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Oh no . . there on the bottom. It’s the #4215 E train car, where we met, our eyes making contact that evening after the tugboat race five years ago. You asked about my hat and . . . finally when I asked your phone number, you said that last four digits were the same as the ones in the car . . .

After that it was always “our car,” and if we spotted it again, our tingling was reason for immediate celebration . . . So why is #4215 on a barge in the Harlem River? Our anniversary comes up soon . . . in a little over a week . . .

Hmmm . . . why has the Cat loaded onto this barge as well? D’you suppose it’s too late to offer the MTA $$ to buy #4215 and set it up as a romantic diner in the mountains specializing in romantic snacking and wedding receptions? I’m sure that car possessed unique energy that predisposed riders to love. One ride with a platonic friend or even a stranger and . . . LOVE!

Baby . . . should we follow the barge to see where it goes so that whenever we need a love buzz, we can recharge? After all, how far could our car be going? We could visit as we do my old ship . . .

(Maybe overheard while sitting on a bench along the Harlem River.)

When Laura K. and Margaret appear like this . . . it can only mean one thing .  . .

Laura  turns into the dock at the stern of Glasgow Express, herinafter Glex, and 

Margaret, with her hull-paint-besmirched-fenders, goes forward.  Ship-shifting looms.

The blue helmet in the bowels of Glex throws a heaving line to Laura‘s deck and a tow line gets made.  

 Notice the froth forward of Laura as Glex gets muscled away from the dock and the incoming tide works the stern into the stream.  

By now Glex flexes all that kW to reverse all its 921 feet loa and 41 draft, backing down toward Bergen Point.  See the bubbles. Meanwhile, below,  Margaret works as a massive bow thruster

and Laura a stern thruster

The  value of low house design and folding mast on Margaret is apparent.

Meanwhile, below, Turecamo Girls witnesses and maybe commands the maneuver, as Glex begins a rotation to the east and heads to sea.  Turecamo Girls, as a name,  begs for its own post.

“Backing down” as Glex does it with the Moran tugs assistance, and 

“backing down” in other life’s struggles carry different and conflicting associations.  What Glex does here has nothing to do with lost resolve.  Similar divergent meanings accompany “backing out,” which would describe this reverse maneuver on land.  Sometimes these multiple meanings of words and phrases in English lead me to wonder how we understand each other as well as we do.

And back to the Pitch post question, maybe I’ll be back tomorrow with my answer.

All fotos, unless otherwise attributed, by Will Van Dorp.

Imagine being in rough seas in the upper wheelhouse of Wicomico,

or Gulf Service, or

Volunteer.  Air draft of Volunteer is 114 feet.

114 feet! See the two crew standing on the afterdeck below.

So here’s some figuring to take years of rust off my math brain: let’s assume the upper pilothouse is 100 feet from the water, and in rough waters, the vessel pitches and/or rolls 20 degrees. How many feet from top center would a crewman in the house travel with each 20 degree pitch or roll? Answer tomorrow . . . as it may take me that long to do the math.

The previous “random ship,” a juice tanker, travelled outbound yesterday mere hours before the crane ship entered. Curses on my timing for missing good fotos. I missed all the skinnydippers too! Any how, name the bridge below?

The bulker is Federal Yoshino. Your guesses on her ownership given that name? A clue about the bridge: it has a lighthouse UNDER it.

She’s owned by Fednav, based in Canada, Montreal.

It appears she travels on the Great Lakes a fair amount as a salty. But the bridge in the background above is the George Washington. Here she’s headed up the Hudson leaving the Palisades to port. “Upbound” they’d say on the St. Lawrence.

Imagine how dynamics would change if traffic the size of Federal Yoshino could proceed directly between the sixth boro and the St. Lawrence?

Above is the lighthouse at the Manhattan foot on the GW Bridge, Empire State Building to left and scaffolded Riverside Church to right.

Meanwhile, the New Times this morning ran a story about a floating city currently downbound on the Hudson.

No . . . I couldn’t linger for the shots I wanted.

Surprise! This link confirms that this is the very same vessel that blew ashore off Rotterdam half a year ago. Also, scroll thru a bit and you’ll see Zhen Hua 10 started life 19 years ago as a tanker. Vitals: loa 244 m, beam 40, draft 8.5. Am I alone in finding her beamy and somewhat shallow, given the load? Here‘s the whole google listing.

According to the the crane builders homesite,, the company has a new facility on Changxian Island, at the mouth the Yangtze River. This facility might help China displace Korea as #1 shipbuilder nation. Here‘s the google image page.

KVK pic. Anyone else want to share shots of the voyage to Port Elizabeth?

Afterthought: the sci-fi fan in me wonders how a 19th century mariner might respond upon seeing this rig

. . . maybe swear off strong drink? check the amount of mold on the hard tack? make a religious vow?

Also, might this be the way to pre-fab a 2012 bridge in China or elsewhere to assemble over the KVK or AK?

A pizza box and some bags . . . you know of course what’s happening here. It happens at my job, and it happens when the police or fire department stop across the street from my building: people on the job get hungry and call in an order for food, delivery style. Only here the work site happens to be the sixth boro. The workers involved could push cargo or–as here– keep the peace and maintain safety and security.

Since I’ve not been on a harbor launch, I can’t vouch for their food prep facilities.

Anyhow, once grub’s aboard, I imagine that once you eat, it’s easier to stay on task.

Much as some folk working on the sixth boro might like to cook, it would be good to have places for take out to be delivered while crews stand by awaiting assignment.

Take the delivered pizza, feel less disconnected, and attend to the job at hand. Bon appetit.

That’s the idea: docking stations, pick up a variety of good healthy food, and go back to work. Do what you can’t when you’re at sea.

Hmmm . . . New York’s fastest (delivery) matters too.

Other places have it:  Netherlands have parlevinker boats–grocery stores on the water.  All I found was a Dutch language site here;  the fotos tell part of the story.

The Dutch call this month augustus, with a happy throat trill on the “g,” and it sounds like the title. The adjective “august” means “inspiring awe and reverence.” Bernie Ente of the Working Harbor Committee took these shots this week on one of their public tours and I’m thrilled to pass them along. Wow! I’ve not seen Pioneer looking more magnificent.

This blog has posted nekkid fotos of Orion, Peking, and Rickmers-Rickmers in dry dock earlier this year. Below is Halve Maen, high and dry.

Finally, the Falls have attracted thousands . . . millions? . . . to the East River this summer. The first millisecond I saw this foto of Bernie’s I thought “rare bird,” imagining the tail as head of an avian and starboard horizontal stabilizer as bill not unlike a hummingbird’s.  Appropriately, the tug is Swift.

I look at these shots, sigh, and reflect on the sublime aka the most August.

Unrelated, some panamax cranes arrived at the Narrows this morning, but I couldn’t stick around to watch them squeeze under VNB.

Give me automated toll collection anyday. Around NYC and the mid-Atlantic states it’s called E-ZPass and using it bypasses the long lines of cars paying tolls for roads, bridges, tunnels, etc. In small towns fire fighters collect “optional” tolls by standing on the main drag with a boot. So below . . .

is an approach used on the Seaway. No, that’s not a long-handled boat brush.

It’s more like . . . pay up or the exit gate doesn’t open. It works.

I looked really carefully and when a laker came through, no manual toll collection was even attempted. In fact,

when Canadian Provider sailed through, they had both the entrance and exit gates open simultaneously.

Maybe it was the daunting flag staff on the bow . . . looked like a jousting lance. Definitely it had something to do with the fact that water level above and below the Iroquois Lock differs only about six inches. Inches, that was.

Oswego marks one end of the Erie Canal, and near the westernmost piece of bulkhead there I spotted a freshwater tug . . . Apalachee, launched in 1943.

And up in Clayton near the western end of the St Lawrence River I noticed another, Abaco, launched in 1953. Beyond her is Carina, 1954, ex-Pisces.

Still in the Erie Canal (Newark) waits Grouper, 1912, posted about here.

Fire in a boiler? The only connection here is that this boiler generates pressure that . . .

moves this old engine that . . .

according to its owner, at the Pageant of Steam last week, used to power a canal tugboat . . . maybe like Grouper . . . until about 1930. Once ashore, it drove a machine shop near Rochester. Today the engine does steamy demos, some belt-turning, and gives voice to this cacophony of whistles. But the unnamed re-powered tug, I heard, has been sent to Delaware . . .

–actually in Deljerseyland— on a reef building project. I’ve taken all that “prior lives” info on faith, blind faith . . . but it does make a good story that makes me hunger for what got left out.

Good stories like those emanating from these freshwater tugs: Apalachee was built by Ira S. Bushey in Brooklyn, Abaco by National Steel and Shipbuilding in San Diego, Carina by Higgins Inc of New Orleans. Grouper built in Cleveland but worked in Florida. All freshwater . . . NOT.

The countdown now begins . . . 19 days til the NYC Tug Race and . . . 25 til the Tug Roundup in Waterford. If you’ve never seen both, you’re missing something unique, and that’s no story. Here’s interesting background on the race.

Unlike most ships in the sixth boro, smaller ships–both lakers and salties on the Great Lakes–sport stern anchors.

Check out the anchor on Canadian Provider, and one

in the same location on English River. Where do you imagine the other complicated stern gear leads to?

Up the silo, as she offloads in Oswego.

So do stern anchors pose additional challenges, given proximity to the prop? Here’s a final stern anchor shot of a “light” salty taken and posted here in mid-July. Last week Tuesday early evening I spotted Marlene Green traveling upbound through the 1000 Islands with a new load of wind towers and turbines for–Duluth? Can anyone confirm that these towers ship from Spain?

I intended to call this post “tailhooks” until I remembered some convention almost two decades ago that leads me to make the association with “scandal” if I hear “tailhook,” even though it denotes just a device designed to assist in carrier landings.

See this link for interesting laker and salty fotos.

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August 2008
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