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Small working craft serve a host of  functions, as observed in the fotos below.  I witnessed an interesting gesture involving the New Jersey State Police below, which gave me great respect for the trooper at the helm.  You’ll have to scroll through to the bottom to learn what happened, though.

OK, so this is probably not a work boat today, but deep down inside its skin it’s still a 1929 Coast Guard self-righting lifeboat, and I’d see its function as raising the spirit of its owner . . . it would surely raise mine if I were galloping about on clear days in it.

But so many other functions are played by small craft in a harbor like the sixth boro that sees almost constant traffic of nearly 1000-footers.  Clean-ups,

miscellaneous services,

surveying aka reading the invisible contours of  the old river’ thoughts,   (In foreground is SSG-577 aka Growler, hardly deterring the approach of an unidentified but intrepid orange survey boat that has appeared on this blog previously.)

rescue and small-boat towing,

and more clean-ups,

and more surveying,



assisting in dock construction as platforms and –very important–catcher of dropped tools.

That’s it for now.  So, the story of the State Trooper.    While I watched NYK Rigel getting backed out to sea on Thursday, I saw this small RIB boat racing northbound on the Arthur Kill, not an unusual sight.  Inexplicably (to me) the trooper throttled back.  I had seen a speck in the water just at that moment, but it was too small to make out.  After a quarter minite or so, the trooper throttled back up and disappeared into Newark Bay.  As the speck approached my position, I began to distinguish two Canada geese, swimming quite slowly toward me.  Then, there was something between the two.  There it was . . . two goose parents with two goslings, the tiniest Canadas I have ever seen.  I know that not everyone is thrilled by Canadas or any other goose or duck proliferation, but my hat goes off to the trooper for spotting them and making to effort to not swamp the young’uns.  There should be an sixth boro version of Make Way for the Ducklings,  in which all manner of shipping from small craft to tankers to tugboats can put the deadlines aside to  . . .  make way.

I’ll leave it to you to wonder whether I got too much sun yesterday.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Related:  Scroll this joan sol’s post here and watch the video on trying to capsize a well-designed and constructed small craft.

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May 2010