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On the 2020 calendar, the top right photo shows a shore fisherman, a small fishing boat, a tug, and a tanker.    The 2013 and 49,999 dwt tanker, Elandra Sea, as of this morning is in the Java Sea, likely almost as far from the sixth boro as you can get.  The tug escorting her in is Capt. Brian A. McAllister.   It turns out that was the only photo I took of that vessel, because of the fisherman, small boat, and industrial vessels and setting.

What I was really there for that morning was the mothership of Sandy Hook Pilots, New York No. 1, the current one as the new one is being created.  It seemed to be an event happening on the after deck. Surprisingly, I believe I’ve never posted this shot until now.

Upper left on the June 2020 page is Helen Laraway; seconds before I took the photo chosen for the calendar, she passed this this container ship E. R. Montecito, escorted in by  James D.

The 2004 and 7544teu container ship is currently in the Malacca Strait, heading for Durban SA, and carries a new name. . . GSL Grania.  I cherish info like this, reinforcing the fact that the sixth boro is but a tiny place on a planet of countless coastlines.

Assisting her in were James D, JRT, and Margaret.

The lower photo on the calendar was taken in the Mohawk Valley, lock E-13, easily accessed via the westbound lanes of the NYS Thruway.  Grande Caribe was Chicago bound.  For more info on E-13, click here.

As she departed the lock, she passed one of the newest tugboats on the Erie Canal, Port Jackson, named for the part of Amsterdam NY  on the south side of the river.    It turns out that the family of the namesake of Port Jackson moved west and distinguished himself.   The barge attached to Port Jackson no doubt has an identified; I wish I knew it and its history, given the riveted hull.

The next shot after the one on the calendar shows the 183′ x 40′ Grande Caribe shrinking as it juxtaposes with the ridge that makes up the Noses.   Grande Caribe is currently in Warren RI, as Blount Small Ships Adventures has decided that in the wake of COVID, it’s better to use 2020 to plan for 2021.   So, neither of the Grande vessels will be transiting the canal this year.  Given the virus, I’ve planed some gallivants, but as is true for everyone, much of that is on hold.  I’m free to gallivant now, but my sense of responsibility says I stay put and see this all as opportunity to craft a different path.

All photos, WVD, who is working his way through his library again.  Last week it was Pieces of the Frame and Uncommon Carriers.  I’m currently re-reading The Night Inspector, historical novel by Frederick Busch, on the exploits in post-Civil War New York featuring a mask-wearing disfigured wounded vet who worked as a sniper in the Civil War, and his friend M, who is none other than Herman Melville, the washed up writer who currently works in the harbor as a night inspector, aka a deputy inspector of Customs who would row out to any ships arriving inport in the dark hours and waiting until morning to clear customs. Here‘s another review.

I’ve also discovered the many videos of Tim B at Sea on youtube.  Interesting stuff . . .  answers to questions you’ve not even considered yet in some cases.

I copied this photo from what has been a very influential book  for me, Portrait of a Port: Boston 1852–1914, compiled and annotated by W. H. Bunting.  More on that later.    I hope Mr. Bunting sees this post as a hat tip to his works, especially this book and Steamers, Schooners, Cutters, Sloops:  The Marine Photographs of N. L. Stebbins; A Day’s Work.

Bunting writes: “late 19th century Boston was a city of immigrants and contained some of the most crowded and unhealthy neighborhoods in the country.  Hot summer weather was the special curse of the slums, and during July and August the mortality rate for Boston’s children under age 5 was commonly three times the rate for the rest of the year. The Boston Floating Hospital,supported by private charity, was opened in 1894 for the purpose of providing sick children under age 6 with medical care, good food, cool breezes, and a change of scenery.  Mothers accompanied by their other (healthy) children were welcome to join the daily cruises.”

Further he writes:  “The first hospital vessel was the ex-steamer Clifford, which had to be towed about the harbor.  The hospital steamer pictured here was new in 1906 and was fully air-conditioned.  It accommodated 100 permanent patients and 150 daily patients in six wards, and contained an operating room and a laboratory specializing in milk research.”

At least 12 more things about this floating hospital can be found here.

I believe this hospital ship burned in 1927 and was not replaced.

I discovered this book and the works of Bunting first in a public library in Newburyport MA when I was living in the far northeastern part of Massachusetts.  Since then, I’ve bought and given away two copies of the book.  The first line of the preface is  “This is a book of photographs.”  He goes on to elaborate why the book is not a “photographic history of the port of Boston” in those years, or “a photographic maritime history of the port”.    Rather, he says, it “does draw together a visual maritime portrait of the port, as composed by photographers and their clients.”   Bunting draws mostly on the work of photographers Albert S. Southworth, Josiah T. Hawes, and especially, Nathaniel L. Stebbins.   In a very modest way, that too has been the goal of the tugster blog.

Click here for over 6000 photos by Stebbins.

The sixth boro had an earlier floating hospital, called  Emma Abbott, opened in 1875, and named for an opera singer who donated money for the ship.

More vessels, charted by or built for The Floating Hospital organization, can be seen here.

Take all the photos you like, but if you just sit on a dock by the bay watching the ships roll in and out, you’ll only know so much and nothing more.  If you suspected I was hinting at something in yesterday’s post, it was this review.

If you want to know more about working on a tugboat, you can get a job on a tugboat.  Of course, you’d have to survive the gauntlet of training, interview, application, physical, drug tests, etc.

Or you can pick up Tom Teague’s book, where among many other things he explains how he got hired for his first full-time tugboat job:  he got a telephone call from a tugboat captain the day before he was scheduled to meet with the US Navy recruiter.  The captain asked if he could start right away.  That night.  He did.  It was 1974.  The author was 20, and as he lets the reader know several times, he had good hair.

Teague describes how the towing business has changed in some significant ways since 1974.  Think about the photo below; “just having a beer” on a towing vessel today would trigger immediate firing.

Yet the same perils lurk whenever you work with powerful machines on the water in all kinds of weather.  A chapter entitled “Danger” illustrates the unforgiving environment of a workboat.  This chapter, framed by incidents involving unfortunate fellow crew and friends, makes the point that even knowledgeable, professional mariners might pay heavily for failing even for a second to pay attention.

By the way, if you’re a regular reader of tugster, do you recognize the tugboat on the cover?

You may have heard the aphorism “moments of terror interspersed by hours, days, etc. of boredom” in relation to a variety of fields.  It certainly applies to working on tugboats.  Boredom and dealing with it gets a whole chapter.  And Teague gets hilarious about creative attempts to alleviate boredom, without doing harm or damage.  Well, some coffee gets spilled, er… sacrificed.

Capt. Teague navigates story telling quite well, alternating, as he must have to aboard his boat, between abundant, straightforward explanation for a non-mariner reading the book and straying into the tales you’d expect of a mariner with many nautical miles under his keel.   He’s enlightening when recounting ordeals with weather and clarifying towing jargon.  Salty humor and fascinating characters abound when he catalogs nicknames–and their derivations–of fellow mariners he’s met over the decades.

Doing paperwork, I’m told, makes every captain’s eyes cross, but when Tom writes, not at all cryptically “Stay tuned for the next installment.  I’m still typing,” I suspect he’s going above and beyond the usual wheelhouse reports and confirmations.  There’s another book just over the horizon, and I for one am eagerly awaiting it.

Thomas Teague is still working in the wheelhouse as a tugboat captain after having started as a hawsepiper back in the 1970s.  With Tales from a Tugboat Captain, he seems to have gotten the call and jumped aboard writing about work with the likes of Studs Terkel and John McPhee.  There’s a whole genre here–Harberger’s Seized comes to mind as does Moynihan’s Voyage of the Rose City— waiting to be picked up and read on a cold winter’s day, or taken to the beach or on a cruise when the sun is hot.  And finally, I’m hoping that other mariners, upon completing their on-vessel reports, contribute to this genre.

Click here to order your copy of the book.  For additional photos and videos obviously not in the book, check out Captain Tom Teague on FB.  I’m told a book signing is planned for spring in Brooklyn and will post details about that when available.

See previous tugster reviews here.

Tangentially related, twelve years ago I posted this, which ends with a quote from Franz Kafka revealing how he imagined paperwork on boats.

And the boat on the cover, you may know it today as the “red” Cornell.

First, some context, and yes, today is that day.  I celebrate it without claiming to adhere to anything beginning with ashes.  This may be grasping at long shots, but I have not visited a location that celebrates this spring event in a long time.  I know . . . shame on me.  More on that later.

Anyone know the author here?  It’s a fat tome I’ve taken it from  . . . over 1600 pages, all from the king of fat tomes and rich language himself.

“We are off!”   It has not nearly the hook of a “Call me Ishmael.”  The short second paragraph, though, is a line that needs remembering.   As to location, Ravavai is contextualized with reference to Pitcairn, at place today with a grand total population of 50.   I’m not sure what the population was 150+ years ago when this was written.

Still in the first short chapter . . .  now that’s prescient .  . in the second paragraph here, describing the skipper!

By now, I hope you’ve concluded the author here has to be Melville, one of the top five authors of the sea and gallivants thereupon.  Anyone want to fill in the names of the other four?  I have my ideas.  Mardi is one of those fat books very few folks read.  I started last night, and hope to complete it.  You can start it here.

But in the spirit of mardi gras, here’s another story you may have missed . . . the houseboat Shameless, piloted down the Mississippi by a dying man, Kelly Phillips.  His first mate was Sapphire, recently honored among the float sponsored by the Mystic Krewe of Barkus.

Here’s more on the voyage of Shameless from Wisconsin to Venice LA, and all the great folks along the river who lent a hand.

And if you need some language yourself, click here for a fat Tuesday glossary.

 

Private planes can’t be fun for slow and prolonged travel, and RVs–unless I could drive something wild like these or a Fuller— leave me cold, but these yachts seem a popular way to see the world . . . at least one of the loops.   What I might enjoy more than a loop is a crossing, a la William Least-Heat Moon, with a smaller and more adaptable vessel.

I was not stalking the yacht below, but here I caught Ann Marie Rose entering the Upper Bay on June 8,

under the 9W bridge in Kingston on June 16, and then

on July 1 in Little Falls, NY.  Maybe I can find them on AIS.  She’s 48′ and registered in Virginia.  I’d say they travel at an appropriate pace, around 200 miles a month.

Copesetic is 46′ and registered in Chesapeake City, MD.  It’s maybe owned by someone with the last name Cope?  I’ve never been inside a catamaran motor yacht.

Ocean Star is truly from Ketchikan, AK and headed eastbound in the Erie Canal. From the West Coast they traveled by truck until they splashed into the Mississippi in Minnesota.

You can tell Scott Free (61′) is in the Canal by the fact that her radar dome and all that supports it is set on her nose, to make the low bridge.  I did a double take upon seeing her, imagining this was a boat inspired by Blount’s Grande vessels.

The natural beauty of the Canal envelopes these three cruisers as they

make their way west to share lock E-18.  The green boat in the middle appears to be a 42′ Kadey Krogen;  a friend has done two crossings of the Atlantic with his, and is now off California, after starting in Panama about a year ago.

I can’t tell you much about Sláinte, but she was pretty in the dawn light.

And this one . . . Boatel I  was headed to Toronto for the season.  It’s a floating accommodation, not to be confused with Botel, where I stayed back in 2014.  Scroll here to see my photo.

Anyone know where she spent the winter?   Maybe it’s “no tell motel.”

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

 

It’s Cornell, westbound under the Bayonne Bridge.  Now that’s a sight not often seen.  Cornell (1949) occupies a niche likely quite unexpected, as documented here.  In this post (scroll), you see Cornell in 1978!  Hear her inimitable whistles (wait for it) here.

Ivory Coast has truly an unusual name, but I’d never call her Côte d’Ivoire.  That’s been her name now for 20 years;  previously she was Crusader for over 30 years.

Nicole Leigh Reinauer is the first (of three? ) Atlantic II class tug.

Her dimensions and design are similar if not identical to Lincoln Sea, but Nicole has CAT engines instead of EMDs.   This class of ATB is the product of Bob Hill, whose boyhood home in Troy NY  gave him a front row seat to an earlier generation of tugs and barges.

Looking very similar to Nicole Leigh Reinauer, it’s the newest ATB in the boro . . .  Bert Reinauer, photo thanks to Lisa Kolibabek.  Bert,  almost two decades newer, has the same dimensions as Nicole Leigh, but with GEs generating 8400 hp, versus CATs at 7200.

Viking has operated out of the sixth boro since 1992.  Before that, she spent 20 years in the fleet of Nolty J. Theriot, whose rise and fall is documented in Woody Falgoux’s excellent book, Rise of the Cajun Mariners.

For various Viking appearances on tugster over the years, click here.  Note her distinctive Bludworth bow.

Discovery Coast spent a lot of time in the sixth boro a few years ago, but these days she’s rarely here.  Here’s her first appearance in this blog, in 2012.

And the newest ship assist tug in the boro is Capt. Brian A. McAllister.  Here’s a Professional Mariner story about the tug.

The photo of Bert Reinauer thanks to Lisa Kolibabek.  All other photos here in the past week by Will Van Dorp.

 

“one of the toughest ports in the world, sharing that distinction with Shanghai and Calcutta . . .”  I believe that’s “tough” as quantified in black eyes, missing teeth, and blood spat out onto the gravel.  I wonder who had the breadth of experience to render this judgement.  Why would such ports as Rio, Murmansk, and Oswego not be included . . . or others?

Besides that, those few sentences render a great description of mechanization.

Mississagi is wintering over here in Ashtabula. She’s appeared on this blog a half dozen times . . . working.   I’m coming home is Norfolk Southern’s mantra.

I believe this archway is a coal conveyor belt.

That’s all you get of GL tug Rhode Island.  Mississagi (1943) is only a year younger than Alpena.  But Rhode Island dates from 1930.   The white tug in front of it is Nancy Anne. based in Cheboygan, MI.

A bit farther east in Ashtabula, Calumet winters over.  Previous posts including Calumet can be found here.

and off its stern, it’s the upper portion of tug Olive L. Moore (hull launched in 1928) and barge Menominee.  I caught them on Lake Huron in August 2017.

If you wanted to start reading that historical marker from side one, here it is, then if you want, you can go back to the beginning and read that in proper context.  If you want the short history of Ashtabula, click here for a review of a good book.  If you want the juicy details or at least the gritty ones, buy Carl E. Feather’s Ashtabula Harbor:  A History of the world’s Greatest Iron Ore Receiving Port.  My copy is on order.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

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