beautiful old rigging equipment and more…

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2014/07/27

J. Cowhey & Sons hardware was a chandlery in Red Hook. Three containers of their old marine and rigging equipment will be on sale today, Sunday, at Atlantic Basin in Red Hook, Brooklyn.


The metal tools and equipment were in time capsules freshly opened. Foundries from towns I have never heard of made beautiful pieces. Some of the factories are gone, and some of the jobs these tools were used for are no more.

Steel Products Corporation, South Windham, ME:


The Caldwell Company, Rockford, IL: the Adjust-A-Leg Equalizing Sling


Boston & Lockport Block Company, Boston, NY  (I didn’t know there was a Boston, NY; did you?)



New England Butt Company, Providence, RI: a line counter that still works, clicking away as it measured 50 feet of beautiful old manila rope that a shopper, Ben P and I fed through it.


“What’s that called?”

“A Headache Ball.” ouch.  It reads: “Swiveler, SWL 3 TONS, WGT 35 LBS, Model SAS5”


Huge shackle, anyone?


130 ton–it can hold, or it weighs?


Huge oar not included:


A Skookum block:


I liked these: female and male container lifting gear lying over each other on a pallet.



These are made in Japan. From Marc: “Twist locks, used to stack and lock marine containers on top of one another.”


Rope through every link of a chain? “Elevator chain. Keeps the chain well-oiled,” said another shopper, Steve R, peering into the three barrels of the stuff.
Girlfriend With the Tanker says “The rope keeps it quiet! So it doesn’t klank as the elevator and chain go up and down.”


Voluptuous hooks, like Henry Moore sculptures, but sexier.






Beautiful, wonderful things. A gun rack from around the 1920’s. A perfect cast iron stove from Florim Foundry, Florim, PA. A Jacob’s Ladder. Hooks galore. Old wooden blocks. Go, admire, puzzle, wonder.
More information here.

PortSide NewYork Heavy Metal Sale:

Sun 7/27, 11am – 4pm
Atlantic Basin, Red Hook
Pier 11 loading dock, south end
Brooklyn, NY 11231 



FGS Bonn

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2014/03/13

Berlin-class replenishment ship FGS Bonn steamed as quietly out of the harbor yesterday as she entered, almost two weeks ago.


Name: FGS (Federal German Ship) Bonn 
Built: (four dockyards!) Fr. Lürssen Werft, Flensburger Schiffbau Gesellschaft (deckhaus), ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, Peene-Werft (hull), Emder Werft und Dockbetriebe.
christened: June 2012
commissioned: September 2013

Length: 570.9 ft (174 m)
Width: 78.7 ft (24 m)
Draft:   24.3 (7.4 m)
Load displacement: about 18,000 t
Speed: 20 knots
Capacity: 10,560 kW (14,357 hp)
Endurance period: 45 days
Two 24T cranes
Crew: capable of carrying 237
Homeport: Wilhelmshaven, Germany’s only deep water port, and its largest naval base.

  • Named after German cities where German parliaments are, the ships carry supplies, fuel, provisions, ammunition and provide medical services.
    Powered by two diesel engines, the Berlin-class frigates feature in-flight refuelling-capabilities (HIFR) and replenishment-at-sea (RAS) systems in accordance with NATO regulations.

She had just come back from a week in Halifax, her design will be used for two Royal Canadian Navy supply ships to be built by Vancouver Shipyards Co. Ltd. (After the Coast Guard’s polar ice breaker. Or before. If at all.)

What is wrong with us? Our NATO partner and alliance’s vessel comes to town for a good stay but there is no official city memo nor press release, no hoopla. The ship is all dressed up but no where was there a welcoming oompah band, a red carpet soiree, a nyc kaffeklatsch/kvetch, a luau farewell…Nichts! The locals kept watch. Well, we hope you had a good time, Sailors!

Bonn voyage!

A1413aaFGS Bonn at Brooklyn’s pier 7

 thx, Walt and JED!
hallo, Rembert!

sailing ships at work

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2013/04/10


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.)

♠    ♣   


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…

♠     ♣   

built in 1952 by H. C. Stulchen and Son of Hamburg, Germany

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.

♠     ♣   

And there, a glimpse of the life of sailing ships at work that call, or try to call, at NYH.

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.

Ship historian Norman Brouwer, Capt. Maggie Flanagan, and Rick Spilman will be presenting.

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.      ♥     ♦

digester eggs of newtown creek

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2012/04/08

The digester eggs and the walkway/observation deck are a sci-fi aluminum grey, but I was in an aubergine mood today.

The Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant has been in operation since 1967. Eight eggs sit on top of 54 acres of sewage plant area through which flow 200 to 310 million gallons of wastewater per day.

What artists these eggs are in the company of!

Etched in granite are the Native American names for these places. Carved into the steps of the kayak launch are the archaeological periods we have somehow survived (with little barnacles and mussels wedged into the steps. Probably zebra mussels, so don’t feel bad for ’em.) And there is a fragrance garden that is wheelchair accessible, but sorry, nothing for the olfactory-challenged.

A relief of the Newtown Creek, pre-European days, is etched deeply into tilted granite so  rainwater can fill it and flow.  Two metal engraved maps of the areas set into another granite table. One depicts the industrial history from 1887 – 1951 (their source is  Sanborn Maps.) Lime, tin, barrelmaking, oil, gas, petroleum, shipyard, rope and line storage, grinding, dyeing, asphalt, paving, bricks, lumber, stones, iron and bronze works, welding, chemical, box factory, hat and tie company, steam laundry: these are labels on the first map. The dark line delineates the bulkhead.  In the second map, courtesy of the DEP 2008, the dark lines are shrubs. (Who are the artists, please?)

These artists, New York Shitty, are right on the mark: the free-association of eggs, droppings and Nature Walk of purgative plants made me laugh.

Digester eggs Jello art. I am in awe: Gold medal. We know the Jell-o Plant was here (animal carcasses=bone gelatin), thank you Newtown Pentacle.

And this artist–No Pots, Just Paintings–got it. The combination of the eggs and the onion top of the Russian Orthodox churches in the neighborhood are perfect. Alas, s/he is so terse, there’s no information on the artist.

Evocative photos of Newtown Creek here.  Just a stone’s throw across the Newtown Creek is the graffitti mecca, closed for a year during which it was ‘nearly destroyed by vandals’ (developers?)

The official site of the eggs is here, but the others are just more fun, and for thoroughness (fun, history, photos, philosophy, black humor) no one can beat the Newtown Pentacle!

Thank you, Tugster, who put together the combination of digester eggs and Easter, and made it so FUN! a hoppy one to all!

happy july! happy city of water day!

Posted in 6th boro, brooklyn, Queen Mary 2 by bowsprite on 2010/07/08

Happy summer everyone! this blog will be taking July off, back in August. Events abound on the 6th boro! MWA’s City of Water Day is July 24. Portside and many other organizations, along with our working flotilla of schooners, sloops, cruising vessels, ferries and water taxis will be out in force. If you have a happening on the water or waterfront this month, feel free to add it on…

Coastal Tanker Mary A. Whalen, 1938

Length: 172ft


Ocean Liner RMS Queen Mary 2 , 2003

Length: 1,132 ft (345 m)
Beam: 135 ft (41 m) waterline,
 147.5 ft (45.0 m) extreme (bridge wings)
Height: 236.2 ft (72.0 m) keel to funnel 
Draught: 33 ft (10.1 m)
Propulsion: Four 21.5 MW Rolls-Royce/Alstom “Mermaid” electric propulsion pods:
2 fixed and 2 azimuthing
Speed: 29.62 knots (54.86 km/h; 34.09 mph)[6]
Capacity: 3,056 passengers
Crew: 1,253 officers and crew