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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.


A few weeks ago I wrote about one type of dry dock. Some photos below show my favorite flat-bottomed schooner high and dry.


The blue frame behind schooner Pioneer is called a marine travel lift. It’s a mobile and self-propelled frame with slings that winch tighter or looser to “haul” a vessel from the water or “float” one back in. Let’s watch Pioneer get floated or “splashed,” as other people say.


Scale is shown by the travel lift operator walking back to his “driving” platform after ensuring that Pioneer is securely cradled and ready to move. The manufacturer of this machine makes models that can lift up to 1000 tons; Pioneer weighs less than 100.


Splash … into the Arthur Kill. That’s Perth Amboy and a little of the Outerbridge that you see in the background off the port and starboard sides of Pioneer. After a vessel is lowered and floating, a thorough check needs to be made inside the hull to ensure that no leaking is taking place. I once saw a wooden cabin cruiser floated after it had been on land for a few months; hull planks had dried out and shrunk, which opened seams. The cabin cruiser was left in the slings for a day, mobile pumps evacuating the water, while the planks swelled back shut.

The same lift was used to haul and place this tug and the one below.

With a metal hull, there’s no planks to shrink and open seams. This tug was under restoration last winter. A friend who reads this blog might just be interested in restoring a tug to serve as a retirement liveaboard. What think you?

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June 2023