‘Port’ of call! Explore our waterfront past and present aboard an old tanker

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Exercise your sea legs a bit this month and hang out with old tars aboard the Mary A. Whalen, a historic oil tanker in Red Hook.

PortSide New York opens the hatch for some pre-work scuttlebutt and weekend R&R at TankerTime, a standing invitation every Wednesday morning and Sunday evening to come down and interact with Brooklyn’s working waterfront.

TankerTime is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg for PortSide. The boat-based nautical non-profit aims to create a working maritime hub and cultural center at Atlantic Basin in Red Hook through performances, youth programs and boat landings.

“We’re bringing together two things never combined before: the working waterfront with the nouvelle waterfront,” says director Carolina Salguero, a Carroll Gardens native.

By “nouvelle waterfront,” she means the new esplanades, parks and developments along the water. “We need both the land component and the water component.”

Salguero’s vision includes a tugboat dock-and-shop, where crews come ashore and mingle with landlubbers, who in turn revel in the bustling maritime activity.

But for now, as Portside secures permanent residence at the basin, the group does it up with live music, film screenings and historic walking tours. To top the summer off, the tall-ship (read: pirate ship) Gazela docks abreast the Whalen on Aug. 19, bringing with her the Cabaret Red Light, who will perform aboard the 100-year-old barquentine.

The maritime merriment ships out Aug. 25, so get on board to enjoy the music, movies and sea breezes while you can.

TankerTime on the Mary A. Whalen [Pier 11 at Pioneer and Conover streets in Red Hook, (917) 414-0565], Wednesdays, 7-11 am; and Sundays, 5–9 pm until Aug. 25. Free. For info, visit

Updated 5:19 pm, July 9, 2018
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