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Two days ago, the compact 1969 Jay Bee V (38′ x 12′ x 5′) set out on a journey that’ll be followed on this blog.

Hint:  It’s even a bit smaller than, for example,  1930 W. O. Decker (50′ x 15′ x 6′), which has some enclosed living space, compared with Jay Bee V‘s lack thereof.

Arguably, Jay Bee V and W. O. Decker have occupied the same niche in harbor work, although at different eras.

I’ve seen Jay Bee V working at Caddell’s back in 2016 here  and in 2015 here.

That looks like a bundle of new line for towing or tackle to me.

As I said, Jay Bee V is setting out on what may be its greatest ever journey.

She’ll exit the Kills and turn for the North River.

And if you’re wondering where she’s headed . . . she’ll spend some time on the New York State Canals, where I hope to see her next week.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

 

Thanks to Steve Wunder for the photo below taken yesterday in Fonda NY.  To the right, it’s a new 2018 Marine Inland Fabricators 25′-3″x14′x5′ Clydesdale pushtug, either hull 323 or hull 324.

BUT, to the left and much more significant, it’s Urger, a few miles east of where the 1901 (!!) tug is said to be intended as a land display, sans integral hull, i.e., it’ll never float or tour the waterways again.

I intend this post as a followup to last week’s here, where I wanted to illustrate what we New Yorkers stand to lose, if this lock 13 park plan gets carried out.   In following up, my intention is to underscore our potential loss.

The photo below shows Urger in 1940 in Waterford, operating as a steam tug. At that point, the tug was already 39 years old.

Urger was launched in 1901 as fish tug  Henry J. Dornbos, by Johnston Brothers, a fact still visible on the bitt below.  The company was founded in 1864 by J. W. Johnston, a direct descendant of the none other than James Watt.

The rest of the photos here come from the archives of Bob Stopper, canal ambassador extraordinaire based in Lyons, NY.

Urger has likely been seen and touched by many more people than any other Canal tug or other New York State symbol, particularly because from 1991 until 2016, it crisscrossed the state’s waterways from May until October, doing programs for 4th graders and festivals for the general public.  Schools bused kids to the canal parks to learn about NYS history, technology, and the environment.  Before any program, crew cleaned, painted, and polished.

 

Think about 1901.  Life expectancy for US men was 47.6 years, and for women, 50.6!  Companies like Harley Davidson and Ford wouldn’t form until 1903, also the year the Wright Brothers made their first flight.  There were 15 automobiles registered in the 45 states of the US, where the population was all of 75 million; Utah had been the last state to enter the union in 1896.  The world’s tallest building was Philadelphia City Hall at 548.’  US Steel had not yet been created, and Standard Oil would go another decade before being broken up.  RMS Cedric was the world’s largest ship, and Titanic was not even on the drawing board. The US was involved in a shooting conflict in China. 

Literally thousands of New Yorkers of all parts of the state and ages have benefitted from Urger at a canal port near them, like this future mariner.

Time is critical here.  Unless minds get changed, we could be days or even hours away from Urger‘s life as a boat permanently sunk, which IMHO, would be a significant loss.  Please share this post with friends, local schools, and other networks.  Also, contact your federal, state, and local political leaders.

Click here for most of my previous Urger posts.

. . . illustrating what will be lost if present course is maintained.   If you don’t know what’s likely to happen imminently, Urger is NOT to be reefed.  But, it’ll be beached at Thruway Lock 13 “living history” exit, with holes “punched” in the hull and that beaching will cost –I’m told–over $3 million.

Why should you care?

First,  listen to this engine, as I recorded it four years ago on a calm day above Amsterdam NY.  Click the thumbnail below left for the sound from inside the engine room and . . . right, from outside.  It’s like the steady panting of a racing horse.  Click here for a list of remaining Atlas-Imperial engines, although I don’t know how out-of-date this info may be.

  

Here’s that same engine as seen from below, starboard looking aft, and

here, the camera is looking aft along the port side.

Here’s the view port side looking down.

For whatever value it has, Urger is

one of about two dozen NY vessels on the National Register of Historic Places, has been on that list since November 29, 2001.    Click here for what that means in terms of significantly changing the historic floating structure.

Urger was built by Johnston Brothers Shipyard in Ferrysburg, Michigan, in 1901, originally as H. J. Dornbos, a fish tug.  My point . . . if she’s been around this long and is in this good shape, that’s prime reason to keep her that way.

Urger faced significant change before, back in the late 1980s, ending Canal maintenance duty in October 1987.  Then, Schuyler Meyer (1918–1997) stepped forward with a proposal to save her by making her the “ambassador vessel” of the NYS Canals that she did become.  During those ambassador years, scores of thousands of folks–especially school kids–saw her, walked on her, learned from her about NYS.  Read the whole article below if you have time, but signifiant info is concentrated in the rightmost column.   Look at the image he’s holding in the photo.

Urger is a flagship of NYS history, having made public appearances all over the confluent waterways of the state from Lockport (I don’t have photos of her in Buffalo) to

the famous culvert east of Medina to

Oswego, shown here at Lock O-8 with tug Syracuse to

the Upper Bay of New York City, and all the great little towns in between.   I lack the photos myself, but I know she’s been to the southernmost point of the Finger Lakes and upper reaches of Lake Champlain from this video clip.

So what can be done . . .  especially since, given the imminence of converting Urger to a “static display,” time is so short?

First, share this post with anyone you know who might care about Urger.  Seek out your loud, articulate, reasonable, and well-known advocates who know [connected] people and can speak out in the meetings, press, and blogs.  It’s summer, so key political and agency leaders might not be reading their mail, forwarding it to folks with less decision-making power.  Congressman Paul Tonko would like to hear from you. State legislators might be contacted in their home districts, where you can even walk into their local offices.   Talk to your local mayors, business leaders, and union officials.  I was born upstate but haven’t lived there since the 1960s.

Educators, especially in Canal corridor towns,  have benefitted from the Urger program over the past quarter century.  They might choose to exercise power through NYSUT rather than as individuals if anyone in to better get the attention of government.

Finally, if the choice were between spending no money to beach Urger vs. spending money to keep it afloat and active, that would lend support to the idea of beaching her.  BUT, significant money (in the seven digits) will be spent to beach her at Lock 13 Thruway exit.

Thanks for your attention.  All the color photos here were taken by Will Van Dorp, except the one below, taken by Chris Kenyon in Port Gibson in 2014.

Personal disclosure:  I worked as deckhand on Urger during the 2014 season, on a leave-of-absence from my other life.  I spent about 100 nights and days aboard her between June 6 and October 30, i.e., about 2/3 of the time between those dates.  Some of the hundreds of references to the boat on this blog can be found here.

I hope you agree with me that NYS gains more by keeping her afloat and active than by beaching her.  Pass it on, if you agree.

 

Here’s a quick post to alert you that several days may go by without word or photo from tugster.  I’m repeating a trip I made last year from Warren RI to Chicago IL via the Erie Canal and other great American and Canadian waterways. If you missed it, you might check out last year’s posts here.

I’m onboard lecturer working a small passenger ship.  Despite my lightweight MMD, I am indeed gainfully employed, paid not to stand watch, throw line, read a chart, wipe spilled oil, bust rust, or maneuver the vessel.  I puff on no cutty pipe and chew or spit no quid.   I swab no decks, make no beds, brush no heads, shut no sheet, serve no drinks but to myself, “sir” no sirs, peel no spuds.  I leave others to juggle flower pots, pluck strings, and tickle ivories–although I play crazy air-concertina.  I could go on.  However, I do racont, if that be the verb exercised by a raconteur.  I indulge no ideology except that of the gallivant.

But in 2017, tall tales might be considered gauche, aka fake news, a phrase that goes back to the 1890s, although I’d suggest that Eve herself was an occasional purveyor of compromised truths, in conjunction with Adam’s dispersal of same.  So the racontage I disperse needs to be both researched and enthralling . . . a tough combo.

The article below truly comes from the April 27, 1921 New York Herald, and if I applied for the “perfect job” advertised there for the SS George Washington, I’d not be hired.  If you are in the need of a belly laugh,  rolling on and then off the deck guffaw, read the article in your best raconteur voice to your supervisor.   Or have a subordinate perform it to you, aloud or over the intercom.

Thanks to a Sandy Hook  pilot who shared it with me the other day.

I’ll catch up this account through the waterways to Chicago whenever adequate wifi enters my environment.

 

Here was the first in this series.

Recognize this ferry for decades since 1988 has been laid up, recently just west of the Bayonne Bridge . . . not the best photo but it’s Pvt. Nicholas Minue?  I can’t remember if it was still there last time I passed . . .

Know the story?

Pvt. Minue lies in Carthage, Tunisia, one of the cemeteries in 15 countries around the world.  Below, a Tunisian man, Abdullah Lagahre tends Minue’s marker; for more on this story and the source of this photo, click here.

Near and far, may their sacrifice be remembered and respected.

Here are some related links . . .  classified stars on a wall, the wall in Fort Huachuca, and what the VA spent on Confederate graves as of 2013.

Here’s a story of another Medal of Honor awardee whose remains lie overseas, this time in Asia.

 

Oh . .  I don’t mean the boat that more than

once caught my attention from miles away because of that glowing color back ten years ago.

Not that striking prime mover . . . that seemed always engaged.

No, I mean

her fine namesake who passed a week ago.  My condolences to her family and close friends.   Waterskiing the East River?  I wish I had photographed that!

 

Here are some classic Tennyson words.

Click here for more pics of the orange June K and fleet mates.

Unlike the sixth boro waters, freshwater New York changes state.  As illustration, here is a color photo I took yesterday, and

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below is roughly the same view (looking down from E-5 in the Flight) taken in late September 2016, almost five months ago.   What’s departing lock 4 was reported here.

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But I digress.  Here’s what tenders look like in February.

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And the long-suffering Chancellor, after the pool level has been lowered.

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Floating and working, it’s the art deco tug Syracuse.   She has been working since December 1933!

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And can you identify the vessel in the foreground?

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Indeed, it’s the 1912-launched Grouper sustaining yet another season in Niflheim.

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All photos taken by Will Van Dorp this week except the first one.

Tugster feels so very blessed this year that I’m recognizing the top gift boat in the sixth boro.  If NYC ever decided to have a water-borne symbol of gift-giving season, the most appropriate boat for the elf to ride would HAVE to be this one.  See all the packages, wrapped sensibly, on the deck?  While you try to name that boat, let me digress a little to use the print to push the next image farther down the page.

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Digression #1:  Here are my Christmas posts from 2015    2014    one about a Rockefeller Center tree that arrived by ferry    one that arrived here by barge towed by a tug called Spuyten Duyvil and finally my post from 2013.

Digression #2:  If you’re not from NYC or a large city, you might wonder where city folks go to cut their trees.  Here’s a feature from the NYTimes about a Christmas tree vendor who’s come to the same neighborhood NYC with trees for the past 19 years.

Digression #3:  Nope, I don’t get my tree from this vendor.  In fact, I haven’t had a tree for  . . . decades.   Not interested.  So here was the post I put up in 2006, about my first ever Christmas present.  Here’s the story about our first Christmas tree.  My father, who drove a school bus in addition to running a dairy farm, brought home our first tree back when I was 5 or 6.  I think it was his and my mother’s first also, because “christmas trees” did not exist for them in pre-WW2 Netherlands.  Where did he get the tree and what prompted him to bring it home, you might wonder . . .  Well, as he was leaving the school with his last bus run before the Christmas break, he noticed the custodian throwing a tree into the snowbank next to the dumpster.  It must have been set up somewhere in the school–the office?  We LOVED that tree, and it still had some tinsel on it.  My parents were willing to spring for a string of lights, which could be used again year after year, but tinsel?  In my imagination, that tree was the best.

When my kids were small, I did get a Christmas tree, and we decorated it with more than a string of lights.

So have you figured out this vessel that does nothing all year round except deliver packages like these?

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Of course, it’s Twin Tube, featured many times on this blog.

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She is the sixth boros quintessential package boat that delivers no

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matter the weather.

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Merry Christmas to the operators of Twin Tube.

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And merry merry Christmas spirit to all of you who read this blog today and any day.

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All photos by Will Van Dorp, who’s received so many gifts every day and doesn’t need anything more on December 25.

 

In celebration of the beginning of the 11th year of blogging, I’m licensing myself to change course a few days.  Two things I want you to know are 1) I’ve posted approximately 90% of the days since November 26, 2006, and 2) my eyes always search for details other than tugboats to photograph.

I’ve gone here in the past, and retreated.  Tugboats and ships have a lot in common with trucks, and my eye is always attracted by an unusual truck, so in the effort to show that I DO take photos of things NOT on the water, let me revive this line.  Should I go over to this side?  Call this R&R, rambling and rumspringa.

Admit . . . this is a cool truck, eh?  And I took the photo right atop Penn Station, too.  Can anyone tell me if this is the same one that lives near the Newport PATH station?  And might there be three of these on the banks of the sixth boro?

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Less well cared for, in Jersey City I saw this rusty Divco van next to a dumpster.  Anyone know if it’s for sale?  It might make a good camper?

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Now where along the sixth boro banks (SBB) these days might one find a Mammoet field car?  Answer follows.

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The other day I stopped to admire the calm and skill of a Shepherd Enterprises rig as he negotiated the streets under the south end of the High Line.  The driver told me it was a brand-spankin’-new Western Star.

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Here he’s about to back into a dock to his right.

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I was told this is a 1928

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Graham Brothers truck.

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Yes, it’s an Element and not really a truck, but if I were hitchhiking and this red head stopped, I’d run the other way, no matter what she might say.  I hope you’re convinced by now that I see a lot of strange stuff.

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In the port of Oswego, might this be waiting for a cargo for Fort Drum?  If I cropped this in a certain way, you might think the ingots are on the trailer?

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And we’ll end this digression here . ..  said to be a 1946 Dodge truck.  Cool!

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All photos by Will Van Dorp.

And the Mammoet field car was over by the NYWheel.

You may remember the Sojourn story here, about a Belgian freight barge that the original owner and builder sold, lost track of, and then rediscovered in upstate New York?  Here was how she arrived in upstate NY.

Well, after two years of work, she’s under way–just ahead of winter storm Argos.  These photos were taken yesterday (Thursday) by Bob Stopper up in Lyons, NY.  Below, Sojourn is easing not Lock 28A,

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heading for Lock 27, and

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and out of the canal before it closes, draw-down takes place, and ice invades.

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Calling all eastern Erie Canal watchers and Hudson River photographers, here’s Bob’s short background to the vessel:

“First arrived in Lyons on November 12, 2013 . The boat was built in 1963 and originally used as a coal and materials barge. It was used for over 40 years by the same family, but eventually because of family illness, the barge was sold. The barge was purchased by Paula Meehan, founder of Redken Cosmetics, renamed the Sojourn, and converted in 2006  to a Hotel Barge and used for high style cruises in France. Ms Redken shipped the barge via freighter to America with the intention of cruising American waters, especially the Erie Canal. Unfortunately, Ms Redkin died in 2014, and the barge returned to the Lyons Dydock on October 15, 2014. It sat  in the Lyons Drydock and began to deteriorate  until purchased by a young hi-tech  internet entrepreneur from the state of Washington. The newly renovated barge, 126′ x 18′,  left Lyons on November 17 headed for its new home in the NYC Harbor.”

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All photos by Bob Stopper.

You may recall that my connection with Lyons is that it’s the county seat of the county where I grew up.  It’s also the county where Grouper languishes, about to freeze into another canal winter.

 

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