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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.


This is probably the last of this series as well.  These photos were all taken between October 2 and 19 in an area of the western canal, the extreme western portion of which is now more than a little snow-covered.  I don’t know much about this little 1985 one-off (I was told) fiberglass tugboat named Tilly.  Not the Tilly that’s currently underwater.  




Mandalay . . . said to have down east fishing origins from the first decades of the 20th century . . . is a stunner.  Reminds me of Grayling, third photo down here.   Mandalay is on the Genesee river, not technically the canal, although their waters commingle.


Capt. Green . . . another Genesee River denizen said to be a converted landing craft.


Any word(s) on this?


Truly a unique craft of western NY, cobblestone architecture–its height came during the first few decades after the completion of the Erie  Canal)  is celebrated in this museum just north of the canal in Childs, NY.


Heidi, a 37′ 1941 Richardson, is truly a gem on the western canal.




And this looks like almost too much fun!


This brown “sculpture” made no sense to me when I first saw it, but then at a farmer’s market in Lockport, I notice a reference to “farm to pint” and local hops sales and tasted a range of local craft beers . . . of course . . . it’s a huge representation of a hops cone.


Hobbit house?  dungeon?


Try . .  outlet for a 19th century water power system in Lockport.


And for a feat quite unimaginable to DeWitt Clinton and his cronies, here’s the Red Bull take.  Click on the photo below.


Finally . . . I know I’ve posted a version of this photo previously, but this culvert under the canal begs a tip of the hat to that craftwork of an earlier era.


I was truly fortunate to see this variety of craft, but for a time traveler’s view, you must read Michele A. McFee’s A Long Haul:  The Story of the New York State Canal.  One of my favorite sets of photos from the New York State Archives and featured in her book relates to Henry Ford . . . his 1922 vacation on the canal and subsequent decision to ship auto parts on the canal.  In fact, on p. 193 there’s a photo of new automobiles shipped across the state NOT by truck or train but by barge!



What’s this?  Answer follows.


Ice . .  we love it in some drinks.  but on rivers and roads, it’s a nuisance.  Ice breakers try to keep strategic waterways open, and on roadways, salt is the weapon, but when the storehouse floor looks like this and


and this, then you pray for another replenishment.   By the way, the top photo looks down into this hold from the exterior.


Geography and time are  impediments, but so are well-intentioned regulations, as explained in this article.  We’re still a month from the start of spring this year, and according to the article embedded in the previous sentence, the state of NJ–I don’t know the info for NYC or NY–has used 1.5 times the amount of salt used all last winter.


Many thanks to Brian DeForest of Atlantic Salt for all the photos in this post.


These photos were taken on M/V Rhine last week.



Currently the next vessel has arrived and  . . . more are in the offing.

Many thanks to Brian for these photos.

It’s high time for me to reread Kurlansky’s Salt.

Between spring 2004 and summer 2007, I volunteered about 1000 hours at South Street Seaport Museum, or SSSM, mostly on Pioneer but also on W. O. Decker and Lettie G. Howard.  The experience was exhilarating—learning the lingo of schooner sailing and the lines and procedures, rustbusting and painting,  all good for maintaining youthfulness and  toning up aging muscle.  Without my time at SSSM, there might never have been this blog called tugster about a place I imagine as the sixth (and primary) boro.


What pulled me away from volunteering was my sprouting curiosity about all the other vessels and projects and careers in the harbor with more tugboats than I could recall without the assistance of my camera.  Downloading my photos after a day’s sail would lead to a night’s worth of googling, to learn what I could about the boats, companies, cargoes, and ultimately the crews.  Volunteering there felt focused too exclusively on SSSM and their vessels’ tracks from Pier 16 back to Pier 16.   This frustration should not have surprised me, given my lifelong wanderlust and curiosity.


SSSM has stayed with me though. One sweet memory I carry of SSSM is of the stories I heard as a volunteer about the time of creation, creation of the museum, that is.   But these stories came in fragments, and the gaps between have triggered lots more questions.  The more I heard, the less I felt I knew.   A Dream of Tall Ships, covering the time period from 1967 until 1974 in 500 pages, is like a vessel loaded deep with memories filtered through the recollections of Peter and Norma Stanford, founders of  SSSM.  The account is detailed and peopled with legends from a half century ago, a time when nautical giants were feeling the urge to preserve what remained of commercial sail, both coastwise and global.  People like Alan Villiers and Karl Kortum, “ship savers” who inhabit this book, strike me as optimists who could imagine second (or “new”) lives for these old vessels built a century or more before. The Stanfords recall their travels to places like Punta Arenas and the old port of Buenos Aires to purchase Wavertree, one of the tall ships that seem in hibernation down at SSSM today.  The photo below–taken from among the over 60 images in the the book, shows Wavertree in the condition SSSM acquired her.


The book describes a time in the history of SSSM and New York City when it seemed that only the brightest future could lie ahead.  When SSSM sponsored an event, the most powerful, brightest, wealthiest, and most generous of the city rolled up their sleeves and weighed in.  In a timeline of SSSM events in the postscript pages of the book, names appearing include Jack Kaplan, Brooke Astor, as well as Laurance and David Rockefeller.  Then there are giants like Pete Seeger and Burl Ives.  At a January 5, 1968 meeting at the Whitehall Club to launch SSSM’s James Monroe Luncheons, the pantheon of New York’s maritime industry showed up to listen to ocean historian Robert G. Albion speak. NY political elite like Mayor Lindsay were there, as was the famed naval architect Howard Chapelle.

Real estate struggles existed already back at the creation, but it seemed manifest that SSSM would grow into a premier maritime institution, center of the New York State Maritime Museum, and more.  Stanford documents the growing membership.  New York was heady with the growing fleet of tall ships and other interesting vessels.  Exciting happenings like Sea Day seemed to spread a love of the city’s connection with the sea, an event that predates “City of Water” day.

But don’t take my word for all the memories in this book.  I hope enough of you read this book—skim quickly through the too-long segments about martinis and such– and maybe if enough of us start to glow again with embers long ignored, maybe new energies will again start up the dream to make SSSM a street of tall ships that will inspire seafarers of the future.

As I stated earlier, the book has over 60 photos, like the one below showing Wavertree first arriving at the museum, and


this one, showing ARA Libertad docked at the SSSM in July 1969 after delivering a portion of the Wavertree‘s topmast, shattered off in 1910 while rounding Cape Horn.  Two other interesting notes about the photo below.  First, when the Commissioner of Ports and Terminals tried to block Libertad from docking at the SSSM pier, Libertad‘s Captain Vazquez Maiztegui responded, “Libertad will berth in New York at South Street Seaport, no other place.”  Second, at around the same time, Pete Seeger and Clearwater put in there to celebrate her first arrival in New york.


I immensely enjoyed this book.  My only regret is that it didn’t contain 160 photos or 1600 photos.  For example, on September 20, 1968, a Bronx River Towing tug delivered the vessel today known as Lettie G. Howard to Pier 16;  I’d love to know more and see a photo.  Square Rigger Bar & Grille is repeatedly mentioned;  let’s see at least the facade.  I’d be thrilled if an electronic addendum of photos from these early years could remedy this.

Here, here  and here are two posts I’ve previously done using photos showing history of vessels in  SSSM’s collection.

Again, get the book and read it soon.

Click here for some previous reviews I’ve posted.

OK . . . I’ll admit that I’m foolish enough to think every day is Christmas, every day in New Years,  . . . and I could go on.

So happy 18th day of Christmas 2013.   And my heart-felt thanks go out to Tim and Bill Hughes of Hughes Marine for these images.  Thanks also to John Skelson who helped reformat them for this blog.

Let’s go back to November 1997.  Tugboat Spuyten Duyvil delivered a barge carrying a Torsilieri truck carrying a Norway spruce bound for Rockefeller Center.


The tree was felled in Stony Point.  Click here for the article by James Barron detailing the tree transaction.



If that tree is 74 feet, that’s a long trailer.


You gotta love those red balls.  By the way, Hughes logo on the barge was painted out for this transit.


Here were some fotos taken in the Upper Bay.  I highly recommend getting the children’s book version of the story in part to see the artistic liberties taken in rendering both tug and truck.


Fireboat John D. McKean  does the honors.



Although I’m still working on locating more pics of this event, including Joyce Dopkeen’s shots of the offloading process, I am thrilled to share these with you here.

Again, many heartfelt thanks to Bill Hughes for sending these photos and to John Skelson for reformatting them.

I hope to have more belated “christmas” fotos soon.

Two words juxtaposed in this headline from May 1914 NYTimes  are not ones I expect to see . ..  “Roosevelt” and “tug.”  Click on the image and (I hope) you’ll get the rest of the article.


Below is Aidan, the Booth Line steamer which returned the former President from Belem, near the mouth of the Amazon.


On October 4, 1913, Roosevelt boarded the vessel belowS. S. Van Dyck-for Brazil.  Departure was from Brooklyn


Pier 8, to the left below.   Click the foto to see the source.


What’s driving this post is Candice Millard’s 2005 The River of Doubt:  Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey, which I just finished reading.  Learning about the namesake–Candido Rondon— for the vessel in foto 8 here while in Brazil last summer prompted me to finally read this book.  Ever know that the ex-US President was stalked by invisible cannibals as he and Rondon led a joint Brazilian/American group down a 400-mile uncharted tributary of the Amazon, now referred to as Rio Roosevelt  (pronounced Hio Hosevelt).

Well-worth the read!

Here’s a projects post I did two years ago.  The project boat below–an early 1930s 35′ ACF– is available.   Here’s a post I did five years ago about an ACF and here’s an article with a few fotos about another ACF that was lavished with love.   For info on the vessel below–located in Cape Cod–get in touch.  Seller is motivated!


Multiple prompts have got me thinking about projects.  One is the vessel below called Source, starting point for transformation into a restaurant boat in a movie called Secret of the Grain, set in southern France.   Possibly this is a good but sad Father’s Day movie.


Some day I will take on a boat project.  Shoofly caught my attention when I visited Astoria OR recently.  This 28′ cedar gill-net boat is mentioned in Carl Safina’s Song for the Blue Ocean (207).  Obviously, I’d have to stop blogging this way if I undertook a project boat or a boat project.


Seth Tane took this foto in the early 1980s on Hoboken bank of the North River.   This has to be the wildest variation on a trimaran I’ve ever seen. Anybody know what became of this project?


I wish I’d made more effort to see Comanche when I was in the Tacoma-Seattle area a few years back.  She’s had many lives already.


I saw this 1915 beauty in her restored state closeup a few years back in North Cove.  This foto I took in Noank CT in 2011.  For her history, click here and here.


And then there’s the exquisite Cangarda, once a sunken hulk . . . as shown here.


What else has gotten me into this mood include some books I’ve recently finish, notably Max Hardberger’s Seized:  Battling Scoundrels and Pirates While Recovering Stolen Ships in the World’s Most Troubled Waters.  Start reading and you won’t put it down.    Other forces have also created this mood, which has also driven me through all the “wrecks & relics” on a fantastic site called shipspotting.  Here are some of my favorites:   Here and here for PT3,  wooden yachts  Averilla and Wayward Girl, trawler to schoolship Prinses Juliana, island freighter Gerda Maria, and tugboats Arv Fernando Gomez,   Tulagi US Navy tug Saint Christopher,   Torrent,   and finally Catriel in Argentina.  Some exotic projects could be this  cold war era patrol boat VMV 20, and twin antiques of the future Falcon II and III.  

And seriously, if you’re interested in the ACF in the top foto, please drop me a comment or email.

Some day when I’ve got a space to work in and trade in this blog, I’ll begin a boat project . . . building something new from scratch.  And if I do this, I’ll document the project from plans and sawdust to charts and logs of journeys as Meryll and Tom have done here for the past half dozen years.

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.

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