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The body language is clear:  “Touchdown.”  The surroundings and uniform, however, are way wrong.

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Pull back a little and

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. .. yup . . . definitely not football or rugby.  It’s Sun Right leaving town for the Panama Canal around 11:30 today.

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Watch her make the swing at Bergen Point leveraged by Ellen McAllister at the bow and Marjorie B McAllister near the stern.

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She ran the distance from the goal posts at Bayonne Bridge to those at the Narrows in about 55 minutes, and after that

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no potential tacklers had

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any chance of catching her.  Now it’s a straight shot . . . about 2000 nautical miles, translating to about four days.

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All fotos this morning by Will Van Dorp, who has no intention of breaking a consistent record of watching a grand total of zero superbowls since 1967.

I have deliberately declined ads on this blog, as you know.  Occasionally, I’m told, the blogging hosts runs them around the margin.  If you  see one of those, I have the same policy as bowsprite . . . posted upper right here:  “mention bowsprite tugster for 15% off your next cutter suction head purchase.”   I understand there’s the 45th iteration of an obscure sports event on TV Sunday (Feb 6) that features ads in order to draw in viewers.  Here are some of their ad examples.

But this post spotlights an ad poster (below) I noticed on the Staten Island ferry.  When I saw the ad, I suddenly understood a spate of news articles of the past months, mentioning an increase in the numbers of large marine mammals congregating around the Narrows. Bowsprite, in fact, scooped this story nearly two years ago, with a foto from… of course … a working mariner.  Here’s a Cornell U article, and only recently have mainstream media caught on  here and here.  Eureka!  I get it.   I know why they’re here.

Whales have been attracted in by lucrative contracts in the advertising sector.  I can see the future, and it involves a lot of breaching, large cetaceans . . . in exchange amounts of krill and sardines . . .  leaping and playing in the bay to show off the text on their sandwich boards or painted or –ouch!! . . . tattooed into their flanks.  If whales can manage flight, we may soon see a Fuji whale or a Goodyear one.  Advertising is vibrant . . .  unarrestible! ever dynamic!

If you’re wondering which obscure team I back for this event tomorrow, my answer is “neither.”  I’m wearing some red underwear and off to drive away the sea beast (or mountain beast) called Nian. Why wear red?  See below the foto.  Why this foto?  Answer comes next week.  A clue though . . .  this foto was taken mere hundreds of feet from where mermaids waddle ashore each summer solstice.

From wikipedia:  “Hongjun Laozu was the monk who is told about in the myth of Chinese New Year. He was the person who captured Nian, the great beast that terrorised the people of China every Chinese New Year.

Every Chinese New Year was a time of suffering and fear for the people of China because of Nian, the great beast. One Chinese New Year’s Eve, a monk named HongJun LaoZu came to a village in China. He saw how everyone looked sad and frightened, so he went to a young man and said “Why are you so sad? It is Chinese New Year, a time for celebration.” The man replied “Do you not know? Have you not heard about Nian? He comes every New Year and terrorises us, even eats us.” The monk said “I will go and reason with Nian.” So off he went, to find Nian.

When HongJun LaoZu came to Nian, he said “Nian, I have come to reason with you. Stop eating and terrorising the people of China.” But Nian Said “HoHo. You have delivered yourself to me old man, now I will eat you.” “Oh, but what will that prove? Eating me isn’t great! Would you dare to eat the poisonous snakes on the mountains?” “Bah! What’s so difficult about that?” So Nian went to the poisonous snakes and ate them up. “How is this? Am I not great?” “At the back of the mountain there are many great beasts. Can you subdue them?” So Nian went and scared all of the dangerous beasts out of the back of the mountain.

“Old man, now its time for me to eat you!” “OK just wait while I take my clothes off, I will taste much better then”. So the old man took his clothes off to reveal his undergarments, which were red. “OK you can eat me now.” But Nian said “Ah! a red undergarment! I dearly hate red, get out of my sight quickly.” “HaHa! I knew you were afraid of red!” so the old man went into the town on top of Nian and said “Dear villagers, do not be afraid. Nian is most terrified of red. From now on each house must paste red on each of their doors to prevent Nian creating havoc.”

After that, the people started to paste red paper on their front doors before New Year’s Day.

Happy Rabbit Year!!  And another eureka flash:  when Patty Nolan finally gets her new bikini, it MUST be red.

The foto above here by Faith.  Two top fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Unrelated:  Congratulations to Aleksander Doba, a 64-year-old who paddled across the Atlantic!

Folks come into the boros–all six of them–from the corners and curves of the earth, and imagine this:  locals come out and greet them, wave signs,  and music of

all sort sounds resonates and echoes outward to

welcome the arrivals, those running

the ship . . . who may have no free time to stay a while.  Well, we might wish those marathoners of the high seas get the same welcome as runners.

There’s only time for a quick look-around as cargoes get shifted  about, and then

…it’s back on the way.  Stadt Gera cruised into the boro on Saturday midafternon, and by midafternoon Sunday, she was

already eastbound, out southeast of Montauk.

Oh, the joys and (alas!) deprivations of marathoning on the high seas, the course of seafarers everywhere.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Hurray to Edison Pena, and all the others.

Anyone know how many countries were represented in the marathon?  Anyone know how many countries are represented in shipping entering the harbor?

After SB Traffic 1, here’s a second installment.   Fotos 2 and 3 below come from Vladimir Brezina, whose paddle out through the Narrows led to this series.  Vladimir has been one of the many kayakers that accompany swimmers as they take part in various Manhattan swim events.  My foto below shows swimmers, kayakers, and support boats a few miles into the 28.5 mile circumnavigation back in June 2006.

In this foto, Vladimir accompanies a swimmer near the end of that race in 2004.  While he spots and paddles, he suddenly finds himself in the company of a tug moving a bunker barge away from the passenger terminal.

Here’s another foto by Vlad from a June 2009 race.  And how long would you imagine swimming the 28.5 miles takes?  Answer follows.

Of course, one-human-power AND tens of thousands of horse-power sometimes encounter each other  sans swimmers.  This kayaker heads westbound on the KVK

in early February.  What’s not obvious from this foto (yes … I use the foto in spite of its “unfocus” because of its drama.)  is the fact that container vessel Daedalus is about to make a hard turn to port following the channel and the kayaker is only about 30 feet off the southern bank of the KVK.

I never spoke with the kayaker to learn his launch/destination points.

Results for the top finishers in the 2009 Manhattan circumnavigation race can be found here.  A little over seven hours is all it took for the fastest swimmer, John Van Wisse, who once crossed the English Channel, about 22 miles,  in just over eight hours.  The race is said to be a fund-raiser, except I’ve been unable to discern who these funds are raised for.  Anyone help?

A swimmer a few years back was . . . Bowsprite.  What follows are excerpts from her log:

“[I swam as part of a team of four:  Anita, Sho, Anne and me.  You might think the physical part of the swim is gruelling, but …] “the mental part is harder. The swimming is mental, once you have the form down. It is so easy to decide to stop after a certain time, when you think you really have had enough, or to think that it is so cold and your jaw is frozen and your fingers are splayed and stiff that you will surely die so you must get out. But, there [in the spotter boat] is my swim partner [from a cold ocean race], Abe, saying through clenched jaw: ‘C’mon, only 20 minutes to go, we can do it, I’m cold, too…  20 mins!!!’  Although you want to say, ‘no, sorry, I really must get out!’, somehow, you persevere, and then 21 mins later, shivering uncontrollably on the grey, cold beach in the whipping wind, feeling truly ill, cold and horrible, you feel also elated because you have pushed yourself even further than you thought possible.”

Currents present a problem:  “I had unwisely chosen to sight off the kayak instead of navigating, as lifting the head straight up just steals a bit of time.  But, with currents running amok near Hell’s Gate, I saw that one moment the first Harlem River bridge was dead ahead, and 3 strokes later, I was looking into the Long Island Sound. I was swimming a wild zigzag.”

Besides the cold and currents, critters wait in the water:  “At 7am, the first swimmers jumped in, and swam through stinging jellyfish around to the East River.”

As part of a four-woman team, each swimmer got the parts of the swim that fit into the rotation:   “I got the area of the 137st sewage treatment plant. How lucky can a girl get?   Once I came out of the water with a nice green algae beard and moustache. At least, we hope it was algae.  At 102st, Anita goes in to a very strong current against her. We all now have to swim only 30mins. each, and she takes us to around 116th, where Anne swims past the circus and the worst garbage. There were many coney island ‘whitefishes.’  I guess here they’re called ‘harlem whitefishes’. I’m very glad they’re being used, but please, put them somewhere else when you’re done!)  Anne started to make lunch, but threw up when she saw all the garbage around us. It was pretty bad.”

But when it’s over:  ” Anne’s husband opened champagne for us, so we first rinsed out with alcohol! We got hosed off, and stood about very happy. My friend Valerie came along with cubs Eva and Max and my scowling mother, and we ran up along the river to get a towel. I had been in the water the longest and it is cooler down here, so I was cold. We ran into Abe and Cristian and Oscar and many jubilant, congratulating people. And, then, Abe got me my first margarita in months. Well, ok, he got me two. In all, a very fun, great day!”

Many thanks to Vladimir Brezina for fotos 2 and 3 and Bowsprite for her narrative.  More swimming here.

Unrelated:  Now I learn about this oyster and beer fest . . .!

Otherwise unattributed fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Happy Labor Day!  An often forgotten fact about this holiday is that it stems from labor disputes.  President Grover Cleveland (former governor of New York),  115 years ago, put together  a proposal for this celebration to make reconciliation with Labor after the Pullman Strike, in which 13 strikers were killed.  The suggested formula for celebrating Labor Day included “street parade to exhibit to the public ‘the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations,’ followed by a festival for the workers and their families.”

What better time then than now to devote some space to some Jones Act issues that affect working mariners in the Gulf of Mexico.  Since I’m out of my depth in specifics, I’m ceding this link to a maritime lawyer who has launched a petition drive to save American seafarers’ jobs.  Check his homepage here. Read the link here and sign the petition if you so feel moved.  It seems relevant to me, since the marine job market is a national one.  Fotos of some of these vessels can be found here.

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Videos follow at the end of this post, but the tugboat race (Technically called  “17th annual Great North River Tugboat Race & Competition”) quite well fits the description of “festival for  the workers and their families.”

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What a day to introduce families to the working water,  to teach curiosity, to

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feel solidarity, to join

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in the rewards, to take time off with

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fellow students as well as sister and brother vikings, and

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just scud across the sparkling waters.

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Ellen McAllister made it down the nautical mile in six minutes and seventeen seconds;  watch the abridged version below.  Countdown starts at about T minus twelve seconds.

After a glide past by the most beautiful 108-year-old ever in the sixth boro . . . Urger–with Jack, Rick, and crew–no doubt serving the function of “urging” the tugs to shove away, push matches ensue  featuring Ellen McAllister, Nathan E. Stewart, Meagan Ann, and Pegasus. Enjoy.

See old salt blog’s fabulous shoreside coverage of this event here.  Bravo Rick.  I love the horns, hoots, and whistles!  One group Rick’s video captures is a set of PCV’s, “population control volunteers,” commingling their wake with those in the middle of this race, seemingly determined to do themselves in.  See them at the following times:  1:14, 1:24, and 2:05.  What’s not funny is that had there –please no please no–been an incident, somehow others might have caught the heat.

Fotos and videos by Will Van Dorp.

Again, if you haven’t voted yet, consider casting one for Cornell for the “People’s Choice” award at next week’s Waterford Tug roundup here.

Spring 2009  promises the start of an invasion of Dutch culture to the sixth boro.  Who knows . . . we might be renamed New Amsterdam before year’s end, since Wall Street these days needs a face lift.  But that’s another story.

When Henry Hudson arrived in the sixth boro in September 1609, he commanded a jachtOnrust, expected in the boro in September 2009, is also a jacht design.   Besides jachts, other Dutch sailing vessels include fluiten, pinasen, galjooten, botters, gundels, hoogaars, skutsjes, punters, schookers, and the list goes on.  See some fotos here.  The fotos below,  compliments of SeaBart, first officer of Smit Kamara, show an annual skutsje sailing event in the Netherlands called Skûtsjesilen.  As a child, I imagined these boats part-fish, given the large varnished leeboards that look like fins and hawses like eyes.  See really high-resolution fotos here.

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More fotos here and here; read the fotos, not the language.

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Check out the really exciting racing here in this video complete with the shotgun start.   In this video, check out the crashes and fans.

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So as the Dutch invasion happens this year with respect to the 400th anniversary of Hudson’s arrival in the boro, imagine skutsje racing in our fair boro had transformation to New York never happened.

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Finally, March 25 is the 400th anniversary of Henry’s departure from Amsterdam, headed here by way of northern Norway, Sable Island, and Virginia.

Again, all fotos here compliments of the irreverent Seabart.

days left . . . and three fotos. Up close . . . with Dorothy Elizabeth. Will mascot Gotham appear this year?

Will the mystifying Odin take part, and if so, house up or down?

And will Susan Miller, below shown in a backwater of Brooklyn, be tag teamed with Catherine C?

A shot from last year’s race, and

… here’s Sunday’s schedule.

9:30 a.m. – Spectator Boat departs Pier 83 (boarding begins at 9 a.m.); advance reservation necessary*

10 a.m. – Parade of Tugboats starts at Pier 84

10:30 a.m. – Race begins near W.72nd Street & Hudson River

11 a.m. to Noon – Nose-to-nose pushing contests and line-toss
competition

Noon to 1 p.m. – Tugboats and crews gather at Pier 84
Spinach-eating contest (SPINACH???? Dulse might be more appropriate.)

1 p.m. Awards for the above PLUS best tattoo and other fascinating qualities.

* The spectator boat will depart at 9:30 a.m. sharp from Circle
Line’s Pier 83 at 43rd Street and the Hudson River. The boat will
join in the tugboat parade and provide the closest view of the action
as the tugs race down the river at full throttle and then go nose-to-
nose in the nautical version of an arm-wrestling contest. Tickets are
$35 adults/$30 children and seniors (free to members of the press on
assignment). Advance tickets can be purchased online at
www.workingharbor.org or by calling: 212-757-1600.

Admission to the Pier 84 events is free.

Here’s the complete press release from Working Harbor.

Surprises might be debut of a new tractor tug. Maybe an award for the crewman most resembling King Neptune?

After the parade, a race happens.  If this blog did audio and “sensearound,” you’d hear the roar and feel the splash and pitch. You’d need towels for your desk and a cloth to clean your glasses. For now, read the fotos and imagine the sound. Cover your keyboard lest the spray damage it though. Picture the photographer, back braced against the deckhouse, one foot against the inside of each toerail, as the sweet official boat BTU rocks. I’ll try to put up a foto of BTU and pushing matches tomorrow.

A stealthy tugboat Dragon churns forward,

Cornell builds momentum,

Illusion dashes towards the breakwater,

and Patrician Ann cuts us close, but lags far behind Redfish almost invisible off slightly to port.

When I wrote about Dorothy Elizabeth in July, I raved about her rebirth. If you didn’t read this article by Don Sutherland then, read it now for the fantastic story of ex-Gotham, ex-Christine Gellatly, and ex-Mobil 11. Last week I learned of the special equipment pictured below with white neckerchief, as photographed by Rich Johnsen.

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I took the foto below; “best mascot” winner’s name is Gotham, I’m told. Not Christine or Mobil.

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As to the speediest for 2007, Lucy Reinauer.

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Several of them . . . but this was a contender, Cornell, one of the Lehigh Railroad’s “Four Aces,” built at Jakobson’s Shipyard in Oyster Bay in 1950.  Technical question:  is that “steam” (yeah, I know it’s a diesel) due to the engine being unaccustomed to run at such high rpms?

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Below, a shoving match with Dorothy Elizabeth as seen from mid-river…

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and below, as seen from the pilot house of Dorothy Elizabeth, thanks to Rich Johnsen.

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Another historic tug, W. O. Decker, about half Cornell’s size and 20 years older, passes astern. Over 100 more pix at this link.

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My job . . . Summer AND Fall 2014

Graves of Arthur Kill

Click to order your copy of Graves of Arthur Kill, by Gary Kane and Will Van Dorp. 3Fish Productions.

Seth Tane American Painting

My other blogs

My Babylonian Captivity

Reflections of an American hostage in Iraq, 20 years later.

Henry's Obsession

My imaginings and bowsprite's renderings of Henry Hudson's trip through the harbor 400 years ago.

Tale of Two Marlins

Blue Marlin spent 600+ hours loading tugs and barges in NYC Sixth Boro. Click on image for presentation made to NY Ship Lore and Model Club, July 25, 2011.

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