Extreme makeover: Boat edition

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That boat’s got legs!

A historic Red Hook fuel tanker is on its way back to the old neighborhood after a visit with repairmen. And the Mary A. Whalen will return to the Hook next week with a pair of leg-like appendages known in boat circles as “spuds.”

Spuds are 50-foot appendages that extend into the water like pilings, turning the boat into its own dock.

“It’s like an RV boat,” said Carolina Salguero, the director of PortSide NewYork, which will use the souped-up 69-year-old schooner as a floating educational center that could open as soon as this summer.

“It can move, but it can also stay stable at places with no piers, or infrastructure to tie up to.”

The new sea gams are necessary, Salguero said, because of the shortage of traditional piers in the city.

“It’s a structural change that a lot of boats are undergoing because it allows them to dock anywhere in a city with fewer and fewer piers,” she said.

Due south on the Red Hook waterfront, New York Water Taxi also uses spud technology for its yellow taxi ferries.

But while the Whalen is now fit for city life, Salguero hopes that the tanker will eventually be housed in the Hook’s Atlantic Basin, a publicly owned inlet that’s just a ship’s toot away from the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal.

The basin is currently used for storage, but the city wants to transform the area into a South Street Seaport–like tourist attraction with nautical museum, shops and restaurants.

PortSide NewYork has put forward a proposal for a maritime-themed cultural center with the spudded-up Whalen as centerpiece.

“I even told them they wouldn’t have to worry about where she would tie up,” Salguero said. “She’s her own dock now.”

Updated 4:27 pm, July 9, 2018
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