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Eight years ago during Thanksgiving week, I lost my job: the 197-year-old firm (I’ll keep it that vague) north of Boston announced then that doors would close forever the following May 31. I’m thankful this loss led me to New York, place of unusual cultural richness, especially in the sixth borough. To mention a few, 30 years of Barge Music,



two years ago a tugboat Rachel Marie towing an island tailed by a gate, Opera on a tanker, and now H20 Arts presents a book launch for Gabriel Cohen‘s The Graving Dock


near the graving dock, and in the delightfully named “tailshaft + valve room” (x marks the spot “reading shed) above in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Never heard of this yard? Have your heard of the USS Missouri? Have you heard of Alice? She and mates discharge megatons of Canadian aggregates to use in launches of all manner of buildings.

Photos, WVD.

See this post from December for a more serious look at advertising on the water. I’m posting these two below just for fun . . .



Should there be a question mark on that facade . . . or maybe the activity proposed isn’t even so clear? In case, you’re wondering . . sure I wanna, discreetly.



This begs a direct object?

Actually those two words make up the only word on the facade of the old railroad docks on the Hoboken waterfront–Lackawanna. Hoboken used to be the eastern terminal of the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad. Check out this map.



Above’s a foto from two years ago showing the entire facade.  Yes, that’s floating island.

All photos, Will Van Dorp.

Actually that’s not what it’s called. Towing on the hawser is the phrase instead even if what’s on the hawser here is not the typical barge.


It’s Robert Smithson‘s Floating Island, a mobile piece of geography for a time in late summer 2005. Below is the island as seen under a full moon.

The nighttime tell-tale of a tug with a barge is the set of two lights one directly atop the other on the right side of the photo. Standing watch at night in the harbor involves looking for light combinations like this. It’s sort of like looking at consellations in the night sky.

When a tug has no load, it is said to be light, as is the case with the “retired” tug Gowanus Bay below.

Click here and scroll down to see more of Gowanus Bay, currently docked in Brooklyn Navy Yard after working from 1956 until 2002. It has a 600 hp Atlas direct reversing diesel. “Direct reversing” means that to “shift” from forward into reverse, the engine is shut down for a second or two and then restarted in the opposite direction.

If it’s September and you’re way up the Hudson in Waterford, the eastern end of the Erie aka Barge Canal and there are a few dozen light tugs around, you may see a pushing contest.

More tugs tomorrow.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

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Graves of Arthur Kill

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October 2021