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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.

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April 12, 2014.  Photo by Justin Zizes.

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Feb 23, 2014.

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

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

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Sept 12, 2013.

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

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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.

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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.

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Lettie G. Howard hauled out in 2009.

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

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

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

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

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Moshulu now in Philadelphia.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

I’d planned something else for today, but when Brian DeForest, terminal manager of Atlantic Salt, sent along these fotos –taken Sunday from a unique perspective, I scrapped my erstwhile plan. See the orange details in the foreground?

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These are fotos from the ship, which is currently moving at 10 to 11 knots southbound off Cape May.   That’s the Bayonne Bridge and

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here’s the arm conveying salt onto the pile.

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I’m sure this has a technical term, but I’ll call it the bracket that supports the arm when not in use.

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And here’s a view into the traveling wheelhouse and

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the hold.

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Here is engine room info.

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Finally, here’s Quantico Creek as seen from the bridge wing.

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Here’s a foto I took nearly six years ago on the KVK looking off the starboard bow of a large vessel of another time–a century ago–that used to engage in a salt trade out of Chile.   Know the vessel?

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Answer:  Peking.  Here’s one of six posts I did about that transit of Peking from Caddell’s back to South Street Seaport Museum waters.

Many thanks to Brian DeForest for all these fotos, except the last one.

A thought just occurs to me:  Chile’s main salt port today is Patache.  Could that word be a Spanish spelling/pronunciation of the word “potash”?

Here was ASB 2.  There might be eight million stories in the naked city, but in its primary boro aka the sixth boro at least half again that number of other stories could be told  . .  by the collective whoever knows them.

Captain Zeke moves with the diverse stone trade past folks waiting below our very own waving girl and

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all those folks waving and taking fotos from the ferry and every other water conveyance.

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The 1950 Nantucket‘s back in town . .  for the winter.

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Yup . . . no one could have predicted these . . .

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back when Shearwater was launched in 1929.

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A cruise ship shuffles passengers as Peter F. Gellatly bunkers.

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Kristy Ann Reinauer stands by a construction barge.

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Mary A. Whalen . . . is a survivor from another time.

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A barge named Progress has returned to South Street Seaport Museum, here between Wavertree and Peking.

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Emerald Coast is eastbound on the East River.

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Two views of Adirondack, one with WTC1 –or is it 1 WTC or something else–and

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another with the Arabian Sea unit.

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And Sea Wolf heads north . . . .

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All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

So after work today, I went looking for evidence that New Yorkers celebrate mardi gras.    I saw this instead . . .  seal?

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Not!   Unless seals these days carry flashlights and trail markers and have a support

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vessels like Linda Ann, herself supported by W. O. Decker and Peking.

Here is one of a series of six posts I did five years ago about Peking, which moved across the bay that day.    And half a year back, here‘s a post I did about W. O. Decker and Helen McAllister‘s last waltz.   And Wavertree . . .  I regret that in my dozen years wandering the sixth boro, Wavertree has not ONCE left the dock.  I know some of you must have fotos . . . and good memories of her moves, but   I have none.

BUT . . . click here for a mystery vessel with three masts square-rigged in a foto I was given some years back.  Anyone want to take a stab at identifying it?  The conclusion a few years back is that the foto is “‘shopped,”  although it was done some years ago.

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My guess is that someone was inspecting Wavertree‘s wet side.

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Later I thought I saw a mermaid . . . but I struck out again.

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And for the record, after 1700 hr on the E train I finally saw some mardi gras beads . . . worn by a couple going to a party.  I had to ask.

All fotos today by Will Van Dorp.

Since I woke up this May morning from a dream about attending a meditation session, the logical choice is to start my day writing a post that reflects upon–well–preservation.  Two weeks ago I wrote about the Alwyn Vincent project.  To quote the site, “she’s finally out,” and on the steel wheels ‘n rails of a synchrolift.

She was getting her “haircut and a shave” even before she stopped moving.  When all logistical arrangements converge, the late 1950s tug will travel over-the-road 60 or so miles to its new life, as a functioning steam tug on a freshwater reservoir.

To support the self-described  ‘Bunch of Crazy Farmers’ (personified by Andy, in orange below) who now own the tug, the Alwyn website says they “selling space for banners of about 1 metre square, at R5 000 ($US 639.30). The advertisements are mostly in connection with agricultural products and services, partly because everybody knows who are responsible for saving this historic vessel! Partly also, it’s because those are the firms we know, support and can ask!”

I suppose they’d accept US sponsors as well;  book your space on the hull! Contact Elma on dvijoeningwerke@telkomsa.net

Which brings me to South Street Seaport, and this sight that greeted me two days ago.   After at least 20 years of deterioration, work is happening.

Spongy wood was being removed, and

I got my first ever look inside, after 10 years of wondering . . . .

Jim and Glen peeled away tired materials from the 1980s.

Installed inside the windows years ago was this captioning that

told some of the story.  A sister vessel–New York Central #16–was saved only to end tragically at the Bourne Bridge rotary in Massachusetts, just six years ago.

The late Don Sutherland told of spending the last night aboard #16 . . .  I wish I’d recorded his telling that story. I have recorded Norman Brouwer telling the story of buying this pierside house from #16 from the late John J. Witte, and I hope to share details of that project soon.

Not everything can be preserved . . .  On Friday I caught Cheyenne –a current Witte (officially DonJon Marine) tug–heading from the East River into the Upper Bay pushing a load of (I believe) fine scrap, chopped up pieces bound for recycling.  Just a week ago, Cheyenne was pushing some  preserved vintage jets.

Some valuable artifacts might not be saved much longer unless dreams convert into reality and $$;  others like Liemba and Yavari seem to live way beyond their expected lifespans in spite of their being out of the spotlight.

Which brings up this part of a dream:  Partners in Preservation is dangling cash  $US 3 million, and  . . .<<<Tug Pegasus (1907) and Waterfront Museum Barge aka Lehigh Valley 79 (1914)  have teamed up in a grant application for $$ for preservation work each vessel needs.  As a component of the decision-making about who gets the $$, Partners in Preservation have a “socialmedia-meter” running from now until May 21.  To help Pegasus and Lehigh Valley 79 register high on this “meter,” you can do two things from wherever on the planet you may be:  1)  befriend them on Facebook and get dozens of your friends to befriend them as well, and 2)   vote DAILY here.    DAILY!  Seems like a crazy way to run an election, but  . . . that’s social media and in this case, the cause is worthy.>>>

And later this afternoon–1300–1700h  I’ll be down on Pier 25 minding the plank between 79 and Pegasus, as part of Partners in Preservation “open house” weekend.

Thanks to Colin Syndercombe for the Cape Town fotos;  all others by Will Van Dorp.

Sort of related, here’s a “tale of two projects” post from about a year ago.

A year ago I was pessimistic and wrote a bleak post and made this offer.  I have now officially passed some benjamins.   Last Saturday I went back to the South Street Seaport Museum and the new life excited me.  First, there’s this new blog, which I hope continues.  My friend John Watson, volunteer at the museum for decades and frequent contributor on tugster, has been responsible for many of the fotos.

Then, of course, volunteer spirit at SSSM has been irrepressible.  On Saturday February 18, over two dozen volunteers doing winter maintenance worked on or in four of the vessels at least.  A year of idleness has allowed rust to invade everywhere, rust that needs to be busted.

Hammers, chains, power grinders . . . whatever would combine with sweat to prep for rust inhibitor and ultimately new paint was pressed into service. I even set down my camera a few hours and assaulted some areas of rust, just because I enjoyed it.

Leaks were stopped, even if only with temporary fixes for now.

Hatches were sanded and painted.

It’s no simple cliche that rust never sleeps, and big projects like Wavertree require huge infusions of cash and effort to hold off the ravages of time.   But the spirit of volunteerism is also indispensible.This googlemap view shows where all the current museum vessels used to park.  Can you name them all?  Some may still go to better places.

Ambrose and Lettie G. Howard often docked in the open space here;  they are off-site for repair and refurbishing before they return.What really impressed me was inside Schermerhorn Row.  Floor 3 has “Super Models,”  ship replicas from the collection, smartly displayed.

It also has “Bottled Up,”  miniature vessels in glass.  And if you want to see how ships navigate the bottleneck, you can find a display on that too.

Contemporary hand tools are used rust-busting the ships outside, but Floor 4 has “Hand Held Devices,” an installation of scores of historic hand tools, some of

which you might not recognize, but

then there’s an interactive display that can

help with that too.

Floor 5 has “Coffee, Tea, Fish, and the Tattooed Man,” all

tributes to trades that once transacted just outside the building on the docks.

On the way back down, stop again on Floor 3 for a set of Edward Burtynsky‘s stunning fotos of shipbreaking in Bangladesh.

But don’t take my word for any of this. There’s more than I describe here.  And more to come . . . like the re-opening of some form of research library . . . .   Become a member.  Come and visit.  Stop by and bust rust.   The barge name here describes what’s happening at the Museum.

South Street Seaport is once again

alive!  My fotos don’t really do it justice.  Bravo to all who made this happen.

“Ghost gallery” returns to scenes from several years back with fotos I’ve not used, at least not in this version.  Take Peking‘s last move . . . the whole harbor exudes gravity on a cold mid-January afternoon as McAllister

tugs Elizabeth and Responder assist in slipping her back into hibernation (a terminal coma?) beside Pier 16.  Compare the colors here with those in Rick’s post about this other Blohm + Voss vessel.

Some years back I went to a BWAC show in the old warehouse, but the only image left in my head from that day intruded from beyond the window  . . . this dome

now gone to leave nothing but a trestle leading to a scar.

Brian A. McAllister . . . where does it now operate?

Time to bring back some color, like the

“Gardens in Transit” decals that covered many moving objects–including ex-LT-2089– in NY some years back.

Last shot here . . . Cosette used to transport the used cars out of New York, a task now performed by Grey Shark and others.  Cosette once occupied the niche of Danalith in Narragansett Bay.  I wonder two things:  where is Cosette today and what great Bolivian port of registry did/does she wear on her stern . . . Potosi?  Salar de Uyuni?

All fotos from the archives of Will Van Dorp.  Got any good fotos to share from your sixth boro archives?  I’d love to see them.

Uh . . . I miscalculated and got no new fotos of cutter Eagle today, but John Watson made a smart choice

and got these . . . .  Bravo,  John!  Check out this Eagle/Horst Wessel crew reunion blog.  And thanks to PortSide NewYork, this info on visiting hours this weekend aboard Eagle  at Pier 7 Brooklyn Marine Terminal . . . Today . .. .  2 — 5 pm, Saturday . . . 1–7pm, and Sunday  . . . 10 am–7 pm.
1) . . . Name the four sister training barques.    Answer follows.Still,  serendipity gave me other fotos for another day.  Instead, enjoy a few more Eagle  I took yesterday . . . sans ceremonial escort boats and with some facts about the vessel.

2.  In launch order among the five “siblings”, where does Eagle find itself?  By the way, I can’t identify the cruise ship in the distance.

3.  When did Eagle (ex-Horst Wessel) enter US hands and who crewed it to the US?  Note the anchor ball just above a member of the crew.

4.  How many aircraft has this vessel downed in its career and of what air force(s)?

5.  What year was the orange “racing stripe” added?

6.  How many of the sister vessels have NEVER visited the sixth boro?

1.   Gorch Fock (1933 ex-Tovarishch), Sagres III (1937Mircea (1938), and Gorch Fock II (1958).  Eagle is second . . . built in seven months and commissioned in September 1936.

2.  Eagle was built in 1936, placing it as second oldest.

3.  It was transferred to US ownership in May 1946 and sailed to the US in June of the same year by a joint German/American crew.  Point of entry to the US and disembarkation of the German members of the crew happened at Camp Shanks, more or less across from Yonkers.  Does anyone know of fotos of Eagle headed up or down the Hudson in 1946?

4.  It downed three Soviet planes and one German “friendly.”

5.  Racing stripe was added in 1976.

6. I don’t know which–if any–of the Blohm + Voss training barques have NEVER visited New York harbor.

The two fotos below show a plaque in what used to be Camp Shanks.  Vessel in the distance below is Wanderbird, also

 a repurposed vessel from Western Europe.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp, who took these fotos of Eagle five years ago.  Thanks a bundle for the fotos from this morning, John.

Finally, the other Blohm + Voss vessel in New York harbor is Peking, languishing in South Street Seaport limbo.  Peking is 377′ loa x 46 beam’ x  16′ draft; compared with Eagle‘s 295′ x 31′ x 17.’

Click here to read the reminiscences of Emil Babich, who crewed aboard Eagle in June 1946 for Eagle’s FIRST arrival in the Hudson on its way to Camp Shanks.

Either this foto is science fiction, fotos of Eagle –which arrives on August 5 appearing on this blog already on August 4– or

this is a rehearsal, including crew in the rigging and

vessel lining up for fotos shoots-future, a real 75-year-old barque 

doing dances with a 25-year-old replica, getting ready for

the official entry into the Upper Bay tomorrow.

Actually, I’d prefer you believe the sci-fi explanation, a narrative that allows me to believe these vessels (Peking, for example, was built at Blohm + Voss as was Eagle … ex-Horst Wessel …)  are heartsick to be bound, gagged, and held hostage at these piers . . .  rather than sailing and sallying forth to join the celebration.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.  If you are anywhere near the Narrows tomorrow morning, watch reality catch up with sci-fi and witness Eagle sail her way (if there’s wind) up to the Statue.

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Graves of Arthur Kill

Click to order your copy of Graves of Arthur Kill, by Gary Kane and Will Van Dorp. 3Fish Productions.

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