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Coming home from work, I overheard this conversation on New Jersey Transit last night between Newark and New York.

She from West Virginia:  Oh this is so exciting.  Soon I’ll walk through Penn Station, just like I saw in movies and TV.  Even the train ride is exciting.

She from NYC:  Thank you.  Thanks for the reminders.  I’m always tired coming from work on this train, and I forget how exciting this is.  Thank you!

The latter sounded sincere, and I’ll bet it was.  Taking fotos helps remind me of the exciting place the sixth boro is.  I took all these today while showing a friend around.  Like Captain Zeke urging a scow

through the Cut into Erie Basin as crew calls in from his vantage point.

Like encircled bollards lorded over by a frozen crane not far

from silenced shipyard tools.

Like a scow with dredge spoils . . . or is that a steel portal into Poseidon’s realm?

Like the melange of upriver silt mixing with flooding seawater?

Like a tanker bound for sea, leaving

the busyness of the Upper Bay.

Like the solitary exertion of kayaking or

the collaboration of USCGC Campbell heading outbound through the Narrows.

Or like an osprey showing his next-fish-meal the heavens.

Like the aesthetics of coating and oxidation and friction.

Like the osprey invigorated by the fish-meal.

Like the dance of tug and ship and the

tools of egress.

Thank you.  The sixth boro never ceases to tantalize and refresh and motivate another look.

All fotos today by Will Van Dorp.

One of the year’s disappointments was seeing the figurehead on Eagle, a ship two friends had crossed the Atlantic in. The figurehead is shown below.eagle.jpg
I don’t mean to be critical, and I won’t say what it reminds me of, but for a vessel so lavished with funding, the bird lover and the wood carver in me found that gilt body . . . disappointing. Not that I’d go for the fiberglass figure on this Las Vegas pirate ship.

figheadlv.jpg

Of course if I were a perishing, superstitious medieval sailor, I know which “klaboutermannikin” I’d rather follow to the afterlife. But I digress. Eagle, built by Blohm and Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Germany in 1936, is the younger sibling by 25 years of Peking. And check out Peking‘s stem, initials “P” and “L” for the P line, a fleet of nitrate clippers owned by Ferdinand Laeisz; now quiet at the dock after an early life shuttling between Hamburg and Valparaiso and other Chilean ports, less than three months for the 7000 miles each way. Imagine this modest figurehead plunging through the tempest around Cape Horn.

pkgxmas.jpg

Here’s a sampling of figureheads. But my favorite figurehead of the year is shown below, the defiant grey goose standing on Pioneer’s bowsprit while the wooden jibboom was removed for refinishing; by the way, would you believe me if I said Homeland Security ( aka USCG Campbell WMEC 909) backed off seconds later out of respect for the goose? wacki.jpg

You don’t suppose the crew of this cutter had been interested in taking the goose as a figurehead, do you?

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

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