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!

radar tuning

Posted in coast guard, Uncategorized, USCG by bowsprite on 2011/10/03

Pick a new recruit.

“Ok, kid. We have to tune the radar. We’re going to wrap you in this, 360° so we can monitor your movements. Try not to wrinkle it.”

“Don’t wrinkle it! God!”

“No. No good. I think the whole range has to be covered. Come back here on the boat, let’s get the arms too.”
“Yeah, and cover the neckline. We need a higher range here.”

“So, how is it?–Keep walking, but go slower.” “No, no. This is not good. I’m missing the top. Maybe we have to go higher.”
“Ok. Come back on the boat.”

“You can’t do that. He can’t see! How’s he supposed to stay on the dock?”
“Ok. Here. Eyeholes. And I’ll throw in nostril holes too. Boy, kid, this is your lucky day.”
“Ok, go back out there, please. This is taking too long.”

“Good! good! stay there! got it?” (camera taking photos)
“Ok! now move a bit more to the west. Just a few steps—stop! good!… ok! go back, move away from the boat… good!”

Thank you, Capt JJ.

and, this is great (“we need a wheelwash sample…”)

buoys move & sh!t happens

Posted in arts of the sailor, buoys, learn from them, pump out, USCG, USCG buoy tender by bowsprite on 2010/09/13

A Patchogue captain returning from Boston squeezed through Shinnecock Inlet, and was making good speed when he suddenly ran hard aground in Moriches Bay.

“I don’t understand! I’m in the channel!” said he, as he pulled out his paper charts and peered at his GPS. And—as real life is stranger than fiction—while he was there, a Coast Guard boat came from behind him, picked up the channel buoy, and dropped it about fifty yards east of where he’d grounded, and disappeared.

“Ah, ” he said as he slowly listed 45° to one side, “NOW I’m out of the channel.”

A Port Jefferson greenhorn was a glutton for punishment: electrocution from lightning, several dismastings, near sinkings and allisions were not enough to dissuade the new sailor from the sport. On one early voyage, he managed to bring his wearied self and his disheveled vessel to a dock where he found himself tied next to a fancy boat:  “There was a couple sitting on white cushions, they had white-carpeted boarding steps and a white french poodle.”  Our sailor wrestled to pump out his holding tank. “It exploded. It went all over everything. It went everywhere.”

Many, many thanks, Capt. Tim of the Flaming Scorpion Bowls!
and thank you, N!

boat time

Posted in dredges, safety, tugs, USCG, watercolor, drawing, boat, sketch, waterfront by bowsprite on 2009/12/15

This ship has a 12h watch system: 0600 to 1800, 1800 to 0600. The crew of 35 are on 6 weeks, off 6.
A front watch gets the sun. A back watch gets no sun–and no Captain down their backs.

This one is using a 7-5, 5-7 watch (0600-1300-1800-2300-0600), deviating slightly from the industry standard of 6/6.

This offshore tug has the luxury of a 3-watch system (the benefit of any voyage more than 600 nm): 4 on-8 off, 8 on-4 off.  Their breakdown is 0600-1000-1400-1800. “We do it this way so whoever cooks does not end up with the pots.”

You were on watch to see the sun rising, the smell of breakfast is cooking, the engine is loud, someone is hammering: it is time to go to bed.

I am not going to touch the fatigue issue on boats. However, I will direct you to some fascinating sites. The Nautical Institute urges mariners to report issues relating to fatigue as part of their database.

Peruse the USCG’s Crew Endurance Management literature. Reactions to it are on Towmasters and by NYTugmasters, with links to studies on the matter. Good reading on the experiences are found on Kennebec Captain and on Old Salt Shaker’s ‘rest in pieces’, ‘inhuman error’, and ‘groundhog day’.

A reference on these manning issues are here. Quite interesting is this 1984 case of seamen vs USCG. If you need help falling asleep, all the codes are collected here.

So, don’t request a tug to blow their horn as they go by: there is always someone trying to sleep. They fight constant noise, vibration, light, motion, odors; are interrupted by drills — I just cannot imagine it. As one chief mate puts it: “…bear in mind that we work aboard vessels that are essentially designed to collide with things…”

One offshore tug chief mate said, “I don’t know how harbor guys do it. I had to do it for 2 weeks, and at the end, I couldn’t remember my name.”

Another mate wrote: “It was a 2-watch system (captain, mate, two deckhands and an engineer) until the economy fell apart -  and then most ship assist tugs went to “singled-up” crews (captain, engineer, and deckhand) – don’t ask how they complied with work and fatigue…!”

Knowing all this, though, it still might help to take the advice of one well-meaning journalist girlfriend should you attempt to date someone who goes to sea/incommunicado for weeks at a time:

thank you Julie, Will, Jed, Robert, Wesley and O, Linked Ones!

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

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…)

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…

Fleet Week at Passenger Ship Terminal

To find the street that corresponds with a pier along the west side of Manhattan, subtract 40.  So:
pier 66 is on 26th street,
pier 89 is on 49th street,
pier 90 is on 50th street.
pier 40 is on Houston Street, or ‘zero street’.

Pier 89 and 90, Passenger Ship Terminal, is where the Iwo Jima and the USS Roosevelt were docked for Fleet Week.

iwojimastern

unfinished drawing of the Iwo Jima

What a crowd to see the Iwo Jima! How patiently people–children!–stood on interminably long lines to wait to enter the ship.

I set up in a quiet spot at the end of the pier 89, just past the throng, the booths with advertising, brochures, and paraphernalia, and past the navy ride simulator machine, but still within the boundary set up to pen visitors in from the end of the dock.

twicThe ship is daunting. She’s BIG, long, complicated, and I contemplated how to squeeze her bulk onto my sketch pad.

The smell of low tide was lovely (yes briny Gloucester and pristine CascoBay! NYC’s lowtide smells good!)  After drawing for 20 minutes, a marine with a big gun came by and apologetically asked me to move. “I’m really sorry. My OIC asked me to tell you, uh, but you have to go somewhere else. ” (oh? why? I’m not sure. Et cetera.)

Ok. How about here? I moved next to the ride simulator booth. I got a friendly nod, and continued to draw.  But after 10 minutes, another marine came by to tell me I could not stand there. No, I could not!–the exhaust from the ride was choking me.

I moved into the line of folks waiting for the ride, and my fellow citizens patiently accommodated by filing around me while I drew. Surely I can stand here? everyone’s standing here! More armed marines appeared. I continued to sketch, chatted with children.

Apparently, standing is not the issue. One OIC came to tell me that anyone standing in a place photographing–or drawing–for a long time was going to cause a bit of concern. He was very nice about it. I had my TWIC card suspended around my neck on a 1-800-USA-NAVY  ribbon I got from FleetWeek last year, and mentioned that I had worked on these piers, but he smiled apologetically and said, “You’re probably innocent, but, sorry…”  With the TWIC, I got the same reaction I get at airports–blank glance.

They who fight for liberty and freedom were good enough to grant me the liberty to finish my drawing, sort of.

I do understand their reaction, though. I think it was when I peered through the binoculars to see how the light fixture was attached on the stern of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship that I raised a red flag. I’m glad I left the VHF at home.

Perhaps it was the detailed drawings that they objected to. I turned the page, switched to a cut reed pen and loose-&-groovy mode. The kids liked this much better:

iwojimabow2

What are your rights, should you find yourself in a similar situation? US military personnel (including military police) have no authority over non-military property or people. I was not on the ship nor standing on a tank, but on the pier which is is owned by the City of New York, though was probably also a USCG regulated facility for the visiting ships and various cruise ship companies. On non-military installations, they have no jurisdiction. If it was a security concern, the police might have been called. No one ever told me not to draw, but I was not able to stand around to draw. Well. I chose not to make it an issue. There’s plenty to draw, it was a beautiful day, people were happy.

USSRoosevelt1

USS ROOSEVELT (DDG80), LOA-509′

For good photos and a literary stroll through the interior showing machinery, marines, where barnacles reside and the NAVY’s tweeting address, look here at Tugster.

I watched the marines in their various uniforms debark from the ship, pausing at the head of the gangway to turn to the river to salute the flag on the stern of the ship which was not visible. They would then come off the gangway and joyfully go off into the city with their comrades. I wish for them safe journeys, I wish for them to be able to return home, mentally and physically healthy.

I have the same wish, though, for those with whom they might cross paths, or swords.

Happy Birthday, Steamship Lilac!

lilacLHappy 76th Birthday, to the beautiful Steamship Lilac, a former USCG Lighthouse Tender! There will be a celebration on the Lilac on Sunday, May 24 from 5pm – 10pm. She is at the north side of Pier 40, the very west end of Houston Street. The ship is open Saturday for visitors. Here can be found more details. For beautiful photos, look here and here at Tugster’s catches. Gerry loves engines, and the love shows.

Happy birthday, Gerry Weinstein! other than pouring love, dough, sweat et cetera into the Lilac 1931, what other ships has he had a hand in rescuing or helping? Here is the list:

olympia
USS Olympia 1888, flagship of the Asiatic Squadron, at Philadelphia’s Independence Seaport Museum
Aqua
1918, South Street Seaport, –scrapped
Catawissa, a steam tug, –scrapped
Tug Pegasus 1907, Jersey City,–in operation

marywhalen
Mary Whalen 1938, coastal oil tanker, –dynamic in Brooklyn
Hestia, 34′ wooden steam boat
Elizabeth, steam ferry — wrecked, of which the engine Gerry helped salvage

LibertyBrown
John W. Brown Liberty Ship 1942, Baltimore — still steaming! her sailing season begins on sunday.

There may very well be more ships. Thank you, Gerry, Thank you, Mary! and to all those who support beautiful historic vessels!

Tugboat Pegasus was seen towing the Lehigh Valley Barge No. 79, 1914 after the wakes of the warships dissipated. Together, they make the Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge, and now at pier 84 with readings, circus acts, shanties. More information at Going Coastal’s writeup of watery events.

Also seen floating about the harbor: the new schooner in town, Clipper City, docked at Pier 17. Much ado on the waterfront…

What would Henry Hudson blog?

Safe and Happy Memorial Day Weekend to all on land and at sea!

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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