Thursday, December 04, 2008

We're All Invited to a 70th Birthday Bash!

The Mary Whalen, before she was the Mary Whalen. Picture most egregiously swiped from PortSide New York's history of the guest of honor.

And as long as I'm lifting content, I'll just copy in the invitation here:

Celebrate the 70th birthday
of the tanker MARY WHALEN!

Home of the non-profit PortSide NY

on Pier 11, Atlantic Basin(next to the Red Hook Cruise Terminal)40˚ 40’ 51”N 74˚ 00’ 46”W
Sat 12/6/08 11-5pmRain Date Sun 12/7/08 11-5pm
If it rains, the whole weekend,we try for next Sat 12/13, with rain date of Sun 12/14

Free cake, music and tours of the Whalen!

Open house tours all day long
2pm Heightened Hooplah with Ceremony & Birthday Proclamation, Remarks & Special Thank-You's

Master of Ceremonies Jonathan Atkin, maritime photographer, aka Shipshooter
See visiting tugs and workboats that come to the party!

For more information, visit PortSide New York's Invitation Page.

A note for any paddlers who might be thinking of paddling there, courtesy of Tim (of the Message in a Bottle Project, the Downtown Boathouse, and the Red Hook Boaters (hence his knowledge of the inside scooop here) -

So you know how us kayakers always want to go places in our kayaks? Well, this time it miiiiight be easier to take the bus, here's what Tim had to say:

...a number of people were talking about trying to organize a paddling trip down, or up to the event.

You may NOT paddle to the cruise ship terminal, or into the Atlantic Basin, instead you need to land a few blocks away at Valentino Park. If you look on the map on the invite link the landing spot at Valentino is at the end of Coffey St., where it meets the water. There won't be anyone to watch your boats, but if you bring your paddle with you they should be ok for a little while.

Please don't try and paddle up to the ship because it might cause a problem with the harbor police or Coast Guard and give kayakers bad press.

The PortSide folks are working on allowing kayaking to the ship for future events, but we need to be patient...

Which leads me to mention - one of the neat things about this party is that the Atlantic Basin is generally NOT generally open to the public. In fact, the invitation specifically says: "Come to the first public event in Atlantic Basin!"

So this is a really unique chance, courtesy of PortSide New York, to get a good up-close look at some of New York's real working waterfront - the one most of us don't really get to see a whole lot of.

I never managed to finish Part 2 of the Waterfront Conference report - I actually got more points about things I'd learned into my Part 1 report on the morning boat ride than I expected to, but I haven't quite given up on Part 2. The afternoon involved plenary sessions, with panels of highly qualified people speaking on a number of different topics. I chose 2 that were either diametrically opposed, or perfect complements, or POSSIBLY both - my first was Waterfront Works - Part 1: Growing Maritime Use; my 2nd, Green Harbor - Part 2: Paying for a Healthier Harbor (which actually ended up being mostly Paying for Great Waterfront Parks, which was RIGHT up my alley). Now, I'm not going to do the full writeup now - but this party being the first ever public event in the Atlantic Basin reminded me of one thought that occured to me during the first session, when the panelists were talking about how little public awareness there is that NY's maritime industry IS growing at a healthy rate.

The thing is, I think it's really easy for your average, non water-obsessed New Yorker to completely not realize how much activity there is. Even the water-obsessed sort (like me) may underestimate - for the simple reason that we just don't see a lot of it. Seems like the industrial sections seem to exist in pockets (for fairly straightforward reasons, like it being much more economical to have all your workboat services in one place), and those concentrations, not surprisingly, don't tend to be in the more residential areas (unless the residential areas start flowing towards them & blending in, which is what's happening in Red Hook - and trying to help make that blending work for everyone involved is, I believe, PortSide NY's entire raison d'etre).

Brooklyn Heights residents, for example, may go out for a walk or a jog or to air out their dog on the promenade every day; their entire view of the waterfront is a park at the north end, and a bunch of unused warehouses being turned into park at the south end. They can see the loading cranes of Red Hook, but they may never realize just how much work is going on over there, just a mile or two south!

Me, I'll never forget seeing Staten Island's "Tugboat Alley" for the first time, on a circumnavigation of Staten Island I joined back in my Pier 63 days - I see those tugs and workboats out there all the time, but do you know, it never crossed my mind that there was a place all those tugboats go back to at the end of their work?

I know. Duh. But there you have it. I just never thought about it, and then there it was, the place the tugboats go to sleep (and be fueled & provisioned & manned & maintained).

And it was pretty darned cool seeing it.

I think the Atlantic Basin will be a similarly pretty darned cool, and unusual, and interesting place to visit. And you don't even need a boat to get to this one!

Have camera, will travel!

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