Portland’s Enormous New Industrial Shipyard Is Bigger Than Ours

The other day I was corresponding with former Potrero View publisher Lenny Anderson and he mentioned that the Portland shipyard run by Vigor Industrial had “just lifted the first ship in its brand new 960′ dry-dock…said to now be the largest in N. America!”

Grim news for a neighborhood so proud of BAE’s formerly largest floating drydock on the West Coast: we’ve been emasculated!

The Vigorous, at 293 meters (960 feet), is staggeringly large. It’s 19 meters longer than our poor 274.39 meter (900 feet) drydock. You could snugly park three Cadillac Fleetwood 75s in the difference (but you’d never get ‘em out!).

Infographic: as big as three Statues of Liberty

But wait, if you look at the incomplete list of drydocks on Wikipedia, you can see that the Newport News Drydock #12 is clearly the largest drydock in North America, at 675 meters. Following that is Baltimore, Victoria (Canada!), Marinette Wisconin (on Lake Michigan!), Boston, another at Newport News, Brooklyn, two in Philadelphia, Pearl Harbor, Panama, the Bahamas, San Diego, another in the Bahamas, ANOTHER one in Philadelphia, and YET ANOTHER at Newport News.

Finally, we get to the Vigorous, which technically is the largest floating drydock in the country, followed by our drydock, literally called “Drydock #2″. Oh, Baltimore has a bigger floating drydock than us — but they are on the East Coast and, given the second season of the Wire, probably totally mobbed up.

“You want a ship? I can get you a ship.”


A floating drydock is like a ship that opens at one end and can be partially sunk and then raised back up with another ship inside of it. A graving drydock is basically just a big hole into which a ship can be piloted and out of which all of the water can be pumped — and yes, graving refers to a grave. I asked Caitlin Sause of Vigor if she could explain why a floating drydock would be preferable.

Caitlin said:

There are pros and cons for both types of docks; however some of the advantages we see with a floating drydock are: 1. vessels can be transferred to/from shore easily 2. The dock can be operated with trim/list, thus reducing block loads and eliminate vessel stability problems and 3. a steel dock can be easily lengthened/modified to accommodate specific projects.

The first and third points are pretty clear, but the middle one might bear a little explaining. A boat or ship usually has a V-shaped bottom. A shipyard must place appropriate blocks under the ship before pumping out water. With a floating dry dock, you could angle the whole thing to one side (list) or end to end (trim) to get the blocks evenly under the ship.


Our dock comes in behind the Vigorous, but we’ve got nothing to be ashamed of*. We’re now the second largest drydock on the west coast. It’s above average in length! Anyway, it’s not the size of the dock that matters, it’s how the shipyard scrapes the barnacles.

I sent an email over to BAE. Dennis Deisinger, Dir. Business Development, who admitted that the Vigorous was definitely in competition with our old Number Two.

Dennis also said:

We do appreciate the support you ‘Dogpatch-ians’ give the yard. The daily whistles and changing view with each ship that comes by is definitely a part of the neighborhood.

Ain’t nothin’ wrong with tootin’ your own horn, but I could swear that I have heard tell of newly arrived neighbors breaking in and stealing the 150 pound whistle from the shipyard.

Toot toot!

If you believe the PR speak, Vigorous could invigorate the whole US business of shipbuilding.

Caitlin also said:

The arrival of the Vigorous opens the entire west coast up to new customers and more work across all shipyards. Maritime is considered to be an old industry, but we are evolving and revitalizing. Our vision is to prove that America is not a “post-industrial nation,” by building a US-based industrial business that doesn’t merely survive, but thrives. We are looking to provide stable, long-term, family-wage careers for the skilled artisans who build things with their hands. There’s tremendous opportunity ahead and we are working hard to keep those family wage industrial jobs here on the west coast.

Toot toot, indeed!

At 960 feet long, the Vigorous should be able to satisfy the needs of most Panamax ships: if the ship can fit in the old locks of the Panama Canal, it can fit into the Vigorous. The New-Panamax (Post-Panamax?) is slightly larger. Those ships won’t fit in the Vigorous. They also won’t fit in our #2.


So, if our drydock is “Drydock #2″, what was “Drydock #1″?

Aging S.F. dry dock will be China-bound

Awesome! Oh, wait, wasn’t that the drydock that had a body trapped under it?

Body discovered near S.F.’s Pier 50

It’s not clear if they actually recovered and identified the body. Sometimes I think that they should just go ahead and film a season of the Wire in San Francisco.

There are some nice photos of the drydocks on the Pier 70 SF phototour.

Don’t forget that the Third Rail used to be Tom’s Drydock, and I wrote a brief article about it: Tom’s Dry Dock

The Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagasaki Shipyard & Machinery Works has a 990 meter drydock. You can pretty much see it from space.
I’m not saying that I have drydock envy. (maybe I am)

Okay, well, watch some cool drydock videos!

Here’s a video that I filmed while kayaking near the drydock on Pier 70s dime:

Oh yah

Dry Dock 12 Flooded at Newport News Shipbuilding

The MV Blue Marlin carries massive Vigor drydock into Portland

Huge ship, the MV Blue Marlin, transports enormous dry dock

Vigor Industrial’s giant drydock gets first customer

On the other hand, here’s a robot painting a ship in our shipyard, with a suitable soundtrack:

Star Princess in San Francisco Drydock #2 Time Lapse

Time lapse of the SS Jeremiah O’Brien’s arrival at dry dock on January 24, 2012

And the Union Iron Works in 1898:

If you made it this far, you might enjoy this 1981 Report on Survey of U.S. Shipbuilding and Repair Facilities.

* I can’t seem to find a resolution to this lawsuit, the allegations of which are upsetting:
Black Workers From Bay Area Shipyard Allegedly Called ‘Aunt Jemima,’ N-Word Refuse Cash Settlement Requiring Silence

Cuts Rule Everything Around Me

Cream’s Barbershoppe opened in Dogpatch!
2632 Third Street, San Francisco CA

Creams Logo

The other day I got a call from the Barber Lounge telling me that my haircut was cancelled because the shop was closing. WHAT? Then they dropped a second bomb: my barber was opening a new shop on third — not just on third, but 2632 Third: two blocks from my apartment!

A phone call and a couple emails later, I got an appointment scheduled and made my way around the corner to their new shop. Both my regular barber Cornelius and the shop’s owner Christopher “Cream” Eliares were there, talking up a storm and making the unfinished space feel like it had been there for decades.

“The usual,” I said, fantastically happy that I even had a usual.

“How short do you want to go on the sides?” Cornelius asked.


A very short haircut.

I can neither confirm nor deny that I had a beer at one point, but I can mention that they ate up my seemingly endless supply of neighborhood trivia.

The sink was not fully installed and the counter was askew, but I’d wager that both of those things are fixed by now. I did not make note of when their Grand opening will be, but their soft opening was already pretty close to perfect.

Trims to cuts range from $5 to $45, but you can get crazy stuff for custom prices.

Cream’s twitter, instagram, tumblr, and youtube

You might enjoy Cream’s Audition Tape for a Barber Reality Show, which is disallowed from embedding. :(

Cornelius just has an instagram.

The business description on Yelp says that Jan Galang has a chair there, too, but I couldn’t find any information about him, so he’s left out for now.

Anyway, you are looking kind of shaggy and should get your hair cut.

Wu-Tang Clan – C.R.E.A.M.

* when my grandfather started losing his hair he immediately took the nuclear option. I am slowly preparing myself for this eventuality.

Yes Carl, There Is An Agua Vista Park

You know, just last night I took a walk up to the pier at Agua Vista Park to peer at the aquatic view. I had hoped to catch sight of the “supermoon”, but alas there was only a woolen sky and quietly shifting waves. I thought to myself that someone should write something about the unloved and unmentioned park at the edge of the city.

Luckily, we have Carl Nolte, San Francisco’s Native Son!
Gritty southern waterfront city’s last industrial stretch

Carl says:

Everybody who is interested in San Francisco ought to take a walk along the southern waterfront before it vanishes.

We’re talking here about a short stretch – maybe a mile or so – just south of the ballpark along Terry Francois Boulevard to where it ends at Mariposa Street, next to the Mission Rock Resort and the Ramp bar and restaurant.

As articles about this stretch of waterfront go, it exists — which is more than can be said about most articles about the Central Waterfront, which can’t be bothered to write themselves.

Henry on Gilberth on Gilberth’s

Dogpatch neighbor Henry has come out with a new video! You might remember his prior video about a local photographer and cabinetmaker building a liquor cabinet, as mentioned here: Liquor in the Cabinet.

Henry’s new video is about local restauranteur Gilberth and his eponymous restaurant, Gilberth’s: Gilberth on Gilberth’s

Gilberth on Gilberth’s from CLUBSODA on Vimeo.

Movie Night at Pier 70: Bullitt!

Movie Night at Pier 70: Bullitt!
8:00pm May 30th, 2014
Pier 70 Partners
420 22nd Street, San Francisco, California 94107

Bullitt poster

Pier 70 says:

Kick back with the “King of Cool” this Friday, May 30th, at the first of a series of free events happening at Pier 70 this summer! This Friday features a screening of none other than the classic San Francisco-based action thriller Bullitt starring Steve McQueen, the anti-hero of the 60s and 70s.

The screening will start at 8:00pm, but come early – we have food trucks for munching and classic cars for coveting. Optimize your movie experience and bring blankets, chairs, snacks, and drinks to make the night one to remember.

About the venue: We are so excited to be holding this event at the historic Pier 70! This special space has been around since the Gold Rush era and was once the site for shipbuilding, mining supplies, iron and steel mills, and other industrial works. This is your chance to explore this piece of history.

More info:

  • Dogs on leash are welcome, so are bikes, children accompanied by a guardian, cameras and headlamps.
  • Please no grills or charcoal fires.
  • Plenty of free parking.
  • Come early for best seating and to check out the collection of classic cars we have invited!

Food trucks!
Classic Cars!
Movie Screening!
Come by and bring your friends.

I personally will be dragging my wife and two lawn chairs down to the east end of 22nd with a grocery bag full of buttery popcorn. Oh, you can DRIVE down? I might rent a Mustang just for the occasion*.

Bullitt? Surely you’ve seen the articles on Bernalwood, right?
Let the Chase Begin!! Bernal’s Bullitt Cameo, Then and Now

Meet the Sneaky Bernal Kid Who Earned a Cameo in the Famous “Bullitt” Car Chase Scene

Really, I am pretty nuts for Bullitt: great soundtrack, coolest of cool guys, and an iconic car chase full of engine revving and unnecessary gear changes. Sometimes when I am having a tough day at work I will put on the chase scene just to listen to it.

I would love love love a “70s SF Cop Movies” series at Pier 70 (not that they ask what I think), and it would be pretty cool to see scenes actually filmed there, like Magnum Force.

* It is highly unlikely that I will ever get to rent a cool car.

Friendly Felon’s Filching Foiled, Firearm Fake

The SFPD says:

Attempted Robbery Arrest:

On May 24th at 6:40 pm, officers responded to a call of a robbery at a warehouse on the 1500 block of Indiana. They met with a 38 year old employee who was the victim of a robbery attempt. He told the officers that while he was working, the suspect came to the open warehouse door and asked to use the bathroom. Initially the victim said no but changed his mind and allowed the suspect in. The suspect entered the bathroom and emerged shortly after armed with a handgun which he pointed at the victim. The suspect demanded the victim’s wallet to which the victim replied that he was not in possession of one. The suspect rephrased his demand by adding a “please” and the victim once again repeated that he had no wallet. The suspect then told the frightened victim that he seemed like a nice guy and that he was sorry for trying to rob him. The suspect then fled the warehouse on foot. Officers searching the area for the suspect located him walking along 25th St. He was detained and positively identified by the victim. The suspect was found to be in possession of a BB gun which resembled a real firearm. The suspect was on felony probation for aggravated assault and had an outstanding no bail warrant for aggravated assault. He was taken into custody and booked at Bayview Station on multiple charges including attempted robbery, and burglary. (SFPD Case No. 140434878)

MUNI Decals Explained

The SFMTA recently sent me a survey asking about my “satisfaction” with how they are doing their job. There was no question about “ability to plan for San Francisco’s transit needs long term” or “abilty to bore a tunnel all the way to the Presidio,” so some of my need to complain was unmet.

HOWEVER, there was a whole page of (probably unintentionally) hilarious images that MUNI intends to use as informational icons. I filled in (mostly) serious answers for each, but then realized that this was my chance for quality sass.


Good luck finding the MUNI logo in the right color on the SFMTA website: they don’t like it and they expect that you shouldn’t feel anything like love or sentimentality towards it. I am including it here because I would like to sass not it, but the organization for which it stands.


Expect rolling delays

Customer Satisfaction Survey
Muni Decal Survey

Finally, you now have the exclusive opportunity to participate in a short survey to ensure the comprehension of new passenger information in Muni vehicles.

The inside of a bus

And you thought they smelled bad on the outside.

Imagine you are in a bus or a train and you see the following symbols posted inside the vehicle. Please describe, in a few words, what the symbols mean to you in the box provided below each symbol.

What does each symbol below mean to you? Please write your response in the box provided below the symbol.

Camera Pictograph

It’s your only chance to get internet famous.

Get to it! You’re not taking that class for nothing.

Please suspend yourself from the overhead bar.

For your convenience, we have diverted it into a unified stream***.


Poo poo head! Doo doo face! Pee pee bus!

Please join the skinny people in the back of the bus. Points will be awarded for fierceness of walk.

* We would have also accepted “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING” or simply “1984″
** The floor is not lava, it is something more horrible.
*** No, we have not, it is everywhere. Again, please suspend yourself from the overhead bar and just avoid touching… anything. Gloves? If you have gloves, they wouldn’t be a terrible idea.

I think that this article counts as a listicle, and as such you may feel free to heap me with scorn.

Smokestack Restaurant Almost Open

The other day I strolled over to the new Magnolia / Smokestack space and checked it out.

How soon will it open? Well, two weeks ago Eric the bar manager said “two more weeks,” so, there’s that. I kid! I kid! They’re just very busy with running a brewery, building the restaurant that will be mated to said brewery, and figuring out how they will open a grocery store in the other AIC building*.

Apparently when Smokestack opens you will order cooked meats by the pound — at least I will, unless they have a “wheelbarrow” option, in which case I will be ordering cooked meats by the “wheelbarrow full.” Please.

Dave McLean is super nice! indogpatch interviewed and photographed him not too long ago. You should read their great post:
Smokestack Lightning: Meet Dave McLean of Magnolia Brewery

Magnolia has had some very lovely videos made of the construction of their new space:
Magnolia Brewing Company / Beer. BBQ. Dogpatch.

Magnolia's Brewery Dogpatch

Magnolia's Brewery Dogpatch

Magnolia's Brewery Dogpatch

Magnolia's Brewery Dogpatch

Magnolia's Brewery Dogpatch

Magnolia's Brewery Dogpatch

Magnolia's Brewery Dogpatch

Magnolia's Brewery Dogpatch

Magnolia's Brewery Dogpatch

Magnolia's Brewery Dogpatch

Magnolia's Brewery Dogpatch

* this is a pretty legit rumor

Prior Howler coverage:
Magnolia Under Construction
Magnolia Teases Us Again

Oakland Basketball Team Buys Cursed Landfill

The internets are abuzz with the news that the Golden State Warriors have purchased 12 acres and plan to build a 120 foot tall monstrosity. After Salesforce’s failure to thrive, hopefully this new venture will take an old dump and turn it into something fun for everyone.

Artist's Rendering of Arena
Artist’s Conception

SF Gate says:

The new site off of Third Street does not, however, have the iconic feel and stunning views of the Bay Bridge. Instead, the view is of a dry dock, an industrial pier and rusting old pilings that dot the water.

I’m pretty sure that the view is of wooden pilings, which are highly unlikely to be rusting, but…


Enjoy your vacant lot!


Drone’s Eye View of Mission Bay Fire

Multiple drones have recently been dangerously close to violating Dogpatch airspace. This aggression will not stand, man. Nonetheless, please enjoy the following videos:

Mission Bay Fire – Drone Eye View

Drone’s eye view of Mission Bay fire damage