A slow Saturday

Saturday 1/27/07

The crew has withered even more. Yesterday’s 9 degree day followed by a Friday night makes for a nearly abandoned yard on Saturday. Even Machine doesn’t show up. Ernie is here, and so is Freddy, forever burning steel bits off the hull, but hardly anyone else.

Brunch is brought by Tim Ventimiglia, our museum designer, and his wife Elaina Ganim, an artist, archivist, text editor and fiction writer, their four legged sidekick Mila. With them are Mia Beurskens, a graphic designer who has been involved with PortSide, and her boyfriend.

Boyfriend John Gladsky, with his diesel mechanic Capt. Frank Persico, make a surprise appearance. We all have lunch in the galley. Frank runs a dive boat on the weekends and used to work on a ta
nker much like the Whalen and regales with tales.

Though Tim has spent lots of time on the Whalen, he’s wowed by her out of the water. Part of the jolt, I'm sure, comes from feeling that plans, talk, visioning are now becoming solid as the hull gets whipped into shape; but Tim also has an appreciation of steel fabrication. His artist father John worked as a welder in Maine shipyards before getting a position teaching art, sculpture, design and drawing at the Maine College of Art.

After the guests admire the Whalen hull and the granite dock, I propose we go see the caisson. Gladsky is not interested in the junket. No, I’ve seen the caisson, I salvaged it once.” John’s line of work is heavy lift marine salvage. He picks up big things that sink, and workboats and harbor infrastructure sink more than one would imagine. John’s parting comment is to point out the muzzle of a buried cannon serving as a bollard. These cannons, Civil War surplus, dot this place -- reminders of how much history there is to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and how casually it has been treated.

There is such a meager yard crew to monitor that Ernie has time for tourism. He joins us visiting the caisson and the dock pumproom, a subterranean brick cylinder that houses the original 1851 pumps, now electrified. The dock is working on only one pump as one of the two tunnels is clogged. Ernie has plans to clean it out somehow.

Mia volunteers to select a font for the Whalen’s name. The last one was scrunched between fenders that took up a lot of space on the bow. Those are long gone, and Freddy has been washing off the remains of what held them in place, and the bow looks much cleaner. I’ve decided to return the bow paint job and name placement to what is likely the original position -- based on a photo of the S.T. Kiddoo, the Mary Whalen’s original name. Charlie Deroko tells me that "spirket plate" (“Amaze your friends and fool your enemies with that one”) is the name for the panel now repainted white. Spirket Plate?! I’ve never heard the term before and resolve to Google the word one night when I have nothing to do, should such a moment arise.

So… the work report being light this day, there’s more space for photos from the week.

Aft draft numbers are elongated so they read correctly when seen from above (from the dock or waterlevel) and looking down the concave shape of the after end of the boat.

Spent welding rod and blast grit in ice at the bottom of the dock.