Bowsprite: A New York Harbor Sketchbook

do you like your TWIC card?

Posted in Fleet Week, hydrosurveying, twic, vhf by bowsprite on 2010/06/03

Evaluation time! How are you liking it?

good things about having a TWIC:

• you feel like VIP breezing past long lines to get into Fleet Week at PST pier 90. You get to keep your metal water canteen and knife.
(if you do not have a TWIC, please do not bring nice water bottles or knives to see warships. The trash cans outside were full of caught contraband and it was a sad sight.)

• finally have something to hang on the Fleet Week swag ribbon.

• theoretically can attend barbecue on girlfriend’s tanker at Atlantic Basin (sorry I missed it, Carolina.)

bad things about the TWIC:

• though issued by Lockheed Martin, no airport security personnel will recognize what it is. (It has been pointed out that because of errant airplane activity, all working mariners are required to have TWICs, but not airport personnel nor pilots.)

• actually, no one who has requested ID from me knows what it is. Or worse, they got the nerve not to card me anymore.

• it does not grant you access to public restrooms or the concession stands on Liberty Island, even though you are on a survey boat that had a full security sweep with two policemen and a police dog before you began the job, and you were surveying their piers all morning for 4 hours, expertly dodging (boss did) the ferries laden with tourists going to the Statue of Liberty. The officer saw us making our long, slow runs all morning. When we docked to let me off (no head on the boat), he barred my way, saying I could not disembark because I did not pass through a metal detector.

• it does not grant you permission to go where commercial vessels with non-TWIC’d folks get to go. During the Fleet Week 2010 parade of ships, ferries and taxis were permitted to cross the line. One hard working harbor tug requested permission of the USCG patrol boat to transit alongside the parade on the east side to watch. Permission was denied, and the tug had to take the stern of the last coast guard boat in the procession, thereby missing the whole show.

Aren’t you glad you have a TWIC?

Before I sound like a total ingrate, many thanks, Hydrographic Surveys, for paying the $132.50 fee for my TWIC.

grey day

Posted in Fleet Week, warships by bowsprite on 2010/02/07

from Fleet Week 2008

Fleet Week at Passenger Ship Terminal

To find the street that corresponds with a pier along the west side of Manhattan, subtract 40.  So:
pier 66 is on 26th street,
pier 89 is on 49th street,
pier 90 is on 50th street.
pier 40 is on Houston Street, or ‘zero street’.

Pier 89 and 90, Passenger Ship Terminal, is where the Iwo Jima and the USS Roosevelt were docked for Fleet Week.

iwojimastern

unfinished drawing of the Iwo Jima

What a crowd to see the Iwo Jima! How patiently people–children!–stood on interminably long lines to wait to enter the ship.

I set up in a quiet spot at the end of the pier 89, just past the throng, the booths with advertising, brochures, and paraphernalia, and past the navy ride simulator machine, but still within the boundary set up to pen visitors in from the end of the dock.

twicThe ship is daunting. She’s BIG, long, complicated, and I contemplated how to squeeze her bulk onto my sketch pad.

The smell of low tide was lovely (yes briny Gloucester and pristine CascoBay! NYC’s lowtide smells good!)  After drawing for 20 minutes, a marine with a big gun came by and apologetically asked me to move. “I’m really sorry. My OIC asked me to tell you, uh, but you have to go somewhere else. ” (oh? why? I’m not sure. Et cetera.)

Ok. How about here? I moved next to the ride simulator booth. I got a friendly nod, and continued to draw.  But after 10 minutes, another marine came by to tell me I could not stand there. No, I could not!–the exhaust from the ride was choking me.

I moved into the line of folks waiting for the ride, and my fellow citizens patiently accommodated by filing around me while I drew. Surely I can stand here? everyone’s standing here! More armed marines appeared. I continued to sketch, chatted with children.

Apparently, standing is not the issue. One OIC came to tell me that anyone standing in a place photographing–or drawing–for a long time was going to cause a bit of concern. He was very nice about it. I had my TWIC card suspended around my neck on a 1-800-USA-NAVY  ribbon I got from FleetWeek last year, and mentioned that I had worked on these piers, but he smiled apologetically and said, “You’re probably innocent, but, sorry…”  With the TWIC, I got the same reaction I get at airports–blank glance.

They who fight for liberty and freedom were good enough to grant me the liberty to finish my drawing, sort of.

I do understand their reaction, though. I think it was when I peered through the binoculars to see how the light fixture was attached on the stern of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship that I raised a red flag. I’m glad I left the VHF at home.

Perhaps it was the detailed drawings that they objected to. I turned the page, switched to a cut reed pen and loose-&-groovy mode. The kids liked this much better:

iwojimabow2

What are your rights, should you find yourself in a similar situation? US military personnel (including military police) have no authority over non-military property or people. I was not on the ship nor standing on a tank, but on the pier which is is owned by the City of New York, though was probably also a USCG regulated facility for the visiting ships and various cruise ship companies. On non-military installations, they have no jurisdiction. If it was a security concern, the police might have been called. No one ever told me not to draw, but I was not able to stand around to draw. Well. I chose not to make it an issue. There’s plenty to draw, it was a beautiful day, people were happy.

USSRoosevelt1

USS ROOSEVELT (DDG80), LOA-509′

For good photos and a literary stroll through the interior showing machinery, marines, where barnacles reside and the NAVY’s tweeting address, look here at Tugster.

I watched the marines in their various uniforms debark from the ship, pausing at the head of the gangway to turn to the river to salute the flag on the stern of the ship which was not visible. They would then come off the gangway and joyfully go off into the city with their comrades. I wish for them safe journeys, I wish for them to be able to return home, mentally and physically healthy.

I have the same wish, though, for those with whom they might cross paths, or swords.

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