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No, here Peking gets escorted up the East River a mere 14 months ago, almost like a human nonagenarian, for a 97-year-old she was when my partner Elizabeth caught this portentous shot.  Portentious, maybe?  Even the tug name–McAllister Responder–sounds like an anonymous institutional care-giver, as in “Hi Peking.  I’m on-call as your responder today.  I hope you’re having a lovely day.”  No offense meant to Responder (ex-Empire State, ex-Exxon Empire State);  it’s just that here the name adds to the pathos of this scene.  But despite the leaden water, the monochromatic palette imposed by the threatening, dark sky,  a few spears of hope zapped through, for at this point, some thought she might receive more than a make-over;  she might be fully rebuilt with new structure as well as cosmetics, we hoped.


Alas, 14 months later, to this passerby, Peking still languishes in a form of ship purgatory.


Recently Joe sent me these fotos, taken at sea by his uncle Frank sometime in 1929-30.  It’s Peking mid-Atlantic:  a vital cog in an economic machine, working sail that sprinted the seas less-trafficked  today between Northern Europe and Southwestern South America, a “fast” one-way passage taking over two months.  Northbound to European industries, she carried nitrates, a vital raw material in producing fertilizer and explosives.


A few years after these fotos, Peking came off the high seas into the confines of the River Medway to Shaftesbury Homes–aka the National Refuges for Destitute Children– and re-named Arethusa, appropriate maybe, since the original Arethusa was a shape-shifting nereid who transformed herself into a stream to avoid the advances of a suitor more powerful than she.  By the way, Shaftesbury Homes still exists, still performs a variation on its function to provide a practical education for young people otherwise destined to a purgatorial life of poverty.


Here, 80 years ago, she still breathed vigor, flexed steel sinews, a titan of merchant sail as expeditious as steam power.  On that day 14 months ago, I put my ear to her deck, and for a few seconds I thought I heard raspy breaths, felt a flutter that could have become a pulse, but


I now suspect I was mistaken.   Can I, might the armies of willing hands perform CPR on Peking and coax some vitality back?  Might transfusions help?

A hero of mine, Joseph Conrad wrote these lines in “The End of the Tether,” Chapter 6:  “A laid-up steamer was a dead thing and no mistake;  a sailing ship seems always ready to spring to life with the breath of the incorruptible heaven; but a steamer, thought Captain W, with her fires out, without the warm whiffs from below meeting you on her decks, without the hiss of steam, the clangs of iron in her breast–lies there as cold and still and pulseless as a corpse.”

Conrad might just have been wrong about sailing ships:  the last lines on Peking need still be written, and I cringe to think what these words may tell.  For now, we keep watch.

The artistic Bowsprite infuses the lines and colors of Peking with new energy here, as she starts a series on the moribund barque.

And if you try some Spanish, here’s naveganteglenan‘s post from Spain on Peking.

Many thanks to Joe for sharing these black-white family fotos.

Thanks to Joel Milton for this foto.  Romer Shoal Light dwarfed by the sky?  If so, here’s some info on origin of name, which I wanted to spell “roamer,” which would make it an especially treacherous shoal and ingenuous light.   Zeebart recently sent this lighthouse link.


This foto illustrates the profound attraction big water exerts:  openness, uncluttered vistas, an antidote to hustlebustle.  Melville nails it in Moby Dick Chapter 1 paragraph 3 especially with the lines starting . .

” What do you see?- Posted like silent sentinels all around the town, stand thousands upon thousands of mortal men fixed in ocean reveries. Some leaning against the spiles; some seated upon the pier-heads; some looking over the bulwarks of ships from China; some high aloft in the rigging, as if striving to get a still better seaward peep. But these are all landsmen; of week days pent up in lath and plaster- tied to counters, nailed to benches, clinched to desks. How then is this? Are the green fields gone?”

Other sights to behold may be haunting, like this one from Punta Arenas, shared by Jesse, who took the foto as he neared the southern end of his many-thousand-mile motorcycle journey from New York to Tierra del Fuego and as documented in this compelling blog southbound650.


Above unidentified square-rigger may have launched from the same yard, same year–124 years ago– as Wavertree, below, benefiting from several decades of volunteer work in lower Manhattan. Notice the location of the two hawses on both vessels.  Two guys on the bowsprit on next two fotos below are jerseycity frankie and … tugster, taken by Maggie.


Bowsprit painters show scale and size of the headrig.


See  Tierra del Fuego on the distant horizon.  In foreground, the decrepit handiwork of the industrial past gets re-purposed as docking


extraordinary, profoundly unique.


Might she of the intriguing name Wye River (unless you know the Chesapeake watershed) be afloat 124 years hence (2133 AD or CE)?  Re-purposed?


There’s something about spring’s unstoppable approach out of the frozen grasp of winter that raises questions about past and future.

Good time for me to write and read blogs, devour good books, and seek out the challenging in other print.  Make lists.  Listen to haunting music.  Gather with kindred spirits.

Good book:  The River Why.  Here’s a summary.

Challenging article:  Harley enthusiasts in Havana, Cuba,  transcending politics. I’ve tried to weave this into the blog almost two months now.  It’s the transcending ideology that appeals to me.

Haunting music:  Gordon Lightfoot “Wherefore and Why.”  Lyrics.  Youtube cover.

Gathering:  I added some links since posting this yesterday.  Eager for the next waterbloggergathering.

I have to confess . . . come clean . . . I have a drinking habit, and the vessel below contributes to it.

Vessel name is Orange Star, ex-Fife and originally Andalucia Star when launched in 1975 on the River Tees as a Blue Star reefer.  Maybe my habit predisposes me to think her lines beautiful, colors perfect,  sheer excitingly dramatic, appearing smaller than her 580′ LOA.  Laura K. Moran escorts her out to sea lest her elegance overcome imbibing shorefolk like myself.

Further self-disclosure … my beverage of choice is orange juice, and . . .

at least twice a month, Orange Star sails into Port Newark to pipe off her delectable liquid.  For more on the intriguing history of this tanker–spanning apartheid boycotts and the Falklands War–see links here and here.

Here’s a description of cargo handling in a similar vessel, Orange Blossom.  Next time you indulge in this drink, check the provenance info on back of the carton.  And threats to Florida’s oranges, here.  And where 48% of the world’s OJ comes from?

or highest and dryest so far in this series. Imagine an 18-story structure appearing behind your house like these on Staten Island…


or trying to blend into winter trees.


Nearly 400 feet long, Peking, you never let me “see” your features before.


Peking–one of the “flying P liners” of F. Laeisz–could “fly” a century ago, leaving slower vessels to see a distancing stern. Peking’s twin–Passat–twice collided with steamers cutting across its path, misjudging its speed. In one case, the steamer sank.


No matter how often I looked at you in your South Street Seaport slip, I never noticed your sweet lines, sans prop. Compare with lines of the gypsum bulker. Also, assuming the workman here stands 5 feet, the rudder extends at least 25 feet top to bottom.


No wonder you sailed at 16 knots! Peking hauled nitrate from Chile to Germany, making the run from the mouth of the River Elbe to the “nitrate coast” in just over two months. For background, click here and read “abandoned nitrate mining towns.”


Such exquisite steel plating after nearly a century! The wooden blocks supporting the keel stand around three feet high.

For more info on Peking, read the prolific Basil Lubbock‘s Nitrate Clippers. I plan more posts too. Thanks to the fine folks at Caddell Dry Dock. All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Never did find out the last one, but in a quick post, here are three more. Pix all by me in the past week.


That clearly says “Japan Coast Guard,” and last I checked, Brooklyn is not along Japan’s coast; in fact, it’s not even in the sixth boro. Hmm? If anyone reads Japanese, here’s a closer up shot of the stern.


Gojiba? Someone translate the hiragana?


This long shot shows a commuter boat I spotted twice last week, each time when I was headed the other way and busy. This time it was leaving the East River headed into the Hudson past Pier A. Looks like a classic, and I’d like to know more. Anyone?


Finally–I know it’s in Gowanus Bay, not the East River. Loujiane, visible from the BQE, has been here at least a half dozen years. I recall reading a Times story long before I moved to New York about a skeleton crew left on a ship in Brooklyn after the owners declared bankruptcy or some such. The crew were from South America and threatened with harm if they left the ship even though they were no longer paid. But I can’t locate the article now. Anyone know the story of Loujiane?

PS: Pete Hamill, whom I respect mostly, made a blanket statement about bloggers doing what they do without leaving their apartment. What?!!? Kind of a reach there, sir?

A few days back I wrote this and included a foto of Sea Lion leaving the canal. Thanks to Mike, I learned what job Sea Lion had just completed and what I’d have seen if I were there an hour or so earlier. It relates to a serious project to investigate –among other things–why trace amounts of nicotine and cocaine was found in the mummy of Ramses II. Both substances were thought to have existed only in the Americas until at least 1492.


What Sea Lion is towing is Abora 3, built on Lake Titicaca, shipped to New York aboard . . . a container vessel, and now in final stages of fitting out before sailing off to “the old world,” which would have been the “new world” for as-yet hypothetical sailors from the Andean cultures thousands of years ago. Abora follows on Thor Heyerdahl‘s Ra and Ra 2.


For out-of-towners, landmarks beyond the tow and tug above include the Woolworth Building and the Staten Island ferry at the Battery terminal.

Again, kudos to Mike for these pictures. Sounds like Abora 3 will stay in Jersey City just north of Morris Canal/Liberty Landing a few more weeks. Sea Lion, I’ll never look at you the same again!

Finally, Abora (new world/old world) reminds me of a novel I just finished: Elle by Douglas Glover, a fictional account of a wild aristocratic French woman marooned on an island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the 1600s.

After an incomplete spectrum of blog color titles, here’s orange although I’m not satisfied with my pictures..


Container ship Atlantic Ocean and sisters are orange regulars, reefers, but . . .


Aegean Faith is orange and carries the most common fluid into the sixth boro, but I set out to shot something orange and Brazilian . . .


I loved the fluid style of’s Brazilian dancers on Fifth Avenue, but …


I’ve an additional obsession: Orange Wave, the juice tanker that delivers millions of gallons of orange fluid–my lifeblood– into New York. But I’ve discovered the vessels I’m looking for aren’t orange–but white!!! Click here and read the section called “Concentrate Story.”

Orange juice tankers, wine tankers . . . next floating milk tankers? Do they already exist? Coca-cola tankers? How about explosive champagne tankers?

Today and tomorrow begin with the same dance but take divergent courses. See the man in blue on the catwalk just forward the base of the deck crane? Imagine his dance partner: She’s large, 45,ooo dwt tons large . . .


What do you suppose the “L” word here is? Or maybe “el…”


Bolero is the dance . . .


…Wait! That’s tomorrow’s post. For now, “L” is the logo of the company that transports some US oil into New York. If you check the naming system on their fleet list at that link, you’ll see a lot of dance influence. It must be the Caribbean influence on that Gulf oil. By the way, you can find the answer in the link below, but first, among US oil imports, what is the proportion of all American (non-US) oil we purchase to all Middle Eastern oil? And considering three regions–the Americas, the Middle East, and Africa–how do they rank in terms of sources of US oil imports?


Here’s the link. Totalling the American countries v. the Middle Eastern countries, I get 2.5 times more from the Americas. Ranking . . . I get Africa as second and Middle East third.
Oh . . . the crewman in blue on Bolero? Either he went aft to get his handkerchief and castanets, or he’s been consumed in the dance, as often happens. Get your tango shoes ready for tomorrow!

Thought you’d find a “10” reference here, eh?

One thrill of blogging is discovery; I photograph and then plumb my photos to see what I have. When I used to fish, I’d feel a rush when I brought a new specimen up. I get a similar rush now when a photo and some research connect me with something new. After a frisson from blue and yellow, this vessel offers some treats. Any idea where the name–Los Roques–derives from? See Old Orchard light in background.
You’re right if you guess Venezuela, and an archipelago there that beckons.


Click on these links here here and here for some stunning views on board.

I need it right now. Can’t you smell the aroma wafting off the docks? Maybe the wind is moving it under the sequence of bridges north from Newark Bay. Lucky for whoever’s up there.

Maersk Newark could be offloading coffee here, but you’d likely not smell it. A friend used to work customs at the seaport of Chicago; he loved bulk coffee cargoes wafting caffeine aroma up from the hold. Check these other pix of Newark headed out under my favorite bridge and loading up more coffee down in Santos.

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