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By 3:00 pm, the deck of Wards Island was at capacity with buoys. It was time to head back west to a scow on the wall in Brewerton, an accidental destination for
Champlain almost exactly 400 years ago. Champlain was a gallivanter extraordinaire, crossing the Atlantic about 25 times in those days, and a guy even better at negotiation and diplomacy than he was at traveling. But I digress.
Since there are two bridges between the Lake and the scow, the boom had been lowered and now it’s raised for the job. Attached to the scow is the larger tender known not by a number but as Dana.
It’s clearly November when 4:30 looks like this.
Boom is lowered for the several miles back to Lock 23, where a surprise
awaits me. I had assumed that only the stern propellor on Wards Island was operational, but after Syracuse uncoupled and we started the rotation to tie up,
there was prop wash from under the bow, just as you would expect from a double-ender ferry.
In order to spin the boat 180 degrees without having to make a 36-point turn, Syracuse put some pressure on the bow,
and by 5:40 we were all fast. Then it was time to
put the power of Wards Island to sleep. Below deck there were a bunch more surprises, like these port lights as seen from within and the rivets.
And two spacious accommodations, one on each side of the vessel.
Two engines, although only the Cat D353 Series E runs.
A Frankenstein knife switch board.
And mentioned in this post last year, Wards Island began life as a ferry in 1929, looking like her twin . . . Tenkenas, there were more surprises like
this speaking tube and behind it,
this brass builders plate.
Many thanks to the NYS Canal Corp and its floating plant for permission to do this series.
Unrelated and sad news: I learned yesterday that John Skelson has passed. RIP, John. Click here for some of the many posts I credited to him in the past years.
These photos were taken November 16, 2015, with temperatures in the 50s and no wind. Obviously, mid-November is not always so ideal for this operation. In fact, photos on the boat showed this work being done in 1992, with buoys heavily ice and snow covered.
Here one crewman–let’s call him the signaler– radios the tug instructions for the approach to the buoy.
Once within two yards of so, another crewman captures the buoy with a boat hook.
Besides the VHF, the signaler uses hand signals for the crane operator, who hoists the hooked buoy as high as a connector link, which gets cleated to the boat while
the cotter pin connected to the shackle gets cut.
The crane operator relies entirely on signals from the signaler.
Once the summer buoy is lifted away, the anchor chain is attached to the spar buoy, which is then
pushed overboard, where it’ll stay until the reverse process in the spring.
Meanwhile, the beacon is removed from each buoy.
Oneida Lake has floating and fixed nav aids. This is Messenger Shoals, a fixed nav aid on a concrete island poured into sheet piling. To the left of the aid in Blind Island, and as little as a foot of water.
The aid here–113–is called a cabinet.
The large size–about 6′ high–used to hold batteries.
The entire cabinet is lifted off for the winter.
On the north side of the lake is a village called Cleveland, once important for supplying passing commercial canal traffic and glass making. Now it may go out of existence.
When the foredeck is full and late autumn sun starts to go down, we headed to the west side of the lake to offload today’s work and prep the boat for tomorrow.
And that will be tomorrow’s post.
Again, many thanks to NYS Canal Corp for permission to do this story and to the crews of Wards Island and Syracuse for helping me out.
At the end of the Oneida Lake series, you’ll see why this could also be called “second lives 15 part b.”
Technically, this post starts out early morning in Clay, NY, with tug Syracuse and crane ship Wards Island tied to the east end of Lock 23.
Wards Island–and her sister ship Tenkenas–were built in 1929 by Electric Boat of Groton CT. Later in the series I’ll show you the brass builder’s plate. By 1937, both were listed as abandoned. For some of the history of intervening years, check out A Long Haul starting on p. 128.
Here Syracuse pushes Wards Island under the rail bridge just west of Route 11 heading for the lake. A key to the location is the Brewerton Range Rear lighthouse, visible in the trees along the right side margin of the photo.
The lake is unusually glassy for November and the fall task of replacing the summer navigation buoys with winter “placeholder” spar buoys, seen here below between the crane boom and the spud. Wards Island is fully self-propelled in the manner you’d expect of a former double-ender ferry, just very slow, a time waste on a large lake like Oneida. Click here for info on tug and barge wrecks in the lake.
Here’s the view through the controls of the crane looking toward the east end of the lake.
To the right you see the Verona Beach Lighthouse, and buoy 106 is in sight to the left of the hook.
The tow is maneuvered into position and a crewman captures the buoy with the boat hook.
The crew make the connection and 106 gets raised. In part b and c of this series, I’ll show the crew actions step by step.
Since no spar buoy replaces 106, anchor and all are brought up. In the distance to the left you can see the Route 13 bridge between Verona and Sylvan Beach. Click here for one of many posts I did in 2014 with photos from near the Route 13 bridge.
Buoy 107 is next on the boat, and
the first spar buoy goes in, anchored to mark the spot.
By 1130, we’re approaching buoy 109.
The crewman with the yellow sweatshirt is using a tool to hook between the buoy lift point and the crane hook.
Once a buoy is on the boat, the flashing beacon is removed and
stowed in a locker.
All photos by Will Van Dorp. More of Oneida Lake tomorrow.
Many thanks to the NYS Canal Corporation for granting permission to photograph the work of Wards Island.
aka GHP&W 2. Macedon only became a port when Clinton built his ditch. The ditch and subsequent iterations connected it to the sea. When I took the photo below back on Oct 21 2014, eastbound on Urger, I felt very far from salt water.
But Chris Williams’ photo below, taken October 25, 2015, shows how connected Macedon is to the sixth boro and all watery places on Earth beyond the VZ Bridge. Less than a week ago, I did a post about Margot, the tug frequently-seen in NYC that delivered this cargo to the port of Macedon.
Bob Stopper took the next set photos. The fact that a Goldhofer semitrailer of 12 axles, 48 wheels, is needed shows the weight of the cargo delivered across the state by NYS Marine Highway. The land portion of the cargo transfer is provided by Edwards Moving and Rigging.
Here’s a closeup of the hydraulics at the front of the trailer.
Transfer from barge to trailer begins with the jacking up of the cargo.
At this point, there are 96 wheels under and moving the cargo.
The next photo taken by Rob Goldman, and taken from the NYS Canal Corporation FB page, on October 31, 2015, shows how the Edwards trailer moves the cargo, one huge piece at a time, off the barge and into the port of Macedon.
Macedon is one of those place names in central NY named for places or people in classical Greek and Roman history. Others are Troy, Ithaca, Palmyra, Greece, Athens, Rome . . . and more; people memorialized in town names here include Hannibal, Scipio, Pompey, Homer, Ulysses, Brutus . . . .
Credit for these photos goes to Chris, Bob, and Rob. My personal connection to Macedon includes the fact that I bought my first car there, less than a half mile from the Canal, and at the time had no clue that it was a port, that it could be connected to the oceans.
Here are previous “port of __” posts i’ve done.
And finally, unrelated, here from another even smaller NY canal port, here’s into on an auction below.
Margot and crew specialize in commercial cargoes to places no longer accustomed to seeing such arrive by Canal. The cargo here is
electrical generators for PSEG a pair of very heavy transformers …. for RG&E Macedon.
Here’s the lowest air draft on the Canal, about 15 feet under Bridge E-93. I’m guessing that an egg positioned at the high point on Margot would have been crushed here. You’ve seen this bridge before on this blog here . . . last photo.
Notice how low the barge is. It’s flooded with water to reduce the air draft of the top of the cargo.
All these photos were taken between Montezuma and Macedon.
Here the tow is exiting Lock 27.
All the above photos were taken by Bob Stopper, frequent upstate contributor to this blog. The next two come thanks to Chris and Eileen Williams, whose work also has been featured here. Here the tow waits to be offloaded just west of Lock 30.
A final photo–mine–I took in March 2015; I include it here to show what travels between the water’s surface and the canal bed.
Bravo to NYS Marine Highway, and thanks to Bob, Chris, and Eileen for these photos.
Here are previous posts under the category second lives, a designation I use for vessels that are significantly modified from one owner or role to another. The approaching vessel in the next two shots–which I took on the Erie Canal west of Three Rivers in September 2014–show Grand Erie, the newest (built 1951!!) and largest tug in the Erie Canal.
Look at that low Erie Canal design carefully, because
she started life looking like this photo probably taken in 1951 when she was brand new in Pascagoula. That’s probably the open Gulf of Mexico in the background.
Chartiers was considered a dredge tender. Here she’s pushing a scow somewhere in the Pittsburgh area.
And here she’s tied up at the Corps of Engineers repair base at Neville Island, Pittsburgh. Look carefully at the upper superstructure in this photo, pre-1985.
In 1985, the vessel was purchased by the New York canals system, then still called the Barge Canal. The name changed in 1992. Then, Chartiers traveled to New York state from the Ohio River via St. Louis, the Illinois River, Chicago, and the Great Lakes.
Here’s Dan Owen’s description of the photo: “This is how it [looked] when I first saw it going up the [Mississippi] Aug. 13, 1985 at St. Louis. It was on the other side of the river. The top part of the pilothouse roof was actually cut off to the level of the second deck cabin to get under the bridges in the Chicago area. I do not know how long the pilothouse was 100% air conditioned, all the way from Pittsburgh, or at a shipyard in the St. Louis area. Or, if the pilothouse was welded back on after clearing the Chicago bridges.”
Here’s more of Dan’s description: “These two photos show Chartiers departing Chain of Rocks Lock, Granite City, Ill. [Notice the helm,] complete with searchlight, sitting on the deck. Also visible are two spare rudders.”
For more comparison, below are three photos of Grand Erie I took in September 2015. In the photo she’s flanked by Tender #3 starboard and tug Waterford to her port.
Compare this photo of Grand Erie to the second b/w photo above to note all the changes.
And compare this one to the last b/w photo above.
Many thanks to Dan Owen of Boat Photo Museum for use of these photos. All color photos were taken by myself, Will Van Dorp, in 2014 and 2015.
Here’s how you might be able to add to this collection: in July 1986 the newly modified Grand Erie came to NYC waters aka the sixth boro to participate in Liberty Weekend, the rededication of the Statue of Liberty. Grand Erie served as Governor Cuomo‘s ride. Does anyone have photos from that time . . . Grand Erie in NYC in 1986? I’d love to see them.
Here are the previous ones.
This FDNY boat has never floated in the sixth boro, although it should be here this coming Tuesday.
I wanted to catch this vessel in the resplendent colors of October along the Erie Canal.
Watch here for sixth boro harbor news for the time of a welcome ceremony at the Statue of Liberty. William M. Feehan and all his loved ones should be proud.
All photos here by Will Van Dorp.
It’s been a few years since Lehigh Valley 79 was there, but David Sharps added a new feature to the parade–a
to each vessel that passed for review.
And what a potpourri of vessels that was!
Folks who from Monday to Friday work on precision instruments indoors . . . on weekends go to the physics lab on the river and experiment with vectors.
Others compete shoreside commanding line to fly.
If you missed this one, make plans now for 2016.
All photos here by Will Van Dorp.
Click here for posts from lots of other years. In today’s post, you’ll see almost all blue-and-gold before the parade, i.e., heading for the muster
It was great to have two covered barges for events.
Urger exits the low side of lock 2 and . . .
enters the Hudson.
The federal lock at Troy leads into the rest of the Hudson . . .
After the dignitaries are picked up,
the flotilla heads back north into the Troy lock,
the parade has begun.
All photos by Will Van Dorp. Many thanks to tug44 as host and photo boat.
For more photos, check these from the Daily Gazette.
“From the Albert R. Stone Negative Collection, Rochester Museum & Science Center Rochester, N.Y.”
See the added image below the photo of Victor below.
For this photo printed in the Rochester Herald, November 10, 1911, I’ll use text from the collection: “The “Victor” is a two masted boat with decking in the bow and canvas covering a sheltered space in the stern. She is pictured, with her crew, just off-shore from the roller coaster at Ontario Beach Park. The boat is moving toward the bank of the river. According to the newspaper article, “The Victor is 37 feet over all, has a displacement of about nine tons and is equipped with a six-cylinder Holmes engine. Built in [Bayonne] New Jersey, she is…the latest model lifesaving boat…of the self-righting and self-bailing variety and will make twelve miles an hour under favorable conditions.”
I generally do not modify published posts, except with self-deprecating cross-outs. But here I’m adding the “plans” sent along by William Lafferty that clearly show the “mis-read” of the 1911 caption writer. Here was a link I had intended to put with this post as well. A further contradiction of the “misread” of the orientation of the boat is provided by the rake of the masts. Thanks all for your corrections; contemporary captions on any archival photos can be wrong.
So this one is a mystery, and it deepens when you find there is Inspector I and Inspector II, and I don’t know which this is. This photo is identified as taken in 1919 or 1920, but since the only person identified is Governor Miller, I’m thinking the photo was taken in 1921 or 1922.
My questions: Is this the yacht built by Consolidated in 1909, 80′ loa? Are there photos of Governor FD Roosevelt using it? Did it once belong to a Rochester NY radio station? Does anyone have facts about it being used in the Mariel Boatlift and ultimately sinking in the Caribbean?
Today there are still annual canal inspections, but one of the vessels used is Grand Erie, a very different creature.
The photo above was taken by Will Van Dorp, who’s eager to learn the rest of the story of motor yacht Inspector.