Bowsprite: A New York Harbor Sketchbook

veterans day & tea towel for the engine room

Print your own fabrics! re-upholster your bunk, make cool pillows, and frame your porthole with your own designs!  Spoonflower, is a site based in Durham, North Carolina that prints your designs at their ‘mill’. Read more about them here.

In honor of Veterans Day (today: 11.11.11) they just held their military fabrics contest which I missed, but inspired me to make a tribute fabric anyway. (I never knew the symbolism of poppies until this contest.)

The Ships Ahoy Tea Towel calendar is now available! The fabric measures 21″ long by 18″ wide, but the edges are raw and will need to be finished:

All ships are denizens or frequent visitors of NYHarbor, and run on their own power. I love our historic vessels, but will save those for the Dead Ships Dinner Napkins series.

Here are past Bowsprite fabrics. I am going to do one with egrets and booms, a la Tugster! Have an idea for a fabric? drop a line!

creatures of the deep

Creatures of the Deep: this one sank in the Cape Cod Canal, was raised in 4 days and went back to work, busy in NYHarbor.

This one sank in the Wicomico River, was raised after 3 years, came to NYC under her own power (at 4kts), and works hard as a restaurant/bar on pier 66.

And this one sinks and rises for a living, and did so in Lower Bay and left, carrying some of our tugs off, away to the East. Type in Blue Marlin or “Ground Hog Day” to see Tugster’s reportage of her ups and downs.

And this one laid in harbor mud, was salvaged, and now is the Waterfront Museum, the host of the Creatures of the Deep art show. Curated by Karen Gersch, the show is currently on view until August 22. The Artists’ Reception will be on July 22 at Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Thank you, Tugster for sinking in the sinking/raising idea which gave rise to this post!


Happy July to all! see you in August!

harbor and river shipping

Posted in new york harbor, short sea shipping by bowsprite on 2010/06/22

Short Sea Shipping is the use of small vessels to transport containerized cargo by water, using coastal and inland waterways. It is also going under the name of Marine Highway, the Blueway, Harbor and River shipping.

Waterborne freightage of cargo takes it off the roads, bridges and out of tunnels; it is the more economical, environmentally sound, and healthier method of goods transportation.

source: Texas Transportation Institute

Many people have envisioned and worked for this. What are SOME of the obstacles in NYHarbor?

I can’t imagine. We have bollards in place:

Trucking companies might get miffed and will want to shake a fist at the boats, but there are very few to target. As per the Jones Act, all vessels must be American made. That’s fine. We have shipyards that could use the work. It will cost more than a ship built in Asia. Yes, it will. And, not to fear: we have tugs & barges. We have schooners. We have intrepid kayakers.

We have the bollards, but few working piers or docks. Getting them built will run you into city, state and federal red tape, depending on the piece of waterfront you are looking at. Many town communities do not want traffic or riffraff like working mariners to mar their riverfront and views. One could float an eco-dock. Or, one could toss boxes of goods over the railing and run before the police come. You get fined $60 for biking on these walkways pictured above. How much would the fine be for cluttering it with baskets of apples and other produce from upstate, crates of dairy goods and wines from up the Hudson Valley, kegs of amazing Brooklyn beer, Christmas trees?

SO: boats, piers, docks, harbor tax, fines, TWIC fees for crew, dough to bail out crew (of course, US citizens!) when apprehended…money can handle those.

City, state, federal resistance…we’ll tweet you and let you know where to meet us with guitars and bongos, or to hold hands and sing “We Shall Overcome.” The absolute largest obstacle is cheap fuel. Invisible subsidies favor trucking and hide road-bridge-tunnel maintenance expenses. Trucks will bring food in from Florida to meet the cruise ships that left Florida to dock in our harbor. True true: florida oranges and grapefruits are better than our local varieties, however we have better dairy than them just upriver, and what farmlands we still have excellent produce, meats, beverages. How can it be that trucking goods that are available locally from across the nation is legal? or even profitable?

Changing people’s mindset that trucking is easier…oh, we will need a real miracle here. Join here if you’d like to help (still fledgling).

clearwater’s great hudson river revival 2010

This weekend: Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival 2010
A musical and environmental festival; the venue looks amazing!

Uglyships has its Flashbacks, BibliOdyssey has its Image Dumps. Here is mine, for John Sperr’s old Instant Button Machine in the Dutchess Outreach booth this weekend. He asked for a few images to represent river and harbor activity, so I collected a few together. I have to draw more tugs! According to Roberta Weisbrod, since 1991, there is a 37% increase of tugs operating in NYHarbor. Taurus is foist on the list!

All artwork is ©2010, but is available upon request for altruistic, beneficent, benevolent, charitable, eleemosynary, good, humanistic, philanthropic, public-spirited causes, and for birthdays and ship anniversaries.

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.)

a nautical bestiary


bee

- a ring or hoop of wood or metal.

bitching

- not exclusively nautical, but rare is the ship without this; sounds like:
“I dont %&$&# LIKE sailing! Why don’t I go to the crafts festival and just take the train and meet you at the next %&$&# port?”
or “The hosting yacht club is serving ¿%&$&#what???”
or %&$&#! %&$&#! horse cock for dinner again??”

camels

- wooden (usually) platform buffers between a ship and a pier; way deeper and heavier to move than you think. On this camel by Passenger Ship Terminal pier 90, rope was shredded into a soft nest, eggs were laid, and the parents-to-be waited while warships of Fleet Week 2009 tied up a few feet away.

cathead

- a heavy beam projecting from each bow of a ship for the purpose of holding anchors.

clamshell dredge

cockbill

-an anchor is said to be cockbilled or a-cockbill when hung vertically by its ring stopper from a cathead ready for use, or, temporarily, during the recovery process.

constrictor knot

- not well known, but according to Hervey Garrett Smith, author and illustrator of the wonderful book, The Arts of the Sailor (1953), the constrictor knot is superior to most comment seizings or stoppings: “…quicker, neater, and can be drawn up more tightly. The harder you pull the two ends the tighter it grips, and it will not slacken when you let go…It can be set up so tightly that is is almost impossible to untie, and makes an excellent whipping. (The slipped version is easy to untie.) …Its superior construction and usefulness leads me to believe that it ultimately will achieve the popularity it rightly deserves.”

cow hitch

- also known in days of old as a lanyard hitch, the cow hitch is today more associated with any knot which is not a recognized maritime knot as used at sea; a lubberly hitch. Folks must be forgetting to use those lanyards.

crabbing

- sideways maneuvering into a cross current or wind to compensate for drift.
To “catch a crab” is to make a faulty stroke in rowing that causes the blade of the oar to strike the water on the recovery stroke.

cranes

crow feet

crow’s nest

doghouse

dogwatch

dolphins

- pilings lashed together with heavy cable upon which vessels land to moor. Usually, one piling is called a dolphin, a group of more than one pile is called a cluster, as in “put out a line over the second cluster off the bow.”  When neglected, provides fine nesting for birds of the harbor.

donkey engine

- a steam-powered winch to hoist sails and anchors on old schooners; an auxiliary engine on a sailing craft (which does propel the vessel) is still sometimes informally known as the donk.

elephant foot

elephant table – (help! cannot find this one!)


fishplate

fish tackle

- a large hook used to assist in maneuvering the anchor from under the cat-head, and brought to the side or gunwale, or to launch and recover boats.

flounder plate

- a triangular steel plate used as a central connecting point for the tows, bridles, and towline.

fluke

- the wedge-shaped part of an anchor’s arms that digs into the bottom. Sometimes painted yellow to lure full frontal admirers.

fox

- made by twisting together two or more rope-yarns. A Spanish fox is made by untwisting a single yarn and laying it up the contrary way. (But, why? ¿por qué?)

gooseneck

goosewing

hogged

- the state of a vessel when, by any strain, she is made to droop at each bow and stern, bringing her center up. Opposite of sagging.

horse

horse cock

- “phoney baloney”. Mmmmm.

hounds

leech

marlinspike, a marlinspike hitch

- a tool for opening the strands of a rope while splicing.


monkeyfist

- a weighted knot wrapped around lead or a ball, found at the end of a heaving line. Illegal in NYHarbor. ME variety is especially lethal: you really won’t know what hit you.

mousing

- a seizing to prevent hooks from unshipping. Sling hitch on the hook’s back, go around the bill, make turns, wrap with frapping turns, then a set of riding turns, finish with a square or reef knot. Notice how Hervey Garrett Smith draws the same hook three times; that is love.

pelican hook

- a hook-like device for holding the link of a chain or similar, and consisting of a long shackle with a hinged rod which is held closed by a ring.

pigtail hook

- a screw hook having an eye in the form of a spiral for holding a loop, chain link, etc., at any angle. I am not fooled: this was designed to snag my sweaters.

ratlines

- rope running across the shrouds horizontally like the rounds of a ladder and used to step upon in going aloft.

roach

- curved cut in edge of sail for preventing chafing

rhino horn

- slips through a hole in the bow ramp of the LCU or LCM to hold the landing craft in position while vehicles embark/debark.

sea cock

- a valve to open a pipe to allow suction of sea water into your vessel either to supply fire pumps or for cooling if your engine is cooled with raw water. Also used generically.

sheep-shank

- a kind of hitch or bend, used to shorten a rope temporarily.

sole

snaking, snaked whipping

- snaking protects against chafing of turns on whippings at the end of ropes.

whales

- fenders that were once upon a time real whale bodies, but today, are BIG black, heavy industrial strength rubber bumpers. One captain’s fender story is here.

wildcat

- oops. another wildcat coming up…

worming

- rigging of old ships were wormed, parcelled and served and lasted as long as the ships, or longer. Worming is the laying in of small-stuff between the strands of rope to fill in spaces to prevent moisture and rot. Parcelling is spirally wrapping rope with narrow strips of old canvas soaked with rigging tar, overlapping to repel moisture. Serving covers the rope by tightly winding marline or hemp against the lay. Heavily tar, and maintain regularly.

Worm and parcel with lay
Turn and serve the other way

zinc fish

- a “sacrificial anode.”  Metals (e.g. your propeller) in salt water, experience a flow of electrical current. The slow removal of metal is called “electrolysis”. Zinc is used as it has a higher voltage in the water so the current will tend to flow from it than from your props.

beasts of weather and water conditions:

dog days, ox-eye, mackerel scales, mares’ tails, white horses…

other waterborne beasts:

frogma, peconic puffin, the beagle project, the horse’s mouth (if any otters I missed, please do drop a lion.)

Look here for a beautiful post of hardworking animals here on the USCGC Escanaba!

Thank you, again for everyone’s help! drawings will be added, and please report any missing strays. Thank you!

Tagged with:

animals of the working harbor

Posted in arts of the sailor, equipment & gear, harbor wildlife, new york harbor by bowsprite on 2009/11/26

Happy Thanksgiving to all! Gratitude and homage to those working today, and a peek at the beasts of burden that aid them on the water:

This post is being updated with all your suggestions–Thank you! I’m stumped by some of them (Jed!!), and cannot find a few of the ones mentioned. The new post is “a nautical bestiary“.

Thank you, everyone, and ODocker, Kennebec Captain, Jed, Willi, PaulYar!, Marc, Tugster and Towmasters.

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.

aboard the Sturgeon Bay for the welcoming parade

SturgeonBay

On VHF 13: “Look at at that moon!” At 0604h in Bayonne, the moon was a half hidden, huge, beautiful orange glowing ball. Onboard the Sturgeon Bay, we sailed past Penobscot Bay and Katherine Walker, and south towards the Narrows to greet the PCU (pre-commissioning unit) New York. See Tugster for amazing photos and writings from the day; be sure to read the very good comments that Jed sends! & look at ShipShooter‘s breathtaking aerial photos!

USS New York, LPD-21 will be commissioned tomorrow, Saturday November 7th at pier 88.

552

The harbor never really sleeps. I love the amber glow of the deck lights of the tugs.

amberlightsAt Global Marine Terminal (above), Cap Breton & OOCL Malaysia were being pushed into place. Below: Pearl Ace.

pearlace

As we neared the Verrazano Narrows bridge, we sailed in the midst of another working day on the harbor: a cruise ship, ferries, more tugs & barges, a CircleLine all moved along, doing their business. The battleship was in view, far away. Once we were in Lower Bay, the spray came flying in through here:

anchorlocker

anchor

At 0621h, Zachary Reinauer calls out and asks the Sturgeon Bay to switch to its working channel where it asks what its position in the parade is to be.

“Do you have the list of vessels and their orders?”

“We woke up to orders to be in the parade, so here we are. We do not know the order.” They fell in behind us. Pilot No. 1–the OTHER vessel named New York!–seemed to lead, followed closely by the pilot book Sandy Hook.

pilot1.

This is how I love the harbor: a big fuzzy flotilla of parading vessels, working vessels, fireboats spraying red, white and blue jets of water. Pleasure boats would get too close and get chased away by the swooping Defender class boats. A PT boat, a schooner, a sloop, even a duck boat made little appearances in the parade. Only missing the tallships.

pt728

sturgeonpathchart

Southbound barges seemed to collect as we neared the George Washington bridge. A couple of tugs and barges were anchored in the anchorage channel, but seemed to be VERY much too close. We were a fat parade, especially when the ships turned and we doubled in girth.

Rosemary McAllister and Ellen McAllister were there to assist when the PCU New York made her turns and docked at pier 88.

peeps

salute

0929h Sturgeon Bay to another CG vessel: “…pier sweep has been conducted…switching duties now, you may RTB (return to base) now.” We docked behind the Intrepid, and lunched and watched the boom go out as Houma delivered fuel.

galleyMeatball subs were served, and in the galley was a zipper sign that flashed: “Welcome to the Sturgeon Bay… I LUV BAYONNE”…Have a great Coast Guard day.”

As we returned to Bayonne and watched the skyline pass, a woman next to me said, “I used to work in the Chrysler building.” Her husband, a member of the Central Jersey Council of the Navy League, had fought in the Korean War. “He was on the LST 495. The men would joke it stood for ‘Long Slow Target.’”

The history of the LST is interesting, and here is a memorial museum to one of them.  Below, a schematic drawing from this tribute site:

schematic

This design became the roll-on, roll-offs in use today. How do they hold up? see the discussions on Kennebec Captain, see the pretty pictures on UglyShips part one & part two, and on Tugster (when I ask him where he’s hidden them).

LtRae

Many thanks, Lt. Rae and to your hospitable crew of the Sturgeon Bay! Thanks, Pamela, Lee & Will! hi, Jessica & Bob!ussNY21

junk in the harbor

12:53pm, this just in over VHF ch13:desk

Tug: “To the southbound Army Corps Of Engineers vessel.”

ACOE vessel responded (rather sure it was the Gelberman.)

Tug: “About a mile south of you, by Ellis Island, there’s a desk.”

ACOE: “A desk?

Tug: “Yes, a desk…and some telephone poles.”

ACOE: “OK, thank you.”

warshakers and peacemaker

(post in progress! colors and names of ships to come!)

352704707921921b

803Does the bow of Tromp look like a smiling shark?

I am not making it up:

IMG_2490

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?

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.

Happy Harbor Week!

NYHarbor was busy this week, and here are some of the highlights where partyers, stately visitors, and working mariners made it work, swimmingly:

12sept09 Saturday, 1411h  – “Requesting slow bell in the Buttermilk Channel for a flotilla of historic Dutch vessels visiting, requesting slow bell in the Buttermilk until 1500.”

dutchboats1

Then, the navy vessels go by:

navyshipsline

WaterTaxi to the Coast Guard Cutter (paraphrased): “Oh, please, please, may I go inbetween the navy ships? i’m just crossing the river.”

Coast Guard Cutter (verbatim): No. Denied. Forbidden. “You can stay where you are or you can go to the end and take the stern of the last vessel, but you may not cut through the parade.” The ships went by slowly, and the taxi was like a little boy who has to go the bathroom very, very badly, but could not.

4164352357704707803c828861

The ships went up as north as the 79th boat basin, turned and went south. Here, one passes Pier 40, home to the Steamship Lilac and Fireboat John D. McKean:

pier40

Little Flying Dutchmen joined the parade:

flying dutchmen

Cargo ship Ocean Atlas steamed south alongside the Sloop Clearwater, calling out 5 bells to warn sailing vessels ahead:

clearwater.oceanatlasOcean Atlas (120m x 20m; draught 7.7m, destination Houston)

What ship is this?

qui

Then, a call on VHF 13: “A flotilla in the mooring!”

flotillaCG

The working harbor draws comparisons of the regatta to Nature: “Yeah, watch out, I got a lot of fleas here on my right.”

flotillamooring

“Uh, Heyward, I’m going to go south of these mosquitos, see you on the 2.”

flotillastatue

(The views expressed here are not the opinions of the blogger, who rather saves the discourtesy for the cigarette boats.)

flotillabattery2This view is looking south, where the regatta is at the Battery. The hexagonal stupa is the Holocaust Museum, the patina’d copper green topped roof and tower is Pier A, the old fireboat station. The strip of land midground is Governor’s Island. The waters are the deep water range (fore), and Buttermilk Channel (behind).  The background land is Brooklyn. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge straddles Bay Ridge, Brooklyn to the left and Staten Island to the right.

Sunday: Harbor Day. The morning started calmly with Half Moon and Tromp riding between Penobscot Bay and Thunder Bay. Hawser 65610 was also in service.

halfmoon803CG

Sorensen Miller brought a large number of passengers onto the Warship Tromp.

sorensenmiller

sorensenout2 The USCG Cutter Penobscot Bay began to announce on ch13 that a security zone would be in effect from 1100 until 1600: no traffic allowed on north river during that time, from the Battery to Berth 64 (about 24th street.) The announcement was made at intervals.

catherding2KP: “Kimberly Poling is in the ConHook Range, splitting the 29 and the KV buoy, headed up the north river.”
CGPB: “Kimberly Poling, this is CG Cutter Penobscot Bay, you going all the way through?”
KP: “Oh, yes, sir, I’m going to Albany, to Rensselaer.”
CGPB: “OK, well, please hug the Manhattan side.”
KP: “Very good.”
CGPB: “Thank you, have a good day.”
KP: “You too.”

kimberlypolling

KP (to buddy on radio): “Yeah, I just made it before they closed.” “You’re lucky.”

Another vessel is not as content: a series of insistent 5 blasts were made as boats were right in front of its path (photo is taken when they just cleared away.)

arcadia803

Arcadia, faltering: “I..I can’t believe you just crossed my bow like that…”

arcadia

1003h  “Don, what are you doing, cooking everybody’s pop tarts with that radar?”
“Oh, you like that screen, huh?”

Minerva Zoe, in the ConHook Range, headed out to sea.”

1045h “Jervis Bay (cargo) is at the KV buoy, inbound for Port Elizabeth.”
1109h Half Moon and Onrust announce they are about to fire guns. I never did hear them.
McKean: “Yeah, you can pump 25.”

Marjorie McAllister uncomplainingly steers with a partially loaded barge and heads south.

marjorieCircus

marjoriemcallister2

Unknown: “Can you go 1 whistle? we’re going to raise an RHA on the starboard side.” (–what is an RHA?)
Containership Bauci: “We’re coming on the 28 here, see you on the one.”

statenferryWhich tallship is motoring without sails set? yes, Clipper City.

1100h - Penobscot Bay declares on ch13 the security zone is in effect, “closing North River from the Battery across to Morris Canal, Jersey City. The south marker is this unit, Penobscot Bay. The north marker is Thunder Bay, a straight line across berth 64.”

Despite the warnings all morning, boats call out.

Penobscot Bay, we need to refuel at Morris Canal…”

“…requesting to transit north to North Cove…”

Penobscot Bay, we need to get across the river to the Battery…”

“…do you have a radio on there?” (If this does not elicit a response, try to talk louder.)

Penobscot Bay responds to almost all of them, and repeats: “… you will have to wait until the end of the race, at 1600.” “If you do not have a flag, you may not enter the security zone…” “Negative, you may not enter the security zone…”

sundry tugmen: “How about some working channels here?” “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a race channel on the working harbor?”northriver

The DEP’s North River, going on North River after the security zone is in effect.

to be continued…

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.

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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

Thunder up the Hudson

0300h – Lightning and thunder roared right by my ear, deafening claps of powerful electric eruption that then boomed with full might up North River, echoing, unstoppable, seemingly without end.

Times like this make me think of those days, of people high up in the rigging, perched precariously on wet footropes,  furling in heavy wet canvas on a pitching ship with other shipmates roused from sleep to climb the masts in driving rain. That would not happen today.

But today, mariners are still out there, in heavy storms like this.

It was the middle of the night, and channel 13 (bridge to bridge) was silent, but 14 (USCG Vessel Traffic Service) was steadily broadcasting, the voice of the controller reciting as on any other day the names of ships and where they were heading.

stormseabound

At 0355h, to the guiding voice of Vessel Traffic, one Liverpool Express navigated its way through the harbor under the crackling night sky, past several ships, tugs and a dredge, and headed out to sea.

Liverpool Express
Ship Type: Cargo
Year Built: 2002
Length x Breadth: 281 m X 32 m
DeadWeight: 54155 t
Speed recorded (Max / Average): 17.3 / 12.4 knots
Flag: Germany [DE]
Draught: 11.6 m
Destination: NORFOLK

Thank you, Tugster! need a photo of a ship? call him. He will find it for you.

Fishing Boats

Posted in new york harbor, vhf, watercolor, drawing, boat, sketch, waterfront by bowsprite on 2009/05/01

Peconic Puffin had put in a request to see things move a bit on these pages, and so I am happy to oblige…

I. Every Boat Show at the Jacob Javits Center at the end of the year, you can find me tending some table for some historic vessel.

During one break, I was herding a small group of children who went straight for the luxury yachts. They launched off the swim platforms and shot up, climbing up all gangways, waving from the sundecks, peeking into cabins (—oh, sorry, I mean staterooms), examining anything set out in the galley, testing silk pillows, crowding into the cockpit. The yacht salespeople would insist that the children be accompanied by an adult, that everyone take off shoes, and would bear with us with various levels of tolerance until the whirlwind would move off to the next boat.

yachtie

We wandered through luxury yachts, sailing boats, and ended up on the other side of the convention hall. Still full of energy, the children charged up one boat where two men were talking. I lumbered after them, and asked the men if they wanted us to take off our shoes.

fishingboat1

They looked at me and said, “This is a fishing boat.”

We all had a good laugh. You can tell which side of the bar I’m sitting at for happy hour.

fishingboats1

II. The chief mate of the Amistad was in town and stopped by to visit. He picked up my VHF, and looking at the fleet of fishing boats said in a faux-Bayridge Bklyn accent: “Tony, you there? Tony–you there?”

“You know someone there?”

“No, but there’s always a ‘Tony.’”

What are they fishing for? we are not quite sure…

a Whale in Lower Bay

Posted in dredges, lower bay, marine mammal, new york harbor, tugs, whale by bowsprite on 2009/04/13

Michelle Jeanne sent the txt: Traffic (VHF channel 13) reported a humpback whale at Craven Shoals, 9 apr 0822.
chart1

Protected by a ring of coast guard and police boats, the whale cut safely across the Ambrose Channel and popped up by the excavator dredge J.P. Boisseau and tugs Thomas Witte and Meagan Ann while they were working at Rockaway Inlet.

boisseau

Capt. Anthony of the dredge Michigan caught a photo of the popular visitor. The consensus: it was big, even though this one was only 30′. Humpback whales can reach 50′.

img_1684

photograph by Anthony LoPresti

The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation requests that should you spot a marine mammal (whale, dolphin, seal) or sea turtle, please call their 24-Hour Stranding Hotline: 631-369-9829, so their biologists can track them.

whales1

However, Right Whales, of which there are 300 left by NOAA’s estimation, is protected by federal law, and must be given a berth of 500 yards. A mandatory ship reporting system for North Atlantic Right Whales exists, and the information can be found in this link.peagreen

Thanks–in chronological order of events–Bill, Charlie, Tom and Anthony!

Accents

Posted in new york harbor, shipping, vhf by bowsprite on 2009/02/17

The VHF marine radio is a potpourri of accents, a lovely collage of voices.

On channel 13, bridge to bridge, captains call out passing arrangements: one whistle is “I intend to pass you on my port side,” two whistles, “I intend to pass you on my starboard.”

One evening, a few months ago, the Cosco Bremerhaven, out by the 29 buoy called out to another ship. In a crisp, tight Irish accent, the captain of the Bremerhaven requested to meet the captain of the oncoming vessel at 1 whistle.

The response, in a warm, drawling, very VERY thick Brooklyn accent, came back: “Yeah, well, we’re just gonna pull over here in the channel and give you more room, and let you go by over here.” My heart warmed with his hospitality to the foreign captain.

A moment of silence, and then in the Irish accent: “I’m sorry, sir, could you repeat that?”

bremerhavn

Another exchange:

(Indian accent, proper and polite): “British Lines, to the Dela rosa…British Lines, Dela Rosa.
(American accent): “Dela Rosa.”
(Indian accent): “Uh, what are your intentions, sir? are you angry?”
(American): “Yes, we’re anchoring.”
(Indian accent): “Oh, well, could you please give us some room?”
(American): “Will do.”
(Indian): “Thank you, sir…”

Beautiful accents…”dulcet” is how NYTugmasters describes the lyrical southern and cajun accents.

It’s not just voices one hears. One midnight, a captain announced his plans to go to sea. In the background was a quick whiff of Jimi Hendrix.

Another time, some poor captain shared his wheelhouse with some very noisy machinery, so that whenever he spoke on the radio, he seemed to be accompanied by a bagpipe quartet.

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:

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

happy 70th birthday, Mary Whalen!

Posted in new york harbor, portside newyork, tankers by bowsprite on 2008/12/07

marywhalen

Built in 1938, this lovely 172′ tanker once delivered fuel products up and down the Atlantic Coast. She’s in good condition, and there are some serious plans for her. Look here for more info: www.portsidenewyork.org

And what does the Mary Whalen, the Lilac:

lilacland the Nantucket all have in common?

nantucketlAnswer: they have all been given homes at one point by the very generous CEO of American Stevedoring, the company that operates the Red Hook containerport. Paraphrased from Carolina Salguero of the Whalen: Few people know how much Sal Catucci has done to help historic vessels…he has provided free berth, electricity, loan of tools, a lot of free labor. The first vessel Sal generously provided a home for was the lightship Nantucket (now, a lighthouse museum) in about 2000. Next was the Steamship Lilac, before she moved to her present home on Pier 40. Whalen is the 3rd historic vessel to which he has given a free home. Thank you, Sal!

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