the country who would love to pitch in, do what they can to help save this institution, and put it back together – back on an even keel perhaps? Just where did all these maritime expressions come from? Did you get your one square meal today? Is the cat still in the bag? Such a teaching opportunity!

Here’s my proposal:
First:   Lock down the museum immediately. Stop any further damage to the museum. Change the locks. Ask the volunteers to monitor and sustain the ships.

Second:   Bring in an Interim CEO to run the place, to give us a chance to rebuild, make a new business plan, raise new funds, and then hire a new full time top flight CEO from the maritime museum field to run the place. Volunteers can run Pioneer this summer and generate needed revenue.

Third:   Return to profitable sanity. Go back to teaching our kids and visitors the maritime history of New York. Re-open the museum’s galleries showing its extensive collection of paintings, scrimshaw and tools. Put the ships back to work as floating galleries with exhibitions of how New York really started, and take some of them out working on the water.

We urgently need your help in cutting through the thicket of government institutions so that we can achieve a change from secrecy, ineptitude and lack of trust, to openness, competency, support and engagement.”

Thank you, Sandy!

In the second foto, taken by the inimitable bowsprite,  Sandy’s showing off the brass treads he installed in Pioneer‘s aft cabin ladder.

. . . the movie.  I’d thought to call this “getting closer to Rita” or DDSS.  Why?  Scuttlebutt had it that today was loading day, so I left home before 6, and the big orange back of Blue Marlin was still riderless.  Otherwise, things were not the same but very similar to yesterday.  Same people casting bunker out to stripers that never seem to bite, same hazy weather, and different strange profiles in the air.  Tom . . . can you identify this one, replica of something 1911ish?

Same illusion of the heavy-lift vessel trying on a sloop rig, although I have no identification of the boat.

Different older tug (Vane Brothers’ Endeavor  1970) happening past.

Fleet’s still in the sixth boro, here passed by 1998 Kuwaiti container vessel Al-Abdali.

Vane’s  Susquehanna passes,

while in the other direction Houma stands by as sludge gets pumped off Stena Poseidon, and farther out  Lions Gate Bridge heads for sea.

Jennifer and James Turecamo escort in Stolt Aquamarine.

Turecamo Girls poses the same question I do . . . when?

Allie B heads for sea with scow GL 66.

Choptank heads for sea with a doubleskin barge on the wire.

while some scaups glide out to sea themselves . . .  and at least they and the cormorants were catching breakfast.

Parting shot for today . . . and it seems to say USM on the vertical stabilizer . . .?  Maybe Jonathan has a new air platform?

In the Groundhog Day movie, 42 days go by . . . .  hmmmm, maybe by July 4, Blue Marlin will free itself and all the rest of us from this temporal loop.  But …oh the things we’ll see and learn!  Meanwhile, if you haven’t watched this stop-action show of the fleet passing the cliff at Stevens Institute of Technology yesterday, click here and let it load.

Meanwhile here’s an idea for a Memorial Day activity from WNYC:  Interview a vet.  

All fotos by Will Van Dorp between 6 and 9 this morning.

Added later:  Joe’s clue led me to the airplane:  it a replica of a 1911 Ely-Curtiss built and flown by  Bob Coolbaugh.

New profiles in the air?

Outline of a futuristic heavy-lift ship with a dynarig?  Hot seas giving off vapors of methane? Maybe I’m just losing my mind?

Nah . . . I’ll cut the silliness.  I was just lucky to catch this shot of Maltese Falcon as it passed by the west side of Blue Marlin.  Read about Maltese Falcon here and the big ego of its first owner here.

Classic mid 20th century silhouette of an Erie Canaller with telescoping house grounds the scene, although given the color scheme, that canaller is not a usual a current resident of the city . . .  must be mischief . . . I mean Matton-built  Mischief (1958, ex-Cissi Reinauer, Cissi, Thornton Brothers)  More Mischief below.

Of course, also in the haze of late May . . . it’s the fleet, here shown LPD-21 . . . USS New York . . .  over at Homeport, Staten Island!   Here’s one of my previous posts about USS New York.  For a straight-forward post on the arrival of the fleet, see Old Salt here.  Another comes from Philip of seaandskyny.

With New York in the background, to the left is FFG-59 Kauffman and  . . . right, FFG-32 John L. Hall.  Info on namesakes Kauffman and Hall here and here.  (About the Kauffman, the vessel is named for father Vice Admiral  James L as well as son Rear Admiral Draper L.)

I hope that tomorrow brings some  progress with the loading of Blue Marlin.

More Mischief . . . foto taken in Philly last June.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Quick post . . . when will Janice Ann Reinauer and the other emigrants load onto Blue Marlin?

Peking‘s 100th birthday aka launch date has NOT officially been mentioned by South Street Seaport Museum . . . her guardian . . . but then again, nothing else has been discussed in detail by this secretive disorganization.  A good dozen folks spoke on behalf of saving the museum at last night’s Community Board 1 meeting.

Thanks much to Justin Nash for this foto of the horns of Brangus;  she worked in NYC waters  for Great Lakes Dock and Dredge two years ago, but I’ve never seen a foto of the horns of this mighty vessel . . . til now, and maybe neither have you.  Tugboats used to regularly sport eagles atop the house.

And finally, for now, Hocking came through the KVK recently with what appeared to be loosely attached outriggers.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Finally, three people asked yesterday whether I had “coined” the now-ubiquitous term “sixth boro” to refer to the waters that unite the other five boros of New York City and its Jersey neighbors.  The answer is–for that usage–YES, loud and clear.  And I’m thrilled that so many folks have adopted the term.

… will be the minigolf pier, the beach volleyball pier, and the historic vessels pier.  And the first of three arrived there today.  Lilac, ex-WLM-227  . . .

launched at Pusey & Jones on May 26, 1933.  Since her steam plant must for now remain idle, Vessel Traffic Service classified her today as a “dead vessel” as she made the almost mile-long transit from pier 40 to pier 25, where

she will soon be open for visitors.  Move today was made by Miller’s Launch, who had two boats on the scene . . .  tug Catherine C and workboat Cecilia.

As she got backed into the site, I noticed

Ed on Lilac and  . . . bowsprite catching lines!!

But she was much too

busy catching lines to

deal with a blogger like me,  who intrinsically would much rather catch lies lines, too, but realizes that if I did, no one

might be taking these fotos.

More from pier 25 soon.  And some day, ot so soon, wouldn’t it be nice to hear Lilac’s engine purr like this . . . .

Today’s update on the loading of Blue Marlin–rumored to happen today–is that there’s no update, other than more prep work.  Maybe tomorrow?  Clearwater passed to check progress.  Technical question:  does Blue Marlin have dynamic positioning system to keep it stable while loading happens?

So, let me catch you up on Saturday’s water portion of the Hudson River pageant:  Village Community Boathouse sent three rowing gigs, decorated as if for the mermaid parade.  Whatever happened on land, I’ve no clue, because we stayed out of sight of the landcrew,  stemming the tide and waiting our cue.

For some closeups of the other boats, click here.

In two hours on the water, we saw bright sunlight and downpour, which

moved me to keep my camera in a drybag.

The gigs are fast but the longer they are,

— I was one of  five rowers in this 33′ gig–the longer the keel, the better it tracks, i.e., the less it wants to go anything but straight ahead.

Unrelated to this but apropos of yesterday’s Save Our Seaport post, come if you can to Community Board 1 meeting tomorrow:  South Street Seaport Museum is on the agenda.  Here are details:  CB1 Meeting will happen at  Borough of Manhattan Community College,  199 Chambers St., Richard Harris Terrace.    Tuesday May 24th 2011, 6:00 PM.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.  If anyone was on the landside of our flotilla for the Hudson River pageant and has fotos of our “boat dance,” please send a link.

See fotos from the Save our Seaport rally here and here.    Below, with Peking and Helen McAllister as backdrop of “hostage” vessels , South Street Seaport founder and first president Peter Sanford speaks of the Museum’s past AND future, while

supporters listen and cheer.    Ships . . . present.  Supporters . . . present and spirited.  Current management  . . .   er . . .   absent!!??

Well then, some new lyrics to “Leave her Johnny,” a traditional sea shanty melody . . . click here if you don’t know the tune.

Oh the times were hard and donations slow

Leave us, Frankie, leave us

But it’s no excuse for the ships to go

And it’s time for you to leave us.


Leave us, Frankie, leave us

Oh, leave us, Mary, leave us,

For the ships must stay and you must go

And it’s time for you to leave us.


So we’ll sand and paint through snow and rain

Leave us, Frankie, leave us

And sail our tug and schooners again

And it’s time for you to leave us.


Scrimshaw models print shop too

Leave us, Frankie, leave us

Should all be out on public view 

And it’s time for you to leave us


Long hours, hard work, and nopay

Leave us, Frankie, leave us

The volunteers do more than play

And it’s time for you to leave us


Fotos by Will Van Dorp, who previously posted our the Seaport struggle here and here.

Meanwhile and unrelated, an update on Blue Marlin . . . as of late afternoon, Blue Marlin had still not “sunk,” and the tug starboard aft is Vulcan III, no doubt assisting with preparations to receive the cargo.

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May 2011