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Using what’s stowed in this vessel and the one from two days back–Black Seal–you’d have “fixins” for lots of

banana splits.  To ensure these tropical foods arrive in prime condition, stow those bananas properly on this reefer.  All manner of stowing advice comes your way from Stowmasters.

What impressed me, though, since I could observe it, was the quick tie up and turn around:  Albermarle Islandapproaches the dock at 8 a.m. with assistance from Brendan Turecamo and Margaret Moran, who

ease the vessel sideways.  Slowly and

steadily.  Crew on the ship and the dock make lines


By 8:20, it’s “all fast” and the tugs move to the next job.  Less than 10 hours later, Albermarle Island has headed out the Narrows bound for sea and Europe.

I’m left wondering about the story of these bananas in both the weeks before and after this docking.  Here’s a start.   Bowsprite drew a sister of Albermarle here, and I  wrote about the previous generation of reefer vessels in the sixth boro over three years ago here.  Anyone know what happened to the smaller “Ocean” class, and why the “Island” class calls at Red Hook rather than Howland Hook?

All fotos here by Will Van Dorp, who wrote about shipment of another commodity here.

The solstice happens in a week.  Is your household ready, mobilized.  Can you safely take it out onto the highways and wetways?

Thoughts of anything but summer . . .  with its adventures and gallivants . .. are elusive, for me.  Dana Spiotta writes of that in tomorrow’s NYTimes magazine, recounting a voyage on the Erie Canal by rowboat with Tide and Current Taxi‘s very own Marie Lorenz.    You could go fishing:  both Marlin and Minnow are currently in the sixth boro.

You could just go sit by the water and see all there’s to see.  I saw a classic loon yesterday–who dove before I could snap evidence.  This Corsair passed more slowly, less skittishly.

A week from now you could swim around Manhattan . . . or volunteer to keep swimmers safe by emailing

You could swallow new herring and gin.  Here’s more info.

In a week you could go to the Clearwater Festival.

This foto from last year comes from Yen.  I know where, like these monks, I’m going . . . .

Next Saturday . . . the sea will again boil with hot blood and creatures rarely seen will emerge and parade.  It’s  the 29th

annual Mermaid Parade and Ball!!!

Thanks, Yen, for that foto.

Unrelated but priority . . . don’t know if this is real:  Colvin schooner on beach for sale for $15000

I quote from gcaptain:  “According to AP Moller, the parent company of Maersk Lines, a single 20-foot vessel container on average can hold about 48,000 bananas. In theory then, Emma Maersk is capable of holding nearly 528 million bananas [aka 11,000 teu] in a single voyage – enough to give every person in Europe or North America a banana for breakfast.”    So I wondered . . . if Emma and sisters carry that number of bananas, then

CMA CGM White Shark = 243 million bananas,

Ital Lirica – 244.3,

Port Said – 82.03 . . . .   and

MSC Linzie – 242.3

There you have it, a new measure for container ships, the banana.  It’s right out there waiting to catch on  . .  like smoots, donkeypower, helens, and  hedons.

All fotos recently by Will Van Dorp.  Thanks to gcaptain for bringing up the banana idea.  Now would those be Cavendish bananas, plantains, or something else?

Guest fotographer #1 here is John Watson.  He caught this foto of Orange Sun with my favorite cargo last week, less than an hour before I stopped by the Kills; Laura K provides the assist.  Some previous orange juice vessels have appeared here and here.    And here’s my first, Orange Star.

John has been shooting sixth boro ships much longer than I have, and I look

forward to more collaboration with him soon.  Above bulker is Tai Bai Hai . . . and below is GencoSuccess.

Richard Wonder sent along the fotos of YM Efficiency from the Bayonne Bridge last week.  Here he takes a turn at

MOL Paramount, getting a turn around Bergen Point with

assist from Responder and Ellen, who’ve

appeared here countless times.  That’s Port Elizabeth in the background.  Click here for a foto of MOL Paramount mounted high and dry in a floating drydock.

John and Richard . . . thanks much.

Check out this eBay ad for Q. A. Gillmore, a 1913 tug with functioning steam engine power.  I’m NOT going to bid although I might be interested in partnering.  The clock is ticking.

Forces at play include:  sun, earth, season, tide, surf, and many more.  J aka Jamaica Bay is not not more than 10 nautical miles (goose-flying miles) from Manhattan, about the same distance the Meadowlands is, if you continued that straight line between my vantage point and the Empire State Building, then beyond.

Here’s a map.  Doubleclick to enlarge;  see “you are here” and continue clockwise around the indicated yellow path and look toward Duck Point Marshes;   Manhattan is to the northwest.  J-Bay is an NPS area.  Click here for info on the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy.

See the Verrazano Bridge on the far side of Floyd Bennett Field.

Osprey respond to all those same forces at play.

On the far side of a pond, a wildlife volunteer (aka midwife?) observes an egret,

a snowy egret, gossiping and waiting . . .  as they all are.

So what’s this volunteer doing?  Note the pendant and the red dot.

After the eggs get laid–prompted by all these forces–

and a thorough burying process happens,

the red-dot mama gets weighed, and all relevant info gets encoded.  I saw a half dozen egg-layers summoned by the forces in a one-mile walk in the preserve yesterday.  A year ago, on the northeast side of J-Bay, the terrapin shut down JFK.  See the story here.

Humans think the terrapin obey signs?    From the volunteer, I learned that another force at play here is an overpopulation of raccoons.  And for hatchlings, predators include wading birds and voracious fish.

Well, it’s time for us all to kick back and enjoy all those same forces at play:  Saturday . . . Coney.    Or if you’re upriver . . .  Clearwater.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp, himself beset by forces and tribal ritual of spring.

For info on terrapin mating, see here and here.

For another rite of spring in the sixth boro, click here.

You saw a different foto of this vessel a few days ago here.  Besides being a veteran of both World Wars and serving a navy of  restaurant diners, she fished.  Dave Williams writes

about menhaden boats such as as this:  The Delaware “restaurant boat”  is identical to the first boat I served on–Elmo, a menhaden boat.  The mast had two functions – a lookout would climb aloft and scan for schools of menhaden, no easy feat even moderate seas.  In the late 50s and 60s companies began to use spotter planes.  Two 40′  purse boats would be dropped from davits and the net would be drawn around the school – you can see the davits and one boat astern in the third photo on your Jan 5 post.  As the net was pulled alongside it would be brailed with a cord and portions lifted aboard using the jib boom at the top of the mast – your picture of the crows nest shows the boom.  Later large pumps were used to suck the fish directly out of the net.

The entire center section of these boats (where the picture window shack is on the restaurant) was a large hold.  We would fill it up and then put up sheets of plywood on deck and fill the entire center portion with fish.  Menhaden are the principal source of fish oil.  They are ground up and cooked to extract the oil.

Some additional random thoughts:   Elmo had a crew of 17 fishermen and 5 officers – there were three toilets – one in the officer’s quarters and two near the engine room.  One toilet had a white seat and the other a black seat.  You can guess the distinction in a boat working south of the Mason Dixon.

Also, Elmo was a bell boat with no engine room controls.  You have seen that setup on the older tugs but maneuvering a 150′ long vessel was another matter.  Steering was also a manual cable system.

Elmo was the last wooden menhaden boat built – 1954 – her outer hull was 6” thick planks, the ribs were 12” thick and the inner hull was also 6” thick planking.  Amazingly she was built on a beach in North Carolina.

Menhaden are still fished today off Virginia and the Carolinas.  The newer boats are steel, but I don’t think the design has changed all that much.  Back in the 60s a major operator of menhaden boats was the Zapata Corporation.”

Thanks much, Dave.

Tangentially related, below is a winter fishing boat in the sixth boro, and I still haven’t figured out what they’re catching or trying to.

Steve Turi, who always sends along interesting stuff, reminded me of an Op-Ed piece I read in the NY Times last month.  The short, pithy, punch-packing piece by Paul Greenberg, author of the upcoming Four Fish:  The Future of the Last Wild Food, raises an alarm about the possible disappearance of menhaden, which is called “the most important fish in the sea,” referring to a book by the same name by H. Bruce Franklin.

And why the most important?  Well, two reasons according to Greenberg are  1) as algae-eaters, they keep the waters clean and 2) as low-food chain fish, they serve as food for the fish we love to eat like tuna, stripers, and bluefish.

Franklin teaches at Rutgers in Newark NJ.  Here’s a review of The Most Important Fish in the Sea, which sounds like a good winter read.  More winter reads soon.

All fotos here by Will Van Dorp.

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September 2021