Monday, December 8, 2008

On the Waterfront

The Mary A. Whalen is an oil tanker built by Mathis Shipyard in Camden, NJ in 1938, 172', 613 gross tonnage. She operated out of the port of New York between 1938 and 1994, plying her trade between Maryland and Maine along the Atlantic Seaboard.  This Saturday her 70th birthday was celebrated in Red Hook, Brooklyn NY, where she now resides and serves as home and ambassador to the waterfront advocacy group PortSide New York.  


Perched beneath the pink beret is Carolina Saliguero, Director of PortSide NewYork. And the waterfront in Red Hook, and New York, could hope for no more potent advocate. You can read her testimony before various governmental councils and committees here.


Mary's galley was warm, cosy and inviting, a refuge from the bitter cold outside. In spite of the weather, about 500 hardy souls showed up for the celebration.


Port Berth, just below the wheelhouse

That's Will Van Dorp, who writes about and photographs New York's harbours and waterborne community on his waterblog tugster.

We knew the party was about to break up when tug Pegasus departed with a crew of revelers who had come over from Manhatten (?).

German transplant to NYC Stefan Falke captured this stunning image of the Mary A Whalen being sandblasted at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He's an (exceptional) photographer and has a weblog here.

Last Saturday I kidnapped my brother John who lives in Philadelphia and we drove to Red Hook, Brooklyn, NYC, Pier 11 at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. On a whim I'd decided to do a spur of the moment road trip to join in a celebration of a 70th. birthday. The Mary A Whalen was turning 70.  John is at present a sort of journeyman archivist and had recently surveyed the collections at the Independence Seaport Museum and was very familiar with the Mathis Shipyard of Camden, NJ, who had built the Mary A.
An interesting crowd had gathered, braving the somewhat raw weather, to join PortSide New York and celebrate this ship and more importantly, the work of founder and director of this not for profit waterfront advocacy organization, Carolina Saliguero.
Carolina is a pugnacious visionary. Or at least that's my impression based on a very brief meeting. But it seems to also be the observation of photographer Stefan Falke, who occasionally meets folks who are " following a goal with amazing determination", as he puts it. He counts Carolina as one of these.
In a way she was born to it. Her uncle is Ross Gannon, co-founder of Gannon Benjamin. Carolina has been involved with boats and the water most of her life, rowing, sailing, paddling Kayak and power boating. So she has an understanding based on experience. She's currently deeply involved in the urban planning issues facing New York City's harbors and waterfront, as well as those of NJ. I will write about those issues and the vision Carolina has for the revitalization of these waterfronts in the future, after I've had a chance to speak to her at length. For now I'd like to leave you with a proclamation read out at the ceremonies by Roberta Weisbord,  in that great gusto political convention style, for the Working Harbor Committee:

Proclamation for the Seventieth Birthday of the Mary Whalen


by the Working Harbor Committee


Whereas the Mary Whalen has worked in harbors delivering petroleum products along the coast from Maine to Maryland, including New York harbor during most of her life from 1938 to 1994; and


Whereas the Mary Whalen now looks forward to her new life supporting the educational mission of Portside New York; and


Whereas the mission of the Working Harbor Committee is to educate the public about the working harbor by direct contact with the working harbor by tours on the water and visits to classrooms, by speakers who are themselves working directly in the working harbor; and


Whereas Portside New York is today DEC 6 hosting the 70th birthday of the Mary Whalen that grand dame who spent a lifetime of working the coast and now looks forward to introducing residents of the harbor metropolitan area about the nitty gritty of how the harbor has worked and is working for the betterment of the citizens of the greater New York-New Jersey area, center of the known world;


Now therefore we of the Working Harbor Committee declare rousing good wishes and reach out to all in good fellowship for the birthday and rebirth of the Mary Whalen!

Needless to say it was a great day for John and I, PortSide NY. and the Mary A. Stay tuned as I will dig into the political and planning issues in the near future. Visit the website and Mary A Whalens weblog as well as Carolina's weblog here. You'll find rust and diamonds.


will said...

rust and diamonds . . . nice post and cool quote at the end. i enjoyed meeting you, the other day.

bonnie said...

Oh, I am SO glad I stopped by - Sheila? Where did I get Sheila? That was Roberta I was calling Sheila. I still don't know why I didn't get out the pad & pen I'd specifically stuck in my backpack, knowing that I'd never remember the speakers' names. I think I was just so excited about going for a 1907 tugboat ride that I wasn't thinking straight!

bonnie said...

It was a fun day, wasn't it?

bonnie said...

And that was a nice galley, wasn't it?

Thomas Armstrong said...

thanks will and bonnie, I love getting comments. bonnie, I ve told will how much I like his blog, but I'll say the same of your, but in a much different way. replies to your comments are: probably,
yes, really!
yes , really
very inviting
bonnie, can you send me an email as I may have some questions for re: a series I'll be starting on kayak.

will, stay in touch.
Don't know where you guys live but I thought Red Hook was pretty interesting.