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Full disclosure first, I met the author, Paul Strubeck, around 15 years ago, and he’s been working on this voluminous tome for almost a decade.  We met on a retired diesel railroad tugboat, of course, not either of the ones depicted below.  Over the years, Paul has shared photos and information on this blog.

I’ll tell you what I think about this book in a moment, but first, any guesses on the date, location, and info on the two tugboats depicted on this striking cover?

The rear cover has some Dave Boone art.  Anything look familiar in that painting?

Soon after Paul and I  met, we took this same WHC tour together.  I’m certainly not a packrat, but the fact that I still have the program attests to my sense that it was an extraordinary tour, much narration of which was prefaced “you can’t see any trace any more, but …” because rail marine in the sixth boro is mostly a thing of the past.  What’s not in the past but an immutable geographical fact is that the sixth boro surrounds an ever more densely-populated archipelago that still needs resupplying today, mostly provided by trucks and frustrated drivers clogging highways today, hence efforts like the recent beer run, to name but one.  

Contractors move carfloats today, but at one time rail lines built their own dedicated tugboats, steam and diesel, and the evolution of the latter type is what Paul’s book interprets for us.  These tugboats are mostly gone, and he tracks the disposition of each one, but a few still in use have been redesigned so successfully you might never guess their previous lives.

As I said earlier, Paul has worked on this book for the better part of a decade.  When he wasn’t employed on a  tugboat, he got jobs on the railroad, which employs him now fulltime.  But when he wasn’t scheduled by some employer, he traveled to places where he researched this book in harbors, photo archives, libraries, and museums.   To “unpack” this table of contents a bit, the “Oil-electrics” chapter focuses on  the railroads that switched from steam propulsion to diesel:  first in 1916 the Pennsylvania RR re-powering steam tug Media with a 4-cylinder Southwark-Harris heavy oil engine;  in 1926 NY Central RR built a pair of tugs on Staten Island and named NY Central’s No. 33 and No. 34, and Erie was next. 

Then next four chapters elaborate on the naval architects, the decisions they made, and the tugboats they built.

“What’s inside a tug?” includes nomenclature

 

and specialized information not commonly known to a layperson as well as to a mariner who works on non-railroad tugs.

Documents like this top one from August 1978 demystify the daily/hourly activity of tugboat crew, in this case,  the marine engineer.  Paul brings his tugboat/locomotive perspective to the page.

The book has 266 color photos and 131 black/white, for a total of 397, of which 342 have never been book/web published;  he scanned them from company records, trade literature, negatives, and slides.  Each photo has a detailed caption.  Further, the book has 4 original maps, 22 blueprints/drawings, and 17 documents/advertisements from vintage marine diesel magazines.

There are 11 appendices, including

 

17 pages of Appendix K listing all East Coast diesel railroad tugboats and their dimensions, designers and builders, engine specs, multiple names, and [what I find very helpful] their disposition, i.e., still in use, scrapped, reefed, or other.  A total of 23 railroad companies are mentioned.

On the last page, you learn a bit about the author.  He’s already working on a volume 2, focusing on railroad tugs of the Great Lakes and Inland Waterways.

To me, this book is a delight to read through and a reference for East Coast tugboats.  On my bookshelf, it goes next to Thomas R. Flagg’s book New York Harbor Railroads In Color, volumes 1 and 2, published in 2000 and 2002 but with most information cut off in 1976.  Paul’s book will be a delight for historians, aficionados of rail and marine technology, modelers, urban planners, and the general public with curiosity about how we get stuff from place of manufacture to place(s) of use.

As anyone who releases a book or other work knows, an author does not want to keep a pile of books like this at home.  For info on ordering your copy, click here.  This is not a “mainstream” book you’d see while browsing the all-too-few bookstores surviving these days.  Rather, it is published by an independent railroad-focused publisher called Garbely Publishing.

To answer the questions about cover “photo,” the front cover shows Erie tugs Elmira and Marion  in Hoboken in March 1975. Marion was launched at Jakobson’s  in Oyster Bay NY in 1953 and is being prepared for reefing at this very moment in 2022.  Anyone know details?  Elmira was launched the same year on Staten Island and was scrapped in 1984 after an engine room fire.  The Dave Boone painting shows New York Dock Railway tug Brooklyn southbound on the North River.  Notice the Colgate clock along the right side.  Brooklyn (now Florida) is currently a rebuilt but active boat in the Crescent fleet in Savannah GA.  My image of the boat as I saw it in 2014 is below;  that day I took another shot of the tugboat which appears on page 190 of Paul’s book.

Previous book reviews I’ve posted here can be found at these links.

2021

2020

2017

2014

2012

2012

2010

 

 

 

I’ve not added sugar to my hot drinks for many decades, but if you do, you need to know about Jonathan, or sweet Jon.

If you think I’ve flipped out, here the sugar barge was passing the Statue a few days ago towed by East Coast.

Here are the numbers of Jonathan

Safe travels.

All photos, WVD, who used to look forward to visits of Sugar Express, which I’ve not seen recently. 

Click here to see partly refined sugar being lifted out of the sugar barges. 

The bridge photo at the end of part A was of Kristin Poling, right after she’d been taken out of service.  In her long life from 1934 until 2011, she carried the nameplates of Poughkeepsie Socony, Mobil New York, and Captain Sam, before taking on her last name. 

Here’s a shot from the bow, and

here from near the stern looking forward along the catwalk.

This is one of my all-time favorite photos.  I wonder where this Coastie is today.

A decade ago, Maurania III worked in the harbor, here alongside the venerable Chemical Pioneer and

here muscling Suez Canal Bridge around Bergen Point.

APL Coral was scrapped in 2017, I believe.  Anyone know what those bolts of green fabric are?  By their location, I’d guess an anti-piracy measure.  Nicole Leigh continues to work.

DEP’s Newtown Creek was in her last days;  currently she’s a dive destination in Pompano Beach, FL known as Lady Luck.

Lygra (1979) went to Alang in 2018, after carrying that name as well as Centro America, Nornews Service, and Transfjord. 

Does anyone know where Captain Zeke has gone to?  I don’t.   If I ever did, I’ve forgotten.

Catherine Turecamo assists SN Azzurra away from a dock. The tanker seems still to be working as Augusta;  she’s also carried the names Blue Dolphin and Stena Commander.  In 2014, Catherine T. went to fresh water and, the last I knew,  became a Chicago area based John Marshall.

If you click on no links in this post except this one, you will be pleased;  it’s the legendary 1937 commuter yacht AphroditeHERE is the link.  Those all-caps are intentional.

Note the raked forward portion of Maersk Murotsu, getting an assist from Kimberly Turecamo. The tanker is currently known as Ardmore Seafarer, which I have seen but not photographed in the boro.  It’s impossible to keep up . . .  hang on to that thought until the end of the post.

And let’s close out  with some busy photos, here Barbara McAllister moves a barge, East Coast follows light, and Gramma Lee T Moran assists a tanker.  Barbara is now Patsy K.

And finally, the waters here are churned up by James Turecamo, Resolute, and Laura K Moran, as well as a few tankers off to the left.

All photos, WVD, who’s astonished how much changes if not daily or monthly but surely by decade.

And about that thought I asked you hang onto:  I’m considering taking a break, a sabbatical, or as Chapter 17 of Moby Dick explains . . .  a ramadan, a term used with respect. I say this as a solicitation of advice.

 

The “4” here refers to the dry dock, not the fourth post in this series.  The last post on Caddell  was Something Different 57.  And in the “high and dry” series, this would be number 11.  I’m just trying to anchor this post in the previous body of work. Also, I believe this dry dock was originally built as an auxilliary floating dry dock (ARD) by the USN to lift submarines out of their watery habitat, but I can’t corroborate that.

In Dry Dock 4 a half dozen years ago was the pilot boat New York.  I put this first so that the vessels in the rest of the photos can be compared against a standard, the dimensions of the same dry dock.

See above for scale.  On this date, winter 2014, Dry Dock 4 was shared by W. O. Decker and schooner Pioneer, currently both in Albany getting refurbished and improved. 

This boat’s a mystery to me;  the livery on upper pilothouse says it’s a Reinauer boat, but I took this photo over 10 years ago and have lost track of its identity.  You may know?

McAllisters Brothers was originally called Dalzelleagle.  I believe it’s currently in the sixth boro but mothballed.

The Fireboat John J. Harvey had some work done in Dry Dock 4 .  She has a long and storied career.

Doris Moran is a 4610 hp tugboat that does some sixth boro work, although she’s currently in Louisiana.

East Coast has not appeared on this blog very often.  She used to tow the sugar barge, and she may well still do so.

Let’s get to the end of this post with Clipper City, having some bottom work done on a cold winter’s day eight years ago already. 

All photos, WVD, who’d love to know more about the history of Dry Dock 4.

 

 

How’s this as an unusual perspective, East Coast coming through the Narrows and under the VZ Bridge, barely visible at top of photo,  with a sugar barge, not sure which one. I believe that’s a Sandy Hook antenna and West Bank Romer Shoal Light off starboard.

Kimberly Poling heads into the Kills past Robbins Reef Light.

James William has been moving garbage containers these days.

The intriguingly named Iron Wolf passes the Brooklyn Army Terminal.

Mary Alice moves Columbia New York.

A few hundred yards ahead of Iron Wolf is Sea Fox.

Andrea departs the Kills to pick up a fuel barge.

Mary H returns from a run with barge Patriot.

And finally, Fox3 heads southbound;  that’s the southern tip of Manhattan behind her.

All photos, WVD.

Coastline Girls and many other names including Gage Paul Thornton and  ST-497, the 1944-build now sleeps deep in Davy Jones locker,  and was not an intentional reefing.

It’s been a while since I last saw Mcallister Sisters, shown here passing the Esopus Meadows light.  If I’m not mistaken, she’s currently based in Baltimore.

Ten years ago, this boat had already been painted blue over orange, but she still carried the June K name board.

Socrates, classic lines and a classic name, has since gone off to Nigeria, riding over in mid-2012 on a heavy lift ship called Swan.

Urger on blocks in Lyons . . . one would have thought then that she’d run forever.  These days she’s back on blocks at the eastern end of the Canal.

And February 2010 was the time of prime iceboating, and that’s Bonnie of frogma.

James Turecamo, with its wheelhouse down as I rarely saw it, works these days upriver as far north as Albany.  Photo by Allen Baker.

Brandywine and Odin these days spend most of their time on Gulf of Mexico waters.

Gramma Lee T Moran straining here as she pulled the tanker off the dock.  She now works in Baltimore.

In the foreground, East Coast departs the Kills;  I can’t say I recall seeing her recently,but AIS says she’s currently northbound north of the GW.    In the distance and approaching, June K, now Sarah Ann, and she regularly works in the sixth boro.

All photos, except Allen’s, WVD, from February 2010.

I have to share back story about getting that top photo.  I was on foot on Richmond Terrace walking east toward Jersey Street when I saw the Coastline tug and Hughes barge.  I didn’t recognize the profile and realized I could get the photo ONLY if I ran.  At the same time, I noticed an NYPD car had pulled over another car, and you know, it’s never a good idea to run for no apparent reason when the police are nearby.  But . . . you understand my dilemma:  walk and miss the shot, or run and maybe attract the curiosity of the police officer.  I ran, got the shot, and sure enough, the police called me over and wanted to know what I was doing.  Since I knew I’d done nothing wrong except appear suspicious, I gave him my business card and launched full tilt into my “new yorkers are so lucky because they are witness to so much marine business traffic, and why didn’t he too have a camera and join me watching and taking photos of the variety of vessels . . . .”  You can imagine the stare I got.  My enthusiasm failed to move him.  No handcuffs, no taser, not even a ticket, but an impassive gaze from a weary officer of the law possibly wondering  if I’d escaped from an institution or a time warp.  He wrote up a report and left me with this advice:  don’t run when you see a police officer nearby.  “Yessir,” I said, thinking . . . well sure, but I’d likely do it again if I again noticed something unusual transiting the waterway.  Since then, though, I’ve not had any further encounters with the LEOs, at least not on the banks of the sixth boro.

I didn’t plan it, but this past week, I’ve seen a lot of Dann Marine boats, so that’s why this post.

Running against a NW wind, Pearl Coast handles some spray quite handily as she tows Cement Transporter 1801. She’s a big boat:  127′ x 40′ with 5600 hp.  Click here for previous appearances of her on this blog.

Into that same wind, here’s Ivory Coast heading light along the Delaware shore.  Click here for previous posts with Ivory Coast.

 

I believe this is my first time to add East Coast to this blog, although she’s been in the Dann Marine fleet for several decades.

Welcome then.  She’s on the Sugar Express run between Florida and Yonkers. See previous Sugar Express posts here.

And another Dann Marine boat I suspect I’ve not seen before . . . Sun Coast,

inbound at the Narrows.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

 

It’s Margot, last included on this blog here.  Guess the location?

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And a former fleet mate of Frances, it’s  Catherine Turecamo . ..  with Gage Paul Thornton way in the background.

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Here’s a closer-up of Gage Paul with Robbins Light in the background.

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New York Central No. 13 . . . changing at a glacial pace and probably regressing, not progressing.   My last photo of this boat might be here.

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Here’s Robert leaving the sixth boro this morning with a tow that

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includes dredge McCaskill, which I previously featured here high and dry  and here from the inside.

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East Coast meets west coast this morning alongside Corossol.

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The newer Dean headed eastbound on the KVK and

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and finally . .  another configuration of Marjorie B. McAllister.

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All photos taken this week by Will Van Dorp.

Oh . . . Margot‘s location in the first photo is Tottenville NY, with Outerbridge Crossing in the background.

This post is inspired by Sea Bart, the humor behind uglyships.com, the mariner who–outside of his realm of  responsibility–just has way too much fun.  And his humor I find infectious.  If Swinburne and Hoffman were still quarantine islands outside the sixth boro and Bart were to arrive, he’d surely be put off there in a futile attempt to cure his irreverence.

He calls his finds “ugly.”  I’ll classify mine as giddy-making, like this illusion of bird-as-alternate-propulsion for MSC Ornella,

Goldman-Sachs Tower as upper wheelhouse of Thomas D. Witte (ex- Kendall P. Brake, Reliance, Tammy, Matty J, AND June C)

a cargo vessel named Cargo, (Note:  a cargo vessel named “cargo” is not easy to research!!)

(doubleclick enlarges most of the time) a lighthouse (more of this lighthouse soon) in the hold of Atlantic Runner,

a new supra-superstructure on Explorer of the Seas,

ditto on East Coast as well as on

Kristin Poling, whom you’ll see more of soon;  and all of this

brings me to Bart.  Tug’s name–Bart alleges–is Follow Me.  And what name do you suppose the barge following carries?

Lead Me On.  If you resolution of these fotos I purloined from Bart isn’t satisfactory, see it on Bart’s own post here.  Doubleclick on his foto.

All fotos except Bart’s by Will Van Dorp.

Unrelated and a few weeks late, but I call this giddy anchor catch on Pilot Boat.

When over 5000 horses get pulling, generating 68 tons of bollard pull, smoke happens.  That … and the tanker starts to move.    And Gramma Lee T Moran (May 24, 2002)  feels satisfied.

Marjorie B McAllister (1974) escorts Stena Concert into her venue . . . er . . . berth through

a congested KVK.  Foreground here . . . East Coast ( 1982) approaching and Pocomoke (2008) distancing.

June K (2003) hauls out the crumpled and rusted scrap metal for new life,

John P. Brown Thomas Brown (1962) , East Coast, and Brandywine (2006) all facing west in Bayonne,

Baltic Sea (1973) (Was she originally painted blue as S/R Albany?) heads east,

and a fairly new Laurie Ann Reinauer (2009) comes in from sea.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Unrelated . . . I’m literally knocked out by the entries to the Patty Nolan bikini contest.  Just kidding.  Maybe the figurefigure will be dubbed ” P Lady Godiva Nolan” this year?

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