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I started a series called transitioning, but here’s something new.  Actually I did a transit post a few years back when a Boston ex-fireboat transited the sixth boro on its way to  Lake Huron to reinvent as a dive boat.

This post started with Glenn Raymo catching a shot of NOAA 5503 northbound in Poughkeepsie.


Then, unprompted, Mike Pelletier, engineer of Urger noticed it between locks 2 and 3 in Waterford, westbound.  When I noticed it on AIS, southbound on the Welland, I knew she was doing a long haul.  So here’s what I’ve since learned:  this vessel “was transferred to NOAA from the CG in Fort Macon NC.  Its final destination is Muskegon MI,  where it will undergo a full overhaul and be refit for service as a research vessel on the Great Lakes.”   Many thanks to Glenn, Mike, and my other sources.


But if NOAA is transiting far, Sand Master is going much much farther.  Any ideas what HN RTB is?


Here’s a photo of Sand Master I got just over a month ago at the Great Lake just west of the Bayonne Bridge.


Try Roatán, Honduras.

Thanks all for the photos and the information.  And please help keep eyes open for unique transiting vessels and those who work mostly here.

Here was the previous installment.  And here were the cargos and places of summer.  And if you missed it previously, here’s an article about Seaway Supplier I published in Professional Mariner last year.  The first six photos are used with permission from Seaway Marine Group.


Trucks like the ones with the white tanks transport stocks of fish from hatcheries to water bodies, in this case Lake Ontario.  Here’s the first time I noticed one of these trucks on the highway.


Off Oswego, it’s ready, aim,




Elsewhere at sites determined by the DEC . . . fish are brought in.


and the truck returns to shore for the next load.


The photos below all come thanks to Cathy Contant, who


works in the inlet and bay where I learned to swim almost 60 years ago. Back then, when a coal ship came in here, everyone had to get out of the water.  But I digress.


How could I not recognize the lighthouse AND Chimney Bluffs way in the distance.




Here’s what Seaway Marine writes on their FB page:  “We have transported 40 trucks, via 6 port locations stocking over 500,000 fish into Lake Ontario aboard our USCG certified landing craft, Seaway Supplier.”

Many thanks to Jake and Cathy for use of these photos.


Tony A sent these first three photos.  What are they?


Here’s the answer. I like the statement . .  the last one above water!  I wonder what else you can say that about.   Whalebacks have come and gone, except this one. Click here for a historical essay on whalebacks that makes an unexpected connection to Franklin D. Roosevelt. If your appetite is whetted, here’s another.   As the the connection between this style and x-bows, click here.


Click here to see El Cheapo’s 4-minute video on whalebacks, including one that served as a passenger vessel. 


Frisia Inn, which was in and out of the sixth boro a week or so ago,  is not a whaleback,



but the bow shares some design features.


It has the same bow as CSAV Rio de Janiero, Conrad S, and others.


Turtle back?

For a number of great vintage whaleback images, click here for portions of Neel R. Zoss‘ book, McDougall’s Great Lakes Whalebacks, including a whaleback automobile carrier called . . . South Park.

Many thanks to Tony for the actual whaleback photos.  For a good closing story on a whaleback whose remnants lie 400 feet below the surface of the GOM, click here.   That whaleback, SS City of Everett, would tow barges and its Captain Thomas Fenlon claimed it could have saved RMS Republic from sinking, offers to do so having been refused by the RMS Republic’s captain.


I took this photo back in 2008, and it seemed I never got back to it.  At the time, I didn’t realize it was built in 1904 and had once done the Buffalo–Duluth passenger run with first-class staterooms.  Buffalo–Duluth passenger ferry  SS Juniata . . . doesn’t even seem reasonable a century later.


Between 1937 and 1941, she was thoroughly upgraded and  “returned to work  as the Milwaukee Clipper and carried passengers and their cars between Muskegon and Milwaukee until 1970 when the interstate highways and air travel rendered her obsolete.”    I’m told volunteers are working to preserve her.  I’d love to hear a progress report.


In contrast, the rest of the photos I took on the Arthur Kill in 2010, and what you see here is no longer there.  I’m going out on a limb here, and guessing it’s the Astoria aka William T. Collins, built in 1925 and out of documentation in 1966.


I recall reading that it was removed –as an eyesore–since then, but can’t find any newspaper record of such.  Anyone help out?   My co-explorer here is none other than frogma . . . .


Click here for a post I did on a re-purposed 1929 NYC ferry still operational as a double-ended construction vessel,  click here for a post I did on a NYC-NJ ferry that operated as such between 1905 and 1970 before being repurposed as a restaurant until neglect and a certain Irene came along, and here for a post on what might be the oldest in service ferry in the US.

Below is P/S Majesteit, a 1926 steam ferry still operating in Rotterdam as a floating restaurant steam side paddle wheeler;


here’s their site with photos of the steam machinery.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

I did two posts on Badgerhere and here–back in 2012.  But until these photos this week, which I’m using with permission from FB’s SS Badger: Lake Michigan Car Ferry, I’d never seen her underwater ship lines.


Above, that’s a ice-reinforced hull.  Read about her dry dock visit here.


As I write, she’s in dry dock for a few more days at Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, WI.




Here are some photos I took back in 2012 as she was departing Ludington MI for Manitowoc WI.


Yes, she burns coal to this day, (one of) the last vessel (s) fueled by coal in the US.  For a good summary of her old and current technology, click here.  To see what goes on in her engine room, click here.


When she entered service in the 1950s, she was designed primarily to transport railcars across the Lake.  Click here to read a story on the vessel published in Professional Mariner about two years ago.


The next two photos are NOT of Badger but rather her twin, Spartan.  By the way, the badger is the mascot of University of Wisconsin and the spartan . . . of Michigan State University.   There was a double christening in September 1952,  but since 1979, Spartan has been laid up at the dock in Ludington.




I hope to ride the Badger, 60 water miles of an almost 600-mile US Route 10,  again this coming summer.

Many thanks to SS Badger for use of the first four photos, taken this past month;  all others by Will Van Dorp.

And to close this with a digression, here’s a one-of-a-kind I saw displayed at the dock in Manitowoc when I was there.



If you’re wondering why December has brought a run on dates, i.e., years and numbers as part of titles, it’s classic and/or antique boat month.

Sarah Elizabeth Banks, below, began life in the UK as SS Fire King.  In fact, it had a mate, SS Fire Queen, now long scrapped.  Today, it’s a yacht owned by the grandson of the manufacturer and based in Seattle.  Many thanks to Kyle Stubbs for this photo, which he sent me months ago and I never figured out how to use.


And since we’re talking old fireboats, let me add this never-posted photo of Edward M. Cotter, the Elizabeth NJ-built fireboat still in use in Buffalo NY.  As the Buffalo Fire Department says on their website here, Cotter was working Lake Erie’s margins three years before the Wright Brothers made their Kitty Hawk flight!!!   Click here for another photo of Sarah Elizabeth Banks.  Click here for photos/text about another old fireboat named Alki.


Many thanks to Kyle for sending along the top photo.  For other posts with photos from Kyle, click here.

For my previous Seattle area posts, click here.


specifically Wyoming, built in Cleveland.  All these photos come thanks to Isaac Pennock, who writes, “If I’ve got your guidelines for December correct, the tug Wyoming should fit. She was built in Cleveland in 1929 as a steam tug. Converted to diesel in 1953. Repowered with her current engine (EMD 12-645-E6) in 1980. She was chartered to McAllister in Charleston for one year in 1993. [Does anyone have photos of her working in Charleston?]  Now GLT’s lead tug in the port of Detroit. 84 feet long, 2,000 horsepower. She has held the same name & same owner for her entire career.


Whether you like to be reminded of winter or not, let’s start with some cold water photos.




Why G-tugs?  Check the stack.  Franz von Riedel devotes a whole chapter to this long run of boats in his heavily illustrated  Tugs of the Great Lakes.


Great Lakes ports have hot seasons also.




Click here for a few pages on the G-tugs from TES.   I recall my surprise upon learning that Great Lakes Towing was created at the turn of the 19th/20th century by a group of industrialists including John D. Rockefeller.

Click here,  here, and here for previous tugster posts with G-tugs.   SS Columbia crossed Lake Erie this summer on G-tug wire.   Earlier this fall, Great Lakes Shipyard christened a new tug for the NY Power Authority/Niagara project.

Many thanks to Isaac for sharing these photos.


John van der Doe has contributed many photos from Hamilton over the years, like here and here.

The bunkering boat Sterling Energy after delivering fuel to the Dutch tanker Stella Polaris.  Wow . . . Sterling Energy is Turkish built in 2002.

0aajvd1Hamilton Nov. 7, 2015 (1)

Pusher-tug Victorious with her asphalt tanker-barge John J. Carrick.  Victorious was built in China in 2009.

0aajvd2Hamilton Nov. 7, 2015 (2)

Again, John, thanks for these photos and a glimpse of Hamilton and the vessels that work there.


or GHP&W 6.  Traverse City is home to the Great Lakes Maritime Academy, training in the freshwater watery North Coast of the US.   All photos today come from Isaac Pennock, currently a cadet at GLMA, and principal behind the tugboathunter blog.  Click here to see many of Isaac’s photos taken on and around the Great Lakes aka North Coast.


Anchor Bay (1953) started its life as a USACE tug, not unlike W & D’s  Little TootSpooky and Pilot, now Millie B.    Other GLMA vessels include


Northwestern, 56′ loa aluminum vessel,


a 41′ utility boat,  and their big


vessel, T/S State of Michigan, the former USNS Persistent, T-AGOS-6.


Tenders called in the port of Traverse City recently, with intrepid explorers—well, tourists–from


a German cruise ship called Hamburg .


Shorefolk ventured out in kayaks, perhaps to trade with folks aboard the ship?


Another recent visitor in the port was Canim, dating from 1930.



Again, for these photos I’m grateful to Isaac, a GLMA cadet.

SS Columbia and her resurrection . . . back in November 2011, when I took this photo in Detroit, I was not a believer.


But a year ago, she was towed from Detroit to a Toledo graving dock for inspection and most urgent hull repairs.  The photo below and some of those that follow are used with permission from the SS Columbia project.


This past summer she was refloated, and


on September 1, Great Lakes tugs Michigan (1965)  and Nebraska (1929) arrived to tow her from Toledo to Buffalo.   Here’s 0820,


0830, and


departing the Maumee River by 1030.


The next two photos were taken by Luke Wark . . .  late afternoon September on a very placid Lake Erie.  Now note what happens to the stack in the next few photos.



David Torke captures the tow arriving off  Buffalo and


up the canal to its new but temporary dock . . . .



Many thanks to Ian Danic for permission to use these photos.  You can keep informed about the project through this website.

Click here for the article from Professional Mariner.

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Graves of Arthur Kill

Click to order your copy of Graves of Arthur Kill, by Gary Kane and Will Van Dorp. 3Fish Productions.

Seth Tane American Painting

Read my Iraq Hostage memoir online.

My Babylonian Captivity

Reflections of an American hostage in Iraq, 20 years later.

Tale of Two Marlins

Blue Marlin spent 600+ hours loading tugs and barges in NYC Sixth Boro. Click on image for presentation made to NY Ship Lore and Model Club, July 25, 2011.


June 2016
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