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Actually, the full title of this book is Tugboats Illustrated: History-Technology-Seamanship with Drawings by the author Paul Farrell
I first heard of the book and Paul Farrell last February; I got an email from an editor at W. W. Norton expressing interest in licensing one of my photos for the cover of the forthcoming book. The photo was the 9th in the post called “Helen’s Last Waltz.” I was thrilled, as you might imagine, and we arrived at a price. Then I hoped it would be an attractive, technically accurate book.
A few months later, Norton’s publicity department sent along a five-page sampler and asked if I’d write a review of the book. The cover letter described Tugboats Illustrated as “gorgeously detailed guide to the evolution, design, and role of tugboats” from “ the earliest days of steam up to today’s most advanced ocean-going workboats” and referred to its “dynamic drawings that show how different kinds of propellers move, to explanations of the physics and engineering that allow this movement to happen.”
Mr. Farrell, an architect with almost a half century of experience, was described as having spent a quarter century researching and writing this book, his first. When someone spends that amount of time focusing on a subject, I’m impressed. But I wasn’t ready to do a review until I saw the entire 156-page book, which arrived in November. The photo below should illustrate how comprehensive this slim but well-designed book is.
I first paged through it and then read it cover to cover. Paging through, I noticed how many of these “dynamic drawings” there are, more than 70 of them at least, depending how you count. Below is a sample of a set of drawings from p. 114, illustrating an evolution that always mesmerizes me . . . a flanking turn with a long tow on a winding river, and he shows it from both the downstream and upstream perspective.
Indeed, an architect’s drawings honed by years of professional work complemented with captions, guided by the experts in the wheelhouse, illustrate complex maneuvers in this and many other instances. Ironically, Farrell never intended to showcase his illustrations in the book; he says it began as “rough sketching intended to guide a mythical illustrator who would intuit just the right feel and content” until he realized this these sketches, such as they were, would work. He reports that doing the set of drawings to illustrate hull chines as seen from underwater were pivotal. I find them charming, below (p. 93), a boon to the book and not just “limited” or “enough.”
Then there are the photographs, over 80 of them in total and more than half of them in color, many of them taken by photographers whose work I know and have great respect for: Brian Gauvin, Alan Haig-Brown, and Pat Folan. There was one photo by Rod Smith, who has so many to choose from in his albums on the shipbuilding work at Senesco. Many of the black-and-white photos come from the collections of Steven Lang and Brent Dibner. Other photos introduced me to photographers I’d like to see more of in the future.
In the “Acknowledgements,” Farrell reveals that he first sent a draft of the book to Norton in 1996, a full twenty years ago. When a book takes shape over such a long period of time as this one, it gets vetted for accuracy and thoroughness, which this one has.
Got friends who want to learn about tugboats? Want to expand your own knowledge of the history and variety of these vessels? Then order it here.
I’m just so thrilled that my photo from that July 17, 2012 move graces the cover of this fine book that I’ll digress and post three more photos from that day.
Helen, she is a classic from 1900! Does anyone have photos of her working out of South Carolina waters as Georgetown? In that photo above, Helen looks just slightly like Little Toot in Hardie Gramatky’s wonderful watercolors, reproduced on p. 11 of Paul Farrell’s book.
Click here for some previous reviews.
All photos by Will Van Dorp.
Name that tug? Answer follows.
Kodiak . . . this is a new one for me and a one-off trip for the vessel?
The tug here is
Liberty Service. And yes, that’s Chesapeake Coast in the distance.
This is an impressive lineup in the late fall afternoon light: the McAllisters Kate, Bruce, Helen, Brothers, Brian . . and more.
This vessel I truly don’t know. It’s new in the harbor, and I have a hunch . . . but will keep that to myself.
All photos very recently by Will Van dorp.
First, if you’re free today and within travel distance of Lower Manhattan, do yourself a favor and attend this event, 4 p. m., a book signing by Dr. James M. Lindgren. His new book is a much needed complement to Peter Stanford’s A Dream of Tall Ships, reviewed here a few months ago. Details in Preserving South Street Seaport cover almost a half century and will enthrall anyone who’s ever volunteered at, donated to, been employed by, or attended any events of South Street Seaport Museum. Lindgren laments SSSM’s absence of institutional memory saying, “Discontinuity instead defined the Seaport’s administration.” Amen . . as a volunteer I wanted to know the historical context for what seemed to me to be museum administrations’ repeated squandering of hope despite herculean efforts on the part of volunteers and staff I knew.
As my contribution to creation of memory, I offer these photos and I’d ask again for some pooling of photos about the myriad efforts of this museum over the years.
Pier 17. April 17, 2014. According to Lindgren, this mall opened on Sept 11, 1985 with a fireworks show. Its demise may by this week’s end be complete.
April 12, 2014. Photo by Justin Zizes.
Feb 23, 2014.
Jan 21, 2014 . . . Lettie G. Howard returns.
Sept 20, 2013. This is the last photo I ever took FROM the upper balcony of Pier 17.
Sept 12, 2013.
July 2012. A fire had broken out on the pier, and Shark was the first on scene responder. Damage was minimal, despite appearances here.
Now for some photos of vessels that have docked in the South Street area in the past half century.
July 2012 . . . Helen McAllister departs, assisted by W. O. Decker and McAllister Responder.
June 2012. Departure of Marion M as seen from house of W. O. Decker. Photo by Jonathan Boulware. The last I knew, Marion M is being restored on the Chesapeake by a former SSSM volunteer.
Lettie G. Howard hauled out in 2009.
2009. The Floating Hospital . . . was never part of the SSSM collection.
2009. Maj. Gen. Hart aka John A. Lynch aka Harlem.
Helen McAllister with Peking and Wavertree. Portion of bow of Marion M along Helen‘s starboard.
Mathilda posing with W. O. Decker in Kingston. 2009.
Moshulu now in Philadelphia.
2005, I believe. Spuyten Duyvil (not a SSSM vessel) and Pioneer.
Thanks to Justin and Jonathan for use of their photos. All others by Will Van Dorp. For many stories on these vessels, that mall, and so much more, pick up or download these books and read them asap.
See it there, the modest red covered barge between Wavertree and Peking? The steel covered barge is called Progress today. Once it transported coffee from ship to shore. I’m making a note to myself: learn more about these.
And right across the East River to the right of the firehouse at Fulton Landing, that modified but still modest white barge used to be Erie Lackawanna 375. It too transported coffee. More on this later. I took this foto 6/16/2009.
Here’s another modified coffee barge, this one just south of Camden, NJ, now the floating office of McAllister in that waterway.
It’s a counterpart to this McAllister office on the KVK. So given all these repurposed coffee barges I knew about, why
did it take me a day short of seven years doing this blog to go to Bargemusic, the EL 375 barge in the foto above? Shame on me, posing in the “shadow selfie” below, for waiting so long to check out this extraordinary barge.
I trekked out there yesterday in spite of the gusty sub-freezing weather to hear some music and have a look.
Jung Lin was warming up on the Steinway, as
was Andy Simionescu.
I didn’t–and one shouldn’t–take fotos during the performance, but during intermission, I went out onto the pier to see the view from the “back” of the stage.
Here’s the obit of founder Olga Bloom–with more info on her barge project– from the NYTimes almost exactly two years ago. From this article, I learn this was her third barge, that it was built around 1900, and that Peter Stamford was instrumental in getting it permission to dock at Fulton Landing. Here’s a spring 1978 article on what may have been Bargemusic’s first season. Here’s a link that gets you an interview with the current president and calendar of upcoming events. By the way, at 2:48 in that interview, a Bouchard tug passes eastbound on the East River.
Credits to those who offered marine trade skills and others can be found here.
Request: the bargemusic site credits a Captain Hearnley as the one to tow the barge to this location. Can anyone say anything about him? Does anyone know the name of the tug or . . . have a foto of that tow? When was the former EL 375 last hauled?
Final shot for today, a foto from 8/27/2010 of Volunteer passing bargemusic.
All fotos by Will Van Dorp. If you have never been to bargemusic, you’ll thank youself if you go there SOON.
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.
Foto from Birk. I never noticed before how much the colors of a McAllister tug and Santa Claus are alike. Now all Alex needs is to sport white fabric bow pudding, you to squint, and . . . et voila! To the right . . . I think that’s she who did a last waltz this past July.
Christmas decorations on USS New Jersey? Except this foto was taken in October.
Tugboat Lizzie with reflections . . . and made by a frustrated retired jeweler friend of John Ericsson.
a gold- and silver-plated copper tug! Trophy material. See more at the Independence Seaport Museum, not where the road has taken me but well worth a visit.
Top foto by Birk Thomas. All others by Will Van Dorp, who’s quite inland and equidistant from the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.
Colleen basks in early morning light before the race earlier this month.
Resolute makes a quick turn to assist with a tow.
Discovery Coast turns westbound into the KVK.
Resolute takes the stern of Thomas J. Brown.
Miriam Moran reports for yet another job.
The inimitable Herbert P. Brake leaves the east end of the Kill.
Laura K. Moran . . . speed turning.
Taurus heads for the mooring.
Treasure Coast crosses in the foreground after Taurus gets to the mooring.
Discovery Coast cruises back to home base.
It’s Choptank light about to cross the Upper Bay for Brooklyn, and
a whole bevvy of McAllisters, including Helen. in Mariner’s Harbor . . . also just before the tugboat race almost three weeks ago.
All fotos by Will Van Dorp, who does a short gallivant starting later tomorrow.
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 email@example.com.
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.
Again, Marion M can be yours. Contact Jonathan Boulware, Waterfront Director, South Street Seaport Museum 212.748.8772 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 . . . .
0923 hr . . . Decker heads out to confer with Responder, who has often moved South Street vessels, including Peking four + years ago.
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.
Since I woke up this May morning from a dream about attending a meditation session, the logical choice is to start my day writing a post that reflects upon–well–preservation. Two weeks ago I wrote about the Alwyn Vincent project. To quote the site, “she’s finally out,” and on the steel wheels ‘n rails of a synchrolift.
She was getting her “haircut and a shave” even before she stopped moving. When all logistical arrangements converge, the late 1950s tug will travel over-the-road 60 or so miles to its new life, as a functioning steam tug on a freshwater reservoir.
To support the self-described ‘Bunch of Crazy Farmers’ (personified by Andy, in orange below) who now own the tug, the Alwyn website says they “selling space for banners of about 1 metre square, at R5 000 ($US 639.30). The advertisements are mostly in connection with agricultural products and services, partly because everybody knows who are responsible for saving this historic vessel! Partly also, it’s because those are the firms we know, support and can ask!”
I suppose they’d accept US sponsors as well; book your space on the hull! Contact Elma on email@example.com
told some of the story. A sister vessel–New York Central #16–was saved only to end tragically at the Bourne Bridge rotary in Massachusetts, just six years ago.
The late Don Sutherland told of spending the last night aboard #16 . . . I wish I’d recorded his telling that story. I have recorded Norman Brouwer telling the story of buying this pierside house from #16 from the late John J. Witte, and I hope to share details of that project soon.
Not everything can be preserved . . . On Friday I caught Cheyenne –a current Witte (officially DonJon Marine) tug–heading from the East River into the Upper Bay pushing a load of (I believe) fine scrap, chopped up pieces bound for recycling. Just a week ago, Cheyenne was pushing some preserved vintage jets.
Some valuable artifacts might not be saved much longer unless dreams convert into reality and $$; others like Liemba and Yavari seem to live way beyond their expected lifespans in spite of their being out of the spotlight.
Which brings up this part of a dream: Partners in Preservation is dangling cash $US 3 million, and . . .<<<Tug Pegasus (1907) and Waterfront Museum Barge aka Lehigh Valley 79 (1914) have teamed up in a grant application for $$ for preservation work each vessel needs. As a component of the decision-making about who gets the $$, Partners in Preservation have a “socialmedia-meter” running from now until May 21. To help Pegasus and Lehigh Valley 79 register high on this “meter,” you can do two things from wherever on the planet you may be: 1) befriend them on Facebook and get dozens of your friends to befriend them as well, and 2) vote DAILY here. DAILY! Seems like a crazy way to run an election, but . . . that’s social media and in this case, the cause is worthy.>>>
And later this afternoon–1300–1700h I’ll be down on Pier 25 minding the plank between 79 and Pegasus, as part of Partners in Preservation “open house” weekend.
Thanks to Colin Syndercombe for the Cape Town fotos; all others by Will Van Dorp.
Sort of related, here’s a “tale of two projects” post from about a year ago.