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Urger proves that age poses no impediment to winning beauty contests.  Of course, Urger also demonstrates that money–in this case, government money–helps one compete successfully in such contests.  I’m not talking bribes . . . but facelifts, but this former fish tug still turns heads wherever she goes.


Urger grabs my attention for several reasons, not the least of which is my connection with the area of Michigan where she was built;  she was operated by Dutch immigrant fisherman near Holland, Michigan, near where I spent four formative years of my life . . . in college.


If I could hear the men in this foto speak, no doubt their accents and laughter would be ones I know well, like those of the barge sailors gracing the Hudson in September 2009.


Grand Haven . . . it’s a lake town I associate with camping in the dunes and wooing the major infatuation of my late teenage years;  more recently, a professor/advisor of significant import to me makes her home there.  Urger operated out of there in her fishing life.


After 108 years, Urger looks like she still loves the chop of  Lake Michigan wherever she gets it, and on her homewaters . . . the Erie Canal . . . she does not get much.


At the Waterford Roundup, deckhand Rick shows off the trophy Urger won as first place Class C back on Labor Day.


This is the top of the 320 hp Atlas Imperial engine that powered the long, narrow hull to that win, almost 20 tons of engine.  Notice the engineer’s station upper right side of foto.  Check here for basic info on Atlas Imperials;  click here for a map of known remaining AI engines.


Engineer Chris is palpably proud to have charge of Urger‘s Atlas Imperial, telling a story of how the secret ingredient is the same caffeine he uses as propellant.  Did he tell me that or not?  What a humbling name, Atlas Imperial!


Here’s the same engine as seen from the front starboard side, location of the engineer’s station.


The boy standing on the bulkhead on extreme right side of this foto could be 80 years old by now;  long may Urger run!


Here’s some Lake Champlain video . . . not mine.

Otherwise, all fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Addendum:  Foto from tug44.  It came with scant information:


All color photos, WVD.

Unrelated first:  trimaran Zamna . ..  was identified by Soundbounder‘s Matt Housekeeper, foto’d by Bowsprite’s magic lens in September, and posted on asleep-at-switch tugster twice… most recently two days ago here (scroll to the end).    Here’s Zamna’s own site.  Is anyone who took fotos of it close-up at Chelsea Piers willing to share them here?  . . . apparently it’s currently sailing to Greece.   I’m especially curious about the figurehead.   Now back to stacks.

It appears a “stacks” series could go on a long time, but within a given fleet, stacks differ in shape, number, and relative size.  These fotos go back two or three years, so I don’t know whether all these boats still carry the red-and-white rings.  One is a trick:  it does NOT carry the McAllister name although it may belong to a subsidiary fleet.  Clues exist in the fotos, so I won’t give the names until the end.  See how many you can guess.  Remember, double clicking enlarges.

Single stack, squat but rounded and trapezoidal.  A single large tube protrudes.


Single and tall, like a stoogie.


Two of them, squat but rectangular and again trapezoidal.  One wider and two thinner protruding tubes in each.


Single oval cylinder rising just slightly above the top of house, with two protruding pipes.


Quite similar to the previous.

aafgReally high single with no tapering at all.  Has guy-wires.


Ditto the first foto:  Single stack, squat, rounded and trapezoidal.  But two large tubes protrude.


Like the previous but flanked by ladders.


Paired but really squat relative to the house.


Paired and flanking a companionway.  One large pipe protrudes quite far from each.


Paired with a dividing companionway, flanked by ladders, and more acute angle in the protruding tubes.


From the top,  the boats are:  Colleen 1967, Amy C 1975, Charles D 1967, Ellen 1966, Elizabeth 1967, Fournier Girls 1968, Helen 1900  [!!], Justine 1982, Marjorie B 1974, McAllister Girls 1968, Rosemary 2008, and Rowan 1981.

Charles D and Justine are both ex-Exxon boats:  Exxon Bayou State and Exxon Carquinez, respectively.  Elizabeth is ex-Fournier Boys and ex-J. A. Witte.  I’ve not seen Elizabeth in the sixth boro for quite a while.

And from yesterday’s post, why DOES Iona have only one “l” in its McAlister.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Hard hat-wearing man in basket watching two heads,


divers beside a tugboat or


two of them, suspended by multiple lines.  Where is


this?  Irish Sea and Iona McAlister, or so they’re called for now.  Why does Iona sport only ONE “l” in McAlister?


They may emerge from this graving dock experience with new names, new colors, and who knows . . .


new shapes . . .


All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

This could be called “How to identify a tug:  start by recognizing fleets.”  Long neck and short stack . .  or vice versa.  Bound for  the North River are McAllister Responder with tall ringed stack and Norwegian Sea with tall orange-tipped house and mustard stack.


The height of wheelhouse matters not:  tall orange-and-black house here–along with the black stack–makes it a Hornbeck, and this case, it’s Gulf Service.


Short red-and-white ringed stack–it’s Ellen McAllister.  And the baby-blue stack with DT on it is Dann Ocean Towing’s Comet.  By the way, I haven’t seen Dann’s Allie B since her departure for Rumania late last winter.  Anyone spot Allie B?


Black stack with a bold M . .  it’s Moran.  In this case, it’s Miriam Moran, out to rustle up a ship.


In this case, the mustard stacks identify this vessel as a K-Sea . . . .it’s Falcon, with her low stern.


The stack color on Reinauer boats has much the same mustard color–at least in this light–but the addition of the diamond and the red . . . is unmistakeable.  In this case, it’s Christian Reinauer.


Most prominent feature of this vessel–foto taken in the drizzle yesterday–is not the stack at all, but the color and superstructure shape. Anyone know?


It’s Cheyenne –or Crow–of course.  In this case Cheyenne.  Close up of Cheyenne‘s stack soon.

Last one . . . has no stack at all and I’ve run it before.  It’s a mystery ship taken by bowsprite about a month ago and we’d love to get an identification.  Help?  Foto was taken from Lower Manhattan looking toward Jersey City;  vessel headed upriver.  Aliens . . . discovering the river, perhaps?


All fotos except the mystery ship by Will Van Dorp.

or stunning shots, images that give pause, fotos that force a screeching stop.  Like the toxic green in Bowsprite’s tango.  Or like this reenactment that comes compliments of Pam . . . was it fotoshopped or not.  Credits go to George Price as cartoonist, Pam and David as  . .  pranksters, Amy as girl and Gary as boy.  River as river.  Fotografer . . . unidentified.  Norman . .  as conceptualizer.


For the next arresting video, I have to thank Eric Fischer, who blogs about his long project of restoring New York Central No. 13, an iron-hulled 1887 tugboat.    I think, in this age of low-budget, YouTube-distributed film, the time has come to reeanact this Barbra Streisand scene.

Compared to the relatively empty harbor [and unfamiliar undeveloped view of Jersey City briefly in the background] in Funny Girl, the Upper Bay near St. George was congested Friday, and then when Spirit of America


powered off the dock after idling some time, the amount of smoke suggested emergency.


Today the Coast Guard stood ready, and when someone saw something suspicious, the  Defender class


boat roared and splashed into action.  A final piece to arrest your attention,  a carrier coming into Norfolk and all the folks involved.


All unattributed fotos by Will Van Dorp, this weekend.

Can we possibly be passed the equinox yet again?  And we’ll have to see flurries fly and flows freeze before summer returns to bless us?  Autumn 2 was almost a year ago?  The two fotos that follow come thanks to Dock Shuter, up near Catskill.  Look carefully at the sail arrangement on . .  what I believe is Ommeswaay below, and


Tijd zal t Leeren (aka Time Will Tell) .  Thanks to Uglyships Bart, each of these water-scooping sails is appropriately called a waterzeil.


Yesterday this sloop explored the east end of KVK, racing Hamburg Goal.  Anyone know this sloop?  Tug on Hamburg Goal‘s bow is James Turecamo.


Here it is again, upriver of Comet.


Catherine Turecamo passes in the foreground, and I can’t positively identify the schooner on the far side of the barges with blue houses and out close to the Battery.


Kimberley Turecamo near, Margaret Moran farther, and it looks like schooner  Pioneer off the Battery.


Judging by mast height relative to top of sail, schooner near the Battery here is Clipper City.

aaas7And as WTGB 107 Penobscot Bay, one of eight such tugs in service.  And . . . yes . . . that’s Pioneer under bare poles, disappearing behind 107’s stern.


Finally, I anticipate that in less than a week, another 15-masted motor vessel will traverse the sixth boro;  in this case, it’ll be Flinterborg, currently approaching the mouth of Delaware Bay from northern Europe bound for Philadelphia.  I believe from Phillie, Flinterborg will make for Albany to load barges and “intall” her 15 or so masts.  So, fellow-shipspotters in the area . . . please inform me of a spotting.  Next weekend, I will wait at some opportune location once I have ETAs.  [Update:  as of 0830 this morning, Flinterborg passes through Wilmington bound for Philadelphia.]

Photos, WVD.

All the events that follow actually happened;  watch the photographic evidence.  Before working this week one day, I had a rendezvous with Bowsprite along the KVK for spotting ships.  Like many folk especially along the sixth boro, Bowsprite and I can shapeshift.


Not seeing Bowsprite, I sat on a convenient rock to make fotos of a tanker.  My aging eyes read the name as  Ice Babe.


I turned to the east when I heard some friendly hissing;  how appropriate on this hazy day to see a haze-colored swan.


The swan swam on, and to my delight, I saw the bimonthly Brazilian orange juice tanker, Orange Wave.  Remember I told you about my drinking habit here?


Suddenly I sensed I was no longer alone on that rock;  Bowsprite had appeared . . . out of nowhere, it seemed.  She was alternately drawing Ice Babe (she insisted the name was Ice Base, and her eyes are better than mine), and brushing some KVK seaweed off her shoulder.  And where was that swan?


As Orange Wave neared, Bowsprite’s ever-moving brush started to transfer the juice vessel’s lines onto a page of her sketchbook.


The magic of the swan-white tanker, swooping bow like a curved neck,  gliding over the hazy bay . . . came swimmingly into her sketchbook.


HanJin Portland . . . when it arrived with its polychromatic deckload, the spell seemed broken.  Bowsprite suggested she’d walk me to the ferry.  Why didn’t she say . . .”let’s go to the ferry,” I wondered.


About a quarter mile from the ferry, she asked me to carry her sketchbook, then waded into the bay.  She distracted me my pointing to a strange sign inland.  When I turned back to her,


I saw only this swan.  It swam northward, and then took


flight.  With quickened step, I made for the


ferry.  And went to work.

Photos of or by WVD.

Until recently, I’d noticed divers only near bulkheads and in graving docks.  But then in Howland Hook one afternoon I noticed Samantha Miller moored beside the enormous 903′ hull of APL President Jackson.


A set of hoses running underwater suggested that someone accompanied whatever happened at their end.


Then a blue machine emerged and


so did a man in black.  I couldn’t say exactly the name of the machine or the nature of the job until Les commented:  “it’s a Phosmarine BrushKart. It has rotating brushes for cleaning the underwater hull. The machine is powered by hydraulics from the service vessel, and the diver rides it and steers it along the hull. This may have a routine cleaning, or there may have been a section of hull that needed cleaning before inspection for damage.”  Thank, Les . . . I couldn’t imagine they were  looking at coral or tropical fish.


Samantha turned, exposing the contents of her after deck.


Randive’s truck parked dockside provides some clues. Check out their interesting website with great stories and pictures of recent jobs.


All fotos by will Van Dorp.  More divers soon.

A fortnight PLUS 400 years ago, Half Moon lay in what we now call the Upper Bay;  a momentous encounter of civilizations soon drew blood, and  would draw more.   Today is more or less the anniversary of the northernmost point reached by Half Moon.  What little we know of the actual trip comes from the pen of someone lacking much fondness for Henry Hudson, who was quite the mystery man.  No, I’m not going to say Henry was actually Henriette.


Prolific author Joseph Bruchac has written River of Tides, a play telling of this encounter from the perspective of the people native to the river valley 400 years ago.    Photos below were taken by Bowsprite at the premier last week.  Below, the author introduces the story.


Other times and places to see the pay include the following:

  • Thursday, September 24, Troy, NY, 10:30 AM, Bush Memorial Hall, Russell Sage College, 45 Ferry St.
  • Saturday, September 26, New York, NY, 5 pm, Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts, Pace University downtown Manhattan campus, 3 Spruce Street (East of Park Row, near the corner of Gold Street). Reservations suggested at or 212-868-4444.
  • Sunday, September 27, Poughkeepsie, NY, 2 pm, Marist College Nelly Goletti Theatre, Student Center. Contact Hudson River Valley Institute, 845-575-3052,
  • Tuesday-Friday, October 6-9, New York, NY, adaptation for elementary schools, National Museum of the American Indian in New York. To register for school performances educators should contact Ada Torres at 212-514-3705.


Enjoy.  I will be at the Saturday Pace performance.

Meanwhile, stay tuned here for the last several installments of Henrysobsession, the version produced by Bowsprite and me.

Literally it means “equal night.”   NOX has lots of associations.  More Hestia soon, I promise.


Half-half symmetricality, or almost so;


dark and light . . .  river and land . . .  fog and clarity;


summer cedes the stage to fall.


Time to think of harvests, baskets, thanksgiving;  Sam Plimsoll marked just how full these floating cornucopias should ever get.  The viscous wine of our civilization can submerge the vessel carrying it.


Brightness and shadow envelope Elise Anne Conners, who has spent most of its almost 13 decades above the surface.


Night and light make

aaeq3odd silhouettes of 958′ ships like Maersk Montana.


Happy hot equinox in the sixth boro.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

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September 2009