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the serene before Irene.  As of Friday, the USCG Captain of the Port announced the following: “Commercial deep draft vessels greater than 300 gross tons are not authorized to remain in port alongside a pier after 1800 on Saturday, August 27, 2011.   All vessels must be out of Bay Ridge, Stapleton, and Gravesend Bay Anchorage Grounds by 1800 on Saturday, August 27, 2011.  Only one barge per commercial mooring buoy, with a tug in the vicinity, is authorized after 1800 on Saturday, August 27, 2011…”

NYC officials dictated that 300,000 residents of certain low- lying zones evacuate.   Public transportation will cease at noon today, Saturday.  From the morning NYTimes, find these other announcements.  Doubleclick enlarges most.

Lots of folks I spoke with yesterday remembered Gloria’s visit in 1985.  If Irene heads in, our wake could be breadcrumbs for Irene to find the Battery.

Structures that could move yesterday were doing that, like Fox Boys and this construction barge.

Sailboats played nervously in front of the Statue, where hundreds waiting in line . . . but

lots of smaller vessels moved upriver, like Kimberly Poling here pushing barge Edwin A. Poling as

well as Austin Reinauer and RTC 100.

A friend from upriver called last night to say he’d seen at least $300 million worth of luxury yachts heading north, like

the 1958 Black Knight, the Goudy & Stevens yacht featured here three years ago . . . then also running from a storm albeit a thunderstorm that time.

However, some, infirm and not easily moveable,

their lines reinforced,

… is that a terrified face appearing like stigmata on the second porthole from the right, and a grinch-like demon on the one to its left? … will ride it out at the dock.  I hope the “custodians” in the SSSM offices know our eyes are on them as those same eyes are on the vessels left at the dock.

And who will be in the harbor . . . I’m guessing these folks and ones like them–police, Coast Guard, mariners working on the big ferries and certain private commercial vessels …  For frequent updates, read Hawsepiper, Paul the pirate, a scholar who works on an oil barge.  Paul . . . if you could get me keys, I’d move your truck outa Zone A.

Be safe.  I’m staying on high ground inland.

Since I posted here a half month ago about WIX-327 USCG cutter barque Eagle, visiting the sixth boro, I’ve read Capt. Gordon McGowan’s The Skipper & the Eagle, which details the months he spent in 1946, post-war Hamburg, refitting Eagle (his orders were that appropriating Eagle and getting her safely to the US should happen at NO EXPENSE to taxpayers in this country).  If you need a good read, to end the summer, this is it.  McGowan’s success depended on many things, maybe the foremost of which were Eagle‘s seaworthiness and the brotherhood of the sea that bridged the divide between Capt. McGowan of now-christened Eagle and Kapitanleutnant Barthold Schnibbe of ex-Horst Wessel.

A hurricane struck Eagle on the final leg of the journey–between Bermuda and New York.  As Irene approaches, consider these excerpts from McGowan’s book, written about the experience of being in an open bridge, exposed to wind, rain, and wash.

“In the rising seas the swells were beginning to overtake us, each crest coming in from a slightly different angle, and delivering a wallop to the underside of our old-fashioned overhanging counter”  (195). [McGowan added six additional helmsman to the two then on the three linked wheels.]

“Whitecaps had long disappeared nd been replaced by angry streaks gouged on the breast of the waves by the claws of the wind.  Puffs became roaring blasts of wind.  The average velocity rose above fifty knots.  This brought another change.  The streaks on the surface vanished, giving way to clouds of spray as wavetops were sheared off by the wind … The stinging pellets of water fly horizontally downwind” (196).

“The early skirling and piping of the fresh gale through the rigging had risen in volume  and in tone to belowing and shreiking.  The vast sound seemed to fill the world.  Voices of men died away and became inaudible.  Lips moving, neck cords and veins standing out recalled the silent movie days.  Here were faces transmitting thoughts by expression alone.  Here was sound without sound.  It pressed upon eardrums and bodies as a solid thing.  The singleness of this mighty roar brought about a solitude …  The voice of the storm was more than a roar.  There was a sharp tearing sound–the ripping of the fabric of the gates of hell …  The    fore upper and lower tops’ls were the first to go.  One moment they were there; a second later they had vanished.  It seemed incredible that all that remained of the broad spread of sail were these ragged little ribbons” (200).

“I turned to the idea of heaving to.  The ship had begun to dive and wallow like a wounded wild thing.  Each time a wave overtook us I looked apprehensively astern.  As the stern began to lift on the face of a wave, the bowsprit dipped deeper and deeper until it disappeared from sight.  When each crest swept from aft forward, the stern settled deeply upon the back on the wave, and the bowsprit pointed toward the sky” (202).

Sorry . . . you’ll have to read the rest.  Then there’s also Drumm’s book, which I haven’t read.

All fotos taken Friday by Will Van Dorp, who might not post tomorrow.

A South Street Seaport update:  Pioneer and Lettie G. Howard have departed for Kingston.

Bowsprite tattooed my back about two years ago, and I never felt a thing, didn’t even know about it til a few days later.  See evidence in the eighth foto here.  The tattoo she incised had the best feature: dynamism.  Without  washing or submitting myself to laser-burn or chemical-peel ink removal, that design–beautiful as it was– disappeared; pristine skin prevailed and could morph again.

Being a tabula rasa is the beauty of the sixth boro as it exists today.  Not pristine as 500 years ago, it’s nevertheless mostly cleaner than it was 50 years ago.  And unencumbered.  The land right down to the sea’s threshold submits to the struggles and gainful laborings of planners and builders, but the water resists.  Change is constant here, like light.

May the two above paragraphs exorcise the defensiveness I’m feeling these days.  Repeatedly I feel restored by the surprises borne in and out upon the expanse of water I call the sixth boro.  Like this, yesterday.  I dismissed it at first as a replica.

But it turns out to be the real thing:  A Trumpy built at Mathis Yacht Building Company in 1926, now restored, a near-sister of the yacht that hosted seven US presidents.

One goal I had yesterday was to get a frontal shot of the figurehead on Eos, but not finding a conveyance, this is the best I could get of Anh Duong‘s work.  Today these eyes behold . . .  the cliffs of Hoboken; some months from now they may look upon the skyline of Moorea Bay.

Bold  (ex-Victorious) . . .  I saw her sail past us on Delaware Bay;  eight months ago and thousands of miles later, she glides through the Narrows.

In hazy light, CGC Ridley and Gibraltar-flagged cargo vessel Bremer Johanna seem flat-bottomed shapes floating in ether in front of a geometric continent.

Trawler Fluke . .  here today . . . who knows where next month.

Tug Mary Beth D (ex-Fort Edisto, 1954) pushes a Weeks scow past inbound MOL Endeavor. Last time I saw Mary Beth D,  the creeks on the south side of Raritan Bay were  encrusted.

Ventura lives in North Cove and sails here outside the Narrows.

Anthony L Miller reminds this curvaceous yacht to respect the “slow bell;”  Lazzara doesn’t design exactly my kind of vessel, but the sixth boro is a summer stop in the migrations of Spring Time.

A final shot for now . . . looking into the wheelhouse of that 1926 Trumpy, as helmsman surveys the open spaces ahead.

My vision of the sixth boro . . .  keep it dynamic.

All fotos taken in the past weeks by Will Van Dorp.

Guest post by Sandy Eames, a friend, a South Street Seaport Museum volunteer since 2001, and a Save Our Seaport steering committee member. Sandy read this at Community Board 1 meeting of 5/24/2011.  In my 2006 foto below, Sandy is working on Pioneer‘s tender, named for a museum volunteer John Willett.  In the background, left to right are Helen McAllister, Marion M, Peking, and (barely visible) Pioneer.

“I do not want to run anything, I simply want to be able to learn how to cut wood better and varnish it so that it onlookers say “oooh”, and steer a historic schooner again through the night under the stars. Of course, being able to do this with the ships under the capable care of the leading maritime museum in America in New York would be wonderful too! But we are not there yet!

I wonder how we got to live in New York City. Our forebears came the hard way – by sailing ship on journeys often taking a month. I came here in 1980 the easy way, on a Laker Skytrain into JFK. But are we going to teach our children and visitors here that everyone arrived by jet at JFK in the 1600’s? I don’t think so.

What has happened to the South Street Seaport Museum over the last decade or more simply appalls its friends, supporters and volunteers. Take a favorite schooner away from a sailor and you have trouble!

But what’s much worse is the secrecy of the Seaport Museum’s administration, its failure to outreach to its members, volunteers, the local community, and the maritime community, and the management’s ineptitude in running the museum effectively. The result is now that the museum is on the rocks, mostly out of business, yet the existing captain and admiral remain at the helm. It’s no wonder that a large group of people is upset, wanting change, and making noise.

I hope I speak for the many volunteers, museum members, local waterfront supporters and many maritime leaders across the country who would love to pitch in, do what they can to help save this institution, and put it back together – back on an even keel perhaps? Just where did all these maritime expressions come from? Did you get your one square meal today? Is the cat still in the bag? Such a teaching opportunity!

Here’s my proposal:
First:   Lock down the museum immediately. Stop any further damage to the museum. Change the locks. Ask the volunteers to monitor and sustain the ships.

Second:   Bring in an Interim CEO to run the place, to give us a chance to rebuild, make a new business plan, raise new funds, and then hire a new full time top flight CEO from the maritime museum field to run the place. Volunteers can run Pioneer this summer and generate needed revenue.

Third:   Return to profitable sanity. Go back to teaching our kids and visitors the maritime history of New York. Re-open the museum’s galleries showing its extensive collection of paintings, scrimshaw and tools. Put the ships back to work as floating galleries with exhibitions of how New York really started, and take some of them out working on the water.

We urgently need your help in cutting through the thicket of government institutions so that we can achieve a change from secrecy, ineptitude and lack of trust, to openness, competency, support and engagement.”

Thank you, Sandy!

In the second foto, taken by the inimitable bowsprite,  Sandy’s showing off the brass treads he installed in Pioneer‘s aft cabin ladder.

i.e., which details are minor,  periphery, fringe   . . . all depend on perspective, which

change.  Yours is not mine, and vice versa; nor one

moment’s focal point the same as

that of a minute before.

Yet, most of the time as I plunge full-ahead churning up a sudsy wake, I assume only one

reality exists, that one just forward of my nose, an assumption obvious to the point of embarrassment when I stop and shift

a moment’s drift in the current and whole new

vistas and focal points appear;  and behind me still

others.    The only thing that’s consistent among all this transience is what’s

stuck in my head, and even that can in the blink of an eye change.

Old business:  Check our Frank Markus’ Papillon denouement fotos here.    Frank… thanks much for getting these.    Ongoing business:  May the South Street Ex-port conversation go on here.

Happy end of April.  I’m off in search of a may pole or something.    Back soon.


(Doubleclick enlarges most.)

is every day, of course.  Here’s my modest proposal:  April 20 becomes an unofficial Safety Day, a reminder that safety is an every day all day task, whether traveling

by bicycle,

small craft,

work vessel,

terrestrial or airborne vehicle . . . and terrestrial vehicles should NEVER become airborne,

boring machine . . .

Safety really comes first.  And second and third …. because there’s really no alternative.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp, who previously posted on safety here.

I’d hoped to see movement today, but no news.  Just

weather.  Fotos taken at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Day 5

Hightide’s fury pounded it so hard that it did move, but like a horse with a broken leg

trying to stand.

I kept my distance, but I wondered about the size of openings where water geysers out here midships.

It’s a tough ship, but it reminds me of Gallopin’ Gertie.

Fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Fotos from a few days ago, here.

on Hell Beach.  I don’t feel comfortable telling the location or identity.  All are safe, but

heart-broken.

It’s not just about the loss of a large steel Colvin pinky schooner.  Rather it’s

about lost dreams, abandoned hopes, and disappointment.  One moment is glorious, and the next days and weeks will be wrenching pain.

All fotos taken today by Will Van Dorp.

Here’s a woefully inadequate “just the facts, mam” from Long Island News.  Here are more sordid details . . .  failure to keep watch seems the likely cause.

Here’s more . . . with a fairly extensive set of pics along with a historical context.

OK . . . here’s the vessel.

Elizabeth Wood took the following pics just over three years ago;  I hated the gloomy light that day, but now I find it appropriate given the topic this post.  Below is a letter from Peter Stanford, founder of South Street Seaport Museum, who thinks the current chairman and director should resign.

<<   … a  long slide from four piers under Seaport Museum control and a museum  that was operating in the black until corporate managers took control, who sold out to Rouse in 1980. In those days you helped lead “a revival of spirit” (as  a NY Times headline called it) in 1980, when Jakob (Isbrandtsen] and the Wavertee Volunteers turned to, supported by NMHS, and saved the ship from the sale or scrapping as set forth in the Rouse plan. Today we have one pier and have lost our urban renewal status which gave the Seaport Museum control of waterfront development which now proceeds regardless of museum needs and interests.

Seaport management asked Terry Walton and myself, with another seaport founder, Robert Ferraro, to develop an outline plan for the ships. We’ve now done this, after consultation with leaders in the Mystic, San Diego, and Erie maritime museums.  These good souls run active, creative ship programs. And they have the vision to see that failure of the historic ships’ cause in New York would deal a deadly blow to the movement nationally – and in fact, internationally. As soon as we have final approval by Ray Ashley in San Diego, Dana Hewson in Mystic, Walter Rybka in Erie we’d like to circulate a summary of the Ships Plan to bring fresh life and interest to the ships of South Street.

We might also hold a meeting of informed people on what the Seaport needs and what it can deliver. We might hold this meeting on Maritime Day, 22 May, during the scheduled visit of the Gazela of Philadelphia, the last square-rigger in the immemorial Newfoundland fisheries – Jakob’s old skipper Robert Rustchak is relief skipper and trustee of the ship, and I hope he can help us do this in proper style. And I hope others of like mind may also weigh in to get a public campaign rolling.

ACTION THIS DAY! Meantime we urgently need e-mails to Mayor Bloomberg (www.nyc.govt/mayor) and the NY Times (212) 639-9675), to let the Mayor (www/nyc.gov/mayor) know that the fate of the Seaport Museum cannot be left to real estate interests in high cabal, and to alert Times readers to back-alley dealings over an institution which has been a resource and inspiration to many New Yorkers – which needs their support to tell the story of New York as a city built by seafaring,  which is vital its well-being and progress on the sea trades today and tomorrow. >>

To any who wants to e-mail Mayor Michael Bloomberg, put this address on your browser line      http://www.nyc.gov/html/mail/html/mayor.html This will bring you to a form to email the mayor. Max 300 words.  What to write?

Whatever you want, whatever you know.  If you don’t know much, keep in mind that ( as Rick Old Salt reports)  Peter Stanford, Museum founder, has so little confidence in the the current leadership of the Museum that he calls for them to resign.   I’m not privy to the inner workings at the Museum, but I did invest 1000 volunteer hours there, ending a few years back because the low morale among folks who worked there just broke my heart.   If you know anyone who has ever worked there, ask them.

A vibrant port city, with its active sixth boro, deserves an energetic and maricentric museum, determined to provide residents and visitors to New York ” a living maritime museum …  on New York’s historic waterfront, where a century ago a thousand bowsprits pointed the way to commercial greatness,”   as Robert S. Gallagher wrote in October 1969.  And a functional research library . . . that would be nice, too.  May brighter days lie ahead.  And may Peking and her sister vessels breathe again.

To see pics of Peking as a proud merchant vessel under sail, click here . . . last three fotos.  For fotos of  Peking‘s first arrival at the Narrows on the wire of Utrecht, click here.

A big smile covers my face now.  Call me Jane (or Call me, Jane.)  Address me as “sixth borough president and historian” if you like;  I don’t cost taxpayers anything.

Three weeks ago just before I headed for work, an email popped onto my screen from Alexis Mainland.  She explained she does a NYTimes column called “New York Online” and wanted to profile “Tugster.”   The 30-minute telephone interview lasted for a fun hour, and Alexis Mainland’s good questions yielded a fine article here (already online and in the Metropolitan section of 2/20/2011 Sunday’s paper) .  If you read it online and wish to leave a comment on the Times site, please do so.

Since the article mentions some of my “offices,”  I pasted in this map; click on it anywhere to make it interactive.  You can follow Richmond Terrace starting westward  from the northeast corner of Staten Island, a locality called St. George.  The dotted lines in the water leading to St. George reflect the Staten Island Ferry route to Manhattan’s Whitehall.  Richmond Terrace offers great views of the Kill Van Kull, the curvy strip of water separating Staten Island from Bayonne, NJ.  If you follow Richmond Terrace to the west, past the Bayonne Bridge and Shooter’s Island, you see a strip of green on the Elizabethport, NJ side called Arthur Kill Park, another of my “offices.”

Seriously, the article gets it and takes the “sixth boro”  seriously, and I’m grateful for that.  I think it’s important that we be cognizant of  the seminal value of the harbor and its pivotal role in this becoming a metro area of 20 million people.  Out of 192 countries on the face of the earth today, 135 have a smaller population than metro NYC!

Last summer thanks to a passage to Philadelphia I made on Gazela, I finally read Harvey Oxenhorn’s Tuning the Rig.  Gazela fotos here and here (scroll thru).  Here’s a favorite section of the book, in which Oxenhorn describes an encounter with a Greenland family in Nuuk (Gothab), and he locks eyes with a young woman standing with her daughter and husband:

“When those eyes met mine, she realized I was staring at her.  She stared back and then began to laugh.  That got me laughing too.  My presence was a bit preposterous.  But not unwelcome; they had joy to spare.  Soon everyone picked up on the joke and joined in.  They laughed at me looking;  I laughed at their laughing while watching me laugh.  I laughed.  They laughed.  We laughed together until the reasons for the laughing were forgotten and the only thing that mattered was the pure free pleasure of it all.”

Doing this blog and getting your comments and support gives me that “pure free pleasure.”  And if you learn something from the blog, great because I learn several things every day from it as well.  And if you wish to  disagree with or add to anything I write, send a comment or a private email.  And I love it when you send along fotos or suggestions about posts.  Huzzah the NYTimes.  Huzzah the sixth boro!

D … as in departure …  moment 00:00 for me, the observer with a camera over on the other side of the Kill, fascinated.    This foto is an arbitrary starting point for this series.  I love it about digital fotos that snap-time is recorded in the file.  By this instant, crew on Torm Carina have Margaret Moran‘s towline on.

00:03   Three seconds later, the same crew makes their way forward to stand by at Torm Carina‘s forward docklines.

00:45  45 seconds later, crew is standing by.

01:07   Just over a minute later, shore crew stands by to release the line on command.

15:40  Note that 15 minutes in, bow lines have been released and taken aboard the tanker. Margaret Moran throttles up to take slack out of the tow line.

17:21  A little later Joan Moran throttles up to move tanker stern away from the the dock.

19:16  Pilot and tanker crew monitor from the starboard bridge wing.

19:25  Margaret’s crew maintains a slow steady pressure.

21:38  I’ve no clue why this member of crew is stationed here, maybe he’s just taking a break, standing by.  My attention gets drawn to people, though.

26:40  Tanker has left the dock area and is proceeding westbound on the KVK.

30:22  Tanker passes R. H. Tugs with Margaret and Joan as escorts.

These fotos were taken on 1/27/2011 by Will Van Dorp.  As of this writing on 2/11/2011, Torm Carina is off Galveston, where … at sunrise today, Friday, the air temperature is not that much different than it is in NYC.

Realizing my role as outsider here, I know there’s a lot I don’t see, which reminds me of Mark Twain’s brilliant observations in “Two Views of the River.”   (…) mean I’ve taken liberties and edited Twain, for which I hope to get some forgiveness from Mr. Clemens.

“…when I had mastered the language of this water … every trifling feature that bordered the great river… , I had made a valuable acquisition. But I had lost something, too … which could never be restored to me …. All the grace, the beauty, the poetry, had gone …! I still keep in mind a certain wonderful sunset which I witnessed when steamboating was new to me. A broad expanse of the river was turned to blood; in the middle distance the red hue brightened into gold, through which a solitary log came floating black and conspicuous; in one place a long, slanting mark lay sparkling upon the water; in another the surface was broken by boiling, tumbling rings, that were as many-tinted as a opal; where the ruddy flush was faintest, was a smooth spot that was covered with graceful circles and radiating lines, ever so delicately traced; the shore on our left was densely wooded, and the somber shadow that fell from this forest was broken in one place by a long, ruffled trail that shone like silver; and high above the forest wall a clean-stemmed dead tree waved a single leafy bough that glowed like a flame in the unobstructed splendor that was flowing from the sun. There were graceful curves, reflected images, woody heights, soft distances; and over the whole scene, far and near, the dissolving lights drifted steadily, enriching it every passing moment with new marvels of coloring.

I stood like one bewitched. I drank it in, in a speechless rapture. The world was new to me, and I had never seen anything like this at home.

But as I have said, a day came when I began to cease from noting the glories and the charms which the moon and the sun and the twilight … upon the river’s face; another day came when I ceased altogether to note them. Then, if that sunset scene had been repeated, I should have … should have commented upon it in … this fashion: ‘This sun means that we are going to have wind tomorrow; that floating log means that the river is rising, small thanks to it; that slanting mark on the water refers to a bluff reef which is going to kill somebody’s steamboat one of these nights, if it keeps on stretching out like that; those tumbling ‘boils’ show a dissolving bar and a changing channel there; the lines and circles in the slick water over yonder are a warning that that troublesome place is shoaling up dangerously; that silver streak in the shadow of the forest is the ‘break’ from a new snag, and he has located himself in the very best place he could have found to fish for steamboats; that tall dead tree, with a single living branch, is not going to last long, and then how is a body ever going to get through this blind place at night without the friendly old landmark?’

… the romance and beauty were all gone from the river. All the value any feature of it had for me now was the amount of usefulness it could furnish toward compassing the safe piloting of a … boat. Since those days, I have pitied doctors from my heart. What does the lovely flush in a beauty’s cheek mean to a doctor but a “break” that ripples above some deadly disease? … Does he ever see her beauty at all, or doesn’t he simply view her professionally, and comment upon her unwholesome condition all to himself? And doesn’t he sometimes wonder whether he has gained most or lost most by learning his trade?”     (1883)

And I will content myself to see this from the other side . . . .

Unrelated but reminiscent:  See a C tractor close up on Mage’s Postcards.  Thanks, Mage.

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