Red Hook Sandy Surge Map & How to Assess Future Flood Risk

Hurricane Sandy badly flooded Red Hook, Brooklyn in October, 2013.  One of the many terrific responses from inside the community was the map made by cartographer Jim McMahon. 

Map created by Jim McMahon. Permitted uses include educational use, emergency preparedness, resiliency planning. No commercial uses granted.

Jim McMahon works for Scholastic and lives in Red Hook.  McMahon went around Red Hook and measured the elevation above sea level at many points and recorded where there was flooding.  PortSide NewYork would like to thank him for allowing us to share this map.  It is a very useful guide for calculating the risk of Red Hook flooding in the future.  

He suggests that elevation markers be placed flood zones for future preparedness. See the DNAInfo story about why he created the map here

To calculate the risk of flooding at a location:

You need to take the height of the expected storm surge, the time it is expected, and compare that time to the tide cycle in the harbor. Places are most vulnerable at the point of high tide.  To calculate projected surge risk  at that point, you have to add the height of the incoming water to the height of the tide at that time.

There is about a 5 foot difference between high and low tide in NYC; so a 5' surge, if it comes at low tide, will not run into Red Hook.  That's why we were were spared by 2011's hurricane Irene, the surge did not hit at high tide. 

There are two high tides and two low tides each day. There is roughly six hours between high tide one and low tide, and then another six hours until the second high tide. In other words, the high tides are 12 hours apart and the low tides are 12 hours apart.  

Wind can compound the effects of rising waters in that winds from the south will push the Atlantic Ocean onto land and push the water in the Upper Bay towards Red Hook. Winds from the northeast would push the waters away from Red Hook.

Wind also has an effect on the water within the harbor in terms of creating local waves.  The big Upper Bay (between Red Hook and the Statue of Liberty and Staten Island) is a big water space which can create fetch issues if the wind is coming from west or southwest. Tide + surge + wind over water or fetch = more water hitting the shore at peak of crashing waves.  If we don't have big waves, we are at the lowest range of risk for the tide level.  Here is a definition of fetch.

An area of the water surface over which waves are generated by a wind having a constant direction and speed. Also, it is the name given to the length of the fetch area, measured in the direction of the wind from which the seas are generated. One of the ingredients for lake effect snow is the fetch of the water over which cold air can gain moisture. from

In Red Hook, there were also many underground springs, so sometimes flooding here comes from groundwater welling up and not just seawater coming in.  Add to that, the water coming from overflowing sewers, and Red Hook can have water coming in from many sides.

Due to climate change, we all need to be more aware of flooding risks, engage in emergency preparedness and resiliency planning.

Red Hook is developing a community support network to deal with disasters and emergencies. after Sandy.

Fun historical fact:  There is one spot close to the harbor which did not flood during Sandy, that is the square defined by the blocks of Dikeman, Coffey, Van Dyke Street between Conover & Ferris Street. That is where there was once a high hill near the Revolutionary War era Fort Defiance (the fort for which the local restaurant is named), a hill which was leveled to make fill. The site of that hill remains higher than the filled area near it.

You can see the hill on old maps, such as the one below.  This also shows how much of Red Hook has been filled to make the peninsula as it is today.  

PortSide NewYork creates programs that capture and explain such history; we call them WaterStories since they tell Red Hook's history along a waterfront theme.  This historical information clearly has applicability to emergency planning in addition to general education.

More on our webpage Cultural Tourism


This is from a "Ratzer map" or a map drawn by Bernard Ratzer in the 1770s. There is a story of the Ratzer map at the Brooklyn Historical Society here



As of late February 2013 this is updated as info comes in and time allows.

We would appreciate funding to support this effort and our other Sandy refief efforts. To support this, see our webpage DONATE.

Short link for this page  (case senstive)
more about PortSide at

video about Red Hook Recovery and our role see     

Deadline to apply for FEMA aid extended to 3/29/13

FEMA Spanish 
FEMA Arabic 
FEMA Chinese
FEMA Haitian
FEMA Hebrew
FEMA Korean
FEMA Russian
FEMA Tagalog
FEMA Vietnamese

FEMA “Help After Disaster Guide” in many languages at

Services at 351 Van Brunt Our walk-in aid center has been closed.  The back room behind the partition is still available for Sandy recovery meetings; if you want it, send an emailWe continue to provide new info here and our Twitter feed at @PortSideNewYork.

PortSide's home, the tanker MARY A. WHALEN weathered hurricane Sandy with minimal damage.  Not so our neighbors ashore in Red Hook. In response, PortSide set up a Sandy recovery station at 351 Van Brunt Street. Thanks to Realty Collective for 351's space, internet, electricity. Thanks to their tenant Gallery Brooklyn for sharing the space!

IMPORTANT If your heat is still not back on due to Sandy, please see this video to avoid starting a fire if you are using space heaters.

TEXT Needs/Damages to (347)778-0570
Format TEXT as Need @ Your Location

(i.e. "Gas, Water Pump @ Van Brundt and Pioneer Brooklyn")
TEXT Needs/Damages to (347)778-0570
Format TEXT as Need @ Your Location

(i.e. "Gas, Water Pump @ Van Brundt and Pioneer Brooklyn")
TEXT Needs/Damages to (347)778-0570
Format TEXT as Need @ Your Location

(i.e. "Gas, Water Pump @ Van Brundt and Pioneer Brooklyn")

Red Hook Sandy volunteers
  • Fri Sat Sun 10am-4pm walk-in sign-up at 360 Van Brunt Street opposite the school playground.
  • Mon-Thur contact 718-306-9149, 
Educate yourself about future risk of flooding
See our blogpost with Jim McMahon's map of Red Hook Sandy flooding which shows land elevations (height above sea water) and PortSide instructions on how to calculate tide + surge to determine possible flood levels near you.

Red Hook Sandy Meetings + Workshops
Fri 3/1/13 10am-6pm NYS Department of Financial Services Mobil Command Center (MCC) will be located at 402 Van Brunt Street this Friday, March 1st from 10am – 6pm.  Flyer   Bring all relevant documents with you when you visit the MCC, such as correspondence with your insurer or bank. If you can’t visit the MCC in person, get help with insurance issues or file complaints via the NYS Disaster Relief site or by calling the Disaster Relief Hotline at 1-800-339-1759 Mon to Fri, 8am to 8pm; Sat and Sun, 10am to 5pm.

Fri 3/1/13 Red Hook Fairway re-opens. Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Miss America are attending. No word on when or if Fine Fare supermarket opposite the NYCHA housing will re-open.
Fri 3/1/13 10am-12pm at Red Hook Initiative. Lawyers Alliance of New York Workshop and individual consultation for non-profits and faith-based organizations, in recognition of how they stepped up to serve after Sandy.  "Now it is time to mobilize in support of Red Hook's nonprofit and faith-based organizations and to examine what these organizations will need to recover from the storm and support long-term rebuilding efforts. RSVP and details here

Wed 11/14/12  5pm Community Meeting at PS 27  Minutes

Thurs 11/8/12 6:30pm architect Jim Garrison advised building owners about how to rebuild, negotiate FEMA process etc. info  We will post follow-up info 

Recovery guides
Advice on health issues caused by Sandy info

NYS Senator Velmanette Montgomery highly recommended March 2013 guide to new National Flood Maps & National Flood insurance.  See pg 4

NYS Senator Velmanette Montgomery Older recovery guide

New York City Bar guide for residents and businesses 46 page guide

Start Small Think Big Start Small Think Big builds small businesses and grows financial empowerment in NYC's most underserved communities. Thanks to Sandy, PortSide is helping to bring them into Red Hook. Their guide

General Recovery info:

Deadline to apply for FEMA aid extended to 3/29/13 

FEMA en Espanol

NYC Housing Recovery office (new since Sandy) website and on Twitter @NYCHousingRecov

SIRR (NYC Special Initiative for Rebuilding + Resiliency) is a special long-term effort to plan for resilient (more storm-proof) rebuilding after Sandy. The SIRR office itself is a short-term project which works with existing city, state and federal agencies and has the deadline of creating a rebuilding and resilience report by May.  That report will shape how the federal Sandy funds coming to NYC will be allocated and will shape NYC policy about rebuilding over a longer term. SIRR asks for community input.  It is time to step up and speak up everyone!!!  As of 2/27/13 SIRR has no website up yet, so keep coming back here for info until goes live.

Thurs 3/7/13 7:30pm SIRR meeting for Red Hook, Gowanus, and Sunset Park***  P.S. 58, 330 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231 RSVP requested! Get RSVP info and more here.   

***Sit tight, Williamsburg, DUMBO and Greenpoint; your meeting will be the following week.
NYCHA rent abatement info

NYCHA Sandy Recovery Jobs Immediate temp jobs avail in NYCHA  developments. Individuals affected by Hurricane Sandy strongly encouraged to apply.  Recruitment Event, Mon 12/10/12 9am-12:30pm Red Hook PAL Miccio Community Center,110 W 9th Street, info
NYS Dept. of Labor Sandy Clean-Up Jobs Call 1-888-469-7365 or or visit a Restoration Center (see below). You must be unemployed to be eligible. Pay is around $15/hour to work on cleaning and repair projects in declared disaster areas. info

NYLAG "NYLAG provides free civil legal services to New Yorkers who cannot afford a private attorney" Storm line 212-584-3365 info 

FEMA application advice for non-profits (via Mayor's office)
briefing sessions Fri 11/16 10am-2pm and 2pm-4pm
Mon 11/19 10am to 12pm and 2pm-4pm Info *** FEMA non-profit deadline extended to 12/31/12 apply to NYS OEM  OR fax forms to 518-322-4984

NYC Rapid Repair Program Provides contractors to building owners (this spares you risk of contractor fraud**) and costs are paid directly by FEMA. If approved, you will NOT need to pay upfront for repairs and wait for reimbursement. Note Electricity must be on first.  Contractors, to sign up to work, call 311.
  1. First, you need to register with FEMA + get FEMA ID. Do that via, calling 1-800-621-3362 or go to the IKEA Red Hook restaurant to see FEMA there.
  2. Call 311 or go to with your FEMA ID number.
  3. You will be contacted withing 48 hours by a inspector/contractor
  4. If who want to know "when is my area scheduled?" Call 311 or Visit a Restoration Center.
  5. For other types of questions (missed appointment, question about the kind of work being done, etc): call 1 866-210-8084 
  6. If you have a question about work completed by Rapid Repairs, call  (212) 615-8366 or email:
Rapid Repairs team promises to will work closely with City agencies, including the Department  of Buildings, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to make sure that necessary inspections and certifications are done quickly.

** doing repairs on your own/suspect contractor fraud?  File complaints with Dept of Stat 800-697-1220

NYC suspending water bills until 6/1/13 for customers whose properties were severely damaged by Sandy.

NYC offering property tax relief for Sandy damaged buildings:interest-free extension on the next property tax bill for owners whose homes damaged beyond repair or need “extensive structural repairs before they can be re-inhabited." press release and analysis by Crains

National Grid is providing a $150 rebate when gas is reconnected.
Sales tax exemptions on purchases of rebuilding materials and  equipment for businesses info

Homeowner re-occupancy guidelines info
Gowanus Canal water toxicity concerns EPA sampling results

Food Stamps  
NEW Disaster Food Stamps (D-SNAP) for Sandy victims application period has closed.

Alternative housing

Airbnb free housing in other people's homes info

Short-term apartment listings 

Family to Family program sign up to provide a space or say you need one info

Wall Street Journal suggests there is available space in FEMA-paid hotels info

Replacing lost documents (SS card; ID cards, birth certificates). Scroll down two screenloads for tips from the Gov. Cuomo's office info 

Aid for Artists
Joe's Pub list of resources  
Park Avenue Armory temp space for artists info

PEN grants for writers affected by Hurricane Sandy info 

Red Hook Small Business update
Support Red Hook and shop the following stores re-opened: Brooklyn Crab, Steve's Key Lime Pie, Baked, Fort Defiance, Hope+Anchor, home/made, The Good Fork, Botta DiVino, Dry Dock (moved north to Van Brunt+Wolcott), Metal+Thread, Foxy+Winston, Erie Basin, Cute Bicycle Shop, Bait+Tackle, Ice House, Wen Gee Chinese Food. Support revival of our small retail businesses by donating to ReStore Red Hook

Tiburon closing 1/27/13 due to rent increase by landlord.

Many businesses are running their own fundraising. Links posted as we get 'em!

NYC EDC aid to businesses various forms of support info printable form here

Gallery Brooklyn, co-host with Realty Collective of PortSide's 351 Van Brunt Sandy aid center, gave 10% of the proceeds from the show up during Sandy to Red Hook recovery.

New ReStore Red Hook Fund to support Sandy recovery of the small businesses so essential to serving Red Hook, sustaining the vibe and making us a destination info  See their moving video

Brooklyn Recovery Fund, a joint effort of the Brooklyn Community Foundation, Brooklyn Borough President, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce created a pooled fund to support Brooklyn non-profits working in areas most affected by Sandy. Text ‘Brooklyn’ to 25383 to donate $10 to this fund.  11/30/12 Red Hook has received a Community Collaborative Grant $100,000 grant from this fund! info
Past Fundraisers - listed so you can find and still support these causes
Sat 12/1- Sun 12/2 fundraising workshop for She-Weld art forge run by Marsha Trattner. She-Weld was featured in BRIC video about artists affected by Sandy. Try blacksmithing yourself and make holiday presents with visiting master Blacksmith Charles Cooper from San Antonio. info   

Sat 12/1, 6-12pm “Flooded Art” fundraiser, Kidd Yellin Gallery, Imlay Street, Red Hook. Buy storm damaged art to raise money for artists hurt by Sandy. info Wall Street Journal article

Sat 12/1, 6-12pm 7pm - 11 pm Fundraiser for Sunny's Bar, Hamilton Gallery Theater, 498 Court Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231 (between Luquer + Nelson).  Sunny's was huge in making the new Red Hook. Back in the day, his was the only place open to the public at night (as opposed to the VFW and K of C). Open only one night a week (Friday) and operating as a private club, busloads would come in from Williamsburg to mingle with harbor workers, old-timers and the pioneers of the new Red Hook. The bar was our town hall, open for meetings of all sorts. Please help Sunny's! info

Buy a bike jersey fundraiser - Order by 12/1/12 short or long sleeved Red Hook jersey: Red Hook Criterium + race sponsor Castelli teamed up to make this fundraiser jersey. info

Tues 11/27/12 7:30-9:30pm BrooklynBased and Work It Brooklyn offer a night of food, beer, and stories about kitchen mishaps and surviving Sandy with Brooklyn chefs, followed by Work It Brooklyn's signature speed networking sessions for food professionals. Food and raffle giveaways. Raffle and ticket sales will benefit ReStore Red Hook

Wed 11/21/12 7pm Jalopy Theatre + Friends Musical Extravaganza starring Rosanne Cash plus Alex Battles and the Whisky Spitter Rebellion and screening "B6" A film by Michael Buscemi. Supports ReStore Red Hook Tickets $30 info

Wed 11/14 Literary Benefit Wed 11/14 proceeds go to

Mon 11/12 Brooklyn Greenway held a fundraiser where 100% of funds will be donated to Brooklyn Recovery Fund. Thank you BGI!  

ANIMAL ISSUES - Thanks to Red Hook Dog Rescue for getting us this info
  • ASPCA. The ASPCA is helping rescue stranded pets as well as giving pet food to those in need. They have a dedicated emergency pet rescue hotline and have been going door to door looking for abandoned animals.
  • Sean Casey Animal Rescue. This group has been taking in a lot of rescued and abandoned pets, especially dogs, from the shore areas of Brooklyn, which were hit particularly hard. But they also have taken in turtles, birds, cats and snakes. See moving BRIC video about them here
  • Alley Cat Allies. This group has been all over NY + NJ feeding feral cats who survived storm, including the famous outdoor cats of the Atlantic City boardwalk, most of whom miraculously survived Sandy.
  • Help with pets 347-573-1561.  Pet food is at Visitation Church. 

Past Mayor's Office Updates:
  • 11/26/12 (Mayor announces that landlords must make repairs or face enforcement proceedings)
  • 11/20/12
  • 11/18/12 (a lot info on building condemnation, green + reg tags)
  • 11/16/12


A very classy way to help PorSide and enjoy a grand celebration of ships in New York Harbor.

Classic Harbor Lines has offered to donate 50% of the ticket price of their OpSail cruises directly to PortSide if you reference us when purchasing the tickets. 
On Wednesday, May 23rd hundreds of ships will parade through the harbor as part of OpSail 2012, a multi-city event run by the group Operation Sail. Two of the Classic Harbor Lines yachts, the Schooners Adirondack and America 2.0, will be participating in the parade and will be taking passengers. The parade goes from 8am to 12:30pm. There is also a shorter spectator run on the Yacht Manhattan from 8.30am to 10.15am.

The ticket price for this event on both the Adirondack and America 2.0 is $120 and the shorter cruise on the Manhattan is $85.

Download these pdfs for details about the Adirondack and America 2.0

Call Meghan @ 212-627-1825 ext 1502 to make your reservations or email at

Buy a building and think of us!

Buy a building and think of us!

PortSide NewYork is one of five non-profits eligible to benefit from the Realty Collective's pledge to donate 10% of broker fees in May.

Brooklyn Brokerage Realty Collective to Sponsor ethikus “Shop Your Values Week”
May 3-10th NYC-Wide Event Connects Committed Consumers with Sustainable Business
NEW YORK – April 18, 2012 – Realty Collective announced it will be sponsoring ethikus “Shop Your Values Week,” offering sustainable-dedicated consumers the opportunity to support charity with the Brooklyn-based real estate brokerage’s pledge to donate 10% of their broker fees. Spanning New York City, the “do good” event will connect thousands of conscientious consumers with hundreds of ethical and sustainable businesses in the five boroughs from May 3rd - 10th, 2012, by offering free samples, discounts, and special events to promote a healthier, happier NYC. Participants and sustainable businesses can visit for learn more to get involved.

After Realty Collective wrote about ethikus’ work on its Brooklyn lifestyle blog, ethikus checked out the brokerage’s efforts to share space, compost, hire from within and “every day commitment” to donate 10% of profits to charity, and, finding them in sync with “Shop Your Values Week” mission of engaging with the community, supporting employees, addressing environmental impact and responsible sourcing of products/services, asked RC to participate as one of the 2012 sponsors.

“Realty Collective believes strongly in building a sustainable community, within an ethical world, and we understand better than anyone how this idea extends into the real estate market. We see our business as an opportunity to help people build communities from their ideals - from placing tenants in happy homes to finding the right spaces for small businesses to flourish. Our team strives to live our beliefs and ethikus ‘Shop Your Values Week,’ is one important step to raise awareness. We hope this business style becomes the norm,” said Victoria Hagman, Founder, Realty Collective.

To show the strength of Realty Collective’s support, the brokerage will extend the time period of the charitable contribution of 10% of broker fees generated through “Shop Your Values Week” clients beyond May 3-10th, throughout the entire month of May. Clients who qualify can select which charity they wish their participation to benefit, from a pre-approved and thoroughly vetted list.
In order to participate, individuals will sign an online pledge at to support businesses that “do good” with their everyday practices. By signing the pledge, participants agree to the following:

  1. Pledge to shop locally, ethically, & sustainably from May 3rd - 10th in NYC
  2. Search our database of participating businesses and their incentives
  3. Feel good about contributing to a NYC economy that you believe in!
Shop Your Values Week is a city-wide event created by a collaboration of local non-profits, community organizers, small business groups and business improvement districts brought together by the Silicon Alley startup ethikus, which connects people with ethical and sustainable businesses across New York City. The ultimate mission for Shop Your Values Week is to create support for ethical, local, and sustainable economies in NYC.

About Realty Collective
Brooklyn-based real estate brokerage Realty Collective,, was founded in 2005 by agents who believed that dedicated professionals can have a creative life outside of their residential and commercial real estate careers, and that brokers with this kind of connection to their own creativity can, in turn, better serve their clientele. Like many Brooklynites, Realty Collective's agents are sculptors, dancers, producers, photographers, musicians, filmmakers, writers, and so much more. The business strategy for major firms has for too long been that of transactional volume. At Realty Collective, the strategy is different. The RC team passionately strives to maintain a hands-on approach, and to create a successful - but personal - atmosphere, not to attempt to achieve an ever-increasing sales goal, but instead, a consistent 100% rate of satisfaction. And in fact, many of the Realty Collective clients arrive through referrals from past customers.

About ethikus
Ethikus surveys and maintains a database of local NYC establishments based on their day-to-day practices in community engagement, employee care, product sourcing and environmental mitigation. With ethikus, conscientious consumers can find and choose local businesses that share their values, from composting to energy efficiency, employee healthcare to community donations, and more. The intention of ethikus is to inspire a movement towards sustainable consumption on a large scale by removing the primary barriers to better purchasing decisions, lack of information, perceived higher prices and complacency.

NPYD security training on the MARY A. WHALEN

Today's New York Times reports on the underwater cameras used by the NYPD. Now that the secret's out, here's some news.

The NYPD trained officers on how to use the new cameras on the MARY A. WHALEN during May of 2007. 

An NYPD boat came along side, and an officer in sunglasses skipped over introductions and said "can we look at your bottom with an underwater camera?"

I said, "I don't show my bottom to just any guy... who's asking?"

Without the hint of a laugh, Detective Keith Duval handed over a card and said he was with the Counter Terrorism Division.  

"All the big stuff is either busy or moving," he explained; so the Mary Whalen would be helpful to him to use. He said the cameras cost some $80,000. 

Elaine Carmichael, our urban planner from Economic Stewardship was visiting NYC.  She and I interrupted our meeting to watch for awhile, and then just let the NYPD do their job. 

Here are some more photos from their visit.

PortSide uses the MARY A. WHALEN as an educational resource in diverse ways and for diverse groups. We have given TankerTours to the general public in English and Spanish.  We have helped train college professors in a City Tech program. We have run workshops and lectures (TankerTalks) aboard, and we've helped train the NYPD.  We look forward to partnering with maritime training institutions to help offer professional training.

If you think your school, academy, or program could use the MARY A. WHALEN in some educational fashion, please get in touch with us at portsidenewyork(at)

Carolina Salguero

Emergency call for help with generator installation + moving stuff

Due to issues in the Red Hook container port, PortSide has have to move a lot of our stuff on the pier tomorrow Monday 8/15. 
If you can help, at whatever hour, please email or call Carolina Salguero at 917-414-0565.

We have a related emergency need for connect a generator we have installed in the forward engine room. We need the following skilled help:
  • welder to weld new generator in position on old engine mounts
  • plumber to connect exhaust and fuel lines to generator
  • electrician to connect power cord to generator

Michael Abegg (center), Matt Perricone (right), David Black (offstage left)
lower used Cummins 15kw Model 13212E1400 into pre-existing hatch in foredeck underneath one of the vents
In it goes by the hairs on its chinny chin chin
It was since rotated 90 degrees clockwise and is sitting on existing engine mounts

Opening by Frank Hanavan, friend of PortSide

Frank's work lovingly captures light and atmosphere around his two favorite subjects, brownstones and ships. And bicycles, let's not forget the bicycles.  

This Hanavan hangs over the galley sink on the Mary A. WhalenIt is based on a photo by Barry Masterson

Frank says this is his last show for a long time.  We hope not, so come out and buy and keep Frank painting!

Opening info
Monday 7-9pm
@ Mini Bar
482 Court Street in Carroll Gardens
between Luqueer and 4th Place, west side of street

    A painting in the show

A Christmas card from Frank Hanavan

Hot Weekend Tip: Coast Guard Tall Ship EAGLE Open to Public This Weekend

PortSide NewYork would like to spread the exciting news that the Coast Guard's tall ship EAGLE will be open to the public in Brooklyn for the first time ever -- this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  This sailing vessel is so large it cannot fit under the Brooklyn Bridge!
Coast Guard tall ship Eagle open to the public in Brooklyn for the 1st time ever! 
US Coast Gard Eagle 
It has been five years since she visited NYC.   
The visit is part of her 75th birthday celebrations.

Public visiting hours: 
Pier 7, Port Authority Brooklyn Marine Terminal, foot of Atlantic Avenue, enter next to Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 6 
Fri     8/5  2-5pm
Sat    8/6  1-7pm
Sun    8/7 10am-7pm

Friday 8/5, you can ogle the Eagle while stuck in rush hour traffic as she sails the harbor. She weighs anchor from Stapleton anchorage at 0800, sails to the Statue of Liberty, passes by the Battery, and docks at Port Authority Pier 7 at the foot of Atlantic Avenue at 0900.  To follow the Eagle's summer cruise, visit the Eagle's Facebook page

Related Links

Blue Marlin Blues

Blue Marlin carrying an oil rig
What links the US Cole, the Mary A. Whalen, the Exxon Valdez and the Blue Marlin?  

What related shipping spectacle was conducted in the Upper Bay last month?

Exxon Valdez (R) leaking oil in 1989
The Exxon Valdez spill spawned a powerful piece of regulation OPA 90 which, among other things, banned single-skinned vessels from moving fuel in US waters. 

This regulation would have phased out the Mary A. Whalen, if she hadn't gone out of business due to a scored crankshaft. 

A large collection of operable fuel moving equipment that WAS phased out by OPA 90 was recently sold by Reinauer Transportation to a Nigerian company. That company contracted Dutch-owned Dockwise to send their heavy lift ship the Blue Marlin to take away tugs and barges. It was the Blue Marlin brought the terrorist-damaged US Cole back from Africa.

Loading the vessels, a job planned and choreographed by the Dockwise team, became a 26-day saga of several failed attempts. The spectacle had harbor watchers glued to blogs, a tugcam, and their favorite telephoto lenses. Confused landlubbers ashore were overheard to say that the Blue Marlin appeared to be sinking. They received no help from the mainstream press which made no mention of the visit of this famous ship nor the engineering feats, and crises, running throughout the month of July.  

Reinauer cleverly sold the lot but washed their hands of the loading.  Miller's Launch, a new player in harbor towing, was assigned to load the tugs, McAllister Transportation the barges. (Thank you McAllister Transportation for allowing Carolina Salguero to ride and photograph from your tugs!) A Red Hook outfit was assigned to do the lashing of the barges

Reinauer had the Kristy Anne Reinauer outfitted with a tugcam to watch operations. 

The barges were staged in the Red Hook containerport all near the Mary Whalen, putting PortSide in the cat bird seat to follow the ops, in fact, at one point we were told we'd  have to move the Mary Whalen to make space for shifting fuel barges!

PortSide director Carolina Salguero got back into photojournalism gear and documented the saga. She recently joined colleagues Rick Spilman, Will Van Dorp (Tugster), Jonathan Atkin and Ed Fanuzzi at a Ship Lore & Model Club meeting in making a presentation on the story. Look for an upcoming PortSide TankerTalk that will present this story to the general public. For now, we offer you the following images by Salguero. Will Van Dorp compiled a chronology slideshow, but his narration at the TankerTalk is what will knit it all together (plus he adds some great overheard quotes that capture some colorfully misinformed speculation as to what is going on.) 

The goal was to get four of the tugs loaded near the house of the Blue Marlin, with one tug at the stern, and with all the barges laying athwartships in between.

McAllister Port Captain Pat Kinnier dispatches tugs that will move the Reinauer fuel barges on Load Attempt 1

Four of the loaded tugs on Load Attempt 2. This is the after end of the Blue Marlin house, at the stern is another tug, The Maverick, which lived up (or down) to its name on this job and was the SNAFU on Load Attempt 1 and participated in SNAFU on Load Attempt 2

Tug John Reinauer listing over as Load Attempt 2 goes south. At the stern of the Blue Marlin, the Maverick is also listing over.
The Blue Marlin is due back this week or next for another load of Reinauer equipment. The Coast Guard must be reading itself for more calls from the landside public that a boat is sinking in the harbor... 

Good luck to the crews working on this load attempt; and hats off to Reinauer for having only one vessel left for sale.  Their salesperson sure earned a bonus this year. 

11/16/11 update:  The Blue Marlin never returned. Harbor gossip says that this is because Dockwise had a hard time being paid by the Nigerian buyer of the vessels. This is unconfirmed at this time. 

The harbor grapevine also reports the following (also unconfirmed):

In 2011, the Reinauer Transportation Tugs Janice Ann Reinauer, Dean Reinauer, John Reinauer, and Curtis Reinauer, and Boston Towing and Transportation tug Maverick where acquired by Runner Marine Limited, a division of Capital Oil and Gas Industries limited of Lagos, Nigeria.

The tugs where renamed as follows:
Tug Maverick - Tug Alfa
Tug John Reinauer - Tug Bravo
Tug Janice Ann Reinauer - Tug Charly
Tug Dean Reinauer - Tug Delta
Tug Curtis Reinauer - Tug Echo

Chiclet issues 1st ever press release - response to TONY mascot list

PortSide NewYork

contact:  Chiclet

Chiclet says Time Out!
PortSide cat hurls furball at exclusion from TONY list of “Animal mascots of NYC”

Chiclet, ship’s cat at PortSide NewYork, today expressed her resentment at being left off the list of NYC mascots published recently by Time Out New York:

She called some of the mascots “fly-by-nighters who laze around all day, and disappear when there is real work to be done, like catching mice and birds, and supervising humans.”

Chiclet referred to her active supervision of work on the Mary Whalen, the 172’ repurposed oil tanker that serves as office and floating venue for PortSide NewYork.

Chiclet also crowed about her computer work. “I designed the Twitter page for PortSide, although it was under false pretenses – I was led to believe it would attract birds. It took great willpower learning to use the mouse without picking it up it my mouth and offering it to my human, Carolina Salguero.”

Another job Chiclet takes pride in performing is her role as the boat’s official greeter, which was caught on camera last year. “When Charlotte Rampling came on the boat to film an interview show for European television, I hit my mark perfectly, reaching the actress just as she was about to climb the gangway. She reached down and stroked my head right on cue. It was a pleasure working with a real professional.”

Chiclet suggests that next time inclusion in the mascot list should be done democratically. “Make it like the All Star Game, not that I actually know what that is. Let us mascots vote for who deserves to be on the list. And get the humans out of the picture.”

More on my activities below:

Streaming Netflix and looking for Charlotte Rampling who I much admire
Inspecting during NY1 shoot. I'm sitting on their equipment case here.

Helping John Weaver cut foam

Attacking bikinis
Hiding in the pier Savannah

Pipe inspection
Inspecting from the office

Report from Waterfront Sunday 6/19 in Red Hook

PortSide assembled a Power Team to man our set-up at the Red Hook sidewalk sale organized by RHED.  Fresh off the Mermaid Parade, we had Will Van Dorp Tugster; and Frank Hanavan, the creative omnicompetent and maker of the Schooner Pioneer and Admiral Nelson costumes; from PortSide, Stephanie Ortiz, one of our interns, Dan Goncharoff and Carolina Salguero, and Michele Kogon, copy editor, ensuring that all our written emissions were spot on.

Smitty played the guitar for a while.

Will Van Dorp aka Tugster

We engaged in some family-friendly, maritime street theatre to raise awareness of our programs (so hard to do while locked behind the port fence!) and money for our teen Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP).  

Most of us took turns being Admiral Nelson to the amusement of passersby.

Frank, who also believes a good prop is key, used the kiddie pool to flag cars.

Suited up as the traffic schooner for the first time since the Bar Tini move, Carolina slowed traffic with a flamboyant leaf-letting technique and got cars to stop, talk, donate and/or take information on PortSide's fundraising drive for the teen Summer Youth Employment Program.

Frank - creating maritime awareness one knot at a time - left one of his Turks Head Tags on the bus stop pole.

One new storekeeper of the Fulla T-shirt shop liked our hubbub so much he asked if we'd be out every weekend. He said if we were, he'd open up on weekends - even though we looked pretty strong in the t-shirt department ourselves!

Flooding bonanza

Saturday night brought heavy rainfall and high winds. Add to that a full moon, and what you get is very high tides which means lots of damage to trees, docks, whatever. And whatever hits the waterway upstream comes down to us.  That can be a scavenger's bonanza. One year I scored a 60' concrete dock, rather new and reeking of fancy marina. The boat PortSide uses for Operation Christmas Cheer is attached to that. (That boats needs a mechanic for small, gasoline boat engine, please email portsidenewyork(at) if you have leads).

Such rains also overwhelm our own CSOs which then discharge street litter and sewage into the waterways.

This morning at 0820, at about high of the high tide, past all the messy flotsam,  I spotted a little float across the way banging into the rag-tag shoreline that is the sad remains of the Hamilton Avenue Ferry.  Quick inspection via binoculars: a float sized to 4x8' sheet of plywood with nice inset corner posts, through-drilled for docklines, bevelled tops to the posts even, a perfect little thing for working on the side of the hull. I called to Army Corps drift boats to see if they were in the area. Nope. No answer on the Gelberman. The Hayward was dispatched to Gravesend Bay.

A little while later, the purr of a small engine caused me to get up and look out the porthhole. A Miller's Launch boat was tending to the area that has a CSO, and I think the gate to the Gowanus Canal Flushing Tunnel. They have a contract with the DEP to tend the CSO discharge areas. Maybe they could bring the float over...

I watched them score a very large double ended fender. I waved them over as they came by. They didn't have a boat hook, so I lent them mine and they nabbed the float for us.

About an hour and half latter, another engine sound outside. This time it was a DEP skimmer boat picking up the floatables.   It reminds me of a baleen whale in that it opens its gullet and take all the little stuff into its gut.

Gullet end to the right, down and skimming

They cleaned up all the yuck that was floating around, a clog of twigs, branches and plastic unmentionables.

Gullet closed and up, stern to the right showing mass of collected wood
Later in the day, the tide was headed out and you could trace the line of the current, an arc of litter spread from the crotch of pier and bulkhead, out past the Mary Whalen into the stream of the Buttermilk.

2000 hrs,  I talked to a tug captain southbound on the Hudson from Albany off Haverstraw. He said "I don't know what you got for Saturday night rains, but up here it was incredible. It's like somebody flushed up in Albany, we're southbound at 13 knots."

Titanic on Twitter

Experience the RMS Titanic wireless messages in real time

On Friday, April 15, 2011, it will be 99 years since the tragic sinking of RMS Titanic. To commemorate this significant anniversary, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic will use Twitter to broadcast the vessel's original wireless transmissions. 

Ten years prior to Titanic's sinking, the first wireless transmission to cross the Atlantic from North America was sent from the Marconi station in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. Much like the short messages we send today via text, instant messaging or Twitter, wireless transmissions bridged distances between people and made it possible to share information across the world. 

As the largest and grandest ocean liner of her time, Titanic was equipped with the most modern wireless technology available. When disaster struck, that technology proved invaluable as it was crucial in saving many passengers and, also, provided the world over with the stunning news of the loss.

This year, starting at 11:55 pm ADT on April 14, follow the hash tag #ns_mma on Twitter for a real time account of the famous disaster. Rather than re-telling the story of the ill-fated ship, this event provides the unique opportunity to experience the magnitude of Titanic through the same wireless messages operators received in 1912.

It should be noted that the transmission times are based on “ships time”, the local time aboard Titanic which changed every day as the ship moved west across time zones. When she sank, Titanic was about 30 minutes ahead of Atlantic Standard Time.  

thanks to Maritime Network on LinkedIn for this information

Summer friends return

Returned to port 1145 tonight.

Another of the larger container ships on Pier 10, fueling barge already alongside. The port is ever busier.

Heard first croak of a night heron this calendar year.  Had it just returned from migration? I look forward to the cheerful chuffling of the swallows. They live under the pier. Clearly, they haven't read the DEC policy on shading, otherwise they would know they couldn't live there.

Fun fact: A group of herons has many collective nouns, including a "battery", "hedge", "pose", "rookery", and "scattering" of herons.