tango on pier 16

I love furling the jib and staysail of the schooner Pioneer while underway! I love being perched out on the headrig, with the waters of the deep water range flowing below, the wakes thrown by the passing watertaxis, tugs and barges and ferries pitching the bow up and down, slapping against the hull, the martingale plunging down towards the briny. At night, it is a heightened experience, especially when we are pulling into our dock to the beautiful strains of old tango music from the 30’s and 40’s.

I was proud of my furls, however, I know they are done incorrectly. I merely flaked, and the full-time crew prefers proper harbor stow, à la Pride of Baltimore. Any true bluewater tallship sailor would frown, if she saw the furl I had made. But, it was tight and true, and did not roll off into the water, and was lashed down with a daisychain so the daytime crew need only pull the downhauls from the deck to release the ties. Here is the bow of the Pioneer with a nightline suspended in the east river.



But enough of my lovely furling. This is about the incredibly beautiful tango music on the pier on sunday nights. Tomorrow, sunday the 27th, is the last outdoor tango tangle on the waterfront, under the stars. Or rain. The music is hauntingly beautiful traditional Argentinian Tango from the end of the 1920’s to the end of the 1940’s, with a few delectables from 1953-1954 thrown in. It’s a quartina, so the music is played in sets, four pieces, then a break, easily identified by a short blast of bizarre modern pop music interlude during which you change partners.

The dance is from 1900 – 2400h, a lesson is held at 8:30pm, on pier 16 between the Lightship Ambrose (1908) and the four masted barque Peking (1911).

It is incredible to coil lines, secure nightlines, force on chafe gear to the strains of music that might have played at some port while the Peking and her crew was tied up, freshly arrived, safe and happy to provision, water, and go onshore. It is mesmerizing to watch the elegantly dressed and coiffed women dance in high heels on the old and scarred bengazi wood of the piers, swirling around their partners in a crisp, stylistic movement of passion, reigned in by the rules of the dance. The Brooklyn and Williamburg bridge sparkles over the river, the Brooklyn waterfront twinkles from beyond, the tugs’ amber deck lights steam by. It is magical.

The schedule for public sails aboard the schooner Pioneer for sunday (weather permitting) is: 1-3, 4-6. 7-9. Bring friends, wine, food, and enjoy your harbor, under sail, with only the wind driving you through the waters. Then, disembark and wind through the dancers with the music in the air.

If it rains, the tango is relocated to the Pacific Grill on Pier 17. I hope to be on the cat whiskers!

  1. tugster said, on 2009/09/26 at 22:59

    hey . . . ghostly pics! if it rains , i’ll come tango –solo if need be–on the headrig et sans musique even if only fer a second. and with that my momentof surfacing ends. oh and for these fotos . . . i love what magic your camera can wrought . . . . er wring!!

  2. O Docker said, on 2009/09/26 at 23:38

    Photos mysterioso
    Of a concerto grosso.
    Who knew the light could glow so?
    But, you’re a virtuoso.

  3. Michael said, on 2009/09/27 at 07:37

    Brilliant…I want to be there…”perched out on the headrig, with the waters of the deep water range flowing below” digging the tango and the martingale plunging into the briny!


  4. Mage B said, on 2009/09/27 at 17:35

    You furl the magic of the moments beautifully. Wonderful….thank you.

  5. […] Bowsprite’s description of Tango Al Fresco on NY’s Pier 16, a weekly soiree that wraps this weekend >> September […]

  6. tugster said, on 2009/09/27 at 21:29

    putting myself totally at risk of redundancy . . . these are the most haunting pics i’ve seen in a while . . . . the color–like absinthe–of the water there where you wish to furl, that color–is eerie and unforgettable

  7. Buck said, on 2009/09/28 at 13:47


    Glorious commentary goes well with subtle photography.

  8. Stacks 2 « tugster: a waterblog said, on 2009/09/29 at 12:19

    […] . ..  was identified by Soundbounder’s Matt Housekeeper, foto’d by Bowsprite’s magic lens in September, and posted on asleep-at-switch tugster twice… most recently two days ago here […]

  9. Vagabonde said, on 2009/09/29 at 16:51

    I have been away to Canada – on a ship, so had plenty of time to look at the water, but I enjoyed looking at all the missed posts on your blog, showing more ship and water. I love the tango post. My mother used to dance the tango and taught me – I have many CDs of tango music. I wish I could be in NY dancing it instead of here mopping all the water from my flooded books. I posted some pictures of the local flood on my blog – lots of water but nothing to look at.

  10. Hudsonian said, on 2009/10/01 at 06:55

    Ah.. if only i were there. But I feel like I am.

  11. Marc said, on 2009/10/02 at 03:35

    Seems like a good life ….

  12. tugster said, on 2009/10/02 at 23:55

    c’est une vie formidable, surtout les minutes et heures de la danse

  13. Michael said, on 2009/10/04 at 21:15

    Okay it was a brilliant post, the photos are still magnificent, and I can still scroll down the page and see your champagne bottle breaking art that makes me smile…but STILL it is getting close to time for something new, Ms. Artiste!

    When you’re ready, of course. But just so you know your audience is eager.

  14. so said, on 2009/10/05 at 17:04

    love your site.
    I am an open water swimmer and sailor that loves art, so I had a lot of connections with your site, oh yeah I am in Utah but NYC is my favorite city to visit.

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  1. […] how she looks fully rigged, under load, and crewed.  Who IS that sprite on bow watch?  Clues here and […]

  2. Mage Bailey said, on 2013/08/28 at 09:47

    Magic of course from the lens of a bowsprite.

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