What a great weekend to be a Staten Island resident. THREE big festivals to check out; the Maritime Festival at Atlantic Salt, Maifest at Snug Harbor, and Art by the Ferry throughout St. George. I managed to sample all three. But, I want to share the Maritime Festival first.
|The Gazela, adding a 19th century touch to our urban landscape.|
The Gazela, a wooden square-rigger, comes out of Philadelphia. She was built in 1883, part of the Portuguese Cod Fishing Fleet that worked the north Atlantic. She has two small dories on her, which were each used by a single fisherman, pulling long lines baited with many hooks. Basically, if this method was being used all along, there would still be plenty of cod in the Atlantic. The huge drag net method of fishing on motor-powered trawlers that replaced it caused overfishing and did a lot of ecological damage. The Grand Banks had to be closed to fishing in 1992. The Gazela has been repurposed as living history and is associated with the Philadelphia Ship Preservation Guild. Learn more here www.gazela.org.
Friday night was a fundraising event for the Noble Maritime Museum, held down on the Atlantic Salt wharf. Atlantic Salt is an impressive feature in the landscape of my neighborhood. During the winter a massive bucket crane piles salt into a gigantic snowdrift which dwarfs the bulldozer working it. I can hear the engines working throughout the nights during busy times. But, back to the party . . .
The evening started with a tour of the Gazela, docked at the wharf (the ever-present salt mountain covered with a huge tarp), and conversations with the crew.
A good percentage of the crew is female, I was happy to see. We were shown the working parts of the ship (engine room, galley, etc.), but could only glimpse the below-deck areas where the crew lives.
One of the reasons I was so eager to go to the event was the promise of dancing to a live band. Sure enough, a real wooden dance floor had been set up on the gritty (literally) wharf - a good sign - worthy of changing into my dance shoes.
About halfway through the evening a Coast Guard vessel pulled up to dock, its searchlight seeking the right spot. There was quite a crew on board, for a smallish vessel. They seemed to be shy, though, not leaving their posts to join our party.
Hello Sailor! The Coast Guard crew behind me.
This morning, on a day as gray as the day she pulled in, I got up to watch the Gazela set out with the tide. The crew had told me she would be hoisting her sails and I was looking forward to that. I was disappointed in that respect, but she was still a stately sight to behold.