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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.
Here’s the treat I’ll leave you with for a few days. The twin towers in the background should clearly state we aren’t in Kansas or 2013 anymore. Please comment on your speculations. Foto #1
This is from the converging waters just south of the Battery. Notice the towers to the right. Foto#2
Note the stripe on Coursen‘s bow. Foto #3
Note the I-beam structure to the right. Foto #4
Note the relative positions of the towers and the Manhattan-side Holland Tunnel vent. Foto #5
Again, thanks in advance for your comments and reminiscences.
Source will be credited soon.
Pioneer headed southwest, then
and Clipper City taking her stern.
Laura K Moran takes the stern of an Offshore Sailing School boat.
A small sloop appears to go head-t0-head with Meriom Topaz and does the same with
Americas Spirit, as the tanker is lightered and provisioned.
And finally . . is the green cata-schooner passing off the stern of Comet really Heron, which I last saw in Puerto Rico here (last foto)?
Here she tacks to the east just north of the Verrazano. And Saturday night I spotted her again passing southbound through Hell Gate.
I hope to have more exciting autumn sail soon.
All fotos by Will Van Dorp.
Here was 7.
There are figureheads, and then there are figures on the head rig.
Or dancers on the jibboom?
Whatever part of a sail evolution this was, it looked
like fun on Shearwater.
Pioneer too seemed to relish playing in the Upper Bay the other evening,
tacking off Ellis Island.
I saw another too after dark, a non-sixth-boro schooner, but I couldn’t make the ID. All fotos here by Will Van Dorp, who imagines thrilling autumn schooner sails in his near future.
Here was 2, nearly three years ago. I could also call this “some of the parts,” which is what I show . . . and you guess the rest.
We start with an easy one; answer will be clear once you get through a half dozen or so.
The ladders are distinctive.
I airbrushed out the first name.
If you were out on the sixth boro today, you might know these next ones.
The gray one is Newtown Creek.
Not the same vessel as above. Note the light at the Narrows far right.
Purrty sail! And then the answers.
Top one was the schooner Pioneer.
“Gunboat” catamaran Tiger Lily
And here’s the prize for putting up with my format: America 2.0 heeling over in the stiff breeze of the Upper Bay this afternoon.
All fotos taken today by Will Van Dorp, who didn’t even expect to be here today.
Looks like I got lured outa town once again. Meanwhile . . . Discovery Coast goes on hauling out dredge spoils, and
Pioneer sails toward Red Hook. Note Mary Whalen in the distance.
And if you’re around on Thursday, make your way to Red Hook to buy stuff–art, tools, etc–to help raise funds for Mary Whalen. Details here on Rick Old Salt’s blog.
Both fotos by Will Van Dorp, who will try to post fotos from along the course . . . .
Of course, every day is water day in the sixth boro of the city of NY, and it’s great that MWA and other sponsors have chosen for five years now to recognize that fact . . . on a big “get out on the water” day . . . because who OWNS the port . . . ultimately WE do, you and I, as citizens of this country. Many organizations manage it, enforce regulations in it, and fund educational activities about it . . . but WE own it, the port, the water . . . and support it with our taxes and our votes.
Enjoy this set of twelve fotos taken over roughly a 12-hour period yesterday. At daybreak, Pegasus and Urger were still rafted up on Pier 25. This foto shows two boats whose combined longevity adds up to over 215 years!!
Resolute was northbound over by the Murchison-designed Hoboken terminal . . . which means a larger vessel needing assistance MAY shortly be headed for sea. Here’s another Murchison-designed mass transit building in what today seems an unlikely location.
North River itself works tirelessly as part of the effort to keep sixth boro waters clean.
Urger poses in front the the Statue. Lady Liberty was a mere 18-year-old when Urger (then C. J. Doornbos) first splashed into the waters of a Lake Michigan bay.
Little Lady II and a sailboat negotiate passage.
Laura K and Margaret Moran escort in container vessel Arsos (check its recent itinerary at the bottom of that linked page) and weave their way to the Red Hook container port through a gauntlet of smaller vessels, including Manhattan.
Catherine C. Miller moves a small equipment barge back to base.
A flotilla (or bobbering or paddling or badelynge) of kayaks crosses the Buttermilk.
All fotos by Will Van Dorp on Bastille-sur-l’eau Day.
Related: I was overjoyed to read the NYTimes this morning and find this article about a vessel calling at Port Newark!! Bravo. Back a little over a week ago I was miffed about this article . . . about the port in Trondheim, which could just as well have been written about skilled workers anywhere in the sixth boro.
Also, I’m passing along a request from the Urger crew: if anyone sees a foto of Urger crew in any local print publications, please tell me so that I can look for a clipping to pass along to them. Thanks much . . . .
By the way, from Mitch’s Newtown Pentacle, can anyone identify the tug in this post? I can’t .
It’s called Croton Point Park, about 30 miles north of Manhattan’s north tip.
Here’s the northside of Croton Point last evening looking toward Haverstraw.
Exactly five years ago I took this foto from a small boat just off Pioneer‘s bowsprit. Here are more fotos from that day.
Here’s some of my May 2010 coverage of Fleet Week’s arrival. So Fleet Week and OpSail 2012 have converged, commingling state-of-the-art with traditional vessels. Now add into the mix F/A-18s and Hudson river water pumped through the system of 1931 John J. Harvey. Doubleclick enlarges fotos.
Leading the fleet is Eagle.
And leading the tall ships is J. S. de Elcano (1927).
Not as common a name to our ears as Magellan, Elcano was Magellan’s second-in-command and the one who completed “Magellan’s circumnavigation” more than a year after Magellan was killed in 1521.
Vessels included destroyer USS Roosevelt (commissioned 2000),
USS San Jacinto (commissioned 1988),
and Dewaruci (launched 1953, keel laid 1932).
Etoile, I believe, was there as were
Crew rode high in the rigging of Cisne Branco.
Cuauhtemoc (commissioned 1982) passed in review with
Click here for info on the namesake for DDG-66.
The sailing vessel heeled over is Summerwind (1929) and approaching is James Turecamo (1969), prepared to handle white hulls.
Pride of Baltimore II is especially significant, given that the rationale for an OpSail event this year is the bicentennial of the war of 1812. This fact also makes significant the participation by a Canadian and a British vessel in Fleet Week.
And huge flag . . . says it’s Gloria (commissioned 1968), passing
RFA Argus, container ship turned floating hospital.
Guayas (commissioned 1976)
And finally . . a return for USS Wasp. Notice the tug midships port side. Know it?
I was surprised to learned it was neither Charles D. nor Responder but Roderick (1967) ! Generally, Roderick is not a sixth boro tug.
Parade over, Catherine heads back to the dock, as does Pioneer (commissioned 1885!!)
Outbound at 0800 this morning, Swan took a turn past the Statue before leaving. Foto by John Watson, who is himself outbound for a while.
I once knew as Fernando Po, a rare place in Africa where Spanish is the official language. I hope the Atlantic Salvor folks got some good fotos of Swan headed out.
Yacht Justice (1930) is an outstanding survivor.
Also, out-of-the-ordinary for the sixth boro is Dewaruci, in port early for OpSail, arriving here on Wednesday. Dewa Ruci appears to be a character in a wayang puppet story. I’m looking forward to their marching band. Over near the Red Hook side, that’s Pioneer.
And this is the start of leg 2 of the Atlantic Cup race, outbound for Newport this morning.
Over a dozen teams have entered boats.
Possible leader, pending resolution of a protest) at the end of leg 1 (of 3) is this boat.
First foto by outbound John Watson. all others by Will Van Dorp.