Bowsprite: A New York Harbor Sketchbook

so you work on a lightship? wait for the punchline…

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2011/10/29

Lightships were floating lighthouses placed in dangerous areas by the United States Lighthouse Service (later incorporated into the United States Coast Guard.)

In addition to maintaining the light, they had bells or horns which sounded to warn passing vessels of  shoals. One CG chief petty officer told of his days of making deliveries to several lightships, before they were replaced by the large “monster buoys:”

“We would bring food and new crew about every 10 days. They often lived on the fish they caught. Most of those horns were 4 second every 2 minutes—24 hours a day, 7 days a week!

“You know what was funny? when we picked up the guys at crew change, they’d stop while they were talking every few minutes. They were so used to stopping for the horn that the pause ended up in their speech. It would take them awhile to adjust.”

 thank you, again, Capt J.J.!

The yacht Nantucket is in town, in the Morris Canal, across from the full-time, office WinterQuarter. Also, see Brian LaFloca’s children’s book, “Lightship,” which has beautiful illustrations of life aboard a lightship.

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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.

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!

a docking in cherbourg

This story is told by Sandy Eames, a tallships sailor, so it must be true:

A schooner came into Cherbourg, France to dock. As it approached the wall, its bowsprit impaled a 2CV. The skipper put her into reverse, but it as the waters would have it, the bow lifted up as it backed out, and the boat took the little car out with it. And as luck would have it, the cafe overlooking the dock was full of diners who could testify that Sandy’s tale is true.

Si vous etiez present lors de cet evenement, merci de nous envoyez votre temoignage pour confirmer sa veracite!

I love the rich colors of Technicolor and Kodachrome! The 1964 film, Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, however, was shot on the unstable Eastman negative stock. The director, Jacques Demy, knowing that the negative would fade quickly, had three color bands shot on black and white negative, and thirty years later, created a new color print that is lavish and rich.  The entire film’s dialog is sung! it takes a bit of getting used to, all composed by the incredibly prolific Michel Legrand, who also helped to digitally remaster the score for the new version. The experience is something else: elegant dresses matching the wallpaper, beautiful old painted numbers on the bows of fishingboats, sailors in their uniforms, umbrellas, cobblestones, a sweeping, teary score… Probably not shown on a tug flatscreen soon, but here is it, because it is beautiful!

Ah! restoration. It ain’t just for ships.

And, in a “of all the gas joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine” moment…

(click on the youtube link, then on “cc” to view subtitles)

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.

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