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The event is called Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival, so indeed, it’s a water festival, a river fest  started by a folksinger, now 93,  who cares deeply about

the river that flowed past his birthplace.  A river festival means boats.

Of course, Clearwater in the distance is the flagship of this festival, and the big sloop spawned the smaller sloop Woodie Guthrie closer in.

The festival takes place on a peninsula where you see the tents in the middle of the foto.

It’s called Croton Point Park, about 30 miles north of Manhattan’s north tip.

But this location is surrounded by shallow water, so temporary docks are needed, which means small shallow draft tugboats like Augie (1943 and on the first job of her new life) and

Patty Nolan (1931 and available for charter). . .   And the red barge is Pennsy 399 (1942!!) .

Also taking passengers during the festival is Mystic Whaler, here with Hook Mountain in the distance.

Here’s the northside of Croton Point last evening looking toward Haverstraw.

Exactly five years ago I took this foto from a small boat just off Pioneer‘s bowsprit.   Here are more fotos from that day.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp, who might go back for some music tomorrow.

Janis Joplin did my all-time favorite rendition of Summertime.  I like how she takes it furiously into flight, almost like these boats, her sibilants and band’s cymbals in places like electric cicadas.

Boats are jumping . . . er getting on plane . . .

If your daddy’s rich . . . or at least willing to put some money into a boat . . . that is if he can after the S & P downgrade .  ..

One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing…

Then you’ll spread your wings and take to the sky . . .  or not.  This one seems more like it’ll head for the submarine races or something . . . .

But hush little baby . . . one of these will

take to the sky . . .  one of these mornings . .  or afternoons.

If your daddy’s rich and your moma’s good looking

Or if you’re lucky when you play the flight board . . .  with StndAIR…

Then you really might finally spread your wings and  (leaping over the East River Ferry) . . . .

take the sky…   topping the crown of Queens.

That’s Will Van Dorp’s version, who took these fotos.  Here’s Janis Joplin’s, once when she kept it together and did nothing to harm herself.  A seaplane on the East River appeared here quite long ago.  Still, these booted seaplanettes pale in comparison with the old Aeromarine airships that used to link the North and Raritan Bay with Florida.

Some interesting postscripts:

1) BRBRbrooklyn caught FDNY’s greeting SUNY Maritime’s Empire State return this morning . . . while I was still drinking my coffee!!

2)  Hats off to Stephen Askew, superintendent of North River Waste Treatment Plant, for his recent heroic captaining of a raft, a true friend of all denizens of the sixth boro.

3) News about the “troop carrier” found buried deep in the foundation of the World Trade Center . . . .   Revolutionary War troop carrier that is.

A WTF!@#@! postscript too”

Lady Liberty appears in many fotos on this blog, including one above.  Do you know what Rev. John Benefiel thinks about Bartholdi’s lady?    Fie!!!

“I am the Manager of the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.  The reserve comprises some 18,000 acres of estuary and other coastal habitat, right on the Gulf, obviously under great risk should the oil make it to our shoreline.  Massive effort has developed plans to help deter the oil from reaching shore, using burning, dragging, and extensive booming.  The entire perimeter of the Grand Bay NERR is boomed, as are several interior inlets.  Though, I hope we do not have to count on the fifteen miles of booms.

Over the past several weeks my staff has been busy documenting the current conditions of the reserve, sampling fishes, seagrasses, emergent marshes, water quality, sediments, fish tissue, birds, invertebrates, diamondback terrapins and extensively photographing the shoreline and marshes.  I work for the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and have spent several days working at the Mobile, AL Unified Command Center helping make plans  for protection of the shoreline and for cleanup as needed.  So far most of mainland Mississippi has been spared, though debris and many tar-balls are washing ashore on our barrier islands which are part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Like with many issues, the media is playing a major role in driving our thinking on this.  They want numbers and dramatic pictures.  After this weekend’s [top kill] failure, the mood of the coast is gloomy.  Residents, businesses and local governments are downright angry and mostly helpless.  So much of the economy of the entire Gulf region depends upon the water and between oil and dispersant, how long will it be fouled?  There are just so few answers to this whole mess.

The biggest shame is that this drilling technology that allows us to drill at these depths apparently has outpaced our abilities to address catastrophic failures in the system at these depths.  The people involved in planning have been hopeful that something would work to stop the gusher, but now if we can only count of the relief wells in August to maybe stop this, how can we stop it from fouling the entire Gulf.  And what will tropical weather add to the formula?

The beaches can be cleaned with relative ease, though oil could continue washing ashore for months.  However, the marshes are a different matter:   cleanup of vegetated, muddy areas will be next to impossible to clean.  The toxicity of the oil should be somewhat less as it weathers for weeks before getting here, but we really do not know what that means for the plants and animals.  We are about 130 miles due north of the Deepwater Horizon well site.  (As of June 1) no oil has been within 30 miles of the MS coast.

[This is a family affair:  My wife] works in Pascagoula, MS at the National Seafood Inspection Laboratory for NOAA, determining what seafood is safe for consumption and what federal areas of the Gulf should be open or closed to harvest.”

Dave Ruple, the writer of the piece above, is a high school friend who moved to coastal Missisippi after college.  Bienville Animal Medical Center is located in Ocean Springs, MS.

The sign below hangs near the St. Claude Avenue Bridge at the mouth of the Industrial Canal in New Orleans and has nothing to do with the oil spill.

The Bridge has an integrated lock structure.  My niece living in New Orleans (100 + miles from the Gulf)  has sent me these two pics.  Thanks, Carly.

Here is a set oil-spill related links:

General EPA facts about the Gulf of Mexico (GOM)

See a GOM leakometer.

Thoughts from Scientific American on duration/effects of the oil spill.

Oil Spill Crisis Map

NYTimes slideshow of president of Plaquemines Parish

Official site of Deepwater Horizon Response

What has been the evolution of BP the company?

What if this spill had happened in Nigeria?

How many sperm whales live in the GOM?

A self-described “non-green” person’s reaction to the ongoing gusher.

Safe to say . . . this is one lardaceous mess that’s only growing.

Three years ago I felt the Pow Wow was my headwaters, and it still floods my head and soul with freshness, but I have moved on, find centering in other waters now.  So I should call this post Merrimack watershed, but …  next time.

Also, notice a new tugster feature . . . flickr on the sidebar.  I’ve avoided overlap of fotos there and here.

Songfrog:  my invented term this trip.  They really do sing, so why not give them as much credit as we do birds?  For frog mating protocols, click here.  Notice all the pollen on the water surface.  Peepers:  songfrogs’ castrati accompaniment, longed for here.

Redwing blackbird:  if I had to choose one birdsong as soundtrack for my life, this would be it.  Know it?

Stunning beauty . . . the most beautiful flower on earth .  . . the watery part of earth, that is.

The elusive young beaver:  I spotted this one or its siblings again and again but got no closer than this.  They do share stealth with bigfoot.  For all you ever wanted to know about beaver life, check here.

Dragonflies:  a personal quest this trip.

A biologist of the anisoptera variety would spend an entire lifetime studying these ancient critters.  On the Pow Wow around midday, they come out by the millions.  Only if you’re curious about the mechanics of their mating should you read this unromantic detail here.

Young’uns and … dinner for the big’uns.

Elizabeth … when she’s fed up with the city.

And full frontal tugster . . . nothing about nudity here.  Said Elizabeth, “Why would you pose this way?”

“Because I can,” replied tugster.  Really, he’s something of a songfrog sometime.

The blog will have a lot of guest gallivant bloggers this week because next week, I will be locked away in the wilds of Brooklyn . . . training not detention.  Actually, one goal with tugster (the blog) is to turn it over to guest-bloggers periodically, to broaden the perspective.

Thanks for reading.  All fotos but the last one by Will Van Dorp.

Unrelated:  See a new blog on my blogroll:  the Newtown Pentacle; Newtown, as in the Creek.  Also, another swimming post from Capt JP on swimming with urchins.  Oh, the stories I could tell about my close encounters with fire coral in the Red Sea.  Leave it to Frogma (I added this late the other day) to tell a pleasant tale about the swimming with parrotfish and their friends.

All fotos but the one directly below were taken yesterday, but what you see below is what John J. Harvey, ex-Engine 57, Engine 86, and Marine 2, does:  in its prime, it pumped up to 18,000 gallons per minute.  And  now, the vessel and crew get invited from near and far to pump these prodigious amounts of water;  I’ll call it the wet equivalent of fireworks . . . waterworks!!

Yesterday, thanks the the Harvey crew and Bernie & friends,  I traveled Harvey the 6.5 hours to Poughkeepsie, queen of the Hudson.


Seven a.m. sharp departure was delayed by sizeable traffic in the middle of the channel (just forward of Bel Espoir 2) , but


other traffic–Comet southbound and Patapsco north–kept to the Jersey side.


At the Passenger Terminal, Taurus and Caribbean Sea stand by with a bunker barge for the sizeable traffic, shown earlier,  delivering a morning load of travellers.


Lucy Reinauer waits at anchor with RTC 83,  as Patapsco trails us, pushing fuel northbound.


Local traffic moves south with any serviceable conveyance.


Off the Palisades across from the Yonkers sugar mill,  Falcon waits.  Note that two Falcons at least inhabit the sixth boro, one is K-Sea and the other is green.  Anyone know who operates this Falcon and Socrates and where the sugar comes from?


Just north of Tappan Zee we encounter Glen Cove, pushing stone.


Patrolman Walburger Launch No. 5 greets us in that same stretch of the river.


Harvey purrs and rides very steady in minor river chop, here passing Newburgh.


Poughkeepsie is almost in view.


The captain explains the difference between the larger and smaller diameter wheels (the smaller serves as a switch to trigger the larger).


Deck crew demonstrate their impressive  line toss skill.


With only a short break before Harvey is called to perform, some crew (Carl, Huntley [captain], and Lucy) kicks back.


I wished I could have stayed but .  .


before the water fest began, many of us took the train back to Grand Central.

Waterworks, fireworks, or just plain working, Happy Independence Day.  John Adams, one of the luminaries of this day 233 years ago, suggests the following celebratory events:   “pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”  Harvey, a bell boat, brings pomp, show, water guns aka monitors, puts out bonfires, and entertains during illuminations.  I think Adams would come aboard with enthusiasm.

As you recall in enjoyment your 4 July BBQs, consider Henry Hudson’s grub of a then-insignificant-date, 4 July 1607, Gregorian calendar, bacalao, hard tack, and genever after watch.

All fotos here by Will Van Dorp.

In writing about our second waterblogger gathering, Soundbounder paid tribute to a a great scientist, inventor, and statesman:  Benjamin Franklin, who spouted profundity on many topics, including beer.   Being more of a oenophile, I’d like to cite what our Sage of the $100 note said about wine: “Take counsel in wine, but resolve afterwards in water.”

Perfect . . . we did take our counsel in beer and wine and resolved to continue our collective efforts to observe, enjoy, and communicate about the waters of sixth boro. The setting was Krevey’s Pier 66, actually a bar/restaurant/club located along with a caboose on a barge in the North River.

In the foto below, from left to right:  Soundbounder, Going Coastal and friends, and A Moveable Bridge and friend.


Bowsprite was still on watch when the meeting got called to order:  notice the VHF and the water bottle.  Some radio prose must have caught Soundbounder’s Matt’s attention.


Fotografers Charlotte and Jerome stopped by.


Patricia, Kaya, and Tugster confab.  Kaya took the image that leads Surfing QE2’s Wake.


Harry and Nancy of  Hudson Kayaker stopped by after paddling and told of the paddling map.

Then a large ship passed with its


unique funnel design and insignia, and changed


the orderly nature of the afternoon.  Soon clothing was rearranged to expose magnificent tattooing like these on  Pino the vintner and Bowsprite and on


Tugster, only some of which were tatted into the skin via Photoshop . . . your guess which.


And some time before dawn, this second irregular gathering of waterbloggers was adjourned, having accomplished all business on the agenda.  ALL.

Fotos here are a commingling of shots by Christina Sun and Will Van Dorp.

Next gathering . . . when it happens.  If you’re inspired to call a meeting at a place and time of your choosing and wish us to publicize and attend, organize it and we will come.  Our only requirement is that setting must be on or near the sixth boro and adjoining waters.

Uh . . . ?  from a rainy Chesapeake comes this foto of a unique amalgamation.  What might it be?  Answer below.

And what vessels might these be,  with what connection to the six boro?  Answer also below, as is the rest of this post.

Back in the boro, where the sun blessed us this weekend, I imagined having a blast–my love and I on the river-– in a tiny sprit sail boat,  [Play music from the “my love…” link while reading rest of post.]

racing past the Palisades.

For others, Imagine carried more gregarious folks past the metropolis

with a jaunty captain at the helm. . .

while its sister ship Adirondack headed for the Statue.

Technically replica Half Moon isn’t sailing here, but with all her flags flying, this motoring yacht is autumn resplendant, especially beside the equally autumnal Hayward.  Anyone identify Half Moon’s flags?  Answer below.

Fore to aft:

foremast:  flag of the province of South Holland.  main:  stripes of the seven provinces.

mizzen:  three crosses of city of Amsterdam, often called XXX.

Answers:  Norfolk Rebel, tugantine, had its keel laid on April Fools Day 1978.  Next, schooners are Amistad pursuing Lettie G. Howard.  Lettie, built in Essex, MA, in 1893, has New York as its current homeport.

Put up whatever flags you will, and sail with your mates and thoughts before winter intrudes.  There really are so many ways to mess about in wind boats, and from here, you can sail around the world.

Top two fotos, compliments of Jed.  All others, Will Van Dorp.

Sirens are not just for Sundays. Coney Island features not only a mermaid parade but also a Siren Festival.

Stealth while out canoeing in the north woods might reveal just about any type of siren above or . . .


At a party recently, someone who knows about the blog asked me, “What is it with you and boats, ships, water?” I just said, “What do you mean?” since I suspect I had no answer that could have satisfied him. It reminded me of . . . “If you gotta ask, you won’t understand . . . .” But I did appreciate being asked a question that’s essential to try to answer. I could try the facile responses like “the sirens, mystery, the economy, adventure, the different perspective. . .” in one direction or “I don’t know . . . .” Or other paths like asking such counter-questions as “What is it with traveling, enjoying good company, or seeing a beloved one naked? What is it about hearing your favorite music, watching the sunrise, savoring your preferred soup, or seeing your child smile?” All unanswerable, none discernible by logic.

And maybe it’s not about the the boats anyhow, but rather about the water and the interaction when we or others we see move in it or upon it by whatever contrivance. What is it about WATER itself, that stuff we can live only a short time without, that almost drowned me once, that makes up at least half of my body weight, and that’s used in ceremonies of different religions? Why is it that when I’m trying to figure something out, I either go swimming or–more often–take a shower–and the answer emerges. What is it with water, which, like sirens, can inspire daily?

That’s what it is about the boats. Too bad I couldn’t come up with all that when he asked me. Where was Kenneth Grahame when I needed him to jump off the shelf and holler “There is nothing— absolutely nothing— half so much worth doing as simply messing about in ‘wessels’.”

Photos and sentiments, WVD.

Spring, Iraq War Year 6, and Easter all begin these days. These fotos show how the Meadowlands in northwestern New Jersey will look in a month or so. Below upper left, that’s Snake Hill aka Laurel Hill aka “Rock of Gibraltar” in the background.



When Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1990, I was working in Kuwait and trapped there. After two weeks of staying out of sight, I was arrested. A few days later, Iraqi soldiers turned me over to the secret police. Along with about 15 other people (frequently changing) I was held at a strategic site as a human shield from late August until mid-December 1990. In my case, the site was an oil refinery south of Basra not far from the Shatt al-Arab water way.  In Iraq, there’s an area not unlike the Meadowlands. Today I heard Dr. Azzam Alwash of The Eden Again Project interviewed on the Leonard Lopate show. By the way, the Iraqi marshlands begin south of Qurnah, regarded as the site of the legendary “Garden of Eden.” Hearing Dr. Alwash felt like the first positive story I’ve heard about Iraq in years. Listen to it on podcast at the link to his name above.

Alwash will be one of the many fabulous speakers at World Water Day 2008 at the American Museum of Natural History. It’s been said that future wars will be over water, not oil. Or both. Even states in the United States conflict over shared water.



The foto above shows the Meadowlands at low tide. Like the Iraqi marsh, it’s a major bird world. If the Meadowlands ever had a stable human population like Iraq’s Marsh Arabs–depicted in Wilfred Thesiger’s outstanding fotos— we have no knowledge of them. It’s hard enough to imagine NJs current Meadowlands as a place once covered by dense forest, which it was until the British colonial constabulary burned it down to ferret out pirates.

Photos, WVD.

My time in Iraq can be read about here.

The exact crossing time is long past already, but who’s to complain as we head toward the summer solstice. My familiar is ecstatic.




And my recollection of the dancers at Coney Island last summer solstice was that they were equally ecstatic.


Let’s spring!!

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June 2023