Bowsprite: A New York Harbor Sketchbook

ice breaking on the raritan river

Rare is the chance to go up the Raritan! and judging by the virgin ice, rare are the visitors in january. The Raritan once was connected to the Delaware river by a canal upon which goods, coal & sailors traversed.

This survey boat works all year ’round, and often has to break its way through the ice. The tide was coming in that morning, and at the mouth of the Raritan River, the boat cut easily through the slushy saltwater. However, as we got further into fresh waters, the ice thickened,  the boat was thrown around more, sometimes settling on top, then sliding off to the side before breaking through. The sound was disconcerting. By 4″ of ice, we were becalmed–er, be-iced:

Then, standing out there, one could see how lovely the Nature is, fields that go on and on, silent, vast. However, we were not alone:

the fish population include (but are not limited to) largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, sunfish, catfish, trout, chain pickerel, american eels, carp and yellow perch. An occasional Pike and Musky have been taken out of the Raritan as well. The tidal portions of the river host migratory salt water species such as striped bass, fluke, winter flounder, weakfish and bluefish. Many nesting birds and water fowl make their homes in and along the length of the river. Crustaceans such as blue claw crab, fiddler crabs and green crabs are also found in the tidal sections of the river. Crayfish can be found further upstream. —wikipedia

We also saw huge mounds, made by beavers? muskrats? some sort of mound-builders. Industrious & industrial-sized!

This Sayreville Power House, the only building for miles around, is right next to the Sayreville public boat launch, surrounded by marsh grass and landfill. Electrical wires cross the horizon, the NJ Turnpike cuts the water. Still, there’s enough of solitude out here to imagine what it must have been like once upon a time.

(what is it? in the video clip, the structures visible when the birds are overhead in the sky are the transducer and the GPS unit mounted on the bow of the hydrosurveyboat, the Michele Jeanne. Upon the job site, the black transducer is lowered into the water and the white bulby Trimble DGPS antenna is placed right on top.)

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12 Responses

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  1. Fist de la Minkey said, on 2010/01/10 at 20:10

    Bravissimo! you have more ice there than I think we do up heah in teh Maine

  2. tugster said, on 2010/01/10 at 21:59

    a rare bit of ice-breaking tape. made me think of breaking & entering, which in fact you were doing. the birds may be serving you two with a subpoena soon to appear in their court. hope more documentation is less rare in the future, whether on the raritan or some other less-rare river or creek.

  3. [...] For the fearless-of-frigid-foundering friend called Bowsprite’s  post about ice-breaking on the Raritan River, click here. [...]

  4. [...] Compare the sound of the Rondout with that of Bowsprite’s Raritan. [...]

  5. Michael said, on 2010/01/12 at 10:08

    Musky in the Raritan? I reckon that was once upon a time, back when there were Injuns about…iron horses and soforth. Smallmouth I believe (a good sportsfish).

    Becalmed or “be-iced” is better than be-stuck…then you’d need to be-towed.

  6. Michele Jeanne said, on 2010/01/12 at 12:32

    Christina,

    Is that the new Flip camera? The quality is excellent! Keep up with the footage it will bring alot to your blog!

    The other Michele Jeanne – LOL

    • bowsprite said, on 2010/01/31 at 02:50

      Ah Ladeeez & Gentlemen!!! it’s Michele Jeanne! the one the boat is named after! Hi, MJ!

  7. Mage B said, on 2010/01/12 at 12:44

    Isn’t that a military antenna looking like a faint fence on the horizon. Marvelous map….I kept waiting for the dragon on the horizon. :)

    • bowsprite said, on 2010/01/31 at 02:51

      oh yes! i’ll steal one off Henry’ Obsession! thx, Mage!

  8. Kenny MacCarthy said, on 2010/01/26 at 22:25

    Wow. Have never seen anything like that. Thanks. We live at the mouth of the Annisquam in Gloucester and she’s never frozen near us. Too much movement.
    Sometimes we get to see “sea smoke” though. Any of that in your harbors?

    • bowsprite said, on 2010/01/31 at 02:53

      Sea smoke! I think it’s drowned out by our diesel spumes. Has anyone here seen sea smoke? Thanks, Kenny. Your waters up there are so beautiful. Lucky you!


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