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.)

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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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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.

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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.      ♥     ♦

the olympic class liners

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2012/04/15

There were three of the Olympic class liners of the British White Star Lines:

In a recent lecture, Norman Brouwer said it is easy to tell the difference between the Olympic and the Titanic: the 1st class passenger promenade is open in Olympic, in the Titanic, it was closed off.

Also, fewer lifeboats (namely, twenty for 1,178 people) were on the Titanic as “the seagoing public unquestionably thoroughly appreciates the advantage presented by clear deck space as well as unrestricted view.” This quote was found by Conrad Milster in an 1910 engineering journal.

RMS Olympic
 1911-1935     (Royal Mail Steamer)

Length: 882 ft 6 in (269.0 m)
Beam: 92 ft 6 in (28.2 m)
Draught: 34 ft 7 in (10.5 m)
Capacity: 2,435 passengers

Longest running ship of the line, nicknamed Old Reliable. In 1917, she was beDazzled! and carried Canadian and American troops. During thick fog in May 1934, she rammed and sank LV-117 Lightship Nantucket in the Ambrose Channel with loss of seven lives from a crew of eleven.

 painting by Arthur Lismer, 1919


Length: 882 ft 6 in (269.0 m)
Beam: 92 ft 0 in (28.0 m)
Height: 175 ft (53.3 m) (keel to top of funnels)
Draught: 34 ft 7 in (10.5 m)
Depth: 64 ft 6 in (19.7 m)
Capacity: Passengers: 2,435, crew: 892

For a visual orgy and offbeat links of that sinking feeling, pls click there.  Forwarded from Old Salt Blog, a Gothamist article on people who were shocked, shocked to learn Titanic was not just a movie, but a real ship.

HMHS Britannic
 1914-1916   (His Majesty’s Hospital Ship)

Length: 882 ft 9 in (269.06 m)
Beam: 94 ft (29 m)
Draught: 34 ft 7 in (10.54 m)
Capacity: 675 as hospital ship (300 wounded, 489 medical staff)
Crew: 860
Notes: Carried no civilian passengers

The third ship was to be named Gigantic, but after the loss of the Titanic, White Star Lines changed it to the Britannic. She became a hospital ship and was transporting 1,066 people through the Aegean Sea when she was struck by what is believed to be a naval mine. The ship went down, but 1,036 people were saved.

One crew member, a nurse named Violet Jessop, survived disasters with every single ship of the Olympic Class: the 1911 collision on the Olympic with the  British warship, HMS Hawke, the sinking of Titanic, and the 1916 sinking of the Britannic! She continued working with White Star Line, survived them, and seems to have worked on ships until she retired.

The White Star Lines ships were all built by Harland & Wolff:

In New York, the ships docked here at pier 54:



Today, pier 54 is a long concrete field atop crumbling pilings at the end of 13th street west side. The skyline of Hoboken NJ (not shown) lies across North River.

The big business for the transatlantic shipping was immigration: over 30 million came here to the New World by ship; 12 million of them passed through Ellis Island.

The 1918 Immigrant Act to weed out foreign anarchists, the 1921 Emergency Immigration Act and the work of the Dillingham Commission set quotas and ended that trade.

Luckily for ships, business started going the other direction, and emigrant bunks were converted into tourist berths. The Depression killed off a few lines, two World Wars sunk more than a few ships, but nothing could finish off the ocean liners like the Jet Age, starting with the Comet in 1949.

However, during its heyday, from 1925 to 1935, competition was international and fierce. Most lines competed for speed, the unofficial prize being the Blue Riband of which the last winner is sitting rusting away at Pier 82 on the Delaware River in Philadelphia. The Olympic class was less interested in speed, and went lavish in luxury instead.

Thank you, Norman Brouwer, Conrad Milster for much information.

Weigh in at Tugster’s. Promenade through Old Salt Blog who found this Gothamist article on people who are shocked, shocked it was not just a movie!

A thorough site here:  The Titanic and Other White Star Line Ships

I love books. I love my copy of Frederick Emmons’s The Atlantic Liners.