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Who else greeted Wavertree on the rest of the way home?  John J. Harvey is always in on celebrations.


Lettie G. Howard was there,


as was the helicopter.  Feehan presented herself on the far side of Rae.


Pioneer accounted for


herself with crew in the crosstrees.


Pioneer and Lettie teamed up at times.


Wire showed up.


New York Harbor School had two boats there, including Privateer and their


newest vessel Virginia Maitland Sachs, about which I’ll post soon.


Melvillian throngs came down to the “extremest limit of land” on Pier 15 and 16, for one reason or another, but who were about to be treated to some excellent ship handling.


Rae took the lead, showing the need for tugboats of all sizes.




The larger tugs pushed and pulled as needed to ease into the slip




until all lines were fast and


and the shoreside work needed doing.


Bravo to all involved.  If you want to take part in a toast to Wavertree, you can buy tickets here for the September 29 evening.


If you haven’t read the NYTimes article by James Barron yet, click here.


All photos by Will Van Dorp, who hopes I left no one out and who as before is grateful to the South Street Seaport Museum and the photographers’ boat provided by US Merchant Marine Academy and crewed by a set of dedicated cadets.

Often folks ask how one can learn about the harbor or is there a book about the sixth boro.  Volunteering at South Street Seaport Museum is a great way available to all to get access to the water, to learn from like-minded folks, and to start on a journey of reading the harbor and its traffic for yourself.  Each volunteer’s journey will be unique, and willing hands make institutions like this museum survive and thrive.

Here are some posts about Lettie G. Howard.


Want to join the crew for a sail to Gloucester for the 2016 schooner race, be part of the race crew, or help sail the 1893 schooner back to NYC’s sixth boro?


You’d be crew in training, integrated into watch-standing along with her professional crew.


On the return, she stops in New London for the Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival.  And all the while, you’d be supporting the good work of South Street Seaport Museum, which has many other unparalleled events coming up in the next few weeks.


Here are the specifics on ticket prices, dates, and itineraries:

NYC to Gloucester | 8/29-9/2: $800.00*
Gloucester Schooner Race | 9/4: $160.00
Gloucester to New London | 9/5-9/9: $800.00
New London to NYC | 9/11-9/13: $480.00
*Sail the first leg and join the race at no additional cost!
To reserve your spot,  email:



The first and last photos here come from Hannah Basch-Gould;  all the other have been taken by Will Van Dorp, who on these dates will be gallivanting to francophone Canada in search of Champlain’s dream.

Here were the previous posts, the last one being in April.  On June 11, I took the photo below, and since then had not been back until yesterday. Note how far along the Bayonne Bridge was on that date, as well


Here’s a closer up of the rigging on June 11.


Now let’s jump forward to yesterday, August 15.  Note where the crane barge


Claude G. Forbes started the morning, and


and check the progressing in rigging, compared with photo #2 above.


Yard tug Jay Bee V came out to


reposition the barge.  Note the mizzen on the background.


Then the crane pivoted around and


the block was lowered and


straps added and


all systems checked and


then slowly tensioned.  One end of the mast lifted from off the deck


BUT then it was lowered.  I waited around for an hour more, but then had other places to be.    I’ll have to pick up the Wavertree story another time.

Since I mentioned the Bayonne Bridge–its own process–here’s what the work looks like as of August 15 from over off the west end of Caddell Dry Dock .. . aka ex-Blissenbach Marina now known as Heritage Park, which in my opinion, should have foliage trimmed so as to be  more user friendly for land-based photographers.


Thanks to everyone who braved the heat last night and came to the showing of Graves of Arthur Kill.  Special thanks to those wizards who problem-solved our way through the technical challenges, except I had brought along an antepenultimate version . . .  and sorry I didn’t have a chance to talk with everyone there.  What you want–prepare for an explicit commercial message here– is this version, which Gary and I call “the director’s cut,” available for a mere $11.99.

While I’m doing “commercials,” here’s an opportunity for the right people to sail offshore on South Street Seaport Museum’s 1893 fishing schooner, up to Gloucester for the 2016 schooner races, or back, or some portion thereof. Click here for some of the many Lettie G. Howard posts I’ve done over the years.

All photos here by Will Van Dorp.


Here was the first time I used this title.

America II looked resplendent bathed in a last burst of late afternoon sun yesterday.


She was one of several sail vessels out;  here Pioneer seems headed over to a new loading point.


On a meteorologically different afternoon a few weeks ago, I caught Lettie G. Howard out headed for the Kills. Here was another spring when I caught Lettie under very bare poles.






I saw Topaz briefly only once, so far away she was only a tall mast, but Claude Scales caught this from his daily vantage point.  Click here for a close-up of Nantucket WLV-612 from three years ago.


No words . . . no gilding the lily!


Pioneer heads back to the dock.


Anyone know where Mary E is sailing from these days?


Thanks to Claude Scales for use of his Topaz photo.  All other photos by Will Van Dorp, who has used the title “autumn sail” much more frequently.  And if you have not yet read my article about sailing to Cuba last winter, you can read it here.

I suppose I could call this RT 163b, since the photos in both were taken the same day, same conditions of light and moisture.

Let’s start with Charles D. McAllister with Lettie G. Howard bare poles in the distance.


Evelyn Cutler with Noelle Cutler is tied up alongside a barge with Wavertree‘s still horizontal poles. Click here to see Evelyn as I first saw her.


Viking is high and dry, post the winter work.


Timothy L. Reinauer is back in town after a very long hiatus, at least from my POV.  This may have been the last time I saw her.


Mary Gellatly gets some TLC as well;  click here for the previous time she was in a “random” post.


Beyond Mister Jim, a pile of sand is growing in the yard just west of the Bayonne Bridge on the Staten Island side.


Elizabeth and Marjorie B. McAllister head out for a job.


Tasman Sea heads for the yard as


Amberjack departs.



And for closure, it’s Marjorie B passing in front of a relatively ship-free Port Elizabeth.  Click here for a photo of Marjorie B high and dry a few years ago.


All photos by Will Van Dorp.

And in contrast to all that, in Niigata earlier today, here’s some great vessel christening photos from Maasmondmaritime.

First, if you’re free today and within travel distance of Lower Manhattan, do yourself a favor and attend this event, 4 p. m., a book signing by Dr. James M. Lindgren.  His new book is a much needed complement to Peter Stanford’s A Dream of Tall Ships, reviewed here a few months ago.   Details in Preserving South Street Seaport cover almost a half century and will enthrall anyone who’s ever volunteered at, donated to, been employed by, or attended any events of South Street Seaport Museum.  Lindgren laments SSSM’s absence of institutional memory saying, “Discontinuity instead defined the Seaport’s administration.”  Amen . .  as a volunteer I wanted to know the historical context for what seemed to me to be museum administrations’ repeated squandering of  hope despite herculean efforts on the part of volunteers and staff I knew.

As my contribution to creation of memory, I offer these photos and I’d ask again for some pooling of photos about the myriad efforts of this museum over the years.

Pier 17.  April 17, 2014.  According to Lindgren, this mall opened on Sept 11, 1985 with a fireworks show.  Its demise may by this week’s end be complete.


April 12, 2014.  Photo by Justin Zizes.


Feb 23, 2014.


Jan 21, 2014 . . . Lettie G. Howard returns.


Sept 20, 2013.  This is the last photo I ever took FROM the upper balcony of Pier 17.


Sept 12, 2013.


July 2012.  A fire had broken out on the pier, and Shark was the first on scene responder.   Damage was minimal, despite appearances here.


Now for some photos of vessels that have docked in the South Street area in the past half century.

July 2012 . . . Helen McAllister departs, assisted by W. O. Decker and McAllister Responder.


June 2012.  Departure of Marion M as seen from house of W. O. Decker.  Photo by Jonathan Boulware.  The last I knew, Marion M is being restored on the Chesapeake by a former SSSM volunteer.


Lettie G. Howard hauled out in 2009.


2009. The Floating Hospital . .  . was never part of the SSSM collection.


2009.  Maj. Gen. Hart aka John A. Lynch aka Harlem.


Helen McAllister with Peking and Wavertree.   Portion of bow of Marion M along Helen‘s starboard.


Mathilda posing with W. O. Decker in Kingston.  2009.


Moshulu now in Philadelphia.


2005, I believe.  Spuyten Duyvil (not a SSSM vessel) and Pioneer.


Thanks to Justin and Jonathan for use of their photos.  All others by Will Van Dorp.  For many stories on these vessels, that mall, and so much more, pick up or download these books and read them asap.



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.

Here was a post I did in early spring 2013.  She went to Portland, Maine for the work, and this morning


she returned to South Street Seaport Museum pier, about 36 hours travel out of Gloucester.


The timing was perfect for me . . . as I’m currently reading A Dream of Tall Ships, Peter Stanford’s account of the years from 1965–1974, when as the subtitle of the book has it, a story of “how NYers came together to save the city’s sailing-ship waterfront.”  Well . . . round 1, at least.



Lettie looked glorious in the morning sun, nestling back beside Ambrose, but I couldn’t help looking especially closely at the bow.  I’d just read this account the day before in Stanford’s book, a recollection about the vessel then-called Caviare in September 1968

“there was one thing that needed replacing, which not vital to the schooner’s structure, mattered a great deal to her appearance.  This was the gammon knee, an oak extension of the stem arching forward under the bowsprit, which nicely completes the sweeping curve of the clipper bow.  The old schooner’s gammon knee had been chopped back into a stump to allow a heavy rope fender to be slung under the bow when she’d been adapted for work as a tug.”

Wow!  That’s one old foto I’d love to see, this vessel, with a rope bow fender, pushing a barge.  Anyone have such a foto?


Lettie‘s back, and so is this fleet.  Maybe Lettie‘d love to come out fishing with them?  Vessel in the distance is Pati R. Moran.   Brown fishboat in the foreground is Eastern Welder.


All fotos this morning by Will Van Dorp.

Here was the first post.  Today spring has sprung and may Lettie,


with such graceful toughness


delicate efficiency,


like a crocus,  burst forth.  Support the fundraiser.


All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

For updates on Marion M. and if you do FB, click here.   It updates this article:  Marion M. has been purchased and is undergoing restoration in the Chesapeake.

Here and here are some older Lettie posts.

All the fotos I have of Lettie G. Howard were taken five or more years ago.    So why am I posting these now . . .  reposting some, in fact?  Here’s why:   April 8, 2013 Rosanne Cash will perform a gala concert to raise funds to restore Lettie, as she is affectionately known, which needs about $250,000 worth of repairs to repair rot and maintain her sailing integrity.   Rosanne Cash traces her family to an ancestor who arrived in Salem, MA in 1643 aboard Good Intent.   Click here for info on buying tickets.





Right now, Lettie is docked at Pier 17 cloaked in unflattering shrinkwrap.    Here’s some history of the unique vessel:

Built in 1893 at Essex, MA, in the yard of Arthur D. StoryLettie G. Howard is named for the daughter of her first captain, Frederick Howard, Lettie fished out of Gloucester, MA, for her first eight years. In 1901, she was purchased by owners in Pensacola, FL, for use in the red snapper fishery off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. After surviving two major hurricanes, she was thoroughly rebuilt in 1923 by a new owner—Thomas Welles of Mystic, CT—who installed her first auxiliary engine and renamed her Mystic C. She continued to fish under sail for the Welles Company for 43 years, until it disbanded in 1966.   That year, she was sold to the Historic Ships Association in Gloucester, and in 1968 she was purchased by the year-old South Street Seaport Museum. She traveled from Gloucester to the Museum’s pier at South Street largely under sail. By then, she had been renamed twice, and her long working life had obscured her origins; research into her background led to a docking book that confirmed her identity as Lettie G. Howard.

Since 1968, Lettie has been a proud and beloved resident of South Street, where scores of fishing schooners like her used to dock to bring their catches to the Fulton Fish Market. She was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989, and between 1991 and 1993 she was completely restored to her 1893 appearance.   Lettie has operated as a certified sail training vessel since 1994, taking student crews on trips in New York Harbor and waters further afield—teaching history and ecology along with the skills and crafts of sailing, and celebrating the legacy of the North Atlantic fisheries and the Gloucester fleets.

Unrelated but this just in:  Former SSSM vessel Marion M has a vibrant new life ahead of her on the Chesapeake.  If you do facebook, check out these fotos!

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October 2016
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