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Let’s look at the boundaries of the sixth boro, using as reference two of the Holland Tunnel vent structures;  as you see in that link, we’ll call  New Jersey “land ventilation station” (to the left) and “river ventilation station” to the right.  I took this foto yesterday from the 18th floor of a building in Battery Park City.   I will re-take this when I find a higher platform.


Here’s Seth’s foto from about 30 years ago, slightly higher and to the north.  Note the pier building then between the two ventilation stations.  Also notice the two angled piers and all the vacant land between there and the rail lines in Hoboken to the north.  I’m not sure of the name of the inlet between the “vacant” land and the railyards near the top of the foto.


Here’s another shot I took yesterday showing the area between the river ventilation station and the building with the greenish roof, now called the Hoboken Yard and Terminal for New Jersey Transit.


Here’s Seth’s foto from 30 years ago taken from near the land ventilator station looking north toward the Hoboken Yard and Terminal.


If the changes in the sixth boro boundaries interest you, then the book to get is Thomas R. Flagg’s vol. 2 of New York Harbor Railroads in Color is the book to get.  Tom–a friend–took this foto in 1975 from the air.  In the lower left, notice the base of the river ventilation station.  Using that as reference and moving to the right (northward), you have a sense of what that space looked like before the building boom.


From page 98 of Tom’s book, here’s the space in Jersey City south of the river ventilation station looking over to Manhattan.  The large pier to the left of the New York river ventilation station is Pier 40.


And finally, from page 99 of Tom’s book,  taken from Manhattan in September 1967 by Allan Roberts, . . . possibly the World Trade Center, looking NW toward NJ, locate the two ventilation stations.  And  . ..  yes . . . that’s the SS United States.


The waterfront . . .it has experienced a sea change from 30 years ago to now.  And stormy Sandy of seven months ago intimates that all this relatively rapid building on reclaimed land at sea level in the next 30 years could again experience a sea change.

Many thanks to Seth Tane and Thomas R. Flagg for use of their fotos.

Check out these additional fotos.  Orient yourself with the ventilation stations here.

These vessels recently left a trading post that was starting up around the same decade the sixth boro replaced the initials N. A. for N. Y.


As of this writing, these three vessels are entering the Indian Ocean on a historic re-enactment.


Earlier this month, Colin Syndercombe visited the three vessel at the docks in Cape Town.  Oosterschelde, Europa, and Tecla have an amzing combined age of 295 years!!  Tecla was built in my father’s hometown of Vlaardingen, nine years before my father’s birth.






Preparing to get under way.


Departing on this leg of the trip are some cadets of the South African Navy.




Fair winds . . . bon voyage.





Click here for fares and schedules.  Of note, in August 2013, there’s a sail from Perth to Houtman Abrolhos archipelago and back to Perth.  This picturesque Indian Ocean island chain saw the mutiny and wreck of the VOC ship Batavia on her maiden voyage and the subsequent murders of over 200 survivors by a band of other survivors.  This Lord of the Flies tale serves as basis for the Mike Dash’s compelling account Batavia’s Graveyard, if you’re looking for summer reading.

For an upbeat parting shot, here.


Many thanks to Colin, who has previously sent lots of interesting fotos from 8000 miles away in Cape Town.

I took this foto in January 2008.  According to this site, Cosette–321′ loa, launched 1966– was seized in Martinique some time in 2010.


She used to fill the niche currently occupied in the sixth boro by Grey Shark and Lygra, in the Narragansett Bay by Danalith, and who knows what vessels in any other port.   Anyhow, I was just wondering if anyone knows the current disposition of Cosette . . .


Ditto  . . .  Sea Dart (II)?, here in a foto I took in October 2008 and never used.  Is she still around?  Is this the 1953 Higgins vessel owned by someone in Elizabeth, NJ?


Here’s a pair I haven’t seen in a few years . . .  Realist


and Specialist.  There was also a Specialist II for a while.  I recall stories about one of them going to the Great Lakes and another to Puerto Rico, but have no confirmation.   Just curious . . . not working for a collections group.


Below is the boat that prompted this post . . . Edith Thornton back a few at the 2008 tugboat race . . . here’s another shot . . .  and


same hardware now as Guyanese tug Chassidy.  Many thanks to Gerard Thornton for sending the foto below and starting the percolating process.  I have to mention here a novel that served as catalyst for this thought process:  The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll by Alvaro Mutis.  The book is part Joseph Conrad, part Gabriel Garcia Marquez . ..  with some Melville and Jensen thrown in as seasoning . . . and Maqroll el Gaviero–along with his “dispatcher/business partner” Abdul Bashur–are  aventureros sin igual!


Here’s a different illustration of change . . . Pegasus a few years back and


last weekend:  it’s springtime and she’s sprouted an upper wheelhouse


Ambassador in March 2010 is now Pramuditaa very Buddhist name.  When Ambassador was here three years ago, she seemed to be under treatment for propulsion issues.


Three years from now . . . or 30  . .  who knows what changes we’ll see . . .  All fotos–unless otherwise attributed–by Will Van Dorp.

This book makes very clear what the heart of a ship is.  And it’s not the electrical or mechanical systems.  It’s not even the galley, although I can attest to the revival I felt after consuming the goods from this vessel’s galley at sea.  By the language on the engine order telegraph, can you tell the vessel?


It’s Gazela, possibly the oldest square-rigger in the US still sailing, rebuilt in 1901 from timbers of an 1883 vessel, a Portuguese barkentine  retired from dory-fishing on the Grand Banks the year Apollo 11 shuttled peripatetic passengers to the moon.    As Eric Lorgus says in one of over 50 personal stories in the book, “she the ultimate anachronism, having been built before man’s first flight, and still sailing [commerically] the summer of the first moon landing.”   But history by itself is NOT the heart of a ship either.


The heart of a ship is the stories told by her crew, by those who love her.  A vessel underway is like an elixir;  as she makes voyage after voyage through the decades, sea and weather and crew different each time, her pulse is the magic recounted differently by each person on board.  Heart of a Ship breathes.


Here’s an excerpt from John Brady’s story:  “We have sailed with master mariners and people who seemed just north of homeless.  We have stood watches with carpenters, physicists, bank officers, and doctors.  We have seen those just starting out in life and those salvaging what they could from mid-life crises.   . . . We have sailed with strippers and masons, machinists and software writers, nurses and riggers, professional mariners and grandmothers….”    For more samples, click here.


But don’t take my word for the life that pulsates in this collection.  Buy your own copy, and support Gazela’s continuing preservation.  Every historic vessel project should be so lucky as to have a collection like this.

For some of the posts I’ve done about Gazela, click here, here, here, and here.

I have to disclose that I know Rick Spilman and consider him a friend.  His status as a waterblogger he has already established.   He has been–as evidenced by second foto second from right)–an active participant in Ear Inn waterblogger gatherings.  When I learned Rick had published a novel, I wanted to find some uninterrupted time to read it.  I found it today:  a cold gray day with a soft couch and a warm but grouchy cat [which you can see if you click on the foto below].


In about three hours, I raced through this very satisfying book.    Chapter 1 begins in 1928 in Montevideo and returns there in Chapter 17 . . . a framing device that pays tribute to the best of all tellers of salty tales, Joseph Conrad.  In between Spilman the novelist tells a compelling tale of the 1905 voyage of Lady Rebecca from Cardiff to Chile, a five-month journey for the 309′ x 44′ windjammer carrying 4000 tons of coal.  Reminiscent of my favorite sea story Moby Dick, the 1905 account begins with the arrival the youngest and greenest crew member, Apprentice Will Jones, age 14.  Spilman details the characters carefully as they sign on, jump ship, get replaced by crimps; deftly setting up conflicts.  A third person omniscient narrator captures the fine points of the crew and vessel.  And excerpts from letters written by Mary Barker, wife of the Captain, recount other aspects of the voyage related to her family and nature on the high seas.  In fact, the title of the novel comes from one of her letters:  Once I return to England, it is my intention to never again go to sea.  …  I have truly seen hell around the Horn, and if it is within my power, I shall stay happily ashore henceforth.”

Half the pages of the novel recount the tale of that hell, taking on the Westerlies of 1905  as they threatened to defeat Lady Rebecca and crew.  The American crew member–Fred Smythe, who’d arrived in Cardiff via a Kennebec barque sailing out of the sixth boro’s own South Street–repeats a line he’d once heard at a Liverpool pub:  “There ain’t no law below 40 south latitude.  Below 50 south, there’s no God.”

Hell Around the Horn . . .  read it for yourself the next time you have a few hours free and need a great sea story.  A bonus is the author’s notes in the back pages, one of which reveals the single degree of separation between Rick Spilman himself and the captain of the vessel upon which Lady Rebecca is based.  Bravo, Rick.  It’s high time we conduct some more business at Ear Inn.

Click here for a previous book review from about three years ago.

May 30, 2012 . . . around 1000 hrs.  I’d forgotten taking this foto until a conversation with Harold Tartell this afternoon.  RIP . . .   Bounty in that foto was heading for Newburgh, NY.  Note the USCG vessel lower right.

Here are more fotos from my harbor jaunt yesterday…  Apollo Bulker now lies at the dock in Rensselaer.

John A. Noble passed the Statue on the Upper Bay at midday yesterday.

Lower  Manhattan yesterday was a maze of pumps powered by portable generators of all sizes.  I’m not sure where this water is being pumped from.   But waters in other parts of that area smelled of fuel;  people wearing masks–there’s a whole new meaning to Halloween mask now–ran pumps and threw out waterlogged debris from residences and businesses.

Google “John B. Caddell” now and you’ll see lots of stories describing this vessels as a “168′ water tanker” or a “700-ton water tanker.”  It’s NOT a water tanker.  It was built as hull # 137 for Chester A. Poling Inc.  to transport petroleum.  Soon after delivery, it was turned over to the Navy and redubbed YO-140.    After the war, ownership was returned to the Poling company, and until its sale “foreign”  about two years ago.  It’s NOT a water tanker . . . it did not transport water as a paying cargo.

It’s remarkable to see the number of government helicopters in the skies over New York–and the military trucks and personnel.  This afternoon I spoke with US Forest Service crew in my neighborhood–Queens–clearing roadways: the person I talked to, from Arkansas, had never been in NYC before.  He said he was working with USFS crews from Texas, Wisconsin, and Ohio.  Thanks, welcome to NYC, and come back sometime when we’re all feeling better.

And finally, attributed to the Daily News . . . LARCs come ashore on Belle Harbor, Queens to assist.   Click on the foto to get the Daily News story.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp, except that story and fantastic foto by Vera Chinese the NY Daily News.

After coming home last night, I finally finished reading Rockwell Kent‘s 1929 memoir N by E.    Rockwell Kent lived for a time on the curve at 1262 Richmond Terrace (Staten Island) just east of the Caddell Dry Dock.   N by E tells the story of his shipwreck on the western shore of Greenland near Godthaab and subsequent struggle to survive.    Here are some teaser excerpts.

“We lay, caught in the angle of a giant step of rock, keel on the tread and starboard side on the riser; held there by wind and sea; held there to lift and pound; to lift so buoyantly on every wave; to drop–crashing our 13 iron-shod tons on granite.  There, the perfection of our ship revealed itself; only, that having struck just once, she ever lived, a ship, to lift and strike again. …  wind, storm, snow, rain, hail, lightning and thunder, earthquake and flood.”  (page 132)    Some time later, the three crew save what supplies they can and scramble up the rocks to safety.  Kent again:  “The three men stand there looking at it all  [including the wreckage of their vessel Direction]   … at last one of them speaks.  ‘It’s right,’ he says, ‘that we should pay for beautiful things.  And being here in this spot, now, is worth traveling a thousand miles for, and all that it has cost us.  Maybe we have lived only to be here now.'”  (144)  And later   “It was clear to us that the boat would remain on the ledge and even be, at low tide, partly out of the water.  She appeared to have been completely gutted …  the forecastle hatch now stood uncovered and every sea came spouting through it like a geyser, bearing some quaint contribution to the picturesque assortment that littered the rocks and water.  Books, paper, painting canvas, shoes, socks, eggs, potatoes:  we fished up what we could.”  (148)

Somehow Kent found himself ennobled in that personal disaster.   There’s hope.  It’s also a good read.

Last foto here passed along by Justin Zizes Jr .  . partly submerged fishing boat in Sheepshead Bay.

I haven’t seen much float these days, although water–current like this part of the Colorado or ancient/gone /imagined –is here.

Imagine the water that carved out this canyon north of  Moab.

The bed of a dried-up sea might look like this, with

swash marks left by the receding tide.

The names in a place like Arches reflect the preoccupations and experience of the namer.  So for fun . .  . I’ve been renaming features . . . like the Martian Iceberg at sunrise,

Scupper Arch,

Tattooed  Belly . . . .

Named per existing map or your own imagination . . .  the beauty entrances.  I’ll probably re-read Desert Solitaire once I leave here and break free of the spell.  Check the book out if you’re interested.

Otherwise . . . you might read this commentary.  Sorry I can’t translate.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Surprise, lunacy, and freebies commingle in this post.  At one point, my perspective shifts a half dozen miles also.

0859 . . . as seen from the “swimming pool” aka Faber Park, Staten Island-side just east of the Bayonne Bridge. That’s Shooters Island (see a then/now post I did here)  off the bow of Zim Qingdao.   Here‘s something to know about the place Qingdao.

Still 0859 . . . Amy C McAllister awaits instructions on assisting with the turn.

0901 . . . part of the turn accomplished . . .

0902 . . .  Zim Qingdao makes the Bridge.

0905 . . .  Ellen‘s off the stern now.  And when I look up,

… well, there’s no surprise about female mariners except

that looks like a kid!    Could this be a contemporary  Zim Family Robinson . . . sans the shipwreck of course!!

0940 . . .  I’ve jumped onto my horse and raced over to the Brooklyn side of the Narrows.  What directed my attention to the Brooklynside base of the VZ Bridge was ships’ horns:  one long blast . ..   danger!  Is it this?  At least six “smokers”  . . .

as Zim Qingdao sped up . . . for her next port, tailed by Amy C and Responder.

I was half expecting these invulnerables-whose engines will never stall maybe— to jump the bow wave . . . .  NYTugmaster links to a WSJ article on “playing in urban commercial waters” here.

Between the VZ and Swinburne/Hoffman, Zim Qingdao  meets

Zim Shenzhen . . .    Note the crew on her foredeck.

By now, Zim Qingdao is passing the Bahamas after a post stop in Savannah, no doubt headed for the Panama Canal.

Unrelated:  Want a free boat ride on Saturday, tickets are available here at 7 pm today.  Actually, there are no truly free boat rides;  support historic vessels of your choice.

If you’re looking for a thriller to read this summer, try The Ship Killer.  Bonnie gave me hers . . . after I’d noticed in prominently displayed at my local Barnes & Noble.   There’s info here, and I agree with the first review there by Jim A . . . except I’d go farther and say it’s like Moby Dick . . . but you get inside the whale’s twisted mind just as you get inside Ahab’s lunacy.   I was predisposed NOT to like it, I didn’t  BUT it was a thrilling ride.

And speaking of thrillers .  . . here’s an American jetski adventure stopped by Russian tanks and helicopters, from a blog yesterday.

Two and a half decades ago (almost) I was entering New Hampshire from Quebec and was stumped:  the US border agent brought his face to about a foot from mine and asked: “How does someone from Massachusetts (my drivers license) and someone from Maine (her drivers license)  meet?”  I knew he wanted a short, convincing answer, and I thought in paragraphs and chapters even.

This shot immediately reminded me of  that experience:  how does a tugboat from San Francisco and one from New York end up lashed together, no longer floating,

cradled on the broad back of Mighty Servant?  The answer is . . . it’s complicated and it’ll take paragraphs and chapters to relate.

And I certainly don’t know much of the story.  What I do know is that at 0902 today, here’s what I saw.

The barges loaded yesterday were still being secured, crew fine tuning as they would a huge

musical instrument.  What music would you like the Mighty Servant to play today?

0951 hr . . .  Charles D. McAllister and Gabby Miller brought their various powers to bear on the travelers.

Centurion and Hercules have pleasingly different bows.

Note the small boat (Bobby G?) preparing Centurion’s entry.

Even Bohemia comes by.

1047 hr . . .  shoehorning is happening on the far side as Albermarle Island passes with a load of Ecuadorian fruit.

From this angle, Mighty Servant thusly loaded reminds me of an ocean going sidewheeler, like SS Savannah.

By 1047, she seemed loaded and I couldn’t tell if

the deballasting aka raising had begun.

More may follow.   All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Oh . . . sorry, Johna.  I could say I picked her up hitchhiking . .  . to spice up the story.  The truth is we were coworkers in a publishing company and that led to some fairly spiced up waterborne adventures;  we were just returning from a jaunt up the St. Lawrence northeasterly from Quebec City.   If you want more on her . . . Diana, a major true love and heartbreak, you’ll have to read My Babylonian Captivity.  Diana is not her real name.

No phantasmagoria today, just the cold hard facts, or in this case . . . the wet, crumbling ones:  exploring Binghamton felt like visiting a hospice.   Hopes to see what remained in the engine room were dashed halfway down the companionway below the main deck.  Nasty cafe au lait post-Irene river water, at least five feet of it at this point, barred the way.  It didn’t seem a heathy or productive place to snorkel.

The southernmost wheelhouse–here with a view of a southbound Vane unit in front of Manhattan–is stripped and relegated to attic status.

In this section of the menu, I love the last sentence of the fifth paragraph:  “She took the population of the eastern United States eight times around the world,” and she did so without leaving that section of the river between Barclay Street pier (now no more) and Hoboken.  Fotos of Binghamton at work can be found in Railroad Ferries of the Hudson: and stories of a deckhand by Baxter and Adams, which I highly recommend.

The craziness of the internet where nothing dies is illustrated by this restaurant review of Binghamton.  Wonder what would happen if you called that number to make a reservation.

I tried to take this foto so as to give the illusion of being on a vessel about to depart for Manhattan.

The wheelhouse at the north end is equally stripped although

the joinery–alluding to wooden wheel spoke days– dazzles.  Imagine looking up at this in your workspace, sans paint chips of course.  Let your fancy add braided cords leading to steam whistles.

Atop the wheelhouses are these lanterns, and

a running light system.

From the wheelhouses, here is the view of passenger and vehicle ingress and egress.  I love the folding gates, and although I know they have a technical

name I’ve heard, I can’t recall it.  (Note:  thanks to Les, pantograph gates, they are.)

Shoreside south end of the the ferry shows greatest recent damage to the deck;  in fact, as tide flooded, the river poured in here.

Like all crumblings and ruins, here is a depressing metaphor of mortality and transience.  Oh to have a jolly drink here, a meal with trimmings and revelry, a time spent

in good company, a celebration that takes you to the heights.

On the floor of the main deck . . . lay this 3′ x 4′ foto of an unidentified happy couple from maybe not even that long ago who chose this vehicle to take them to “that other side . . ,”   a foto soon to be obliterated by . . . the river and time.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp, who needs to get to work now to hold back melancholy.

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Graves of Arthur Kill

Click to order your copy of Graves of Arthur Kill, by Gary Kane and Will Van Dorp. 3Fish Productions.

Seth Tane American Painting

My other blogs

My Babylonian Captivity

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

Henry's Obsession

My imaginings and bowsprite's renderings of Henry Hudson's trip through the harbor 400 years ago.

Tale of Two Marlins

Blue Marlin spent 600+ hours loading tugs and barges in NYC Sixth Boro. Click on image for presentation made to NY Ship Lore and Model Club, July 25, 2011.


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