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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.
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?
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
here’s the arm conveying salt onto the pile.
I’m sure this has a technical term, but I’ll call it the bracket that supports the arm when not in use.
And here’s a view into the traveling wheelhouse and
Here is engine room info.
Finally, here’s Quantico Creek as seen from the bridge wing.
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?
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
all those folks waving and taking fotos from the ferry and every other water conveyance.
The 1950 Nantucket‘s back in town . . for the winter.
Yup . . . no one could have predicted these . . .
back when Shearwater was launched in 1929.
A cruise ship shuffles passengers as Peter F. Gellatly bunkers.
Kristy Ann Reinauer stands by a construction barge.
A barge named Progress has returned to South Street Seaport Museum, here between Wavertree and Peking.
Emerald Coast is eastbound on the East River.
Two views of Adirondack, one with WTC1 –or is it 1 WTC or something else–and
another with the Arabian Sea unit.
And Sea Wolf heads north . . . .
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?
Not! Unless seals these days carry flashlights and trail markers and have a support
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.
My guess is that someone was inspecting Wavertree‘s wet side.
Later I thought I saw a mermaid . . . but I struck out again.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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.
“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
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?
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. 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
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
vessel lining up for fotos shoots-future, a real 75-year-old barque
doing dances with a 25-year-old replica, getting ready for
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.
Quick post . . . when will Janice Ann Reinauer and the other emigrants load onto Blue Marlin?
Peking‘s 100th birthday aka launch date has NOT officially been mentioned by South Street Seaport Museum . . . her guardian . . . but then again, nothing else has been discussed in detail by this secretive disorganization. A good dozen folks spoke on behalf of saving the museum at last night’s Community Board 1 meeting.
Thanks much to Justin Nash for this foto of the horns of Brangus; she worked in NYC waters for Great Lakes Dock and Dredge two years ago, but I’ve never seen a foto of the horns of this mighty vessel . . . til now, and maybe neither have you. Tugboats used to regularly sport eagles atop the house.
Finally, three people asked yesterday whether I had “coined” the now-ubiquitous term “sixth boro” to refer to the waters that unite the other five boros of New York City and its Jersey neighbors. The answer is–for that usage–YES, loud and clear. And I’m thrilled that so many folks have adopted the term.