You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Gowanus’ category.

I can’t leave you on the Gowanus Canal as I did a week ago, so let’s head back.  Here’s a look back; small tug Jimmy moves into our location with a mini mud scow.  Btw, if you’re unfamiliar with Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal, here‘s a bit of history.

From the inland side of the Ninth Avenue Bridge, we move through, looking toward the Hamilton Street Bridge and the BQE.  NYC DOT oversees 24 moveable bridges;  you’re looking at two of them right here. 

You’ve seen signs of “entering” and “leaving” on terrestrial thoroughfares.  This one on the Hamilton Street bridge is unusual.

We move our load of pilings, old but preserved in whatever you’d call Gowanus water.  Note the curve in the Canal just beyond the bridge.

Every day, hundreds of thousands of people travel atop this Gowanus Expressway/BQE bridge.  Maybe dozens see its underside. 

The Hamilton Avenue Marine Transfer Station has been open for just over three years.  For a look inside, click here.

In a previous post on “trashed universal product,” you can see the outbound transfer stations.  More on the whole process here.

Much more unexpected along the south bank of the Canal Bay are these “sea float” Siemens 76-MW aeroderivative gas turbines.

As much as I can tell, these units have been here for just over a year. 

Here‘s more on Vard Marine’s involvement with Siemens SeaFloat.  These must have been towed in,  Did anyone catch this?

As the spray denotes, we’ve now out of the Gowanus Canal, which may or may not be named for a Lenape chief,  and headed over to a disposal site, but that’ll be another post.  Lots more facts about the canal in the link in the previous sentence. 

Many thanks to James for the trip. All photos, interpretation, WVD.

Here are earlier installments of this.  And if you’re not familiar the the location of Gowanus or its history, check the links embedded.  If you live in the NYC area and drive or take Brooklyn subways, you have no doubt gone over it.  If you’ve wondered where the name comes from, check this alphabetical listing with great old photos.

Last week I had the opportunity to travel up the waterway, thanks to James Stasinos.  Gowanus Bay is marked by the grain elevators, (built in 1922!!), and the storage ship Loujaine.  For a full history of the cement carrier originally called Bahma, click here.

The tug was headed up the canal, as it does several times daily, is the cleanup, which has recently begun in earnest.

A bit farther in, Diane B turns John Blanche before heading across the Upper Bay. 

As we head in, we first head through the Hamilton Avenue  bridge and under the Gowanus Expressway flyover. The passage is narrow and located on a turn.

Here’s the view to port.

Once through there, we weave between a scrap yard and Lowe’s parking lot.

Above and below, that’s the Ninth Avenue bridge.  Like the Hamilton Avenue bridge, passing involves a conversation with the bridge tender.

Here we look over the bridge  and beyond while waiting for the bridge to open.

This is the view to starboard as we wait.

Once through, we arrive at the pickup site.  Note the excavator that could tell stories


of sifting through and removing the “black mayonnaise.”  Nuggets of historical interest are being collected for future display.   It’ll be years before this project is complete.


Many thanks to James for the trip.  All photos, interpretation, WVD.

Once I rowed to the head of the Canal here.  And in November 2013, I traveled up the waterway, and photos of the cargo are scattered throughout posts from late November that year. 

I’m surprised I’ve not heard this be called DUBQEG, “down under Brooklyn-Queens Expressway of Gowanus” a la DUMBO.

I was here last week waiting for … and when the twin bascules of the Hamilton Street Bridge, I thought it was someone else, but


I was equally pleased to see Sarah Ann–previously June K–arrive to exchange scrap scows,


exchanging the light 141 for the loaded 136.




Two things that really impressed me were (1. the intensity of multi-modal traffic at this location and


(2. the gentleness with which the Sarah Ann crew negotiated her 2700 hp in such confined space.


And yes that is a Coney Island bound F train approaching the Smith-Ninth Street Station, the highest subway stop in the system, one from which you can see the Statue.


Scrapping needs to happen somewhere in the city,


and it continues to be one aspect of marine commerce in Gowanus.


Bravo to the Sarah Ann crew for their impressive work.


All photos by Will Van Dorp.


I have many more Gmelin photos, but as an indication that I still inhabit the present-day sixth boro, I’ll show some sign of life for a few days.

For outatowners, Gowanus Creek (now Canal) is one of the most polluted waterways in the US, which is no secret to locals.  By the way, Gowanus rhymes with “you want us” with a silent “t.”

I took this photo this week just upstream of the 9th Street Bridge.  In fact, when a man swam down the Canal last year, he wore some serious hazmat protection, as the Media Boat shows here.

What I was not aware of is how much effort is going into addressing the accumulated pollution of more than a century.


This barge holds several excavators at work in the Fourth Street Turning Basin, one of the dead ends in the Canal.


As needed, the barge is moved by this small tug/pushboat that might be called 1337E.


Besides black goop that I might photograph next time, wood and other detritus is being plucked from the bottom.


Gowanus, there’s hope.  I’ll be back.


Click here and here for some posts I did when I last visited the Canal . . . in 2011 and 2013.

As to connections between the Gowanus area of Brooklyn and the Erie Canal, click here.  For a photo of the Gowanus Bay New York State Canal Freight Terminal, click here and scroll to p. 22.

Inquiring minds have demanded more context . . . to Whatzit 16.  It’s called Harvest Dome, SLO Architecture‘s fun art project, which is intended to float in the Gowanus near 3rd and 3rd til late Spring 2014 on the watery side of this place.  Here are some fotos of the trip from Governors Island to the Gowanus Canal.



Note the Times photographer lower left here at the foot of the bridge and


lower right seen through the frame and recycled umbrellas. Unrelated:  Check out this informative article on recycling in Taiwan.


R/V Blue Sea passes in front of Pier 5 BBP.


And since we’re on the topic of water and recreation and/or art . . .  it’s Beacon NY and this sloop.


Woody. . .


as well as these arts panels.  The next few fotos I took in August 2013.






The idea of these “line locker” posts is that they allow me to catch up and throw in even the kitchen sink if it relates in even the slightest way, check out this “river tug” byulit in St. Louis, MO by the same shipyard that built the Stephen L. Colby, which sank in the Upper Mississippi earlier this week.  Check out the 1966 as well as the 1967 work on hull#2326.    Now travel back on this shipyard list to the icebreaking tugs built in 1944 and ’45.  Click on the foto below for more pics of these unusual looking US-produced tugboats.   Does anyone have updates on this class of vessel?


Some random things I stumbled upon yesterday include these old fotos of NYC harbor aka sixth boro;  a Canadian self-unloading bulker that was weather-bound off the mid-Jersey coast about a week ago was actually Algoma Equinox, a newbuild on its way to Canada from a Chinese shipyard;  a Christmas train from Canada visits northern NY state and captured by Fred of tug44.    (No, the train wasn’t captured per se.  I just meant in fotos, although I’m sure Fred could always have surprises in store.)

Here was 3 with links to 1 and 2.

I’ve been so far unable to find the original use of this barge, but I haven’t expended much shoe leather either.


Click on the foto below from the July 21, 1977 NYTimes for an article on Michael O’Keefe’s barge restaurant opening.  Anyone identify the tug?


Bulk commodities commerce needs some stretches of riverbank in the sixth boro.  Crushed stone in; garbage out, as well as


recycled materials,




scrap metal, petroleum,


salt, and


desert scrapings aka road conditioner. 


Products galore and more and




Places to park aka dock are vital also.


All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

I took these fotos Friday before the winds started.

Viking . .  . . To see how she’s evolved over the past 41 years, click here.



Brooklyn was previously a fleetmate of Viking.  For her history, click here.



Above and below . . . it’s Huron Service, which recently got new paint as well.  Here’s an overview–possibly out of date–of routes served by Genesis Energy.


Clearly, from the foto, to say commerce USED to happen on the Gowanus Canal . . . uses the wrong verb tense.   Here, from L to R, it’s Shawn Miller, Samantha Miller, Miss Ayva, and Diane B.


Finally, and still in Gowanus Bay, it’s Discovery Coast and


Potomac and Hunting Creek.


Stay inside or at least firmly attached to something substantial.

It’s day 24 for Blue Marlin in the the ever-fascinating sixth boro, and I had NO intention to pick up this thread again, since I’d gone down to the Narrows today expecting a story about a certain three-masted schooner, which I hope to get to soon . . .   as that story emerges from the haze . . .  .  By the way doubleclick enlarges and MSC vessel departing is Rachele, Baltimore-bound.

But at 6:43 this morning, I had finally positioned myself on the sunny through more distant Brooklyn side.   The load looked fine to MY eyes, and when

at 7:45 McAllister Girls and Amy C McAllister showed up, I imagined they would assist the loaded Blue Marlin up to OwlsHead or maybe out to sea.

Then Charles D showed up at 8:11 and –to the astonishment of the spectators, including me, on the Brooklyn side–

at 8:35 offloaded the aftermost three barges!

After stemming the tide a bit under the  VZ Bridge, at 9:19ish the three tugs re-loaded

the shuffled barges from the starboard side.  This foto taken at 9:25 shows the task nearly done.

The sixth boro . . . as I’ve referred to these waters since early 2007, when the concept emerged for me, offers endless delight:  a scene like the one below has never before aranged itself.  That’s Jerko in tow;  you might remember seeing the other side of Jerko–then moored in the Gowanus Canal– in the eighth foto of this post.   Jerko, now gallivanting the harbor and bound for cleaner waters, shows a more photogenic side.

By now I had to go, because I really had other things to do, but I decided to stay for a money shot, Blue Marlin spinning with the tide around midday, showing off its load.  This foto shows what might have been the logic of the reload:  now the seven barges all have their notches on Blue Marlin‘s starboard side.

In my June 3 post, I shared comments I overheard over on the Staten Island side here (scroll down a bit).    Today I overheard the following Brooklyn conjecture:

“I’ve never seen barges like those . . . they’re catamarans or something.”

“See those oranges buildings in the water over there . . . they must be testing something.  The buildings go up and down in the water.  I’ve never seen anything like it.”

And my favorite:  “They’re checking something under the water, I think.  Maybe they’re even looking for oil.  Imagine that, oil right here in New York harbor.”

12:37 . . .  this is what I’ve waited for, the “overhang shot.”  The aftmost barge–RTC 501–is 338′ loa;  Blue Marlin is 200′ abeam.  This is what 138′ overhang looks like.

It’s only my perception, but I’m thinking of RTC 501 like Philippe Petit‘s balance pole.

I started this post referring to a three-masted schooner.  This isn’t it, but the sea’s gift is all manner of surprises . . like this two-masted schooner Corsair that entered the Narrows . . . this shot at 12:42.  Anyone know where Corsair‘s bound?

All fotos by Will Van Dorp, who’s been enthralled by Blue Marlin but now wishes it would just evolve away.

PS:  Blue Marlin will leave . . .when she’s ready.  What is this all about?  Marine businesses… like any other businesses… outgrow and upgrade  equipment.  There’s a market in used marine equipment, just as there’s a used car, used agriculture . . .etc.  market.  Reinauer has sold off this equipment (and has more equipment to sell) to a company in Nigeria, although I’ve heard people mention another, farther destination also.   A heavy lift vessel facilitates the move.

PPS:  Although I’d love to catch a boat ride to get close-ups of Blue Marlin, people’s comments about the huge orange vessel fascinate me.  I’d love to hear your comments . . . what tall tales have you heard?  I’d especially like to hear . . . even anonymously . ..  from folks involved in the loading process, either aboard Marlin or on either Miller or McAllister boats.

(Doubleclick enlarges most fotos.) When I visited Village Community Boathouse (VCB) late last winter, we discussed a “photographic rowfari” to the Gowanus, come spring.  Spring has arrived, and so . .. yesterday, John Magnus and JML

constructed by volunteers at VCB were lowered into the north River at Pier 40 and

after some adjustments, the hearty crews rowed toward their destination,

making a stop to greet the folks at Red Hook Boaters near Valentino Pier before

heading farther south.

Once past Erie Basin, we turned into Gowanus Bay, past the Loujaine, the grain elevators,

part of the Vane fleet, docked where the previous tenant’s name still graces the wall,

past the experiment vessel Jerko

with its famous tender Mare Liberum. . . floating above all manner of artifacts there for the collecting . . . farther up the canal untl we reached it . . .

huge bubbles?  Reverse maelstrom?  Vortex reversus?  Belch of sludge lusus naturae?  Maybe it’s just evidence that the flushing canal actually functions in spite of its sisyphean task of cleaning what has been rendered most foul?

In spite of Gowanus‘ uberpolluted condition, an ecosystem exists, with feral cats,


an intrepid canoe club,

predators and prey.

Is the intention of this sign (above a novel use of tires) to invite us back?  See the VCB version of events here.

Questions I have are . . .  how soon might the Canal’s Superfund status show results?

Unrelated but possibly good news related to South Street Seaport   . . .  we all who pledged may have the pleasure of sending in our Benjamin Franklins . . . .

And a heads-up for next week . . .  Hudson River Pageant, involving some of Village Community Boathouse’s rowing gigs!

Related and very important . .  . if you’re in a human-powered and relatively small vessel, be aware that you are difficult to spot for huge cargo vessels of all kinds that travel fast and have limited maneuverability.  Read Towmasters post here

This foto comes compliments of Lauren Tivey, a poet from Vermont College of Fine Arts.  Question:  where/what?   Note the person in doorway just behind the lion “figurehead.”  Answer below.

Since my goal here is to post unexpected fotos, enjoy this shot of the befigured Patty Nolan, a unique tug itself towing something different last summer.

Behold the sixth boro’s own Dal Lake or Sausalito or Lake Union.    Guess where?

Behold the glorious Gowanus!

And some of its exotic fauna.

These last three fotos come compliments of intrepid paddler Vladimir Brezina, whose fotos have appeared here, among other places.

Lauren’s foto at the top is a restaurant on a barge on West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province . . . just south of Shanghai.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,566 other subscribers
If looking for specific "word" in archives, search here.
Questions, comments, photos? Email Tugster

Documentary "Graves of Arthur Kill" is AVAILABLE again here.Click here to buy now!

Seth Tane American Painting

Read my Iraq Hostage memoir online.

My Babylonian Captivity

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


February 2023