Bowsprite: A New York Harbor Sketchbook

Harbor Ferry Service

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2012/10/12

Today is the last day of Harbor Ferry Service in New York Harbor.

The stewardship of the Governor Island boats was left to this small company eight years ago. They have cared for these vessels, bringing one, the Lt. Samuel Coursen back from the nearly dead.

Her sister ship, Minue, caught here by Tugster just below the west side of the Bayonne Bridge, shows you the fate that Coursen narrowly escaped.

The other vessel on Governor’s Island, Swivel, a 65-foot Harbor tug, is in beautiful condition; the stewards were there working on her engine even yesterday afternoon, the day before the handover:

Repairs, maintenance, upkeep: all that was possible, was done on Coursen and Swivel in-house on the island.

In Fall 2010, the New York Harbor School hoisted their school flag on Governors Island. The Coursen takes teachers, students, and visitors during the day; the Swivel ferries at night.

USCGC Swivel (WYTL-65603)
built: 1961, Gibbs Gas Engine Co., Jacksonville, FL


Sounds of the harbor! helicopters galore. Mary Whalen in the background. And it’s yellowjacks season!

“Bell Commands: 1 ahead, 2 stop, 3 back, 4 full.”
“Do not operate this vessel over 800 rpm.”

Yankee pier, Govenor’s Island

As the Harbor School Captain told his class of high school juniors yesterday (above): “Tomorrow, as you ride home, as you get off the boat: thank them. They have been good to us, they have been generous to the school, they have always been accommodating to us, for whenever we needed them. You are boat handlers, now. You know what it is like to take care of a boat. So you know a little bit of how they feel. Please thank them tomorrow.”

Thank you, Capt. Greg and Benny. Good luck to you and Harbor Ferry Service.


Both vessels will continue to run ferry services under the new management of Hornblower Marine Service starting next week.

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5 Responses

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  1. [...] Twenty-fours hours ago Baltimore-based Chock WYTL-65602 was leaving Annapolis to go on station as pin boat 1 . . . the west side of the starting gate.  Pin boat here takes on a whole new meaning.  For a Chock-sibling with a different mission, see bowsprite’s latest here. [...]

  2. mageb said, on 2012/10/12 at 10:47

    Thank you dear you for this wonderfully poetic essay about these harbor boats. :)

  3. eastriver said, on 2012/10/13 at 04:59

    I particularly like the Electrolux defroster!

    • bowsprite said, on 2012/10/13 at 10:23

      I loved it, too! was that jury rigging, or did Electrolux really make them for that purpose?
      is this like putting a mixing blade onto an electric drill? was someone being inventive?

      • eastriver said, on 2012/10/13 at 17:15

        That’s certainly an improvisation. Yankee ingenuity — what made this country great!


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