dare! and tugboat race & contests

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2015/08/31

octopusBlueDarewell, thanks to Pecs for muscling me into drawing mode.

This Sunday! one of the rare chances to see crew inside those tugs come out! in the flesh—and a lot of flesh, at the tattoo contest (which I don’t see on this year’s line up…?)

23rd Great North River Tugboat Race & Competition

Sunday, 6 September 2015
10am -2pm
Pier 84:West 44th Street and Hudson River Park, NYC

10:00am Parade of Tugs from Pier 84 (w 44th st./hudson river park) to the
start line @ Pier I at w 70th st. in Riverside Park South

10:30am Race Starts (runs from Pier I to Pier 84)

11am Nose-to-nose pushing contests & Line-toss competition

Noon Amateur line-toss & Spinach-eating contests

1pm Awards Ceremony

2pm Tugs depart

more information at the Working Harbor Committee’s site.

skyport marina / Tugboat Race on North River tomorrow!

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2014/08/30


Former east river site of the 23rd Street Ferry with ferries once running from Manhattan to Williamsburg and Greenpoint, Brooklyn, as far back as 1857, this lovely concrete structure today is a parking facility. Party boats and dining cruisers dock here.

Color to come. Just wanted to post to say: Tomorrow, Sunday! the Working Harbor Committee‘s 22st Annual Great North River Tugboat Race & Competition takes place
Sunday 31 August
West 44th Street & Hudson River

10:00 AM – Parade of tugs from Pier 84 to the start line.
10:30 AM – Race starts – From South of 79th Street Boat Basin (near Pier I) to Pier 84.
11 AM – Nose to nose pushing contests and line toss competition.
Noon – Tugs tie up to Pier 84 for lunch and awards ceremony.
Exhibits, amateur line toss, spinach eating contest
1 PM – Awards ceremony. Tugs depart at about 2 PM.

I don’t see the tattoo contest on the agenda, but I’m sure wardrobe will come off and ink will be revealed. And the night shift crew will try to sleep through it all.

how to simulate the tugboat feeling

Posted in tugs by bowsprite on 2010/09/04

you have tugboat life envy? I have tugboat life envy. Envy no more! now you can enjoy the same benefits tugwomen/men have in the comfort of your own home:

1. Sleep on a shelf in your closet.

2. Replace your closet door with a curtain.

3. Five hours after you go to sleep, have your significant other whip open the curtain, shine a light in your eyes, and say “time to go on watch”.

4. Renovate your bathroom. Build a wall across the middle. Move the shower head down to chest level. Install the hot/cold, on/off valves backwards.

5. When you take a shower, turn off the water while soaping.

6. Every time there is a storm, sit in a wobbly rocking chair and rock as hard as you can until you’re nauseous.

7. Put diesel fuel in your humidifier instead of water, and set it on “high”.

8. Using a spray bottle filled with diesel fuel, lightly mist your clothes.

9. Don’t watch TV, except for videos in the middle of the night. Take a vote on which one to watch, and then watch a different one.

10. Leave a lawn mower running in your living room 24 hours a day, to provide the proper noise level and exhaust odor.

11. Have your paperboy give you a haircut.

12. Store all your trash beside the chimney in the sun for a month.

13. Wake up every night and eat a peanut butter sandwich.

14. Make up your family’s menu one month ahead.

15. Set your alarm clock for random times. When it goes off, run outside and break out a fire hose.

16. Once a month, take apart every major appliance in your home, and put it back together again.

17. Use 18 scoops of coffee per pot, and let it cook for 6 to 8 hours. Call it tugboat coffee.

18. Invite six to eight people you don’t really like to stay with you for two or three months.

19. Install a reading light under your coffee table, and do all of your reading there.

20. Raise all the doorway thresholds, and lower all the top sills in your home, so every time you pass through you hit your head or bang your shins.

21. Lockwire all the lug nuts on your car.

22. When baking cakes, prop up one side while baking. Then, when finished, level it up with frosting.

23. Every so often, throw your cat in the swimming pool, and yell “Man Overboard!”

thanks Capt. Rustchak! compiled by Marc Jobin,
and written by those who live the life (Misunderstood Mariner.)
Need more? go here, then go beyond just this post,
and poke around this blog…¡buxomly illustrated!

Old wooden Lehigh Valley Barge #79 & the Tugboat Pegasus

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2010/08/27

Come to the fundraising event tonight at the new Brooklyn Bridge Park, 5 – 8pm! Two old wooden classics that are as busy as any other working harbor vessel are open to the public!

The Lehigh Valley Barge #79 (1914)  is the last of its kind: a wooden covered barge which used to transport anthracite coal in our harbor. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and under the direction of David Sharps, it is now the Waterfront Museum, and presents readings, concerts, circus acts, and currently, a painting exhibition.

The tugboat Pegasus (1907) was built for the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, by the Skinner Shipbuilding Yard of Baltimore, Maryland. She is still working, under the command of Capt. Pamela Hepburn. Together, they present the:

Tug & Barge Tour:
August 26 – September 1 at Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 6
September 2 – 6 at Hudson River Park’s Pier 84 (42nd St.)

Park leadership has generously provided the docking facilities to accomodate visiting vessels and the Tug and Barge are thrilled to be the first of (hopefully) many historic martime vessels to dock at the renovated pier! On Tuesday evening, be sure to stop by for our community fundraiser and meet some locals who are engaged with the renewed shorelines of Brooklyn and beyond.

Tuesday, August 31 Community Fundraiser 5 – 8 pm
$35 refreshments & entertainment reservations recommended

behold and be stirred: Tugster‘s photos of the sail while underway…

does anybody else in here feel the way I do?

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2016/02/09

“Does anybody here remember Vera K?”


Ship Builder: Main Iron Works, Houma, LA
Year: 1967
Length: 68.8 ft / 21m
Hull Depth: 6.2 ft / 1.9m
Hull Breadth: 22.2 ft / 6.8m
Hailing Port: NEW YORK, NY

Vera K is now Bobbie AnnVera Lynn is still active!  Tough gals, the two Veras.


Cape Henlopen

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2014/03/09


“I was a  deckhand on her from 1999 to 2003, and a relief mate from 2004 to 2011.

 She’s a tough old boat.  327 ft long.  You could stand at one end on a rough day and watch it twist in the swells.   As you know she landed at Normandy on D Day as the LST 510.    One of a small group of LSTs that actually returned from From the invasion.  LSTs were built as throw away vessels that were never intended to come back, so it’s amazing that she did, and even more amazing that she is still working.

Last year we took the WW II Vets out for a wreath laying. The mate and I found a vet standing on the car deck.  We asked him if he was alright.  And he told us that this was the spot he was standing on when he heard a torpedo skid along the bottom of the hull.  It did not explode and just bounced off of the bottom of the boat.”


Name: USS Buncombe County (LST-510)
Builder: Jeffersonville Boat and Machine Company, Jeffersonville, Indiana
Laid down: 27 September 1943
Launched: 30 November 1943
Commissioned: 31 January 1944
Decommissioned: 1 July 1946

Displacement: 1,625 long tons (1,651 t) light
3,640 long tons (3,698 t) full
Length: 328 ft (100 m)
Beam: 50 ft (15 m)
Draft:   Unloaded : 2 ft 4 in (0.71 m) forward 7 ft 6 in (2.29 m) aft
Loaded : 8 ft 2 in (2.49 m) forward 14 ft 1 in (4.29 m) aft

Depth: 8 ft (2.4 m) forward 14 ft 4 in (4.37 m) aft (full load)
Propulsion: 2 × General Motors 12-567 diesel engines, two shafts, twin rudders
Speed: 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Boats & landing craft carried: 2 LCVPs
Troops: Approximately 130 officers and enlisted men
Complement: 8-10 officers, 89-100 enlisted men
• 1 × single 3″/50 caliber gun mount
• 8 × 40 mm guns
• 12 × 20 mm guns

Now owned by Cross Sound Ferry Services.
Thank you, Birk, once crew of the lovely Cape Henlopen.
And thank you, Peconic Puffin, EastRiver, Tugster, Walt, Rembert & ODock for poetic contributions at the What Ship Is It game! Stay tuned next time for when someone has to post a ship and does not get back to finishing the ship nor naming it for over a week; you’re a great audience, thank you and good night!

tug Pushy

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2014/01/16


type: ?400 HP twin screw push boat
built: 1992? by Frank J. Weckesser, Southern MA
length: 26 ft / 7.9 m
beam: ? ft / –m
draft: ?ft / — m

drawn to scale where .25″ = 1′:


26′ tug = 6.5″
125′ barge = 31.25″
10′ wave = 2.5″

The story is herevery happy crew is safe.

thanks to Tugster: need an image or stats of a vessel? call Tugster.

Tagged with:

welcome, Ceres, to New York Harbor!

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2013/10/24

She did it!


The homemade wooden sailing barge set out late September and sailed 300 miles, from Ferrisburgh, Vermont to here, rounding the Battery sometime this morning.
And if AIS is to be believed, she is stemming the tide there for six hours, now. What fortitude!

The journey has been incredible, and I hope at some point, the log will available for reading. For now, we followed this account, which has managed to be updated, in between planting, harvesting, loading, building, planking, ballasting, poling, sailing, and now, stemming…

The seed:

“…a group of farmers builds a basic boat and sails their produce to market…(it) has worked here in the past, and can work again…22 miles of canal passage…There are nine locks, raising us in elevation a little and dropping us back down again…”

went to this entry:

“…Ceres is a flagged vessel of the United States merchant fleet.  Imagine that!  A few short months ago she was just a stack of sheets of plywood!”
Hooray for the USCG! semper paratus! We ♥ the USCG.

“Over the past five days a mind-blowing variety of agricultural products, a true cornucopia of the north country, was rallied both to my farm in Ferrisburgh and to the colonial-era shipping warehouses of Chipman Point Marina.

“None of us ever having loaded a cargo vessel with tonnage before, we had to guess at it.

“Ceres weighs about 7000 lbs empty.  We added 5000 lbs of ballast to make her 12000 lbs.  Now she is loaded to a total displacement of about 36000 lbs, meaning that we have loaded in about 24000 lbs of saleable (sail-able) cargo.”

She is here! You can visit this lucky, plucky FIRST cargo vessel since many moons from upriver at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on Saturday, or, the manhattan side on Sunday.
Love this sighting from Tug44 from his front yard.

You can still put in your order here:

Ceres is the goddess of grain crops and agriculture. She is also on the New Jersey State seal.


how to swim near a lock

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2013/09/10


Really, don’t do it.


The Hudson beckoned, I obeyed. Swimming towards a dock near the lock (before the canal cruiseship had arrived), I realized I was making no headway. It was shallow, but I was not grounded, I know I wasn’t.

Guardian boatsmen, Mike Schmidt (of Allyson Ann, pictured below with blue cap) and Stuart Pate (Dragonfly) motored over: “The lock opened and we were swept away, we figured you’d be caught, too.” Completely nonplussed, and, completely nonjudgemental, as in, no “what the bleeeeeep is wrong with you?!”
Thank you, Mike and Stuart! and to their better halves, handing out goggles and moral support.

prop check of Mame Fayphoto: Tugster

“Oh, while in you’re in there, can you check my props? Make sure nothing’s bent?” said Capt Bill Curry of Eighth Sea.

It was scarier than I thought–yet nothing deeper than 3′. It was all metally, creepy crawly tendrils up the thighs, dark and cold. I heard a strange bubbling beneath me as if souls embedded in the bottom were murmuring. And dammit, I couldn’t find the props. Kept popping up for breath, then crawling further under Mame Fay. Finally found it, all four blades intact and not bent. Thus ends my marine surveyor gig. I don’t know how you gals and guys do it. And oil rig welders: ok–write me for a free blowspittle bottle opener.

So much thanks to our host, Fred, Capt CPO Bill, Mike Byrnes (CG, tug Urger), JED, Larry, Marie, and as always, Will! Look to Tugster and Dupee FB for photos. Beautiful, wonderful old tugs, convening at a great spot in a cool town, a warm community. We love these tugs — and the very special people who work on them–truly, words fail me.
xoxo c!

Working Harbor Committee Tug Race

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2013/09/03

Tugster, Control Geek, (and others to come) all have great photos of the Tug Race.

My favorite thing about this event is that mariners and we mere mortals get to meet and mingle. It is a mix that is too brief. And, always, I think about the relief crew, in their berths, trying to sleep through all the mayhem so that they are alert for the nightshift. They are the ones who have to miss the race, the waterworks displays, the fluttering flags, the spinach eating contest, the line toss, the tattoo contest, the donkey with the PDF and glittery hooves…

When Debora Miller sashayed by with the donkey, Rene of Fireboat J.J. Harvey said, “Well, the dog and the crab just lost.” Indeed, Buddy won.

Before the race, tugs came to practice for the line toss contest:



deckertossMike Abegg practicing before the race. Capt: Aaron Singh



This building with the flag marks the “Finish Line.”


Control Geek mentioned the power of the tugs. The wake they all threw at the finish line was breathtaking.



pushing contest




Circle Line tug. Need a tug? go see Gus (Gus Markou, owner) Name of tug? SeaGus.
According to John McClusky, thank you!



I just missed the tattoo contest.


This is why Intrepid ‘grounded’ that November 6, 2006: the west slips of the piers along the lower Hudson silt in at a rate of 10-12″ a year.

Watch how the pro’s do it: results of the line toss contest to come.

We all have a lot of photos, I have profiles of tugs at check-in, before the race. Give a shout if you would like a photo of your tug.

And, that night, listening to vhf13, I heard Red Hook, back at work, moving and pushing as if she had never stopped to take a break and show us what she’s got.

come to LILAC’s 80 birthday celebration this sunday!

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2013/05/21


This Sunday, USCGC LILAC (WAGL-227) is turning 80. Come for local crafts, local brews, music and mirth.

LILAC ran on steam, and you can go into her engine room, imagine it running and sounding like the engine room of San Pablo of Sand Pebbles, and peer into the big cylinder where a piston was removed. Keep one hand in your pocket if you venture near the main electric board with the Frankenstein switches. Better yet: don’t go near there.

Lilac has a diesel stove.
When Girlfriend with a Tanker tried to make paella for her SupperClub on her diesel stove, the passing ferries threw wakes that kept sloshing the broth out over the low freeboard of the paella pan. And if that is not difficult enough: there’s no way to control the heat.

One tugboat crew cut rings of varying thicknesses from a discarded steel drum picked up along the KVK, stacking and swapping  metal rings while cooking until done.
“You want those eggs how? hahahaha.”

Class: Lighthouse Tender, Buoy Tender
Launched: 1933
At: Pusey & Jones Shipyard in Wilmington, Delaware

Length: 173 feet, 4 inches
Beam: 32 feet
Draft: 11 feet, 3 inches
Displacement: 1,012 tons
Propulsion:Two 500 HP triple expansion engines supplied by two oil-fired Babcock & Wilcox watertube boilers.
Armament: During WW II, 3 inch 50 cal., two 20mm 80 cal., and two racks of depth charges.

information from Naval Historic Ships Association

USS Mitscher (DDG-57)

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2013/01/24


USS Mitscher (DDG-57)
Ingalls Shipbuilding, 1992
Homeport: Norfolk, VA
Length: 505 ft (154 m)
Beam: 66 ft (20 m)
Draft: 31 ft (9.4 m)

33 Officers
38 Chief Petty Officers
210 Enlisted Personnel

At Stapleton Pier / The Sullivans Pier, Fleet Week 2012. With the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in the background.


Chock-a-block of eye pads…unlike this unidentified ship, with a dearth of panama chocks.

Line handling these days must be damned bitter cold. Oof!

Thanks Tugster and Birk!

Harbor Ferry Service

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2012/10/12

Today is the last day of Harbor Ferry Service in New York Harbor.

The stewardship of the Governor Island boats was left to this small company eight years ago. They have cared for these vessels, bringing one, the Lt. Samuel Coursen back from the nearly dead.

Her sister ship, Minue, caught here by Tugster just below the west side of the Bayonne Bridge, shows you the fate that Coursen narrowly escaped.

The other vessel on Governor’s Island, Swivel, a 65-foot Harbor tug, is in beautiful condition; the stewards were there working on her engine even yesterday afternoon, the day before the handover:

Repairs, maintenance, upkeep: all that was possible, was done on Coursen and Swivel in-house on the island.

In Fall 2010, the New York Harbor School hoisted their school flag on Governors Island. The Coursen takes teachers, students, and visitors during the day; the Swivel ferries at night.

USCGC Swivel (WYTL-65603)
built: 1961, Gibbs Gas Engine Co., Jacksonville, FL

Sounds of the harbor! helicopters galore. Mary Whalen in the background. And it’s yellowjacks season!

“Bell Commands: 1 ahead, 2 stop, 3 back, 4 full.”
“Do not operate this vessel over 800 rpm.”

Yankee pier, Govenor’s Island

As the Harbor School Captain told his class of high school juniors yesterday (above): “Tomorrow, as you ride home, as you get off the boat: thank them. They have been good to us, they have been generous to the school, they have always been accommodating to us, for whenever we needed them. You are boat handlers, now. You know what it is like to take care of a boat. So you know a little bit of how they feel. Please thank them tomorrow.”

Thank you, Capt. Greg and Benny. Good luck to you and Harbor Ferry Service.

Both vessels will continue to run ferry services under the new management of Hornblower Marine Service starting next week.


Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2012/03/18

New Orleans! I love the sultry breezes, the smells, the birds. I love tugspot hopping down 308, pulling over every few miles to look at the shrimpers, sponge harvesters, and to wave at the friendly tug men on Bayou Lafourche. It is amazing to see what places look like, places that were only names before this trip: Lockport, where Thoma-Sea’s shipyard is, Des Allemands where Candies is, Larose where Edison Chouest is. Got to peek at the tops of three CG cutters at Bollinger’s at Lockport and the grey trapezoids of three big vessels at Avondale. This is where the ships are built!

I love the swirly, mocha chocolata river — man! is it cold! love the names of the boxy, wedding-cake tugboats, love the nonstop parade of cargo ships, freighters, and LONG tows of coal, grain, and what looked like scows and scows of oyster shells.

Oh, and I love beignets! first time for all of this wonder! see here for some of the adventures on the Mississippi!

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!

frazil ice

Posted in ice by bowsprite on 2010/01/13

Sorry, no sound. The slushing of the salty icewater is mesmerizing, but the camera picked up too much wind. This is taken just north of pier 40 on North River where the noble fireboat McKean and the beautiful steamship Lilac, the old USCG lighthouse tender are docked.

Could any of this have drifted down by some shaking going on upstream? See Tugster icebreaking on Rondout Creek with Matt and the tug Cornell.

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!

how to swim from a schooner

Posted in by bowsprite on 2009/07/08

Tugster is running a Swim Day post today. So, Happy Swim Day! What better way to celebrate than to jump into the harbor? Is it legal? yes! sort of.

Here’s the catch: you cannot enter the water from anywhere near the shore. Land and waters 100′ off the sea wall or piers around the city is either state or city owned, and is therefore is under jurisdiction to patrol. If you try to swim within 100′ off the shore, you will be fished out and fined dearly. You may apply for a permit to swim in an organized event, but easy access to and from the water is dependent on where you enter and leave the waters, and there are many regulations that discourage a quick dip.

Or, you can jump off a boat offshore. What is the law there? there is no law. The police who come to pick you up willbring you in for something, but not for swimming.  And if you ask them why you can’t swim, they’ll say, “Well, this is how it is because I’m telling you that’s how it is.”

So, should you try this, here is the one big rule: Do not make any captain do paperwork.

Do not inconvenience YOUR boat capt, do not trouble the captains hauling oil, cargo containers or cars, do not freak out the big DEP boat captains, do not worry the many tugboat captains, the small workboat captains, the ferry and watertaxi captains, the tourist/dinnerboat captains…et cetera. What you do to yourself is up to you!

So, as I have had access from a schooner, here’s how to swim from a schooner:

ready 1. (The hardest:) Find a captain who will let you off her/his boat.
They’re all hardwired to keep you ON the boat, so you will be very hardpressed to find one that will actually let you off.

Your ship will most likely be anchored. If a capt will let you off a boat underway, s/he wants to put you out of her/his misery, in which case, don’t go.

Determine current direction and strength before you go in. I throw in a small piece of food, leaf, or twig.

bowsprit 2. (The easiest:) Jump off.

ciao! 3. (The most fun—well, it’s all fun:) Swim.     float

(Best to avoid propellers, even if engine is idle.)


4. (The MOST INELEGANT:) Come back aboard.
To come back onboard, you’re lucky if the capt rigs something from the davit for you, or has something off the side if the freeboard is low enough. But I’ve never had this extra courtesy and I’ve never pushed for it since they look the other way to let you go in. So, climb up the headrig. It is never elegant.

At anchor, the chance that the ship runs over you is slightly less than when underway. Slightly. She will hopefully pull away from her anchor chain. Approach from the side front.

Be aware of the dolphinstrikers or martingales! Lower Bay was the most exhilarating to swim because of the swells, the openness, the big containerships steaming by, however, it was also where I watched that martingale go up very high and come slamming down deep into the water. Watch your head. Grab the chains of the headrig when the martingale is at the lowest point for a free boost. Scurry up the slimy chains before the next swell or you will return to your original position with force; hold on tightly.


The martingale stays chain will be quite slippery and green with moss and slime. If you are clever, you picked a schooner with a low bowsprit and corresponding footropes of the net. Grab the ropes of the net, then pull yourself in by holding the hawse, scuppers, anything. Don’t grab the staysail or jib: it unfurls. Then before climbing back onboard, yell “Laying off!”as if you were just out for a moment tying a few clove hitches to secure the jib.

headrig layingon

Photos M.Riff. Thank you, M!

Ah! Sailors DO tell good stories!! Three good swim stories on Tillerman’s site: the last one is a doozy! his site is a doozy.
And MessingAboutInBoats gives you beautiful peek into another world, another time, and writes it in a way that makes you want to hold your bowl up and with big puppy eyes say, “More please.”
Postcards brings you a tale from the depths of the pool, also another time, another place, complete with beautiful sketches!
Yes! teach your little ones how to swim! So so so important! kudos to AMoveableBridge, JollyTar, and more!

TheLongIslandGuy said, on 2009/07/01 at 04:31

I didn’t realize the water quality in New York Harbor was fit for swimming. So what made you jump off a boat in the winter? (Everyone has their coats on but you.)

bowsprite said, on 2009/07/01 at 08:03

The water is lovely! and there are many races around the island.
This set of photos was taken at the end of october 2007 on a painting art sail (notice easels). The Hudson River sail was to go paint colorful leaves, but the subject refused to cooperate.
Air temp was chilly, but the water was warm. UNLIKE your Long Island waters! Noank waters was so cold just this weekend! Brrrrrr! but beautiful!

  • tugster said, on 2009/07/01 at 07:18

    ooo i see this as the start of a series . . . next installments could be how to swim from a tugboat, a canoe, a gondola, a kayak . . . . that could lead to how to (fill in the blank) on a (fill in the blank with type of vessel). in this post, i love the foto above “inelegant” partly because i see two feet and calves, one forearm, part of thigh BUT then there’s that orange that looks like cap color and can NOT figure out how you contort to get yer head there . . . please clarify.

  • michael said, on 2009/07/01 at 07:19

    Christina, that was such a fun day!

  • bowsprite said, on 2009/07/01 at 08:22

    I tell you! watch out for a slamming bow!
    The current swept me right under it, the ship came down, and loped the head clean off.
    Leg caught the martingale stay, and I had a good grip, so I was not going to let go. Had to look for the head which was difficult as the eyes were on the part floating away. A ganglion trailed out like a painter, so I caught it and reeled my mind back in. All fine now. Part of the adventure.

  • tugster said, on 2009/07/01 at 09:04

    thank the river gods and goddesses for that ganglion . . . i’m glad yer intact, but your mind might have had an interesting journey, unexpected adventures, beamed back wild watercolors from the deep and the remote.

  • Mage Bailey said, on 2009/07/01 at 09:06

    I can let out my breath now?
    Seriously, what an adventure. Thanks so much for sharing this with us. Goodness.

  • Turinas said, on 2009/07/01 at 09:09

    My wife has perfected involuntary swimming off our boat

  • Michael said, on 2009/07/01 at 11:12

    It so happens that I like taking risks in the water as much as the next guy (more, surely) but it seems like you have quite the array of unpleasantness to avoid swimming amidst ships. Chains, barnacles, the cops…geez!

    We all must get back to the water, though. Schooner better than later.*


    * and I hate puns. Apologies. I’ve been off my feed lately…

  • […] instructs us on how to swim from a schooner;  I presume this is first in a series that might lead to similar instructions on swimming from a […]

  • Kennebec Captain said, on 2009/07/01 at 16:44

    How to Swim from a Canoe.

    First with a quad band cell phone in one pocket and a digital camera in the other, attempt to show your son that the old man still has a trick or two up his sleeve by steering into what appears to be a gentle eddy. Second, holding the bow line with one hand and stroking with the other…..

    • bowsprite said, on 2009/07/01 at 17:00

      oh, no!!! intrepid inpromptu swimmers deserve a special hand. Or two. With ziplock baggies!!! Ahhh, things a parent will do to form lasting memories for the offspring…
      so…how does one get back ON a canoe?

      • Kennebec Captain said, on 2009/07/02 at 10:59

        Well, getting the phone soaked wasn’t just a matter of being too short sighted to put the phone in a baggie, that section of the Kennebec doesn’t even have cell phone coverage so there is no reason to even carry a phone.

        The rating of the river there is “good for beginners” so it took some local knowledge to find a spot to flip the canoe. As to getting back aboard, I towed it (one handed side stroke) ashore (about 1/2 mile below where we capsized) where we emptied it out.

  • O Docker said, on 2009/07/01 at 17:52

    Splish, splash, Bowsprite!

    Over the side, in the tide, goin’ for a ride, showin’ the flip side, climbin’ the topsides, modesty aside, bikinified. Clove hitches tied? Grinnin’ wide!

  • bowsprite said, on 2009/07/01 at 18:54

    hickory dickory ODocker,
    lounging on anchor locker,
    with a sweep of his pen
    and a tweak of his ken,
    comes the amusing little e-shocker.

    (sorry, rhyming dictionary failed to find anything meaning ‘pun’ ending in ‘-ocker’ )

  • Jed said, on 2009/07/03 at 20:23

    From Ambrose light to Waterford’s Locks
    From Witte’s yard to Hempstead’s docks
    Schooner, cruise ship, barge and tug
    And all sorts of cargo which they lug.
    All targets for the pen and brush
    Keeping MY horizons full and flush.

    ah, Jed!
    anything to be said,
    will pale in comparison
    with your poetic harbor run!

    (sorry, rhyming dictionary offered nothing to go with ‘comparison’.)

  • 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:

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

    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

    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!

    the Haul Out of the Peking

    Posted in watercolor, drawing, boat, sketch, waterfront by bowsprite on 2009/03/15


    The Peking is a steel-hulled four-masted barque whose cargo consisted mainly of nitrate and wheat. With her ports of call at opposite sides of Cape Horn, her crew of 35 to 40 worked 4 hrs on, 4 hrs off, through huge storms, dead doldrums, moving 5,300 tons of cargo, on 8,000 ton of ship across 11,000 miles. They would arrive at ports, sometimes with no tug nor tow in sight, left to themselves to dock the great ship under the powers of wind, currents, and muscle.

    Hundreds have crewed on her. Many work on her today. And, there was a glimmer of hope for sailors to crew aboard in the not distant future…

    Last year, on the 7th of january, on a monday morning, the Peking made her way through NYHarbor. For this short trip to a dry dock in Staten Island, the preparations had begun months before.

    Her 3 ton bow anchor had to be secured. She used to have two bow anchors and one lighter sheet anchor, however, now, only one remains.


    Bitts had to be tested to be sure they were secure. The fo’c’slehead bitts proved sound. The welldeck moorning bitts had to be tested to 3 tons: two chain falls were wrapped between them and tightened with a twist or two of the wild cat until the dynamometer gauged the strain at 7.5 tons, which was held for 15 minutes. The bitts passed the stress test.


    Her braces were triced up to be out of the way of the tugs that would tow alongside.

    A generator was brought into the wet lab under the poop deck for the days the ship would be away.
    Huh! A ship that had no electricity, that ran with its large crew around the world many times powered only by wind and muscle, now at shore, has electricity for pumping bubbles for a few denizens plucked from the waters below her. (One famed tenant of the wet lab is last year’s 16th Annual Great North River Tugboat Race mascot winner, Oscar, a harmless, horrid, horny, spindley-legged crab, who beat a few dogs and a ferret.)


    The Peking’s two gangways were removed and placed atop dunnage.

    The McAllister Responder moved to her port to tie on.


    At 0848, before the eyes of incredulous dog walkers and taiqi dancers, before anyone looking out their office windows or driving by on the FDR, the Peking cast off.

    Responder drew her out into the slacking East River; high tide was at 0717H, she may have still been flooding at the top.
    Accompanied by her neighbors, the W.O.Decker, the Pioneer, and an assist tug McAllister Elizabeth, the Peking moved stately south, into New York Upper Harbor, leaving an aching hole by the Wavertree.


    (to be continued…)


    Posted in new york harbor, shipping, vhf by bowsprite on 2009/02/17

    The VHF marine radio is a potpourri of accents, a lovely collage of voices.

    On channel 13, bridge to bridge, captains call out passing arrangements: one whistle is “I intend to pass you on my port side,” two whistles, “I intend to pass you on my starboard.”

    One evening, a few months ago, the Cosco Bremerhaven, out by the 29 buoy called out to another ship. In a crisp, tight Irish accent, the captain of the Bremerhaven requested to meet the captain of the oncoming vessel at 1 whistle.

    The response, in a warm, drawling, very VERY thick Brooklyn accent, came back: “Yeah, well, we’re just gonna pull over here in the channel and give you more room, and let you go by over here.” My heart warmed with his hospitality to the foreign captain.

    A moment of silence, and then in the Irish accent: “I’m sorry, sir, could you repeat that?”


    Another exchange:

    (Indian accent, proper and polite): “British Lines, to the Dela rosa…British Lines, Dela Rosa.
    (American accent): “Dela Rosa.”
    (Indian accent): “Uh, what are your intentions, sir? are you angry?”
    (American): “Yes, we’re anchoring.”
    (Indian accent): “Oh, well, could you please give us some room?”
    (American): “Will do.”
    (Indian): “Thank you, sir…”

    Beautiful accents…”dulcet” is how NYTugmasters describes the lyrical southern and cajun accents.

    It’s not just voices one hears. One midnight, a captain announced his plans to go to sea. In the background was a quick whiff of Jimi Hendrix.

    Another time, some poor captain shared his wheelhouse with some very noisy machinery, so that whenever he spoke on the radio, he seemed to be accompanied by a bagpipe quartet.


    Posted in tugs by bowsprite on 2009/02/14

    Scene from the Waterford Tugboat Roundup last year: W. O. Decker kisses the 8th Sea.


    W. O. DECKER (1930)
    Hull Material: WOOD
    Ship Builder: Russell Drydock. Rebuilt in 2005-2006, C. Deroko et al.
    Length (ft.): 47.8
    Hull Depth (ft.): 5.6
    Gross Tonnage: 27
    Net Tonnage: 18

    8TH SEA (1953)
    Hull Material: STEEL
    Ship Builder: American Electric Welding
    Length (ft.): 45
    Hull Depth (ft.): 7.9
    Gross Tonnage: 29
    Net Tonnage: 23

    See Tugster’s site for more romantic shots:

    The science of kissing : philematology. Contribute to science…kiss a tugwoman/tugman.