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Tony A sent these first three photos. What are they?
Here’s the answer. I like the statement . . the last one above water! I wonder what else you can say that about. Whalebacks have come and gone, except this one. Click here for a historical essay on whalebacks that makes an unexpected connection to Franklin D. Roosevelt. If your appetite is whetted, here’s another. As the the connection between this style and x-bows, click here.
Frisia Inn, which was in and out of the sixth boro a week or so ago, is not a whaleback,
but the bow shares some design features.
Many thanks to Tony for the actual whaleback photos. For a good closing story on a whaleback whose remnants lie 400 feet below the surface of the GOM, click here. That whaleback, SS City of Everett, would tow barges and its Captain Thomas Fenlon claimed it could have saved RMS Republic from sinking, offers to do so having been refused by the RMS Republic’s captain.
I could have called this “unusual sail.”
That’s me in the two-person sailing Folbot back in 2002. I had bought it back around 1998 from an ad I saw in a publication called Messing Around in Boats. The gentleman who sold it said it had been in his barn for at least 30 years. When I peeled off a layer of pigeon shit, the skin came off with it and exposed a wooden frame that broke down into pieces four-foot or shorter. The hull, mast, leeboards, sail, rudder all could fit into a seabag, and I fancied myself, a show-off, hiking up to a roadless mountain lake, assembling my vessel, and sailing . . . in the clouds.
When I couldn’t sew a new skin or find someone who could do it–two different canvas shops took on the job and then backed out–I decided to skin it with leftover shrink-wrap boat covers,
reinforce the bow with duct tape, and go paddling.
It worked! Here’s a blurry shot showing the insides . . . shrink-wrap and plastic strapping.
As time passed, I decided the Folbot could at least as be sculptural until such time that I find a canvas skin maker.
So this is the top of big room in my Queens cliff dwelling, where I should maybe keep some shrink-wrap and a heat gun handy to skin my boat in case the water level here rises.
And since I’ve invited you into my home, how about more of the tour. Yes, that’s the stern of the Folbot in the center top of the photo and a spare one-seater kayak, which I cut-bent-glued-stitched at Mystic Seaport, to the left. [They appear not to offer the kayak building classes now.] Only problem with the stitched kayak . . . the only egress/ingress is out the window, down 12′ onto a flat roof, and then down another 15′ onto the sidewalk.
In a pinch, you could make a kayak using a tarp, willow or similar shoots, and wire. And in the long ago and far away department, here I was back in January 2005 sewing that kayak you see hanging to the left above . . . 10 hours of just sewing once the skin was on, per these plans.
Bending ribs right out of the steam box and
knotting together the bow pieces happened
prior to the actual two-needle sewing.
These last two pics are not mine but come from a Folbot publication from the 1960s. The photo below shows what a later-model sailing Folbot–just out of the duffel bag– looked like.
Here’s what the publication says it looks like sailing.
For now, mine remains sculpture.
I’ll tell you more about this fishing boat in a bit, but that mud says it has been below the surface of the water, and it ain’t a submarine.
Some claim it’s the most famous fishing boat in the world, although that sounds hyperbolic. Guesses?
It’s Western Flyer, the boat chartered by John Steinbeck AND Ed Ricketts, which served as the platform for their expedition to the Sea Of Cortez aka Gulf of California. Click here for an interesting article on how marketing removed Ricketts’ name from the Log from the Sea of Cortez account. The vessel is currently undergoing a $2 million restoration.
Log from the Sea from Cortez is well-worth reading, although my favorite is Cannery Row, in which Ricketts is portrayed as the marine biologist. For a portion of Log, click here. My favorite pages in that excerpt are the second half of p. 6 and all of p. 7, and the second half of p. 14 onto top of 15.
Tangentially related: the elusive bowsprite has responded to an updated book on the Sea of Cortez here.
Many thanks to Kyle for these photos, taken in Port Townsend.
I’m thrilled to discover entirely new stories, like this one, which I found after following up some info I’d seen on a historical marker sign in Bath, NC, a month ago. Click here and scroll to see the historical marker. I saw it briefly in the headlights but took no photos.
When I googled “floating theater bath nc,” I learned a book had been written about this barge and immediately ordered a copy of the book, where I got the stories, including the one about “G-string” shows, which I’ll explain at the end of this post. I guarantee you’ll be surprised. Click here for some details about Prof. Gillespie’s process in writing the book.
James Adams used two tugs–Elk and Trouper— to move the “floating theater” from town to town in the Chesapeake and the estuarial fingers of North Carolina back in the days when movie theaters and certainly mass entertainment penetrated into all the hamlets and backwaters of this portion of the US.
Although I’d never heard of this entertainment in the backwaters where I was born, it’s fairly well covered with blogposts like this and newspaper articles like this. The Chesapeake Log has done a story. In fact, there’s a group that wishes to recreate the barge.
Needless to say, any project on the water always faces this danger from its element, among other perils.
Between venues, Elk and Trouper would tow the barge, like horses moving the old time traveling carnival to the next town.
Now about “G-string” shows . . . From page 63 of the book, “there were three primary comic characters in the repertoire theater . . .[one was the G-string character], an old man, the geezer. He was evolved from the 19th century comic Yankee character, sometimes with a dose of the frontiersman thrown in. … squeaky male voice and a goatee-like beard. The cartoon Uncle Sam is a G-string character.” I’ve looked online for other references to this meaning of G-string . . . with no corroboration.
Who knew? Edna Ferber and her Showboat . . . which I don’t know well . . . I thought that was based on Mississippi traffic. The sixth boro and the Hudson have their very own Lehigh Valley 79 Showboat Barge as in here, here, and here. There was once the floating entertainments of Periwinkle and Driftwood . . . now all gone.And the whole eastern seaboard has Amara Zee . . . (scroll) Caravan Stage Company.
I think it’s high time Edna Ferber’s story gets reinterpreted as a movie, this time including Elk and Trouper.
I don’t make much fuss about Christmas for reasons I explained here 10 years ago; when I really want something and I can afford it, I just get it. Of course, I have no problems with anyone going all out with gifts. Books and experiences make the best gifts. Experiences . . . teach you and you can remember them forever.
Books . . . you read them once and then read them again or give them to someone you think will enjoy them as much as or more than you did. See the book cover below . . . great cover and fabulous book. Inside you find crisp photos, reproductions of painting of McAllister vessels, family stories, . . . even an owners’ family tree that clarifies some of the boat names. The story starts in 1864 as James McAllister (generation 1) stood on the northeast coast of Ireland about to emigrate across the Atlantic.
One of my favorite stories involves the boat below, launched from Newport News Shipbuilding Co. in May 1909 as John Twohy, Jr, for Lambert’s Point Tow Boat Company. Renamed J. P. McAllister, this boat served as a platform for the one-and-only Harry Houdini‘s escape from handcuffs and leg irons inside a nailed-shut, weighted packing case. Here’s a reference to this event in a recent NYTimes, but in this book, you get two photos of the event and facsimiles of the contemporary news story and the J. P. McAllister logbook entry, all attesting to the tremendous research involved in this beautifully produced volume.
One more great story . . . typical of struggles to divide up ownership in any family business. When disagreement came to a head in on a cold Easter Sunday morning in 1904, “the partners decided to work out the percentages once and for all by meeting on a tugboat, taking it offshore, and not returning until they had an agreement.” Now Capt. Jim (generation 2) told his 6 year-old son A. J. to wait at the pier until they all returned. Which happened to be as night fell. Here’s how it’s told: “Capt. Jim … his face covered in blood . . . jumped off [the boat onto the pier where A. J. had waited all day], grabbed A. J. by the hand, and said, ‘That’s it. It’s settled. The issue is settled.'”
Below is one of my many favorite full-page photos in the book. Another photo a few pages later adds detail not unlike Birk Thomas and collaborators do here.
A book like this focuses not only on a family business but also New York City, with all six of its boros, and the country. The photo below shows the McAllister yard behind Ellis Island, real estate taken over in the 1970s for the creation of Liberty State Park. Today’s margins of the harbor are that way only because of thousands of decisions.
The author, Stephanie Hollyman has a website that highlights an impressive breadth of work.
Click here for ordering info.
Since we’re looking at books, here’s one that might be ripe for updating. Another one I’ve reread and enjoyed recently is Buckets and Belt: Evolution of the Great Lakes Self-Unloader by William M. Lafferty, Valerie van Heest, and Kenneth Pott.
The title is such a mouthful that I’ll soon reduce it to GHP&W. Although this blog began with photos and observations of mostly working vessels in the great harbor associated with New York City, the watery part of which I call the sixth boro, the blog followed a course suggested by these vessels to other GHP&Ws. And given then the global nature of water traffic, it seems logical to devote at least a month to other GHP&Ws.
I’ll kick off with this post about a port I’ll likely never visit, the former Aral Sea fishing port of Moynaq in Uzbekistan. The photos come from Getty Images by Bjorn Holland and Kelly Cheng. Surprisingly maybe, I live in a neighborhood of NYC where Uzbek is the dominant language, which was part of my motivation to read a Tom Bissell book called Chasing the Sea: Lost among the Ghosts of Empire in Central Asia. I highly recommend it.
So here are some detail areas of a huge aerial photo print I saw the other day. Can anyone point to detail that confirms a date? My guess is somewhere in the 50s or 60s. The first photo below shows the southeast point of Bayonne NJ. The peninsula bisecting the top and bottom is MOTBY. Governors Island is upper right and the Statue is upper left with the southern tip of Manhattan along the top.
Below is a closer up of the lower right corner of the photo above, showing that tugboat, some barges, and two sets of trucks at the cement dock.
Note the Statue and Ellis Island. To the left of it is now Liberty State Park. The Caven Point Pier crosses the center of the photo and the current Global Terminal is still waiting for fill.
Below is the just capped landfill that is topped by the Bayonne Golf Club. Lower left is quite the gunkhole with disintegrating watercraft I’d love to see a closeup of.
Remember that all the B/W “photos” above are parts of the same aerial shot.
Let’s have a fun month with lots of GHP&Ws. And not to be too prescriptive, I’d love photos from a variety of GHP&Ws in Asia and Africa, mostly lacking in my previous 2900+ posts. Of course, here and here are a few posts I’ve done on African ports; here, Asian; and here and here, South American.
While I’m asking for collaboration, I have a chance to replicate a trip on a major African river that I originally did in 1973-74; what I seek is leads to a publication that might be interested in the story and photos. The trip is pricey, and if I can sell a tale with photos, I can offset some of the expense. Anyone have ideas or connections?
If you haven’t read it yet, here’s my Professional Mariner article on “barging” in the area of the St. Lawrence River called the Thousand Islands. Since there’s plenty of reading there, I’ll just make this mostly a photo post. LCM owner Jake Van Reenen took all but the last three photos in this post.
In February, the LCM and everything else “afloat” is actually ice-trapped. Folks who live year-round on the islands travel by snow machine.
By late March, the ice has turned to liquid, and navigation starts to resume on the Seaway.
It’s April and houses on the islands need a visit from the fuel truck.
In May, folks from “away” begin to return, sometimes bringing their own supplies.
All manner of vehicles travel to the Islands in early June, when
I visited. The photos below I took . . .
As we traveled with an empty fuel truck back to Clayton, we took the stern of
Vikingbank, headed upbound for Duluth!! for grain.
Captain Jake and deckhand Patsy Parker.
Summer and early fall photos from Seaway Marine Group will follow.
This follows the post where I got to spend four times as long on Long Island Sound, a truly remarkable place. The trip last week brought sights and surprises enough to warrant a repeat trip soon. Here, a bait boat (?) passes a renowned Plum Island facility. Back to this later in the post.
We’re headed to New London, the name of this RORO/WOWO.
Here Marjorie McAllister tows RTC 60 past Little Gull Light.
Here Mary Ellen departs New London for Orient Point, passing New London Light.
Amistad awaits, for sale at the dock.
Sea Jet . . . takes on passengers for Block Island, a place I need to visit soon.
At the dock just south of the I-95 bridge, it’s 100′ scalloper Chief, also for sale.
Electric Boat 2 does patrols around the pens,
which enclose a submarine. Now look closely at the tail vertical stabilizer. Now look at the one in this “news” story about a submarine getting stuck in Shinnecock Canal. If not the same sub, then it’s at least the same type.
But if you start thinking about it, Dan’s is having way too much fun. This story and this one are clearly boaxes, spoofs about boats. When I heard the story about Shinecock, I thought maybe the Hamptons PD had gotten ahold of this one, which I spotted on the North fork just a few summer months ago.
On a leg between Newport and Oyster Bay, it’s Knickerbocker, Wisconsin-built by a shipyard that started out doing fish tugs! If you’re not familiar with fish tugs–of which Urger was one–go to Harvey Hadland‘s site.
Now here, back near Plum Island, is a surprise. I figured it was a fishing party boat, but Justin suggested otherwise, and indeed he was right. M. S. Shahan II IS a government boat, owned by Department of Homeland Security!!
And a final shot of Plum Island just before we return to the Orient Point dock, of course, it’s Cape Henlopen, former USS LST 510.
By the way, I am still looking for folks with connection to this vessel as LST-510.
All photos here by Will Van Dorp.
Click here to scan the many posts with KVK in the title. Here’s a new one inspired by arrivals that had many folks, aship and ashore, paying attention.
Wavertree is suddenly and lavishly being regaled with sights of 21st century merchant vessels
and crew from all over the world are paying attention.
And a mile farther east, at the old gypsum dock, tugboats like Laura K Moran and
Stephen B pass.
If you want to read a good book about when and how the US took possession of Eagle, read Captain Gordon McGowan’s The Skipper and the Eagle. The book has an introduction by Peter Stanford, a foreword by Alan Villiers, and the journey starts out from NYC’s own LaGuardia.
I have many more closeups of the barque; maybe
Here Swallow Ace crew check out an Eagle.
The long street on the landside of this portion of the Kills is called Richmond Terrace. For photos and explanation of what is and used to be there, click here and here, from the ever fascinating forgotten-by.com. Click here to see an image of a square rigger bulk carrier docked in front of Windsor Plaster Mills, now an Eastern Salt facility, in its heyday.
All photos by Will Van Dorp.
Here were post 1 and post 2 with this name, both focusing on WW2 torpedo boats. PT-728 used to be based on the Rondout in Kingston and would make visits to NYC’s sixth boro, but now you’d have to go to Lake Huron for an outing.
The vessel below is PT-305 and “diminished” version of itself spent from 1947 until 1988 in the sixth boro as Captain David Jones. Does anyone remember it? Have photos of it?
I say “diminished” because to bypass certain crewing requirements, four yards plus was chopped off the stern. Click here and scroll through to see a photo of this chopped hull and NYC paint scheme.
If you’ve never visited Nola, you have to; and if you visit Nola, the World War II museum–easy to get to–is a must-do. And in one of many buildings–the Kushner Restoration Pavilion–PT-309 is returning to its former glory. Parts have been rebuilt or returned from scrap heaps and river bottoms–like these exhaust ports salvaged from a wreck in a river in Connecticut.
The plan is for a return to the water, a possible trip all the way to Boston with a stopover in the sixth boro.
PT-305–like many torpedo boats–is a Higgins product, made right in New Orleans.
And before you go, read Jerry E. Strahan’s biography of the Andrew Jackson Higgins. Click here for a Richard Campanella Times Picayune article with photos on Higgins. Here’s an excerpt, showing Higgins’ methods when he needed to get fifty small boats built and shipped to the Navy in two weeks: ”
Low on steel, he “chartered a fleet of trucks and armed plant guards,” wrote Strahan, “to persuade [a Baton Rouge] consignee to release the metal to Higgins Industries.”
Requiring bronze shafting, he sent his men to raid a Texas depot and arranged for complicit Louisiana police to placate livid Texas law enforcement as his trucks crossed the state line heading back to New Orleans. Needing more steel, Higgins begged and borrowed from a Birmingham plant, then sweet-talked Southern Railway officials into bending the rules to deliver the metal to New Orleans. “Never before or since,” wrote Strahan, “has a Southern Railway passenger train pulled freight cars.”
All photos by Will Van Dorp.