Bowsprite

cultural exchanges in NYHarbor

Mariners from around the world, both licensed and not, float into NYHarbor.  A look here at the merchant marine capacity is to see a complete array of pretty little flags. The people who serve as crew come from as many nations.

This story comes from a seasoned tug captain:

When finished bunkering and pulling away from a visiting ship, the tug captain maneuvers to position the barge to catch its lines as the ship deckhands cast them off. The trick is to slide quickly beneath the lines, and to take up the slack, so that the lines land on the barge and not go in the water.

“But if they want them to go in the water, there’s really nothing we can do to stop them,” and so, sometimes, the lines are flung off into the drink, leaving the crestfallen tankerman below to retrieve the heavy, wet, freezing lines.

“Yes, it happens. The deckhands lean over the rail and gloat. And, a handful of times, from hongkong nationals, I’ve heard the accompanying: “Hahaha! You go now, Round-eye!'”

“What?! That is absurd!!! no self-respecting asian would say ’round-eye!’ Round-eye is a “round-eye’s” term!”

“Well, I’m at eye-level, and I tell you, I see them. They take the line off the bitt and let it slide through the chock, and there’s no way you can take up all the slack in time. When the line goes into the water, their heads pop out over, they look at each other and laugh. And they say, “You go now, Round-eye!”

According to this excellent source of street lingo in beijing, the more probable insult of choice at the friendly work level would be da bi zi, “big nose” (though i’ve heard this used as a term of affection when an old chinese father called his american son-in-law that.) “Round eye” would not work because big eyes are very popular in china, and women undergo the knife to widen the eyes. I suppose it could be insulting for a deckhand to accuse you of having plastic surgery.

Blissfully disregarding the fact that they are the foreigners and not allowed off their ships, chinese mariners may still refer to the NYHarborer as an “old foreigner”:  lao wai.

As for cultural exchange, a fascinating glimpse into the plight of the stranded, visiting mariner is depicted well in this Village Voice article. And over in our own Howland Hook, a personal shopper for the shipbound

Regardless of your nationality: If you are throwing lines in the water, shame on you! what would your parents say?

Another view on Hawsepiper. Thank you!

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Happy 4708, year of the metal tiger, from this water tiger! and,

Happy Valentine’s Day! happy Mardi Gras!!!

Thank you, Caro, for the inventory of insults, most of which I could not use on this family blog.

The Rafts of Troy

Posted in art, junk in the harbor, tugs, vhf by bowsprite on 2008/09/04

0802
In front of the Colgate clock, I spy a raft towing a shattered houseboat. They are colorful, with scrappy sails on dubious masts, and I cannot make out if they are manned by crew, stuffed dummies, or–er–art. And, they say (on 13): “This is a raft, requesting miminum wake and safe passage.”

And, they get:
“You want safe passage, get a real boat.”
“Get out of the way!”

Undaunted, they motor on, and reach the Battery quickly.
Captain 1: “Uh, Mike, what the heck is that in front of you?”
Captain 2: “It’s…a pirate boat.”
Captain 1: (Laughing) “Hahaha, they all got life jackets on.”
Captain 2: “Yeah, I’d wear one, too!”

Captain 3: (in a raspy voice) “I want your booty.”
Captain 4: “Is the idea here to put garbage on the river to see if it floats?”

Raft: “There’s two rafts in front of you, in front of your starboard, requesting miminum wake and safe passage.”
Captain: “Get the hell out of our way!”

They make it past the Battery when at the World Financial ferry, two more assemblages go by. A police patrolboat has sort of stopped one.

In the meantime, the project is at http://www.switchbacksea.org/

They started out from Troy, NY, August 15, and will end the 3-week Hudson sail at Long Island City.

The NYTimes described it as “… part floating artwork, part performance, part mobile utopia and seemingly part summer camp for grown-up artsy kids.”

The flotilla is seven strong, all built of recycled motors and–things.
Well! welcome to our friendly harbor!

Hello, World!

Posted in about, contact, doodle, email by bowsprite on 2008/05/23

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!

Thank you for checking in! Thank you, Elizabeth and Will for helping me to begin this blog! Thank you, Dr. Wanderson, for the tag, Bowsprite.

(& in memory…)

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