Bowsprite: A New York Harbor Sketchbook

cultural exchanges in NYHarbor

Mariners from around the world, both licensed and not, float into NYHarbor.  A look here at the merchant marine capacity is to see a complete array of pretty little flags. The people who serve as crew come from as many nations.

This story comes from a seasoned tug captain:

When finished bunkering and pulling away from a visiting ship, the tug captain maneuvers to position the barge to catch its lines as the ship deckhands cast them off. The trick is to slide quickly beneath the lines, and to take up the slack, so that the lines land on the barge and not go in the water.

“But if they want them to go in the water, there’s really nothing we can do to stop them,” and so, sometimes, the lines are flung off into the drink, leaving the crestfallen tankerman below to retrieve the heavy, wet, freezing lines.

“Yes, it happens. The deckhands lean over the rail and gloat. And, a handful of times, from hongkong nationals, I’ve heard the accompanying: “Hahaha! You go now, Round-eye!’”

“What?! That is absurd!!! no self-respecting asian would say ’round-eye!’ Round-eye is a “round-eye’s” term!”

“Well, I’m at eye-level, and I tell you, I see them. They take the line off the bitt and let it slide through the chock, and there’s no way you can take up all the slack in time. When the line goes into the water, their heads pop out over, they look at each other and laugh. And they say, “You go now, Round-eye!”

According to this excellent source of street lingo in beijing, the more probable insult of choice at the friendly work level would be da bi zi, “big nose” (though i’ve heard this used as a term of affection when an old chinese father called his american son-in-law that.) “Round eye” would not work because big eyes are very popular in china, and women undergo the knife to widen the eyes. I suppose it could be insulting for a deckhand to accuse you of having plastic surgery.

Blissfully disregarding the fact that they are the foreigners and not allowed off their ships, chinese mariners may still refer to the NYHarborer as an “old foreigner”:  lao wai.

As for cultural exchange, a fascinating glimpse into the plight of the stranded, visiting mariner is depicted well in this Village Voice article. And over in our own Howland Hook, a personal shopper for the shipbound

Regardless of your nationality: If you are throwing lines in the water, shame on you! what would your parents say?

Another view on Hawsepiper. Thank you!

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Happy 4708, year of the metal tiger, from this water tiger! and,

Happy Valentine’s Day! happy Mardi Gras!!!

Thank you, Caro, for the inventory of insults, most of which I could not use on this family blog.

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

2009 World Maritime Day Parallel Event

The IMO (International Maritime Organization)’s 2009 World Maritime Day Parallel Event was held last weekend on Chelsea Piers:

chart

thomasjeffrsonNOAA Hydrographic Research Vessel
208′ Ship Thomas Jefferson
(
formerly one of three U.S. Navy survey ships, all named the USS Littlehales.)

rankinCoast Guard Buoy Tender
175-foot Keeper class Coastal Buoy Tender James Rankin (WLB 555)

bainbridgeCoast Guard Patrol Boat
110′ Island Class Patrol Boat Bainbridge Island (WPB 1343)

tempTug Boat
K-Sea Transportation Davis Sea

rb-mCoast Guard Medium Response Boat
45′ Response Boat-Medium (RB-M 45614)

Passenger Vessel: Statue Cruises ferry, Miss Gateway (sorry, not shown. She left before I could thaw out to draw her. Also, the advertised Staten Island ferry did not seem to be in attendance, but they are not far from this pier and our hearts.)

(not done yet! more to come on this event and the ships…)

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

Clippers in NYHarbor: Robin Knox-Johnston

Happy April 22–the 40th anniversary of the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race the first round-the-world, solo, nonstop yacht race. The winner was Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.

Messing about in Boats’ began the tribute, and has good post on the boat Suhaili and observations: “Sailing is one of the oldest forms of transport but has evolved so much in 40 years that boats can travel long distance distance 400-500% faster. Is there any other form of transportation that has evolved as much?”

70.8%twilight4 has put up an encyclopedic post and interesting read. Oh! this one’s cool: from Invisible Workshop! and this one is elegant: from Tillerman.
Many others have joined the tribute…(look here for the muster! It’s all hands on deck!)

My RKJ celebration contribution is to share this book: The Twilight of Sail, Robin Knox-Johnson. First American Edition 1979, G.P.Putnam’s Sons, New York

Beautiful black & white photographs (over 120) of clipper ships, full rigged ocean flyers, from the mid 1850′s and on.
Fascinating history:

• the first real clipper ship, the Rainbow, built in 1845, ran from New York to Canton in record time: roundtrip – 6 months and 14 days,
• the China Tea Races and the Opium run from India to China spurred the building of faster ships,
• the British Navigation Act forbade the carriage of cargoes by any other than British ships. When it was repealed in 1849, it brought on a flush of American clippers, like the Oriental, which did HongKong to London in 97 days, with 1,118 tons of tea on board,
• the British fought back, launching the Aberdeen clippers, a race which they won by 1855 taking the trade back from the Americans,
• the only surviving British tea clipper is the Cutty Sark in a dry dock at Greenwich.

procyon1

“The Procyon with [all sails] set…at 2,132 tons, one of the largest three-masted barques under the British flag, she distinguished herself on the maiden voyage by sailing to New York in fifteen days.”

lawson1

The largest schooner ever built, the Thomas W. Lawson, was built in Quincy, Massachusetts…she “measured 5,000 tons gross and had a waterline length of 385 feet. Her seven masts were each 193 feet hight and carried nothing but fore and aft sails. All her halyards, topping lifts and sheets were led to two steam winches, one on the forecastle and one aft.” Only sixteen men were required to handle her.

“…the building of the Suez Canal and the establishment of a road across the Isthmus of Panama enabled steamers to move in on these lucrative routes and brought the great sailing-ship era to an end.”

For now. Who knows which way the wind blows? For the stubborn few who continue to dream, take a peek here and sign up for a stint to learn the ropes (if you don’t already know), for when clippers return, we will need you: ASTAAmerican Sail Training Association.

And keep an eye out for more companies sailing products from harbor to harbor, like this one: Compagnie de Transport Maritime à la Voile.

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.

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