Bowsprite: A New York Harbor Sketchbook

treasure map

Posted in harbor wildlife, kill van kull, newark bay, NYHarbor by bowsprite on 2011/05/21


The red dots mark the spots! I found thick, lovely oyster shells on the Kill Van Kull and in Newark Bay. They are heavy, rough, but more smooth than fluted. There is no way to tell how old they are, but it is good to hold them and to think they may be coming back.



views of the kill van kull & the arthur kill

Posted in chart, kill van kull, schooners, Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2010/03/16

What could be better than to be on an open metal deck of a lovely old boat in the fog, rain, thunder and lightning?

A. looking south into Gulfport Reach


Sunday was the transit of the Pioneer from her home at pier 17 down  to the a marina at the bottom of Staten Island. The trip took 5 hrs motoring at about 6 knots.

B. a view looking north into Newark Bay; Newark Bay Bridge in the background.

C. Howland Hook to port and Port Elizabeth to starboard, we go under the
Arthur Kill Rail Road Lift Bridge first, and then the Goethals Bridge

D. In the background is the Fresh Kills Land Fill

Below, the Pioneer is tied up at the yard in (E.) Tottenville, ready to be hauled out for work.
Ploughshare Point tank farms in the background at the foot of the Outerbridge Crossing.

Weatherly inspiration from Tugster.

An error on my original chart brought up the Boneyard (thanks, Vlad!). Photos of what the ‘graveyard of ships’ looked like once were taken by Shaun o’Boyle and opacity; it does not look like that anymore. Recent views found here and here on Tugster.

Hungry for more views? look at Frogma’s circumnavigation around Staten Island: 50 miles of kayaking in 14 hours!

Warship 21, out to sea

Farewell, USS New York!

21atClock

0740h, ch13:  “Warship 21, Warship 21, changing speed to 10 knots, over.”

sailfish,ladyBbackground: USCGC Sailfish (WPB 87356), 87-foot Coastal Patrol Boat (WPB) – Marine Protector Class
foreground: Coast Guard Auxiliary boat Lady B, the former 82-foot U.S. Coast Guard cutter USCGC Point Brown (WPB-82362)

watertaxis

The USS New York makes calls after the Statue to tugs outside the KV, to the Staten Island Ferry, negotiating through another busy day :
ais

mysterytug(definitely NOT to be used for navigation! this AIS program is off by many minutes and does not read the signal from some ships. Notice: none of the official vessels are showing. Then, you have captains at anchor who don’t turn to ‘at anchor’ mode but drift in ‘underway’ mode, which is nice, because you can see them draw circles as the tides go in and out:)

before 0800h: “CG Sailfish, this is Warship 21: speed change to two-one, two-one, over.” And they go…out to sea.

kvk picnic

Rendezvous with Tugster on a cloudy day to shipspot on the KVK.
Tugster: “Can you read what the name of that tanker is?”
I could, but I liked his version better.

icebabeIce Base (2008)

Type: oil tanker, double hull
Flag: Cyprus
Built by: STX Shipbuilding Co. Ltd, Pusan, South Korea
Length:      228 m / 748 ft
Breadth:    32.2 m / 105.6 ft
Depth:       19.1 m / 62.7 ft

orangewave

Orange Wave (1993)

Type: juice tanker
Flag: Monrovia
Built by: Sterkoder Shipbuilding A/S – Kristiansund, Norway
Length:    157 m / 515 ft
Breadth:  26 m / 85.3 ft
Depth:     6.6 m / 21.7 ft
DWT: 16.700 tons

Need a ship identified? call Tugster. Need a photo of a ship? Need information on a ship? call him! Among what he can dig up:

Orange Sun, Orange Blossom, Orange Star, Orange sterns, Orange othersOrange you glad we have Tugster?

Central New Jersey Rail Road Terminal, Jersey City

Voilà, the gem of Liberty State Park!

cnjrr

The Central New Jersey Rail Road terminal (1889), also known as Communipaw Terminal is one of the most beautiful buildings of New York Harbor. Twenty tracks and four ferry slips provided the terminal with streams of cargo, supplies, passengers, workers. The palatial waiting room has a gabled ceiling three stories high and the most grand view of Upper Bay and the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines; it now houses Liberty State Park’s Visitor Center. Statue of Liberty ferries leave from the slips.

However, the treasure lies behind this elegantly proportioned and well-maintained edifice:

cnjrrjardin

the old tracks are overrun by a jungle of native flora, Nature come to reclaim her domain. Twenty tracks of young trees, tall grasses and weeds flourish, the dark old steel structures are lost amid the riotous green, the sidewalk cracks are colored in by little grasses and sprouts. A beautiful light filters evenly through the open trestles. It is dramatic in full sun, and magical on grey days:

(if it weren’t foggy, you’d have seen lower manhattan when the camera turned west at 0:25, looking out the building)

Nature’s indefatigable force is inspiring. Nothing we make–with all our might!–is going to last. No better proof exists than in the photographs of shipbreaking captured by Edward Burtynsky and Andrew Bell. Or, in the quieter photographs our own Tugster, closer to home, in the Kill van Kull.

What will last? Nature. Of which we can still claim to be a part, despite all our efforts.

“Nature is not a place to visit, it is home…” Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild

the Kill Van Kull Security Zone

Posted in dredges, kill van kull, new york harbor, shipping, tankers, tugs, Vessel Traffic Service, vhf by bowsprite on 2009/07/09

Vessel Traffic Service announced on VHF 13 that all tugs and barges longer than 400′ may not meet or overtake other vessels in the KV. Curious, I called VTS  (718.354.4088).

“Yes. No meeting, no passing from KV buoy 1 to KV buoy 5 for all vessels longer than 400′ and deep draft vessels.” The three buoys have been moved 600′ to the north of their original positions last week, and it became mandatory for large vessels to observe one-way traffic until further notice.

kvchart

The Kill van Kull was once at a natural depth of 15-18′, and home to rich beds of oysters, clams, and fishes, surrounded by salt marshlands. Today, dredged to 50′ below mean low water, it is a major shipping channel, making it possible to bring in imported goods, cars, fuel, chemicals, orange juice, and to ship out our recyclables.

The Army Corps of Engineers, with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, has been working on the Harbor Deepening Project since the 1980’s. They have had to contend with a bottom made of soft and stiff clays, red shale, serpentine rock, glacial till, and granite. Different kinds of dredges are used for the different materials.

kvk4

What is happening now is quite special: We’re in the final deepening phase off St. George, the dredgers have encountered bedrock, and a unique use of equipment is at play (oh, I mean ‘work’)…

cutterhead

“That cutter-head begs to serve as inspiration for a horror movie.” – Tugster

The hydraulic dredge, the Illinois was described by Bill as a “floating factory;” it is huge.

Hydraulic dredges usually use a cutting head to dislodge the sediment which is immediately suctioned and pumped through a pipeline to an offsite settling area, often several thousand feet away.

However, working boats in the area have noticed an absence of the pipeline. If there is no dredge spoil, then there must be no dredging. That cutter-head seems to be drilling away at pure bedrock (instead of blasting). Dredge 54 comes along behind it to dig it up. A support barge is there to replace the hard teeth on the cutter head.

What has been the observed result of the dredging of NYHarbor?
° Working mariners have noticed that the current has increased, and that high and low tides have been affected. Those Eldridge tide predictions are no longer accurate in places.
° Docking seems to be more dangerous, but if you dock only at slackwater, you might have several hours to wait, which would cost more money.

Tugster, who caught amazing photos of the machines and vessels at work, poses two questions:

1. what would happen if dredging activities ceased?  Not sure how fast it fills in here, but several points along the east side of North River silt in as quickly as about 2 a year. The way things are set up now, our harbor cannot afford not to dredge. (And, dredging is expensive! that’s fine if your project enjoys federal, state, or city funding, but what if you are a mom&pop little shipyard? you are between bedrock and a hard place: you cannot afford to dredge, but you cannot afford not to!)

…alternatively, if we stopped dredging, the kill would become a kill again (creek in dutch), oysters, clams and mussels would be sold alongside hotdogs, and you’d have to take a train to Baltimore to get those plastic lawn chairs.

2. “How come the mainstream media pays no attention to these activities?” Really cannot fathom, because it is fascinating. Go and look for yourself: the very best deal of the harbor, the Staten Island Ferries, will take you past the dredging site–for free!

Thank you, Bill & Will!

Oops, this just in: Tugster reports that the Illinois is not there anymore. I’m very sorry, they were never vigilant about their AIS.

You will still see the Dredge 54, but this is how the Illinois looked from one of Tugster’s photos:

illinoisside

a day on the kill van kull

Posted in kill van kull, tankers, tugs by bowsprite on 2009/03/07

west1

I am fond of the Kill Van Kull—the waterway, not the band (admittedly, I have not yet heard the band.)

east3

Unlike the magical Arthur Kill further on southwest, which is very beautiful if you blot out traces of human intervention, I like the KVK as it is.

The north side of the KVK (New Jersey) is lined with rows of tanks, tubes, and aging docks. Different colors & shapes for different companies.
On the south side (Staten Island) are shipyards, apartment buildings, a salt dock, the elegant, historical Snug Harbor, telephone poles, trees, a passing bus, Tugster’s outdoor offices.
And the meat, the juice, is the traffic that streams by, endlessly, over the water. Containerships and tankers share the road with the littlest boom boats…and tugs galore.

“Heading into the stream” is what you hear on the radio: tugs pulling barges into the ‘stream’, the federal channel. The channel is cerified to 43′ depth, but most has been dredged to 50′, to be certified 50′ by 2013 [Army Corps of Engineers].

dredgelo

We were working in an area that had been dredged to 45′ several years ago, but needed to be deepened. The job, going inland, was not clay, as was originally thought, but a very soft dirt. The dredge was making cuts and creating shoals at the ends, which rose up and did not make grade.

We left our little survey boat and boarded the giant dredge for a quick meeting. Friendly faces peered over, asking if I needed help making the hitch.

The dredge’s charts that shows the cuts they make is called a progress chart, and this is what the men studied while I looked around. All was neat, tidy and sparse. An ear plugs dispenser was only colorful thing there, amid all the metal and grey. Out on deck and up close, the winches were HUGE, towering in circumference over a crew member.

earplugs

It was getting late in the day, the dredge crew was tired and anxious, for some had flights booked that afternoon to go back south to their homes. We got back onto the survey boat, two tugs that were on standby moved in, and the spuds were lifted on the dredge barge.

tugs2lo

As we moved away from the dredge, we heard a loud bang from a neighboring pier. A tug pulled a barge out quickly and struck another barge, denting it and snapping its line on a bollard. Four men went running to the frayed line, and then one could see how thick that line was!

“Oh, that’s the most dangerous—an empty tanker! The spark from striking steel could instantly ignite the gases, and there would be a huge explosion,” said my boss, matter-of-factly, glancing out the window.

Me, neophyte and naive: “But, we would have survived it?”

“Oh, no. The impact would have killed us, pieces of steel the size of cars. Very dangerous. OK, ready? Fathometer on.”

Thankfully, Towmasters cleared the air with the reassurance that cargo tanks use some sort of Inert Gas System, filling the empty spaces with inert gas produced on board by using boiler exhaust to reduce oxygen that would support combustion. [Oops...I have been corrected. Towmasters writes: "Some (repeat, some) tank barges do have IGS, but they are pretty few and far between. Some of the newer Crowley ATB's, mostly. Although there may be an exception here or there, I know of no conventional tank barges regularly working New York Harbor that are equipped with IGS. In contrast it's commonplace on tankships, except for some of the oldest ones.

For an example of what can go badly wrong on tank barges read this post from NY Tugmaster's Weblog about the explosion of the Bouchard 125 at Port Mobil in 2003."]

When the day ended, I was dropped off by my bicycle tied up at an abandoned pier, and I cycled past our work site on my way to the Staten Island Ferry.

nobbq21

And, in front of the site, was this sign on the fence…

prettyplease

Indeed no, thank you!

For stunning photos taken on the KVK, please look here at the site of the intrepid kayaker, Frogma, who circumnavigated Staten Island several years ago in a kayak–about 26 miles of paddling!

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