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Here, from a year ago, were previous Gmelin photos.

All I can tell about the photo below is that it shows Homeric, 1931.  Of the three tugs to her starboard and the six or so in the distance as well as the small sloop and stick lighter to the right . . . I can say nothing else and hope someone reading this will have some detail to add.

Six years earlier, some had criticized Capt. John Roberts for being unable–not unwilling–to rescue anyone from Raifuku Maru some 500 miles off Boston.

Homeric went eight years between keel-laying and entering service because a war intervened, then saw service for less than 20 years.

As was true for Homeric, RMS Empress of Australia was built in the German shipyard now located in Poland.  This Empress of Australia was launched in 1913;  Kaiser Wilhelm II made her into the royal yacht, imagining he would receive the surrendered allied fleets from her.  Oh well . . .

Other details here on the photo marked 1931 . . .  to the right behind the ship I can see a pier marked Ellerman’s Wilson Line, although I don’t know what pier number that would be.  And on the stern of the assist tug I can make out  the Howard portion of  . . . Howard C. Moore, a Moran boat by then.

My point is that visual detail and charm notwithstanding, there’s a vacuum of fact in these photos.

Which brings me to a book I reread yesterday and would recommend–Sailors, Waterways, and Tugboats I Have Known–although the title is bulky.  The author–Capt. Fred G. Godfrey, who also wrote a novel Fugitive Deckhand–though born ashore, lived from infancy on a canal barge his parents operated in the New York Canal system.  In the first chapter, he mentions the first tugboat he ever rode aboard, a Buffalo-built 1899 steam tug named Triton.  He was four then, and then later he worked aboard as a deckhand and cook.  To be fair, Godfrey included three photos of Triton, but I wanted more, although his details about the galley of a tug of a century ago are rich.   In chapter two, he writes about George Field, an 1882 Buffalo-built tug his father captained.   And again, there were two pictures, and I wanted more, although the anecdote of the time he intervened–as a kid–and shoved a helmsman bent on sabotaging the boat  . . . is great.    Third chapter  . . . it’s Junior Murphy, built 1909 in New Baltimore NY.  Again, two photos of the boat are included as well as info about cargoes–including hay– and ports of call that included St.-Jean -sur-Richelieu, QC.

I read this book a few years ago before I’d gained familiarity with these waterways and it was unsatisfying.  Now I know most of the references, and I want a thousand more photos and would have loved to converse with Capt. Godfrey.

I’m not being whiney.  I love the Gmelin photos and the Godfrey books. In fact, if anyone wants to trade some vintage photos of tugboats for my second copy of Sailors, Waterways, and Tugboats . . ., let me know.

I hope a satisfying record remains for the readers and researchers working here in 2117.

 

 

 

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Enjoy this sampling of boats and the dates associated with their launch starting from Arabian Sea (2007) on Dry Dock No. 7,

Stephen Reinauer (1970) nearby on 4,

Miss Circle Line . . . (1954 as ST 2124 and later Betsy) ,

Alex McAllister (1985),

Joyce D. Brown (2002) headed home after completing the daily chores,

Crystal Coast (1983) and Justin (1981) heading south into the Chesapeake,

JRT Moran (2016) holding onto an argosy,

Ivory Coast (1967) waiting on the next job,

All photos by Will Van Dorp (1952).

Unrelated, for a long interpretation of Moby Dick (1851) and connections between “grammar school literature” like the Odyssea (est. 1000 BCE) and All Quiet on the Western Front (1929) and connections with folk songs, listen to Bob Dylan (1941) making his Nobel Prize acceptance speech (2017)  here . . .  It’s the best 27 minutes of listening you’ll do today, I believe.

 

A month or so ago, I talked with Don Lake, who wanted to tell me some family history, which I transcribe here:  “My family has been on tugs for many years, beginning with my grandfather, Captain James Lake, who began his career as a young boy on Rondout Creek, NY, in the late 1800s and later moved down to New York harbor where he acquired his Master Mariner’s license with unlimited tonnage and pilotage.  In the early 1920s he was also instrumental in the formation of Local 333 along with Captain Joe O’Hare, who organized the tug boat workers of NY harbor.

I have relatives who worked for M. J. Tracy for many years, an old line company in NY, specializing in coal delivery to the power generating stations in NY and NJ at Con Edison and PSE & G.

There’s a great history of the company in a back issue of Tug Bitts from the Tug Boat Enthusiasts organization.”  [The organization is now dormant.]

Helen L. Tracy has since ultimately been rechristened Providence, and I posted a photo of the boat here a few months back tied up on the Mississippi just around the bend downstream from New Orleans. That is, it is the same boat unless I’m confused here.    Another question . . . what was the connection between Avondale Towing Line and M. J. Tracy Towing Company?  I could call Don, but I’m putting the question out to blog readers.  Here’s what I learned about the photo from the Portal to Texas History.

At times like this I really wish there was a digital archive of the years of Tug Bitts.  Is there any plan to do this?  I’d be happy to contribute some ducats for this to happen, and I’m sure lots of other folks would too.

Again, many thanks to Don for writing and sending along a photo I need to frame.

Here’s more on Rondout Creek, currently home to Hudson River Maritime Museum and formerly headquarters for Cornell Steamboat Company. And if you haven’t read Thomas Cornell and the Cornell Steamboat Company by Stuart Murray, here’s how you can order this must-read.

Click here for a Tracy boat from the 1952 tug boat race.

I visited Southport once before, six years ago, when I met a wonderful gentleman who showed off his 1938 restored fishing boat Solomon T, here.

This time a small dredge operation was going on near shore, involving P&L’s Hercules.  Also

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there was Sea Oak (whose fleet mates have some great names here)  and

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Candice L.  Thanks to SM.

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Also, working on the project was crew boat Captain Tom.

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I plan to get back to Southport in late spring.

Part of my interest here is explained by this book:  Masters of the Shoals. 

 

 

. . . and in case you’re rummaging through your change drawer for some cash to buy something for yourself or someone else special, here are some ideas.  Buy a raffle ticket for an opportunity next summer to ride an Interlake Steamship vessel on the Great Lakes . . .  Here’s a post I did a few months back on the classic Interlake Oberstar.   And from International Shipmasters’:  The funds from sales keep our lodge financially secure and we donate every year to other various maritime related non-profits. Sea Cadets, Whistles on the Water, and Shipmaster Grand Lodge Scholarship Fund.  Our own scholarship fund is endowed and gives 3 scholarship awards each year of $500 to each, 1 Canadian, 1 US, 1 hawse piper.   Click on the image below for information on purchasing a raffle ticket.  I have mine . . . and I imagine these would make a great gift for lots of folks you want to give a gift to.

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If you win and need something to do when you’re not just mesmerized by Great Lakes scenery, here are some books to consider.  Of course, you can read them any time . . . real books, not device books. Here’s what the Icelanders say about giving books.

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Here are some of the books I’ve read this past year.  I’d recommend all of them.

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The Big Book of Real Boats and Ships was an impulse buy after someone mentioned it on FB.  George J. Zaffo did a whole series of these books back in the 1950s and 1960s.  Here’s more on his and similar books. What makes it interesting for me is that real means real;  here’s the info on C. Hayward Meseck, the vessel in the illustration below.

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Also from Zaffo, here’s info on the tug in the foreground below, Barbara Moran (1948), scuttled in 1990 and sits upright about 70′ below the surface. 

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This past year I’ve met lots of folks whom I’ve encouraged to write their stories or have someone else write them.  Bob Mattsson did that a few years ago, and I finally read it this year.

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Here’s part of page 1.

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Up River is another one I read this year, one that helps you see what you can’t see from the river.  The cover photo below shows Tomkins Cove Quarry, one of many quarries whose scale you get no sense from the river.  Recently on a trip from NYC to Waterford on the river with some folks who had never done the trip, I brought this along and noticed they paged through during the entire trip as a way to “see” what they otherwise couldn’t.  Thanks to Capt. Thalassic for introducing me to this book.  You can “page” through the entire book here!

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All those books . . . this time of year, it all reminds me of a post I did here 10 years ago about the circumstances around the first Christmas presents I ever got .  .  .

 

Much more catching up to do, but first, I share some New Orleans photos from last week and then related photos and response from my inbox to the review of Tugboats Illustrated here.

This first series I include because I’m amazed by this maneuver, but it does not effectively depict it because a) I was moving behind and then alongside and forward of it in the series of photos taken over a 30-minute period of time, and b) I would need to get the photos from a fixed aerial position as it made the turn, and c) this is a relatively small tow . . . only 12 barges in relatively calm conditions.

Starting at 4:23 pm last Tuesday, I was following Ingram Barge Co. Mike Schmaeng.  Many years ago now I did this post on Ingram.  Ingram is a company that operates 150 boats, 5000 barges, over 4500 miles of inland waterway . . . all approximate numbers.

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4:47

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4:50

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4:51

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4:53.

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On my next trip to Nola, I’ll set up on a tripod at a fixed point, maybe the upstream end of Crescent Park.  I also intend to check out some tighter points, such as Wilkerson Point, shown below.

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So now, in response to this photo from my review of Tugboats Illustrated . . .

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in my inbox, I got this note from a retired professional brown water mariner who wishes NO fistfights or pissing contest:

“RE: Sketch from the tugboat book.

The sketch showing a tow in a flanking maneuver is not how we do it on the inland rivers. If a tow is flanked as shown in the sketch, it will ALWAYS end up against the bank below the bend.   Attached is a photo of a towboat flanking Wilkerson Point, just above Baton Rouge.
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You can see from the wheel wash that the pilot is backing full astern to get the stern of the tow near the inside of the bend. He is not quite in position yet, but the tow will take up nearly the entire river. The stern of the boat will only be a hundred or so feet off the point all the way around the bend. A pilot will call on the radio, stating his intention to flank such and such a bend, point or bridge. Because for all purposes, the channel will be blocked, ALL northbound traffic, including ships will be required to stop well below the bend. From the time the pilot stops his engines to get into the flanking position until he can come full ahead coming out of the bend, it may take 30 to 45 minutes. The tow will probably not be in a position to come full ahead again until it is in the area of the refinery at top right.
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All “heavy” tows like this will flank certain bends and bridges between St. Louis and New Orleans at certain stages of the river. Before departing St. Louis, a downbound tow will place “flanking” buoys at each outboard stern barge. The buoys are marked on the second photo [with letter Os]. Since the current is used to float the tow around the bend, the inner buoy will show the pilot when there is no sternway or headway in the current and it is this buoy which tells the pilot that the flank is being correctly done. A flanking buoy is in place on the other corner because there are both left and right hand flanks required.
A tow of 35 loaded barges is common on the Mississippi River. A downbound tow will be made up seven wide and five long, not as stated in the book. A pilot has better control of such a tow during a flank. A northbound tow will be made up seven long and five wide, to get it through the current better.
The boat pictured in the photo is the AUSTEN S. CARGILL (now Justin Paul Eckstein), owned by Cargo Carriers, Inc., Minneapolis, a Cargill subsidiary. It is 182 by 55 feet. It is triple screw and at the time of the photo had a total of 6,630 hp. This photo was taken in 1964. It had 57,908 tons of grain in 40 barges, according to Cargill.  A tow being flanked may need just a gentle touch on the head of the tow;  that is why the tug is approaching the head of the tow, to assist if needed.
/s/ USCG licensed “Mate, Upon All Inland Rivers, Steam and Motor, All Gross Tons”

 

Thank you, sir.  And I hadn’t known about flanking buoys.

Click here for a 5-minute video by Towboat Toby who gives a really clear explanation as he walks a tow downstream around Wilkerson’s Point in high water.  Towboat Toby, I’m your fan!

So,  what think you, readers . . . and I don’t mean to backpedal on Paul Farrell’s excellent book, could that particular drawing have been modified to improve verisimilitude?  I like the looseness of Mr. Farrell’s drawings for the most part, but I think the Mate makes a good point.  And just calm talk . ..  not punches, please.  The writer makes a reasoned and constructive comment.

Actually, the full title of this book is Tugboats Illustrated: History-Technology-Seamanship with Drawings by the author Paul Farrell

I first heard of the book and Paul Farrell last February;  I got an email from an editor at W. W. Norton expressing interest in licensing one of my photos for the cover of the forthcoming book. The photo was the 9th in the post called “Helen’s Last Waltz.” I was thrilled, as you might imagine, and we arrived at a price. Then I hoped it would be an attractive, technically accurate book.

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A few months later, Norton’s publicity department sent along a five-page sampler and asked if I’d write a review of the book. The cover letter described Tugboats Illustrated as “gorgeously detailed guide to the evolution, design, and role of tugboats” from “ the earliest days of steam up to today’s most advanced ocean-going workboats” and referred to its “dynamic drawings that show how different kinds of propellers move, to explanations of the physics and engineering that allow this movement to happen.”

Mr. Farrell, an architect with almost a half century of experience, was described as having spent a quarter century researching and writing this book, his first. When someone spends that amount of time focusing on a subject, I’m impressed. But I wasn’t ready to do a review until I saw the entire 156-page book, which arrived in November.  The photo below should illustrate how comprehensive this slim but well-designed book is.

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I first paged through it and then read it cover to cover. Paging through, I noticed how many of these “dynamic drawings” there are, more than 70 of them at least, depending how you count.  Below is a sample of a set of drawings from p. 114, illustrating an evolution that always mesmerizes me . . . a flanking turn with a long tow on a winding river, and he shows it from both the downstream and upstream perspective.

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Indeed, an architect’s drawings honed by years of professional work complemented with captions, guided by the experts in the wheelhouse, illustrate complex maneuvers in this and many other instances.  Ironically, Farrell never intended to showcase his illustrations in the book; he says it began as “rough sketching intended to guide a mythical illustrator who would intuit just the right feel and content” until he realized this these sketches, such as they were, would work. He reports that doing the set of drawings to illustrate hull chines as seen from underwater were pivotal. I find them charming, below (p. 93),  a boon to the book and not just “limited” or “enough.”

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Then there are the photographs, over 80 of them in total and more than half of them in color, many of them taken by photographers whose work I know and have great respect for: Brian Gauvin, Alan Haig-Brown, and Pat Folan.  There was one photo by Rod Smith, who has so many to choose from in his albums on the shipbuilding work at Senesco. Many of the black-and-white photos come from the collections of Steven Lang and Brent Dibner. Other photos introduced me to photographers I’d like to see more of in the future.

In the “Acknowledgements,” Farrell reveals that he first sent a draft of the book to Norton in 1996, a full twenty years ago. When a book takes shape over such a long period of time as this one, it gets vetted for accuracy and thoroughness, which this one has.

Got friends who want to learn about tugboats? Want to expand your own knowledge of the history and variety of these vessels? Then order it here.

I’m just so thrilled that my photo from that July 17, 2012 move graces the cover of this fine book that I’ll digress and post three more photos from that day.

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Helen, she is a classic from 1900!   Does anyone have photos of her working out of South Carolina waters as Georgetown?  In that photo above, Helen looks just slightly like Little Toot in Hardie Gramatky’s wonderful watercolors, reproduced on p. 11 of Paul Farrell’s book.

Click here for some previous reviews.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

 

 

Recognize the tugboat below?  Answer follows.

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David McAllister, photo from 2013, has recently changed hands and is currently undergoing “re-power and life extension” as Tradewinds Towing Hannah.

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Draco, photo below taken in 2007, shows the vessel that began life in 1951 as Esso Tug No. 12.  I caught her in the sixth boro as Co here (scroll) back in 2009.

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Pleon, built in 1953, has appeared on this blog several times recently.

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Canal Deluge, shown here in Fournier Towing and Ship Services colors, has since been sold to Trinidad, where she is (somewhat appropriately) know as Boston Lady.

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And finally, originally a steam tug built in the mid-1920s to assist ships and break ice on the Delaware river, the 125′ John Wanamaker claimed the title of the last steam tug operating commercially in the US, but after several stints as a restaurant boat, she was cut up in New Bedford sometime around 2007.   Anyone have photos of her last days or her last decades as a restaurant in at least three different New England locations?  For a great story about her–and many other boats– read Jim Sharp’s With Reckless Abandon It seems that Jim has owned at least half the historic vessels on the East coast at one time or other. His Sail, Power, & Steam Museum will reopen in the spring.

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Again, thanks to JG, these photos from the near but irretrievable past.

Oh, and that mystery tug at the top, she’s of course Pelham, seen in this post (scroll) and many others here.

Thanks to Gerard Thornton for use of these photos.

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Steppenwolf, or at least strutting gull.  Beneath the wheel, or at least the wheels of the cranes.  The Glass Bead Game, or at least the metal box shifting enterprise.   Journey to the East, or at least shuttling between east and west and all the other cardinal points . . . .  Maybe a dedicated literature carrier?

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I’ll stop here, but I love these moody, Hesse-enhancing photos by Gerard.

I have seen Ernest Hemingway in the boro a few times, and I’m waiting for Thomas Pynchon, although I thought I recognized him more than once.

 

I’ve written about summertime and about summertime blues–about beating them.  But since you can’t ever step into the same river twice, or gallivant in the same primordial first boro, here’s the 2016 version of trying to capture the sixth boro with a camera on a hot summer weekend afternoon, looking for shade–any shade will do– as much as looking for novel compositions.

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These days odd juxtapositions can be found on west Manhattan piers and

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beyond, like Eagle and the fast bird and Loveland Island with a pilot on board and some folks gathered on the starboard bridge wing .  For a post I did last year with close-ups of details of USCGC Eagle AND for a book I highly recommend reading about her appropriate by the US post-WW2, click here.  Speaking of piers, here’s an interesting article on the engineering and construction of Pier 57.

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Or come for a tour on Janet D Cruises . . .

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with four sails set.

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Long Beach comes to Bayonne along with a Celebrity ship and a PWC . . . pesky workless canoe?

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Flagship Ivy clings for a spell to the bottom over by the VZ Bridge.

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Margaret Moran heads for the next job–or the yard, with Queens’ current and future tallest buildings in the background,

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while YP 704 sails past Governors Island, which has sprouted some new hillocks frequented by lots of people.

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Joan Turecamo exits the Buttermilk west with a light (?) dry bulk barge Montville, which probably recently carried coal.

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All photos Sunday by Will Van Dorp.  for some contrast, see this winter set and this.   More of the summer selects, tomorrow.

 

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