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I’ll return to the Erie Canal tomorrow, but for now . . . the clock is ticking louder.

In exactly 24 hours, Grouper will thaw out;  a new owner, the person with the highest bid, will be acclaimed.  I’ve been following the fate of this boat in Wayne County for so many years that I can’t look away as we get to this milestone.  So have a lot of people who live nearby, or live farther away and have been intrigued about it since it arrived.  Many others know it from its various places of work in the Upper Great Lakes, having some family connection going back many decades.

The big question is . . . Will it be scrapped or reimagined as a vessel of some sort.  Reimagining has been a theme of NYS canal efforts in recent years, right?

Here’s one of my first photos of the boat, literally frozen in place, a great metaphor for its years of being frozen in time, showing remarkable resilience to the ravages of rust.  In all this time of neglect and in the absence of bilge pumps, it has not sunk, has not gone down to a muddy grave where the catfish and gobies lurk.

Friends have devoted countless hours reimagining Grouper.

Lee Rust sent along these diagrams highlighting the hull similarities, the 1912 tugboat and

a late 19th century sail/steam half model.

Lee writes:  “Maybe we’ve been misunderstanding the possibilities of Grouper by getting [ourselves] stuck on the old tug story. Here’s what she really is. Subtract Kahlenberg, add ballast, masts & sails. Maybe an auxiliary electric motor to turn the propeller. Voila! Clean and green and good for another 100 years. Piece of cake! Only [a day] left to decide to take that plunge. Here’s [an aerial] view of the hull model revealing the significant difference in beam [and bow design] from Grouper, but the profiles are almost identical. This even shows where the masts would go.

 

A simpler approach might be to remove 15 tons of Kahlenberg and replace with 7 tons of batteries and an electric propulsion system. This might be enough to decrease draft by the 3 feet needed to maneuver in the current Canal. Compare the waterline on the model to that of Grouper.  Image below shows ship model by my friend Rob Napier.

Looking back at this hypothetical lift diagram I made [above],  aside from the difference in beam, the antique hull model could be that of any ‘City’ class Great Lakes tug. (You can pick out the ‘City’ class tugs here.]  The ‘lifted’ waterline on Grouper is awfully close to that of the model. I suppose this hull form was pretty normal back at the end of the 19th century and the tugboat designers of the time just went with what they knew and hoped the vessels wouldn’t sink when they threw in all that coal and machinery.

OK, I know… daydreaming again. Must be time for my nap.”

Thanks,  Lee.  As I said before, lots of people have been looking at these “excessed canal vessels” for a long time now, and tomorrow, in the heat of summer, Grouper will thaw out.  May the highest bidder win and show exuberance in reimagining canal technology.

 

Related:  This NYTimes article from this past week which examines sail designs on cargo vessels is worth a look.

 

 

All fotos here from yesterday . ..

Liberty Service as you may never have seen her.  Here (third foto in this link) she was four years ago.

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Ditto Huron Service.  Repainting on Huron seems farther along than that on Liberty.   Here’s how Huron Service looked a year and a half ago.   Get ready for Genesis Energy. 

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In the past year, this Pegasus has sprouted an upper wheelhouse;  compare with here.

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Welcome to the waters around Houston.  Well . ..  I do mean the 118,000-barrel barge married to Linda Moran.  Uh . . . do tugs and barges ever get divorced?

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Trucks on the water pushed by Shawn Miller.

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I realized only later that–had my conveyance lingered here–I would have seen Catherine C. Miller push past with FIVE trailers/tractors on a barge.  See her in the distance there beyond the bow of  RTC 83.

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Reinauer Twins waits alongside RTC 104 with a faux lighthouse in the background.

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Lucy Reinauer–earlier Texaco Diesel Chief built in Oyster Bay NY–is the push behind RTC 83.

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DBL 29 pushed (ok, will. . .  open eyes.  thanks for the correction.)  moved alongside by Taurus.  See some of my previous Taurus fotos here and here.

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And thanks to wide-eyed bowsprite, a vessel I’ve not seen before pushing stone.  It’s Patricia.  She reminds me of a vessel I spotted along the road a few years back . . . Hoss.

So, this is the “plus” in the title, the group-sourcing request portion of this post:  what company is operating Patricia?

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And another question . . . from an eagle-eyed upriver captain.  Notice the weather instruments on this channel marker just off Bannerman’s Island (I am planning to do another post on this unique location north of West Point.) And . . .

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here are more weather instruments on this federally-maintained channel marker off the Rondout.  Questions:  who’s responsible for these and is there a website where  the data collected can be monitored?

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All fotos by Will Van Dorp, except for the last three, which come from bowsprite and Capt. Thalassa.

Speaking of bowsprite, today she’s running Radio Lilac and I’ll be there tending bar.  Here’s something of the inspiration.  Come on by if you have the time.  Teleport in if you’re otherwise out of range.

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