I took this photo of a photo in a canal office the other week, taken May 1915.


Here’s a photo of lock E5 being built, seven years earlier than the photo of Schenectady above.   This is one of thousands of photos in the Digital Collections of the New York State Archives.


Happy searching.

Thanks to Gerard Thornton for use of these photos.


Steppenwolf, or at least strutting gull.  Beneath the wheel, or at least the wheels of the cranes.  The Glass Bead Game, or at least the metal box shifting enterprise.   Journey to the East, or at least shuttling between east and west and all the other cardinal points . . . .  Maybe a dedicated literature carrier?


I’ll stop here, but I love these moody, Hesse-enhancing photos by Gerard.

I have seen Ernest Hemingway in the boro a few times, and I’m waiting for Thomas Pynchon, although I thought I recognized him more than once.


I thought to call this mystery tow, but it hints more at the whatzit category.  The answer will not be found in this post, but enjoy the clues.


Those are real kilograms.


Scale?  Location?  See the last photo to confirm location . . .


. . . and again scale.


More info will be forthcoming.  Will Van Dorp took all the photos here in the last week of September 2016.


I’ve done so many Grouper posts over the years that I should  recap.  The photos you see below show a tugboat called Green Bay, which was built in Cleveland OH in 1912 as Gary.    Here are the subsequent renamings of Gary:  Green Bay 1934, Oneida 1981, Iroquois 1987, Alaska 1990, and finally Grouper 1998.  Today, Grouper languishes in the Erie Canal near Lock E-28A, a good 325 miles from the sixth boro.   Many folks would love to see it resurrect with the name Grouper or some other one.

I’ve gotten lots of email about Grouper, but I really like messages like this one I got last weekend from Jeff Gylland:

“I rode Grouper as a kid all the time.  My Grandfather, Lester Gamble,  was the captain of then tug Green Bay out of Manitowoc, WI.  Have many memories of strong coffee and even stronger language.  The boat was converted from coal to diesel in the 1950s.  I have many pictures if you are interested.  Would love to come to Lyons with 50 gallons of paint and put the old Green, White and Red in the correct places.”

So I wrote Jeff, told him what I knew, and a bit later got another email, this one from Jeff’s aunt, Deborah Wiegand:

“I see my nephew Jeff contacted you and already sent some of our photos.  I have a collection ( maybe 20+) of professionally taken photos of the Green Bay taken during the years 1953-69 when my dad Lester R. Gamble was her captain.

The family had thought the tug had been scrapped until a historical blog based in Manitowoc came up with the information on her decline and current situation and brought it to my attention. It is heart-breaking to us.  Both Jeff and I regularly rode along with Dad on tows and have many stories & good memories to share of her.  Please let us know how we can help. Don’t hesitate to call me is you want to chat.”
I believe City of Midland 41, below, was converted into a barge which began operating as Pere Marquette 41 in 1998.  Ah, the circle of life.


Here Green Bay moves the Great Lakes steamer SS South American, built 1913, which some readers may recall seeing in the Delaware River as late as 1992.


Edward L. Ryerson is a beautiful bulk carrier, launched in 1960,  still operating on the Great Lakes.


Note the ice on the harbor here.


Here Green Bay fights a fire in 1952.


Many thanks to Deborah and Jeff for these fabulous photos.  It is my hope that Green Bay, Grouper, et al  .  . is brought out of its stupor in Lyons and finds yet another life.


Palabora . . . she’s got LEGS!!!  Italian legs.  … Lei ha le gambe!   gambe that will stand astride that harbor and be noticed, cartwheeling on the shore as traffic goes in and out of the Kills, and


the legs of Bartholdi’s lady will be forever modestly covered.  So why are they made in Pescara on the Adriatic, and not in an American steel mill?  When you break it down, some parts are from Canada, Holland, Germany . . . .  I have no problem with this fact, but I think it should be noted as such.

Thanks to New York Media Boat for the photo.

Here are previous iterations of this title.



Let’s start with Bjoern’s photos from a month ago just about already.  The New York Media Boat runs almost all year round and provides wet and cold weather gear.




Actually I took this photo, intending it as a baseline photo for the process of preparing the barque to travel the Atlantic next spring, on the deck of a heavy lift ship. I took this photo near Caddell Dry Dock almost two weeks ago.


A really gallivanting Larry Seney took the next few photos in Hawaii:  Namahoe,


Mahi, and


Hoku Loa.  More info on Hoku Loa can be located here.


Thanks to Alex Weiss for this photo of Independence.


Ted M sent this papa smurf aka Pleon photo taken in early August in New Bedford.  Now it’s over in the Arthur Kill.


And the last photo comes from an East River jogger, Art Feinglass, who took this photo of Navigator passing the old Domino Sugar refinery, an architect’s playground.



Thanks to Bjoern, Larry, Alex, Ted, and Art for these photos.


Let’s start with some photos of the TZ Bridge work taken in October 2013


This is looking south.






Now here are some from February 2016.






And looking back north.


And June 2016.




And two months later,  late August 2016, looking north.






And looking back southward.


The February photos come from a friend.  All others by Will Van Dorp.


Here’s an article published by the USCG on this profession. And here’s my article/photos from the October 2016 issue of Professional Mariner on Lakes Pilots Association, District 2.  The photos in this post are outtakes from that article.

Below the captain of Huron Belle maneuvers into position to switch a District 2 pilot for a District 3 pilot on an upbound ship at the south end of Lake Huron.


Here Great Lakes tugs Mississippi and


Nebraska finesse a ship to negotiate a narrow bridge span on the Maumee River, as guided


by a Lakes District pilot.  Imagine calling the commands to ship’s helm and tugs on bow and stern while watching this evolution from the bridge wing  700′ back from where the ship steel could splinter the bridge wood and steel. A seiche here can cause the river to run upstream, and that bridge, which sees a fair amount of water traffic, is a midwest version of the Portal Bridge.


Pilots read the water as well as a plethora of tools to keep shipping without incident. Mark Twain said that as a pilot he “mastered the language of the river,”  and that’s still a requirement today.


And there’s always the transfer of pilots, which represents a significant risk.




This was a calm day, but in adverse conditions,


this is a challenge not to be understated.



Almost all photos here by Will Van Dorp.



Here was my post from almost a year ago.  I believe this is the latest from the NTSB.

I took the above photo in 2010 in Baltimore.

Of course, there are little known gunkholes in the backwaters of the sixth boro where fossils–living and inert–float.  This one is off an inlet behind one island and concealed by another, a place easily missed, and if seen, it gives the impression of being off limits by land and too shallow by water, near the deadly bayou of Bloomfield.  But with the right conveyance and attitude, it’s feasible if you’re willing to probe.  And the fossils have names like . . .


Caitlin Rose.  I don’t know much, but built in Savannah GA in 1956?  Relentless.  She’s before my time here, but I suppose she’s the one built in Port Arthur TX in 1950.


I can’t make out all of the words here.




Ticonderoga is obviously playing possum. Only a month ago she doe-see-doed into the Kills with the ex-Pleon, the blue tug behind her,


a Jakobson from 1953.


Dauntless .. . built in Jakobson & Peterson of Brooklyn in 1936, was once Martha Moran.


From right to left here, Mike Azzolino was built for the USCG at Ira S. Bushey & Sons and commissioned as WYTM-72 Yankton in 1944.  Moving to the left, it’s Charles Oxman . . .


was built by Pusey & Jones in 1940 and originally called H. S. Falk., and looked like this below, which explains the unusual wheelhouse today.  She seems to have come out of that same search for new direction as David, from a post here a year ago.


The photo above I took from this tribute page. 


The small tug off Oxman‘s starboard, i don’t know.





The low slung tug that dominates the photo here is Erica, and beyond here is a Crow.


Someone help me out here?


And as far into this gunkhole as I dared to venture . . .  this one is nameless.


Oh the stories that could be told here!  I hope someone can and will.  Balladeers like Gordon Lightfoot could memorialize these wrecks in a song like “Ghosts of Cape Horn,” which inspired a tugster post here years ago.  And looking at the last photo in that old post, I see Wavertree, which leads me to this art- and detail-rich site I don’t recall having seen before.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.


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Graves of Arthur Kill

Click on image below to order your copy of Graves of Arthur Kill, by Gary Kane and Will Van Dorp. 3Fish Productions.

Seth Tane American Painting

Read my Iraq Hostage memoir online.

My Babylonian Captivity

Reflections of an American hostage in Iraq, 20 years later.

Tale of Two Marlins

Blue Marlin spent 600+ hours loading tugs and barges in NYC Sixth Boro. Click on image for presentation made to NY Ship Lore and Model Club, July 25, 2011.


October 2016
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