For both photos today, thanks to Ashley Hutto.    When the air is much warmer than the water, Helen Laraway may look like this.

And when it’s just plain cold and clear, Mister Jim in broken and refrozen ice looks like this.  For a look at how Mister Jim looked just a year and a half ago, click here and scroll.

Here’s some Great Lakes icebreaking, and here’s a lot of foggy tugster posts.

And from exactly nine years ago as a plane-fishing Flight 1549 operation was going on, what a miracle that was!

Many thanks again to Ashley for sharing these photos.

Canso Canal separates the Nova Scotia mainland from Cape Breton Island, lying between Northumberland Strait to the north and Chedabucto Bay to the south.  And it’s a great place to watch traffic between eastern USA and the Great Lakes.  Jack Ronalds pays attention to that traffic, and is always eager to accept paying photo commissions, he tells me.

Right around Christmas, he caught Millville and 1964,  beautiful winter light bathing newly painted steel.  Millville and barge came off the ways in Sturgeon Bay WI this fall, and is currently passing the Florida Keys on a run to a Texas port.


Notice the traffic backed up on the causeway.  For a very comprehensive slideshow of 450 images compiled by the Gut of Canso Museum, click here.  For more on Port Hastings on the east side of the Canso Canal, click here.

Note the pilot boat on the far side.

According to tugboat, she 129.9′ x 41.9′ using two GE 12V250MDC8s for a total of 8000 hp to push the 578′ loa, 180,000 bbl barge 1964.

Many thanks to Jack for permission to post these photos.  I’m definitely looking to get up there this coming summer.


Walter Scott‘s 1810 publication of The Lady of the Lake, an epic poem which sold 25,000 copies in eight months, triggered Scottish tourism, by rail and boat.
Tourism demand boomed:   the early six or eight oared galleys were replaced by the small 70′ steamboat Rob Roy (1845), then a 90′ steamyacht Rob Roy and lastly the 110′ steamship, Sir Walter Scott, launched in 1899 and still in daily service in 2018! All three steamers were built by Denny Bros. in Dumbarton.
Below, SS Sir Walter Scott is berthed at Trossachs Pier on Loch Katrine about 1906. Beyond her bow can be seen the retired Rob Roy.  Click on the photo for the source . . . and scroll.
Loch Katrine being land-locked, SS Sir Walter Scott was twice built:   first assembled at the Dumbarton Shipyard, then dismantled and sent north by barge and train to be re-assembled lochside. As you can see in the photo above, in 1906 she had an almost flat deck with no wheelhouse or bridge; the skipper had to peer through the crowd of passengers on the foredeck. She carried up to 515 closely packed visitors and 5 crew.
A 2017 view below shows her at the same pier, but the Rob Roy has gone and the Loch level had been raised by some 7ft. to provide more fresh water for Glasgow, about two million gallons (UK) per day. Her coal fired boilers were replaced with bio-fuel versions to avoid any risk of pollution, but the engine is still the original. She has a proper bridge making helming and berthing much easier. She cannot be turned  within the pier arm of the loch,  so a steel cable is taken to the aft quarter cleat, the engine reversed, so drawing her stern first into the pier.
In the The Lady of the Lake, Sir Walter refers to ” a far projecting precipice”. This is the view from there, clearly showing the bridge and the large saloon which was added reluctantly in 2009 for passenger comfort.
Occasionally in Scotland we suffer mist and gentle rain (smurring) which adds to the mystery of not knowing where you are going.
The foredeck is silent but for the gentle sound of the bow wave. In the distance are mountains (UK size) known as the Arrochar Alps. Below the mountains the white patches are Stronachlachar and the slipway where she was built and where we haul her out for a month each Winter. To the left are Ben Lomond at 3196′ and, over the hills and below, Loch Lomond.
Odds and ends:  Katrine is the anglicised version of the Gaelic Cateran, meaning an outlaw or robber. Both applied to Rob Roy MacGregor who lived at the head of the Loch.   Roderick Dhu, the MacAlpine chief in Scott’s poem, was the outlaw the Highlanders’ saluted with the boating song we in the USA now know as “Hail to the Chief”, set to music by James Sanderson.  Burning a cross was used in Scott’s epic poem to incite the Alpine Clan to violence  against King James.
At the same time as Sir Walter Scott,  Denny Dumbarton was also building the steam yacht 285′ Lysistrata (see #4) for the eccentric robber baron, “king of the dudes” J. Gordon Bennett. The yacht carried an owl as figurehead, the symbol of the New York Herald.
For a partial list of Denny Brothers vessels, click here.  For a much more extensive timeline, click here.

Many thanks for a very patient Robin Denny for assistance in this post.  Robins adds some notes here:

“Archibald Denny was chief designer at the Yard in 1899,  so would have overseen the SWS but he would have been my great-great uncle while my great-grandfather, John, was more on the commercial side but also an engineer. John died young at 27 years in 1869, the year his twin sons were born, one James being my grandfather. He became a mining engineer, eventually in charge of the Mexican silver (?) mines but died there of scarlet fever.
Going further back with two or three greats was Alexander who in 1855 built the Rob Roy II for the Loch after he had left Denny Brothers. That steamer carried Queen Victoria up the Loch to open the 26-mile tunnel supplying fresh water to Glasgow. Our family tree goes back to 1365 in Dumbarton. On the Leslie side it’s about 1040 and involved with MacBeth.”
For all the previous “relief posts,” click here.

Suppose we go back to “random tugs 2,” which was 10 years and two and a half months ago.  What might be the same?  Answer follows.  These photos I took last week.  Alex and Capt. Brian were not around when I did the #2 post.

Craig Eric Reinauer was, but the barge RTC 103 likely was not.

In 2007, Diane B had a different name and was a Kirby machine.  Now she’s a creek-specialist and pushing John Blanche.

Here’s the best photo I got of Millville and 1964, the newest unit most likely to pass through the harbor.

Emerald Coast heads westbound.

Oleander passes Normandy.  Anyone know why Bermuda Islander (I got no photo.) was in town last week?

And Evening Tide is eastbound in the KVK.  So just by chance, if you look at Random Tugs 2, Evening Tide is there as well.

And since we started with a team of escort boats, have a look at these:  (l to r) JRT, Miriam, James D, and Kirby Moran.

All photos taken last week by Will Van Dorp.

Here are the previous posts in this series.  So what is this?

It’s an ultra deepwater geotechnical drilling vessel.  It’s not drilling in the Upper Bay .  .  .

although it has the gear to do so.

With that helo pad above the wheelhouse, it looks to be what is associated with ports like Rio and Fourchon.

“Fugro”?  The name goes back to 1962:  “On 2 May 1962, Kees Joustra launches his own firm, whose name translates as Engineering Company for Foundation technology and Soil Mechanics, in short ‘Fugro’. ”

Above Fugro Explorer takes on fuel from Emerald Coast.  I was fortunate to get these photos–she’s been in and out of the harbor several times in the past half year–before she made through the East River bound for New Bedford, where she has now arrived.  She would have been a sight to behold on the East River, but omnipresence is not easy to manage, even in our sci-fi 2018 world.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

Here’s more on Fugro, “Ingenieursbureau voor Funderingstechniek en Grondmechanica.”  Fugro provided one of the vessels involved in the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.

And speaking of sci-fi, I’ve recently immersed myself in augmented reality experiences


No, tugster is not launching an “antiques road show,” although that’s an idea.   I got the next three photos from Kevin, a reader in Wisconsin, who explains that his mother bought this ship’s lantern in a Malone NY antiques store “about 70 years ago.”  The place had some NYC curios;  for example, the same visit she bought this, she also bought a leather passenger handle for a NYC trolley.

Kevin writes that the lantern was originally from a Dutch ship (“bakboord” IS the Dutch word for port; stuurboord is the Dutch word for starboard.) and then used on a tugboat, Tug No. 118.  So here’s the question:  where was there a Tug No. 118?    NYC?  Toronto?  Buffalo?

Note the oil and wick lighting apparatus.


While we’re focusing on this detail and seeing tug’s towing while moving astern, check out the next set of photos that come through Steve Munoz and from Tommy Bryceland.

Ayton Cross clearly has two sets of lights, easier to see on the photo above but with more context below.

So does Bugsier 10, although it’s harder to see.


The easy answer must be that CFRs do not require this adaptation for US tugs, but I wonder if it has been considered.

Thanks to Kevin, Steve, and Tommy for the photos, observations, and questions.

Click here for previous posts in this series.



Overcast warm winter days . . . they’re not give relief but also present interesting light.

Two tugs and the large barge approached, and truth be told, when I first saw the scene above I thought I might be looking at Millville pushing 1964.  Alas no.

I love this portal created in this light . . . although some New Jersey fumes lingered in that same atmosphere.


No, that’s not a s*…h*… slur on all of New Jersey; I’m just talking about the atmosphere, the air quality that morning in those meteorological conditions down by that area of the Kills.

I’ve remarked before how I’m impressed by the family tribute in the naming of this barge.  I’ve had two colleagues die of this disease, and it is truly cruel.

All photos by Will Van Dorp, who hopes the fight is successful and soon.

Yesterday morning two container ships with length (loa) of 366 meters or more occupied dock space in Port Newark.  To my knowledge, no longer cargo ship has yet called here, and since they’d each been in port more than a day, I figured I’d get some photos of them outbound under the Bayonne Bridge.  One was 366 m x 48 m (144,131 dwt), and the other was possibly 367 m x 42 (116,100).  Either would be great, both would be superb.

And remember last month I had the photos of JRT Moran underway moving astern?  Well, check out the photo of James D Moran below, on a towline with the 367 m Gunhilde.

I’ll identify these tugs (l to r) so that you can trace their evolution in this turn.  James, Brendan, JRT, and Kirby tethered to the stern.


Translating that 42 m breadth, I count 17 containers across.

James D efficiently drops the line and pivots to starboard.


Here I assume Brendan is still on the portside.  Was Miriam (farthest left) involved all along or simply passing through?

In that clutch of three Moran tugs, 18,000 horsepower labors.

Kirby Moran is still on the towline.



Ringkøbing sounds like a pleasant place to visit in summer, not really a port.

So here’s a puzzle:  Gunhilde left port around noon yesterday, but by evening she was back after merely traveling to the outside of the Ambrose Channel , making a wide turn to port, and then re-entering the Channel to anchor overnight in Gravesend Bay.  As of this writing, she appears to have set out for Norfolk once again.  Any stories?

Also interesting, if the AIS info was correct, Gunhilde arrived in NYC after a nearly 19-day voyage from Salalah, the old spice and incense port.  Look it up.

All photos by Will Van Dorp, who wonders what Gunhilde‘s air draft is.

And as it turned out, the 144, 131 dwt vessel left port  . . . after dark.


Check out what British Cygnet looks like less laden .  . later in the post.

MSC Marina heads for sea in the morning light.

Panamax Christina has some cargo (coal, I think)  transferred before leaving town.  I believe that’s Weeks Seeley alongside.

Hafnia Leo waits in the anchorage.

Poland Pearl offloads salt for ice to come after our current supply melts and gets replaced by many more days of winter.

So . . . I wish I could have gotten a bow-on shot of British Cygnet.  There’s a lot of hold under the water when she’s loaded.

All photos by Will Van Dorp, who lost track of time today.


I’m working on some tougher posts, but here’s an easy one.  Let’s flip the calendar back approximately 10 years, give or take a month.  Then it was Barents Sea, not Atlantic Enterprise.  Rowan M. McAllister is still around, although in Charleston SC.  And the container ship under the “un-raised” Bayonne Bridge is Zim Qingdao, currently eastbound across the Atlantic.  The other McAllister tug I don’t know.

Melvin E. Lemmerhirt, now Evelyn Cutler, eastbound toward the Brooklyn Bridge  . . . well, all’s quite changed about all this.

Maryland –I’ve yet to see her as  Liz Vinik–was bunkering the brand new Queen Victoria.

Peking was then–as now–out of the water, although currently her dry dock is in Germany.

Penn No. 4 still goes by the same name, but it’s now a Kirby boat.

George Burrows was never a regular here, and I’ve no idea of her current disposition.

All photos by Will Van Dorp, who hopes you enjoyed this backward glance.


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