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I must get back to downstream and upstream tows on the Mississippi soon, but I seriously misread this oncoming vessel.  Some of you might figure out my misread before the end of this post.


What attracted my eye to Florida Enterprise was the superstructure, specifically the cranes overtop the holds.


I’d seen structures somewhat like these on a ship in the KVK here … but they were not quite the same.


Because of poor lighting and large distance relative to my position, I missed the really unusual feature of the vessel


–or rather vessels–which I should have


seen here.  See it?


Florida Enterprise is a barge, and the prime mover here


is now called Coastal 202.  Below is a photo taken by Barry Andersen, which I got permission to use from Fred Miller II, which shows Coastal 202–then called Jamie A. Baxter–light, an ITB out of the notch. The photo below was taken soon after the tug’s launch in mid-1977 from Peterson Builders in Sturgeon Bay WI.  Here’s another taken when the vessel was out of the notch and then known as Barbara Knessel.  


Click here for some ITB posts I did back in 2008.   Click here for a better view of Coastal 202 and her cargo barge that shows she is in fact an ITB.

Now I’d love to see Coastal 202 out of the notch from all angles and to see ISH’s rail ferry too.

Truth be told, another surprise was that nola hula was nowhere to be seen  . ..  maybe headed out to sea like that humpback that splashed around the sixth boro last month?


Actually, the full title of this book is Tugboats Illustrated: History-Technology-Seamanship with Drawings by the author Paul Farrell

I first heard of the book and Paul Farrell last February;  I got an email from an editor at W. W. Norton expressing interest in licensing one of my photos for the cover of the forthcoming book. The photo was the 9th in the post called “Helen’s Last Waltz.” I was thrilled, as you might imagine, and we arrived at a price. Then I hoped it would be an attractive, technically accurate book.


A few months later, Norton’s publicity department sent along a five-page sampler and asked if I’d write a review of the book. The cover letter described Tugboats Illustrated as “gorgeously detailed guide to the evolution, design, and role of tugboats” from “ the earliest days of steam up to today’s most advanced ocean-going workboats” and referred to its “dynamic drawings that show how different kinds of propellers move, to explanations of the physics and engineering that allow this movement to happen.”

Mr. Farrell, an architect with almost a half century of experience, was described as having spent a quarter century researching and writing this book, his first. When someone spends that amount of time focusing on a subject, I’m impressed. But I wasn’t ready to do a review until I saw the entire 156-page book, which arrived in November.  The photo below should illustrate how comprehensive this slim but well-designed book is.


I first paged through it and then read it cover to cover. Paging through, I noticed how many of these “dynamic drawings” there are, more than 70 of them at least, depending how you count.  Below is a sample of a set of drawings from p. 114, illustrating an evolution that always mesmerizes me . . . a flanking turn with a long tow on a winding river, and he shows it from both the downstream and upstream perspective.


Indeed, an architect’s drawings honed by years of professional work complemented with captions, guided by the experts in the wheelhouse, illustrate complex maneuvers in this and many other instances.  Ironically, Farrell never intended to showcase his illustrations in the book; he says it began as “rough sketching intended to guide a mythical illustrator who would intuit just the right feel and content” until he realized this these sketches, such as they were, would work. He reports that doing the set of drawings to illustrate hull chines as seen from underwater were pivotal. I find them charming, below (p. 93),  a boon to the book and not just “limited” or “enough.”


Then there are the photographs, over 80 of them in total and more than half of them in color, many of them taken by photographers whose work I know and have great respect for: Brian Gauvin, Alan Haig-Brown, and Pat Folan.  There was one photo by Rod Smith, who has so many to choose from in his albums on the shipbuilding work at Senesco. Many of the black-and-white photos come from the collections of Steven Lang and Brent Dibner. Other photos introduced me to photographers I’d like to see more of in the future.

In the “Acknowledgements,” Farrell reveals that he first sent a draft of the book to Norton in 1996, a full twenty years ago. When a book takes shape over such a long period of time as this one, it gets vetted for accuracy and thoroughness, which this one has.

Got friends who want to learn about tugboats? Want to expand your own knowledge of the history and variety of these vessels? Then order it here.

I’m just so thrilled that my photo from that July 17, 2012 move graces the cover of this fine book that I’ll digress and post three more photos from that day.




Helen, she is a classic from 1900!   Does anyone have photos of her working out of South Carolina waters as Georgetown?  In that photo above, Helen looks just slightly like Little Toot in Hardie Gramatky’s wonderful watercolors, reproduced on p. 11 of Paul Farrell’s book.

Click here for some previous reviews.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.



As of six days ago, that gap was all that seemed to remain for a complete span.  Who knows . . . by now, that may be bridged as well.  Here are some of the posts that show the project of modifying the soon-to-be 85 year-old icon I’ve had on my blog since day 1.  Here were a set of posts I did when the bridge turned 80.




Once the higher span is complete and open for traffic, the lower span will be dismantled.  I wonder what the arches are feeling.


All photos by Will Van Dorp.


or “whatz dem”?


I really am clueless here.  At first I thought fendering, but the location makes no sense.




I know I’ve read Guy de Maupassant, but I can’t remember anything of that either.  I guess I’m a mess today.  Even the time evaded me.

All photos I do recall taking, though.

Ten days ago I put up a post about multiple load lines on a Torm tanker, and I appreciate that many of you weighed in here and on FB.


Here’s an explanation of load lines I found online.


When I saw another Torm tanker leaving today, I thought I’d check.


And sure enough, this one too had three sets of load lines, although I understand that only the one painted is the valid one.


Neches dates from 2000, and Mary from 2002.


All photos by Will Van Dorp.


Know him?  No, he’s not sent me photos.  But I just learned his name, and I’ll introduce you to him after a few photos that I’ve taken.


What surprised me about the photo above and below is that two sets of markings exist.


Here’s the more standard quantification system.




The difference between the waves produced by the ship and the tug appear to be explained by structure below the waterline.




The next two photos were taken in freshwater where water clarity is substantially better than in the photos above.




So back to Mr Taylor.  He was a naval architect and engineer working for the US Navy and credited as the creator of an experimental model tank used in navy ship design. According to this paper, the David Taylor Model Basin is where the bulbous bow was invented.

All photos by Will Van Dorp, who hopes some of you with naval architecture training respond to this.

Here are the previous posts I’ve done on the wind farm southeast of Block Island.  I took the photo below on June 27, as blades to spin the turbines arrived in Narragansett Bay.


Rod Smith took the rest of these photos in late July and early August.


It shows Brave Tern as it prepared to sail out to the farm, deploy its sea legs . .  aka spuds  . .


and put the caps atop the columns onto the bases.




For the specs on Brave Tern, you can check them out here,


or here,








And check out the froth from her stern!


To keep up with construction off Block Island, check out the Deepwater Water site.  Or for even more updates, friend them on FB.

Many thanks to Rod Smith for all these photos except the first one.

I hope to get out that way in October.

Here and here are the predecessors to this title.

So what’s this?


Let’s zoom






The photo above shows the stalk as I saw it Sunday, and the photo below shows the lifting gear near its base.  Let’s hope this means it’ll be making current with April breezes or before.


All photos by Will Van Dorp.


I wonder what kids now 12 or 13 imagine as part of their future, their 2050s, 60s,  and beyond.  I expected the beginning of the 20th century to bring flying cars, routine trips among the planets, and a whole different looking fleet than what we have.  Of course, who knows if what we have and will have is what we need.  But I digress.  Hydrofoils just have not evolved as expected a half century ago.  Previous posts I’ve done on the subject are here.

Actually hydrofoil history goes back more than 100 years and Alexander Graham Bell was a pioneer.  Another key developer seems to be Helmut Kock (or Koch).   The entire 20th century brought all kinds of research and craft.  All the following photos and clippings come compliments of Capt. Ray Graham, US Navy vet and former hydrofoil captain in his native New York City’s sixth boro as well as in Florida and  Vermont.  The photo below shows the original Albatross in Shelburne (Burlington) in 1966.   I realize this is 20/20 hindsight, but it seems risky to hang that name on any innovation.


After driving hydrofoils in New York and Vermont, Ray went to Miami,


where the next few photos were taken.


Here are Ray’s words:  [Later] “I left hydrofoils in Miami because I could see the end coming.  I hired on as a Captain running a double decker sightseeing boat out of Haulover Docks on the Intracoastal Waterway.  When an opening came I applied for and got a job with the City of Miami as an Assistant Dockmaster at one of their Marinas.”


Here are undated images of prototypes clipped from various magazines and newspapers.  Click on this photo gallery from the International Hydrofoil Society for many, many more photos.




Click here for more on Grumman’s Denison.   Click here for an early 1970s paper on the perceived future on hydrofoils on the open ocean.


Left to right here . . . Miss USA 1966, a hydrofoil “stewardess,”  and Capt. Ray Graham, after an exciting tour of the harbor on then-“the latest” in transportation.


Click here for a range of info on hydrofoils and hydroplanes.   Click here for an “I don’t know what it is” vessel that visited the sixth boro back in 2007 . . . and I missed it, heard about it the next day.

Seriously, what astounds me about this technology is how thoroughly it has disappeared, at least from the US Northeast, my perspective.  As I looked for info on hydrofoils on Lake Champlain, e.g., this (about halfway through the article) new use of “hydrofoil” come up.

When I asked Capt. Graham why hydrofoils have mostly disappeared here, he opined that “they all died of the same disease, mismanagement.” He added, “starting off carrying passengers was a mistake;  it might have been better carrying light freight across the Sound and up and down the Hudson.”

I asked if he thought today’s catamarans were an evolution of this generation of hydrofoils, he said, “They’re a horse of a different color entirely, in my opinion.  When I worked testing the air cushion vehicle (ACV) for General Dynamics, we had a smaller boat (16′) configured like a catamaran, known to us as “hard walled” or “hard sided” which had to be rigged with a lift engine.   [But after a year] General Dynamics dumped the whole project . . .  we were all laid off,  returned to jobs in the Electric Boat division.  In my opinion, today’s catamaran ferries are more offspring of ACVs than hydrofoils.”

Many thanks to Ray for sharing these photos, stories, and opinions.

Click here for a post I did a few years back with a photo showing the ignominious end of Plainview AGEH-1.


Here are previous posts in the series.

The next two photos come from Tugbitts vol. 16-1 Winter/Spring 2005 issue, pages 12 and 13.  In the accompanying article, “From Flash Gordon to Handsome,” Capt. Harold Rudd describes how he bought David (1936) as she looked below in 1968 in West Palm Beach, FL, and delivered her to Long Island and then rebuilt/transformed her into a conventional looking tug.

I’d love to find more photos of her–either in Louisiana, Florida, or New York–when she had this visibility-limiting appearance.  Anyone help?


Photo by Harold Rudd


Photo by Harold Rudd

The next two photos are the result of research by William Lafferty, much appreciated commenter on this blog.


The image below comes from Ripley’s Believe it or Not.


Dimensions on David were 54.4′ x 15.5.’  In Rudd’s 2005 report, he said that at that time, the tug had been sold to BAC Inc.  Does anyone know if she still exists and if so under what name?

Art deco streamlining, which –IMHO– did nothing to enhance the performance of the tug, had its manifestations in other boats like Kalakala and SS Admiral and certainly in land vehicles, some extreme examples can be seen here and here.

As I said above, some of these photos appeared in Tugbitts over 10 years ago.  Tugbitts recently announced it has decided to cease publication.  I think its demise is a great loss, but I have to admit I did very little to help sustain it, which I regret.  Click here for the announcement about the closing of the journal.

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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

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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.


July 2017
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