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It’s been a while since the first in this series . . . and to convince you to look at that link, here’s another photo I took the same day below. See the Seatow with a dead houseboat? Midsummer is a state of mind that resists mustering up and focusing energy.  Janis Joplin’s “Summertime” comes to mind.  The photo below I took on June 10, 2011, and yes that’s Blue Marlin in the distance with its cargo of equipment formerly operated by Reinauer.

I recalled midsummer of 2011 when I saw the photo below on Birk Thomas’ FB feed.  Since this triggers today’s post, I’ll let you ponder that shanty boat a bit, and tell more about it at the end of the post.  But if you’re downstream from Kingston NY, you’ll see this vessel head downstream at some point soon.  It’s currently in the Rondout.

Earlier this summer, I was walking along the west side of the island, and I spotted two stone cows’ heads!

Walking in the midsummer zone, I figured a rational explanation existed, it wouldn’t be Bordens, and I’d not panic.  Encounters like these are one of the joys of living in this city, and one of the reasons I usually carry a camera.  Here’s the background story, and here’s a story from June 2018 about incorporating these heads into a post-modern park monument.

So then there are these . . . an army of re-enacters?  A tent revival featuring a successor to Charles G. Finney?

Scouts with only white tents?  A cult?

Nomads?   An apolitical movement? A set for one of the many movies shot in the lands around the sixth boro?

Nope.  It’s actually a glampground.  You know . . . a place to go glamping, a business catering to folks who want to tent out differently, I guess.

So . . . the shanty boat is the vehicle for Wes Modes’ adventures, some of which he records here.

A brief story about an incident from 2004, I think, a day I didn’t carry a camera.  Midmorning I arrived at Pier 16 to see five law-enforcement helicopters circling the Brooklyn Bridge, a dozen of so emergency boats closing in on the Manhattan side bridge pier.  Then a small rowboat broke out of the cordon and made for Pier 17, surrounded by police.  Once tied to the pier, as many police as could board his boat without sinking it, handcuffed the kid in the boat, and started searching the contents of the boat, not much . . . a tarp and some large plastic bags. After grilling him for the better part of an hour, the police undid the cuffs and left him to his boat.

Later I asked him–maybe 20 years old if that– what that had been about.  He said he was from Albany, had built a small dory himself–and it looked it– with a tarp for a sail and wanted to  take it down to the big city and then return, a variation of Huck Finn.  He’d turned in at Spuyten Duyvil, taken the Harlem River to the East River, and as the tide was pushing him under theWilliamsburg and Manhattan Bridges, he decided he was going too fast and thought to tie up to the next bridge if he saw any protrusions.  He noticed some bent steel rods and  . . . grabbed one and tied his boat off to it.  And then the excitement started.  It was 2004 after all.  The theme of the interrogation was terrorism, understandably.

Still, I think he was just a contemporary of Huck Finn, definitely naive and maybe stupid.  It wasn’t, but it could have been my grandkid .  . or my friend’s son.  I wonder whatever became of him.  I wish I’d had a camera that day, but even if I had, the drama might have been elusive.

It’s summertime.  Enjoy it.  And make the world a friendlier place in the process.  Smile at the unfriendly person, but never smirk. I said smile.

One photo here by Birk Thomas;  the others by Will Van Dorp.




First some background . . .from  Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Chapter 24 . ..  last two paragraphs:

“If I shall ever deserve any real repute in that small but high hushed world which I might not be unreasonably ambitious of; if hereafter I shall do anything upon the whole, a man might rather have done than to have left undone; if, at my death, my executors, or more properly my creditors, find any precious MSS. in my desk, then here I prospectively ascribe all the honor and the glory to whaling; for a whale-ship was my Yale College and my Harvard.”

New York once used a Liberty ship as a high school . . . from the late 1940s until the early 1980s, if I understand correctly.   The photo below comes credit to Seth Tane.  Read the print on the bow.


Here’s another photo of that school.  Click on photo to see its provenance and more.


August 2011 . . . NYC Department of Education’s Harbor School takes possession of Privateer on long term lease from NYC Department of Transportation,  Staten Island Ferry.  It’s an ex- 46′  BUSL . . .”boat utility stern loading,” and


here’s Privateer today, after a “learn-on-the-job” transformation in which Harbor School students participated.  Click here for a six-minute video shot mostly on the vessel used in vessel training AND oyster bed restoration.


Photos below show the Schottel drive unit being installed in Privateer after reconditioning.



Another one of Harbor School’s boats is Indy 7.  Indy is so-named because she was one of twelve utility boats aboard CV-62 Independence, which I visited in Bremerton, Washington a few years back.  CV-62 was a Forrestal-class carrier laid down in Brooklyn, and I’m thrilled that the tradition lives on, a government boat having a second life  training local youth.


Thanks to Capt. Aaron Singh, waterfront director at NY Harbor School for this info and these photos.  Photo below showing the Boston Whaler named Pescador comes credit of  Captain Chris Gasiorek.  Thanks, Chris.


If you’re reading this and you’re a graduate of Harbor School OR the SS John W. Brown School, I’d love to get a comment from you, especially about the path the school put you on.

Here and here are posts in which I’ve referred to Harbor School.

Unrelated but interesting:  a floating school in Bangladesh, a school boat bus in Washington on the Salish Sea, and finally a floating school in Nigeria.

Click here for the post #1  by this title.

September 2012.  Some Governors Island buildings as seen from the Staten Island ferry.  Notice the excavator demolish the gradual way.


February 2013.




Building 877 May 2013.


Today, June 9, 07:15 h, as seen from Valentino Pier, Red Hook.  Eleven stories about to go down.


Click on the image below to see my YouTube of the implosion.


All fotos and video by Will Van Dorp.

Click here for a view from Jersey City.

Mary Whalen‘s moved several times that I missed, but today was my third, or so.  Click here for one of her previous moves, and here for an orange tug moving her.  In small, quick patches of sunlight between the raindrops, she has a new dance partner–K-Sea Houma– while off to the west, storm clouds churn chaos.  By the way, Houma, despite the name, is Long Island built, 1970, ex-Texaco Houma II.

Once the plan is devised,

the tow gets made up and

Mary Whalen shows she still has what it takes to do a molinete to the tango music emanating from her bilge, stretch and spin before

making fast to the south side of Dock 9.  Meanwhile, from her vantage, it appears a deluge soaks the southwest side of Staten Island.  Houma crew debark from Mary Whalen,

say their partings, and then

Houma heads off to the next job, as the Lady from beyond Governor’s Island waves through the trees.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Unrelated:  Red Alert for the SS United States.  See info on the grandest dame of passenger liners here.

Where I’m steering  here most corresponds to the second post in this series, Coexistence 2.  On an ideal day, all traffic gets along, sorts itself out.  Big steel and small steel keep clear of one another, again

and again, no matter what the direction or

cargo or time of hitch or

commercial alliance or lack thereof, or

speed for whatever the purpose . . . understandings get articulated, negotiated, and agreed upon.

But then without warning and from out of nowhere, the wild jumps

in.  The beast, driven by terror of the predator and the mindless urge to mate, dives in

as members of its species have for millenia.  Some have always made it, wild and unfettered.  But now the environment has

changed;  rules and conditions altered.   And intervention happens or


Many thanks to Bill Bensen for the three fotos of the deer.  For the record, Bill took these fotos about three weeks ago although it may be the same buck that jumped in this week.  For more of Bill’s fotos of animals of the harbor, click here.

Other fotos by Will Van Dorp.  Info on the vessels in the fotos:  Foto 1: Bro Albert is a Maersk product tanker with an unidentified McAllister tug in the distance.  Foto 2:  Marie J. Turecamo and Kimberly Turecamo pirouette parcel tanker Stolt Vanguard out to sea.  Foto 3:  from near to far, Taft Beach, Captain D, and ATB Pati R. Moran moves the barge Charleston with assist from an unidentified Moran tug.  Foto 4:  near to far is Davis Sea and Java Sea.

Related:  I included the tug Dolphin above as an attempt to broaden the term, given  Bowsprite’s recent treat (treatise?) on inanimate harbor “animal” life.

I’m praying for perfect light on Sunday afternoon when a public viewing of the barges is scheduled on Governors Island.  PortSide NewYork offers this downloadable guide to the barges, Red Hook, and its Dutch history here.  If you have a chance to get there, the details of these vessels will reward you.  For this month from an on-barge perspective, check out the blog maintained by Arjen Wapenaar, captain of Sterre, the 1887 tjalk;  although the text is in Dutch, the pics are great.

I’ve always been taken by leeboards (aka zwaarden), but I’ve developed a new interest in the rudders:  large and exuberant.  And it seems the Dutch themselves love the rudders, transforming a component that could be just functional to  Rudders with a passion for  . . . being rudders.  Notice the size the rudder (aka roer) on the 1888 tjalk Vrouwe Cornelia (Lady Cornelia).


And the decoration, which I offer to the readers over at Neversealand.


The rudder on Lemsteraak Sydsulver includes a boarding ladder and a flag bracket.


The rudder on Groenevecht dwarfs the tillerman.


And all that beautiful wood begs for paint and carving tools.


I’d like to know the various types of wood used in these rudders, like this dark wood on Groenling (green finch).


I’m looking forward to the viewing on Sunday not only for more rudders but also other details:  mast, rigging, houses, blocks, bowsprits, etc.  Check out the boom (giek) support on Windroos, the hoogaars.


All fotos by Will Van Dorp.  Off to Waterford now.

I can’t remember how many times I heard this referred to a Dutch invasion.  Traditional and modern Dutch vessels paraded past  Intrepid, where various types of nobility watched.  I thought it remarkable how successfully sail obscures naval vessels, identified later.  If I’m not mistaken, from right to left, we see Sterre, Vrouwe Cornelia with just the bowsprit of Sydsulver visible, and the Fugelfrij.  For profiles on each of the traditional vessels, click here.


The first two here are Onrust and Groene Vecht, discussed in previous posts.


They come in all sizes but share curves and lines of wooden shoes, especially true of


De Goede Hoop, a Staverse jol.


Suggestion of kayak lines exist in the Giethoornse punter called Henry Hudson, with the VOC logo on its sail.  I visited Giethoorne a few years back; it’s  a small village in central Netherlands known as “Venice of the North,” in that it has no roads, only waterways.  I love the large decorated rudder.


Pieternel is a Zeeuwse poon, built in 1890.  Look closer.


Fashion for the docks and quays of Vollendam  a la 1890s.


and a several dozen . . . Flying Dutchman aka vliegende hollander boats.


McAllister Sisters found a place in the parade tailing a Lemsteraak called Groenling.


A wonderful parade . . . that should have happened a day before when thousands of New Yorkers had found themselves taking the air along the river.   See the flatbottoms close up next Sunday afternoon on Governors Island.  See the schedule here.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Call this special edition:  too many time-sensitive fotos to ignore.  Many thanks to Dan B. for sharing the next three fotos (taken from high above the Colgate clock in Jersey City)  of Flinterduin entering port on Wednesday.    Notice the bright red paint on portside stern of Mary Whalen alongside the blue warehouses on the Brooklyn side. So Flinterduin came up Buttermilk, then made a


loop around Governors Island.  Call it confusion or


exuberance for life.  We all need more of the latter.  Sometimes I fear my exuberance could be my undoing, but  . . . .  Lower left is Pier A and Castle Clinton.


Back to the barges.  Meet Windroos, a hoogaars from 1925.


Notice how different the profile is from the other barges I’ve recently posted fotos of.  Notice the Moran tuug James Turecamo entering the Navy Yard.  James joins the storyline here in a bit.


Here’s a good article on hoogaars, botters, and boiers.  No boiers have arrived in this contingent.


In contrast to hoogaars design, here’s another shot of the botter Janus Kok, depicted in the previous post.


Just as I needed to leave the Yard for my “day job,” Flinterduin rotated 180 degrees to facilitate offloading the rest of the cargo.  James, invisible on the far side except for the froth, assisted.


More to offload, and I missed it!


A little self-disclosure, repeated:   as a child of Dutch immigrants who entered the US via a passenger terminal then in Hoboken, I speak fairly incorrect South Holland dialect of Dutch and have a fourth-grade–at best–reading level in the language.   Yet hearing the language and speaking it just makes me happy;  it resonates some basic identity that has remained consistent throughout my life. It also conjures up identities I might have embodied had my parents never left their homeland.   It was pure joy to watch this process yesterday, take fotos, and share them.   Maybe one more installment of “special edition” tugster to come.

I hope you all enjoy the weekend as I hope to.  See you at the tug races on Sunday!

All fotos (except Dan’s)  by Will Van Dorp.

With many thanks to . . .  welcome Flinterduin!  In the next few hours, her cargo will be offloaded, and the sixth boro will see sail and leeboards as it never has before.  Amusing though confusing was the counterclockwise victory lap of Governors Island Flinterduin indulged before heading under the southernmost East River bridges on her way to GMD.


More later, but here’s another look at her deckload.


Might there be an as-yet unannounced tugboat race entry down in the hold?  And the contest . . . not over yet.

R . . . rare sights in this fascinating place called the sixth boro and its surrounding waters.  First rare foto comes thanks to Jed:  clearly it’s a Staten Island ferry, but the question is where.  Answer below.


Next . . . of course it’s the Samuel S. Coursen aka Governor’s Island ferry.  But . . . are they now transporting animals onto the island to graze there?  After millions spent in studies, a conclusion has been reached that Sheep Meadow in Central Park is no longer adequate for the City’s population, and Governor’s Island will assume the new pasture role?


R could be for rust, rust busting, and restoration, but don’t


offend this tug in Newburgh, or it might just give chase.  This SUV barely escaped being shifted into the river.  Anyone know the story of this tug, just south of where the retired DEP sludge yacht awaits its own fate?  I was told this is the location of the former Marvel Shipyard.  Anyone confirm?


Here’s a rare sight just north of Poughkeepsie yesterday:  rowers from Cleveland on their way to . . . Key West, raising $$ for Habitat for Humanity.  Don’t believe me:  check this out.  Go Tom and Jon.  They even have a blog.


Patty Nolan was the mystery tug a week or so ago.  I’d like to see this 1931 tug up closer, but I had no idea she had a figurehead . . . er . . . headless figurehead . . . er . . .er . . . figure!    That’s even more fantastic than when seen from afar.


Put a sign like this on the side of your vessel in mid-sixth boro, look up a lot, and you’ll generate some excitement, I’m sure!


Rarities are not so uncommon as you think.  I believe I’m a particularly wide-eyed gallivanter, but seeing the rare and unusual right around you generates a thirst to discover more.  As wonderful as it is to travel to exotic and uncommon places–one of my dream destinations is Timbuktu–rare gems pass before us every day, wonders catch our rye and jostle us to get that last seat of the E train . . . sights and people to treasure, tantalizing and then slipping out the door.   Summer . . . it’s the time to savor those moments, make eternal memories, hear the music of the spheres, listen for echoes of songs long ago sung . . .  To modify the title of a book I like:  Everywhere lies magic.

All fotos but Jed’s by Will Van Dorp;  all taken this Friday.

Oh . . . that Staten Island ferry . . . made a wrong turn and ended up high and dry in Virginia, Norfolk, Colonna’s.

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October 2021