It was great! It was a hoot! We were mobbed! The December weather held!
It wasn’t without hiccups, mind you.
There was a bit of a glitch getting setting up due to someone outside the organization being slow to vet some paperwork, so the Whalen did not get towed to
After that, our electrical guy, the master of old systems and all-around Mr. Fix-it Ed Fanuzzi, kicked back in the galley and chatted with Scott, a friend who had brought me take out dinner. I sat in the office writing the party program while the two guys drank coffee, smeared Nutella on Lorna Doones and told dirty jokes. “
Early Saturday morning, while I was still in a pre-caffeinated state, I got a call from our insurance agent Totch Hartge. He was outside on the dock! He came bearing a gift for the Whalen, a brass ship’s lamp.
Next call was good friend and former neighbor Gary Baum. He had just driven his wife to the subway and was wearing a coat over his pajamas. “Howzit going?!” “We’re behind, we got here a day late.”’ He showed up in pajamas to pitch in.
The event caused such excitement that all the volunteers who’d RSVP-ed actually showed up. (You usually can’t be sure of that). Actually, volunteers we hadn’t heard from showed up! We had more volunteers than we needed! Here’s some text from the post-event PR we sent out. Please forgive me for not writing more original copy. Too much to do...
“December 6th, a happy horde of about 500 came from as far away as Maryland to cheer and visit the tanker Mary A. Whalen, home of PortSide NewYork, during her 70th birthday party.
The tour guides were a salty lot: Bob Moore, Vice President of Atlantic Container Line a shipping line that calls on ports both sides of the Harbor, Gerry Weinstein and Mary Habstritt of the Lilac Preservation Project, John Weaver, son in law of Alf Dyrland who had been captain of the Whalen for twenty years, and Will Van Dorp, author of the blog Tugster who sagely dubbed the harbor “the sixth borough.”
The galley and engine room were clogged with visitors of all ages, including former crew members, maritime buffs and rank landlubbers. The latter included one woman who stepped off the gangway to say “where’s the tanker?” but all had a grand time. Former crew members came bearing old photos and boat parts, from the Whalen and other tankers, in an effort to put her back together. Waterfront bloggers from
Guests arrived by water: PortSide partner the tug Pegasus attended, as did one working tug. The luxury yacht
Tours ceased during a half hour of formalities when proclamations were presented by
Carolina Salguero, Director of PortSide announced that most of the missing parts needed for the Whalen’s cannibalized engine had been secured in Seattle thanks to the co-operation of Stabbert Maritime and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Derelict Vessel Removal Program which had just scrapped an old tanker similar to the Whalen.
Salguero also announced that the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation had invited PortSide to produce a performance on the Whalen in the Navy Yard, and she asKed for performing arts groups with water-themed work to get in touch.”
After the public left the party, some folks hung around in the galley. Some PortSide volunteers, two tug captains (one came by land and one by sea), some harbor activists. I ordered pizzas and realized as I served that it was all guys. “
I also marvelled at how easy life could be if we got the Whalen out of a containerport or out of an industrial park; because after three years of life that included