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Here’s an article published by the USCG on this profession. And here’s my article/photos from the October 2016 issue of Professional Mariner on Lakes Pilots Association, District 2.  The photos in this post are outtakes from that article.

Below the captain of Huron Belle maneuvers into position to switch a District 2 pilot for a District 3 pilot on an upbound ship at the south end of Lake Huron.

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Here Great Lakes tugs Mississippi and

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Nebraska finesse a ship to negotiate a narrow bridge span on the Maumee River, as guided

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by a Lakes District pilot.  Imagine calling the commands to ship’s helm and tugs on bow and stern while watching this evolution from the bridge wing  700′ back from where the ship steel could splinter the bridge wood and steel. A seiche here can cause the river to run upstream, and that bridge, which sees a fair amount of water traffic, is a midwest version of the Portal Bridge.

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Pilots read the water as well as a plethora of tools to keep shipping without incident. Mark Twain said that as a pilot he “mastered the language of the river,”  and that’s still a requirement today.

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And there’s always the transfer of pilots, which represents a significant risk.

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This was a calm day, but in adverse conditions,

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this is a challenge not to be understated.

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Almost all photos here by Will Van Dorp.

I’m back and–before catching up on my time off the internet–I need to pack the robots back into Cosmoline and close out some January 2016 dredging business . . . here’s my most recent Professional Mariner article.  And below are some additional photos of the research done in June 2015.

This is what 1100 + cubic meters of misplaced river bottom looks like after it’s sucked up and being transported to another location where scour demands it be added.

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And that red boat in the distance is the client, at least the

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verifier for the client.

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Once in the designated discharge site, hydraulic ram start to press the

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hulls apart, and

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all that bottom finds itself in gravity’s grip and

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tumbles out.

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Now only some water remains as the vessel–Ocean Traverse Nord–returns to the worksite and

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lowers the arm to suction up another 1100+ cubic meters

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of gallivanting silt piles, here shown in patches of green.  Notice the darker rectangle, representing the location of the dredger hull.

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All photos by Will Van Dorp.

For video, click here and start at 13:51.

Here was GUP 3, and here was one GUP-related post since then, about the sale of a peer of the vessel below.  In case you don’t check the links and are wondering what GUP is, it’s my neologism for “gross universal product,” AKA sewage.  I’m doing this post now as a complement to my article in PM magazine.    North River is currently high and dry and getting some paint.  More on that later.

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For now, let’s have a look at the fleet carrying the load . . . or loads.

The most recently arrival is Rockaway, in service now nearly a year.

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Coming right up on a one-year anniversary of start of service is Port Richmond.  If you are wondering about the names, all three  new boats are named for sewage facilities serving NYC.  Here’s an article about the Port Richmond facility.

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And the original of this class is Hunts Point, in service now about 15 months.

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Now if you conclude that Rockaway, Port Richmond, and Hunts Point look alike . . . well, they’re virtually identical.

Not true for Red Hook, which has been in service now for over six years.

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I compared bows of the current generation with that of Red Hook here about a year ago.

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Here’s the most recent photo I’ve taken of North River.  How much service–even back–she has left in her I can’t tell you.

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Meanwhile, all hats off to this fleet which keeps sixth boro waters smelling as sweet as they do to us and feeling as hospitable as they do to all the other critters that depend on this habitat.

Vessels are just machines, but I prefer to anthropomorphize them, and thus miss them when they go.  On this transition day, I want to acknowledge some vessels that I’d come to enjoy seeing but will now transition away .

Scotty Sky is a Blount design, launched as L. G. Laduca in 1960.   I took the photo in January 2011.  Click here for a photo of this vessel operating on Lake Erie.

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Patrick Sky is also a Blount design, launched as L. G. LaDuca II in 1966.  Click here for info on her other names and identities. Both were built for West Shore Fuel of Buffalo, NY, and named for the family of company president, Charles G. Laduca. Click here to see a 150′ version of these Blount boats.  Click here to see an interesting but totally unrelated and now scrapped vessel called West Shore . . . fueling a steamer with coal.

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Capt. Log is the smallest and newest of the now timed-out single-hulled tankers in the sixth boro.  Click here for the recent Professional Mariner article on this vessel.

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The three above vessels are still fully functional tonight, phased out notwithstanding.  Crow, seen here in a photo from September 2011, was scrapped this year in the same location where

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Kristin Poling, another single-hulled tanker seen here in a photo I took in March 2010, was scrapped two years ago.  Click here for a number of the posts I did on Kristin.

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Out with the old . . . in with the new, mostly because we have no choice, as time sprints on.

All photos here by Will Van dorp.

Here was the first in the series.   Now since the Professional Mariner article is out and you can read it here, I offer the  photo essay.  The research starts on January 27, but

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this closer-up of the foto above shows half the bridge won’t lift.  Research aborted, and I was really hoping to show the tow breaking its way up the Hutch through ice.  The fuel load eventually –and very eventually–has to get delivered elsewhere.  For outatowners, the background is the Bronx.

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Now it’s February 3, 10:52.  The fuel has been transferred into the tanks on shore, and the crew waits for sufficient water to return to the creek for egress.

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11:01.  Note how little water shows on the right side of the barge.

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11:43.  While waiting for the flood, here’s a view of the engine room.

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1:43.  Still waiting.

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2:26.  There’s now adequate water for the towboat to squeeze alongside the barge to make up to the “bow” of the barge.

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2:27.  Diane B pivots in her length and the crew makes up to the “bow.”

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2:45.  As they finish making up, I run ahead to the nearest bridge for the best fotos as they “thread the needle” back out to wider water.  Let’s call this bridge #1.

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2:47.  Truly this is contact sport . . . without the contact and without the sport.  Actually, it’s hard work.  Notice the barge cutting through the ice here.

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3:10, and I’ve driven my car a half dozen miles to get to bridge #4.  Notice #3 and #2 open.  And if you squint, you can see Diane B‘s upper wheelhouse passing through bridge #2.

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3:13 finds the tow about to pivot 90 degrees to port to clear the Amtrak Bridge, aka bridge #3.

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3:17.  After fitting through #3, the tow immediately needs to line up for #4.

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3:18.  Lining up may take a pulse, a snort of the engines.

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Once through #4, it’s not as if the channel runs straight.

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3:27.  The tow heads through Eastchester Bay for the East River.  Throgs Neck Bridge is NOT a lift bridge.  If I’m counting right, the tow passes under another 11 bridges before reloading on the Arthur Kill.

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Thanks to American Petroleum & Transport and the crew of Diane B for helping with this story.  Thanks to Professional Mariner for printing my story and pictures.  Consider subscribing.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp, who places them online because I like the cheap big format afforded by electronic media.

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Graves of Arthur Kill

Click on image below to order your copy of Graves of Arthur Kill, by Gary Kane and Will Van Dorp. 3Fish Productions.

Seth Tane American Painting

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My Babylonian Captivity

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Tale of Two Marlins

Blue Marlin spent 600+ hours loading tugs and barges in NYC Sixth Boro. Click on image for presentation made to NY Ship Lore and Model Club, July 25, 2011.

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