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Here was Whatzit 32.  And what is it?


Well, it’s big…


and it’s unusual in that it came from overseas all the way to Lock E8, where a crane has been set up to transfer oversize cargo …  I look forward to getting a photo there in a few weeks.


Here’s what this piece is.  This particular one was built in Japan by JCFC.  This link makes for interesting reading about the absence of heavy forging capacity in the US.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.


Here’s the series that this follows, a series that shows how busy this craneship still is at certain times of the year.  Of course, this could also be called what do you do with an obsolete New York City ferry, a vessel delivered by Electric Boat on October 14, 1929 and replaced by a bridge in fewer than 10 years.


Yes, this is the bow of the craneship, and until I spent a day on board last fall, I assumed the bow wheel was non-functioning if even present.




Excuse the rain spot.




Closeups of bow and




Here’s a shot from the deck of Wards Island from the incredible warm late November day last year when we pulled a day’s worth of buoys from Oneida Lake, and at the


end of the day, getting a glimpse of the builders plate in the engine compartment.



All photos by Will Van Dorp.

I took this photo of a photo in a canal office the other week, taken May 1915.


Here’s a photo of lock E5 being built, seven years earlier than the photo of Schenectady above.   This is one of thousands of photos in the Digital Collections of the New York State Archives.


Happy searching.

I’ve done so many Grouper posts over the years that I should  recap.  The photos you see below show a tugboat called Green Bay, which was built in Cleveland OH in 1912 as Gary.    Here are the subsequent renamings of Gary:  Green Bay 1934, Oneida 1981, Iroquois 1987, Alaska 1990, and finally Grouper 1998.  Today, Grouper languishes in the Erie Canal near Lock E-28A, a good 325 miles from the sixth boro.   Many folks would love to see it resurrect with the name Grouper or some other one.

I’ve gotten lots of email about Grouper, but I really like messages like this one I got last weekend from Jeff Gylland:

“I rode Grouper as a kid all the time.  My Grandfather, Lester Gamble,  was the captain of then tug Green Bay out of Manitowoc, WI.  Have many memories of strong coffee and even stronger language.  The boat was converted from coal to diesel in the 1950s.  I have many pictures if you are interested.  Would love to come to Lyons with 50 gallons of paint and put the old Green, White and Red in the correct places.”

So I wrote Jeff, told him what I knew, and a bit later got another email, this one from Jeff’s aunt, Deborah Wiegand:

“I see my nephew Jeff contacted you and already sent some of our photos.  I have a collection ( maybe 20+) of professionally taken photos of the Green Bay taken during the years 1953-69 when my dad Lester R. Gamble was her captain.

The family had thought the tug had been scrapped until a historical blog based in Manitowoc came up with the information on her decline and current situation and brought it to my attention. It is heart-breaking to us.  Both Jeff and I regularly rode along with Dad on tows and have many stories & good memories to share of her.  Please let us know how we can help. Don’t hesitate to call me is you want to chat.”
I believe City of Midland 41, below, was converted into a barge which began operating as Pere Marquette 41 in 1998.  Ah, the circle of life.


Here Green Bay moves the Great Lakes steamer SS South American, built 1913, which some readers may recall seeing in the Delaware River as late as 1992.


Edward L. Ryerson is a beautiful bulk carrier, launched in 1960,  still operating on the Great Lakes.


Note the ice on the harbor here.


Here Green Bay fights a fire in 1952.


Many thanks to Deborah and Jeff for these fabulous photos.  It is my hope that Green Bay, Grouper, et al  .  . is brought out of its stupor in Lyons and finds yet another life.


July 13 saw my first sighting of this intrepid anachronism, here juxtaposed with a 21st century realm of Logi.


She was then probing the inland seas, seeing how far she could voyage, possibly looking for a passage to the Mississippi and the Gulf via Lake Michigan.  OK, indulge me on that speculation.




Our paths next crossed on September 1, as she made her way through the Erie Canal,


with all the modifications that entailed and the use of sunstones to


avoid getting lost in the meandering rivers.


And late last week, Bjoern Kils of the New York Media Boat got this fabulous shot of her scoping out the sixth boro before


she slipped into a Manhattan cove for a spell.



I missed the display in the Winter Garden and hope I can get there again before the boat moves on.


Many thanks to Bjoern for use of that photo. For more of Bjoern’s photos, click here.  All others by Will Van Dorp.  And following up on some info from Conrad Milster, here’s a video on a Viking ship that traveled to Chicago in 1893.  Yes, 1893!!   And the crossing from Bergen NO to New Haven CT with Captain Magnus Andersen and 11 crew took 30 days.  Then the vessel, dubbed Viking, traveled up the Hudson and through the pre-Barge Canal on its way to Chicago with stops in Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, and Cleveland.  The vessel is still there in Geneva IL.  Here’s another video on the ship.

To pick up on the NY canals’ connection, as we approach the bicentennial of the start of the Erie Canal, it would be great to seek out and archive any photos–still languishing in local photo troves–of the 1893 passage there of Viking, as well as of any other outstanding vessels that have traversed the Canal throughout its history.

And since my focus these days is on chrononauts, there is this fleet that comes through the sixth boro every few years.  I caught up with them in Newburgh in 2012 and Oswego in 2014.



The canal is a magical place with its Dragon,


a rare Tug-Ski,


locomotive plant-turned-casino,


a new bridge,


shrines behind shrines,


the Governors and




a tender I’d call the J. Proteus Steinmetz,


a messenger Churchill,


a headless Draken,






and endlessly interesting water patterns.





All photos by Will Van Dorp.


or Go North . . . or up and then down bound.It’s all better than going south ….

Anyhow, in the spirit of the first of series from earlier this past months’ peregrinations, I’ll start with the map.  The red pushpins are overnights and the yellows are shorter stops.  An unexpected jaunt will be from Ogdensburg to Quebec City without stopping at Trois Rivieres or Montreal, where we stop after Quebec City.


Locks there’ll be plenty–37 total I believe–because the alternative is shown below. You can descend the Lachine Rapids, but in a different type of boat.   Lachine . . . that’s French for what it looks like in English . . . China, as in … the folks like Cartier thought that if only they could get past the rapids, they’d be in China.


Here’s another way to look at the St Lawrence watershed, care of an USACE diagram.

inland seas

Here’s to hoping you read this and to my having wifi.

By the way, I was shocked when I learned the namesake of the St Lawrence, patron saint of the BBQ.  Sizzlicious!!

I’m reprising this from Troy, and it’s Lisa Ann.  I believe she’s 2012 built.


Governor Roosevelt is almost a century older, and wears 1928 on her name board now. This is Marcy NY, an Oneida County town between Utica and Rome.


Also at Lock E20, here’s a clutch of boats and floats including BB152, an unidentified and in the process of being repainted tender, a dredge barge, and BB 142.


Tug Erie is there too. Anyone know when tug Erie was built?


Farther along is 1932 tug Seneca, formerly of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.


Inside the H. Lee White Maritime Museum in Oswego, here’s a model of a Catherine Moran.


Here’s what the label said, but according to birk’s site, she’s still alive and well under the assumed name of  Sherry D.   Anyone have photos of Sherry D out in the SF Bay area?


On the freshwater sea called Lake Ontario, it’s another tugboat from 1928, Karl E. Luedtke.


Tucked away in Silo City of Buffalo, it’s Daniel Joncaire II, about a year old.


In the Outer Harbor of Cleveland, it’s 1954 Duluth and fleet mate


1956 William C. Gaynor.


And here approaching the south end of the Detroit river, it’s 1982 tug Michigan pushing barge Great Lakes.




All photos by Will Van Dorp.


Tugster has been a work in progress, evolving organically, without a foreseen plan.  So I just noticed that although I’ve done many posts on autumn sail, I’ve not used the summer sail title.  Until now.

What better place to start than with SSV Oliver Hazard Perry.  GCaptain calls it a 21st century ship mindful of its historic roots.  It heads to Boston this weekend to pick up its first crew!   I caught the photo here back on June 27, but the prescient bowsprite caught it passing through the sixth boro here over seven years ago.


Also, in late June near 79th Street, I caught schooner Columbia, another 21st century sailing vessel with vintage lines a la Burgess.


Sloop Woodie Guthrie is currently undergoing a makeover in Kingston.  You can donate to help here.


I believe this is OMF Ontario, on the hard over in Lysander, NY. In the background that’s an unidentified tender 1937 tender Dana II (Thx, JD) and  Reliable, the sad (engineless) twin of Syracuse. See more of Reliable and Syracuse here.


Anyone know why OMF Ontario is still on the hard?  Launched in 1994 at the site of the former Goble yard in Oswego, It purports to be the first Oswego-built schooner since 1879!   I’d love to learn more.


Here’s OMF Ontario rigged and at the dock in August 2013.


Here’s Steelwinds, a wind turbine cluster built on part of a former Bethlehem Steel plant south of Buffalo and designed to take advantage of the fetch created by the prevailing SWerlies.


Here’s 1992 built Spirit of Buffalo.  Does anyone have photos of her transiting through the sixth boro, the Hudson, and Erie Canal back in May 2009?


Here’s another 21st century sailing ship, also with vintage roots that go back way further than the 19th century, and a close up


of her figure head.  Click here for a good starting point of this vessel’s construction.


And finally, here’s Inland Seas, anchored near the Straits of Mackinac.   For more on the ship project and its late founder, click here.



All photos taken by Will Van Dorp, who is back in the sixth boro but unpacking from the Go West trip and planning a Go North trip .

To clarify this title, the first post in the series has a lead photo showing a map of our journey broken into legs marked by pins.  Legs 4 through 6 took us from Waterford, shown below, to Oswego.


Urger stood by all spiffed up for the steamboat festival.




Erie Canal Cruises accommodated sightseers eastbound toward lock E18.


Tender 4, the electric motor vessel, assisted in a dredge project.


Tug Erie tied up at the end of the work day.


Here’s the cutterhead of one dredge.


Lucy H returned light past Rome, NY.


Never have I seen so


many bald eagles.  This one is banded.


And leg 6 ended in Oswego.


All photos by Will Van Dorp, who will post again when able.


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Graves of Arthur Kill

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

Seth Tane American Painting

Read my Iraq Hostage memoir online.

My Babylonian Captivity

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

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.


October 2016
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