You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2008.

I’d never seen the likes of Ole Mule, below, headed along the Jeffersonville, Indiana, side of the Ohio before last month. I’ll explain my theory of its function at end of this post so’s you can guess first. I’d held this foto back because I thought to get back to the Ohio watershed this summer, but alas . . . fall or next year.

While the focus remains on these “unnatural” critters, check out the name someone had second thoughts about. Here’s an article discussing mules v. horses on the old Erie Canal.

Eastern Dawn, ex-Delta Mule, ex-Grand Eagle, operates out of Erie Basin.

Eastern Dawn pushed a bargeload of consumables to Governor’s Island for City of Water Day.

You’d think more stuff would move locally through the sixth boro.

So Ole Mule is a dock dredge, guessing by a close-up of the sign on her stern. And I suppose she runs in reverse scraping silt out of a slip to resettle elsewhere downstream?

Photos, WVD.

I’m keeping a lookout for Christopher Bell, the Erie Canal folk singer who travels from gig to gig by canoe, according to this NYTimes story earlier this week. There’s even a myspace link there where you can hear his music. Bell explains it as a reaction to fuel prices, but certainly an enhancement to his inspiration, too. Meanwhile, here’s who I’ve seen:

a solitary puffin . . . must transform when it made its way “upwest” to arrive here. Link shows puffins’ appearance as they congregate downeast…

and my foto-evidence of the tug44 command center, making its way up to greater Champlain. Notice the Rondout Light off Fred’s bow.

Summertime brings all sorts out; here sits a historian on the bow of a pilot boat with a legendary name.

Notice the pilot high on the bow of S/R Wilmington?

Now? He’s even got a sunshade rigged.

Now if Bell caught a ride to his next gig up here, how might that influence his sound? It’d also give new meaning to “ship’s bell.”

More people on the boro soon, maybe even Bell.


Check KennebecCaptain’s animal post here, related to his approach to Singapore, the etymology of that word itself is animal related, a tiger mistaken for a lion 700 years ago. Noticing an animal thread among my own recent posts, I decided to persist. I embedded a link to the “eagle” fleet near end of the the post. Why “eagle?” Doesn’t that bird get disproportionate attention already? Imagine a fleet with names like Dog Boston, Dog Birmingham, etc.

Swallow Birmingham,


Goose Tacoma,

Coot Boston returned,

Puffin Beaumont or Turkey Beaumont or Gooney Beaumont

I expect to see more of this fleet in months to come. For the full–if somewhat monotonous–eagle list, check out the link to the AET fleet.

Oh, a puffin tomorrow.

All photos in this blog, unless otherwise credited, by Will Van Dorp.

or not so random, but tugs nonetheless. Thanks to Jed, check out a frontal view of Lincoln Sea, air draft 86 feet.  A “taller” tug appears later. Any ideas?

Bridge Builder 40, estimated air draft of 15′ (?) serves in its own niche–in fact, many niches not suitable for Lincoln Sea. Check out those enormous push knees.

Mary Gellatly (also in this Flickr shot)

Franklin Reinauer, ablaze in morning color

Laura K. and Margaret Moran (love the natural fiber fendering on Margaret)

Here’s the “tall” one, Norwegian Sea, with air draft of 88.’  Am I wrong in thinking that’s almost three times the height of the Olympic “high” diving event?  If so, !@#@!

So below is a mystery tug for me–is it also Norwegian Sea? I couldn’t get close enough.

Photos, WVD.

I’m putting the link for “dog days” a la wikipedia here, but I want to quote part of what’s there: “[Dog days are] popularly believed to be an evil time “when the seas boiled, wine turned sour, dogs grew mad, and all creatures became languid, causing to man burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies” – Brady’s Clavis Calendarium, 1813.

Well, the skies and seas frothed today. Here’s to hoping you escaped the daze enough to make sense of the foto below, taken yesterday morning.

It’s from Erie Basin, looking west past the NY Shipyard crane grayed out by that blue-yellow Swedish store, the ruins of the sugar pier, a row of water taxis, a warehouse, and the upper tip of a Manhattan-bound cruise ship approaching the Statue. How about the next one? and the next and the nexts…

It’s shot down a street (I can’t believe I fail to note the street name) in Red Hook as an unidentified cruise vessel leaves the terminal.

Recessed bitts (another more technical term??) in a car carrier hull.

Either wine turned sour or a jelly gone languid. I don’t know the type of jelly here.

Fixins’ for a very tall sour drink?

This one I really can’t identify either. Anyone help? Looks like a research vessel of some sort leaving eastern Staten Island.

Here’s a closer-up showing some gear stowed off port and a derrick. It crawled out the Narrows this morning between lightning and rain.

Photos, WVD.

Stan Rogers has a song “White Squall” with a line “In a sultry summer calm, there comes a blow from nowhere, and it goes off like a bomb” about a green deckhand who gets washed off a lake freighter. He’d been lying on the hatches heedless of weather change.

I’m amazed by some people’s hubris when they continue to under-estimate “greater powers” like tide and wind after warnings are given,

forcing intervention by professionals who put themselves at risk to deal with possible consequences.

Sixth boro waters (and lots of other things) can be sweet at their mildest

and then quickly deteriorate. The challenges of wind and tide are formidable.

By the way, if you don’t know Stan Rogers, check him out here. Oh, love the name of the pilot boat “shepherding” kayakers here: Phantom.

Photos, WVD.

Actually, I should call this “eight hours on the boro.” I took these shots in reverse chrono order from 8 pm yesterday til about 3. Would you believe I share these fotos because I wanted to convey the exhilaration of living time backwards? I think there’s a movie about getting younger.

Schooner Liberty brings a new face to town. I’ll bet she’s younger than her appearance although I shouldn’t write this.

The northwest corner of the state has the Maid of the Mist; the sixth boro has W. O. Decker, a wooden hulled tug operating for South Street Seaport Museum. I probably shouldn’t say this either, but … imagine a foto of a vessel like Lincoln Sea with the helmsman looking DOWN onto Brooklyn Falls.

Lyman moves eastbound past waterfront previously occupied by warehouses.

When a Buchanan tug with moves a string of barges like this, it travels through water and time crabwise.

In Erie Basin, John, Franklin, and Stephen-Scott await orders–be they forward or backward.

It’s now 3 pm Doris Moran moves northward into the Buttermilk Channel with the Statue still facing the space on the boro Doris occupied at 2:30.

Tomorrow, Saturday July 26 is City of Water Day. Here’s a schedule. “City of water” is the term the MWA uses to describe what I’ve coined the phrase “sixth boro” to capture, aka New York harbor with all its related waterways. Enjoy it.

Photos, WVD.

So, the tug with the most horsepower in the boro . . . Penobscot Bay, 140′ icebreaker tug?

Sorry. Only 2500 hp. Pati R Moran?

5100. The almost new Rosemary McAllister?

6000. Atlantic Salvor?

6480. Christian Reinauer?

Getting close with 7200. It has to be Powhatan?

Well at 5.73 megawatts . . . that’s 7684 horses. And the winner is . . .

Turning its back to my lens . . . Lincoln Sea, churning out 5.883 megawatts if my calculations are correct . . . er . . . 8000 horsepower. For more Lincoln Sea, see Fred’s shots here. Truth be told, though, I haven’t seen Lincoln Sea in the boro in a spell.

I hear there’s an 11,000 hp tug arriving in the watery boro soon.

Photos, WVD.

Some folks have started imagining what “big boys” might face off in the upcoming sixth boro tugboat race. Although size certainly isn’t everything, it is something. From my archives, I’m including “local” tugboats rated over 6000 horsepower. Nicole Leigh generates 7200 horses.

The man near the stern reveals the size of Nicole Leigh.

Penn Maritime’s Julie churns with 7010 hp,

Vane Brothers’ Brandywine produces about 6000,

and 6480 horsepower for K-Sea’s Barents Sea. Notice the red pickup forward of the bow on the dock.

More to come, including the biggest I’ve seen in the harbor. Know some candidates?

So I have a question about units for quantifying “power.” Engine power on larger ships seems expressed in kilowatts, but in tugboats, the more common unit is horsepower. Is there a coming trend to rate the engines of tugboats and smaller vessels in kilowatts?

Unrelated: See a slideshow of the spill near New Orleans. Besides all river life, see who’s in trouble here.

Photos, WVD.

not “bare ships.” They remind me of a friend who drove a “circus truck,” his phrase. What he meant was the post office vehicle he delivered mail with, one sporting several USPS logo eagles.

Poseidon sports this endangered bear. It (the ship, not the bear) can crush its way through one meter ice while transporting carry 74,000 dwt out of Baltic ports like Primorsk. Interesting report with ice damage fotos at this link.

Framing Stena Antarctica‘s hull this way lends itself to what Elizabeth Royte (in Bottlemania) calls “infrastructure disconnect,” as in . . . what exactly does this vessel deliver.

Antarctica is huge, 113,000 dwt.

Not all Stena Bulk’s fleet can be called bear boats.

The link below shows which 15 countries we imported the most petroleum from in May 2008, but . . . guess (who’s there, in what order, in what amount) before you click here.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,567 other subscribers
If looking for specific "word" in archives, search here.
Questions, comments, photos? Email Tugster

Documentary "Graves of Arthur Kill" is AVAILABLE again here.Click here to buy now!

Seth Tane American Painting

Read my Iraq Hostage memoir online.

My Babylonian Captivity

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


July 2008