Boom! History + volunteer day

Time to lower the boom, replace the cables, check, service and maybe replace blocks and paint the boom itself. We finally have a sweet spot to do this. The weather is FINALLY going to give us a long run without rain so it should be possible to get this all done without too many days of disruption.  We get some crane help to lower the boom as the boom winches walked a long time ago.
Project before the start.  Where boom was 11/4/11 Friday morning at 0900.

This project, as so often happens if you are dealing with preserving a historic boat, raised all sorts of questions about what was. So, mixed with the grunt work was all sorts of hypothesizing and checking old photos and plans.

Saturday's s volunteer day had an A team of Mike Abegg, Nelson Chin, Linda Von Voss-Beal (all South Street Seaport people), Carolina Salguero, and supervisor Chiclet. 

While the Seaport has their ship volunteer program on hold, Seaport folks have been stepping up to help over here. Thanks to you all for helping out while you couldn't get on your usual boats!!  

While we have your attention, I thought I'd mention that the Seaport looks very much on the mend after the take-over by the Museum of the City of New York with Susan Henshaw Jones at the helm.  You can follow the progress of the resuscitation of the Seaport on the blog of the group Save Our Seaport, heavy lifters in the cause, here

Where it was Saturday morning 0900 after new volies Jeffrey Jernstrom and Enrico Bazzoni chipped and scraped during Friday
Once the boom is on deck, you start to wonder what all the fittings attached to it were doing, why a bulge here, why a flat bar there. Mike figures out that a run of long shank shackles is a series of fair leads... and they went to the hose winch. But what were the mystery tubular fairleads along the forward edge of the boom?  Carolina and Mike make several trips to the ship plans in the fidley, a photo in the galley, and a photo in the fidley.  
Bob Mattson photo from 1979
Carolina comments that on a visit a while back Charlie Deroko pointed out that the mast and boom in the plans were not what's here now... that they are much shorter and look as if they're wood.  

Mike then points out that in the plans the mast isn't even where it is now - something no one had remarked upon until now. As drawn, the boom was on a pad eye on the ullage trunk, not forward of it; but then again, the drawings don't show the mast on the aft end of the wheelhouse that appear in ST Kiddoo photos...

Carolina hypothesizes that the new longer boom reflects how Mary Whalen's work evolved from delivering to terminals (short boom) to fueling ever bigger ships, necessitating a long boom for reach.

Bingo! Within a day, Carolina has a phone conversation with a Mary Whalen Mate from the 1980s who said that Eklof was very proud of their elongated  "superbooms" used to fuel ships. They found all sorts of ways to add stiffeners, he says, just what Carolina and Mike had been guessing. What a difference thirty years makes. The "superboom" seems mighty unimpressive in comparison to today's hydraulic, telescoping booms.

Mike I-Love-Rigging Abegg prepares to lift the boom with a shackle so we can rotate it to better get at the underside. We'll also clean and grease the pin.

Carolina  & Linda stretch the old boom cable on the dock to measure it.   The boom is not the original one in the ship plan; so until we lowered the whole affair to measure it, we didn't know how much new cable to get.  Amounts to 242' of wire rope.

Ship cat Chiclet assists in the cable measuring process.

Team Abegg & Chin priming the boom. The primer is milk chocolate brown which leads to many jokes about repainting the whole ship brown. Anyone ever seen a brown boat?  Tugster, can you help us here?

The cable measuring team comes up to heckle the boys on the boom. Classic boatwork slogan on the back of that old Wavertree t-shirt there, Mike!

Mike Cohen shows up, a fuel barge goes by, the sun is setting and it's time to get the tools back down below.

Kicking back in the galley after a day's work.

Next thought... might as well lower the mast, while we're at it, and paint that bedraggled thing and redo the mast stays.

PortSide Exhibit: Mariners' response to 9/11

Exhibit on the steamer LILAC - on Hudson River Park's Pier 25, Manhattan

PortSide NewYork, a waterfront-themed non-profit organization, is mounting a multi-media exhibit (photography, videos and oral history) and presentation about the extraordinary and little-known maritime role in 9/11, from evacuation to rubble removal. 

The exhibit venue Lilac and PortSide's base of operations, the Mary A. Whalen, survived Irene unharmed. Despite Irene's disruptions and delays, we are proceeding with plans for the exhibit.

Sponsors are still being sought for this exhibit. Please contact PortSide NewYork, Director Carolina Salguero,917-414-0565, portsidenewyork(at)

Opening:   Thurs 9/8/11 6:00-9:00pm.

Talk:         Wed 9/14/11 7:00-8:30pm by Carolina Salguero, photojournalist on 9/11 and now Director of PortSide NewYork and journalist Jessica DuLong 

Location:   Historic ship LILAC, Hudson River Park’s Pier 25 at North Moore Street, Tribeca,Manhattan

Hours:        During September on Thursdays from 12:00pm to 6:00pm and Saturdays from 1:00pm to 6:00pm, plus scheduled visits by school groups.  Additional open hours for the public may be announced by early September.

Download press release here

related event: U.S. Coast Guard 9/11 New York City Response Retrospective on the Intrepid, Sat 9/10, 10 am to 4pm. Open to the public. more info

Photo by Carolina Salguero

The Coast Guard estimated that, on the morning of 9/11, between 350,000 and 500,000 people were evacuated from lower Manhattan by water during just a few hours.

Particularly noteworthy is that the process was started spontaneously by the operators of the boats themselves.  Within hours, five Coast Guard cutters, 12 small boats, and more than 100 public and private vessels operated on scene. For four days following the attacks, the boats continued to provide rescue workers with fuel, crucial supplies, and river water for firefighting.

The marine role continued, largely unsung, for months as all the rubble - 2,400 barges or 93,346 trucks' worth was removed from Manhattan by water, save for the ritual last column which left by truck.  The fact that it was removed by water made it possible to finish the job in just eight months, and spare the city incredible truck traffic.  In creating the exhibit, PortSide NewYork makes the point that the maritime 9/11 story has workaday implications for New York City as it develops new plans for its waterfront.

To bring home the point, the exhibit will be mounted on a ship docked at a pier from which Ground Zero rubble was removed.  PortSide will mount the exhibit on the former U.S. Lighthouse Tender Lilac, at Hudson River Park’s Pier 25, at North Moore Street, New York City in partnership with the non-profit Lilac Preservation Project

The exhibit will include photography and oral history by the award-winning photojournalist Carolina Salguero, who went on to found PortSide NewYork, plus contributions from vessel crews, and other institutions.

Photo by Carolina Salguero

Related talk:

On Wednesday, September 14, from 7:00-8:30pm a related talk will be given by Carolina Salguero ( and journalist Jessica DuLong (, author of the critically acclaimed My River Chronicles: Rediscovering the Work That Built America, and chief engineer of retired New York City Fireboat John J. Harvey (, which was called back into service to supply firefighters with Hudson River water—the only water available for days following the towers' collapse. DuLong and her Fireboat Harvey crewmates were recognized in the Congressional Record for valor in aiding FDNY’s rescue efforts, and appear as characters in Maira Kalman’s award-winning children’s book FIREBOAT: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey.

The Lilac where the exhibit will be installed
As a ship-based museum, our role is to educate New Yorkers about our maritime heritage, and the story of the heroic role of mariners in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks has received little attention," said Lilac's Museum Director, Mary Habstritt.  "We are really honored to help recognize their contributions and to share this story on board a ship, at Pier 25, which itself played a role as a shipping point for debris removal."

Carolina Salguero, Founder & Director of PortSide NewYork said “I was really concerned that the story of the 9/11 maritime evacuation was so overlooked. That was one of the things that prompted me to found PortSide NewYork as a way to bring attention to the waterways. Doing this exhibit is a way to both commemorate what happened ten years ago and to help the city move forward with its new waterfront plan Vision 2020.  PortSide hopes, that by illuminating how those boats worked ten years ago—and the impediments they found—we can help the city better plan its future waterfront for both good days and bad."

"It's an honor to help share the largely untold story of the maritime community's contribution in New York City's hour of greatest need," said Jessica DuLong, chief engineer Fireboat John J. Harvey and author My River Chronicles, "The spontaneous mobilization was truly remarkable, but for mariners it's just a part of the job. Among those who work on the water the notion that panic leads to peril is as deeply ingrained as the tradition of helping those in need."

The exhibit includes:

Photography of the maritime evacuation:
  • featuring the work of Carolina Salguero, Founder + Director of  PortSide NewYork and an award-winning photojournalist. More about Salguero's reporting from ground zero in this video  
  • Photographs from Rich Naruszewicz, Captain of the New York Fast Ferry "Finest" evacuating people during 9/11 and former tankerman on PortSide's Mary A. Whalen
  • Photographs from crew of the retired fireboat John J. Harvey which served at ground zero.
Photography of rubble removal
  • by Carolina Salguero of Pier 25, North River and Pier 6, East River. 
Oral history
  • Of tug crews who evacuated people and removed rubble gathered by Carolina Salguero
  • MARAD video "Rescue at Water’s Edge,” a 10th anniversary tribute to the Merchant Mariners who sailed directly into harm’s way on September 11 and evacuated more 300,000 people by water.
  • Video by Mike Mazzei, dockbuilder who worked at 9/11 rubble removal site on Pier 25
  • Center for National Policy new video "Boatlift" the story of the armada of civilian watercraft which came together with no prior planning to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people from lower Manhattan on 9/11.  It was the largest sealift ever – greater even than at Dunkirk during World War I
More about PortSide NewYork
PortSide NewYork is a young, innovative non-profit organization. Our mission is to show New York City better ways to use the BlueSpace, or water part of the waterfront, to educate the public and policy makers about the waterfront, and to help revitalize our home neighborhood of Red Hook, Brooklyn while doing that.

We promote sustainable waterfront planning that increases use of the water. This includes fostering waterborne transportation, the greenest way to move people and goods, and providing educational, cultural, and social service programs for the community on a water theme.  PortSide engages in harbor advocacy and runs an H2O Arts program that offers ship tours, talks, walks, readings, concerts, movies, and performing arts.

We use a historic ship, the coastal oil tanker Mary A. Whalen, as our office, mobile cultural platform, and teaching tool.  She was built in 1938 and is 172'  long.  She is famous for her role in incidents leading to the 1975 Supreme Court decision U.S. vs Reliable Transfer.

More about the Lilac Preservation Project:
The U.S. Lighthouse Tender Lilac was launched on May 26, 1933. Built for the U.S. Lighthouse Service, she carried supplies and personnel to lighthouses and maintained buoys.  The duties of the Lighthouse Service were later absorbed by the U.S. Coast Guard. Lilac was decommissioned by the Coast Guard in 1972. She was the last ship in the Coast Guard fleet to operate with reciprocating steam engines and is unique in still possessing her original engines. Lilac is on the National Register of Historic Places and is eligible to become a National Historic Landmark. The ship is owned by the non-profit Lilac Preservation Project.

Related 9/11 info:

Event: US Coast Guard 9/11 New York City Response Retrospective, Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum. Saturday 9/10 10 am to 4pm. Open to the public. more info

Coast Guard 9/11 oral history project:

National September 11 Museum Interactive timeline
Downtown Alliance list of 9/11-related events and programs


Hudson River Park's Pier 25. Cross West Street at N. Moore St. or Harrison St.

1 at Canal Street and Franklin St.
A,C,E at Canal St.
1,2,3 at Chambers St.

M20 and M22


Exhibit Design + Planning
provided pro bono by
Paul S. Alter

Lee H. Skolnick Architecture +
Design Partnership

To join our sponsors of this exhibit
Please get in touch with PortSide NewYork
Carolina Salguero, Director

Waterfront Sunday 6/19 in Red Hook

Admiral Nelson, kayaking, seafood, circus on a barge, Red Hook-wide sidewalk sale & more...

Red Hook Sidewalk Sale 11am-4pm:
Enjoy hunting for treasures and discounts along Van Brunt Street. Or SELL. Set up your own table along Van Brunt.

PortSide will be in front of 281 Van Brunt Street (just north of Pioneer) selling t-shirts, talking about our programs and raising money for our Summer Youth Employment Program. 
If you can't see us in person, please donate here.    

Smitty will play guitar for an hour, we will have a kiddie pool with ducks and boats, a DIY photo booth with industrial objects such as our super-sized wrench (far right), and we will be joined by Admiral Nelson.

We'll be next to Kevin's Restaurant who will be selling smoothies outside and seafood inside.  Eggs Chesapeake (eggs benedict with a crabcake instead of ham) is a favorite.

Across the street and just up the block is the famed Red Hook Lobster Pound

Around the corner to the west on Pioneer is the new Filipino eatery Philly Pinoy  This hole-in-the-wall centers around a sidewalk tikki hut and is targeted at the Filipino crews of the cruise ships. They're hoping that the Brooklyn foodie scene finds them*** update, they are currently only open when a cruise ship is in. Schedule here. Hot food is made on the spot, and imported bagged and canned goods are inside.

Waterfront Museum Barge is running their annual Showboat Shazzam of family entertainment and circus artistry. $10 in advance, $15 at door. Shows 1pm, 4pm

Red Hook Boaters free kayaking Valentino Pier Park 1-5pm

For last minute shoppers, father's day gifts can be found at our three garden centers or Red Hook's unusual boutiques which include Metal & Thread selling lamps made from blowfish and curious, antique hardware.

Dads can end the day listening to live music at Bait & Tackle surrounded by taxidermy.

Mary A. Whalen gets new and national recognition!

WE ARE EXCITED!  We applied to The NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (SHPO) to see if the Mary A. Whalen were eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and she is!

vintage photo of Mary A. Whalen when she was the S.T. KiddooWe've always said that we wanted to secure a lease before we could justify trying to raise money for the ship (please pick up the pace on that lease, EDC!) but enough things had aligned for us to start moving on getting recognition for the ship.

A first move to be eligible for major funding is to have the Mary Whalen become a NYC Landmark, on the National Register of Historic Places or "be deemed eligible to be on the National Register" a sort of interim status that implies significant documentation work in and of itself.

Many thanks to one of our spring interns Stephanie Ortiz,  an Architect in training from Puerto Rico and a Historic Preservation student at Pratt for helping to translate the preservation concepts, digging up the official guide on how to do this, doing additional historical research, and contributing to the whole process.

The process was itself gratifying because we came to realize how much information we had accumulated on the ship since 2005!

She came to PortSide with no history. Nada. Not even awareness of her role in the major Supreme Court decision US vs Reliable Fuel.

Tom Rinaldi, a young history buff working for the Central Park Conservancy, told us about the case around 2007. (This reveals how much more data has been uploaded and is now findable by google than in 2005).

We were able to fill in some gaps in our information via rushed consultations with Charlie Deroko, Norman Brouwer, Gerry Weinstein of Archive of Industry and Steamer Lilac. As Norman has helped write some of the national guides to ship preservation, his help was a real boost. Thanks to all of you!

We will be sharing some of what we learned from them in upcoming posts...

We pulled it all together and  SHPO reviewed our application in record time and wrote back "Great application!" They said they were pleased to hear from us, adding "we've been watching the Mary Whalen." 

Read their Determination of Eligibility letter here and check out her history page.  

The Mary Whalen's eligibility for the National Register increases funding opportunities and visibility for the ship, for PortSide and for Red Hook.

We have related news of PortSide's 2011 summer youth employment program to do restoration work on the Mary Whalen. You can support that via crowdrise. More on that soon!

In Memoriam - Bernie Ente

Photo by Cindy Goulder 2007
It is with heavy heart that I report that our small clan of harbor advocates has lost another soul. 

Bernie Ente died in the early morning of Friday, April 8.  May he and John Krevey be re-united in heaven and running their waterfront. Oh, what a heaven that would be. 

Bernie was a professional photographer and an avid rail and marine fan, full of arcane bridge and transit knowledge which he shared with a mixture of boyish enthusiasm and wry humor. 

Years ago, I dubbed him the "King of Newtown Creek" because of his tireless advocacy of that creek and the genuine joy he got from the place and the endeavor. He surely helped to raise awareness of its issues and possibilities.  Before the waterfront was such a popular destination, he was out there giving walking tours and organizing boat tours of his beloved toxic creek; and of course photographing it. 

Bernie was so generous with his photos. Many organizations benefited from the selfless way he donated photos.  Many a day started with my finding an email from Bernie with another photo of the Mary Whalen, or of Red Hook, that he'd made on his latest harbor junket. Of these he made many as he was a mainstay of the Working Harbor Committee which gives harbor tours. He supported them with photography and so much more.

Around here, people who never met him are grateful to him as the man who told us about the tanker being scrapped in Seattle. That tip led to our getting so many of the engine parts to fix the Mary Whalen engine.  So like Bernie to be reading a distant Seattle newspaper to find news about a Bushey tanker on the west coast, and so like Bernie to share information that would help someone else.

Here are some of the photos that Bernie sent us out of the blue 



His close friend Mitch Waxman posted a tribute
The Working Harbor Committee tribute

Will Van Dorp's tribute on Tugster  here

Rest in peace, Bernie.

Carolina Salguero

Send off to Old Man Winter

Is shipboard life romantic? You decide. Here's some of life on Pier 9B since late December.  

Below is a video from the Christmas blizzard where Carolina and her brother Antonio get ready to put out another bow line due to 50mph winds whipping around the end of the shed and hitting the bow. A few hours later, the winds were pushing the ship so far off the pier, they decided to raise the gangway on the boom so the gangway didn't come off the pier. We've kept the gangway rigged to the boom, which has allowed us to raise it and protect it from wake damage at high tide. This has given the office crew an athletic interactive feature they use several times a day, and Chiclet has become expert at catapulting herself off it at high tide. 

In order to spring the spring that has not sprung, we offer this tribute to Old Man Winter on what he does for us on the Mary A. Whalen!  
Block the view
Coat everything
Have us go for salt from the pile
Prevent office staff getting carpal tunnel by having regular shoveling breaks. Here, Dan Goncharoff demonstrates excellent shovel technique.
Provide opportunity for Smoke 101, or How to Use the Damper, a
short intensive class for Stephanie Ortiz, our planning intern from Puerto Rico.
Beat up on the gangway chainfall until it snags, kinks and chokes and 
needs rescue lubrication. Thank you ASI for sending this forklift 12 minutes after the request!
Oblige us to call Rich Naruszewicz of the Captain Log for diesel fuel deliveries to run the galley stove. Like the mail boat, he comes with sea stories (Brownwater Edition) new and old (he used to be a tankerman on the Mary A. Whalen).

Attract better dressed shovellers on Volunteer Days! Here Claudia Steinberg, who writes about design and fashion for the New York Times and German publications, joined a shoveling committee, needed after our director Carolina Salguero was hit by a truck in January and couldn't shovel for most snowfalls after the blizzard. 
Set off the ship colors so nicely
Make lovely patterns, such as this March snow where the frames under the deck, warmed by the sun the day before, are still warm enough to melt the damp coating of an early morning.

Petrolero con Salseros (tanker with salsa musicians)

PortSide's home, the tanker Mary A. Whalen, performed magnificently during the 2nd annual Concierto Tipico in Sunset Park. The can-do Edgar Alvarez of Fiesta VIP produced the event which is sponsored by City Councilwoman Sara Gonzalez. See our video here.

Bracketed by brightly colored inflatable kids rides, the Mary Whalen's hulking steel self held a powerful allure.

Over 400 peop
le toured the tanker, many of whom had never been on a boat before.

We gave tours in Spanish and English.

NYC Councilwoman Sar
a Gonzalez invited PortSide to bring the tanker for this event.

Several of the bands toured the ship, as did kids, a great grandmother and the pina colada ven

At the end of the day,
Councilwoman Gonzalez and headliner Willie Colon stopped by for a photo op and to sign autographs for our crew. Some survivors of the Mermaid Parade joined us too.

Many people hoped the tanker would become a regular feature at Brooklyn Army Terminal pier 4 (aka the 58th Street pier). We told them all to come check us out in Red Hook's Atlantic Basin July 1 to Aug 24.

Thanks to a dynamic group of volunteers who had great team spirit and who made the day a success and lots of fun:

Diane Cho in the galley, Ray Howell engine room, Terry Reilly in the wheelhouse, Michele Kogon office monitor and copy editor, Iris Abra gangway reception (5 hours in the baking heat!), Maria Diaz tour guide and networker and quicker picker-upper, Mina Roustayi indefatigable guide in Spanish, Dan Goncharoff tours and deck monitor, John Weaver video and Official Fence Dismantler and Remantler.

Above is Amy Bucciferro playing air guitar on PortSide's photo-op wrench with boyfriend Matt Perricone, owner and captain of the Cornell, looking on. Amy works at PortSide one day a week. Thanks to the historic tug Cornell for towing us there and back for free!

We left the southside of Pier 9B at 0900, passing a containership unloading in the Red Hook port...

and returned at 2200 hours to the northside of 9B where we had the crippled Del Monte container ship as a neighbor on the southside of Pier 9A . They were there for about two weeks undergoing repairs. It was a long but glorious day!

Branding - not the cattle

post by John Weaver of PortSide NewYork

RAZORFISH: The very name conjures a creature slicing through the water so rapidly and with such precision as to leave no perceptible wake!!!
Unique indeed!!! As s
o, equally unique, is Domenic Venuto, Managing Director, of the aforementioned RAZORFISH.

A devoted fan of PortSide NewYork and an outstanding practitioner of the art of “Branding”, Domenic has come aboard to lead our core group in the exercises that will result in a re-branding of our enterprise.

As well as we know who we are, the personality, thrust, and mission
of our efforts needs to be more accurately telegraphed to those we wish to serve and those who are increasingly approaching us to get involved.

As a veteran
of 25 years in the “Ad” business, I have experienced this kind of effort in workshops and “brain sessions” many times over. This one was a standout being so expertly led, engrossing, and conducted in the maritime atmosphere of the Mary Whalen’s galley which we all look forward to sharing with visitors more often in the future.

Editor's Notes: Domenic is working independently with PortSide on this branding exercise.

John Weaver of PortSide was staff Director at WABC-TV. He turned to producing and directing commercials for twenty five years, becoming a Senior Vice President at Young and Rubicam before he retired.

Photo captions:
branding words submitted for consideration
Domenic Venuto and John Weaver
Dan Goncharoff and board member Jeanne-Marie Van Hemmen

Ice Capades

We shut down the PortSide office and the Mary Whalen for 10 days over Christmas and New Years. What does that mean when re-opening the boat Saturday night 1/2?

Ice Capades, eg frozen everything.

The interior of the boat was 30 degrees when I returned and turned on space heaters. Soaking rags were frozen where I left them (kind of handy that one!). The water line supplying the galley sink was frozen. I ran around with a torch and flashlight and ascertained that it wasn't frozen at the elbow where the line comes through the overhead in the tool crib where the line perforates the deck, it wasn't frozen on the line that ran from water tank to that through-deck fitting.

Inspection the following morning revealed that the 6-foot tall water tank, aka "the body pickling tank" up on the boat deck was, for the first time, frozen inside blocking the valve - downside of no water running for 10 days and me not being here to smash ice in the tank.

I checked the weather. Temp would be over freezing on Tuesday 1/5. I decided to wait it out. I'm doing better with the impact of winter weather this year. I used to fume about how much time it took from what I thought was Real Work (in the office); but maybe I'm now understanding that saving, and guarding, the Mary Whalen so she's not plundered as she was in Erie Basin, requires being aboard, slowly fixing systems, putting up with interim solutions. I also have to say that the ski pants Mum gave me for Christmas are making winter life aboard a lot easier. Warmer legs may account for higher spirits.

Monday afternoon, diesel for the galley stove ran out. With that, the galley temp would not get above 40 given the weather. There's just so much a space heater can do in a space with cold air above, below and behind it. John Weaver would be in the office by late Tuesday morning and with his van he could go fill up the diesel jugs, so that wasn't so long to wait.

By Monday afternoon, I realized that my "Whalen Life in Winter skills" were really rusty. I'd forgotten that when it's 20 degrees and blowing hard out of the N or NW, the cold air comes right up the galley drain freezing exiting water unless it comes down hot and in quantity. By pouring out dregs of tea, dollops of water, toothpaste spit, I'd frozen up the drain. By end of Tuesday, the galley was ringed with dirty dishes from me, Weaver and Dan Goncharoff working in the office, eating lunch and drinking tea and coffee.

Temps were not soaring, so Tuesday,
I started calling tugs to get a delivery of some warm water to unseize the Body Pickling Tank. After that, Weaver would shroud it in a black tarp, something we didn't get to during December craziness. Thank to the crew of the tug Taurus and K-Sea for the water delivery!!! I ran the hose down a steel pipe so that I could direct it to the mouth of the valve; and in just minutes, there was running water!

Here's a photo from one of last year's Big Freezes. That time, we'd frozen the valve OUTSIDE not inside the Body Pickling Tank, and so to prevent losing water when we took the valve off, I attached a flexible cutting board to a mop handle with zip ties. This I slid into the tank while Weaver unthreaded the valve, and the suction jammed it against the fitting quite tightly, thank you very much....

Tuesday afternoon, 1/5/10, I climbed down the hatch in the galley to see the galley drain. Damn, stupid moi. I should have torched that pipe as soon as I deduced that it was frozen. I'd cracked the valve that Ed Fanuzzi had installed last year. Replacing that would be another item on the to do list.

Here's Ed working on that valve last year.

(Note: Body Pickling Tank photo above is part of the PSP (PortSide Sustainability Project). In the warmer months, we collect rainwater off the pier shed roof and pump it up to the boat.)

Tanker engine parts – first week of December 2008

We interrupt this gripping narrative to tell you about the Whalen’s 70th birthday party.

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 Atlantic Basin Friday morning for the Saturday event. Friday towing would have allowed our Friday volunteers to begin setting up the site in Atlantic Basin. But that didn’t happen, we got towed over at 2130 Friday, and I had to get our electrician in from Staten Island as the officially supplied one had gone home at that hour.

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. “Carolina’s Home for Wayward Boys,” I dubbed it.

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 Philadelphia and the Long Island Sound chatted over the wood stove; urban and ship preservationists found common ground while discussing things afloat.”

Guests arrived by water: PortSide partner the tug Pegasus attended, as did one working tug. The luxury yacht Manhattan came into Atlantic Basin for a salute. Two gigs from the Village Community Boathouse rowed over from Tribeca, and kayakers came from two other islands, Manhattan and Staten. Local Red Hook businesses got in on the action: Atlantis, a home furnishings store, loaned their signature six-foot red velvet hook for the café area; Steve’s Key Lime Pie compensated for the lack of a boathouse in Valentino Park (hello Parks Department!) and allowed visiting kayakers to leave boats in their garage. Maritime photographer Jonathan Atkin served as Master of Ceremonies.

Tours ceased during a half hour of formalities when proclamations were presented by Anthony Chiappone of the New Jersey State Assembly, the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office, and Roberta Weisbrod of the Working Harbor Committee. PortSide NewYork and the Lilac team gave Sal Catucci, CEO of American Stevedoring a Historic Ship Hero awardan illustration made by Christina Sunfor helping save historic vessels by providing free berths to three ships Nantucket, Lilac and Mary Whalen .

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. Carolina’s Home for Wayward Boys” AGAIN I laughed to myself.

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 Erie Basin, Red Hook Marine Terminal and Brooklyn Navy Yard, this was the first time that takeout food could be delivered right to the boat.


Tanker engine parts -Third week of November 2008

The discussion of engine parts has expanded to include the crankshaft which is encased in the lower engine block. That seems monstrously heavy to move, and I’m wondering if it should be taken out and shipped separately. Gerry Weinstein recommends I put in call to Gary Matthews, a specialist on vintage engines, and ask him to come look at the Whalen’s damaged crank. He’s running an old locomotive in NJ, he worked on tugs in New York harbor for 17 years. He’s married to one of the few women to have been a tug captain Anne Loeding, and together they are restoring an old tug. Gary says he can’t make it until January, or February. Crushing. He says he’ll call some people though.

A revised estimate from Stabbert comes in. I can’t do boo about it.

After months of negotiating about Atlantic Basin, PortSide has been cleared to bring the Mary Whalen in there to throw her 70th birthday party with free tours of the ship. We have three weeks and one day (MINUS Thanksgiving week) between approval and B-day. That means all permits, invites, program, invites and press releases have to be done in that time.

I tell Stabbert I need to get past 12/6 before I can think about parts.

They accept that. Unbelieveable. Thank god.

Tanker engine parts - Third week of October, 2008

Stabbert says the scrap barge will leave with Ked parts. Their bill is higher than we expected, I don’t have shipping worked out yet. How the hell am I going to get these parts, and after so much work!

All the other things PortSide had planned for the autumn have been front burner lately, including very important networking to push the possibility of getting an operating space in Atlantic Basin.

Real estate has been a big issue since we completed the business plan in May 05, and the developer did a "fade away and radiate” and avoided all meetings where we could present the data in the business plan and discuss lease terms. Actually, we couldn’t really complete the business plan because neither he nor Fairway would come to the table, so we submitted it to the funders, New York City’s Department of Small Business Services calling it “’A Report on Business Planning Activities.” That real estate story fizzle was so perplexing.

When Fairway needed a rezoning to get a supermarket in an m-zone on the waterfront, they were asked “why do you need to be on the waterfront” and they gave the answer “because we will service the working waterfront” and they talked about tugboats coming in to shop. I had supplied the information that tugboats would flock to a waterside supermarket since it had become so hard to get provisions due to the decline of finger piers near neighborhoods. I learned that while doing my National Geographic project on tugboats in NYC. The PortSide business plan followed up on that knowledge and surveyed the local towing industry about how much they spend on boat grub a year ($7.MM) and whether they wanted to shop at Fairway (yes) and why. We concluded that $1.5MM of business wants to shop at Fairway. PortSide was going to position shopping tugboats as an attraction, much as they are in Fells Point, Baltimore, and build our maritime museum concepts around visiting real boats doing real things.

Over the ensuing 3 years, we write many real estate proposals. The Mary Whalen’s fan base grows, but few people seem to understand that it is a hub, a place, that PortSide is trying to be, not a ship project, and certainly not a conventional historic ship project (much as we now love the Mary Whalen).

So… once there were August rumblings that Atlantic Basin was being replanned and that the EDC might be interested in our putting our proposed maritime hub in there (which seems the perfect fulfillment of their own 2008 Maritime Support Services Inventory Study), PortSide has been busy networking about Atlantic Basin, creating program concepts, analyzing how much of what we proposed in 2005 could work in another space, thinking how to combine cultural programs and port operations in that space.

Now that there’s a Stabbert deadline, I shift my energies to finding an interim Seattle storage space so that PortSide can leave this whole engine thing alone for a while and focus on the New Yorker mantra “location location location.”

K-Sea agrees to store the parts in their Seattle yard. They are just across the ship canal from Stabbert.


I convey to Stabbert that their bill is tough for PortSide to pay right now, can we discuss an installment payment plan. I offer to get the parts out of their way and held by a third party (K-Sea) til we work this out?

They write back “up to my eyeballs in alligators right now with issues but you have my promise we will not toss the parts you need and will work out a satisfactory arrangement. “

Stabbert is really being great.

Tanker engine parts - First week of October, 2008

I send and email to a shipbuilding history website and ask for Ked history. I hear back from Tim Colton of Maritime Business Strategies, LLC in Delray Beach FL.

“According to the USCG, the Ked was formerly the Fletcher J and was built by Bushey in 1945, not 1943 or 1944. If so, that narrows it down a bit: it almost has to be either 583 or 585. Did you ask if there's a builder's plate on the ship?”

I thank him and suggest he amend his Bushey history to get Hornbeck included by changing his site description from “[Bushey] was the parent company of Red Star Towing and was located on Gowanus Creek, in the Red Hook section, at the foot of Court Street: the site is now occupied by the Hess storage terminal” to say “the site is now occupied by the Hess storage terminal and the yard of Hornbeck Towing which moves the Hess product.”

Always trying to raise awareness of the working waterfront!

He changes his website. We continue exchanging emails. The PortSide Whalen family grows.

I send the URL to Gerry Weinstein, this leads to more info on davits.

Carolina: A great site. Looks like Bushey did build tankers before the war so they may have had radial davits. I actually e-mailed him a year ago regarding a photo we found in a Minn. antique shop showing the preparations to side launch one of the water tanker versions. Gerry”

They’ve already been in touch. Small world. Big Whalen family.

Tanker engine parts - Fourth week of September, 2008

The wish list is expanding as we learn more about the Ked. My brother spots some davits. Are they the same as the Whalen’s.

9/26/08, I send out an email blast

“i only have 1 davit of the 4 here.the Ked has two. I'm about to send them this drawing to see if what is out there matches my davit here.

do you guys know if Bushey had a standard davit?the one here is continuous taper with a curve not right angle bend, and has a ball at the end thru which there is an eye bolt.answers requested as fast as you can as the Ked is lying around in pieces.”

Gerry Weinstein, Chairman of General Tools and Mr. Archive, provides the most documentation and detailed responses.

“Detail of YO davits (radial type, probably navy spec.) and Bushey quadrantal tilting type, commercial ones. Gerry”

What?! I think:

“what does "Bushey quadrantal tilting type, commercial" mean? I think this means it is a Bushey standard,... quadrantail I"m guessing means it is is square sided plate, not rounded stock, the tilt i can see ,but what does commercial refer to?

could you call me today so i can ask? I want to get the blog catching up with the data flowing in here.

also are the photo #s corresponding to the Bushey album? have you sent YO#3 and YO#4, or are these frame #s from same boat (looks like it), or just your numbering to me. this YO4 also looks like a ghost what with that leaden grey, no appearance of porthole glass (blank eyes), no sign of life aboard, and the foggy no horizon line in the background.

the Bushey photos break my heart, they look so like the Whalen, save for the YO-4’s rounded stern, and they are such elegant, but robust craft. It pained me to see the photos of the Ked sliced up. it's like seeing the Whalen's sister eviscerated.


“Just to recap. Francis S. Bushey taken just before the end. Definitely a Bushey build because of the hard chine aft. Prewar, post war? Don't know, but it should be in the list. That and the A. H. Dumont outboard (no hard chine) had the quadrantal type that worked off a geared sector and leaned out to launch the boat. Pretty fast, saved a few lives on the Titanic. YO's radial type, much older. Harder to work, slower to launch boats. Same as on Lilac. All the YO photos from the same Bushey album probably produced for the Navy. You'll see rest when things "quiet down" GW

Tanker engine parts - Third week of September, 2008

Information on Bushey tankers and Fairbanks Morse engines began pouring in.

Bobby Mowbray, a K-Sea tug engineer and one of the last engineers on the Whalen but not the guy in the engine room when the crank got damaged, was prompt on phone and email with his answers, but he was on a tug and couldn’t come look at things in the engine room with me.

Stabbert was now ans
wering and sending photos. My brother Antonio Salguero of Coastwise Marine Design made a site visit and was sending photos. The engine plaques were gone. They would have confirmed it the engine was the same model. Without them comparing photos from there to photos from the Whalen and vintage references became important.

Gerry Weinstein, the Chairman of General Tools, and a man obsessed with old steam engines, got very interested in helping save this diesel one. He has created photographic documentation of engines and industrial sites for years, working for the US Army Corps of Engineers and others, and has an extensive
collection The Archive of Industry. He sent photos from Bushey brochures that showed me what an intact FM 37E12 looked like.

The partnering vibe was kumbayah.

The prob was that I’d never even seen a head for the Whalen’s engine before. And we had no engineer on the team as we hadn’t been planning to fix the engine soon. My learning curve was

Folks were patient with email requests like this one
“I see a slight difference in the flange beneath the exhaust, some difference in piping external to the engine block ... but I really cant tell as I have never seen the heads on a 37E12 direct reversing Fairbanks Morse, which is what the Whalen has. Whalen is missing piston, heads, rods and fuel injectors. I'm wondering if the Ked's engine is a slightly newer model of the same engine... I'm wondering if an engineer can tell by looking at attached jpegs or if he knows these engines well enough to know that 37E12's varied slightly over the years... “

Here, take a stab yourself.

Mary Whalen


Bushey gift album for Navy sea trials of new YO’s.

I learned a lot about engines.

In one case, thanks to an email from Pam Hepburn of the tug Pegasus Preservation Project who wrote in response to this jpeg “These are the early/first generation diesels the most distinguishing aspect is that the cylinders are alone - as steam engines-and not part of a block- fantastic.”

Pam really knows her
engine room.