Archive for November, 2010

There is still time to register for the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance’s 2010 Waterfront Conference. This full-day event includes not one but two boat tours of New York Harbor and brings together representatives from government, educational, non-profit, and private entities to discuss various aspects of the future of our waterfront. Discussion topics include the reintroduction of oysters to our waters, how to attract more recreational boaters, how to fund waterfront projects, getting kids on and in the water, and more.

Click the picture to go to MWA’s website for more information and to register. See you at the conference!

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I may be jumping on the “Save the Olympia” bandwagon a bit late, but here’s one more voice raised in the ship’s defense.

The Olympia alongside the W.W. II sub Becuna

The Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia is the current home of the cruiser Olympia, Admiral Dewey’s flagship during the Battle of Manila Bay, May 1, 1898. She is the oldest steel warship still afloat and the last surviving naval vessel from the Spanish-American War.

Photo by Y (my son)


The Olympia is a National Historic Landmark and a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. And she is also in need of major repairs and restoration. Current estimates are that without these repairs Olympia could sink at her dock within three years. The Friends of the Cruiser Olympia website has a plan to save the ship, and information about the Independence Seaport Museum’s past, present, and future restoration efforts is here. The museum was going to close the Olympia to the public as of November 22, but on November 18 they announced that the ship will stay open on a reduced schedule.

A few weeks ago Karen, the kids, and I went down to Philly to see the Olympia before she was closed. My former college roommate Jesse Lebovics is the museum’s historic ships manager, and he gave us an amazing behind-the-scenes tour of the Olympia. My son and I took nearly 300 pictures, desperately trying to document every inch of the boat. Here is a small sample that shows what we stand to lose if the ship is scrapped or sunk as an artificial reef (two possible outcomes if restoration is not completed).

The public part of the ship is well marked. Follow the arrows and you won’t get lost:

Photo by Y

The Olympia was built by the Union Iron Works in San Francisco:

This is where the officers ate:


The crew ate and slept here:


Meals were prepared in the galley:


The Olympia is so big it’s hard to take in all at once. It’s easier to focus on details, like this remote control for a valve to flood the magazines:


Or this engine to hoist buckets full of ash from the lower decks:


But even some of the details are pretty big, like these pistons:

The coal ovens for the boilers:

And the main engine:


This is where Admiral Dewey hung out when not telling Gridley to fire when ready:


Like any good boat, Olympia was designed with redundant systems. (If the engines were out of service, she had sails for backup.) There are three different places where the ship could be steered. Here’s the forward wheelhouse:


Photo by Y

One level below is an armored conning tower with another helm, and aft there is an auxiliary helm:


Engine commands were sent from the wheelhouse to the engine room on this telegraph:

Photo by Y


This indicator showed the helmsman the rudder position:


A view along the deck:


And the ship’s bell:


After our tour of the ship we headed to the City Tavern (established 1773). Here you can get beers brewed using the recipes of (left to right) George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton:

Photo by Karen


For more pictures of the Olympia, please visit tugster and Frogma.

All photos by Brian, except where noted.

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The Hudson River Park Trust recently announced the opening of Pier 25 at North Moore Street. It is the longest pier in Hudson River Park, and according to the park’s website these amenities are now open:

  • Skatepark
  • Playground
  • Esplanade and seating areas
  • Synthetic turf field
  • Viewing scopes

And these will open in Spring 2011:

  • MiniGolf
  • Sand volleyball
  • Community dock
  • Historic ships
  • Refreshments
  • Watertaxi
  • Mooring field
  • Comfort station

Wait a minute! Does that say “community dock”? Why, yes it does! Pier 25 will have a real town dock.

The Hudson River Park Trust is still working out some operational issues regarding boats at the pier, but Noreen Doyle, the trust’s executive vice president, told me that “the town dock measures 360 feet in length,” and beginning in the spring “it will serve a combination of transient boat users and customers of the mooring field, which will also be located to the south of Pier 25.”

Karen and I were very excited to hear this news. We look forward to visiting the pier with Puffin next year, and we applaud the Hudson River Park Trust for giving recreational boaters a town dock in lower Manhattan.

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We are very pleased to announce that A Movable Bridge has partnered with the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance to help make their vision a reality. Through the work of MWA and its Alliance Partners, the waters of New York Harbor will become cleaner and more accessible to a wide range of users, from recreational boats to ferries, tugboats to canoes and kayaks, those who swim to those who fish. Residents and visitors to the area will no longer be cut off from the waterfront and the water but will find numerous opportunities to use the water for fun and for transportation.

Click the picture to go to our profile on the MWA website.

And here are two reminders about upcoming events:

1) The deadline for public comment on the New York City Department of Planning’s draft recommendations for the comprehensive waterfront plan is 5:00 p.m. on November 12. Go here to read the recommendations and here to submit your comments.

2) MWA’s 2010 Waterfront Conference is November 30. Click here for more information and to register.

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Here’s a close-up look at another vessel at work in New York Harbor, the schooner Pioneer, owned and operated by the Seaport Museum New York (formerly the South Street Seaport Museum).

This is the block at the end of the fore boom. The line running through is the foresheet, which is used to control the angle of the sail with respect to the wind.


These are the mast hoops. The hoops go around the mast, and the sail is attached to the hoops.


This hook is attached to a block, part of the preventer tackle. It’s used when sailing downwind to prevent the boom from swinging from one side of the boat to the other.


And this is some decorative ropework at the base of the fore traveler.


Pioneer‘s season is over, but come spring you’ll be able to sail on her.

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