Thanks for reading my blog, whose goal is to help landfolk see my home waters — the port of New York — from the water perspective. The “sixth boro” is my invented term for the waters in and around the port. Part of my motivation is that mainstream media are “terracentric,” overlooking sixth boro news to a large degree.  I strive to be the opposite:  maricentric.  If you like what you see on this blog, tell me about it.  My blog was featured in a February 18, 2011 profile by Alexis Mainland in The New York Times. Read it here.

In fact, if you see a vessel you think is unique in some way and have a camera, send me an email [   parrotlect ( at ) gmail (dot) com  ]    and maybe a foto and I may put it up, credit to you. I have no commercial intent, but I like the idea of collaboration and am easy to get along with. In fact, I have a whole series called “other peoples photos.”

Although the blog focuses on New York harbor and places accessible from it, my native “adopted” waters are on the Pow Wow in New Hampshire, flowing out of Country Pond, on whose bank I lived a few happy isolated years. The Pow Wow meanders about 30 miles to cover less than 5 miles as a heron could fly. Foto below from 2004 shows my preferred helm style up there, best way to see muskrats, beavers, water snakes, pickerel. Moose and bear are there too although I never saw any from the vessel. A favorite “eating-out” up there was paddling along the blueberry bushes for a snack.

OK, it’s time to add a stand-up canoeing photo from 2018, below, after paddling around a lake in Bon Echo Provincial Park’s Mazinaw Lake looking for pictographs.

In spring 2015, I received my Merchant Mariner Credential for Master “of self-propelled vessels  . . . less than 100 gross tons upon inland waters” and was looking to work on this, although the job has to be a great fit.    I also have the STCW BST.  But I chose to follow a different path and currently work contractually with Blount Small Ships Adventures as onboard lecturer, as it seemed to build on skills I’d developed over decades.  Some trips are recorded as Go West and  Gallatin’s Ditches.   The most recent series based on a Blount trip is here . .  CB, short for Chicago bound.

Since 2013, my work–articles and photos–has also appeared in the magazine called Professional Mariner.  For an article I wrote about moving oil in greater New York City by tugboat and barge rather than trucks, click here.   For an article about the newest generation of NYC sewage tankers, click here.  For an article about tugboats in Puerto Rico, click here.  To search on the magazine’s website, click here, and you’ll find the search window upper right, where you type in my name —  will van dorp  .


I did the photos for this article about Capt. Log, now retired and scrapped, and wrote the story here about a new use for an older tugboat Cornell.


In 2011 Gary Kane and I began work on a documentary about the ship graveyard near Rossville in the Arthur Kill.  I’ve written about the final product here and did a post about the Art of Brooklyn Film Festival here.  You can read a review from Wired magazine here, and order a copy here.


Gary Kane at DonJon Metal Recycling Facility, August 2011

Summer 2008 I completed an Masters of Fine Arts degree in writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts, a marker that has me plotting alternate courses.  If you look on the left side of  tugster page, you’ll see a yellowish icon of an oil refinery and reference to “Babylonian Captivity,” that is a free book you can read there, a non-fiction account of the August through December 1990 experience I had as a hostage in Iraq.  Scroll through this article for evidence.

Personal stuff: I’m Aquarius, of course, of a dragon year. My favorite book as a kid was Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling.  As a kid, I lived near Lake Ontario, where I learned to swim (Sodus)  and the Erie Canal, where I first fished (Lyons).  If you’ve read that book, you’ll love this story from October 2020.

Some favorite authors are Herman Melville and Farley Mowat.


Eisenhower Lock, about 1965

If you want some other good reads, try Carsten Jensen’s We the Drowned and Alvaro Mutis’ The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll.  From the first long career, I’m now retired;


time is ripe for what one friend calls the renaissance.

Companion animal/familiar: feathered, green, ancient. Formerly the familiar of one Long John Silver, of which he speaks fondly. Can be convinced to reveal whereabouts of many buried treasures. Doesn’t respond to any name although I call him by Nigel, the name used by the man I inherited him from. When my neighbors looked after Nigel recently, I learned they renamed him Charlie.



 Happy reading the blog.