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Note: I wrote this a year ago for a print publication, but they’ve not used it. It’s timely, so here it is in its entirety. The style is different because of its history and intention. Here was my post #1 with this title from January 2010. And HERE was 2.
Line crosses the ice fields covering a chokepoint in the Hudson River like an army tank traversing boulders. The vessel—more than a half century old—pitches and tosses erratically. And the steel hull polishing itself on brash ice—jagged floating ice clumps– is loud, arrhythmic, and almost alarming as the small ice breaker advances through the ice or attempts to, sometimes halting.
“It’s counterintuitive,” said Bosun Mate Chief Bradford Long. “My initial sense was that I was harming the vessel. But it was built for ice up to a foot thick. When it stops, you take care that the rudder position is centered, then power astern before attempting a new track. Having the rudder anywhere but centered could damage it.”
During an average ice season, some 300 vessels from tug/barge units to ocean-going tankers and bulk carriers navigate the Hudson. During the 2012-13 season, Coast Guard crews broke ice and facilitated movement of 7.96 million barrels of petroleum products and 297,000 tons of dry bulk products in the Northeast, with a combined total value of nearly $2 billion. They also answered 17 official requests for assistance and assisted 37 vessels in need.
During “ice season” Line is one of three 65’ ice breaking tugs working in conjunction with 140’ Bay-class ice breakers whose missions include keeping key portions of the Hudson River open. The larger ice breakers like Penobscot Bay can handle ice up to 36” thick and work the chokepoints such as Esopus Meadows and Silver Point, while Line breaks ice at facilities such as petroleum terminals and pilot stations. “Commercial operators notify us about 24 hours in advance of their arrival at a terminal. We break up the ice and –if necessary—a 140-footer comes in and sweeps the ice away just before the tug and barge arrives,” says Long.
WYTL 65611 Line, is homeported in Bayonne, New Jersey, as is its sister vessel WYTL 65610 Hawser. A third sibling WYTL 65612 Wire is based in Saugerties, New York. All three were launched from Barbour Boat Works in New Bern, North Carolina, within two months of each other in 1963, now 52 years ago.
Barbour also made some classy runabouts, like this one seen in their old boat works, now operating as the North Carolina History Center.
Jet Lowe took the photo below of the Barbour work tug Sam. Click here for more pics of Sam by Jet Lowe. Can’t you look at wooden Sam and see hints of the WYTL design? And these 65′ icebreakers . . . what will replace them?
The three WYTLs break ice on a “1 in 3” schedule: one week of Hudson River ice breaking operations, then a second week of patrols and breakouts closer to their homeport, and then a third week of maintenance in port. Line, currently with a crew of eight, operates during daylight hours only, unless emergency search-and rescue operations dictate otherwise, said Long. At night, the vessel might dock on shore power available only at either West Point or Saugerties, 45 and 90 miles respectively north of the Battery.
The current season is the first breaking Hudson River ice for BMC Long, whose 14-year career has provided prior Coast Guard ice experience on Lake Champlain and the Bering Sea. Line’s current ice breaking duties include maintenance of the “track” followed by commercial vessels, as well as facilities “break-outs,” meaning the WYTL breaks ice in circular patterns or noses up to a dock and uses prop wash to clear out a possible channel. Line has a single four-blade 56” prop turned by a 500 horsepower Caterpillar 34-12.
WYTL crew also communicate with passing commercial vessels gathering data on their vessels, cargoes, and encountered ice conditions. That information is shared with the Coast Guard Sector New York’s “ice officer,” Chief Warrant Officer Kary Moss. According to Moss, “domestic icebreaking operations are intended to … minimize waterways closures during the winter, enabling commercial vessels to transit through ice-covered critical channels.” Moss manages the information generated by the WYTLS, the 140-footers, and Coast Guard Auxiliary Air, or AuxAir “ice patrols.” These latter are observation flights—daily if weather permits—by civilian aircraft from Sandy Hook to Albany to report on and photograph ice conditions and river traffic. During the 2012-13 ice season, AuxAir made 37 reconnaissance flights. Moss then issues the daily ice report both broadcast on VHF channel 22 and electronically.
Since their 1963 arrival the WYTLs in the Hudson Valley have had a variety of missions, which did not include breaking ice on the Hudson for the first two decades. Line and the other two New York area WYTLs—Wire and Hawser—have unique extended cabins used to accommodate additional crew, including doctors, who would board passenger vessels for inspection/quarantine in greater New York harbor. The WYTLs also moved empty sanitation scows during instances like the tugboat strike of 1979, as evidenced below in the letter of citation from the commandant of the Coast Guard . . ..
As the winter and ice season of 2013-14 establishes a place in the cold and ice record books, BMC Long and crew feel a sense of accomplishment about their role on this half-century-old boat assisting commercial vessels in getting the heating oil through.
So here we are 12 months later, and it’s deja vu all over again . . . or something.
Here’s Tatiana Schlossberg’s article from today’s NYTimes on the 2015 icebreaking effort.
This photo of
Doris Joan Moran that has been circulating on FB this morning. Sorry . . . I wish I knew who gets the credit for this unusual shot. Anyhow, it reminded me of a post I did five years ago here.
Here’s a Doris photo I took last week . . . uncoated.
So one reaction to the cold is to bundle up, grit your teeth, plod on, complain a little more . . .
But you have to admit, winter in the northern latitudes gives us new senses of hulls on snow bases, or
levitating above it.
Here’s roughly the same angle . . . as I took it in September 2012.
Thanks to Bob Stopper for the photo of tug Syracuse and to Erich Amberger for the winter photo of Wendy B. The others I took, except for the top photo, and I’d still like to know who took that.
Uh . . . I just mis-read the FB info on the frosted over tugboat above. It was spelled j-o-a-n, and I transferred that as d-o-r-i-s. I’m sloppy sometimes. Maybe I need an editor.
Tugs and buoys carry glaze like this or
this . . . .
Even local wrecks (that’s two side by side there) have a glaze that mimics the gleaming white paint they once wore . . . . And one local water guy whose blog I usually read conveys experiences like these. Hawsepiper, . . . this goes out to you.
At these times it’s good to remember we have our own deferred (defurred?) mardi gras parade when we ditch our winter burqas and enjoy the summer solstice warmth . . .
sometimes even without parasols
in fewer than 125 days from now.
All photos by Will Van Dorp.
Loosely related, click here for a bulk carrier named Mardi Gras and a whole youtube channel devoted for Asian tugs, jetfoils, fireboats, and other workboats.
Here was 1. And for reasons I’ll explain at the end of this post, this title might not be the best one. Maybe by that time, you’ll figure out a better one as well. The idea came from here–Nord Snow Queen I took in March 2012 in Panama, and then a friend’s photo from Cappadocia, which I’ll add at the end of this post.
So a better name might be ovens and freezers, or heat & ice, given that photos 2, 4, and 6 . . . as well as 1 were taken in temperatures close to 100 F (Bonneville Desert) whereas photos 3, 5, and 7 were Hudson River in this winter I now wish would subside into history. Here’s the photo from Tuz Golu (Salt Lake) in Turkey.
The Turkish photo by Lauren Tivey; all others by Will Van Dorp. And one place I’d like to get to is here.
Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, late October 2013.
Same bridge February 4 2014.
WYTL 65611 Line and Doris Moran passing under that same bridge February 4 2014.
Looking south toward Bannerman’s Castle late October 2013.
From not as close . . . but that’s Bannerman’s slightly off to the left.
Northside of Bear Mountain Bridge in October 2013 and
yesterday with Stephen Reinauer with RTC 80 north bound and
and Stephen-Scott with light barge RTC 20.
Doris meets the train.
Here’s looking south from Newburgh dock mid November a few years ago, and
here’s the same view from earlier this week.
All fotos of two of the faces of the Hudson River by Will Van Dorp.
First . . . this foto by Bob Dahringer of Katherine (1979 in Louisiana). As of this writing, Bob is back upriver playing with Hudson River ice cubes.
Next . . . this foto from Key West, thanks to my sister, who’s gotten a camera upgrade. Yay! A few years ago, I was snorkeling–sans camera–off a Key West beach and came up to notice two tugboats that looked a lot like these. My first thought then was–wow! K-Sea tugs in the Conch Republic. My second thought was . . . I have no camera and therefore no one will ever believe me. I’m now pretty sure I saw Titan (1974 in Long Beach, CA) and Ocean Atlas (1964 in San Diego, California).
Brian DeForest took this foto of Marjorie B. McAllister (1974 in Louisiana) last week of a very icy sixth boro.
And recently . . . in a springy waterboro of NYC, Brendan Turecamo (1975 in Louisiana) assisted a tanker on its way out to sea,
Doris Moran (1982 in Louisiana) assisted a chemical tanker into port, and
Miss Niz (2003 from Alabama) moved some dredging equipment around. Note the survey boat–Michele Jeanne–reading the bottom contours over on the Bayonne side.
Thanks much to Bob, Maraki, and Brian for use of their fotos.
Count’em . . . three! Becky Ann and two of Ken’s boats.
Click here to see a post I did a few months back on crewboats exclusively. Miami River shuttles in here past Charleston in drydock.
Becky, Doris, and Maria T.
Wolf River has returned to the sixth boro after some time away. Brazil maybe?
A few weeks ago, here’s Julia assisting as Freddy K Miller prepares to move a construction barge away from Governors Island.
Miss Ayva in the straits of Gowanus down under the BQE is one of the workhorses . . . work ponies of the harbor, not unlike
this unidentified vessel off Happy Dynamic‘s stern and
Gabby . . . here staying ahead of Sarah Ann and her clutch of barges and
Julia fearlessly speeding out the flat Narrows to run someone out to Gravesend Bay.
All fotos by Will Van Dorp.
The next three fotos come compliments of Rod Smith, whose Narragansett Bay Shipping site does a thorough job of documenting many things including all newbuilds worked on at Senesco Marine, where the new Caddell’s drydock was constructed. Here’s the launch day, performed by rolling airbags. See the upper wheelhouse of newbuild Dean Reinauer to the left behind the shed. Small tug afloat is Hawk, ex-YTL 153.
Although not quite wide enough to contain a football field, it is more than long enough. It would certainly redefine the game.
Here’s a foto of the drydock taken from the upperwheelhouse of Dean. Can anyone identify the tug-in-progress directly in the foreground?
Finally, another of my fotos showing the tow just about home entering the Buttermilk Channel. The octagonal structure to the left is the vent tower for the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel.
Again, many thanks to Rod for use of these fotos. If you do Facebook, Rod has just posted fotos of arrival of United Yacht Transport’s Super Servant 4 in Newport, RI. Now if I were free, I’d head up and watch the float-off process.
Here was my first post on this drydock.
A month ago I caught this small drydock floating in. Today at noon Doris Moran with James Turecamo assisting dragged
this huge newbuild under the Brooklyn Bridge, the very same
Those are South Street Seaport Museum’s vessels over beyond the drydock.
Someone can refresh my memory of the dimensions this drydock will accommodate, but I can see the Staten Island ferry eyeing it already.
The tow headed through the Buttermilk Channel before
John Watson picked up these shots as they headed across the Upper Bay, passed Robbins Reef Light, and the
KVK, where she will operate.
The last two fotos here come from John Watson; all others by Will Van Dorp, who got these fotos inside another Caddell drydock three years ago.
I’m always looking for “first-timers” like Sam.
Is this the one . . . Sterling Equipment, built 1972? And it appears to have a Randive unit on the foredeck.
Viking, North River bound completes Ellis Island.
Reliance heads for the KVK.
Tampa, nearly 30 years old, has seen some intrigue in its day.
Aha! the small brown vessel beyond Eagle Baltimore . . . it’s December 1 and Eastern Welder has returned fishing to the sixth boro.
And a bit later, an IVS bulker named Kite passes the same tanker.
Doris Moran plows through the KVK.
Indy pushes through the Buttermilk and into the East River.
A USCG RIB passed off the bow of Stena Primorsk.
Enjoy another shot of Annabelle Dorothy.
Now this fits in the Whatzit?!@!? category. A sloop named Jazz and a sportfisherman named T2 mooring off some sort of workboat I’ve never seen . . . . Anyone help?
All fotos by Will Van Dorp.