Bowsprite: A New York Harbor Sketchbook

tug Sea Lion

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2014/02/01
sealion
SEA LION
type: 1400 HP
built: 1980
length: 64.5 ft / 19.7 m
beam: 22 ft / 6.7 m
Tugster photos of the tug here, we wish the best for crew and company.

cgc bainbridge island, southbound

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2014/01/03

bainbridge

USCGC Bainbridge Island (WPB-1343)

Built: Bollinger Machine Shop and Shipyard, Lockport, LA
Commissioned: September 20th, 1991
Class and type: Island Class
Displacement: 154 tons
Length: 110 ft (33.5 m)
Beam: 21 ft (6.4 m)
crew: 2 Officers, 1 CPO, 13 crew
homeport: Sandy Hook, NJ

more stats here. But, what are they serving for lunch?

vhf prose: radio check

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2012/09/24

A captain was in the harbor at anchor when he heard the following over VHF 16:

Boater: “Radio check, radio check this is (name of boat).”

Silence.

Boater: “This is (name of boat), we are here at Sandy Point. I mean, Sandy Hook…doing a radio check. Please respond.”

Zip.

Boater, with annoyance: “This is (name of boat), someone please respond to our radio check.”

Mystery Mariner, with just a touch of playfulness: “Ok, sure…FUCK YOU!”

Ah, New York Harbor…I do love this harbor.

it is balloooooon!

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2012/09/09

oh my goodness. I really sat through this: F Troop.

A more scholarly link here

These navy airships have flown over NYHarbor. Spotted by Tugster this year on 11th June, above Sputyen Duyvil, Hudson River, betwixt Manhattan and da Bronx:

And, a parade of commercial ones, spotted by Control Geek just last week…

art show on the lighthouse tender Lilac!

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2012/08/11

“Ships of New York Harbor”

oil paintings of Frank Hanavan and illustrations of Christina Sun

open today! and on view until 31 August

Mondays and Thursday,  4 to 7 PM,

Saturdays and Sundays,  1 to 6 PM.

Reception: Thursday, August 30, 6 to 10 PM.
Music by the Jug Addicts!

Lilac  is berthed at Pier 25, Hudson River Park
at West Street and N. Moore Street

1 train to Franklin Street stop
A/C/E trains to Canal Street stop (exit at Walker Street)

LILAC is a 1933 lighthouse tender that carried supplies and maintained buoys for the U.S. Lighthouse Service and the U.S. Coast Guard.
More information about her here. We hope to see you there! Frank is there sundays, Christina will be there mondays.

lightship ambrose

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2012/07/01

Lightship Ambrose LV 87 / WAL 512
Built: 1907 by New York Shipbuilding Co., Camden, NJ
Length: 136ft. (41.5m)
Beam: 29ft. (8.8m)
Draft: 13ft. (3.9m)
Original Illumination Apparatus: three oil lens lanterns
Propulsion: Steam

This lightship was stationed in the Ambrose Channel since 1906, guiding vessel traffic through the main shipping channel just below the Verazzano Narrows bridge, into New York and New Jersey Harbor until 1967. She was given to South Street Seaport Museum by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1968. A light tower replaced it, was hit by ships a few times too many, and, now, the channel is marked by lighted buoys.

Now at the new! improved! South Street Seaport Museum under the fertile wing—nurturing wing?— of the City of the Museum of New York  this lightship was painted in March, and is now being restored and is open for visiting at Pier 16.

The wings of the seaport museum are alive: a new exhibit is up, nautical pieces from another museum I love, the American Folk Art Museum.

And true to the harbor’s spirit, the active gem of the museum, Pioneer, is sailing. Go onboard to sail in the harbor or go and volunteer and learn how to handle lines and many other things that may always serve you well…!

fun with AIS

Posted in AIS (automatic identification system) by bowsprite on 2012/03/07

Say It At Anchor

“You see? now if you had that damn thing on a lanyard, we wouldn’t have to do this.
What am I going to tell the office?”

“I’ll see you suckers on the one!”

Happy Hour

“Party in the Hamptons this weekend! Bring your grill!”

 *NOTE*: all unretouched screenshots (well, maybe the first one is tweaked a bit.)
Some names have been changed to protect the guilty.

DO NOT USE FOR NAVIGATION.

balls

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2012/02/04

Tips from Capt JJ: “One black ball means he’s anchored. After that, the more balls you see, the more f*k’d  he is.”

one black ball:
“Anchored.”

two black balls:
“Not under command. Underway, but no way on. Adrift.”
Unable to follow any rules.

three black balls:
“Aground. Displayed aloft.”

 two black balls, two diamonds:
“Vessel engaged in underwater work. Pass on diamond side; avoid ball side.”

Another beauty tip from Capt JJ: “You know how I remember it? girls love diamonds, so go for the diamonds. Or, you have to have balls to pass on the side with the balls. But the girls and diamonds one is easier, for me.”

ball diamond ball:
“Restricted in ability to maneuver. Working vessel.”

And, Capt JJ had to go there—“This is no good, either:”

— thanks, Capt JJ. I think.

If hungry for more, the COLREGS International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, published by the IMO, spells out in exhaustive detail the rules for lights, shapes (dayshapes like these), and sound signals.

Note:  *No vessel ever has absolute ‘right of way’ over other vessels.*  You can be the ‘give way’ (burdened) or the ‘stand on’ (privileged) vessel.

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!

time lapse of new york harbor

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2011/06/28

The great Control Geek, John Huntington, has made yet another incredible time lapse – of Upper Bay!

 

I love how the sailboats are so unpredictable, making loops, turns and spins. When the wind picks up, they get frenetic.

In contrast, the tugs and barges, plow through, steady and true to their course. It is like that in real time, but speeded up, it is very dramatic.

The tugmen sometimes call the sailboats “mosquitos” or “fleas,” but everything looks like waterbugs to me.

This video was shot on saturday when the high number of commuter ferries do not run. The gay pride sailboats go by at the end.

thanks, John!

CoastLink Hamburg

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2011/05/25

Many, many heartfelt thanks to CoastLink and David Cheslin, Gavin Roser, Antje Wiechern, and Margaret Williamson! Coastlink (headquarters in the UK) is an organization dedicated to the promotion of short sea and feeder container shipping in Europe. An incredibly informative conference was held in Hamburg last month, with presentations from major ports and a few new start-up ports. Representatives from ports in the Mediterranean/North Africa, Russia as well as several ones in Germany spoke.  To hear what was happening in short sea shipping today in Europe was eye-opening and borderline deflating, for we are so very behind in this country.

How many out there would like to band together to purchase a few cranes and open a little port near the train station? On a  large and professional scale, the Port of Workington did it.

David invited me to speak a bit on New York Harbour as Hamburg is facing the same issues of accommodating the new PanaMax containerships; they lack the air draft problem but have the water depth and dredging issues. It was an educational experience the whole way: a thumbdrive is a “USB stick.” And to them, a torch is allowed onboard: it’s a flashlight, not the open flaming thing we hunt monsters with in the woods. And I will present soon other things I learned from CoastLink. Thank you, again, David and Everyone!

Here is the slide show I presented:

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

I am an illustrator and have a blog on NYHarbor where I put up stories:

I am also a part-time deck hand on this hydrographic survey vessel.

This auspicious image…

…started off my surveying adventures: the single-beam sonar caught our boat’s wheel wash and the bottom below.

We have surveyed all around this island…

There is water access all around the island of Manhattan, into the boroughs of the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, connecting New Jersey, and out the Long Island Sound.
To the north runs the Hudson, up the incredible locks of the New York State and Champlain canals. Access to the Finger Lakes region is through the NYS Canal system that is 524 miles long.

Westward are the indomitable salt marshes, the silting arteries of the Passaic  and Hackensack, the very busy Kill van Kull and Arthur Kill, the Raritan river which once connected us to Delaware via a canal now long gone.

Passaic (80 mi/129 km)

Hackensack (45 mi/72 km)

Kill van Kull (3 mi/(4.8 km)

Arthur Kill (10 mi/16 km,)

Raritan river (16 mi/25.7 km)

The East river mingles with the Bronx River, and flows out into the mighty Long Island Sound and beyond. Or, runs inland as the Newtown Creek and the Gowanus Canal. Out the Narrows, the waters flow through Jamaica Bay, Sandy Hook…and out to sea.

East river (16 mi/26 km)

Bronx River(24 miles/39 km)

Newtown Creek (3.5 mi /6 km)

Gowanus Canal (1.4 mi/2.3 km)

Hackensack, Hoboken, Navesink, Lackawanna, Passaic, Raritan, Secaucus, Weehawken… these names tell me where these places are. However, to the Native American tribes who lived here, these names also described the water, which would reveal the food that was to be found there: the fish, the flora, the animals. And as nothing was wasted, it would also mean tools, skins and furs. Water, food, clothing, shelter: all are human necessities. The ships that ply our waters do bring clothing and materials to make shelter. However, food is not transported by water here: it is all flown and trucked in, most of it is brought to one place.

We have a ‘warehouse on wheels’ model. Whatever we need, we call in and order. Our stores operate the same way: including food stores.

“…there is less than a week’s supply of food in the entire food chain, while consumers—in contrast to America before 1960—hold less than a week’s worth of food at home…In their refrigerators.”

We depend upon the fact that the bridges will stay standing, the tunnels will remain clear, and that the roads that lead into the city will not be overwashed by storm surge. And that trucks can continue to roll in, rumbling over the abused bridges, tunnels and roads, burning fossil fuels in thick snarled traffic, beating up the infrastructure even more, and releasing pollutants into the air.

There are initiatives to bring regionally-grown produce into the New York Metropolitan area by water (please see “Alliances” for some of their links). The longest in the game have been the NY Soil and Water Conservancy, The Lower Hudson – Long Island RC&D Council with the USDASustainable Ports, HARVEST, Floating Food, the ShipCoop and others have joined either forces and resources or are working independently, and the number of good people with the desire to contribute to the cause is growing.

Of the models being discussed, the one which is the closest to being assembled and set into action is clean tug and barge work.
Roughly 60% of the tugs in the harbor are involved solely with petroleum transportation by barge, 30% do ship/barge-assist, and perhaps 10% move other things: aggregates (sand, gravel & stone), cement, scrap metal, paper recyclables, dredge spoils.

The tugs and barges are ready.  In some cases there are ships which would be better suited for the job. For example, Ro-Ro’s onto which trucks can be driven and transported. Passenger ferries with freight-carrying capabilities, would another model. However, we have many beautiful old single screw tugs, historic tugs all along the Hudson and up into the NYS Canal System that could take on the shipping work right away.

There are many obstacles, of which the large subsidies to trucking is the hardest to beat. Maintenance of truck-abused roads, bridges, and tunnels, and the costs of traffic congestion, air and water pollution, and accidents: these are all , or mostly, externalized costs not factored into the user-end price of trucking that is paid by a cargo consignee or the retail price of goods and services paid by consumers. A good report is here, published by the US Government Accountability Office “Surface Freight Transportation – A Comparison of the Costs of Road, Rail and Waterways Freight Shipments That Are Not Passed on to Consumers.”

An undeniable physical barrier is that which surrounds Manhattan: walled off waterfronts with no where to tie up:

We have the bollards, but they are lawn furniture.

Where there was once active piers, docks and slips, there is now crumbling remains.

And new construction does not have room for the working vessels. Unless it is a yacht.

Pier 57 was once an engineering marvel: a pier that was built upon three giant concrete blocks, used to receive ship passengers. And today? Abandoned.

The old warehouses of Erie Basin once stored sugar, grain, cotton, spices, flax, hemp, jute, wood, indigo, india rubber, leather, dried fruit, seeds, tobacco,
cocoa, coffee. They also let you drop your cobblestones ship ballast for a fee. Put in your application here today.

All along the waterfront you will find places that once welcomed passenger or cargo laden ships which now no longer do. If the infrastructure to dock a vessel is lacking, we will refit old landing crafts and pull ourselves upon the shore to unload goods. Except that there is hardly any  ground upon which to land. U Thant Island is taken.

Until recently, the waterfront was incredibly important and active:



A good write up is to be found here from Fordham University on how this was lost. The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 created the Interstate Highway and Defense Highways, essentially a massive subsidy to trucking (the least efficient means of freight transportation that exists besides air freight), relegating rail and shipping to second-class status.

Railroad cars once floated across the river, bringing in raw materials from the hinterlands and sending off manufactured goods back. The Erie Lackawanna terminal, hemmed in by development, has been beautiful preserved and will one day serve as a ferry slip, but is currently used more for film and photoshoots.

The NYNJRail, is the only cross-harbor rail barge service left. Once, hundreds of these carfloats would traverse the harbor daily. Keep an eye out for the Cross Harbor Freight Program.

Perhaps the most beautiful building in the harbor is the Central Railroad of New Jersey terminal.

Kudos to NJ for preserving this site, which is now on the State and National Register of Historic Places. Passengers and goods once travelled inland: today, it is a quiet sanctuary, living proof of Nature’s indefatigable force. Nothing we make–with all our might!–is going to last.

Everywhere around the harbor, testaments to the once-productivity of this city are to be found. The Domino Sugar factory is being condominumized.

Old factories built to last, last. But the industries themselves have not.Even upriver,  one can pass by abandoned plants, like the Adirondack Power and Light Company,

or this unnamed carpet factory. Mills, lumberyard, factories have all closed and the towns have never fully recovered from the loss of work.

Small family owned stores that were once plentiful and placed about in neighborhoods have been forced out, replaced by the Walmarts and KMarts which require a car to reach. Public transportation to the megacomplexes do not exist. The youth, lacking ways to getting to the malls, have no easy ways of earning wages, nor any venues in which to social. Gang activity is high in some towns.

The Henry Street Grain Elevator stands behind tanks,

and the old Todd Ship Yard cranes are now decorations for the IKEA shoppers to pass as they park over the largest graving dock that was filled in for their cars.

The loss of industry affects the maritime industry. There was once great a demand for tugs and experienced crews to run them. In the last two years, we lost two women-owned local tug companies.

What, then, does this city produce?

Garbage. Recyclables. Babies.

And  wastes. Here is the Dept of Environmental Protection‘s “honeyboat” bringing sludge from the Newtown Creek to the 134st dewatering plant. The human wastes are treated, dried, pelletized and sold for fertilizer for non-organic salad growers. Yet another reason to go organic.

So, that is what this city produces.

There is shipping activity, and even some short sea shipping activity: small containers on barge.

Oil is moved about, in barges or in small tankers.

Cruise ships, ferries, water taxis, tourist boats are on the water.

The fishing industry is active.

Recreational vessels abound, to the chagrin of the working mariner. Kayakers, swimmers all go in the drink.

Government vessels like this Army Corps of Engineer Driftmaster constantly ply the waters. Coast guard, harbor police (“Harbor Charlie”), buoy tenders, ice breakers drift or speed by.

Restoration of historic vessels is also active. This old lightship is now a popular bar and restaurant.

There is no shortage of dredges, scows and their tugs and supply boats.

The Kill van Kull  (kill is ‘creek’ in dutch) was once at a natural depth of 15-18′, and home to rich beds of oysters, clams, and fishes, surrounded by salt marshlands. Today, this major shipping channel has been dredged to 50′ below mean low water.

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.

This cutter suction head was used to drill through hard bedrock as an alternative to blasting. For videos of how this works, view these dredge animations on the ACOE site.

Here is one of three spare cutter heads, with a total of 52 teeth in each of the helical jaws. The cost of a tooth (which weighs 16 kg / 35lbs) is between $150 and $180 each, depending on size and manufacturer.In the wheelhouse is a large heavy black cabinet which sometimes shakes, vibrates and ‘walks’ around as the cutter head grinds through the incredibly hard bedrock, and at the end of the 12-hr shift, several of the men have to move it back.

Many thanks to Capt. Bill Miller and Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co., and Tugster for the dredge photos.

Where does the dredge spoil go?  as it is contaminated with PCB’s, special environmental buckets and scows are required to transport the spoil. Some of it is mixed with ash and concrete, and turned into landfill. For more information, you can download reports from the USACOE Dredged Material Management Plan for The Port of New York and the State of New Jersey.

Two golf courses have been created with dredge spoil: the Bayonne Golf Club, above, is an exclusive “scottish link” design. Liberty National is the other one.

Thanks to the ACOE of our and our army of dredgers, draft is not an obstacle to short sea shipping within the Harbor.

The air draft is however, an issue for some containerships. The air draft beneath the beautiful Bayonne Bridge varies with the tide between 151 and 156 feet.
(It was the longest steel arch bridge in the world when it opened on Nov. 15, 1931. Look for her sister bridge in the film, The King’s Speech, hanging in the office of Lionel Logue!)

$1.3 billion has been approved to raise this bridge up to 215 feet; and engineers intend to raise it while simultaneously keeping the bridge open to traffic. Many believe the project is necessary in order to accommodate larger container ships being built in anticipation of the widening of the Panama Canal in 2014. Here is the ACOE’s very thorough 69page reconnaissance report, created in 2009, the Bayonne Bridge Air Draft Analysis.

However, there are many who believe the raising of the bridge is an unwise use of money when there are better options.

“…Unlike the European Union, the United States does not have a comprehensive port plan therefore each port on the East Coast, from Florida to Nova Scotia is competing for the next generation of very large container ships. Instead of designating certain ports with deep unobstructed facilities as feeder or hub ports, and creating a fleet of very fast smaller ships to move container cargo to less accessible, but no less important ports in a coordinated way – US ports are competing with each other by building duplicate facilities for the few very large ships that are likely to call on East Coast Ports in the next twenty years.

When the Army transferred the Military Ocean Terminal Bayonne (MOTBY) to the City of Bayonne, those of us with an interest in the port, dredging, and the environment were heartened by the plans that included a state of the art container terminal for the largest of the ships that may call on the Port of NY and NJ (the so called post Panamax 10,000 teu container ships). The Bayonne Local Redevelopment Authority (BLRA) asserted that they would bring a port developer on board who would raise $500 million for a new container port, bringing with it more than 3000 jobs.

Not only could the former MOTBY be the closest port to deep channels – it will save billions of public dollars, avoid the height limitations of the Bayonne Bridge, and reduce the significant environmental impacts that will be caused by continuing to attempt to deepen the dangerous, narrow Kill Van Kull, and dredging more of the contaminated sediments of Newark Bay – the new port on the Harbor side of Bayonne, could be built using the newest most efficient container management technology including alternative fuel and electric vehicles, and direct transfer of containers from ship to trains or ships to container barges, or ships to container rail cars on barges.

The additional benefit of a new container port at MOTBY is its juxtaposition to the Global Terminals, and the Greenville rail yards. The MOTBY Port also creates a cross harbor synergy if the “cross harbor float” system is re-invigorated as is envisioned by the Port Authority of NY and NJ the new owners of the Cross Harbor Railroad. Taking all that into account, MOTBY is the premiere maritime asset in the Harbor and one of the most valuable maritime properties in the world.

The (pre-real estate meltdown) plan proposed by the Bayonne Redevelopment Authority (dubbed the Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor) is for high rise housing and offices, with a yacht harbor in the last huge graving (dry) dock in the harbor, and only a minimum amount of port commerce space, what appears to be one cruise ship berth…”

excerpt from Bridging the Gap by Andrew Willner

An obstacle to short sea shipping is the lack of many small ports distributed about, and the lack of infrastructure: piers, docks, cranes, ramps, storage facilities. Pictured above are the ports we have, and a very good listing of all the port facilities and their facts can be found here.

In NYHarbor, it is illegal to handle cargo without going through the International Longshoremen’s Association. I believe the going rate is $250 a lift: taking a container off a ship and setting it on wheels. Rolling and then transferring the container onto a smaller vessel would be another $250. Depending on where the vessel would be going, it might almost be worth it.

Jones Act. I’m not able to hold any sort of discourse on this complex subject but I surely can refer you to good people who can, and who would argue very intelligently for both sides of the case: those who want to upkeep the Jones Act to protect American workers and shipyards, and those who want to repeal or amend the Act to allow cheaper, foreign built ships to operate.

I can only say that if the Jones Act was completely repealed, many of my friends would be out of work, unable to compete with trained, cheap foreign labor, and we would lose what little manufacturing knowledge and ability we have.

Above: Union Dry Dock, before a captive audience.

More obstacles: policies that stack all odds against water transportation and lack of funds to change policy.

MARAD does not recognize the Hudson River, canal systems and the Sound as corridors, and will not approve new project designees until funding becomes available; MARAD will advise when they are accepting submitals. A meeting with the City Council revealed that they would like to see an full economitive study or white paper on watertransportation of regional produce, but do not have the funds to support one. The USDA has zero’d out all funds for the Hudson River Foodway Corridor initiative for this year. Coffers are bare.

dear Rigmor from Bornholm DK stands in front of a MARSEC sign at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.

Alternating between an (expensive) inconvenience to an absolute obstacle could be the tight security the government imposes upon all marine actions. At the time of this talk, the Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS) was in place, but has since been replaced. Which is good, because they never did use the blue or the green Level plates. They probably did not even have them made. The fear and suspicion that 9/11′s acts of terrorism has inculcated into law enforcement has affected all mariners, and affects even the workings of maritime photographers and sketchers with big drawing pads.

Dept Homeland Security’s TWIC program (Transportation Workers Identity Card) is a redundundant ID card, issued by Lockheed Martin, and not terribly popular with some mariners, as compiled here. You cannot move about waterfront areas without one, but you cannot move anywhere with one, either.

“The National Terrorism Advisory System, or NTAS, replaces the color-coded Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS). This new system will more effectively communicate information about terrorist threats by providing timely, detailed information to the public, government agencies, first responders, airports and other transportation hubs, and the private sector.”

Though not an obstacle as much as a frustration, new piers are being constructed for strolling of park goers and not for working mariners. However, it is a wonderful, hopeful beginning. It would be very good if those with funding to build such projects would consult with marine experts. Understandably, as park piers were not initially constructed with marine industry in mind, we’re happy with what we get.

Eagerly awaited new piers have large yokohama fenders appropriate for big ships hanging over water of depths of 6 to 10m. Tiny gates too small for ship brows and ramps are placed in front of pile clusters and bollards, and pier furniture blocks the entrances. However, they absolutely do deserve praise for building piers.

Crumbling, yet working, piers is what you will find in the Newtown Creek and the Gownus Canal:

“One of the most polluted industrial sites in America…containing years of discarded toxins, an estimated 30 million gallons of spilled oil, and raw sewage from New York City’s sewer system.  Newtown Creek was proposed as a potential Superfund site in September 2009,  and received that designation on September 27, 2010…Since there is no current in the creek, sludge has congealed into a 15-foot-thick (4.6 m) layer of “black mayonnaise” on the creek bed.”

3.5 mi (6 km) long, the Newtown Creek has vessel traffic going to the fuel tanks, pumping stations, waste treatment facilities, and recycling facilities.

Excavated in 1881 for commercial shipping and barge traffic, the Gowanus Creek became the Gowanus Canal. Lined with small industries and neighboring residential areas with chic bars and restaurants, it is a navigable channel: 7,500′ long, 100′ wide, and of depths from 4′ to 16′.

For over a hundred years, oil refineries, machine shops, gas and chemical plants, soap makers and tanneries all indiscriminately dumped industrial pollutants; compounded with discharges, storm water runoff, and sewer outflows, this water body ranks as the nation’s most extensively contaminated, pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to designate the Gowanus Canal a Superfund site on 2 March 2010. Read more on the ACOE’s Gowanus Canal and Bay Restoration Study.

However, the bridges work: here is a well-organized listing of the bridges. A call to the USDOT at (201) 400–5243 at least 4 hours in advance will insure that an operator is there to open the Hamilton Avenue Bridge, unless it is under maintenance.

According to the New York State Highway Bridge Data, “Based upon data submitted to the Federal Highway Administration in April 2010, about 12 percent of the highway bridges in New York State are classified, under the broad federal standards, as structurally deficient and about 25 percent are classified as functionally obsolete… ”

The incredible New York Canal System is an inland waterway that runs 524 miles into NY State, connecting the Hudson River, Lakes Champlain, Ontario and the Finger Lakes, the Niagara River and Lake Erie, passing through 25 counties and close to 200 villages, hamlets and towns. Depth and height restrictions are found here.

The locks are well-built and well-cared for, maintaining the equipment seems to be a source of pride with the operators. If the power went out, the locks would still work. “It would take 6 of us,” one man told me, “but we’d get you through.” Look here at Tug44‘s homage to the beautiful equipment and machinery!

There are many small regional farms located near water. We have the best land for producing dairy, and yet large subsidies to giant agribusinesses make milk from states across the continent ubiquitous and cheaper in the stores. The land upstate produces the best apples, yet in stores, apples from Washington state are trucked in and carried.

As one observer said at an Outdoors America conference on supporting upstate farms: “This IS a homeland defense issue!”

But the challenges goad us into being more resourceful:

(source unknown: pls notify us of owner of this photo, thank you)

if these good fellows had TWIC cards, we’d be set.

(source unknown: ditto)

And, we are willing to try anything. We might even have to go to the Big Guy: maybe Santa would let us charter his rig for off-season rates so we could ship by reindeer and sleigh:

photo: Bill Bensen

all other photos either by Capt Joel Milton or Christina Sun©2011

I have two other wonderful hosts to thank: Vielen danke e grazie to Hamburg urban planner and lighting designer,  Mario Bloem e Donata for food, shelter, technology and true friendship–

Mario: “No, Christina. NO more than 30 slides, otherwise it will be like those friends who show you their vacation photos, and if you bore them, it will be bad karma.”

Oops.

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.



marion m.

Posted in lighters by bowsprite on 2011/03/25

Marion M. (1932)

Material: Wood hull
Length: 60.6 ft.
Breadth: 22.5 ft.
Gross Tonnage: 41
Depth of Hold: 5.4 ft.

Lovely Greenport, L.I. wooden freighter which carried oysters, potatoes, lumber, cordwood, and stones for jetty construction. She plied the Sound, making trips from as far as Massachusetts to Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Jersey. Known also as “chandlery lighters,” these versatile little boats carried supplies and drums of fuel to ships lying at anchor in the harbor. She had simple hoisting gear, an A frame cargo mast. You can see her, floating at pier 16, on the east river.

jumbolaya

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2011/02/21

goodbye, Joe, me gotta go, me oh my oh!
me gotta go pole the pirogue down the bayou…


Under the cover of darkness, she sails under the Verrazano-Narrows bridge, heading south. What what was such a behemoth carrying? our upriver correspondent caught her boatload few hours earlier (thank you, Jeff)! Another hefty load here.

jambalaya, crawfish pie and fillet gumbo,
cause tonight I’m gonna see my machez amio


The ship is Dutch. Hm, jenever-infused crawfish, anyone? herring-gulf oyster po’boy?  cajun edam ‘cheesecake’ soufflé?  alligator nasi goreng (indonesian fried rice)? mmm!

Oops! they turned east. If they did a 180°, they could make it for mardi gras!

Don’t know the song? ah, but he’s the king!!!

pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-oh
son of a gun, we’ll have big fun down on the bayou!

vhf prose

Posted in Uncategorized, vhf by bowsprite on 2011/01/30

These lines were heard on various channels of  VHF (very high frequency) marine radio. Vessel names (where possible) and times were jotted in sketchbook margins or envelopes. All tugs have been changed to protect the innocent. or guilty.

“Coming to you as quick as my little propellers will take me.”


“We’re standing by, and we’ll keep knocking the fish outta the water until you get by.”



vessel 1: “Cap—you hanging out here?”
vessel 2: “No, this is my warp speed, believe it or not. You go ahead, I’ll take your stern.”

vessel X: “Oh, Yooooohoooo!”
vessel Y:  “Yeeeeeep?”
vessel X: “I gotta go move the buddha, so I’ll be right back.”
vessel Y: “Ok.”
vessel X: “And he’s gonna move it boat style, not boom style.”
vessel Y: “As long as he don’t get used to it.”

Ah! translation in the comments section! thank you, Yooohoooo!

vessel A (very cheerfully): “That you, Stupid?”
vessel B (equally cheerfully): “Cheeeeck!”
vessel A (in cartoon voice): “I’ll gitchoo…!”

middle of the night, buddy 1: “Look at at that moon!”
buddy 2: “Ah! I forgot what it’s like to do oil.”
buddy 1: “You still smoking?”
buddy 2: “Ha ha…well…I quit today. But I think I’ll go back now that you mention it.”

 

My absolute favorite VHF moment is here, “Are you angry?”

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.

cool charts

I love charts & maps, and here are some of my favorite sites:

Wikimapia: I like labeling, and it’s maddening to find someone’s beaten me. Clicking on the site will often lead you to the current occupier’s website, history, and other information. I’m always impressed with how thorough and fastidious my anonymous co-mappers tend to be. Map mode is easier to read street names. However, I like the satellite mode as some folks like to outline and label their boats! I’m still looking for the surveyboat–she was not at her slip the day of class photo. Please label resp0nsibly (anyone can label)! Friends don’t let friends label drunk.

Sturgeon Bay‘s out, Katherine Walker‘s out on the beat…everybody’s out working.

Google Distance Calculator / DaftLogic: Disclaimer claims that all distances are estimations, but this is great for measuring crumbling piers (in satellite mode).

So with this handy website,  you can see that the distance between Atlantic Salt and the DSNY Marine Transfer Station is, as the seagull flies:

8miles/12.6km/6.8nm

and yet we insist on rumbling over potholed roads, congested bridges, and through backed up tunnels to truck it, schlepping the salt through three four boroughs:

16mi/26.5km

when we could it tie it on seagulls’ legs and fly it!! duh!!

Antipodes Map: could we dredge our way to china? not by going straight through! we’d end up due west of Tasmania!
If It Was My Home:  this is a new find. You only feel like playing with this one once. Thanks, BitterEnd & RedRightReturning!

© 1987 D.Jouris/Hold the Mustard. All rights reserved. The copyrighted image may not be reproduced, altered, or transmitted in any format

Hold the Mustard: You in Funk? at War? in Hell? They have very fun maps! Thank you, David, for permission. Take a peek, place an order!

Upside Down and Unusual Maps: the last time I felt this disoriented was when I was driving the survey boat south, away from one of the many basins in Jamaica Bay. I was so confused: the chartplotter was north up, the manhattan skyline seemed east of us, the channel seemed south, my boss was checking our data, and I was tearing along at 20 kts headed straight for a shoal 1′depth at low water.

And! the Source—NOAA: Ode to 12327, Hommage to 12334!

¡Hola, fellow ChartLover! I have BOTH charts and Katherine Walker on here por te!

do you like your TWIC card?

Posted in Fleet Week, hydrosurveying, twic, vhf by bowsprite on 2010/06/03

Evaluation time! How are you liking it?

good things about having a TWIC:

• you feel like VIP breezing past long lines to get into Fleet Week at PST pier 90. You get to keep your metal water canteen and knife.
(if you do not have a TWIC, please do not bring nice water bottles or knives to see warships. The trash cans outside were full of caught contraband and it was a sad sight.)

• finally have something to hang on the Fleet Week swag ribbon.

• theoretically can attend barbecue on girlfriend’s tanker at Atlantic Basin (sorry I missed it, Carolina.)

bad things about the TWIC:

• though issued by Lockheed Martin, no airport security personnel will recognize what it is. (It has been pointed out that because of errant airplane activity, all working mariners are required to have TWICs, but not airport personnel nor pilots.)

• actually, no one who has requested ID from me knows what it is. Or worse, they got the nerve not to card me anymore.

• it does not grant you access to public restrooms or the concession stands on Liberty Island, even though you are on a survey boat that had a full security sweep with two policemen and a police dog before you began the job, and you were surveying their piers all morning for 4 hours, expertly dodging (boss did) the ferries laden with tourists going to the Statue of Liberty. The officer saw us making our long, slow runs all morning. When we docked to let me off (no head on the boat), he barred my way, saying I could not disembark because I did not pass through a metal detector.

• it does not grant you permission to go where commercial vessels with non-TWIC’d folks get to go. During the Fleet Week 2010 parade of ships, ferries and taxis were permitted to cross the line. One hard working harbor tug requested permission of the USCG patrol boat to transit alongside the parade on the east side to watch. Permission was denied, and the tug had to take the stern of the last coast guard boat in the procession, thereby missing the whole show.

Aren’t you glad you have a TWIC?

Before I sound like a total ingrate, many thanks, Hydrographic Surveys, for paying the $132.50 fee for my TWIC.

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!

——————————————————————-

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!

—————

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

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

Coast Guard Cutter ESCANABA (WMEC-907)

Posted in coast guard by bowsprite on 2010/03/24

Coast Guard Cutter ESCANABA (WMEC-907) – “Medium Endurance cutter”
Built: 1983, R. E. Derecktor Shipyard , R.I.
Class and type: Famous-class cutter
Displacement: 1,800 long tons (1,829 t)
Length: 270 ft (82 m)
Beam: 38 ft (12 m)
Draft: 14.5 ft (4.4 m)
Propulsion: Twin turbo-charged ALCO V-18 diesel engines
Complement: 100 personnel (14 officers, 86 enlisted)I do love deck fittings and ground tackle!

The CGC Escanaba was docked at Pier 17 this weekend.  Her history is here, their blog is here!

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.

The Rafts of Troy

Posted in art, junk in the harbor, tugs, vhf by bowsprite on 2008/09/04

0802
In front of the Colgate clock, I spy a raft towing a shattered houseboat. They are colorful, with scrappy sails on dubious masts, and I cannot make out if they are manned by crew, stuffed dummies, or–er–art. And, they say (on 13): “This is a raft, requesting miminum wake and safe passage.”

And, they get:
“You want safe passage, get a real boat.”
“Get out of the way!”

Undaunted, they motor on, and reach the Battery quickly.
Captain 1: “Uh, Mike, what the heck is that in front of you?”
Captain 2: “It’s…a pirate boat.”
Captain 1: (Laughing) “Hahaha, they all got life jackets on.”
Captain 2: “Yeah, I’d wear one, too!”

Captain 3: (in a raspy voice) “I want your booty.”
Captain 4: “Is the idea here to put garbage on the river to see if it floats?”

Raft: “There’s two rafts in front of you, in front of your starboard, requesting miminum wake and safe passage.”
Captain: “Get the hell out of our way!”

They make it past the Battery when at the World Financial ferry, two more assemblages go by. A police patrolboat has sort of stopped one.

In the meantime, the project is at http://www.switchbacksea.org/

They started out from Troy, NY, August 15, and will end the 3-week Hudson sail at Long Island City.

The NYTimes described it as “… part floating artwork, part performance, part mobile utopia and seemingly part summer camp for grown-up artsy kids.”

The flotilla is seven strong, all built of recycled motors and–things.
Well! welcome to our friendly harbor!

Hello, World!

Posted in about, contact, doodle, email by bowsprite on 2008/05/23

Bowsprite was born in NYC on Riverside Drive, grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens, and did not realize the Long Island Sound was just a monkeyfist’s throw away for the first four decades. Duh! But, there are so many of us New Yorkers like that, so I began this blog to show what surrounds us.

Our waters are amazing! Our waters have protected, nurtured, nourished us, and still today, bring us much of what we need to survive and flourish.
What is on the water? who’s out there? what is going on on the waterfront? Come to the water. Get on the water. Get IN the water!

I love the old boats we have, I admire the knowledge of people who know how to fix, maintain, and run some of these boats and ships. I admire the working harbor, and I’ve been lucky to find a little boat to work on, a little orange hydrosurveying vessel. There is a vibrant community of what Tugster calls “the 6th boro”, and it is thanks to them that I learn of the things that I record. I love ships, I love stories, I love the water, and with this blog, I get to combine it all!

I got into this watery world quite late. It began with the books of Jacques Cousteau, Dr. Eugenie Clark, Patrick o’Brien, but really became an obsession when I joined a team of swimmers to swim around Manhattan, and studied my first chart. I owe much to the people I’ve met who work on the Pioneer, Peking, Wavertree, & the Michele Jeanne who generously pass on their knowledge, passion and friendship.

This doodle is of a tin toy, a German christmas ornament. It dangles from my lamp, over a large pile of drawings of boats and ships I hope to post up soon!

Thank you for checking in! Thank you, Elizabeth and Will for helping me to begin this blog! Thank you, Dr. Wanderson, for the tag, Bowsprite.

(& in memory…)

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