You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Grouper’ category.

I’ll return to the Erie Canal tomorrow, but for now . . . the clock is ticking louder.

In exactly 24 hours, Grouper will thaw out;  a new owner, the person with the highest bid, will be acclaimed.  I’ve been following the fate of this boat in Wayne County for so many years that I can’t look away as we get to this milestone.  So have a lot of people who live nearby, or live farther away and have been intrigued about it since it arrived.  Many others know it from its various places of work in the Upper Great Lakes, having some family connection going back many decades.

The big question is . . . Will it be scrapped or reimagined as a vessel of some sort.  Reimagining has been a theme of NYS canal efforts in recent years, right?

Here’s one of my first photos of the boat, literally frozen in place, a great metaphor for its years of being frozen in time, showing remarkable resilience to the ravages of rust.  In all this time of neglect and in the absence of bilge pumps, it has not sunk, has not gone down to a muddy grave where the catfish and gobies lurk.

Friends have devoted countless hours reimagining Grouper.

Lee Rust sent along these diagrams highlighting the hull similarities, the 1912 tugboat and

a late 19th century sail/steam half model.

Lee writes:  “Maybe we’ve been misunderstanding the possibilities of Grouper by getting [ourselves] stuck on the old tug story. Here’s what she really is. Subtract Kahlenberg, add ballast, masts & sails. Maybe an auxiliary electric motor to turn the propeller. Voila! Clean and green and good for another 100 years. Piece of cake! Only [a day] left to decide to take that plunge. Here’s [an aerial] view of the hull model revealing the significant difference in beam [and bow design] from Grouper, but the profiles are almost identical. This even shows where the masts would go.

 

A simpler approach might be to remove 15 tons of Kahlenberg and replace with 7 tons of batteries and an electric propulsion system. This might be enough to decrease draft by the 3 feet needed to maneuver in the current Canal. Compare the waterline on the model to that of Grouper.  Image below shows ship model by my friend Rob Napier.

Looking back at this hypothetical lift diagram I made [above],  aside from the difference in beam, the antique hull model could be that of any ‘City’ class Great Lakes tug. (You can pick out the ‘City’ class tugs here.]  The ‘lifted’ waterline on Grouper is awfully close to that of the model. I suppose this hull form was pretty normal back at the end of the 19th century and the tugboat designers of the time just went with what they knew and hoped the vessels wouldn’t sink when they threw in all that coal and machinery.

OK, I know… daydreaming again. Must be time for my nap.”

Thanks,  Lee.  As I said before, lots of people have been looking at these “excessed canal vessels” for a long time now, and tomorrow, in the heat of summer, Grouper will thaw out.  May the highest bidder win and show exuberance in reimagining canal technology.

 

Related:  This NYTimes article from this past week which examines sail designs on cargo vessels is worth a look.

 

 

I suppose if you are bidding, you might not like this post.  As of this posting and with one week left for the auction, the high bid on 1912 74′ x 19′ x 12′ draft Grouper is $145.  Period.  That’s not $145k;  it’s as much money as you might be carrying in your wallet right now.  

These two photos by Jason LaDue and Troy Wilke date from 1989, a long time ago in boat years.  Also, I realize that whoever has the winning bid next week either cuts it up and sells steel when it’s high, or begins a process that’ll cost more than $145k several times to move it out of the Canal and then restore it.

High bid right now for the Bushey 1938 76′ x 21′ Chancellor is $310.  I took the photo below in September 2010.  Since then, it sank briefly once in September 2017.  If you want to see Chancellor pushing other boats around back in September 2010, click here;  all the footage is great, but Chancellor comes in at 1:40.

High bid for the 1942 Quarters Barge, aka “houseboat sans propulsion” is $210;  the one for sale is 63′ x 21′, has six bunk rooms, and a huge kitchen that can serve 20. 

A good friend asked if I was bidding in hopes of creating a “tugster clubhouse . . .”  Well, it’s an idea and with the bicentennial of the canal approaching, it would be a great way to see the waterways of upstate NY.  You could experiment towing it with 1000 kayaks, or get a tugboat, maybe one of those for sale to move it around the state.  As much as I like the idea, nope . . . it won’t be me.  I don’t think the photo of a Quarters Barge #14 below is the same vessel.  I took this photo in Little Falls NY in 2017.

The highest bid for the 1972 Higgins USACE Bridge Erection boat is $800;  the one auctioned off is 27′ x 8′ and is twin screw.  The vessel below is a smaller version and dates from 1952. 

May the highest bidder win and  . . live happily ever after.

All photos, WVD.

 

Have you read or heard references to a “trackless sea” or “trackless deep”?  Last night I was looking a “whole ocean” views of traffic.  Notice the magenta stream?  Recall that the magenta arrowheads show recreational vessels.  The green (cargo ships) and red (tanker) arrowheads seem much more random, but the magenta . . . pink . . . ones, they are totally following a track.

Ditto here; notice the magenta stream showing the “coconut milk run” on the tradewinds to the west to the Marquesas, French Polynesia, and beyond from Panama.

If we look at the Indian Ocean, the red icons heading east out of the Persian/Arab Gulf and the green ones heading both ways around southern Africa . . .  does rush hour on highways around any major metropolitan center come to mind?  It does for me.

Given all the sea shanties dating from the 19th century and references to Cape Horn, how about a shanty or two about the Cape of Good Hope?

Tracks in the southern Atlantic form an X. Try it out yourself.  Without AIS, we’d still talk of “trackless seas.”

A “little sister” Statue of Liberty will be displayed on a sixth boro island later this month and next.  Note the photo credit;  I wonder if the half-ton statue will arrive by CMA CGM water cargo or air cargo.

And finally . . . thanks to a Great Lakes mariner for this page from the Detroit Marine Historian Newsletter.  Grouper was a name yet to be when that publication hit the stands. The auction info is here.

I use the term “line locker” where some might say “miscellaneous.”  That’s the bright red hull of Issuma a decade ago as it encountered a local mammal while transiting the Northwest Passage.  You might wonder what became of Richard Hudson and his boat.  The good news is that he’s still sailing, and the better news is that he’s creating a rich offering of sailing videos on YouTube.  Check them out here

Screen grabs, WVD.

 

Auctions International has posted the auction notice.  Bidding starts June 7 and ends June 28

These are my photos from October 2018.   Here’s the auction notice.

For all my previous posts on this 1912 vessel, click here

For three other NYS Canal Corp. vessels to be auctioned, click here

Recently I got a request for something on single screw tugs.  Ask . .  and receive, from the archives.

May 1, 2011  . .  the 1901 Urger was on the dry dock wall in Lyons looking all spiffy.  A month later, she’d be miles away and alive.

On March 19, 2010, the 1907 Pegasus had all the work done she was scheduled for, and the floating dry dock is sinking here.  In 10 minutes, Pegasus would be afloat and a yard tug … draw her out.

On a cold day last winter, a shot of the 1912 Grouper, in dry dock, waiting for a savior.   If you’re savvy and have deep reservoirs of skill and money, you can likely have her cheap.

In that same dry dock, the 1926 boxy superstructure DeWitt Clinton.

To digress, here’s how her much-lower clearance looked when first launched in Boothbay.

Back on July 30, 2017, I caught the 1929 Nebraska getting some life-extension work.   Unlike the previous single screw boats, Nebraska has a Kort nozzle surrounding its prop, which clearly is away getting some work done on it also.

On February 10, 2010, the 1931 Patty Nolan was on the hard.  She was put back in, but currently she’s back on the hard, with plans to float her again this summer.

A CanalCorp boat, I believe this is Dana, was in dry dock in Lyons this past winter.  If so, she’s from 1935.

As you’ve noticed, single screw tugs have sweet elliptical sterns.  All painted up and ready to splash, they are things of beauty.  On December 16, 2006, I caught the 1941 Daniel DiNapoli, ex-Spuyten Duyvil, about to re-enter her element.

Also in dry dock but not ready to float, on March 10, 2010, the 1958 McAllister Brothers, ex-Dalzelleagle is getting some TLC.

Is it coincidence that so many of these single screw boats are   . . . aged?  Nope.  Twin- and triple-screw boats can do many more things.  Is it only because the regulations have changed?  Have any single-screw tugs been built in recent years?  Are single-screw boat handling skills disappearing in this age of twin- and triple-screw boats?  No doubt.

All photos by WVD, who enjoyed this gallivant through the archives.

And speaking of archives, Mr Zuckerberg reminded me this morning that nine years ago exactly, the sixth boro was seeing the complicated lading of the tugs and barges being taken by heavylift ship to West Africa.  There were so many challenges that I called the posts “groundhog day” like the movie about a guy having to use many many “re-do’s” before he could get it right.

 

Here from 2013 was the first in the series. Since then I’ve done another series called “tale of the tape,” borrowing from boxing analysis or automotive competitions.  Consider today’s and tomorrow’s post as something similar to what you’d see and read if a car magazine compared a 2020 C8 Corvette with a Tesla Cybertruck, or a 1969 Karmann Ghia convertible, or even a 1948 Willys Overland Jeepster . . .  more on that later.

The photo below I use with permission from Fred Miller.   It carries Oneida name boards;  Oneida is the same vessel as Grouper, the 1912 boat I’ve posted so much about over the years.

Ruth M. Reinauer dates from almost a century later and could not be a more different boat, built for an entirely different mission.  They are apples and oranges, you might say, dogs and cats.  I’ll let you enumerate the differences and similarities for yourself.

Thanks to Fred for the top photo;  the bottom one I took.

Languishing along the Erie Canal, now in the dry dock adjacent to E-28A, is tugboat Grouper.  As she continues in limbo, folks far from the Erie Canal remember her, recall family experiences long ago, not thinking of her as Grouper at all, but rather . . .  Green Bay. Here she assists passenger steamer SS South American, a steamer that plied the Lakes for over 50 years.

Some look at the photo below and can identify relatives.

She has been shipshape with

many assists behind her, like Hennepin here.  This laker was known by the name Hennepin between 1937 and 1975.

Of the many captains who worked on her over the years, Lester Gamble, to the right below,  was the captain from 1954-68.

Many thanks to the the Gamble family for sharing these photos.

Below are two photos I took of the highly endangered Green Bay/Grouper last month.  For all her previous names and history, click here.

For the dozens of previous posts I’ve done on this boat, click here.

 

 

Many thanks to Lee Rust for working with the two photos immediately below, showing a boat frequently featured here.

Photo to the left was taken near the elevators in Manitowoc in a slip now filled in and frequently piled high with coal adjacent to Badger‘s slip. In the 1959 photo, the tug was owned by C. Reiss Coal Company. The tug had recently been repainted and repowered (1957).   Badger gets regular maintenance, so a similar treatment of that vessel would not evoke the same emotions.

Technically, the two photos above were 58 years apart, so I added the two below which I took in Lyons NY earlier in 2019; hence, six decades apart.

 

Thanks to Lee and Jeff for providing these photos.

Unrelated:  Check out freighterfreak’s photos from Duluth here.

Anyone have similar juxtapositions of a single vessel or vehicle across time, please send it in.

Here are previous posts in this series.  Other titles with the word hulls can be found here.

I’ve taken all these photos since the start of 2019.  The one below is a leap forward:  that’s my first view of the 1912 hull of the oft-mentioned tug I know as Grouper.  This might be the year of destiny for this 107-year-old boat, although I’ve thought that many times before. If plans are to emerge from the foundry of all possibilities, this is the time to forge them.

A decade and a half younger at 90 years young, Kentucky illustrates the draft on these tugs.

Tender #1 will also be 90 years in service this year.

Fairchild is the youngster in this set . . . launched in 1953 at Roamer Boat in Holland. MI

And finally, I don’t believe this is the 1938 Kam.  But what boat is this?  And why are those square openings in the hull just above the waterline?  And is this the Purvis scrapyard?

All photos by Will Van Dorp, in Lyons NY and the Soo.

 

Here we are in 2018, and Grouper is still in purgatory,

aground on a soft smooth bottom created when the Canal is drained,

when the waterway looks like a brook.  I’m told that portions of the Canal in Oswego have been drained as of last week, and I hope to see for myself one of these days.

Grouper, if you are new to this blog, is a stranded Great Lakes tug–sibling to these in Cleveland, and launched in 1912!!

Many thanks to Bob Stopper for these photos.

 

 

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,479 other followers

If looking for specific "word" in archives, search here.
Questions, comments, photos? Email Tugster

Graves of Arthur Kill

Click on image below 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.

Archives

July 2021
M T W T F S S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031