kvk picnic

Rendezvous with Tugster on a cloudy day to shipspot on the KVK.
Tugster: “Can you read what the name of that tanker is?”
I could, but I liked his version better.

icebabeIce Base (2008)

Type: oil tanker, double hull
Flag: Cyprus
Built by: STX Shipbuilding Co. Ltd, Pusan, South Korea
Length:      228 m / 748 ft
Breadth:    32.2 m / 105.6 ft
Depth:       19.1 m / 62.7 ft


Orange Wave (1993)

Type: juice tanker
Flag: Monrovia
Built by: Sterkoder Shipbuilding A/S – Kristiansund, Norway
Length:    157 m / 515 ft
Breadth:  26 m / 85.3 ft
Depth:     6.6 m / 21.7 ft
DWT: 16.700 tons

Need a ship identified? call Tugster. Need a photo of a ship? Need information on a ship? call him! Among what he can dig up:

Orange Sun, Orange Blossom, Orange Star, Orange sterns, Orange othersOrange you glad we have Tugster?

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…

fun with vocabulary


“The panes were finally removed. Alas, we had not calculated for the mullion, and the surprise was further delayed.”

bollardpull hpHildegard had more horsepower, but Gigi topped the tons in bollard pull, and the two were in a catty fight to spin the tanker either clockwise or counterclockwise.”


“She failed inspection miserably, even being faulted for sloppy catenary.”   Need your catenary calculated? book an appointment with the DoryMan.

disclaimer: usage might be wrong, corrections gratefully accepted.

the Kill Van Kull Security Zone

Posted in dredges, kill van kull, new york harbor, shipping, tankers, tugs, Vessel Traffic Service, vhf by bowsprite on 2009/07/09

Vessel Traffic Service announced on VHF 13 that all tugs and barges longer than 400′ may not meet or overtake other vessels in the KV. Curious, I called VTS  (718.354.4088).

“Yes. No meeting, no passing from KV buoy 1 to KV buoy 5 for all vessels longer than 400′ and deep draft vessels.” The three buoys have been moved 600′ to the north of their original positions last week, and it became mandatory for large vessels to observe one-way traffic until further notice.


The Kill van Kull was once at a natural depth of 15-18′, and home to rich beds of oysters, clams, and fishes, surrounded by salt marshlands. Today, dredged to 50′ below mean low water, it is a major shipping channel, making it possible to bring in imported goods, cars, fuel, chemicals, orange juice, and to ship out our recyclables.

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.


What is happening now is quite special: We’re in the final deepening phase off St. George, the dredgers have encountered bedrock, and a unique use of equipment is at play (oh, I mean ‘work’)…


“That cutter-head begs to serve as inspiration for a horror movie.” – Tugster

The hydraulic dredge, the Illinois was described by Bill as a “floating factory;” it is huge.

Hydraulic dredges usually use a cutting head to dislodge the sediment which is immediately suctioned and pumped through a pipeline to an offsite settling area, often several thousand feet away.

However, working boats in the area have noticed an absence of the pipeline. If there is no dredge spoil, then there must be no dredging. That cutter-head seems to be drilling away at pure bedrock (instead of blasting). Dredge 54 comes along behind it to dig it up. A support barge is there to replace the hard teeth on the cutter head.

What has been the observed result of the dredging of NYHarbor?
° Working mariners have noticed that the current has increased, and that high and low tides have been affected. Those Eldridge tide predictions are no longer accurate in places.
° Docking seems to be more dangerous, but if you dock only at slackwater, you might have several hours to wait, which would cost more money.

Tugster, who caught amazing photos of the machines and vessels at work, poses two questions:

1. what would happen if dredging activities ceased?  Not sure how fast it fills in here, but several points along the east side of North River silt in as quickly as about 2 a year. The way things are set up now, our harbor cannot afford not to dredge. (And, dredging is expensive! that’s fine if your project enjoys federal, state, or city funding, but what if you are a mom&pop little shipyard? you are between bedrock and a hard place: you cannot afford to dredge, but you cannot afford not to!)

…alternatively, if we stopped dredging, the kill would become a kill again (creek in dutch), oysters, clams and mussels would be sold alongside hotdogs, and you’d have to take a train to Baltimore to get those plastic lawn chairs.

2. “How come the mainstream media pays no attention to these activities?” Really cannot fathom, because it is fascinating. Go and look for yourself: the very best deal of the harbor, the Staten Island Ferries, will take you past the dredging site–for free!

Thank you, Bill & Will!

Oops, this just in: Tugster reports that the Illinois is not there anymore. I’m very sorry, they were never vigilant about their AIS.

You will still see the Dredge 54, but this is how the Illinois looked from one of Tugster’s photos:


a day on the kill van kull

Posted in kill van kull, tankers, tugs by bowsprite on 2009/03/07


I am fond of the Kill Van Kull—the waterway, not the band (admittedly, I have not yet heard the band.)


Unlike the magical Arthur Kill further on southwest, which is very beautiful if you blot out traces of human intervention, I like the KVK as it is.

The north side of the KVK (New Jersey) is lined with rows of tanks, tubes, and aging docks. Different colors & shapes for different companies.
On the south side (Staten Island) are shipyards, apartment buildings, a salt dock, the elegant, historical Snug Harbor, telephone poles, trees, a passing bus, Tugster’s outdoor offices.
And the meat, the juice, is the traffic that streams by, endlessly, over the water. Containerships and tankers share the road with the littlest boom boats…and tugs galore.

“Heading into the stream” is what you hear on the radio: tugs pulling barges into the ‘stream’, the federal channel. The channel is cerified to 43′ depth, but most has been dredged to 50′, to be certified 50′ by 2013 [Army Corps of Engineers].


We were working in an area that had been dredged to 45′ several years ago, but needed to be deepened. The job, going inland, was not clay, as was originally thought, but a very soft dirt. The dredge was making cuts and creating shoals at the ends, which rose up and did not make grade.

We left our little survey boat and boarded the giant dredge for a quick meeting. Friendly faces peered over, asking if I needed help making the hitch.

The dredge’s charts that shows the cuts they make is called a progress chart, and this is what the men studied while I looked around. All was neat, tidy and sparse. An ear plugs dispenser was only colorful thing there, amid all the metal and grey. Out on deck and up close, the winches were HUGE, towering in circumference over a crew member.


It was getting late in the day, the dredge crew was tired and anxious, for some had flights booked that afternoon to go back south to their homes. We got back onto the survey boat, two tugs that were on standby moved in, and the spuds were lifted on the dredge barge.


As we moved away from the dredge, we heard a loud bang from a neighboring pier. A tug pulled a barge out quickly and struck another barge, denting it and snapping its line on a bollard. Four men went running to the frayed line, and then one could see how thick that line was!

“Oh, that’s the most dangerous—an empty tanker! The spark from striking steel could instantly ignite the gases, and there would be a huge explosion,” said my boss, matter-of-factly, glancing out the window.

Me, neophyte and naive: “But, we would have survived it?”

“Oh, no. The impact would have killed us, pieces of steel the size of cars. Very dangerous. OK, ready? Fathometer on.”

Thankfully, Towmasters cleared the air with the reassurance that cargo tanks use some sort of Inert Gas System, filling the empty spaces with inert gas produced on board by using boiler exhaust to reduce oxygen that would support combustion. [Oops…I have been corrected. Towmasters writes: “Some (repeat, some) tank barges do have IGS, but they are pretty few and far between. Some of the newer Crowley ATB’s, mostly. Although there may be an exception here or there, I know of no conventional tank barges regularly working New York Harbor that are equipped with IGS. In contrast it’s commonplace on tankships, except for some of the oldest ones.

For an example of what can go badly wrong on tank barges read this post from NY Tugmaster’s Weblog about the explosion of the Bouchard 125 at Port Mobil in 2003.“]

When the day ended, I was dropped off by my bicycle tied up at an abandoned pier, and I cycled past our work site on my way to the Staten Island Ferry.


And, in front of the site, was this sign on the fence…


Indeed no, thank you!

For stunning photos taken on the KVK, please look here at the site of the intrepid kayaker, Frogma, who circumnavigated Staten Island several years ago in a kayak–about 26 miles of paddling!

happy 70th birthday, Mary Whalen!

Posted in new york harbor, portside newyork, tankers by bowsprite on 2008/12/07


Built in 1938, this lovely 172′ tanker once delivered fuel products up and down the Atlantic Coast. She’s in good condition, and there are some serious plans for her. Look here for more info:

And what does the Mary Whalen, the Lilac:

lilacland the Nantucket all have in common?

nantucketlAnswer: they have all been given homes at one point by the very generous CEO of American Stevedoring, the company that operates the Red Hook containerport. Paraphrased from Carolina Salguero of the Whalen: Few people know how much Sal Catucci has done to help historic vessels…he has provided free berth, electricity, loan of tools, a lot of free labor. The first vessel Sal generously provided a home for was the lightship Nantucket (now, a lighthouse museum) in about 2000. Next was the Steamship Lilac, before she moved to her present home on Pier 40. Whalen is the 3rd historic vessel to which he has given a free home. Thank you, Sal!