PortSide opened the MARY A. WHALEN for Sunday of OHNY Weekend. Our ship MARY worked her magic, and so did our ship cat Chiclet who was a magnet in her own right. Our "Salty Selfies" photo station provided great souvenir moments. We believe in having fun while learning maritime history! If you missed this, come enjoy the main deck for #TankerTime!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.
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!
In between bouts of snow shoveling (will it ever end?!) we have been beavering away on the galley renovation.
As happens with renovating old things, the project got bigger as our work uncovered hidden problems which we will then fix. Thanks to this project, the MARY A. WHALEN will be stronger as well as better looking!
As also happens with an educational institution like PortSide, renovation has strong components of historical research and becomes a program, an opportunity to teach you the reader, our December volunteer, and even us!
If you are joining the story here, this galley project kicked off when someone got in touch out of the blue to volunteer 40+ hours a week throughout December. That hero was Erika Stetson, an Air Force vet who was going to benefit by getting a crash course in ship maintenance to better prepare her for entering SUNY Maritime College in January.
Working with Erika had a double benefit for PortSide NewYork: it enabled us to fulfill our mission to use the MARY A. WHALEN for maritime training AND get a lot of renovation done.
According to Erika her stint with us helped her! In early January she emailed to say “I was named the honor cadet (top cadet) in my section. I also got chosen for a program with only 18 spots. It allows me to live aboard the ship full time as well as work aboard for about 20 hours per week. This gives me the chance to get a lot more shipwork experience on my resume over the next three years, a lot more mentorship from the mates, and eliminates my housing costs.” She feels that getting familiar with air tools and the like aboard Mary Whalen probably helped her application for the berthing.
Painting is about to start. We could use volunteers! Get in touch if you want to help.
Erika Stetson was a December powerhouse of paint removal with HEAVY of work on chipping hammer and needlegun. She was joined over the Christmas holidays by Steve Swift, the ex-Engineer of ERNESTINA who helped us stabilize the Sandy damage to our replacement engine parts over Christmas 2012. Thank you, Steve, two years running!
Peter Rothenberg and others followed up with grinders. All paint has come off the rudder post, the exterior of the cabinets and the steel bulkhead by the stove, the skylight area, overhead beams and other spots.
The plate rack and two shelves were removed for stripping at East End Wood Strippers (recently of Union Street in Gowanus) who are donating their labor to this project.
As paint layers came off, we are tryig to suss out the original color scheme. Amidst many layers of paint, we find a soft apple green (a 1930s hue revived by Martha Stewart) on the bulkheads wrapping around the curve of the space. The color matches a vintage teapot (at right) donated to us by John Weaver, son-in-law of MARY A. WHALEN Captain Alf Dryland. The cabinets under sink and counter were always white, as was the rudder post and the overhead. The forward bulkhead near the stove went through many colors, and we find the green by the stove. It was always white underneath the skylight, with the white there helping to bounce the sunlight into the space.
After Erika, Peter Rothenberg and the CUNY crew went after the detail work
We gave ourselves a lull in dust-production between the needle gunning and the sanding. Three of our four CUNY Service Corps students Joshua Washington, Trevor Colliton and Chris Zoupanitiotis stepped in to handle the delicate job of stripping paint off the Monel metal and the tiles on the floor with chemical stripper. They never worked in the dust. The fourth "CUNY" Renee Fayzimatova was off during January break.
The "CUNYs" were reversing the work of someone crazy for painting back in the day – some black floor tile was painted black and much of the decorative metal was painted-- the Monel porthole surrounds, plate rack and stove hood. Getting the paint off the bronze portholes is very hard by hand, so the plan is to remove them completely and take them to the Paint Strippers Company along with the shelves.
Needle gunning inside the cabinets exposed a weakness related to MARY’s good looks.
The sides of the MARY’s house lean slightly inward which gives her lines greater grace; but that means that if portholes are not closed perfectly tight, the water running down the outside of the ship will run right into the boat.
What that means is rust from the inside. As someone said “these old boats rot from the inside out.” Add to that sink leaks (but not our watch!) which evaporated near the hot galley stove and condensed over by the rudder post. The galley cabinets had no air holes, so the space became a humid terrarium with cycles of evaporation and condensation. (We will be installing cabinet vents on the sides where they will not change the look of the space.)
As a result of 75 years of the "terrarium effect," we found wasted steel: Carolina Salguero holed the exterior steel while needle gunning (though well above the waterline!), and Erika went through some of the cabinet steel near the sink.
Thanks to the wonders of the wonders of pricey Splash Zone epoxy, metal screen and self tapping screws and Paul Amico cramming himself into the small cabinet, small patches were screwed to fill the holes, with the patches to be finished off with Marine Tex epoxy. Corroseal or Ospho (more pricey stuff, time to donate, Dear Reader) rust converter stops the rust dead before we repaint.
At one point, Paul couldn’t back out from under the sink and had to pull himself around through most of the cabinets! That show (below) really fascinated Chiclet who comes in to inspect whenever power tools are not running.
We also learned are that the cabinet drawers are probably not original, thanks to Paul Amico who explains,
"The existing galley drawers are fabricated from electrogalvanized sheet metal. This process was in its commercial infancy in the 1930's and wasn't truly perfected until the 1960's. It is commonly used in duct work and rarely used where it would have abrasive contact of any sort, such as where drawers rub on the rails. This contact would wear out the thin protective film of zinc which would nullify its true intention. That, along with the fact that I haven't witnessed any other electrogalvanized metal on board, leads me to believe these are not original."
We presume the first drawers rusted out (leaks from the counter and portholes), and we're sure the current cabinet hardware is not original. Once the cabinet paint was removed, we found the holes and marks of earlier hardware and are looking for 1930s latches that resemble the pattern of the holes.
Conferring with the helpful folks on the tugboatinformation group of Facebook, which includes several former crew members of the MARY WHALEN or their sons, we think we have determined that one wood shelf held a large fan, and that another fan was bolted to the forward bulkhead right underneath the skylight.
We’ll be looking for vintage fans to fit those footprints left behind in decades of paint. We have also acquired some 1930 kitchen implements, appliances and housewares ads to give a sense of shipboard cooking at the time the MARY was launched.
A fun and easy way to support the educational end of this project
A fun way to get involved is to buy original 1930s ads for food, appliances, housewares and kitchens on eBay for us. Plenty of them only cost around $10! Search "1930s kitchen"' for starters. To give you an idea, we have ads for Brillo, Land-O-Lakes butter and a few more. We would display the collection of ads in a binder during tours of the ship. We have found that the galley is of great interest to people; and the fact that we have the original cast iron stove (and use it) and a wood paneled fridge and freezer, make the galley a good place for explaining food, dietary and domestic history. We would also welcome more 1930s kitchenware and appliances, but please get in touch before you get any of those so we don't have redundancies!
Note: This blogpost lags about two weeks behind the work accomplished. Stay tuned for more!
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.