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It’s bowsprite’s drawing on the pin I’ll wear today.  Send me an email and I’l tell you how you too can get one of these pins.  Or send her an note . . . to the post she put up today.  The original event/foto happened here in September 2008, but it took bowsprite to transform that contest into some universal depicted on a pin.

It’s love . . .  can be  warm and abstract as it is to a six-year-old;  sometimes

filled with drama, pursuit-and-retreat-and-repeat….

It can be very high drama, perilous paroxysm, much more than hissy-fits.

It can just be bump-n-grind physical, rubber and steel til our eyes go askew as we

go through the process of trying on all shapes vaguely recognizable as hearts.  But it’s all

amor valentinus.  Here are my V Day posts from 2009 and 2007.

For me, the more dispassionate, the better . . .  but I’ll tell everyone (and everything) I really love that I love them.  Wanna try the same?

I promise some wilder pics from the Waterblogger Fest of the other night, but for now. . . .  I spotted so much pink and red as I strolled along the west side of Manhattan . . .   on my way to the fest that I presume some thing must be afoot.  To understand, of course I headed for the water.  AIS said to expect the vessel below.  AIS is a fantastic tool, because if I’d monitored only the VHF, I would have heard  “mole partner.”    And the possibilities for this boggles the mind, starting with Kenneth Grahame character with fur . . . to some sort of spy.  Greetings, MOL Partner.  Doubleclick enlarges most fotos.

Last year I experienced Affinity.  Partnerings are ubiquitous:  like here, many thin single wires do one strong wire rope make.

Ditto fibers of other materials conjoined in whatver which fashion as a single line.

Many rocks do

one long-lived weir define, like this one from Cherokee County, Georgia.

Making many into one defines this structure as well, but otherwise I have no clue what means this assemblage in Philadelphia’s Wissahickon Creek.

Today I salute all my partners of all sorts.  Thank you for keeping me afloat, thanks for being a part in one way or another.

All fotos in the past half year by Will Van Dorp, who found no pink or red ships in the bay yesterday.

By the way, would a “mole partner” be one who… like a groundhog … only emerges now and again unpredictably?

Alice Oldendorff came into town yesterday.  Many thanks for this foto  to a reader and blogger who is anything but self-absorbed.  And seeing Alice from this angle, escorted by the inimitable McAllister Responder . . . Ms. O is the same beauty I fell for long ago, but the Manhattan skyline from this angle has some new detail . . .  right above Alice’s forward boom is the World Trade Center with its twin cranes, and forward of that the Beekman Tower, NYC’s tallest residential building.  I don’t think Beekman is a walk-up.

So, I have clearly self-disclosed myself as a fool for Alice, who may never requite my feelings for her.  Never will I–unless my fortunes change–be invited to commune with Alice in drydock, where I could study her from stem to stern.  Or trace her curves and contours.  Or admire her from every angle with my lenses.  Or massage her aches and smoothen her scars.  Let me demonstrate by . . .

showing what I was able to do recently with Edna, a 35′ loa x 16′ truckable tug launched in 1997.  My dance with Edna started here, and then

I walked around her, admiring her marks of graceful aging … the rust and the growth and dents.  She exposed her vulnerabilities.

She let me appreciate her power and maneuverability both starboard closeup and

from farther back.

I pivoted around to port, and venerated her complex yet classic lines.

Back at the bow, our eyes locked as we  read each other and grokked.

From full frontal to profile to dorsal-to-dorsal dosido, the dance could go on.

OK, Alice, I know you’re 20 times longer and 5 times beamier, but our feelings may some day converge and such exhilarated escape from inhibition we’ll enjoy.  For now,  I withdraw all this self-disclosure.  If working relationship it is, then I will cherish that.  Work calls us in opposite directions:  you to the quarries of Nova Scotia and me . . .  well, no more self-disclosure.

Top foto by Claude Scales;  all others by Will Van Dorp, whose smile stretches from ear to ear right now.

Who brings the salt to season the roads and highways and drivers who want to avoid skidding there?  And if you detect some family resemblance to the vessel on my first ever blog post,

a glance at the name and profile will confirm that Johanna is a sibling of Alice.  Yes, that’s Robbins Reef Lighthouse just forward of the bow.  I’ve written about Harmen, so now meet Johanna. I feel quite ignored by Alice these days, so it’s time to ignore her back and move on.  Of the three, Alice is the smallest and Harmen has the greatest tons/hour offloading capacity.

Harmen offloads 5000 tons per hour!  Johanna conveys it out at 2000 tons her hour.

Clamshell cranes reach into the hold and drop the salt

into hoppers that drain into belts that move the salt toward the main offloading arm.  Yes, that’s the Empire State Building in the lower right.

I wonder if the Oldendorff self-unloaders carry

additional crew to operate the cranes while in port. Anyone know?

While Johanna offloaded, Pati R Moran moved an oil barge eastbound.

The salt piles bulge and shrink with weather fluctuations at Atlantic Salt, last summer the home of the Salt Fest.  I hope it happens again this year.

All fotos here by Will Van Dorp.

Unrelated except by geography, here’s a story I just learned of related to a spill of Congolese uranium on the north shore of Staten Island back more than 50 years ago.  No matter how long ago a half century may seem for us, in uranium half-life terms (millions of years depending on the particular isotope) it’s an instant.     Can anyone help me identify  the name of the ship that delivered the uranium from Matadi to New York.

It’s hard to believe Caspian Sea‘s never appeared on this blog before, but


each day plays out something new, each minute, each second even,


so imagine this post like an arc of a zoopraxiscope or


or Duchamps’  “Nude Descending”,


or just Caspian Sea (ex-Sea Tiger, ex-New Castle, ex-Jonathan T) steaming by me as I take a break on a drizzly day in Elizabeth and


and revive my urgency as my life ticks


on by . . .  stuff to do better, secrets to offload, fears to float test, people to get to know more completely.  Caspian . . . glad to meet you.  Times flies, sunrises launch, calendar pages flip, hours blur, seconds pulse  … I pant and still get behind.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Another three-letter abbreviation serving as title? It must indicate how I think this time of year: short words, like elementary school, like basic things.

In slightly warmer weather, she asked me how Morton did it. Morton being Morton S. Bouchard Jr. here the “T”, nose tucked into a shallow notch on this fuel B. Being in a smart-aleck mood, I said, “Just as we do.” Her harumph signaled that my attempt at wit had failed. “It,” she clarified, meant “push the barge upstream without it snapping the cables and yawing off in its own direction.”



So, putting aside my attitude, I enlist Penn Maritime tug Julie, southbound here in Arthur Kill under goose escort, to help me demonstrate how Mort might do it.



One of a pair, this starboard hardware inside a “ring” plate is not a vestigial wheel. Neither decorative nor defensive, it’s a coupler. This link shows how it works.



Davis Sea has a similar coupler,



as do Nicole Leigh Reinauer



and Jane A. Bouchard. And as they do it, so might Morton.



All photos, WVD.

We’re each more than the sum of our parts. Fine writing speaks between the lines; a limerick says more than its AABBA five part rhyme. Feast your eyes on the parts below, the activity on this behemoth. Who might she be?



Access to or from gravelly fun, controlled by the helmeted crewman at the top of the passageway? No one boards this  ship by me unless …



Another crewman leans over the coaming and looks into the hold. What does +40,000 tons of gravel look like, smell like? Notice the hatch cover size. To his right a large clamshell bucket is poised to drop gravel into a hopper. What’s that blue compartment at the lower leftside of the foto?



WC! Suppose that’s for a yard crew? And those front-end loaders, yard machinery as well, offloaded by crane before leaving the dock or permanent fixtures of the vessel working in the hold during loading?



The lifeboat, as always, preferably filled only with potential energy for freefall. Food and drink in the larder?


And such curves, complex ones, as Real Ships Have. Almost as sweet as on a sailing yacht. A conventional rudder post. No azipods here.



Of course you can see the rest after looking only at these fractions. You’ve seen the bulbous bow months ago. It’s my favorite blog partner in Brooklyn and one of the best dancers out of the Maritimes.

Since rumor has it Tug44 will soon post fotos of her, I offer a challenge: bulker poetry. And to keep it lowbrow, the genre should be limerick. Extra recognition for an accompanying tune. Fusion is acceptable also, as in neopunk limerick or reggae limerick. Any language from Assamese to Zulu, but the subject is Alice.

“There came a belle bulker named Alice . . .

or something.

All photos and silliness by Will Van Dorp.

Spring sunlight penetrates where winter’s hidden intrigues entertained by hearth or mere candle flame. Secrets then are no longer secret now. In spring ghosts mostly retreat, but sometimes they dare intrude with friendly nudges or unidentifiable noises or scents.




“Don’t you recall what plans we once spawned here in private?” the spirits say.




“What clandestine arrivals? What furtive departures? What profound events feted? What parties til dawn with excitement heightened by what music or what wine?” Now mostly gone, the sprites are almost forgotten like . . .




. . . strolls for pairs seeking private vantage from a bridge bed long crumbled, even friends who no longer talk as they did, ties ravaged by personal pirates.

I hear you still, my heritage; I consume your memory, like recalling cargoes once carried by these ships. They too are like lovers gone way off course and left high and dry.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

Military commanders code-name projects with frightful names like Final Cut and Urgent Fury. But not so the captain of voyages of a certain schooner Anne.



The pink drawing superimposed on the southern Atlantic between South America, Africa, and Antarctica on the chart below suggests the code-name for this next voyage. And no doubt that name will be carved into utilitarian objects soon.



Here’s the schedule for Saturday if you’re looking to see them off. Weather forecast is so stupendous that news of the impending launch had the statues around Columbus Circle consulting their globes.



This news may be what brought the brave young minke in on a reconnaissance mission for the greater rorquals and toothy ones of the Tropic of Capricorn below Ascension. Oh requiem for a minke!



Lovely sailing: Reid, Soanya, and Anne.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

“Green with Envy” I thought to call this. Or “Threesome” might be titillating. It was bound to happen someday: Alice, Rosemary Ruth, and me . . . all within sight of each other.

Rosemary Ruth was eastbound on the East River this very afternoon when . . .


a bulbous bow did she espy. The bow looked familiar.


Could it be . . . the wandering Alice is back in town?!@# Let’s tack, she insisted. NOW even if it means fighting the tide, she did declare.


Back to Jersey City she went. The East River is certainly not big enough for them both.

And me, the two-timing (or three or who counts anyhow) Tugster, back to the bloggers’ confessional did I hike. Such an intriguing pair they make!

All photos and silliness by Will Van Dorp.

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June 2023