Tag Archives: Yellow Submarine


By Vladimir Brezina

Not so yellow submarine...This is how we’ve always before seen the Yellow Submarine of Brooklyn

—but what a difference a fresh coat of paint makes!

A fresh coat of paint(story and more photos here)

A contribution to Ailsa’s travel-themed photo challenge, Paint. A second contribution is here.

We All Love the Yellow Submarine!

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina and Johna Till Johnson

Yellow Submarine Paddle 22

In the town where I was born,
Lived a man who sailed to sea,
And he told us of his life,
In the land of submarines.

So we sailed on to the sun,
Till we found a sea of green,
And we lived beneath the waves,
In our yellow submarine…

The yellow submarine isn’t just an invention of the Beatles—it exists for real. And it had gotten a paint job, courtesy of our friend Erik Baard and his HarborLab crew. So we decided it was high time to paddle out and see the results.

Let me back up… in the waters of Coney Island Creek, just off Gravesend Bay, there rests—amazingly, improbably!—a yellow submarine. We’ve told a fuller story here, but suffice it to say that the story of its existence just underscores the crazy sense of possibility that permeated the 1960s.

But it’s closing in on 50 years since the yellow submarine was launched, and it had become somewhat the worse for wear. So when we heard it had recovered its original cheerful coloring, we had to go see.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Relic

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Relic.

Kayaking around New York Harbor, we pass many relics of its maritime past—


Binghamton 1
Binghamton 2

Major General William H. Hart

Major General William H. Hart

— the Yellow Submarine, Quester I

Yellow Submarine 1
Yellow Submarine 2

— and, of course, the celebrated Graveyard of Ships

Graveyard of Ships 1
Graveyard of Ships 2

Seals & Submarine

By Vladimir Brezina

Crossing Ambrose Channel

Last Saturday: Air temperature in the twenties (Fahrenheit) in the morning, struggling up into the thirties during the afternoon. Colder on the water, of course. Water temperature around forty-five degrees Fahrenheit. Definitely drysuit weather, with gloves or pogies a requirement (and hot tea!). Partly sunny, with increasing clouds. Moderate northerly wind, becoming southeasterly in the afternoon. Current indicating a trip to points south. A perfect day to visit, once again, the seals of Swinburne Island, with maybe the Yellow Submarine of Brooklyn thrown in!

In the event, we saw only two, perhaps three, seals (which kept their distance, so no good photos) at Swinburne Island—a similar low number as on our last trip a month ago, and as reported by other kayakers so far this winter. In previous years, we’ve always seen ten or more seals at Swinburne by this time in the season. A little worrying…

And, bizarrely, the Yellow Submarine seems to have gotten a fresh coat of yellow paint (and some fresh graffiti) recently! Compare

Yellow Submarine, November 2010

Yellow Submarine, November 2010


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Yellow Submarine, November 2013

Here are all the photos (click on any photo to start slideshow).

Weekly Photo Challenge: Surprise

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Surprise.

Kayaking around New York Harbor, we see many surprising things. And one of the most surprising, hidden in a narrow Brooklyn creek, is the wreck of an entire, respectably-sized submarine. The Yellow Submarine of Brooklyn has a fascinating history—involving a crazy but surprisingly well-developed scheme to salvage valuables from a famous sunken ocean liner—that I’ve already written up here and here. So I’ll just post a few photos—

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Travel Theme: Secret Places

By Vladimir Brezina

Over on Where’s my backpack?, Ailsa has posted this week’s theme for her Travel Photo Challenge: Secret Places.


The Yellow Submarine of Brooklyn

Our story begins in 1956, with one of history’s most famous maritime disasters. In thick fog on the evening of 25 July, the Italian luxury liner Andrea Doria collided with the liner Stockholm and next morning sank off Nantucket. 52 people died.

But for others, the great shipwreck was a great opportunity. Adventurers dreamed of schemes to strike it rich through salvage (although in the end, as usual, it was the lawyers who made the serious money). And there was plenty to salvage:

The Andrea Doria was known to be bountifully loaded with such diverse items as a $250,000 solid silver statue of a mermaid; thousands of cases of liquor; tons of provolone cheese; 200,000 pieces of mail that the federal government would pay 26 cents a piece for; the ship’s bronze propellers, worth $30,000 each, paintings locked in air-tight vaults; industrial diamonds; the ship’s $6 million metal scrap value; passengers’ personal property left in several vaults and more. [From an old article in Forgotten NY, now apparently deleted.]

Among those hoping to strike it rich was a Brooklyn Navy Yard ship fitter named Jerry Bianco, who developed a bold plan: build a submarine.

Bianco believed he could build a vessel strong enough to descend to 240 feet of water, where the liner rests at the bottom off Nantucket, and could actually raise the sunken vessel by filling it with inflatable dunnage bags; when filled, the bags would lift it off the bottom or to the surface — or so the theory went.

Lest this sound crazy, Bianco did succeed in forming a corporation, selling stock, raising more than $300,000, and building a 40-foot, 83-ton submarine that passed Coast Guard inspection with flying colors, and, in October 1970, was ready to be launched.

But for want of a nail…  Bianco was chronically short of money (he painted the submarine chromium yellow, because that was the cheapest paint he could find).  Because the launch was to be paid for by the pound, he did not ballast the submarine fully, and it capsized upon being lowered into the water.

And there it has remained ever since.

By now, not much of its yellow paint remains; it’s half-submerged, rusted, barnacle-encrusted… a modest, curiously-shaped object that nevertheless hides a fascinating history.

It’s in Coney Island Creek, a bucolic backwater of New York Harbor visited only by birds, fishermen… and kayakers! But not many know about it. We didn’t for many years. But now that we do, we visit it often. It’s one of our secret places.

These photos are from a visit just last week. The text above is partly adapted from a previous post on the Yellow Submarine. And a nice New York Times article on the submarine and its location is here.

“Just Another Day in Paradise”

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina

It’s late morning on a cool, rainy early June day.

Vlad and I have taken half a day off midweek for a training paddle—we need to get our mileage up for the Long Island circumnavigation we’ve got planned in a few weeks.

The currents aren’t right for too much, so we’ve decided to head down to Coney Island, land if possible for a late lunch, and return. (Boat landings are prohibited on the swimming beaches at Coney Island during the summer season, so we are not sure how the landing will work out…)

The day is oddly peaceful for midweek: Despite the usual ferry and commercial traffic, everything feels peaceful and subdued—muffled, perhaps, by the grey clouds that lower overhead and cling like cotton wadding to the buildings and bridges.

Cool, cloudy, muffled: Not what you’d normally think of as a wonderful day. Much less a heavenly one. But just south of Governor’s Island I overhear this exchange on the radio:

Captain 1: “How’s it going? We really need to get together sometime.”

Captain 2: (unintelligible crackle).

Captain 1: “Yeah, I hear ya! (chuckle). Just another day in paradise…”

Vlad  and I laugh at that, and wonder. Maybe the two are planning to get together in Bermuda, or the Bahamas? Surely New York Harbor on a cool, rainy day doesn’t qualify as “paradise”.

Guess what? By the end of our trip, I’m not so sure. Yes, we get shooed off the beach at Coney Island by the lifeguards. But we paddle across schools of dancing fish, peruse the Yellow Submarine…. and are greeted upon our return just at sunset by one of the most dramatic, spectacularly colorful rain showers either of us have ever seen.

Just another day in paradise? Look at the pictures, and you decide!

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The best of these photos are enlarged on a full-width photo page. Take a look –>

All photos from the paddle are here. And for the Yellow Submarine of Brooklyn, see here.