Bowsprite: A New York Harbor Sketchbook

george washington bridge

Posted in bridge, short sea shipping by bowsprite on 2011/05/25

In the New York metro region, trucks carry 80% of freight by tonnage. See Urban Omnibus’ article here. Thank you, Varick, Cassim, and Carter!

Percentage of Domestic Surface Freight Shipping Methods by Mode (in 2007):

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).

Short Sea Shipping in NYHarbor!

Posted in harbor shipping, short sea shipping, water access, waterfront by bowsprite on 2010/04/18

I love how that sounds! It would be, more accurately Very Short Sea Shipping, or simply, Harbor Shipping.
And expanding harbor shipping is only one suggestion for the Department of City Planning, who welcomes your voice in their Comprehensive Waterfront Plan for 2020. So, get involved!

Currently, our freight comes in as containerized cargo to New Jersey (Port Elizabeth, Port Newark, Jersey City-Bayonne), Staten Island (Howland Hook), and Brooklyn (Red Hook).  Everything is then mostly trucked around, with only some things moving off by rail.

Short Sea Shipping is the use of smaller vessels to bring goods from the central container terminals to various little ports around our city to get it all off the streets, and to you, via the water.

Your computer. Your clothing. Your chair. Your shoes. Your cup. The beverage in your cup (unless it’s good ol’ NYC tap–the best!). The dinner you will have tonight (unless you grew it yourself on your fire escape or illegally shot it in the park):  all these things we consume do not truly reflect what it cost to bring to you if we were to factor in the work and maintenance on roads, bridges, tunnels alone. (Not even going onto the topic of stress on the Mothership, yet.)

We are behind. Roughly 40% of freight in Europe moves by short sea shipping. And in Hongkong: mid-stream operation. Thanks, Carolina.

We currently have no little ports around our city, no working piers, limited usable docks, nowhere for feederships and lighters to tie up, some stevedores, but, no cranes for longshoremen to operate, nor storage facilities or transit sheds to hold the break bulk. (Notice, above, how many piers there were in 1933? A bit of history here on how we lost it.)

However, we have the water. NYC is richly blessed with waterways that can transport stuff into the hinterlands.

Here is what it might look like. As long as I am allowing my imagination to run amok and it is all theoretical, I shall be generous:

the newtown creek floating market & pick up point

oh, and while i’m fantasizing:

But here are the ones who know much more: America’s Marine Highways and Deep Water Writing‘s good starter package!

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Thank you, Department of City Planning, for opening the dialog for  VISION 2020 (clever!)

A very good write-up of the evening’s 4+ hr meeting was made by Frogma, found here, with interesting comments.

I regret to say, their ‘before’ slides were WAAAAAAY better than what they envision in the ‘after’ ones:

before

after

They proudly showed slides of “increased waterfront access,” but it looks exactly like the “waterfront access” we have now, which–getting to work for me–is:
• look to be sure no parks police are nearby
• climb over metal rail
• step on boat at the safest moment, or jump down if boarding at low tide.

It was put so well at the meeting from a commentator: we’d like not just ‘waterfront access’, but water access.
Yes! please, and thank you!

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where to get it: skysails, trailer bikes, cargo bikes, tallship

(the Le Havre adventure/drawings! coming! coming!!)

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