Where Boats Go When They Die

Images From (mostly) the Staten Island Boat Graveyard

A watery grave…a cliché if ever there was one, but no less apt.

I first discovered this place on a failed attempt, over the course of two days, to circumnavigate Staten Island in an open rowboat with several friends from the Village Community Boathouse.

We had set out from Pier 40 in Manhattan, camped overnight on Richmond, and were forced back by contrary winds on our second day.

I was so captivated by the site of these abandoned ships, I could barely man my oar.

Over the course of several years I’ve been photographing these wrecks, from land, water and air.

Every vessel is lying in the mud of the Arthur Kill, the waterway that separates Staten Island from New Jersey.

I shoot them on black and white film with my Hasselblad, hence the square format of each image.

I then make a black and white print in the darkroom (yes!- they still exist!), and apply oil paint to it.

It is what color photography was before color film, and what color photography was when these ships were in service.

It is the best way for me to pay homage to the long gone crews and passengers that once strode their decks.