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The idea here comes from the “eyed but not seen until it’s noticed” department.  I noticed the Brooklyn church on the hill behind Linda Moran only recently.  I’ve no doubt I’d seen it many times before, but my glance never lingered there.  Now, I am unable to NOT see it.  It is the basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, OLPH, for short.    Between Linda and OLPH is the Brooklyn Army Terminal, designed by the legendary Cass Gilbert.

This got my wondering about other churches visibly prominently  from the sixth boro.    Like St. Michael’s in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.  I know some might find this heretical, but as a newbie in the sixth boro, I considered the possibility that the 200′ egg-tipped spire might be a minaret.

Just forward of Megan McAllister is St. Mary Star of the Sea in Bayonne, as seen from Richmond Terrace, Staten Island.

Just above Ellen McAllister‘s stacks, Our Lady of Mount Carmel is mostly obscured here by the IMTT tanks.

St Peter’s in New Brighton, Staten Island can’t be missed.

Just astern of Kristy Ann Reinauer, St Patrick’s in Elizabeth, New Jersey, has two spires.  The single white spire to the right of the courthouse tops First Presbyterian on Broad Street in Elizabeth, a congregation going back to 1664.

From this 2007 foto, it’s Riverside

Church in Manhattan.  In the foto above, left to right:  Dorothy Elizabeth, Patapsco, Lucy Reinauer, and unknown.  Can anyone identify this Moran boat below?  Answer below.

And since I’m asking, here’s a church along the Brooklyn side of East River aka Easy River, taken in 2007, I cannot identify.  Anyone help?

If you wish to add other church landmarks, let me know.

All fotos here, Will Van Dorp.

Moran boat below Riverside Church is Paul T. Moran, answer thanks to Allen Baker.

Much more Flinterborg (now at sea) tomorrow.

Any guesses what vessel this  wheelhouse bridge sits astride?  It’s certainly NOT the Flinter ship. 


No schooner is she.


It docked for part of the past weekend at Pier 66, near Cornell, Frying Pan, and Harvey.


It’s a barquentine, here entering Atlantic Basin some weeks back.  For outa-towners, yes, that’s the Brooklyn Bridge in the distance and Empire State Building beyond that.


The current name is Peacemaker,


built in Brazil in 1989 as Avany.  Peacemaker serves as flagship for a religious group called Twelve Tribes.  How many religious groups have flagships?


Someone I know has made some preliminary


sketches.  Inky fingers attest to the degree of effort.

aap7Here’s the entire vessel, rafted up with Harvey, whose red stack is visible between the masts.  Harvey docks at Pier 66, which you may have seen way at the start of a certain harbor sketchbook.


Below is one of two videos shot by none other than Good Morning Gloucester, who does an impressive interview with Peacemaker crew.  Thanks, Joey.

Fotos here by Will Van Dorp.

The down side if your occupation relates to transportation, medical, law enforcement, military, infrastructure, hospitality, agriculture . . .  might be that you work on holidays.  I say might because as a farm kid,  I enjoyed having to work those days;  in fact, I believed my father many years ago when I asked why I had to work on Labor Day and he responded . . . “Labor is what you do on Labor Day.  Everybody else has it wrong.”

The up side if you work in some of these fields is to see wonders like those below.  What’s it?


I’m deeply thankful to Joel Milton for sending these pictures.  I’ll let Joel’s own words explain:  “These were taken in the Atlantic Ocean off the Jersey shore, about 50 miles south of NYC, near Barnegat while we were towing an empty oil barge back to Philadelphia about a week ago. The icy-blue light in the sea foam is a type of bioluminescence that isn’t all that common here. Usually it’s the green sparky kind. It completely surrounded the hull below the waterline, and was most pronounced in the bow wave and the wake behind us. When I turned off all the deck lights we were positively glowing and these shots don’t even come close to seeing the real thing for yourself. (Above) see the lights of the City and the navigation lights of the barge behind us, and the brighter stars in the sky. A beautiful night.”


Joel continues: “I’ve been working and playing on, in and under the water since I was a little kid, and I still never get tired of this stuff…”  Neither do I.  Nor do some kids who saw these pics.  And I hope neither do you.


Although I’m not inclined to dogmas, my religious upbringing leads me to respond to these pics by dredging up the words of the ancient poet in Psalm 107: “They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;  they see the works of the Lord and his wonders of the deep. . . .”    Best wishes for the holidays, and may all our eyes be open to all the wonders.

Thanks to Joel and all my other friends who have sent fotos, comments, explanations, encouragement, corrections, etc    this past year. Thanks for reading the blog.  Feed your wonder and be safe.

Two “unrelateds:”   Check out the new blog on the left . . . Underthenorthernstar. And I caught and channeled in another transmission from crazy Henry you might want to check out; thanks from Bowsprite and me for reading that.

was yesterday. I took these fotos before 7 am on that holiday.



Well, I was on my way to work, and not that anyone had the day off around here. Yet, I’m glad to read such a day exists, given how much of the stuff in our lives arrives from across the seas. The last few miles look like this.



Amy (stern) and Brothers McAllister move in. By the way, talking of the holiday of who to recognize, which nation provides 20% of the world’s merchant seafarers? Hint… it has less than 3% of the world’s population.




Amy‘s on the bitt.



Brothers push dockward.

Answer to the 20%–less than 3% question…. here.

Happy M-day.

Tis holiday season: September 30 is Estuary Access Day. Support your local estuary. Also, it’s Chile Pepper fiesta. Hug and savor your favorite chile pepper.

Photos, Will Van Dorp.

Over marine radio “may day” is not to be trifled with, as it means a grave and imminent danger threatens life and property, but I suppose it’s safe and permissible to entitle a blogpost so, especially near the first day of the fifth month aka mid-Taurus.



A variation on the May Day ritual of dancing around the maypole happens frequently on a sailing vessel like Pioneer with heavy sails, accompanied by rhythmical chanting that assists in raising what powers the ship. To coin another blog neologism . . . sweating together = “sweather,” as in Let’s sweather. Hmm… has possibilities.



The may pole takes a variety of forms, but it’s about cooperation; no one has to dance alone.



and dancers can assume a plethora of dance positions in three dimensions.



Book a spot on a sailing ship for Tuesday aka Beltane and dance.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

I can’t miss the more visible rhythms sometimes like tides and seasons, but I find it more satifying to notice more subtle ones unveiled by taking photos, studying them, and blogging.




From the observation deck 70 stories above Rockefeller Center, I notice a common rhythm on the river: loaded and empty. Fuel weighs down the barge going north while the farther one returns for a refill.



This Kills-bound barge, paper netted down by New York’s strongest to ensure its arrival at the recycling plant, is filled with more paper than 20 recycling trucks, according to Elizabeth Royte’s fantastic Garbage Land.


Then it returns Manhattan-bound empty, looking somewhat different with so much freeboard exposed.


This barge transports dredged materials from the Newark Bay channel to be emptied at sea so that Panamax carriers can arrive at Ports Newark and Elizabeth full of “stuff.”

In my life, when things happen–pleasant or not, climatological, romantic, or many other sorts– and these things are repeated, I search for rhythmic patterns. The voice in my head says, “So this happened last week and now this week again, does this mean it’ll happen next week too? Am I going to be frustrated if I see rhythms where there are none, if these events are just a fluke? Am I missing the biggest patterns right in front of me, the most profound rhythms? I feel full now. When will I next feel empty?”

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

Tugboats don’t have them although it’s interesting to imagine what part of the human anatomy they’d project forward if they did: one open hand or two, butt, shoulder, chin, etc. Figureheads have mostly disappeared from the seas now after living there for millenia. My favorite figureheads have to be those on Viking ships, but a regret is that I’ve not seen any lately.


This golden man who rides the bow of Danmark may have Viking ancestors. The intensity of his forward scanning eyes dazzles me. Does he have a name? Recall this post? Would a close-up of the man on the Harrier show similarly dazzling eyes?


Leave it to my Dutch cousins to place this on the Stad Amsterdam. But if she rides the bow at 17 knots, her clingy deshabille is understandable. Isn’t she chilly? The Amsterdammer “belt” is precious; I’m getting one. Echt mooi klaboutermannikintje!



A very different attitude is projected by “Joe,” I assume, figurehead of the Joseph Conrad at Mystic Seaport. I love Joe’s stories, but his pallor always leaves me feeling seasick.



Last one for now, Amistad‘s eagle is certainly more impressive than the one borne by the Coast Guard Eagle I wrote about a month ago.

To me, figureheads are about inspiration. I’m writing about them because I’m looking to be inspired. Any inspirational figureheads you know or motivational images or thoughts you would share?

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

New year, new options, new potential commitments. A few days’ contemplation spawns countless questions, inklings about other directions. I’ve lost my klaboutermannikin for now and am led by a Janus image like this, which no sane shipwright would ever place on a ship. It’s January after all.



January would not be called January if we weren’t vulnerable to conflicting visions. In fact the conflict is helpful; it forces a deliberateness without which we’d be like water, flowing only where gravity dictates, without choice, agency, ability to resist.



One option is upward, opposing the drudge of water and the shackles of gravity, to the tops of the watershed and look longingly skyward, where hawks and eagles play in front of even more heavenly bodies.



But I can stand longing here only so long before I notice the limitations of the eagles, the rut of thin air, and the monotony of the stars. Like Robert Frost, I have promises to keep.  It’s only a matter of time before I assemble a new vision–and a new one assembles me–and I embrace what’s beyond the archway, before I rush back into the swim.


All photos by Will Van Dorp.

Returning is hard but I am led and guided by reasons to return, like I was by those to leave. Cavafy understood this and by calling it Ithaka said it much better than I can. When my “away” is as inspiring as you might infer from the image below, I need compelling reasons to return. Where I went I found inspiration to bring back, thanks to my kindred spirits up there, you know who you are. Not quite oracles, but ….



Convergence there generated heat like a blowtorch wielded delicately, and what was frozen has changed state, molecule by molecule and droplets trickle as gravity leads.



Millions of droplets make one brook, hundreds of brooks to streams and branches, and scores of them into the tiny Winooski. . .



. . . itself a tributary to the tributary to the . . . and finally into the Gulf Stream and the other currents, where Alice and all her sisters play. Alice goes back and forth all the time and never stops as you can see here if you follow all the way down. But her crew and all the crews of her sisters, they must define departing and returning differently than I do. Happy 2007 Alice’s crew and all the rest of you. Thanks for waiting for me. Soon even the dinghies will be sailing again.



All photos by Will Van Dorp.

At lunch today some friends dredged up a memory I want to write about. It may explain “tugster” and this blog. Earlier I disclosed that my parents, as immigrants, arrived in this country by ship from the Netherlands. As Dutch Calvinists whose adolescence coincided with Nazi occupation, not only could they not identify with North American commercialism, but they proudly abstained from it. Christmas eve and morning were to be spent in church not matter what days of the week they fell on. There was some gift giving but that happened on December 5, “sinterklaas dag,” and the gifts then might be a new pair of socks and some candy.

My parents were and still are dairy farmers way upstate, not far from Lake Ontario. A cattle dealer who came to the farm at least monthly was Ralph, who was also an immigrant. Ralph came from Dusseldorf, a German city on the Rhine just 30 miles from Arnhem, the Dutch city on the Rhine where my mother grew up. The war motivated my parents to leave the Netherlands, but in a much more powerful way, the same war motivated Ralph to leave Germany. He was Jewish; he left just before all of his family was arrested and sent to that place from which almost no one returned. You know that story.

My father and Ralph talked often and of many things. Like best of friends, they would get mad at each other, but they always made up. One day, they must have talked about Christmas, and Ralph left the farm mad. He returned the next day with a big box. In the box were Christmas presents; it turns out Ralph was very angry when he learned that my parents didn’t believe in giving us kids gifts.

So when I opened my Christmas present, my first Christmas present ever at the age of seven, my gift from my father’s Jewish friend, it was not socks, gloves, underwear, or a chocolate bar. My gift was a plastic boat model of Robert Fulton‘s Clermont. In all my life, I can say this was my best ever gift.

Merry Christmas, Ralph. And Happy Hannakuh, Kwanzaa, Eid al Adhaa, New Year….. and thanks for the boat. Here are some pictures for you.





All photos by Will Van Dorp.

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August 2022