South Street Seaport Museum, the Wavertree

There were almost zero people in the Tiki Bar of the South Street Seaport Museum on a pleasant day in early October. I took this to be a wound in the very body of New York, because who ever heard of a nice place with nice comestibles and no one around? It seems like the people have, indeed, finally gotten out of the City and are telecommuting in from their ranches in Montana or their terraces in the South of France or from real Tiki Bars where it isn’t partly cool already.

I didn’t complain about having two afternoon drinks and no one to either judge me or be sloppy together with. I figure as long as you tip well, you can drink all you like.

The only person around was an Uber Eats driver named Winston charging up his electric bicycle at the dock. Evidently New York has gone quite electric with the bicycles, and an enterprising delivery person can rake in $300 a day. I will remember that for next time I need a job.

You can always make a living in New York, and you can always find cheap groceries and a place to stay. Don’t let them scare you. That is what I have learnt about it.

The first stop in the tourism department was the Tall Ship the Wavertree. I have reported on other tall ships before, namely the Lady Washington, a replica of a brig built in 1775. This is the real deal, however, the last of thirteen steel-hulled tall ships built for Queen Victoria herself in 1885. Imagine her face when she got the news of a hurricane at Cape Horn with 140-mile-an-hour winds that took down all three masts and had Her Majesty’s ship limping to shore, rescued by the locals, who called her “el gran Valero” and loved her. There the Wavertree served as a storage vessel and sand barge until 1968 when she was acquired by New York, towed north, and restored.

I would not like to have been the Cabinet Minister bearing that news. 

Cargo was loaded onto the Wavertree via large holes in the top. The hold was ribbed with what looks like cement between the ribs and not at all like a smooth course for a wheeled cart of any kind.

Hence the requirement of work songs to coordinate the labor. People can do a lot more in rhythmic and often musical coordination than randomly.

Those days are gone, for now, but perhaps sailing ships can make a partial comeback for the transport of goods when the scarcity of petroleum and the damage of global warming entail a shift toward greater sustainability. So recent history should be preserved, and methodologies of sea commerce studied and merged. To ask four men to carry a thousand pounds of cargo is not a welcome return to the past, but the Bernoulli principle in sail deployment used to convey a hundred thousand pounds around the globe is worth revisiting.

© Joann L. Farias 2023