S . . . singing, songs.  Cognoscenti–of whom I do not consider myself a part–will recognize the set of five black horns below as a Nathan K5HL.  It produces what I’ll describe as a chord, as distinguished from my car’s horn, which produces only one puny tone.  Imagine the sound for now, and at the end of the post you will hear its voice, relish its sound, savor the tones.


The Nathan, about 10 other chimes, and this tiny whistle all reside atop tugboat Cornell, the workhorse of Captain Matt Perricone.  You heard a little of Cornell‘s song here a week or so ago. To show size, I put my phone next to the “peanut whistle.” The peanut whistle is the first you’ll hear; then the Nathan.  If you want to hear a Nathan on a Chevy pickup, click here.


I was unprepared for the song of Kristin Poling the other day;  please get in touch if you can help with logistics to record it.  Kristin’s song reminded me of a night heron, a most noteworthy sixth boro critter.


The GW Bridge is most commonly understood as the boundary of the North River and the Hudson;  to me, it’s all the sixth boro and surroundings.  My Flip camera missed the song Cornell sang under the GW.


After NYC, the next city on the Hudson is Yonkers, and excuse my digression here.  Yonkers, to me, is synonymous with this industrial site.  The blue crane is about to pull a clamshell bucket out of that barge.  Any guesses what industrial substance it will contain?


Sweeeeeet!  Raw cane sugar, I suppose, either to be further processed OR to add to a megalopolis-size vat of coffee needing some sweetener?  One or two tons of sugar with your coffee, m’am?  Enjoy a crumpet with your coffee, or let me offer the sweetest music of the Hudson . . .  a little later.


I missed songs Cornell bounced off the underside of the Tappan Zee and the Bear Mountain Bridges, but  sweet, even mellifluous they were.


But then I got my act together . . .  In three and a half minutes of video, you’ll hear seven or  so songs:  first the peanut whistle near West Point, then the rest “Nathan events” and their echoes bouncing off the cliffs near West Point and then the undersides of the bridges in Newburgh-Beacon and Highland-Poughkeepsie.  In the third Nathan event, look in the window near the spotlight;  you’ll see Matt’s hands playing the Nathan cord like a harp player.  And the songs, all woven around the steady percussion of the 16-cylinder diesel.

Songs from machines . . . they make the world a jollier place;  like

songs of humans, whales, birds . . . they can communicate, memorialize, or just express feeling.  Well . . . in the case of machines with wonderful voices like Cornell or less wonderful . . . like the Staten Island ferries AND every other vessel in the harbor, they really do communicate.    Here’s a whole page of links to ships’ horns.  Enjoy!!

Can you hear bird songs or gong/bell buoys while aboard Cornell?  Nah . . . but  if  I’m at a concert with my favorite sweetie, neither can I hear what she whispers in my ear.  Everything . . . in its time.

All fotos and video . . . Will Van Dorp.

Remember to click on a foto to enlarge it.