You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Puerto Rico’ tag.

Happy March . . . .  Exactly a decade ago I made my second trip to Puerto Rico, and both times I spent some time on the island of Vieques.  If you’ve never been to either PR or Vieques, you owe it to yourself to visit this corner of the US, so close to the east coast.

Of course, being myself, I spent some time watching the traffic in San Juan and visiting with the fine mariners working there.  Here the classic Honcho (former fleet mate of Atlantic Salvor and Atlantic Enterprise)

heads out to meet El Morro and together with 

Handy Three do their magic in the harbor.  

Don Raul also came into port with a barge on the wire.  Don Raul, working for the Borinken Towing and Salvage at the time, has been repositioned to the Great Lakes to work for the USACE.  Has anyone seen her on the Lakes yet, maybe Buffalo?  Has her livery been changed?

Beth M. McAllister, slightly newer sister of the sixth boro’s Ellen McAllister, was and still is working in San Juan.   Both Beth M. and Ellen are–as you can see–former YTB tugboats built for the USN in WI.

Service between the big island and Vieques is provided by small planes, where you get asked your weight (please answer honestly)and seated accordingly to balance out the seven-passenger load, and lots of ferries, like Isla Bonita below. 

For more context on this part of Puerto Rico, click here for the 2013 post.  See any resemblance to Blount built boat in the depicted nearer ferry below?

Clearly, back then I was still floundering with the camera on a flip phone and took the image below, with the negative setting.  To me, it adds magic to a magical place for me.  I can’t believe that a decade has passed since last I left the enchanted islands . . .

All photos, WVD, who encourages everyone to visit PR. 

It’s March 1, and that invites a look back to March 2011.

Vinalines Queen  is where I need to start.  Less than two years after I took this photo, the 2005 bulk carrier was lost on a run between Morowali, Indonesia and China with a cargo of nickel ore, with the loss of all hands (22) except one. 

Morowali has 19 nickel smelters.  Nickel ore is considered the most dangerous bulk commodityTwo other nickel ships were lost in December 2010. Here‘s info about the single survivor of the sinking. 

Assist here is provided by Miriam Moran.

Kongo Star was just off the ways when I took this photo;  and the small tanker (13011 dwt) is still working and currently near Rotterdam, in fact, in the town where my father was born.

Entering the KVK, it’s Ross Sea and Houma, each with a barge. Houma was scrapped a few years ago already.  Ross Sea is currently in Philly.

Heron, here passing CMA CGM Puget, was sold to a Nigerian company in 2012.  The 4404 teu ship dates from 2002 and is currently traveling between Korea and Mexico.


Greenland Sea shows her Candies origins.  She may currently be laid up.  Torm Kristina just passed Cape Town, on a run between Asia and South America.  She’s a large handysize crude tanker launched in 1999.

Ron G, now Captain Mark, is docked in Jacksonville.

It was in March 2011 that I first visited Puerto Rico.  In Fajardo, I saw Isla Grande and Cayo Norte.  Both are Blount boats, launched in 1976 and 1995, respectively.   Cayo Norte is still working in Puerto Rico, although I’m not so sure about Isla Grande. 

The 1973 Harvey Gamage is currently near Charleston SC.    Can you recognize the tall ship off her stern?

Of course, it’s Bounty, launched in 1960 and lost over 100 miles SE of Cape Hatteras during Hurricane Sandy.

March 2011 was a busy month.  I’ll post more photos of the month later.

All photos, WVD.


Dole has a lot of ships.  Capt. Neftali Padilla took these three fotos from his office, evident in foto #3.  Enjoy the fotos and ponder this question:  which fruits does Dole export from Puerto Rico?  Answer later.  Dole Asia meets Dole Europa.



Here’s the office . . . Z-One.


Here’s a foto I took of Z-One at the dock last spring while working on an article about its fleet sister, Handy Three.


Thanks to Capt. Padilla for use of his fotos.

. . . well it’s actually  on the Bay, San Juan Bay.  Coming upon this . . . I first thought an accident had occurred.


Note the two objects–helmeted heads–bobbing on the water in lower left.



Then a basket exits and lowers,


half a minute later it’s returning to the aircraft,


fifteen seconds later,


three minutes later,


and a minute later.


These vessels slowly left the scene.  My conclusion . . . a drill.


But I’m not sure.

All fotos in San Juan harbor by Will Van Dorp.

Quick post from San Juan after the better part of a good week in Vieques, where I first went two years ago.  Involved were ferries,






and lots of boats .  .  .   notable being schooner Virginia, last seen on tugster here in mid-October last year. . . foto 8.


back in October.  At first I thought it was Amistad, but Amistad has more headrig.


Vieques has an appeal that tries to just hold me here, and


if my return trip was aboard Arawak,


I might just stay here.   I had a job offer already the second day I was here!!


More soon.


Thanks to Fairlane and Ben for pointing out an example of “you travel far away to find what you left behind”  :  shipbuilders in southern New England labored to create vessels like Cayo Largo (2008) , below and here (fotos 6 and 7).  In fact, Cayo Largo displays front-and-center on the Blount Boats Shipyard site here.

The same Blount workers built Isla Grande (1976)  and Cayo Norte (1995) , and if you want graphic evidence, look at this shot of Cross Sound’s  Caribbean Ferry (1972) that despite its name never left New England, I don’t think.  They built Isleno in 2004.  (third foto down) and La Princesa (2009) (fotos 2 and 3).

As you enjoy these “walk-around” shots of Isla Grande, some of you

might consider her applicability for short sea shipping on

the Hudson, if not elsewhere as well.

Other Blount boats already depicted on tugster include the following:

Twin Tube (1952)

Bergen Point and Vulcan III (ex-Bethtug I and Bethtug III, respectively.  1958)

Scotty Sky (1960)

Miss New Jersey (1991) and bunches of other Circle Line boats.

Mister T (2001)

Labrador Sea (2002)

I’m sure I’ve missed some Blount boats that I’ve seen.  The one I’d really like to know the disposition of . . . is Kasai (1960) and built for the rivers of the Congo, where I worked from 1973 until 1975.  Anyone know?  Here’s a story of a ferry disaster on the Kasai River just a few years back.

Unrelated:  I’ve looked high and low for fotos of Asso 22, the tugboat seized yesterday off Libya.  See story here, with fotos, of course, of politicians.


Back in the sixth boro USA.  My best “tug” foto comes at the end of this post.  I loved Puerto Rico!  But there were disappointments:  instead of this sportfisherman passing the “devil’s sentry box,”, I’d hope to catch Pilot

and a different Princesa

heading into San Juan harbor, but . . .  enjoy these.

And what I thought was the Crowley dock is, as Les pointed out, the Sea Star pier.  See Sea Star’s El Faro (seventh foto down) from tugster exactly a year ago here.

Being out of my element and not wanting to lose my camera, I snapped these through fences:  Don Alfredo and Sabre Spirit.

Don Alfredo (2003) works for Harbor Bunkering Corp, but i’ve been unable to find any info on

Sabre Spirit.  I know there’s another vessel (yellow trim) beyond Sabre Spirit.

Again, through the fences . . . Megolly Hawk of Black Hawk Shipping.

And that fifth foto down (unidentified schooner) got clearly identified at Pier 4 . . . as Harvey Gamage, a floating high school.

Over toward La Aduana, the pink Customs House (which I did NOT study closely enough) is the Coast Guard pier, and (from right to left) the 85′ Reef Shark and 110′ Key Largo and another 110′ cutter behind here.

You saw Amelia here the other day . . .  here’s the Hood River, OR-built vessel  face on.

And some better fotos of Greenport, NY’s Bounty, showing what some crew do

in port.    Compare the 1960 replica with the original in stats here.

Finally, as promised at the start of this post . . . here’s my best San Juan “tug” foto.  When I return to PR, Harold, I know exactly where I need to go to see the McAllister tugs there.

I have more pics I’ll put on Flickr . . . soon, and I’ve added a few links to the posts I did on the road, if you’re interested in going through them again.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp, who returns to his paying job manana.

ok . . . am going to withdraw the “tugster” filter on content and show some Vieques scenes, like the beach along the Esperanza “malecon” aka “boardwalk” at

sunset, looking toward Monte Pirata, westward.

oceanside view of Cayo Afuerte, off the Esperanza Playa

somewhere along the southern coast where hundreds of eggs from leatherbacks, hawksbill, and green turtles await the full moon while vulnerable to predators of both the mongoose and featherless biped variety.

inland night spot.  note the hanging pans and pots in the window behind the greenery.

munitions bunkers on the west side of the island . . . dozens of clusters like this along labyrinthine roads

serve as storage and hurricane shelters today.  this one was open . . . tugster shows scale.  Note the clutch of fruit bats (black spot) hanging above my left tide to the ceiling.

huge buttress roots on this ancient ceiba tree, said to have greeted

Columbus when he arrived.  Note the scale.

view of BioBay from Monte Santo.  Note Cayos de Tierra and Afuera marking Playa Esperanza.  Swimming at night in BoBay is like swimming in salty green fire.

stilt coming in to land in freshwater pond near the hydroponic project.  i loved the hummingbirds but got no fotos.

inland from Sun Bay.  clearly some water change happened here.  lots of wading herons and egrets in the salt pan.

nature reclaims all, including this 1950s Buick (?) along the road  where

free-range but branded horses roam at will

Most fotos by Will Van Dorp.  The ones where tugster plays “scale talent” taken by Jim Hackett.  Hope that’s spelled right, Jim.

Call this . . . .  waters around Vieques.   Here’s a map.

Punta Mula Light, overlooking Isabel Segunda harbor and the ferry docks.  The harbor is named for Spain’s only female monarch, to date.

fish pier next to the ferry dock

in the waterway between Isabel Segunda and the “mainland” of PR, the cargo ferry Islena .  Of course, I tried to cross on it but was denied.  Vieques’ second town of Esperanza, as seen from one of the peaks (not Monte Pirata)  at the western end of the island, here looking east.  The ilsands from near to far are Cayo de Afuera and Cayo de Tierra.

an unidentified two-masted schooner heads east from Esperanza Wednesday morning seen off Cayo de Tierra

long pier built by the Navy at Rompeolas, on the northwest side of the island looking towards Ceiba

fishing boat anchored off  Rompeola pier looks like it has some Maine influences

more fishing boats off Playa Esperanzaunidentified victim of a hurricane past lies on the west side of Cayo Afuera

Thursday afternoon brought a schooner-rigged catamaran into Esperanza harbor.  Vessel named Heron is

Boothbay, Maine.

Excuse any errors.  Have to post before I lose signal again.  All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Tugster in the tropics . . .?    Some quick posts.

Bahia de San Juan, looking towards the Crowley yard from old San Juan.  No Crowley equipment, but that’s New Ranger.

Looking east, it’s Bounty and Carnival Victory.

and looking west, it’s ferry Amelia heading across the Bahia.  Love the exhausts.  Amelia came off the ways in Oregon.

Kites aka chiringas get played on the wind over Castillo de San Felipe del Morro.

cargo ferries at the pier in Fajardo

ferry Cayo Largo with

close up of its cargo. Cayo Largo helped out in Haiti in January 2010, with its capacity of 300 tons of cargo and 300 passengers.  Here’s a frontal view, Cayo Largo.

wreck of Karen Elizabeth, looking from Fajardo to Vieques.

Sorry if I made any errors.  Fotos by Will Van Dorp

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,579 other subscribers
If looking for specific "word" in archives, search here.
Questions, comments, photos? Email Tugster

Documentary "Graves of Arthur Kill" is AVAILABLE again here.Click here to buy now!

Recent Comments

Seth Tane American Painting

Read my Iraq Hostage memoir online.

My Babylonian Captivity

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


June 2023