On June 14, 2011, this 70 ft schooner, Black Seal, brought 20 tons of cocoa beans from the Dominican Republic to Red Hook, Brooklyn.
This is how they did it: no customs report, no bills of lading, no contract with the ILA to lift the 400 bags, and a blank stare when asked for a TWIC. Viva l’esprit of rum running!
Our wise leaders decided that shooting at the handmade three masted schooner was not as good press as welcoming it, so we are happy to have the beans, Mast Bros chocolate, and this WSJ story. Will there be more? Day-o!
(update: the editorial offices of BLOWSPITTLE ink have been informed that all hoops were hastily collected, set up on pier 9A and jumped through: correct papers were obtained-signed-approved-delivered, customs agent procured, docking permitted, stevedores contracted, eyes crossed, teas dotted.)
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On March 9, 2012, this 105 ft schoonerbrig, running under sail power only — no motor at all — set a course from the Dominican Republic to pick up cocoa beans in Grenada bound for New York. They had rum, salt and other Caribbean products for New York, England and the Netherlands. Their voyage plan had Grenada as their last Carribean stop in order to load the cocoa beans last to keep them cooler, forcing the ship to sail from the Dominican Republic against the current and close to the wind, sailing that demanded constant trimming and setting of sails during all watches.
All for naught: the bureaucracy and regulatory fees demanded by our port thoroughly discouraged Tres Hombres, and the cocoa shipment for Grenada Chocolate Company was not to be. The ship had to abandon the stop off at New York, and changed course towards the Azores. Simply no way to gain if you try to follow the rules. Read the ship log’s entry here. Day-o…
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This 191 ft barquentine is the largest tall ship operated by the Indonesian Navy and serves as a sail training vessel for naval cadets and as an ambassador of goodwill for the people of Indonesia: Dewaruci.
She was on her last voyage, nearing NYC for FleetWeek/OpSail 2012 when she ran low on water. She crawled like a thirsty desert traveller along the NJ coast, crying ‘water! water!’ unheeded. She reached the Verrazano Narrows bridge, and approached Sullivans Pier in Staten Island where she would tie up for FleetWeek, two days early. She was denied permission to dock. And was not allow to water. Anti Terrorism Force Protection (ATFP): the police forces were scheduled for two days later and could not be deployed so quickly, nor could they be paid for for the two extra days. ATFP does not do boat time.
Desperate, the ship with their crew of 70 students looked for water, but found none. Calls were made and both SUNY Maritime and the United States Merchant Marine Academy welcomed them, eager to host the ship for two days. Fort Schuyler on the Throggs Neck peninsula was just a touch closer than Kings Point, Long Island, so the plan was to sail to SUNY Maritime to tie up and get water.
The ship began the trip up the East River, when the Sandy Hook Pilots noticed a discrepancy with specs and a translation issue. “Air draft” in Indonesian looks like “mast height” or the other way around; the mast from the deck up would have gone under the Brooklyn Bridge, but not with the ship under it.
Dewaruci turned away, and limped back, still parched, to Lower Bay to wait for two days.
For the FleetWeek parade up and down North River, Dewaruci students dressed gaily in blue and white uniforms, and stood atop yards, on shrouds and on bowsprit, saluting a city that was a rather shabby welcoming host. O day.
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Tonight! the Working Harbor Committee presents “Sailing Ships At Work”: the history of sailing cargo ships, the ships that sail cargo today (short part) and what the future may look like.
Wednesday, 10 April 2013 6 – 9 p.m.
Community Church of New York
40 E. 35th Street
New York, NY 10016
Price — Adults: $25, Seniors (62+) $20
please click here for tickets.
The future: projects like the Vermont Sailing Barge, Hope and Alert, HARVEST, B9 Shipping, and the MARAD initiative of the Hudson River Foodway Corridor will bring back water transportation of cargo…putting ships back in shipping.
The Working Harbor Committee is not responsible for any of the drivel I write. I just monitor VHF radio and drink in scuttlebutt in bars. And unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the event tonight, but go and have great fun. ♠ ♥ ♣ ♦
“Ships of New York Harbor”
oil paintings of Frank Hanavan and illustrations of Christina Sun
open today! and on view until 31 August
Mondays and Thursday, 4 to 7 PM,
Saturdays and Sundays, 1 to 6 PM.
Reception: Thursday, August 30, 6 to 10 PM.
Music by the Jug Addicts!
1 train to Franklin Street stop
A/C/E trains to Canal Street stop (exit at Walker Street)
LILAC is a 1933 lighthouse tender that carried supplies and maintained buoys for the U.S. Lighthouse Service and the U.S. Coast Guard.
More information about her here. We hope to see you there! Frank is there sundays, Christina will be there mondays.
Lightship Ambrose LV 87 / WAL 512
Built: 1907 by New York Shipbuilding Co., Camden, NJ
Length: 136ft. (41.5m)
Beam: 29ft. (8.8m)
Draft: 13ft. (3.9m)
Original Illumination Apparatus: three oil lens lanterns
This lightship was stationed in the Ambrose Channel since 1906, guiding vessel traffic through the main shipping channel just below the Verazzano Narrows bridge, into New York and New Jersey Harbor until 1967. She was given to South Street Seaport Museum by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1968. A light tower replaced it, was hit by ships a few times too many, and, now, the channel is marked by lighted buoys.
Now at the new! improved! South Street Seaport Museum under the fertile wing—nurturing wing?— of the City of the Museum of New York this lightship was painted in March, and is now being restored and is open for visiting at Pier 16.
The wings of the seaport museum are alive: a new exhibit is up, nautical pieces from another museum I love, the American Folk Art Museum.
And true to the harbor’s spirit, the active gem of the museum, Pioneer, is sailing. Go onboard to sail in the harbor or go and volunteer and learn how to handle lines and many other things that may always serve you well…!
“How we loved the captain! We would have done anything for him. He and the officers were Norwegian. We were a crew of 40, many of us boarded in Shanghai. We carried oil and went all around the world. I loved the ship, too. I made a model of the ship out of paper and the captain wanted it. He bought it for $20, purchased a glass case for it when we were in New York, and he displayed it in the officer’s mess.
“When my 2-yr contract ended, I boarded the Liberty Ship Benjamin H. Hill. We carried cargo. I was on board for only 8 months.
“Why are you asking all these questions? Why do you want to know this?”
Built: 1945 at The Kaiser Company, Swan Island Yard, Portland, OR
Length: 159 ft 6 in (48.6 m)
Beam: 20 ft 7 in (6.3m)
Liberty Ship Benjamin H. Hill
General Cargo Vessel Type EC2-S-C1 (E = emergency, C = cargo, 2 = waterline length between 400 – 500ft, S = steam power, C1 = this design)
Built: 1943 at J.A. Jones Construction Company, Brunwsick, GA
Length: 441 ft 6 in (134.6 m)
Beam: 57 ft (17.4 m)
Depth: 37 ft 4 in (11.4 m)
Speed: 11 kts
For more information on Liberty Ships: see
Ships for Victory,
Project Liberty Ship - cruise on the restored John W. Brown!
They also maintain the incredible resource, Armed-Guard.com with all their photos
Click on this link to see a wonderfully illustrated 1943 brochure on the capacity of a Liberty Ship.
Amazing site if you are into tankers: Auke Visser’s Historical Tankers Site
Happy Fathers Day!
one black ball:
two black balls:
“Not under command. Underway, but no way on. Adrift.”
Unable to follow any rules.
three black balls:
“Aground. Displayed aloft.”
two black balls, two diamonds:
“Vessel engaged in underwater work. Pass on diamond side; avoid ball side.”
Another beauty tip from Capt JJ: “You know how I remember it? girls love diamonds, so go for the diamonds. Or, you have to have balls to pass on the side with the balls. But the girls and diamonds one is easier, for me.”
ball diamond ball:
“Restricted in ability to maneuver. Working vessel.”
And, Capt JJ had to go there—“This is no good, either:”
— thanks, Capt JJ. I think.
If hungry for more, the COLREGS International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, published by the IMO, spells out in exhaustive detail the rules for lights, shapes (dayshapes like these), and sound signals.
Note: *No vessel ever has absolute ‘right of way’ over other vessels.* You can be the ’give way’ (burdened) or the ‘stand on’ (privileged) vessel.
Written and researched by Owen Burke, Brian Lam of The Scuttlefish:
Hold written on one set of knuckles and Fast written on the other was meant to give a sailor good grip in the rigging.
A Rope tattooed around the wrist meant that a seaman is a deckhand.
A Nautical Star or Compass Rose was given so that a sailor could always find her way home.
A Harpoon marked a member of the fishing fleet.
A Dragon signified that a sailor has served in China. A Golden Dragon was given when a sailor crossed the International Date Line.
A Shellback Turtle or King Neptune was earned when a sailor made it across the Equator.
I am going to Le Havre, in Normandie, France!
Two Atlantic liners of the Compagnie Generale Transatlantique, or “The French Line”:
SS Normandie, 1935
Builder: Chantiers de Penhoët, St. Nazaire, France.
Length: 1,029 ft (313.6 m)
Beam: 119 ft 5 in (36.4 m)
Height: 184 ft (56.1 m)
Draft: 37 ft (11.3 m)
Installed power: Four turbo-electric, total 160,000 hp (200,000 hp max).
Propulsion: Four 3- (later 4-) bladed, 23 tons each
Speed:29 knots (54 km/h), max speed recorded 32.2 knots (59.6 km/h)
Capacity: 1,972: 848 First Class (cabin), 670 Tourist Class, 454 Third Class
Maiden voyage: Le Havre – New York in 1935.
SS France, 1962
Builder: Chantiers de l’Atlantique, St. Nazaire, France.
Length: 316.1 m (1,035 ft)
Beam: 33.8 m (110.6 ft) waterline
Draft: 10.8 m (34 ft)
Propulsion: Geared CEM-Parsons turbines quadruple propeller (1961-1979) / twin propeller (1979-2008)
Speed: 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph) approx.
1961-1974 407 First class, 1,637 Tourist class
1980-1990 – 1,944 passengers
1994-2003 – 2,565 passengers
1961-1974 – 1,253
1980-1990 – 875
1994-2003 – 875
Notes: Cost US $80 million approx.
Maiden voyage: Le Havre – New York , 1962
Overheard on VHF, on two different occasions:
- “Princess to the sailing boat, Adirondack coming out of Chelsea Piers.”
“Adirondack to the Princess, we’re at North Cove, going south. You want the Imagine.”
- “Adirondack, by the Statue, this is the tug and barge coming up on your stern…”
No response. It is not the Adirondack, but the Pioneer at the old buoy 31 (now 35), with no other schooner in sight…
What ship is that?
Well, should the old girl not readily show you her derrière bearing her escutcheon (plate with the boat’s name), below are some of the schooners (et al) of NYHarbor, drawn more or less to proportional scale, with some identifying marks, so you can call her by name:
Built: 1885, in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania
Docked at: Pier 16
Material: Steel Hull, Iron Frames
Length: 102 ft.
Breadth: 22 ft.
Draft: 4.5 ft. (w/centerboard up) 12 ft. (w/centerboard down)
Mast Height: 76.6 ft.
Sail Area: 2,737 sq. ft.
Passenger Capacity: 35
It’s very easy to spot the Pioneer: look for the orange jimbuoy at the stern. She has a beautiful bow, one of the classiest in the harbor—a clipper bow— with a proper martingale permanently cocked to starboard from a docking mishap. Black hull and masts, white booms and gaffs, wooden bowsprit.
Her topsail is the grimy-est sail you would ever be called upon to hoist, redolent of grey-brown subway rats’ pelt. It’s only brought out in very light winds and training sails. Pioneer also has a fisherman’s sail, stretched from foremast to mainmast— also a vanity sail— taken out only when the crew clamor to learn how to set it.
Schooner Lettie G. Howard:
Built: 1893 in Essex, Massachusetts
Docked at: Pier 16 (update: now at Mystic Seaport, CT)
Material: Wood hull, masts, spars
Length: 125.4 ft. / 38.22 m
Breadth: 21.1 ft. / 6.43
Draft: 10.6 ft. / 3.23
Sail Area: 5,072 sq. ft.
Lettie is lovely: a forest green with topsides, booms, and blocks all a buttery yellow. Look for the notch midships. I know this notch well: on the first day of my first Lettie trip, racing towards the Georges Bank, I would prop my head in this notch (only while offwatch, of course) and vomit. Wooden masts, white bowsprit.
Lettie is so shipshape I believe even her baggywrinkle is drycleaned periodically.
Built: 1994, Scarano Boat, Albany, NY
Docked at: Chelsea Piers
Material: Douglas Fir , cedar, teak, and mahogany.
Length: 80 ft
Draft : 8.6 ft.
Sail Area – 2,000 sq. ft.
Passenger Capacity: 49 passengers
Adirondack’s signature telltale marks: the plumb stem and the canoe stern. White hull, bowsprit, booms, gaffs & masts.
American pilot schooner Imagine: (now renamed Adirondack III)
Docked at: Chelsea Piers
Built: 1997, Scarano Boat
Length: 78 feet
Passenger Capacity: 49 passenger
White hull, trim, bowsprit, booms, gaffs & masts of Port Orford Cedar.
Docked at: 79th st Boat Basin
Length: 106 ft
Mast Height: 108 ft.
Sail Area: 4,305 sq. ft.
Clearwater is green-hulled with thick black trim, black masts, and has a huge white boom, white bowsprit. Very rare is her large tiller, carved in the shape of a fist. One person might be able to steer her dead ahead, but it takes several crewmembers to turn the boat.
Built: 1929, Rice Brothers Shipyard, East Boothbay, Maine
Docked at: North Cove
Materials: Wood; Teak, Mahogany, Native White Oak Georgia Pine
Length: 82.5 ft
Beam: 16.5 ft
Draft: 10 ft
Mast Height: 85 ft
She’s still a schooner: Marconi rigged, not gaff like the others.
(More that I missed! artwork to come)
Schooner Clipper City
Docked at: Pier 17, NY
Docked at: North Cove, NY
Schooner Mary E.:
Docked at: City Island, NY
Docked at: Liberty Marina, Jersey City, NJ
Schooner Richard Robbins:
Docked at: Lincoln Harbor, Weehawken, NJ
These are some of the schooners that live here. Many friends come through: Mystic Whaler is here, at the 79th st Boat Basin, the A.J.Meerwald and the When & If, from NJ, and many others. If you are feeling the desire to own a fine schooner, this one is for sale: the Rosemary Ruth.
Photos here from Tugster. Great photos and writing on Frogma: go there and type in Rosemary Ruth and Schooner Ann!
Bowsprite was born in NYC on Riverside Drive, grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens, and did not realize the Long Island Sound was just a monkeyfist’s throw away for the first four decades. Duh! But, there are so many of us New Yorkers like that, so I began this blog to show what surrounds us.
Our waters are amazing! Our waters have protected, nurtured, nourished us, and still today, bring us much of what we need to survive and flourish.
What is on the water? who’s out there? what is going on on the waterfront? Come to the water. Get on the water. Get IN the water!
I love the old boats we have, I admire the knowledge of people who know how to fix, maintain, and run some of these boats and ships. I admire the working harbor, and I’ve been lucky to find a little boat to work on, a little orange hydrosurveying vessel. There is a vibrant community of what Tugster calls “the 6th boro”, and it is thanks to them that I learn of the things that I record. I love ships, I love stories, I love the water, and with this blog, I get to combine it all!
I got into this watery world quite late. It began with the books of Jacques Cousteau, Dr. Eugenie Clark, Patrick o’Brien, but really became an obsession when I joined a team of swimmers to swim around Manhattan, and studied my first chart. I owe much to the people I’ve met who work on the Pioneer, Peking, Wavertree, & the Michele Jeanne who generously pass on their knowledge, passion and friendship.
This doodle is of a tin toy, a German christmas ornament. It dangles from my lamp, over a large pile of drawings of boats and ships I hope to post up soon!
(& in memory…)