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Uh . . . what’s this?


It’s Buddy, living breathing braying hoof-beglittered mascot of Debora Miller.  If you’ve never been to the New York’s race, there’s a best mascot category.  In the past there’ve been  . . . dogs, hermit crabs, even a chicken . . . but Buddy redefines the contest.


With the threat of rain, someone made a wise decision and advanced the start of the race.  Here Resolute, Catherine Miller, Tasman Sea, and Red Hook move toward the starting line . . . feted by now-retired 1931 fireboat John J. Harvey.


Foto thanks to William Hyman . . . the line up.


And at 10:29:30 . . . they’re off . . . with 1930 wooden tug W. O. Decker taking an early and easy lead!!


45 seconds later . . . W. O. Decker has dropped back.


Here’s they are 15 seconds later.


John J. Harvey is not a tug, but to see the speed out of this octogenarian . . . was humbling.   An engineer toiling away in the engine room later told me all four engines were driving propulsion.



The red tug–Resolute–went on to win, although I don’t yet have the official times.  I could have written them down, but I was far too busy applauding and taking fotos.


And here’s the crowd at the finish line.


Part B tomorrow.  Thanks to William Hyman for foto 4.  All others by Will Van Dorp.

Many thanks to Glen Miller of Miller’s Launch for my ride this year.

Unrelated and almost forgot:  Here’s a query from Jeff S, a frequent commenter on this blog:  he saw a “very weather beaten wooden sailing vessel (hull) at the Jersey end of the Goethels Bridge, about 65-70 foot long , two deck cabins and a bowsprit.”  It was parked in the oversize lot waiting to cross the Bridge when traffic gets light.  Anyone have an idea what this may be?


More Seth Tane fotos.

Foto #1.  It’s 1979, 34 years ago.  What I see is no structure on Pier 17 Manhattan, lots of covered warehouses and a ship on the Brooklyn side.   Extreme lower right of foto . . . is that the floating hospital?  There’s another large white vessel to the left of lightship Ambrose.  There’s a vacant lot just to the south of the Brooklyn side access to the Bridge.  And a large ATB looking tug in the Navy Yard.   What have I missed?


Foto #2.  W. O. Decker–in my posts here and here and many other places–comes to pick up a tow, Poling #16.   Digression:  if you do Facebook, here’s the Marion M (shown in the second Decker link there) updates site with fotos.    Lots of intriguing details in the background of the Navy yard here.



Foto #3  Driving Decker here is most likely Geo Matteson, author of Tugboats of New York.  A 2013 “reshoot” of this cityscape is a “must do.”


Foto #4.  Tied up at Pier 17, Decker remakes the tow to get the tanker alongside.


All fotos by Seth Tane.

If you’re interested in collaborating in a documentation of the changing harbor, particularly the evolving articulation between the sixth boro and the other five, please contact me.  See address upper left side.

Forecast for the morning after the Oscars was for some sun, which I sorely needed.  And who’s out . . . William Oscar aka W. O. Decker, for starters.


CCNI Aquiles and Dallas Express at Global . . . and a Moose boat racing toward us.


I couldn’t quite figure out what Sorensen Miller‘s load was.   In the background, that’s the Newark Bay Bridge, which doesn’t make it on my fotos much.


Virginia Sue was fishing off Clermont.


John P. Brown moved nine (?) railcars from Brooklyn to Jersey.


Clipper Legacy arrived here yesterday.


Shawn Miller‘s pushing trucks around again, this one  all ready for the mid-March holiday.


Taurus light moves past Christine McAllister.


And . . . let’s conclude with another shot of William Oscar, wherever it may be heading.


All fotos this morning before the clouds moved in . . . by Will Van Dorp.

Those film awards started in 1929.


William Oscar Decker was launched in 1930.


Every day should be Oscar day and every night . . . Oscar night.  And the winner is  . . . W. O.!  Shouldn’t there be a George Stanley statuette front and center of wheelhouse?


All fotos by Will Van Dorp.  Foto #1 taken in September 2010 in Troy, and the other two taken in July 2012 in the East River.

So after work today, I went looking for evidence that New Yorkers celebrate mardi gras.    I saw this instead . . .  seal?


Not!   Unless seals these days carry flashlights and trail markers and have a support



vessels like Linda Ann, herself supported by W. O. Decker and Peking.

Here is one of a series of six posts I did five years ago about Peking, which moved across the bay that day.    And half a year back, here‘s a post I did about W. O. Decker and Helen McAllister‘s last waltz.   And Wavertree . . .  I regret that in my dozen years wandering the sixth boro, Wavertree has not ONCE left the dock.  I know some of you must have fotos . . . and good memories of her moves, but   I have none.

BUT . . . click here for a mystery vessel with three masts square-rigged in a foto I was given some years back.  Anyone want to take a stab at identifying it?  The conclusion a few years back is that the foto is “‘shopped,”  although it was done some years ago.


My guess is that someone was inspecting Wavertree‘s wet side.


Later I thought I saw a mermaid . . . but I struck out again.


And for the record, after 1700 hr on the E train I finally saw some mardi gras beads . . . worn by a couple going to a party.  I had to ask.

All fotos today by Will Van Dorp.

When I posted about the race last year, I recapped the five previous years posts too.  See that here for part a and here for part b.

The day started early for me;  here at 07:01, not knowing I’d see her later in the morning, I passed Weddell Sea in the notch.

By 07:47, I was in the McAllister yard, thanks to Harold Tartell and of course the McAllisters.  Maurania III, also in last year’s race, will be the ride.

By 09:50, we were off Pier 84;  W. O. Decker and Meagan Ann were already there.

Aound then, Debora, Susan, and Shawn Miller lined up for a family shot.

At 10:01, it’s Pegasus and  . . .lo and behold . . . Weddell Sea has come out of the notch in the Upper Bay anchorage to join in the festivities.

I’ve never even seen this Little Toot. . .  out of Highlands, NJ, and she’s not so little.

10:06 . . .  Quantico Creek, Buchanan 1, Vulcan III, and Debora Miller begin to line up with us for the parade past Pier 84.

And when Weddell Sea and especially Lincoln Sea mingle with other boats, their size is apparent.  …  8000 hp, Lincoln Sea, appeared in K-Sea colors in the 2006 race.

10:43 some of the boats have turned around and waiting for the  race to begin . . .  the tide is flooding, adverse.

10:45 . . . note the two dark green tugs Gage Paul Thornton and Thornton Bros. still needing to turn around, as does

Freddie K Miller.  

If my camera clock is correct, the race started at 10:47, and

tomorrow I’ll get you the results.

It was great meeting/catching up with so many folks today, and again . . . thanks to Harold and McAllister towing for getting me on Maurania III.

Is Marion M (Greenport, NY 1932) on her own power projecting that potentially gorgeous deck before her?  Might she be?

I’ll be straightforward for once:  Marion M has been moved away from South Street because the museum needs space.  She is for sale. You/your organization can get information on purchasing her by contacting Captain Jonathan Boulware, Waterfront Director, South Street Seaport Museum.  His tele and email are:  212.748.8772

Some specifics on her history accompany bowsprite’s rendering here.  Wooden tugboat W. O. Decker (1930) demonstrates that she has the stuff  still in her.  Decker stays at South Street Seaport Museum.   Here and here are two of my many favorite bowsprite illustrations of Decker.

All these fotos come compliments of Jonathan Boulware, who took them in late June, as

Decker towed Marion M out to

her holding area on the KVK . . . where you can pick her up.

I wanted to add a few more fotos of Helen McAllister . . .

who also has at least one

more life ahead of her.   Here’s how she might look under her own power headed your way.

And with all this movement, what might Peking be thinking, saying . ..  .?

Uh . . . she can’t talk, can she?

Again, Marion M can be yours.  Contact Jonathan Boulware, Waterfront Director, South Street Seaport Museum     212.748.8772      I’m told she’s listed in WoodenBoat‘s “Save a Classic” section, but I haven’t seen that yet.

I’d love to see her gussied up to 1932 standards.  I’d even put greenbacks and sweat equity in the project.  I’m reminded of what the “crazy farmers of Villiersdorp” managed to do . . . or the Onrust project in Rotterdam Junction.

Unrelated but NYTimes article about resurgence:  Cross-harbor rail about to expand exponentially on the sixth boro!!

… of course with boats, the number of “second lives” can astonish you, and (as for “last,”) see the note at the end of the post.  Helen’s tenure as “tryin ta be” museum artifact at South Street was more like a fourth life* already!

Anyhow, we knew departure would happen, just not when the day was.  But when I happened by minutes after nine this morning and I saw this . . .  my plans for the next few hours vanished . . . .

Helen sliding into the stream at the end of Deckers towline . . . meant only one thing.

0923 hr . . . Decker heads out to confer with Responder, who has often moved South Street vessels, including Peking four + years ago.

Responder asks Decker to go into the confined space to bring Helen to the dance floor.

Decker (and crew, of course) were thrilled to do this escort.

Long-timers at the Museum–Carlos, Victor, and Sal–get in last moments.

0953 . . . the tow gets made with Responder, and

the lines to Decker get

loosened.  Hand-over has happened.

For a short tense interval, the boats exchange sweet somethings, maybe some tears, and then

they waltz away . . . toward a future.

The Statue waves in recognition.

And Decker, as escort, has finished her duties by 1024 hr.

Such beautiful curves, such proud rake!    Surely there is another life

for Helen somewhere.  John Watson waits high on his cliff to get fotos of the tow heading into the KVK.

Thanks to John Watson for this foto and to Jonathan Boulware for assisting with my fotos.

And I’d really enjoy hearing your comments on any experiences you’ve had in the long life of the beautiful Helen (ex-Georgetown, ex-Admiral Dewey).  Does anyone have fotos to share of Helen docking vessels during 1992 OpSail?

“Last” . . . well, many boats have second, third, etc lives.  Helen is headed back to the McAllister yard;  SSS Museum needs to focus on fewer vessels.  What comes next is as unknown as . . . tomorrow.

Related:  Here was a previous significant day in SSSM involving major passages with the McAllisters.

* As to Helen’s previous lives, she was built in Port Richmond, Staten Island as Admiral Dewey for Berwind-White Coal;  see p. 8 of Erin Urban’s Caddell Dry Dock: 100 Years Harborside for a foto of Admiral Dewey.

A year ago I was pessimistic and wrote a bleak post and made this offer.  I have now officially passed some benjamins.   Last Saturday I went back to the South Street Seaport Museum and the new life excited me.  First, there’s this new blog, which I hope continues.  My friend John Watson, volunteer at the museum for decades and frequent contributor on tugster, has been responsible for many of the fotos.

Then, of course, volunteer spirit at SSSM has been irrepressible.  On Saturday February 18, over two dozen volunteers doing winter maintenance worked on or in four of the vessels at least.  A year of idleness has allowed rust to invade everywhere, rust that needs to be busted.

Hammers, chains, power grinders . . . whatever would combine with sweat to prep for rust inhibitor and ultimately new paint was pressed into service. I even set down my camera a few hours and assaulted some areas of rust, just because I enjoyed it.

Leaks were stopped, even if only with temporary fixes for now.

Hatches were sanded and painted.

It’s no simple cliche that rust never sleeps, and big projects like Wavertree require huge infusions of cash and effort to hold off the ravages of time.   But the spirit of volunteerism is also indispensible.This googlemap view shows where all the current museum vessels used to park.  Can you name them all?  Some may still go to better places.

Ambrose and Lettie G. Howard often docked in the open space here;  they are off-site for repair and refurbishing before they return.What really impressed me was inside Schermerhorn Row.  Floor 3 has “Super Models,”  ship replicas from the collection, smartly displayed.

It also has “Bottled Up,”  miniature vessels in glass.  And if you want to see how ships navigate the bottleneck, you can find a display on that too.

Contemporary hand tools are used rust-busting the ships outside, but Floor 4 has “Hand Held Devices,” an installation of scores of historic hand tools, some of

which you might not recognize, but

then there’s an interactive display that can

help with that too.

Floor 5 has “Coffee, Tea, Fish, and the Tattooed Man,” all

tributes to trades that once transacted just outside the building on the docks.

On the way back down, stop again on Floor 3 for a set of Edward Burtynsky‘s stunning fotos of shipbreaking in Bangladesh.

But don’t take my word for any of this. There’s more than I describe here.  And more to come . . . like the re-opening of some form of research library . . . .   Become a member.  Come and visit.  Stop by and bust rust.   The barge name here describes what’s happening at the Museum.

South Street Seaport is once again

alive!  My fotos don’t really do it justice.  Bravo to all who made this happen.

The foto I posted yesterday dazzled my image of Shooter’s.  Sure  . . . I knew it once saw shipbuilding operations beginning with David Decker’s yard, but I never imagined the scale.  And when that industry collapsed, the island was reduced to a speed bump.  Obliterate it was the solution proposed by a politician half a century ago.

If I try to put myself in the head of a Standard Shipbuilding employee there 90 years ago, I imagine he would wonder how many vessels the Shooters yard would be turning out a century hence, what cargoes they’d carry, and  to which ports.  Possibly he also wondered what part of the operation would employ his sons.  Never in his wildest dreams–I suspect–would he imagine a scene like the one passing earlier today.

He would never envisage such a ship from China with cargoes like the dominoes stack here.  Click here for fotos of Shanghai a little over a century back.

Xin Chang Sha, although barely a medium-sized container ship–is twice the loa and carries eight times the cargo deadweight than a Shooters vessel such as the 1919 San Teodoro.

On a given Saturday morning from sunrise to noon, Xin Chang Sha is one of  . . . half a dozen vessels bound for sea through the KVK.

Doubleclick enlarges.  This foto taken at the pool, just east of the Bayonne Bridge, looking toward Shooters.

Besides being a bird sanctuary, the island margins are also home to over a dozen ruins deemed “nationally significant” by the NPS Archeology Program for abandoned shipwrecks.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

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