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.

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.)

OSV Bold

before the makeover – United States Naval Ship Vigorous (1989), a Tactical Auxiliary General Ocean Survey class vessel:

vigorous

after the makeover, now – Ocean Survey Vessel Bold of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) (since 2004):

bold

OSV Bold

Built: 1989 at Tacoma Boat Building Company,  Washington
Overall Length: 224 feet
Width: 43 feet
Draft: 15 feet
Displacement: 2300 tons
Speed, Sustained: 11 knots
Ship Operating Crew: 19
Scientists: 20

The OSV Bold monitors and assesses the health of ocean and coastal waters, and the standards to which they aspire others to have, they hold for themselves.

They follow safe discharge practices (of blackwater, greywater, oils & greases, lab chemicals, and ballast water), emit low sulfur dioxide, and are compliant with the International Maritime Organization’s International Convention of the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships by using a hull coating that does not contain organotin pesticides and has a low copper leach rate.

grabber

Bottomgrab, otter trawl (not for otters, but fish), a rocking chair dredge are deployed from the A-frame to collect samples which are studied in the wet and dry labs onboard.

towfishThe side scan sonar, towed behind the vessel, produces digital acoustic images of the ocean floor and can echo back a signal up to a depth of 300′. CTDA water profiler, the CTD device, measures physical water characteristics throughout a column of water in real-time. A camera behind a glass (not shown), captures images of the sediment profile layer, cutting through ocean floor and peeking at denizens’ burrows, grain size, et cetera.

The Bold was docked briefly this week for tours at Pier 17. For more information and schedule at other ports, look at their website and their official blog. And see it Tugsterized.

USCG rescue in Ambrose Channel

This is the hydrosurvey vessel, the Michele Jeanne.michjeanne2

Bill is the skipper. “When I had just bought the boat (about five years ago), I showed it to W who said, ‘Get rid of the docking lights.'”
“Do you ever use them?”
“Never.”

27 december 2008, Bill was surveying the Ambrose Channel. In mid-October, the channel was extended 2.5 nautical miles out seaward, and the buoys were changed. For weeks, over the radio, captains were referring to “the old 22″ or “passing the old 24, new 28.” Question marks were thick over the air waves: “… east bound, passing…uh..33?” Our pivotal buoy, green 31 is now 35, which is by the Statue of Liberty. Jokingly, I suggested Bill to fix it while he was there, and at 1035, he txt’d “OK, I’ll move them all when I’m done.”

However, over an hour later, at 1146, he wrote, “Emergency, USCG came…It’s an amazing feeling to watch your bow going down. didn’t like it.”

The ring around the port docking light broke after a ship threw a large swell, and he began to take on water in a hole the size of a softball. When it was clear the boat was going down, he made an emergency call, and the USCG arrived in 18 minutes and pumped him out. He was incredibly grateful.

docklightringHere is the ring that cracked, letting the bulb pop in. Through the large hole, water would pour in with every swell. docklite

Still life with docking light hole and Bill’s shoe:stilllife

Bill holds the plug the rescuers used to keep the water out:

img_4168

The boat has been fixed:fixedThank you, speedy Sandy Hook USCG!

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