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I’ve long subscribed to the notion that getting there should be as thrilling as arriving, so  . . .  let’s continue the ride backward past this 1914 post  . . . to  . . . 1910.

Below . . . it’s the Statue cruise of the day loading where it does today.  Notice a roofed Castle Clinton–formerly fort, immigration center, music hall– in the background left.


NYC tug Manhattan . . . built 1874!  Now where do her bones lie?


Steamer Brighton assisted by New York Tugboat Company’s Geo. K. Kirkham.


Front and center here is Celt  (scroll through) , the yacht with many reinventions that now languishes in a creek west of Cincinnati, waiting for me . . .   There’s lots of intriguing traffic in the background.


Thomas Willett built in 1908 by Alex Miller of Jersey City for a fortune in the amount of $335,000.


And finally . . . a 1911 photo of a a vessel captioned as SS Momu . . . .  Tug and pier are also unidentified.  The logo on the stack should help someone.


That’s it for today.   I hope group sourcing can teach us more about these photos.

More from the archives . . .  aerial of Pier 40 and the Holland Tunnel vent . . . photo said to be taken in 1955.


Photo said to be “three-masted schooner” in 1937.  Clearly that’s not a schooner there with the GW Bridge in the background.  Anyone know what sailing ship that might have been?


Photo by Sam Brody February 1938.  Ferry Hackensack foreground with Jack Frost Sugars over on the Edgewater, NJ side.


Todd Shipyard, 1935-41 . .  .  Here’s a list of what was built there and an aerial view (you may have to scroll horizontally) of what it today is occupied by IKEA.


SS Normandie . . . headed for the North River piers.


City of Chattanooga December 1937.


Brooklyn docks as seen from Brooklyn Heights, November 1937.  Here’s a Munson Lines flyer.


Here’s the schedule–sorry for all the repetition–for Wednesday evening’s documentary portion of the Art of Brooklyn Film Festival, where Graves of Arthur Kill will be shown.  Gary and I will hang for a while at Park Plaza Bar after the show. It may be mobbed?

I didn’t want to call this post “something different 19” because clearly it wouldn’t be different from the previous days.  A pattern has emerged, and then I realized that part of the pattern is that these photos depict some of the unidentifiable vessels lost in boneyard or ship graveyards like the one focused upon in the documentary Graves of Arthur Kill.   Here they are, in their prime or at least working although forgotten.

All the photos in this post were taken during the Great Depression, by photographers who were funded through the WPA, Works Progress Administration.  I am grateful this documentation happened.  And my caption are based on the captioning–specific or general–accompanying the photos in the archives.

Below . . . US Gypsum tug.   notice the Bayonne Bridge on the horizon near the left edge of the shot.


Photographer Ralph de Sola took this shot of tug Sarah and much smaller one without a name I can find.


Caption says SS Brennen May 1937.  But I believe the vessel passing Pier A is actually SS Bremen.  Assorted small boats here I can’t identify.


I’m intrigued here by the “car float” marked “Brooklyn Jay Street Terminal . . .”  shifting rail cars from right to left.  Is that a McAllister tug on the far side?  And is that how the Staten Island ferry terminal looked in the late 1930s and what is the building on the water left side of photo where the Coast Guard Building is now located?


Here’s an intriguing E. M. Bofinger photo dated June 1938, taken from  . . . foot of Wall Street?  If Bennett Air Service is at all related to Floyd Bennett and the now unused Floyd Bennett Field, it’s noteworthy that Floyd Bennett himself had died–age 37– in April 1938.  Click here for many more Bofinger photos.


Another photographer of water scenes in the archives is James Suydam.  Here are piers 13 through 15, the area currently just south of South Street Seaport.  Prominent against the sky then was 70 Pine, just to the left of stepped back 120 Wall.  The other two are 40 Wall (with antenna) and 20 Exchange, south of 120 Wall.


Here’s a photo attributed to Treistman, said to be taken from the top of Seamen’s Institute and looking over the same piers as shown in the previous photo.


Moving back over to the other side of Manhattan, it’s SS Conte di Savoia at the pier with an unidentified steam tug to the left.  For a photo of the liner with more color, click here.


Again, the context here . . .  Wednesday night, come see the Graves of Arthur Kill, our documentary screened at the Art of Brooklyn Film Festival on tugboats and other vessels of this era and older and what became of them.

And if you’re free the night before, check out this program on salvage sponsored by Working Harbor Committee.


I took six of these fotos with my camera and four with another, given to me, that costs three times as much as mine.  Can you distinguish which is which?  I realize I might NOT YET be able to get top performance from the second camera.  Or maybe in this format it’s impossible to distinguish one from the other . ..  because they’re like oil and oil.  Or like these two tankers, contorted together like slugs in love.  Ever seen slugs in  . . . love?

Mahanadi Spirit gets assisted from her berth by

Charles D. McAllister, spun counterclockwise and

sent out

to sea with additional assist by Maurania III.

Next to move was Chemical Pioneer, with the same

assist team.

A bit later, sibling tankers came in to the dock.  Noble Express came in followed by

Silver Express.

Docking looked like this, one vessel almost merged with the other.

And can you tell which fotos were taken with camera A and camera B?

Answer is down a bit.

Slugs in love . . . I first saw it waiting at the commuter rail station a few weeks back at 6:15 am, thinking I should have had more coffee . . . .

Please . . . some feedback.  Be blunt and frank about the quality of fotos on this blog.  Pass the link onto any professional photographers even.  I’m re-examining my aesthetic.  And after seeing slugs in love, I can handle anything, even dragonfly love.

Answer:  The first three were with my usual camera, then three with camera B, then two one with mine, then one more with camera B, and the last two were with mine.    The two cameras in question were mine (SP 590-UZ Olympus) whose weight and zoom capability I love and a Sony Cyber-shot DSC R1.

If you have a chance to get to Pier 25 in Lower Manhattan, you should see Carolina Salguero‘s Maritime 9/11 exhibit on steamer Lilac.  Click here for info.

Also, check out this very moving 12-minute video called Boatlift, an effort to evacuate Lower Manhattan 10 years ago using the fastest, safest route out.  In the past week, New York harbor aka the sixth boro has seen a large vessel as

well as these small ones, RIBs.   They seem to be everywhere, but

maybe it’s just a few flying hither and yon

actively intercepting

anyone in the wrong place.  That’s QM2 leaving town after being escorted across the Upper Bay last week.

Try intruding on a safety zone and

these folks will intercept you in the most

convincing and

intimidating fashion.

No matter the time and weather . . . and

the sixth boro’s seen enough weather of late to take on Mississippi mud colors…

these patrol vessels zoom around.

along with RBMs (in the distance) and vessels

of other agencies like NYPD.

I’m not posting tomorrow.  I’m going off to a meditative place.  The closing foto today comes thanks to Capt. Justin Zizes.  Thanks, Justin.

A parting thought . .  I think it’s possible that folks who have never lived in NYC might have a hard time understanding New Yorkers.  I’m just a transplant here, but I understand the sentiments described in this NYTimes article by N. R. Kleinfield.

All fotos except the last one by Will Van Dorp.

Coney Island–the reef–has existed within the sixth boro since time immemorial, this gathering has occurred since 1983, and tugster has blogged it since 2007, drawn by the natural beauty of creatures–like this one— with

their altruistic sensibilities, their

bio-diversity, their

breathing behavior in dry–if muggy- air, and … more.

But I couldn’t help noticing yesterday that  . . . as the mermaids school on this reef, so does another species . . . camera-bearers.  Even chief-liaison Dick Zigun has cameras turned on him.

And mermaids themselves sport cameras, maybe as mimicry.

But yesterday the camera-bearers were everywhere!

They schooled–dare I say swarmed–each time a seamaid emerged out of the reef.

Not that the mercreatures seemed to perceive threat;  in fact,

 it looked like mutual enjoyment

a case of fun, fanfare,

flourish, and frippery.

And camera-bearers feasted at every turn.

And how do you suppose I got these fotos of

such lovely creatures, who

traveled by a range of


More on that tomorrow . . . and the pasties and paint verson of the story.

OK, all fotos here by Will Van Dorp.

Totally related:  in the third foto from end above . . . one mermaid sported a tugboat atop her hear but my shot was blurry.  Also, I missed a shot of the “librarian mermaids,”  which, if anyone got, I’d love a link or a copy.

Here’s a game:    I show part of a foto, and you might try to identify the vessel . . .

an answer of Marion C. Bouchard would have been correct.  Doubleclick enlarges most.

Let’s start here.  Although I didn’t take this foto, I did refer to it recently on this blog.  Note the logo.  Any guesses?

Unusual exhaust location . . .

“training wheels”

those can’t be superhigh steamer stacks, can they?

angular hull profile

tiny tires as fenders, or  …

Terrapin Island has a stack forward of the house.

Ellen McAllister, of course.

The unique Odin tailed by Ross Sea over by the Goethals Bridge.  Ross Sea seems to sprout a massive starboard stack here.  Anyone know whose stacks those really  are?

Lois Ann L. Moran

Huge tires, actually, on the gargantuan Atlantic Salvor.

And here’s the final one.  It’s Break of Dawn.  When I read that the tug that had the misfortunate to take the job of towing Mobro 4000, I assumed it was a local independent tug, not a fleet sibling of Dawn Services.    This blog has run fotos of Baltic Dawn and Atlantic Dawn.

For a fuller story of the motivations behind the “garbage job,” read this, starting from p. 243.

For the artistic story behind the children’s book, see this link for the series of decisions and sketches involved in creating the story.  As a disclaimer … I haven’t read the book and realize some controversy surrounds it, but check out the Amazon page video about the author’s process in creating the artwork.  To me, one important story here is an honest ambitious  crew doing a job that captures them, transforming them into pawns of a diverse, far-flung, and powerful interest groups.

The Break of Dawn fotos come thanks to Harold Tartell.  All others by Will Van Dorp.

Unrelated:  I just added a blogroll link to Lars Johnson’s site on Swedish tugs and other vessels.    Thanks much to  Björn Wallde for sending these along.  Check out his comment for fotos!

And talking about being pawns . . .  my account of my time as a hostage in Iraq exactly 20 years ago is reaching its climax on the Babylonian Captivity site.  If you’ve not been reading it, my detention lasted from August until December 1990;  to read the account in chronological order, see the note upper right on the homepage.


No, “southern juice” is not a nautical expression bowsprite left off her recent illustrated vocabulary instruction; rather, it’s the radiant machine below.  For a tanker built a quarter century go, Southern Juice moves as a thing of beauty, (I’ll say it), like a woman whose presence intensifies as she ages, she who dazzles and delights in her 40s and beyond.  (OK, I said it, and really what scintillates is the fusion of her contentment/good maintenance/my perception.)  In this last hour before sunset, I set down my water–even though my throat was parched–just because studying this vessel of an impossible color demanded undivided attention.  The juice tanker’s back in town, bringing Brazilian sunshine and irrepressible smiling in the dark time.

ok, OK.  I’ve long ‘fessed up to my drinking habit.  I need orange juice morning, noon, night . . . and then even in the middle of the night when I make my 3 a.m. surfacing.

Juice tankers going global represents a human activity occupying just the thinnest of slices in time.  Did juice transport begin in the 70s?  60s?  I’ve no clue.  But it does remind me of other commodity transport that no longer exists, like

the ice trade:  slabs of lake ice cut by gangs, packed in sawdust first in barns and then later in wooden ships, and ultimately sailed to tropical ports so that colonials stationed in the sweaty climes could have ice cubes in their punch.    And then there was a time of milk trains, a term I knew of from the farm boy perspective and therefore only partially understood, imagined from the supply side.  And hay schooners (scroll down to first foto) coming into metropolises to feed the transporters.  Were there manure boats too . . . or was it assumed the sixth boro could process that, satiating the oysters and sturgeon?

Now we have congested highways and road rage!  In 2109, probably no more juice tankers.  Will milk trains return?  And when might road rage dissipate?  And maybe I need to move to a locale where I can tend my own orange grove . . . now that’s an idea.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Seriously:  can anyone suggest a person to contact to arrange a visit to Port Newark and an offloading juice tanker?  Really, it’s the SECOND highest priority experience I’d like the fat ageless elf to arrange for me.

And just an idea:  if one dog year equals seven human years, then how many human years correspond to one ship year?  If the answer is–arbitrarily chosen–two, then the beautiful Southern Juice is at the half century mark.  Hmm.

Reference “Random Tugs 44.”  The first time I saw Lil Rip, I didn’t even take a foto: I was in the Feeney yard on the Rondout, steady rain was creating lots of mud,  and the only parts of Lil Rip visible to me was the house and name.  But that was enough to intrigue me.  Months later, I spotted it a second time:  also in the Rondout dwarfed by almost 80′ of air draft on Java Sea.


On this September afternoon, I took only a few shots before I wrapped my camera in plastic.


A month later, third time to spot Lil Rip, October light and a fresh coat of paint . . . conditions could not have been better.   Wow!  I shot as many fotos as my shore office would allow, homing in on some details like the twin exhausts port side and


and single to starboard.


I put up some preliminary fotos and a question a week ago, and have since learned more, which I’m thrilled to share.  Example:  Three exhausts ventilate three engines, three GM12V-71 engines that generate 1500 hp and spin three screws.  I’d love to see her on the hard now.


Part of Lil Rip began as a 52′ section of Liberty ship being scrapped at the scrap yard of John and Violet Reich.  For a name, they called her Jovi II, combining the first two letters of John and Violet’s names.  Jovi II replaced a smaller boat, Jovi.  Does Jovi still exist?  Jovi II‘s twin engines generated just under 500 hp and moved scrap scows up and down the Hudson.

Thomas J. Feeney Enterprises purchaed Jovi II in the early 1980s, repowered and outfitted with bunk room, galley and new pilothouse.  The new name Little Ripper eventually changed to a more manageable Lil Rip.  For some time Lil Rip moved stone scows in the river, but today is used mostly to shift vessels around the yard, with an occasional river tow to Albany or New York, which is where


I spotted her last week, leading to my learning all this new info.  And adopting another favorite from upriver:  Kingston and the Rondout are home to so many interesting vessels.  I’ll take a risk (of leaving someone out) and list them:  Cornell, now all-gray Hackensack, Spooky Boat, Hestia, 1956 Gowanus Bay (former ST 2201 and a major character in Jessica Dulong’s My River Chronicles, 1881 tug Elise Ann Conners, and PT728.    Who did I omit?  The Rondout is a must-visit creek if you’re nearby.

Is Lil Rip the only triple screw on the Hudson?  Is anyone willing to share a foto  of Jovi II?

Thanks to Tim Feeney and Harold Tartell for some of this information.  All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Unrelated:  a hearty tugster salute to engineer Tommy Bryceland, working the North Sea aboard Svitzer Milford.  Send me some news and fotos from your part of the waters, Tommy.

W . . . worry.  No way!  work?  nah.  Wonderment and wanderlust resonate much more profoundly, leaving me hungering for new vistas and thirsting for novel experience.  Sometimes this may be slaked by a two-hour sail on the incomparable Pioneer, a vessel with a century and a quarter’s life.


Or a sprint aboard the harbor’s greyhound . . . Adirondack.


According to IBI (International Boating Industry) statistics, 1 in 23 Americans owns a boat, whereas in Sweden that number is 1 in 7 and in China virtually no one does.  See statistics here.  Some quench their thirst for wandering then aboard their own boat, like this sloop from Rhode Island, headed up past Pier 66 or


or this mini-trawler  from Texas up by Poughkeepsie or


of this larger trawler from




Wanderlust for a vacation is real though compartmentalized into a small percentage of the year.  What would it be like to choose an occupation that would


take you all around the world (the 70.8 percent of the planet’s surface that’s navigable) all the time, as on this container vessel Zim Shenzhen.  Would it always soothe the spirit  or would it make one


wary . . . and weary.  Can feelings like weariness co-exist with wanderlust?


Where does wanderlust with all its curiosity come from?  Is it innate or learned at home?


I don’t know.  But I do know I’m grateful for my wanderlusty nature, wherever it may lead.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Unrelated:  I highly highly recommend you wander up to SUNY New Paltz to see Greg Miller‘s “Panorama of the Hudson River.”  Traveling in various boats including Adirondack this spring, Miller took about 3000 fotos  documenting every single section of the Hudson–west AND east bank–between the Statue of Liberty and Albany.  The results are assembled in a sinuous print in the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art.  Tugs by Vane Brothers, Moran, and McAllister randomly show up.  As if Miller”s accomplishment were not wondrous enough, what makes it even more remarkable is that Miller’s panorama is juxtaposed with G. Willard Shear’s 1910 panorama of all that same geography.  In other words, 2009 shot of the Statue of Liberty is directly above the 1910 one.  Ditto the Palisades, Dunderberg Mountain, Storm King, etc.  You ask about the George Washington Bridge . . .  oops . . . in 1910 the GW was not even planned for.      And the coup de grace . . . in the adjoining gallery is displayed an 1844 sketchbook designed  to help steamer passengers identify riverbank features . . . like the ones I mentioned above.  Along with towns and ridgelines, quaint drawing of steamers appear.  Like a steamer named River Witch. (Now that’s a name begging to be recycled!)  Another, a steam tug pulling a separate passenger barge, designed to keep passengers far away from the boiler.

Also, unrelated,  check out this great blog created by the crew of a tanker called Palva, which sometimes calls in the sixth boro.  Tugster examined Palva here, back in April 2007.  Greetings Palva!  When are you back in New York?

Finally related by topic:  Fielding, whom I know from sailing on Pioneer, is following his wanderlust in South America.  His blog–Under the Northern Star–is listed on my blogroll.

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Graves of Arthur Kill

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

Seth Tane American Painting

Read my Iraq Hostage memoir online.

My Babylonian Captivity

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


September 2021