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Coney Island–the reef–has existed within the sixth boro since time immemorial, this gathering has occurred since 1983, and tugster has blogged it since 2007, drawn by the natural beauty of creatures–like this one— with

their altruistic sensibilities, their

bio-diversity, their

breathing behavior in dry–if muggy- air, and … more.

But I couldn’t help noticing yesterday that  . . . as the mermaids school on this reef, so does another species . . . camera-bearers.  Even chief-liaison Dick Zigun has cameras turned on him.

And mermaids themselves sport cameras, maybe as mimicry.

But yesterday the camera-bearers were everywhere!

They schooled–dare I say swarmed–each time a seamaid emerged out of the reef.

Not that the mercreatures seemed to perceive threat;  in fact,

 it looked like mutual enjoyment

a case of fun, fanfare,

flourish, and frippery.

And camera-bearers feasted at every turn.

And how do you suppose I got these fotos of

such lovely creatures, who

traveled by a range of


More on that tomorrow . . . and the pasties and paint verson of the story.

OK, all fotos here by Will Van Dorp.

Totally related:  in the third foto from end above . . . one mermaid sported a tugboat atop her hear but my shot was blurry.  Also, I missed a shot of the “librarian mermaids,”  which, if anyone got, I’d love a link or a copy.

#1 was here.

It’s June.  Might you be suffering from hypoclupea . . .  deficiency of herring?    Read what the celebrated neurologist Oliver Sacks writes about treatment here, as published in the New Yorker two years ago.  Hypoclupea can leave you blase, bleached, apathetic . . .

dried out . . . as Miss Callie herself is feeling these days.  To see Miss Callie in her element among the fishes, click here.

Even on Coney Island, the painting near the boardwalk looks off because this siren has taken to eating . . . @#@!  dogs, and they’re not even hot.

Go fishing . . . whether you use bunker for bait and catch your own, or just

exchange cash or credit at the nearest purveyor of “new catch holland herring,”  and you’ll find your zest for life just

returns!    You might even end up seeing mermaids without having to go to the latest Depp/Disney show.

All fotos by will Van Dorp, who has lots of unrelated odds and ends and who just might not post tomorrow.

A herring-eaters blog

Translated info on the fleet at  a “loggers” festival in Vlaardingen on the Rhine this weekend.  “Logger” in Dutch is “lugger” in English.

From Uglyships’ Bart, here’s a video on an uneventful loading of  the loading of 15! tugs onto SSHLV Fjell in Singapore bound for Maracaibo via Cape Town.  Here’s a Reuters article on same.

And finally, last but not least, you’ll see a new image of “tugster” on the upper left side of this blog; click on the image and you’ll see part of an article that appeared in Jack Tar Issue #5.  Watercolor is by Herb Ascherman of Cold is the Sea blog.  Another great example of his work is cover on Jack Tar #5.

Finally, if you find yourself in Manhattan Saturday, look to the water:  I know of at least one swim around the island race going on.  New York has enthusiastic swimmers!

Happy solstice!

Using what’s stowed in this vessel and the one from two days back–Black Seal–you’d have “fixins” for lots of

banana splits.  To ensure these tropical foods arrive in prime condition, stow those bananas properly on this reefer.  All manner of stowing advice comes your way from Stowmasters.

What impressed me, though, since I could observe it, was the quick tie up and turn around:  Albermarle Islandapproaches the dock at 8 a.m. with assistance from Brendan Turecamo and Margaret Moran, who

ease the vessel sideways.  Slowly and

steadily.  Crew on the ship and the dock make lines


By 8:20, it’s “all fast” and the tugs move to the next job.  Less than 10 hours later, Albermarle Island has headed out the Narrows bound for sea and Europe.

I’m left wondering about the story of these bananas in both the weeks before and after this docking.  Here’s a start.   Bowsprite drew a sister of Albermarle here, and I  wrote about the previous generation of reefer vessels in the sixth boro over three years ago here.  Anyone know what happened to the smaller “Ocean” class, and why the “Island” class calls at Red Hook rather than Howland Hook?

All fotos here by Will Van Dorp, who wrote about shipment of another commodity here.

Here was RP #12.

Jim Reilly noticed a picture of Dolphin III on this blog and wrote the following cautionary tale . . .   “I bought Dolphin III from a less than honest gentlemen up in Portsmouth, New Hampshire back in 2005.  She is a 45′  Young Brothers built in Corea, Maine. She was originally a “stick boat” used to harpoon giant bluefin and swordfish in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank. When I bought her she had a 25′ bow pulpit that the harpooner (stick man) would stand on to be over the fish before they ever heard the boat. That is also why there is such a high tower on her…for spotting finning sword/tuna. She is powered by a single Detroit diesel.
The original steam down from New Hampshire to Brooklyn, NY was quite a trek. My crew consisted of my father, who only came to escape my mother and sneak a few beers, and his buddy who was escaping his wife. Not exactly a “fit crew”…LOL  The first day of steaming was beautiful as we steamed through Cape Cod Bay into Sandwich, at the foot of the canal. We berthed in Sandwich over night and waited for the sun to come up. All I can say is FOG, FOG, FOG for the next three days we were socked in.  With food, beer and money running low, we headed out in the soup [and tide]. Dolphin III does about 8kts and the canal does about 6kts for a net total of 2kts…LOL.  Two kts in pea soup fog with the chart plotter not reading a course because forward speed was too slow…hair raising to say the least. It seemed like days before we emerged in Buzzards Bay. A lessoned hard learned…wait until the canal is flowing with you before shovin off…LOL.     We made Montauk by nightfall and as we were pulling into the fuel dock at the Montauk Yacht Club the steering went. We spent the next day getting funds wired to us, making repairs and hitting Liars Saloon in Montauk for a few laughs. The next morning it was blowing a gale, so we remained at the dock. By this time my fathers buddy (a true land lubber) had enough and summoned his daughter to drive east and pick him up…LOL

We set out the next morning and had flat calm seas as we cruised through the Long Island Sound. We were making good time when once again the steering gave way. We weighed anchor and attempted to make repairs. No matter what we tried, we could get no steering from her. I attempted steering with a pipe wrench on the rudder post, but knew we would never get through Hell Gate like that, so we radioed Sea Tow and were towed into Norwalk CT. A resident marine mechanic there said I was looking at $5,000 in repairs.  Me and my father sat in the cockpit, feet up on the transom and laughed at how we should change the name of the vessel to Jynxie or Jonah when a man at the dock inquired about purchasing the vessel. He was a commercial diver from Jersey and was looking for that type of vessel. I explained that the boat was going to need work and as we shared a few drinks he decided to buy the boat from me right then and there. I took a down payment and a cab home to Brooklyn. A week long trip that should have taken no more than three days and we show up with no boat…….just a typical story that is my life.
A week later the buyer met me in Brooklyn with the remainder of the payment and steamed the boat down to Barnegat Light for awhile where she was dry docked for at least a year. It looks like he is finally working her.   My father, who is very sickly now, still shakes his head and laughs at the entire trip. Last year I bought a 44′ wooden lobster boat from Maine and the trip went a lot smoother.  Sorry for the long drawn out tale. I feel like I am lying on a couch talking to a shrink about a traumatic ordeal…LOL   Next time you see the Dolphin III have a laugh and tell  your pals she’s an ex-stick boat originally from downeast Maine. Best of Luck to you.”

Jim . . . thanks much for the story.    Fotos taken last summer by Will Van Dorp.  I’ve not noticed Dolphin III in the sixth boro since then.

Anyone have a great sixth boro story, please get in touch.

You may recall a reference here last week to a three-masted schooner story emerging from the haze.  Thanks to PortSide NewYork, I learned about a project

to ship cocoa by commercial sail.  And as a TWIC-carrying PortSide volunteer, I was invited into Red Hook Marine Terminal to blog for the  unloading of cocoa from the schooner.    Black Seal, a 70-foot Colvin “Sea Gypsy” design with the biggest cargo hold and steel pilothouse, has been the 25-year building project of Capt Eric Loftfield.  Tugster has featured many fotos of two other Colvin boats: samples at  Rosemary Ruthand the misguided Papillon.  On her maiden voyage, Black Seal traveled from Falmouth, Massachusetts to Puerto Plata, DR . . .  to Red Hook, New York.  With cargo.  Twenty tons of organic cocoa beans,

285 bags of over 150 pounds each.   And how much fuel was consumed in the 30-seaday, 3000-mile voyage?  Answer appears later in the post.

The cocoa represents about a year’s worth of Dominican beans used by Mast Brothers Chocolate.  Click on the 8.5 minute clip for some background.

Before containerization, this is what port work looked like.

According to Rick Mast, this voyage is partly about R & D, figuring stuff out like

the pricing, the efficiencies.

This cargo was loaded in the Domincan Republic in two hours and unloaded in Red Hook in

–because it meant fighting gravity–four.

By noon today, the hold looked like this;  I wish the blog could convey the heady aroma of chocolate that lingered.  I could sleep here and dream of flavonoids.

According to Capt. Loftfield, a Cook Inlet pilot in Alaska, the total amount of fuel used, including motoring out of and into port as well as running the generator and galley was

less than 50 gallons.  Assuming 3000 miles, that’s better than a Prius!

Here’s what 12 pallets of cocoa looks like on the dock within sight of

Wall Street.

Some inspiration for using commercial sail to move  cocoa from the Caribbean can be traced back to  Ross Gannon and Nat Benjamin of Gannon & Benjamin Marine Railway.   Ross Gannon is the uncle of  PortSide New York‘s founder and director Carolina Salguero.  Gannon & Benjamin has received their own cargo (wood) by sail.   Some other examples of current commercial sail projects include Beth Alison,  Tres HombresKwai, and Albatros.    I’d love to hear about others.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp, who is ecstatic to witness extraordinarily-prepared people learning how to do extraordinary things by . . . jumping in–when the time is ripe– and doing them.

Challenges abound; the story of schooner John F. Leavitt illustrates the risk of jumping in prematurely, of not being extraordinarily prepared.

For the Wall Street Journal version of the story, click here.

But first . . . Blue Marlin has sailed!!  I went upriver Sunday midmorning, and soon thereafter, she headed for sea.  Actually for Bonny Town, ETA July 4, 2011.  Click here to see what this Niger River delta town looks like, and then you’ll know why they’re buying tugs–like ex-Curtis Reinauer below–and barges.  The link explains the unusual house configuration.  If anyone got fotos of Blue Marlin exiting the Narrows or  wishes to shares fotos of the journey, please get in touch.

Click here for history, economics,  and controversies related to the Niger delta.   The Niger River, 14th in the world in length, flows through unlikely places such as Timbuktu–high on my “gallivant list”–and drains 10 nations.  Name them?

 Yesterday I volunteered on Pegasus for the Riverdale Riverfest.  In fact, Robert Apuzzo just sent this foto; I’m the tall guy in faded blue on the “upper deck” in the gap between the stack and the house.  I volunteer because it’s fun and important.  As “safety officer,” I help ensure no one gets hurt, and since I like to talk, I answer questions.  I’ve noticed people like to see the boats but also their own communities FROM the river.    Ensuring “guest safety” is vital and sometimes difficult;  a tugboat has industrial-strength hazards . . . it moves and steel is hard and forgiving, yet it is a fascinating opportunity:  throbbing noise and vibration, power of invisible prop and rudder and versatile line, huge engine, …

Believe it or not, Riverdale IS in the Bronx!  Therefore, this water too is the sixth boro of NYC.  By the way, in the background are the Palisades on the Jersey side.

Cornell was there also, here coexisting with human-powered vessels (HPVs).   I love to kayak myself, but I suspect people in some HPVs underestimate commercial vessel speed and over-estimate their own visibility.

Spud barge Black Diamond served as a makeshift dock, serviceable but labor-intensive but the popularity of festivals like this illustrates the value of serviceable commercial docks in many more Hudsonsonian towns and cities.  Imagine not only entertainment but also food coming ashore from boats for several reasons including reducing highway congestion.   Vessels in Riverdale included also Mystic Whaler (1967 reproduction of a coastal cargo schooner) and fireboat  John J. Harvey.  Of course, the distinctive red barge is the itinerant  Waterfront Museum, aka 1914-built Lehigh Valley 79.

These festivals showcase the skill of  maritime professionals and, though fun, are stressful and laborious.

Just north of Riverdale is Yonkers.  This foto of Yonkers as a storm chased us upriver in 2010 shows two frequently inquired about buildings on the this part of the Hudson:  the Yonkers Power Station and the “Blue Cube,” which has had lives as diverse as a test lab for PhelpsDodge and a movie studio.

Yesterday a young peregrine (?) feasted on a fish high atop the Power Station.

Traffic headed up and down the Hudson is diverse:  trawler Manitou from Ludington, MI,

MV Universal Amsterdam with a load of sugar,  escorted here north from the George Washington Bridge by Mary Turecamo and Margaret Moran,

trawler Muddy Waters from Miami Beach, FL,

Thomas Witte towing a tall load of scrap metal for export,  and much

much more.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp, except the one thanks to Robert Apuzzo.

Bowsprite tattooed my back about two years ago, and I never felt a thing, didn’t even know about it til a few days later.  See evidence in the eighth foto here.  The tattoo she incised had the best feature: dynamism.  Without  washing or submitting myself to laser-burn or chemical-peel ink removal, that design–beautiful as it was– disappeared; pristine skin prevailed and could morph again.

Being a tabula rasa is the beauty of the sixth boro as it exists today.  Not pristine as 500 years ago, it’s nevertheless mostly cleaner than it was 50 years ago.  And unencumbered.  The land right down to the sea’s threshold submits to the struggles and gainful laborings of planners and builders, but the water resists.  Change is constant here, like light.

May the two above paragraphs exorcise the defensiveness I’m feeling these days.  Repeatedly I feel restored by the surprises borne in and out upon the expanse of water I call the sixth boro.  Like this, yesterday.  I dismissed it at first as a replica.

But it turns out to be the real thing:  A Trumpy built at Mathis Yacht Building Company in 1926, now restored, a near-sister of the yacht that hosted seven US presidents.

One goal I had yesterday was to get a frontal shot of the figurehead on Eos, but not finding a conveyance, this is the best I could get of Anh Duong‘s work.  Today these eyes behold . . .  the cliffs of Hoboken; some months from now they may look upon the skyline of Moorea Bay.

Bold  (ex-Victorious) . . .  I saw her sail past us on Delaware Bay;  eight months ago and thousands of miles later, she glides through the Narrows.

In hazy light, CGC Ridley and Gibraltar-flagged cargo vessel Bremer Johanna seem flat-bottomed shapes floating in ether in front of a geometric continent.

Trawler Fluke . .  here today . . . who knows where next month.

Tug Mary Beth D (ex-Fort Edisto, 1954) pushes a Weeks scow past inbound MOL Endeavor. Last time I saw Mary Beth D,  the creeks on the south side of Raritan Bay were  encrusted.

Ventura lives in North Cove and sails here outside the Narrows.

Anthony L Miller reminds this curvaceous yacht to respect the “slow bell;”  Lazzara doesn’t design exactly my kind of vessel, but the sixth boro is a summer stop in the migrations of Spring Time.

A final shot for now . . . looking into the wheelhouse of that 1926 Trumpy, as helmsman surveys the open spaces ahead.

My vision of the sixth boro . . .  keep it dynamic.

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

The solstice happens in a week.  Is your household ready, mobilized.  Can you safely take it out onto the highways and wetways?

Thoughts of anything but summer . . .  with its adventures and gallivants . .. are elusive, for me.  Dana Spiotta writes of that in tomorrow’s NYTimes magazine, recounting a voyage on the Erie Canal by rowboat with Tide and Current Taxi‘s very own Marie Lorenz.    You could go fishing:  both Marlin and Minnow are currently in the sixth boro.

You could just go sit by the water and see all there’s to see.  I saw a classic loon yesterday–who dove before I could snap evidence.  This Corsair passed more slowly, less skittishly.

A week from now you could swim around Manhattan . . . or volunteer to keep swimmers safe by emailing

You could swallow new herring and gin.  Here’s more info.

In a week you could go to the Clearwater Festival.

This foto from last year comes from Yen.  I know where, like these monks, I’m going . . . .

Next Saturday . . . the sea will again boil with hot blood and creatures rarely seen will emerge and parade.  It’s  the 29th

annual Mermaid Parade and Ball!!!

Thanks, Yen, for that foto.

It’s day 24 for Blue Marlin in the the ever-fascinating sixth boro, and I had NO intention to pick up this thread again, since I’d gone down to the Narrows today expecting a story about a certain three-masted schooner, which I hope to get to soon . . .   as that story emerges from the haze . . .  .  By the way doubleclick enlarges and MSC vessel departing is Rachele, Baltimore-bound.

But at 6:43 this morning, I had finally positioned myself on the sunny through more distant Brooklyn side.   The load looked fine to MY eyes, and when

at 7:45 McAllister Girls and Amy C McAllister showed up, I imagined they would assist the loaded Blue Marlin up to OwlsHead or maybe out to sea.

Then Charles D showed up at 8:11 and –to the astonishment of the spectators, including me, on the Brooklyn side–

at 8:35 offloaded the aftermost three barges!

After stemming the tide a bit under the  VZ Bridge, at 9:19ish the three tugs re-loaded

the shuffled barges from the starboard side.  This foto taken at 9:25 shows the task nearly done.

The sixth boro . . . as I’ve referred to these waters since early 2007, when the concept emerged for me, offers endless delight:  a scene like the one below has never before aranged itself.  That’s Jerko in tow;  you might remember seeing the other side of Jerko–then moored in the Gowanus Canal– in the eighth foto of this post.   Jerko, now gallivanting the harbor and bound for cleaner waters, shows a more photogenic side.

By now I had to go, because I really had other things to do, but I decided to stay for a money shot, Blue Marlin spinning with the tide around midday, showing off its load.  This foto shows what might have been the logic of the reload:  now the seven barges all have their notches on Blue Marlin‘s starboard side.

In my June 3 post, I shared comments I overheard over on the Staten Island side here (scroll down a bit).    Today I overheard the following Brooklyn conjecture:

“I’ve never seen barges like those . . . they’re catamarans or something.”

“See those oranges buildings in the water over there . . . they must be testing something.  The buildings go up and down in the water.  I’ve never seen anything like it.”

And my favorite:  “They’re checking something under the water, I think.  Maybe they’re even looking for oil.  Imagine that, oil right here in New York harbor.”

12:37 . . .  this is what I’ve waited for, the “overhang shot.”  The aftmost barge–RTC 501–is 338′ loa;  Blue Marlin is 200′ abeam.  This is what 138′ overhang looks like.

It’s only my perception, but I’m thinking of RTC 501 like Philippe Petit‘s balance pole.

I started this post referring to a three-masted schooner.  This isn’t it, but the sea’s gift is all manner of surprises . . like this two-masted schooner Corsair that entered the Narrows . . . this shot at 12:42.  Anyone know where Corsair‘s bound?

All fotos by Will Van Dorp, who’s been enthralled by Blue Marlin but now wishes it would just evolve away.

PS:  Blue Marlin will leave . . .when she’s ready.  What is this all about?  Marine businesses… like any other businesses… outgrow and upgrade  equipment.  There’s a market in used marine equipment, just as there’s a used car, used agriculture . . .etc.  market.  Reinauer has sold off this equipment (and has more equipment to sell) to a company in Nigeria, although I’ve heard people mention another, farther destination also.   A heavy lift vessel facilitates the move.

PPS:  Although I’d love to catch a boat ride to get close-ups of Blue Marlin, people’s comments about the huge orange vessel fascinate me.  I’d love to hear your comments . . . what tall tales have you heard?  I’d especially like to hear . . . even anonymously . ..  from folks involved in the loading process, either aboard Marlin or on either Miller or McAllister boats.

The tide turns, literally.  More fotos will follow.

By 6:13 this morning, the first set of barges (BFT 38 ? and RTC 41) had just been loaded.

At 6:37, the second set ( BFT 50 and Putnam ) was drifting into position.

At 6:51, this second set was slipping in ahead of the supports.

For over an hour, the remaining barges remained lost in the haze.  Lucy Reinauer arrived around 9 a.m. and began a series of slow laps around the operation.

At 11:13, as Blue Marlin began to swing counterclockwise with the beginning of the floodtide, Bruce McAllister–assisted by Megan and Ellen–matched the swing with barges RTC 501 and RTC 70.

By 11:31, Blue Marlin had swung almost 180 degrees and Bruce eased the two barges into their position on the lift vessel.  What’s clear now is how wide this load is when viewed head-on.  Elizabeth McAllister stood by.

By 12:43 Amy C McAllister  had shoehorned  George Morris  in.  Note the color difference in the V-shaped flood tide waters.  Anyone know if the color difference is due more to the difference in  temperature or in salinity?

By 12:56 the flood tide had advanced farther into the Bay.  Soon, if not already, the de-ballasting would begin.  Container ships in the distance are Ecem Kalkavan and Commander.

And with 94-degree heat and my loss of shade, I left.

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