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As some of you may know, a few of John Skelson‘s harbor-folk friends ventured out to Skelson’s Office on Monday to Ship Spot in memory of  our dear John Skelson, gone too soon, last week.

The KVK was busy that day – as it is everyday – and with each zoom in and every click of the trigger, we felt John’s presence right there with us. Margaret Moran, Ever Legend, Irish Sea, and oh! a nice surprise when James D Moran popped up from behind the CMA CGM Dalila – John would have loved that! He only got to shoot James D once before…

Every time I pass Skelson’s Office on the Kill, I will think of John. It will forever be “his place”.


John Skelson’s Office on the KVK. Photo by Mitch Waxman

Ellen McAllister navigating the containership Ever Legend to the KVK. Photo by Mitch Waxman

Kirby’s Irish Sea pushing a barge. Photo by Mitch Waxman

Margaret Moran and CMA CGM Dalila passing Skelson’s Office. Photo by Mitch Waxman

Margaret Moran. Photo by Mitch Waxman

Kirby Moran was there too, assisting. Photo by Mitch Waxman

And a surprise! James D Moran bringing up the rear. James D is one of Moran’s new tugs on the harbor. Photo by Mitch Waxman

We noticed that friends of John had put up memorials at Skelson’s Office. Photo by Mitch Waxman

Bjoern Kils and Will Van Dorp joined us on the water in the NY Media Boat RIB. Photo by Mitch Waxman

Will Van Dorp got this great shot of the memorial to John Skelson from the kill, isn’t the back-lighting beautiful? Photo by Will Van Dorp

Another memorial for John at Skelson’s office. Photo by Mitch Waxman


Mitch Waxman at Skelson’s Office. Photo by Mai Armstrong

Joanne Reinauer III coming in… this one’s for you John. Photo by Mitch Waxman

Vane’s Red Hook tipping her hat for John at Skelson’s Office. Photo by Mitch Waxman

This will always be “Skelson’s Office” to me. Photo by Mitch Waxman


You can post your messages for John and his family on the NYT Obit Guestbook here.
Photos by Mitch Waxman, Will Van Dorp and Mai Armstrong generously shared with the Working Harbor Committee.


Sorry for the late posting friends, I find myself struggling to find my words this morning. The WHC family received terrible news last night.


John at the helm. Photo by Phyllis Featherstone Skelson


Our dear John Skelson passed away yesterday, and suddenly our beloved friend is gone.

Most of you know John from his weekly Friday “Ship Spotting with Skelson” posts, brimming with his photographs of tugboats moving huge containerships up and down the Kill Van Kull.


John’s tugboat photography on exhibit on board Lilac. Photo by Mitch Waxman


John’s generosity spread beyond sharing his photos with us. John and his bride Phyllis would attend every Hidden Harbor Tour that they could, helping with holding signs and answering questions at dockside.

Headed out to the bow. Photo by Mitch Waxman


On board, you would always find Skelson on the bow – what I have always called – the photographers spot – taking photos and talking “shop” with fellow harbor enthusiasts and greenhorns alike.


At work on the bow. Photo by Mitch Waxman


What you may not know is that the Skelson’s would journey from their home in Staten Island into the city to photograph our indoor events like WHC’s annual fundraising gala and our “film night” in the early spring, and as some of you have read, even write posts about them for this blog.


John Skelson featured in the New York Times. Photo by Julie Glassburg for the NY Times


At the annual Tugboat Race, you would find John hard at work, shooting the mighty vessels as they churned up the Hudson, capturing the expressions of all the kids competing in the spinach-eating contest, photos of lines in mid-toss, the tugs tied up at Pier 84…


John leading his annual photo walk along the KVK. Photo by Mitch Waxman


When I got the news last night of his passing, my first thought was steeped in denial. “But, Barque Peking is going to be hoisted on a heavy-lift ship in the spring, I thought. You can’t miss that, John!”

It saddens me to think he will not be working at “the office” that day.


John Skelson at “the office” on the Kill. Photo by Mitch Waxman


Fair Winds and Following Seas, John Skelson. I am richer for having known you. Rest in Peace my friend.


by Mai Armstrong


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