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Skepticism–that’s what I felt upon first learning about a category of ship called fruit juice tankers. But after taking them out of the corner of my mind where I’ve relegated the Easter bunny and Santa Claus, I’d still not seen one until a few weeks ago. Meet Orange Star offloading your favorite breakfast drink into a silo in Port Newark. A clean old vessel with “modern” (v. post-modern) lines, she dates from 1975! And here‘s a gallery of her peers.

Then there’s Althea, who caught my attention because her name matches one of my all-time favorite tunes, she who advises me, who foolishly lost her. It’s not about the marginally comprehensible lyrics though, but about the beat and how one moves from the previous, and about how once you can play that beat in your head, no problem can stand in your way. That’s the bow of John B. Caddell, featured here on a winter solstice.

A name like Butterfly obscures so much yet what difference does it make to us who use what she delivers. . . . It’s really about the name.

I rarely use the word cute, but . . . CFL Prospect, this calf of a ship . . . embodies cuteness, even perkiness as it heads south through Newburg. This website has great pictures although most of the text forces you to learn Dutch . . . oh well, you wanted to do that anyhow, right. Here it is about the cute and perky lines as well as the logo.

Finally, here’s Antwerpen. This link shows the self-unloading mechanism deployed and functioning. Guess that types her like Alice . . . who’s still hanging out in the Gulf of Guinea.

Alice . . . Maybe I should ask her about some Spanish boots? Mermaid boots?

Photos, WVD.


Sirens . . . their brief season arrives Saturday. Check out the cartoon on p. 72 of the June 23 2008 New Yorker. The siren above . . . what do her hands signal the fish? The fish above . . . what might their interaction with the siren here remind me of? Of course, for me . . .

naturally, it’s like the choreography of Laura K Moran and the great Hapag Lloyd Essen Express as . . .


the couple tango away, Essen back stepping with immense momentum, and although Turecamo Boys urges restraint,

no holding back will happen until . . .

Essen Express pirouettes with proper form as

Boys inspects, approves, and then

Laura K backs away also. Essen has found its spin and not even the smoke pouring from a hasty Yemitzis can delay the trip toward the ocean. Meanwhile, Boys has other errands to run, maybe bigger fish to fry, so to speak. Meanwhile, suppose Essen will anchor off Coney Island for the parade?

More fotos of Essen Express here (scroll about half thru this page). Check out the other several thousand thumbnails also.

BTW, Laura K generates 5100 hp and Boys, 3200.  See also Jed’s comment to the left.

Photos, WVD.

Actually these fotos are really random, alternating between the Hudson and the Ohio, and then some. Atlantic Service anchors off the Palisades,

Chuckie D leaves the southbound lock for Wheeling,

Comet heads south past the mouth of Rondout Creek Lighthouse,

and Vivian McGinnis travels downstream through Cincinnati. Notice the logo of McGinnis Inc.

Also, for other fotos of Vivian and many more, check out this link.

Finally, here’s a sweet tug in Rondout Creek, nameless to me, but I’m sure someone know its name.

Some stats–Atlantic Service dates from 1975, Chuckie D from 1952, this Comet maybe from 1977, and Vivian from 1976. My money for the yellow one whose name I don’t know is . . . oldest of all.

Photos, WVD.

First of all, my hat’s off to Jim, Harold, and Jed–all of whom correctly identified the “mystery towboat” as Buchanan 12 approaching Haverstraw. “Haver,” by the way, is Dutch for “oats,” so, approaching oats straw.

Thanks to Jed, here’s a vessel in KVK with an intriguing name for this past week: Ice Fighter in KVK, paradoxical given our heat wave and its port of registry–Monrovia.

New York place names–like those in many locales– are intriguing. Not quite 50 miles north of the Battery is World’s End, just north of West Point;  Target Point and Storm King appear along the port side. Along starboard are Magazine Point, Little Stony Point and Breakneck Point with Pollepel Island (aka Bannerman’s Island) dead ahead. Maybe it was the cartographer in some cases, but someone decided each of those names. According to my favorite resource for place names, the 1940 Guide to the Empire State, the Federal Writers’ Project book on New York, the island was named for Polly Pell “who had two suitors, a farmer and a young minister. She preferred the former; her parents favored the latter. One day the minister took her sleigh-riding on the river; the ice broke and they fell in. The young farmer raced across the ice, jumped in, and brought them safely to this island. Polly embraced the young farmer so ardently that the minister saw the futility of his suit and married the couple then and there.” Now I suspect that minister turned pirate.

By the way, from where this foto was taken, World’s End, the Hudson is deepest, dropping to 180-200 feet.

One of my favorite place names is Danzkammer Point, north of Newburgh.  No, it’s not bad-mouthing someone named ‘Dan” as a “scammer” by someone who doesn’t know how to spell. Rather . . . it’s Dutch for “dance hall.” Kammer in Dutch means chamber or room, as in “slaapkamer” for sleep room, bed room. I’ve no idea about the double “m” on the chart. Anyhow, Henry‘s Dutch saw the Indians dancing there around fires, and so that event lives on in this Newburgh place name.

Speaking of dance halls, Coney Island this coming Saturday is one big “danzkammer” . . . for mermaids and all who dance with them around camp fires or amid bioluminescence. For me, this can’t be missed. The dancers above and below are from a Calder statue. Anyone guess where? Which Calder?

So, finally. . . what are your favorite place names along whatever river you know best? most ironic? most mysterious? I’d love to start a series on place names. Max at “sailing south africa” had a great example here with “house of sin.”

Photos, WVD.

Here’s a post that’s languished in draft for nearly a month, as I’ve been too distracted. I must have been sleeping not to have noticed this unusual Twin Tube before this April.

I’d love to see Twin Tube at the dock if it ever stops working.

Below she delivers supplies to S/R Wilmington, a former Exxon vessel, as featured in this post some time ago. As I understand it, this former tanker has turned freight ship.

And . . . unrelated except in that Twin Tube and Rosemary Ruth are both unusual small vessels, check out this post by my friend Bonnie of frogma, who writes Richard’s exploits.  Rosemary Ruth, featured here almost a dozen times, is still for sale.

Photos, WVD.

Although I’ve returned to the sixth boro, my thoughts keep returning to the vessels I saw on the Ohio. I think it’s interesting that the three vessels are branded as part of a barge company, rather than a transportation, towing, or tug company. Check out the Ingram site here.

Craig E. Philip is one of 80 line-haul boat pushing Ingram barges. Line-haul boats and a wealth of other info is shared on TowboatJoe‘s site, although with a ship-modelling audience as primary focus. Craig E. Philip, fotoed here in Cincinnati, was pushing at least 10 barges. According to TowboatJoe, that equals carrying capacity of 600 semitrailers! Here’s a BBC article from a few days back on the economics of moving bulk cargoes by water. Not bad, given that this 38-year-old vessel generates 6120 horsepower. Other stats: 158′ loa x40′ and built in Jeffersonville, IN, by Jeffboat.

Marge McFarlin, pictured last week here, is actually newer: built in 1976 by Nashville Bridge Co., 144′ x 35′ and generates 4300 hp. The wheelhouse way-uptop and the flags on the tow knees suggest a slight showboat style influence, I think. The Ingram Barge website gives mile-marker positions for each of their line-haul vessels.

James E. Anderson is the oldest of the three vessels although the wheelhouse and stack design would have led me to think it the newest. Refitted? Anyhow, stats: 159′ x 40′, 5000 hp, built by Dravo Corporation.

All three vessels are registered in St. Louis.

After TugboatJoe did a hitch on the towboat G. L. Furr back in 2005, he put up this reportage with lots of fotos including some showing the “underwater” portion after they went into a drydock in Paducah. Mammoth Kort nozzles and props!

Anyone recognize the vessel pushing this string of twelve barges? location? Answer tomorrow.

Photos, WVD.

This post is short on words but long on enthusiasm. An anonymous source sent along this fabulous foto of Bird. Bird dates from 1912, the same year as Grouper, shown at this link from April. The wheelhouse of Bird and Grouper have a similar rake. What excites me about this foto is that the forward and aft shelters seem clearly add-ons, adaptations to re-purpose the tug. Bow and stern could be covered because no line handling would happen there; on the other hand, if economic shifts dictated, Bird could stripped back to its original configuration, and

I’m told, that’s what happened in 1930, when Bird returned to towing out of Detroit. Although Carl Wayne’s database doesn’t confirm this, Bird is said to have been built in Manitowoc, WI, 62′ x 13′. Her fate . . . I haven’t found out.


I’m back to the blue water but prefer to stay farther upriver in tidal Hudson. Just before the trip into the Ohio Valley I traveled up to Kingston, NY, with Fred of Tug44. One of many remarkable events of the way up was rounding a bend to see this sight of the venerable Kristin Poling, written about here.

All 281 feet of her single hull dates from 74 years ago.

Notice the portholes around the stern. Does that mean there’s a galley and crew quarters back there? Does anyone have fotos to share of those accommodations? I’d love to see how original or not the living space is. And where is the engine located? What type of engine is it?

Photos, WVD.


Below is a close-up of the telegraph in the engine compartment of Evelyn J. Let’s imagine the captain rings out “OLOAD” and go to flank speed . . . in this case related to origin of the tug label for these vessels. I wish I had more fotos of fish tugs, but for now I have only some “detail” shots. For all the images and info to satisfy your curiosity, you have to travel to the Great Lakes–in spite of the rough weather and even a lake seiche–or go to the fantastic sites maintained by Harvey Hadland or the good folks at Northeastern Maritime, both now added to my blogroll. By the way, I have a friend from waaaay back to thank for the word “seiche.”

So . . . why are they tugs? Here I quote Harvey Hadland’s explanation: “The first fish tugs were large towing steam vessels fitted out for fishing by setting up the net lifting machinery on the forward deck. The nets were reset over the stern. As time went by, the tugs were partly enclosed for protection from the elements. By stages the boats were completely enclosed. As they now appear they have very attractive lines and are state of the art. Some boats have the pilothouse aft, and some have midship pilothouses with a raised shelter at the stern. The different designs are the owners’ personal preference. They are a unique design, found nowhere else in the world. The sad part of the whole situation is that it’s a dying industry, partly the result of political and sportsfishing pressures, and the changing times.” Below is the stack with forward curving exhaust on Judy Ann, pictured a few days back.

Mac Mackay writes from the Nova Scotia perspective as follows: “These boats were used to tow fleets of rowing/ sail craft out onto the lakes. Much like Grand Banks dory fishermen, the small boats caught the
fish. The tug took the fish and men onboard and towed the boats back to port. The first engines were too expensive to put one in every small boat, so fishermen economized by putting one engine in one big boat instead. In the late 1920s and early 1930s when diesel engines became affordable, the fishermen dispensed with the small open boats entirely and used their tugs to fish from. The enclosed deck allowed then to sort, gut and stow their fish sheltered from the weather. They are still called tugs – a unique use of the word tug as far as I am aware.” Below is a view of the bridge in Evelyn S. See the glossy foto lower right?

Finally, Daniel Meeter, from a sociological and linguistic perspective that befits the scholar he is, writes “Some of the nautical terms on the Great Lakes are isolated from the terms of the Atlantic (and therefore evolve), because some workers on the lake boats were later than the maritimers by at least one generation” and “There’s no reference to fishing tugs in the Oxford English Dictionary. But tug could be used for any boat that worked laboriously. The words tug and tow come from the same Old Engish word togian.

See the close-up of the glossy? Well, from the commercial fisherman/tug driver peering through Evelyn S‘s porthole and me, thanks to Harvey, Mac, and Daniel and all who read this. Oh, some stats on Evelyn S: 50′ x 13′ built in 1939 and an iron-sheathed hull to break lake ice up to 14 inches thick if needed.

Unrelated, thanks to Mike and Scott for sending me to Telstar Logistics, now also on my blogroll, and a post about a high-tech tug–non-fishing–that concludes with a stern view of one of Alice‘s sisters! Alice, by the way, is now off the coast of Ghana. If you’re new here and don’t know Alice, (Alice Oldendorff) type it into the search window.

Photos, WVD.

Excuse the poor foto, but that’s a tug below . . . or more accurately a towboat, although that’s a misnomer given that it pushes a barge.

Equally poor quality, here’s the towboat Gateway Liner (48′ x 16′ x 5′ and built in 1957) with the barge it pushes, a people carrier called Party Liner (built in 1966).

Majestic (built in 1987) is part of the same fleet, here rounding the point from the Mon into the Allegheny.

The forward mounted gangway or two has always intrigued me about these vessels. It looks almost to be a bowsprit, without a figurehead, of course. Would crew doing lookout at the forward tip be called a “bowsprite”?

As seen on the bow of Belle of Louisville (built in Pittsburgh in 1914), the gangplank gets easily stowed out of the way of deck traffic. Belle‘s office’s are located in a historic floating lifesaving station. In Belle‘s earlier lives, it carried cargoes of cotton, lumber, and grain as well as passengers.

I can’t look at these riverboats and not think of Mark Twain. Here’s a great alphabetical listing of great Twain quotes. Some of my favorites relate to water, pirates, the Mississippi, ships, Cincinnati, and New York. Hmm . . . did he write nothing about the Ohio?

By the way, the sixth boro has a few sorry looking sternwheelers, but around the same weekend tugboats gather up the river here, Marietta seems to have a gathering worthy of a trip to the Ohio.

Photos, WVD.

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June 2008