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!

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.

Happy Harbor Week!

NYHarbor was busy this week, and here are some of the highlights where partyers, stately visitors, and working mariners made it work, swimmingly:

12sept09 Saturday, 1411h  – “Requesting slow bell in the Buttermilk Channel for a flotilla of historic Dutch vessels visiting, requesting slow bell in the Buttermilk until 1500.”


Then, the navy vessels go by:


WaterTaxi to the Coast Guard Cutter (paraphrased): “Oh, please, please, may I go inbetween the navy ships? i’m just crossing the river.”

Coast Guard Cutter (verbatim): No. Denied. Forbidden. “You can stay where you are or you can go to the end and take the stern of the last vessel, but you may not cut through the parade.” The ships went by slowly, and the taxi was like a little boy who has to go the bathroom very, very badly, but could not.


The ships went up as north as the 79th boat basin, turned and went south. Here, one passes Pier 40, home to the Steamship Lilac and Fireboat John D. McKean:


Little Flying Dutchmen joined the parade:

flying dutchmen

Cargo ship Ocean Atlas steamed south alongside the Sloop Clearwater, calling out 5 bells to warn sailing vessels ahead:

clearwater.oceanatlasOcean Atlas (120m x 20m; draught 7.7m, destination Houston)

What ship is this?


Then, a call on VHF 13: “A flotilla in the mooring!”


The working harbor draws comparisons of the regatta to Nature: “Yeah, watch out, I got a lot of fleas here on my right.”


“Uh, Heyward, I’m going to go south of these mosquitos, see you on the 2.”


(The views expressed here are not the opinions of the blogger, who rather saves the discourtesy for the cigarette boats.)

flotillabattery2This view is looking south, where the regatta is at the Battery. The hexagonal stupa is the Holocaust Museum, the patina’d copper green topped roof and tower is Pier A, the old fireboat station. The strip of land midground is Governor’s Island. The waters are the deep water range (fore), and Buttermilk Channel (behind).  The background land is Brooklyn. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge straddles Bay Ridge, Brooklyn to the left and Staten Island to the right.

Sunday: Harbor Day. The morning started calmly with Half Moon and Tromp riding between Penobscot Bay and Thunder Bay. Hawser 65610 was also in service.


Sorensen Miller brought a large number of passengers onto the Warship Tromp.


sorensenout2 The USCG Cutter Penobscot Bay began to announce on ch13 that a security zone would be in effect from 1100 until 1600: no traffic allowed on north river during that time, from the Battery to Berth 64 (about 24th street.) The announcement was made at intervals.

catherding2KP: “Kimberly Poling is in the ConHook Range, splitting the 29 and the KV buoy, headed up the north river.”
CGPB: “Kimberly Poling, this is CG Cutter Penobscot Bay, you going all the way through?”
KP: “Oh, yes, sir, I’m going to Albany, to Rensselaer.”
CGPB: “OK, well, please hug the Manhattan side.”
KP: “Very good.”
CGPB: “Thank you, have a good day.”
KP: “You too.”


KP (to buddy on radio): “Yeah, I just made it before they closed.” “You’re lucky.”

Another vessel is not as content: a series of insistent 5 blasts were made as boats were right in front of its path (photo is taken when they just cleared away.)


Arcadia, faltering: “I..I can’t believe you just crossed my bow like that…”


1003h  “Don, what are you doing, cooking everybody’s pop tarts with that radar?”
“Oh, you like that screen, huh?”

Minerva Zoe, in the ConHook Range, headed out to sea.”

1045h “Jervis Bay (cargo) is at the KV buoy, inbound for Port Elizabeth.”
1109h Half Moon and Onrust announce they are about to fire guns. I never did hear them.
McKean: “Yeah, you can pump 25.”

Marjorie McAllister uncomplainingly steers with a partially loaded barge and heads south.



Unknown: “Can you go 1 whistle? we’re going to raise an RHA on the starboard side.” (–what is an RHA?)
Containership Bauci: “We’re coming on the 28 here, see you on the one.”

statenferryWhich tallship is motoring without sails set? yes, Clipper City.

1100h – Penobscot Bay declares on ch13 the security zone is in effect, “closing North River from the Battery across to Morris Canal, Jersey City. The south marker is this unit, Penobscot Bay. The north marker is Thunder Bay, a straight line across berth 64.”

Despite the warnings all morning, boats call out.

Penobscot Bay, we need to refuel at Morris Canal…”

“…requesting to transit north to North Cove…”

Penobscot Bay, we need to get across the river to the Battery…”

“…do you have a radio on there?” (If this does not elicit a response, try to talk louder.)

Penobscot Bay responds to almost all of them, and repeats: “… you will have to wait until the end of the race, at 1600.” “If you do not have a flag, you may not enter the security zone…” “Negative, you may not enter the security zone…”

sundry tugmen: “How about some working channels here?” “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a race channel on the working harbor?”northriver

The DEP’s North River, going on North River after the security zone is in effect.

to be continued…

the Sturgeon of Liberty State Park

Posted in harbor wildlife, historic vessels, jersey city, liberty state park by bowsprite on 2009/06/25


If you take this little water taxi from Manhattan’s World Financial ferry terminal across the river, it will first stop at Warren street, Jersey City, where you can explore Paulus Hook.

Next stop: south across the Morris Canal Basin to Liberty State Park.

This old Morris & Essex Canal once ran once ran all the way to the Delaware River. Barges carrying mainly coal from Pennsylvania and finished goods from NYC shuttled back and forth. Today, two marinas are here, home to luminaries like the historic–and working!–Tug Pegasus and the hearty denizen of the cold, battering North Sea: Cape Race. (And, a peek here of some of their neighbors.)


pegasuscolortug Pegasus

caperace Cape Race

Liberty State Park is 1,122 acres of open space with sea breezes, parks, salt marshes, wildflowers, two little beaches lined by rocks and flora, and the expansive Hudson Liberty Walk. I save the gem of this park for another post, but for today:


if you walk along the red brick boardwalk that suspends over and transverses the sea into which fishermen cast off,

ellisIsle2and walk behind Ellis Island’s hospital and old buildings
(that walkway over to the island is guarded and not open to pedestrian traffic),


and if you meander through the wildflower fields where you almost can pretend you are in a far away meadow
—until the helicopters and party boats’ booming music remind you of where you really are,


and then go behind the Statue of Liberty with the ferries pulling in and out,
and then turn your back to Lady Liberty, you will see a little beach.


And if you go onto that beach and follow the wrack line, you will see the shells of:
ribbed mussels, clams, oysters and bright orange little crabs.

Signs of life returning to NYHarbor! signs beyond the wood piling eating worms (that are so hardy they begin to bore into concrete!) Signs that the clams and oysters are coming back! How would one have known? there is hardly any access to the water in our harbor!

But there are bigger signs: a 6′ carcass of a sturgeon!


Atlantic Sturgeon  (Acipenser oxyrhynchus)

Recent studies indicate that a population of approximately 150,000 juvenile Atlantic sturgeon may reside in the Hudson River at any one time. This species is not currently fished very heavily; in the past it was harvested in large numbers and often called “Albany beef”.

Atlantic sturgeon can reach lengths in excess of 10 feet and weigh several hundred pounds.

Sturgeons are primitive fishes with rows of bony, armorlike plates on their sides and a skeleton of cartilage rather than bones.  Barbels hang under the sturgeon’s long, flattened snout in front of the mouth. Sturgeon are bottom feeders, their sensory barbels being used to detect food and their protruded, tubelike mouth, to suck in bottom-dwelling plants and animals uncovered as they move along the mud.

Sturgeon flesh is of good quality, and the roe (eggs) of Atlantic sturgeon is the well-known delicacy caviar.

The Atlantic sturgeon is anadromous, ascending large rivers and estuaries to spawn. New York’s Atlantic sturgeon population is restricted primarily to the Hudson River.


IMG_8561 IMG_8566 IMG_8568 IMG_8622

What else lies in the waters that surround us? Both the schooner Pioneer and the sloop Clearwater have trawling sails, where nets are launched and harbor life is brought up to be observed and released.

The Battery Park City Parks Conservancy sponsors the occasional Go Fish event down near Pier A where you can bring  the inhabitants of the deep up yourself, have it recorded, put it in a tank, and then set free.

Of the clams, oysters and mussels, asked Tugster: “Is it edible?” Hmmm. Maybe soon. Maybe, one day, the waters will be so clean that we can wade into our waters with children, pick up a shellfish or two, and have no adverse reactions to popping them down the gullet. I shall keep the vision and hope we move in that direction. In the meantime, move upwind of that sturgeon!