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What is this tow . . .  eastbound on the East River?  Clues:  The year is 1948 and that’s Brooklyn Bridge, South Street Seaport, and lower Manhattan in the background.  Also, the Staten Island ferry has operated a +1100-passenger vessel since 1986 named in honor of the builder of this tow, former resident of Opossum Acres, and built of this tow out of available flotsam and jetsam.


Answer:  It’s John A. Noble’s houseboat, featured in a tugster post here a year ago.    And there’s a party/fundraiser at Sailors Snug Harbor in his honor . . . details below.  Click on the foto/poster below for more info on Sailors Snug Harbor.


What follows is the press release.  Consider participating in some way.  

On Saturday, March 16, 2013 at 8 PM, the museum will host a birthday party and premiere the new documentary, Tides of 100 Year: Remembering John A. Noble, by filmmaker Michael McWeeney.

On Sunday, March 17, 2013 at 2 PM, the museum will host a free public reception that will include two showings of the new film and refreshments.

The Saturday evening celebration will also mark the opening of a biographical exhibition, with family memorabilia, photographs, and art that describe Noble’s career.  Rare pieces, including plein air drawings he did from his rowboat while studying New York Harbor, as well are formal drawings, photographs, and paintings, will highlight it.

Eccentric features of his former home at 270 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, will shed light on Noble’s personality and many talents.  His basement workshop and the interior of his home, with maritime artifacts and tools he collected and lamps and furniture he made, have been recreated. 

Noble and his wife Susan Ames Noble decided to “burn their bridges,” and devote their lives to his artistic career, and the exhibition focuses on their single-minded devotion to it.  “No teaching. No retreat,” was their philosophy.  Susan was Noble’s advisor, agent, secretary, and companion on his explorations.  “It took Sue and me about 10 years to know New York,” Noble said. “We rowed, we walked, we bicycled—about ten years.  Then we had a little fundamental idea of the vast thing.”

The birthday party, which will take place on the eve of Noble’s St. Patrick’s Day birth in Paris, France, in 1913, will feature cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and dancing to the music of Queen Tipsy and her band.  Tickets are $100 per person, $90 for museum members and seniors.

The Sunday afternoon reception will include two showings, at 2 PM and 3 PM, of Tides of 100 Years: Remembering John A. Noble, by Michael McWeeney.

Funding for the exhibition was provided, in part, by the Trustees and members of the Noble Maritime Collection, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council. Michael McWeeney is the recipient of a DCA Premier Grant from the Council on the Arts & Humanities for Staten Island (COAHSI), with public funding from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

The Tides of 100 Years exhibition will remain on view through 2013.  The Noble Maritime Collection is located at Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden and is open to the public Thursdays through Sundays from 1 until 5 PM.  Tours of the museum and school programs are welcome weekdays as well.

For information, call the Noble Maritime Collection at (718) 447-6490 or visit

Click here for a sampling of Noble’s work.  Click here for info on a profusely-illustrated biography.  Click here for info on a Snug Harbor project to transform Robbins Reef Light.

Unrelated but similar to the top foto, click here for a tugster post from almost three years ago.   


No orange is more brilliant on the Upper Bay than that of the Staten Island ferries.   Of course, no creature of the water–live or mechanical–sports the same colors ventral as dorsal.  And thanks to the following fotos from John Watson, let’s go below.

Here’s a thing of beauty as visible from the inside of a floating drydock at Caddell– one end of the double-ender Samuel I. Newhouse.

Note the worker for scale.

What might surprise many people is the absence of props/shafts and the existence of this disc-like recess.

Disassembled, here’s the drive unit that fits into the recess

Each of the circular spaces in this subassembly houses a vertical blade.  For an animation showing movement, click here.

Note the same transition from orange to blue to red and vertical blades here on Noble.

If you’ve wondered how these ferries negotiate into the ferry racks in adverse tidal flow, traveling sideways . . . now you know.

All fotos above except the first one come compliments of John Watson.  Newhouse fotos date from summer ’94;  Noble . . . from summer 2000.

Here’s a parting shot of one of my favorite moments of orange from earlier in 2012.

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