To construct Hey Poseidon, Gregory Reynolds installed a 17’ wooden boat on the wide strip of lawn between the bicycle/pedestrian path and the water on the south tip of Randall’s Island Park. The boat was buried, bow first, in the grass to a depth of about four feet. Many boats have foundered in the surprisingly strong currents of Hell Gate, on the East River, much as Randall’s Island and its residents have foundered throughout its history. Drastic change that occurs with little or no warning – such as a shipwreck or a ruined economy – is something we struggle with constantly, both as a society and as individuals. Hey Poseidon served as a reminder of our vulnerability to such tricks of fate and a monument to the vessels lost at Hell Gate over several centuries. Visually, it was both a striking geographical landmark – visible from the bridges, from the sites on the island, and from the riverbanks – and a humorous yet foreboding sign that warned viewers to guard those things they take for granted. By evocation of both the island’s history and more personal responses, Hey Poseidon created a memorable experience for visitors that was grounded in the site.
Photo Credit: Electric Zoo photos by Bennett Sell-Kline for ElectricZooFestival.com
so part of the problem with this whole thing was that it weighs 700 pounds or so. the solution? get as many people as possible to lift. it helps when your friends are artists and art handlers who are well versed to thinking on their feet and are first rate problem solvers. the install went so smoothly. we started at 7:30 in the morning and were done at 9.
the base was bolted to a concrete slab i had poured into the hole making the whole thing as solid as possible.
it looks so much longer when it is standing!
when i first proposed this project, my plan was that i would slice off the bow and mount the boat standing on a heavy steel base plate. but when i got the boat i knew it would be nearly impossible for me to destroy it just to make a sculpture for a few months on view. so i changed my plan. the way i have made the sculpture now, i will be able to remove all of the metal armatures including the steel rails i bolted through the hull and the partial floor so that an intact foundation will remain. it will be able to be completed as a Whitehall rowboat with only minor damage from the bolt holes.
all of the structural work i did on the boat will serve to make it ready to function normally on the water. reinforcing the floor timbers and fiberglassing the hull are examples of this.
if this continues as a sculpture then it is ready for that too!
i got the rails back on and got the base plates on. this makes up most of the work needed to get the boat standing securely.
The work or putting on the steel rails is exaggerating some of the weaknesses of the boat and some cracks are showing. After consulting with a boat builder he endorsed my notion that the boat won't withstand being vertical unless the entire thing is reinforced. So the decision is made to fiberglass the hull and to strengthen the floor timbers.
Meet Dennis. He is a master boat builder. While we worked on fiberglassing he told me all about his life in boats. He built a boat for Billy Joel and worked on carbon fiber America's Cup Yachts. He also has a 52 foot traditional wood motorboat. Which he built. I can almost see him chuckling about the small time problems I have with my 17' rowboat, though he did admit it was a very interesting project
the fiberglassing is pretty straightforward and slow. It's just a matter of laying the cloth and painting it with epoxy resin. Strengthening the floor timbers uses the same epoxy mixed with stuff called colloidal silica which makes it into an incredibly strong paste. It is put in place i with a curved spatula at the joints. Once that sets a bit, fiberglass cloth strips are laid overtop and painted into place with regular epoxy.
In the last picture you can see the filleted floor timbers and the post for the transom seat which is also filleted
This was the single biggest expense of my entire budget for this project.
now begins the actual work. Darren is standing on the ladder 3 feet off the ground so we could get a sense of how tall the boat would look when on-site. It is Darren's metal shop I am using to do all of my fabrication work . it is around 20,000 square feet of heavy things. it seems like everything he owns weighs 5,000 pounds or more, not least of which is a tugboat, though it's not in the shop He is also a very adept and creative problem solver, something which has been invaluable to me as all the engineering for this has happened as we worked or as problems came up (often).
in order for the boat to withstand winds of, say 40 mph we needed to beef it up. We decided to attach steel rails. In order for the steel to mimic the shape of the hull required two different bends: sheer, the vertical dip from bow to stern and sweep, the sideways curve from bow to stern. We did this using a steel bending machine.