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By 3:00 pm, the deck of Wards Island was at capacity with buoys. It was time to head back west to a scow on the wall in Brewerton, an accidental destination for
Champlain almost exactly 400 years ago. Champlain was a gallivanter extraordinaire, crossing the Atlantic about 25 times in those days, and a guy even better at negotiation and diplomacy than he was at traveling. But I digress.
Since there are two bridges between the Lake and the scow, the boom had been lowered and now it’s raised for the job. Attached to the scow is the larger tender known not by a number but as Dana.
It’s clearly November when 4:30 looks like this.
Boom is lowered for the several miles back to Lock 23, where a surprise
awaits me. I had assumed that only the stern propellor on Wards Island was operational, but after Syracuse uncoupled and we started the rotation to tie up,
there was prop wash from under the bow, just as you would expect from a double-ender ferry.
In order to spin the boat 180 degrees without having to make a 36-point turn, Syracuse put some pressure on the bow,
and by 5:40 we were all fast. Then it was time to
put the power of Wards Island to sleep. Below deck there were a bunch more surprises, like these port lights as seen from within and the rivets.
And two spacious accommodations, one on each side of the vessel.
Two engines, although only the Cat D353 Series E runs.
A Frankenstein knife switch board.
And mentioned in this post last year, Wards Island began life as a ferry in 1929, looking like her twin . . . Tenkenas, there were more surprises like
this speaking tube and behind it,
this brass builders plate.
Many thanks to the NYS Canal Corp and its floating plant for permission to do this series.
Unrelated and sad news: I learned yesterday that John Skelson has passed. RIP, John. Click here for some of the many posts I credited to him in the past years.
These photos were taken November 16, 2015, with temperatures in the 50s and no wind. Obviously, mid-November is not always so ideal for this operation. In fact, photos on the boat showed this work being done in 1992, with buoys heavily ice and snow covered.
Here one crewman–let’s call him the signaler– radios the tug instructions for the approach to the buoy.
Once within two yards of so, another crewman captures the buoy with a boat hook.
Besides the VHF, the signaler uses hand signals for the crane operator, who hoists the hooked buoy as high as a connector link, which gets cleated to the boat while
the cotter pin connected to the shackle gets cut.
The crane operator relies entirely on signals from the signaler.
Once the summer buoy is lifted away, the anchor chain is attached to the spar buoy, which is then
pushed overboard, where it’ll stay until the reverse process in the spring.
Meanwhile, the beacon is removed from each buoy.
Oneida Lake has floating and fixed nav aids. This is Messenger Shoals, a fixed nav aid on a concrete island poured into sheet piling. To the left of the aid in Blind Island, and as little as a foot of water.
The aid here–113–is called a cabinet.
The large size–about 6′ high–used to hold batteries.
The entire cabinet is lifted off for the winter.
On the north side of the lake is a village called Cleveland, once important for supplying passing commercial canal traffic and glass making. Now it may go out of existence.
When the foredeck is full and late autumn sun starts to go down, we headed to the west side of the lake to offload today’s work and prep the boat for tomorrow.
And that will be tomorrow’s post.
Again, many thanks to NYS Canal Corp for permission to do this story and to the crews of Wards Island and Syracuse for helping me out.
At the end of the Oneida Lake series, you’ll see why this could also be called “second lives 15 part b.”
Technically, this post starts out early morning in Clay, NY, with tug Syracuse and crane ship Wards Island tied to the east end of Lock 23.
Wards Island–and her sister ship Tenkenas–were built in 1929 by Electric Boat of Groton CT. Later in the series I’ll show you the brass builder’s plate. By 1937, both were listed as abandoned. For some of the history of intervening years, check out A Long Haul starting on p. 128.
Here Syracuse pushes Wards Island under the rail bridge just west of Route 11 heading for the lake. A key to the location is the Brewerton Range Rear lighthouse, visible in the trees along the right side margin of the photo.
The lake is unusually glassy for November and the fall task of replacing the summer navigation buoys with winter “placeholder” spar buoys, seen here below between the crane boom and the spud. Wards Island is fully self-propelled in the manner you’d expect of a former double-ender ferry, just very slow, a time waste on a large lake like Oneida. Click here for info on tug and barge wrecks in the lake.
Here’s the view through the controls of the crane looking toward the east end of the lake.
To the right you see the Verona Beach Lighthouse, and buoy 106 is in sight to the left of the hook.
The tow is maneuvered into position and a crewman captures the buoy with the boat hook.
The crew make the connection and 106 gets raised. In part b and c of this series, I’ll show the crew actions step by step.
Since no spar buoy replaces 106, anchor and all are brought up. In the distance to the left you can see the Route 13 bridge between Verona and Sylvan Beach. Click here for one of many posts I did in 2014 with photos from near the Route 13 bridge.
Buoy 107 is next on the boat, and
the first spar buoy goes in, anchored to mark the spot.
By 1130, we’re approaching buoy 109.
The crewman with the yellow sweatshirt is using a tool to hook between the buoy lift point and the crane hook.
Once a buoy is on the boat, the flashing beacon is removed and
stowed in a locker.
All photos by Will Van Dorp. More of Oneida Lake tomorrow.
Many thanks to the NYS Canal Corporation for granting permission to photograph the work of Wards Island.
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.
DB here expands to “derrick boat, not a term that had been in my vocabulary before this season. Why DB #4 has been dubbed “the chief” I don’t know.
The next two photos show DB #4 eastbound near Schenectady a few days ago, pushed by Grand Erie and
boom resting on a scow.
Here’s the same derrick boat working on reinforcing a canal wall east of Herkimer back in August. The white tour vessel is Lil Diamond III operated by Erie Canal Cruises Herkimer.
In late September, here was DB 2A working near Newark. Note the elbow boom. Tug Syracuse is standing by with the scows.
Here’s another shot of those units. I’m not sure how the nomenclature makes this DB 2A.
Here’s DB 13 at the Genesee Crossing, i. e., the point where the Erie Canal and the Genesee make an X. Standing by here is Tender #9. I’m planning an encyclopedia of canal tenders soon.
I don’t know how many other functioning derrick boats work the Canal. One non-functioning one is here in Oswego.
Here’s what the sign out front says. I’m wondering if the other derrick boats above date from the same era.
Two shore mounted derricks are this one in Fonda and
this one at the junction lock in New London NY . . between Rome and Syracuse.
All photos by Will Van Dorp.
Here’s a view from the oldest of the fleet–Urger–heading through the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge.
Grand Erie and Tender 4 (?) heading west almost three weeks ago.
SPS 54 (?) tied up above lock 1 of the Cayuga-Seneca Canal. By the way . . . SPS expands to “self-propelled scow.”
Earlier this week, Urger meets Grand Erie near Clyde.
a derrick boat and a tender.
Syracuse, a heavily loaded scow, and a derrick boat.
And finally . . . can you tell by the foliage color? Urger and buoy boat 109 with external fuel tanks in late August.
All photos by Will Van Dorp, who recently with one erroneous click, lost about 200 photos. Ouch and we move on.
. . . with some digressions . . . . The photo below of the procession leading to the Roundup comes from Jeff Anzevino.
Digress to the left . . . on the Troy (Lansingburgh) side through the trees is Melville Park and this sign and
this house. If you’re looking for a good read about Melville’s later life on the waters off Lower Manhattan, check out this Frederick Busch historical novel.
Here’s another shot by Jeff, taken from the 112th Street Bridge. You might recognize the crewman standing beside the wheelhouse port side. There are many other posts with photos from Jeff, such as this one.
From Jason LaDue . . a photo of tender (?) Oneida taken in 2001. Anyone know the disposition of Oneida? Click here for some previous photos from Jason.
And finally, from Fred tug44 . . . locking through E2 . . . right behind us. I feel grateful to have an occasional view of self to post here. Some of you have seen some of these on Facebook.
Thanks to Jeff, Jason, Bob, and Fred for photos here.
First, thanks to Andrea of I love upstate New York for use of this photo of the Oswego Harborfest fireworks.
The tug visible though is NOT Syracuse. It’s Nash, which I’ve previously written about here. Syracuse is somewhere in the darkness beyond Nash.
The fireworks barges would not have been in position without Syracuse, here seen at launch over 80 years ago.
Today she’s just a tug, not an antique vessel. She just works; she doesn’t demonstrate working.
New York colors as seen in darkness and
Notie the logo on the t-shirt of the gentleman to the left . . .the same company that does the Macy’s July 4 show!!
And on the lighthouse . . . a local expression of thanks.
Again, thanks to Andrea for use of that top photo; all others by Will Van Dorp.
I‘m happy to report that I’ll have wifi for the next few nights. And although I could put these photos together in twos and threes, I’m sharing the better part of a dozen here, all taken in the past 10 days on the canals. Notable vessels pictured are Urger, Syracuse, Grand Erie, and a whole bunch of dredge tenders, along with a dredge and a self-propelled scow . . . or SPS. Enjoy.