Participate in MARY Inspiration Day at PortSide NewYork on Sunday 5/20/18! Are you a painter, poet, sketcher, illustrator, photographer, printmaker, choreographer, playwright, puppeteer, sound fabric artist, quilter? Any kind of creative? Come on down! Come create work inspired by our historic ship Mary A Whalen and our evocative maritime location. This event is inspired by the 80th birthday of our ship on 5/21/18 and the diverse artwork she has inspired.Read More
PortSide blogs about our WaterStories programs, urban waterways issues, the BLUEspace, development plans for the NYC waterfront, our ship MARY A. WHALEN and other historic vessels, boats and ships of all sizes.
Great to see weathered teak woodwork go from grey to gold! Great to see youth learn to do it! Read how Christopher, Christie, Cesar, Devere and Jose describe their summer, in their own words.Read More
PortSide NewYork is excited to welcome you aboard our historic flagship, the tanker MARY A. WHALEN in honor of her 78th birthday!
Sat 5/28/16 from 10am-5pm
Sign up for tours on-site. Groups of 20 will be admitted every 20 minutes. No tours at 1:00 & 1:20 as we break for lunch.
Can't make it? For other ways to experience the MARY, see Visitor Info
Flat soled shoes recommended. Directions here
More Ships! On the next pier at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, Fleet Week will have three ships open to visit at the same time. Those ships will be open Thursday through Monday of Memorial Day Weekend. More info here.
Visit historic Red Hook, home to great restaurants, bars, cultural institutions and parks! Info
Please support our restoration of the MARY and other programs, donate to our Red Hook WaterStories campaign. Help us raise $20,000 by the end of June to match a grant. Red Hook WaterStories is funded in part by Councilman Carlos Menchaca and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
More about the MARY A. WHALEN
The MARY A. WHALEN is the only oil tanker cultural center in the world and an icon of Red Hook maritime history. She is the last of her kind in the USA and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. She is significant for her role in the 1975 Supreme Court legal decision U.S. vs Reliable Transfer, a major case in US maritime law. The MARY is a symbol of resiliency because PortSide's crew rode out superstorm Sandy on the ship, and then brought our office equipment ashore to set up and run a hurricane Sandy pop-up aid station.
The MARY A. WHALEN's story is woven into Red Hook WaterStories because she was built for the Red Hook company Ira S. Bushey & Sons and has been based in Red Hook for a good half of her life, first as a working tanker, later as a floating dock and office for Hughes Marine, and as PortSide's flagship since 2007.
The MARY was launched May 21, 1938 at Mathis in Camden, NJ and built for Bushey's, an innovative and unusually diverse maritime company which closed in the 1980s. Bushey's was based at the foot of Court Street and ran a ship yard, fuel terminal and fuel delivery fleet of tugs, tankers and barges. Bushey's built over 200 ships for the Navy and commercial service and had ships built at other yards. Today, the Bushey property remains an active maritime site with the fuel tanks operated by Buckeye and their fuel moved by our friends at Vane Brothers. Vane runs a fleet of tugs and fuel barges and has often towed our MARY A. WHALEN for free. Vane also introduced us to their paint supplier International Paint who has donated all the paint to recoat the decks and house.
Please donate now to support our restoration of the MARY A. WHALEN, public programs aboard which include TankerTours, TankerTime,
and our summer preservation internships with the WHSAD high school,
programs off the ship such as
our Sandy recovery and resiliency work and
Red Hook WaterStories which tells Red Hook maritime history over 400+ years.
Help us match a grant and raise another $20,000 for Red Hook WaterStories by the end of June and donate here!
2015: the search is over. The future is now.
2015 was a year of major milestones and growth. See, read and feel it below.
The pivot point was the exhilarating move on May 29 in the video at right.
Our new site strengthens our ability to fulfill the PortSide vision of combining the working waterfront, public access and community development.
Please donate now and support our momentum!
The public access at our new home enables us to grow our educational programs. We hopped on it right away with outreach such as our Open House for Educators Week and researching new curricula. We gained new partners in the World Monuments Fund, the Williamsburgh HS of Architecture and Design (WHSAD), and Behind the Book. We had three summer interns from WHSAD and two college interns from Spain. We created a curriculum for simple machines aboard the MARY A. WHALEN and taught Hurricane Sandy & resiliency to elementary school kids. For adult job training, we furthered our relationship with the painters' union District Council 9.
WaterStories cultural programs
We secured $20,000 in funding from Councilman Carlos Menchaca to support our Red Hook WaterStories cultural tourism, placemaking and resiliency project. We were invited to join a historic ship flotilla that celebrated Cunard's 175th anniversary and got community members in the parade via our partner, the historic tug CORNELL. We curated and ran a great POW! weekend with TankerTours, TankerTime and gifted flamenco jazz musicians who have offered to make this an annual event. We produced a distinctive multimedia history night with Norwegian Red Hook WaterStories with bluegrass musicians from Norway, history speakers, and vintage video. Out shipcat Chiclet has become an attraction, with a growing fan club of regulars who come by to see her.
Volunteers repainted three cabins! Thank you, volunteers! Three summer interns from WHSAD did enormous work restoring the teak rail around the wheelhouse. The painters' union District Council 9 will repaint the exterior as a training excercise with paint donated by International Paint. DC9 scoped out the job, did some prep work, and laid plans for painting in 2016.
History: research, acquisitions & programs
History runs through so many of our programs: all events on the ship, programs such as our Norwegian Red Hook WaterStories night, info content we share on our Facebook and Twitter, our blogposts such the one about the important sale of slave ERIE ship in Atlantic Basin which marked an important step in the end of slavery in the USA. In 2015, we added considerably to Mary A. Whalen history: more former crew members found us (thanks to our new home): Engineer Bill Siebert who works on a Vane tug and retired, 86-year old, former relief captain Thomas J. Smith. Captain Smith donated his maritime papers to us, and we have taped hours of interviews with him. A big boost in the history department was the visit by Scott Gellatly and his wife Pat. They ran a waterborne fuel transportation company years ago and almost bought the MARY. The Gellatlys donated photos, recorded hours of interview and brought along retired engineer Bryan Sinram, another trove of history, who had worked for Eklof, the company that ran the MARY WHALEN for years. Walter Barschow donated the folk painting of the MARY aground in the slide show above and gave us leads on Red Hook WaterStories about his family that ran a scrap yard for decades, founded by his German immigrant grandmother. Karen Dyrland and John Weaver donated another large cache of photos, letters and documents from Alf Dyrland, Captain of the MARY from 1958-1978. And, our home, the historic tanker MARY A. WHALEN turned 77!
PortSide continued to inspire filmmakers, painters and multi-media artists. Most find us because they can now see us. The MARY A. WHALEN is visible from our new friends and partners Pioneer Works which leads to a steady stream of artists coming to brainstorm, photograph, get ideas, one even collects salt water for a printing project. We gave the title to the documentary film BLUESPACE and appeared in it. We invited painter Jim Ebersole to memorialize our final week in the Red Hook Containerport.
This important work does not generate inspiring, cuddly or sexy photos. It involves a slew of emails and hundreds of conversations that advance our vision for bringing change to NYC's waterfront. Some highlights: Our President Carolina Salguero was appointed to the Sunset Park Task Force whose first task was to advise the EDC on creating an RFP for SBMT. How's that for alphabet soup! The Task Force continues to meet to shape the Sunset Park waterfront and industrial waterfront district. PortSide provided info and advice on the siting of a Citywide ferry stop in Red Hook. We are engaged with the ongoing work of Red Hook's NY Rising committee. We had a photogenic policy gig by being a stop on Alex Washburn's OHNY Resiliency bike tour.
Capacity Building - great progress undergirds all the above!
Getting our new home in Atlantic Basin, has provided PortSide NewYork with much needed stability and allowed us to turn energies to growing PortSide's capacity. We grew the team with 2 board members and 4 advisory board members. We completed the long slog of paperwork of a FEMA Sandy Alternate Project application, along with other important funding applications. We were awarded $20,000 by Councilman Carlos Menchaca to support our Red Hook WaterStories project. In Late October, PortSide launched a year-long growth campaign #GetOnBoard. In December, we were awarded a competitive Regional Economic Development Council grant of $49,500 via the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. We scored new major sponsors in the Weather Channel and International Paint. There is strong growth in the number of entities reaching out to get involved: we have heard from college community service programs, schools, teachers and individuals.
Please donate now and support our momentum!
The transformation of the galley will knock your socks off! Decades of paint were removed from steel, bronze and Monel surfaces. The bulkhead was painted one of its early colors, a light, bright green typical in the 1930's when the ship was launched.
What made this project so challenging (beyond the scope of work) is that we are limited, since February 2012, to just 5 visitors at a time who do not have Homeland Security TWIC cards, and 5 such visitors can only be escorted in and out by our Director Carolina Salguero who has to stay aboard (eg, not leave for meetings) while they are aboard.
These rules have so impeded access to the ship that they have largely stopped volunteer shipwork (and programs) on the tanker. What inspired us to take on this big project is that Erika Stetson donated her entire month of December to us (as training for her entry to SUNY Maritime Academy) which broke the back on this work (and fortunately not on her!).
Paint removal and painting volunteers included Carol Salguero (Carolina's mother), Carla and Andrea Oviedo (visiting from Spain), Max Powell (driving 3 hours each way from Waterford for a few weekends), and our advisor Paul Amico. As this project went along, we also got assistance from The Red Hook Volunteers, FEMA Americorps members, and various individuals. Peter Guaracci, an actor and teacher, is our latest regular volunteer.
Putting Humpty Dumpty Back Together Again
Putting the space back together was a project unto itself! Shipcat Chiclet was most engaged during the unpacking of the boxes. She did not like the noise of the paint chipping portion of this project. Needleguns are not for her!
Metal polishing work
We all delight in the gleam!
The Porthole Challenge
Dear Workboat crew,
Never paint the polished bronze! SO many layers of paint are on Mary Whalen's portholes and Monel porthole surrounds.
At first, we hoped to take the portholes entirely out, but getting them separated from the ship's steel proved too much. We are sending the swing plates, nuts, hinge pins and deadlights out for dip and strip polishing. The dogs will be another tedious matter.
Getting the hinge pins separated from the cast iron deadlights, which have corroded and swollen around the pins, has been a project requiring Zen patience, regular application of PB Blaster lubricant, heat, tapping, and prayer.
You can still help! Here is what we still need:
Tile restoration: Replace missing tile. Clean and restore existing tile. The white tiles are very discolored.
Repair of the wood paneled fridge and freezer: glue down some veneer bubbles, some re-varnishing. Change of freon, gaskets and compressors from DC to AC motors (or installation of a rectifier)
7 vintage cabinet latches. We can provide dimensions and details.
Furniture restoration and upholstery work: Restoration of the table stools. They should have backs. Some of the seats are not original. All should be reupholstered. New back and side cushion for the banquette, and re-upholstery of the banquette seat cushion to match.
Wood refinishing. Some sanding and varnishing of wood shelves and trim and parts of the fridge.
Two vintage fans. One was mounted on a wooden shelf, the other a "wall-mounted" model was on a bulkhead under the skylight. (We can provide dimensions).
Donations as ever!
Erika's generous offer of time prompted us to launch a December campaign "This Old Ship Kitchen" to return the Mary A. Whalen galley to its 1938 glory. We are looking for donations of materials, services and funds.
PLEASE DONATE TO SUPPORT THIS WORK!
Erika's offer is particularly important to us because security regulations in the Red Hook Container Port tightened last year so that our Director Carolina Salguero is now the only person who can bring in visitors who don't have the Homeland Security ID, the TWIC card, and the TWIC card limit is 5 visitors per card. In short, PortSide can only have 5 visitors at a time who don't have a TWIC card. This limitation pretty much shut down our volunteer program in March 2012 (one of the reasons we are so keen to get a home out of the port.) Erika's having a TWIC card allows her to come and go without Carolina.
Erika is an Air Force veteran whose resume says compelling things such as "Prepared strategic communications plan for Army drawdown in Afghanistan on behalf of a four-star U.S. Army headquarters."She's changing careers and starts at SUNY Maritime College in January.We'll give her some intro maritime training before SUNY, and she's going to do major work renovating the galley of MARY A. WHALEN.
As Erika put it, MARY’s “galley is a treasure within a treasure.” The cozy space has a Webb Perfection cast iron stove patented in 1918 which burns diesel (Our Director Carolina has learned how to use it), a wood paneled fridge and freezer, and handsome black and white tiled floors. Silver details in Monel metal; bronze portholes (in need of paint removal, fomer crews clearly tired of polishing), a large table which seats eight. It's bigger than most NYC apartment kitchens!
Carolina has started chipping paint in the galley to look at the history of paint layers to determine original colors, but stopped after shipcat Chiclet starting trying to eat paint chips. Chiclet was ushered out and chips swept up. We've been researching 1930s kitchen photos on line and started a rash of buying 1930s kitchware on eBay. Wait til you see the toaster!
Carolina has also posted questions to the Tugboatinformation group on Facebook, to ask for guidance. Here's part of one post:
I have a restoration question about galley paint color. We are about to do over the galley. Any of you have memories, photos or information as to how galleys might have been painted in 1938? I've been chipping paint here and there to see underlying colors, but I strongly suspect that some paints changed their color as they aged cuz I can't believe that lots of Mary A Whalen bulkheads were painted a kind of nasty khaki mustard color. Also, since I don't think all the cabinets in MARY's galley are original, I cant count on the layers in the paint history to tell me what was original. I"m pretty sure the galley was not all white at the outset. Could cabinet doors and drawers have been painted a different color from the cabinet as was common in 1930s kitchen's ashore and as in this photo? There's a light apple green that is very typical of that time ashore as in this photo. Could that have been on a workboat? I've found it on overhead and bulkheads in one cabin. Thanks for any info!
The galley is one of the tanker’s most popular spaces during our TankerTours - whether we are showing it to elementary school kids, professors or the general public. PortSide uses the galley as office space, board room and as the site of Supper Club dinners we will revive after the renovation.
We also use it as a board room, conference room and office space, not to mention staff lunch room (when it is too cold to use the picnic table on deck)
- Paint stripper (for metal dishrack & stove hood, 5 brass portholes, 4 steel drawers, 2 small wood shelves)
- Chemical cleaning of tile floor
- Furniture restorer to rebuild backs of 8 galley stools, and 5 galley seats.
- Re-activate fridge & freezer. Change compressors from DC to AC electricity, replace Freon, change gaskets.
Equipment & material
- Compressor and needle guns
- 2 cordless electric drills
- industrial cleaners and degreasers
- painters’ paper to cover the tile floor
- small number of floor tiles and adhesive to replace missing tiles
- Tyvek suits
- Disposable latex gloves
What donors get
Donors who give over over $500 in funds or services get two seats at Supper Club dinner in the newly renovated galley, credit on our website on the pages DONATE and MARY WHALEN PRESENT for one year.