Progress! MARY WHALEN before+after photos

Pier 9B
Posted by Carolina Salguero

This post is still under construction. Some more photos coming soon!

Looking something up in our files, I happened upon an old photo of the MARY WHALEN's bow as it looked before her haul out by GMD in January-February 2007, when this blog began. The photo of her bow looking so nasty really drove home how much work has been done around here. So for encouragement's sake, here is a series of before-and-after photos.

Fall 2006, before shipyard. Note that the anchor cannot be raised and is tied off with a line, and many fenders have been burned off leaving her bow snaggle-toothed with weldments. Weldments are not a Altoid product, they are the vestiges of where things were once welded.

2007 after shipyard.  The spirket place (Charlie Deroko introduced me to that term) was repainted white based on old photos of the tanker.  Charlie even forwarded a poem using the term spirket.

2005 before purchase, she was literally in the weeds in Erie Basin. The eagle on the front of the house is not original. That was a gift to Hughes Brothers and they removed it and kept it before selling the boat.

2008, after most of the house was repainted

Main deck and boom, 2005 before purchase.  In the midst of all that deck clutter was a marine toilet, possibly one removed from the boat.  Lying on deck to the right of the photo is a spud that is for sale at time of writing.
2011 Main deck and boom in final stages of refurbishing said post as reported in blog post about shipwork and pizza

2006 galley

2009 galley

2006 Captain's Cabin
2008 Captain's Cabin

wheelhouse before purchase 2005

Wheelhouse 2011

1/12/2008 First time her house lights were working since acquisition. Thank you Ed Fanuzzi for that work!

One loss:  The brass builder's plaque was was stolen from front of the house before the boat was purchased.   
(So was a vintage safety sign from the fidley; we have no photos of that)
Here is the plaque in April 2005.   

Reward for retun of the plaque; no questions asked!  

The MARY A. WHALEN began life as the S.T. KIDDOO, named for Solomon Thomas Kiddoo, then the Treasurer of Fairbanks Morse. Ira S. Bushey & Sons who had the tanker built, distributed Fairbanks Morse engine parts, and this boat has one of their engines.

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!

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.

It takes a village to fix a vintage tanker engine - part 1

Here’s the sticky wicket about blogging.

Often you can’t write about things in real time because to do so could affect the course of events, in ways you can’t foresee, so sometimes you have to just sit on things. Voila, the case of the tanker engine parts and the Bushey tankers Ked and Mary Whalen. The story from September through February will now come out in installments. Yes, I kept all emails and good notes. The posts are mostly all written.

Tanker engine parts - The first week of September, 2008:

Thanks to a tip from Bernie Ente, I learned that another Bushey tanker was being scrapped oh so far away in Seattle, and I made a play for parts. Engine parts, davits, interior cabinetry and brass fittings. Several Whalen cabins were gutted when she was in Erie Basin being an office and one day, we’d like to restore bunks, hanging lockers n such. Right now we need those spaces for offices, but once we have a base ashore, we can get that stuff off the boat and restore more.

Anyway, first answer out of Stabbert Shipyard in Seattle was a lot of silence.

I looked at their website and saw that one line of their business was turning old workboats into luxury yachts. Was this what they would do with Ked, I wondered, and so wouldn’t want to give stuff away? Were they really scrapping the Ked? If so, it certainly would seem preposterous to a scrapper to get a call from across the continent, from a non-profit, and I suspect, from a woman, looking for parts to save an old tanker. No one saves tankers! Tugs maybe; yachts surely, but tankers don’t have Enthusiast Societies, yet.

What to do? Here my old skills as a journalist, a foreign correspondent of the pre-digital era were useful. I did most of my work overseas in a career that ran from opening of Berlin Wall to 9/11 in countries that often didn’t have decent phone systems (or had phones systems with the government listening in). The way you got information was social. You saved every name and number you ever got, you horded them, you kept them in handwritten notebooks; and these names and numbers were exchanged with select (friendly) journalists coming and going to the same countries. This is a segue to a little rant of mine: I’ve noticed that 20-somethings who come to work at PortSide are conversant with web and digital connections but less good at reaching people to solve a problem. Once they’ve googled or filled out the web contact form, they’re done; and when that isn’t working/doesn’t net the solution, it’s often hard to get them to get on the phone, to reach out and touch someone; and most to the point, they don’t seem good at recruiting a person to the cause to help solve the problem at hand. It makes me appreciate being middle-aged and having experienced the world before email, web, and customer service in India.

But back to the Ked parts... I began reaching out. When PortSide was creating its business plan, a Capt. Kris Lindberg out of Seattle had worked for us. He did a raft of things and headed all the market research on the charter and excursion boats in NYC and determined which would be interested in coming to our proposed Maritime Hub. He was getting a Masters in planning at the time and thinking desk job after years of running boats from Seattle to Alaska. After graduating from NYU in 2005, he returned to Seattle. I called.

Turns out Kris knew the Ked well. He had not got a desk job after all and was doing environmental ops for Global Diving & Salvage Inc., and had been on the Ked just months before. Global did the abatement work on the Ked, and had bid on the scrapping job and lost to Stabbert.

I called K-Sea in NY, knowing they had bought a Seattle tugboat company. Could their Seattle folks could see if the Ked was still afloat… Answer: yes.

I called the Washington State Dept of Natural Resources, Derelict Vessel Division to see if they could find a way to help. I had no idea what their contract to Stabbert allowed or mandated, but surely scrappers worked with eye on the clock and wanted no delays. Could they facilitate? Melissa Montgomery said “Yes, we’d love to.”

I got my brother Antonio Salguero of Coastwise Marine Design, on the phone. He’s worked a range of marine jobs near Seattle (fishing boats in Alaska, shipwright at Port Townsend’s shipwright’s co-op, freelance yacht designer and shipwright). Could he come down from Port Townsend to Seattle to visit the Ked and assess? Yes.

On the eastern front, I started calling folks to learn more about the Whalen’s engine, what had failed, what was fixable, what other Bushey tankers had for engines as a way to determine what this thing in the Ked might be, even what this Ked was originally called to learn more about her. I asked about alternative sources for parts because schlepping things from Seattle looked expensive on the transpo alone… and the logistics of cross-continent research were going to be challenging.

All that hadn’t been done earlier, because, honestly, the planning team did not see the engine as an immediate priority. The Whalen can deliver a lot of programming as a dead ship. We came to her as the cheap alternative to a spud barge, a means to a docking end, making her go was not the plan. Admittedly, our thinking was evolving since we learned some things during ship tours.

What we learned was that the engine room was the 2nd most popular place on the boat. Galley first, engine room second. The wheelhouse, to our surprise, was definitely third. We had considered yanking out the whole old engine (down the road) to give us more space, and then we listened to the public. As Tim Ventimiglia, our museum designer, put it “I thought the boat and engine room would really appeal to middle-aged men, but that is not what is happening.”

I remember the day the Whalen’s engine room cured a woman. I was leading a tour of 15. As we approached the engine room stairs, a woman said “’oh no.”

“What’s the matter,” I asked?

“I’m claustrophic.”

I said “here’s what we’ll do. I’ll hold the group back, you go down there, and if you feel uncomfortable, you can rocket right back up those stairs, and no one will be in your way.”

She went down the stairs. Silence.

“Are you all right?” I yelled.

Then came the answer “WOW.”

I told the group to stay on the fidley and went down. “You OK?”

“This is amazing.” And there she stayed, so excited by the engine that she wasn’t claustrophic and was able to have a crowd of 14 join her for a 20 minute stay down there.

So we learned over tours large and small that because the engine room captivated, it created a way to discuss mechanical and infrastructure topics you would think were too dry for the public: the dated peculiarities of a bell boat system and a direct-reversing engine and what that meant for ship staffing, shaft generators and how the ship created and stored its own power. Even the marine composting toilet system interested people. Not to mention the thrills the engine room brings to kids. For them, it is the best of cave, tree fort and space ship.

The looming, antique lump of the engine had a powerful voice; and so, when engine parts seemed available, I thought we should try for them. They might not get installed for years, but if we started looking for them years from now, they surely wouldn’t exist. With the price of scrap steel high, old boats were being scrapped pell mell; and old marine businesses all over the country were being pushed out by gentrification, so repair places with old parts were on the wane.

And so, as inconvenient as the timing of the Ked’s demise was for PortSide’s autumn plans, I went for it and redoubled my efforts on the phone.

Can the Ked help the Whalen?

My how small the world can get! Thanks to the indefatigable maritime reader-photographer-emailer Bernie Ente, I got a link on September 1 from a west coast newspaper saying there was a Bushey tanker headed for scrap. The Ked is a bit younger (if the story has her age right) and shorter than the Whalen but is unmistakenly a Bushey boat. (photo from Kitsap Sun)

September 2, I got in touch with the Seattle yard handling the scrap job Stabbert Maritime to discuss the possibility of engine parts or anything else we need. (They have an interesting line of work in converting workboats to yachts and produce some posh stuff.) And yesterday I had an encouraging call with Melissa Montgomery, the Washington State official in charge of their state Derelict Vessel Removal Program who gave the shipyard the contract. Her tone was one of “we’d love to help.”

During the PortSide business plan process, we had a young captain working p/t for us while he was getting his Master’s degree in planning. He’s back out in Seattle and I gave him a call. He knows the Ked; she’d been grounded in Bremerton for years. He’d been aboard earlier this year, and he encouraged me to try for a shot at Ked parts and photos of the interior. I’ve also spoken to some people on the water in Seattle who can see how the work progresses. Looks like there is still time to get at that engine!

It’s sad to see another Bushey boat go, but we’re hoping the Ked can help save the Whalen. The Ked has two davits on the boat deck (we are missing 3) and also has a Fairbanks Morse engine. We don’t know what type of engine yet; I’m hoping it’s a 37E12! Standing by!