Friday, July 07, 2006

The Empty Vessel Project Turns One: Happy Birthday!!!

The Empty Vessel Project--the revived WWII rescue boat being converted to community use on the Gowanus--celebrates its first birthday on Saturday with a party on the Big G that is certain to rock. The boat is docked on the west side of the canal at the foot of First Street, one block south of Carroll Street Bridge. (Just look for it from the bridge. You can't miss it.)

The Empty Vessel Project provides some birthday background:
8am, July 8, 2005, EV left her previous home on Westchester Creek in the Bronx under her previous moniker, KOKKOMOKO and under the power of one stout grey tug. With no engines to guide her, she was at the mercy of the lines tied taught through her gaping windows and the wits of her bleary-eyes crew.

The tug had the world-weary Francios at its helm. Having just signed away his ownership of the tattered vessel for a dollar, he had made a promise to deliver her safely to her new home on the Gowanus Canal. A fabulous promise and a promising journey with the outbound tide...Our first obstacle was a draw bridge and the mouth of the Westchester Creek. High tide was meant to carry us out, cut down on fuel for the muscle boat and sweep us out to the hudson river with ease. But as we approached the bridge we heard Francios holler, "Are we gonna clear it?" One of our crew scrampled up to the roof of the bridge. "No!"

Lines taught, engine reversed, grinding sound of steel on half-a-century old mohagany. EV and her tug jackknifed in the creek to avoid a collision that would have knocked the bridge off EV's deck. The tug nudged EV sideways to the pilons of the bridge. We tied up and waited. Finally the bridge opened and we were headed south again...Out of the creek, we passed ancient ship wrecks, NYC's floating prison, Roosevelt Island, Manhattan Island, Redhook and finally made it to the mouth of the Gowanus Canal.

July 8, 2005 was a scorcher. 98 in the shade. By the time we arrived at the Gowanus, the temperature had risen past a hundred. The drawbridge operators refused to open the 9th Street bredge for fear that expanded metal would not permit it to close again under such furious temperatures.

We tied up to the Lowe's parking lot and began negotiating. "After the sun goes down?" "Nope - it's gotta cool." "What if we ice it?"

Francios and his crew took off for home as we tried to talk our way up the canal. No luck. EV was doomed to spend her first night in her new incarnation tied up to the Lowe's lot. We slept on her to guard her.
GL wishes the Empty Vessel Project the happiest of birthdays in her new life and in her new home on the Gowanus.

(The photo is from f.trainer, one of our favorite flickr photographers.)

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