Archive for the ‘opinion’ Category
It’s been a couple of years since I was working on a conventional tug. I’ve been in the ATB world up to my eyeballs for the last eight years and I look at these temporary duty assignments with a mixed view. Although I love getting back to basics and exercising my skill sets, nothing grates on me worse than having my boat in the yard and me not being there to get the things I need done “my way”.
That said, I can’t worry about two boats at a time so the focus is presently on my current assignment, the tug Franklin Reinauer. So named for one of our late founding fathers and built for the company in 1980 or so. Not a large tug by today’s standards but still a little bulldog of a boat. She’s equipped with a nice little tow winch and a decent amount of horsepower. A five man crew and enough work to keep time flying by at a respectable rate. With quarters a lot tighter than those on the Nicole, she’s kinda tiny really but comfortable in a cozy kind of way. Really cozy once you get in the upper house, basically a box on a stick.
Not so long ago she was one of the coast boats. Making runs anywhere and everywhere towing up to 70,000 bbl barges.
The work is now mostly assist work with an occasional barge delivery in either Newtown Creek, Jamaica Bay or Sewaren NJ. We made a trip to each during my few days aboard with a surprise or two.
Kinda sad really. The quintessential American icon got little if any press attention. No big parade of tall ships, no speeches of note. Just a beautiful display (presumably put on by the Grucci family, I’m not sure if it was their work).
The one thing that matters (to me anyway), I was there. 25 years ago I was there for her 100th. Doesn’t seem like it, but alas it’s true. Only difference was then I was towing the fireworks and got THE front row seat. Even better, my family was aboard for the night’s events and we won’t ever look at fireworks the same way.
I submit this little bit of video taken from a vantage afforded by my spot in Bay Ridge Anchorage that night and a new cell phone that shoots amazing video. (check out the difference in quality starting at marker 00:00:29)
Happy Birthday Lady Liberty, it was a grand.
On September 11th 2011 I didn’t tune in for the network “memorials” to drag my soul through it all over again. It’s enough to have lived that day once.
I mourn the losses my friends and neighbors suffered and the harm it has done to my own family.
I am pissed that we’ve spent so much of our time and a trillion or more dollars so many thousands of miles from our shores chasing human garbage.
I am saddened by the losses our armed forces and their families continue to suffer in the name of National Security, I honor their sacrifices. I can’t thank them enough.
I remember when the towers were nearly complete. I watched from my hometown on Raritan Bay as they reached their apex. They were readily apparent on the horizon.
Later on as a young deckhand, I helped deliver the construction materials that would become Battery Park City.
I clearly remember the vista the observation deck afforded me, my wife and my young daughter that evening in October 1984 when it was so clear at dusk you could almost see forever. The city scape looked like a gilded scale model.
I was part of the Statue of Liberty 100th Anniversary Celebration in 1987 and had the duty of towing one of the many firework barges the Grucci Family had set up for an unbelieveable show. I’m spoiled on fireworks forever. I remember how during the show the reports from the shells echoed in and around the towers as we held station at the foot of the South Tower .
I remember where I was when the unimaginable occurred. My “where was I” story isn’t worth telling compared to so many others.
I’m still in awe of how the New York Maritime community was able to evacuate more than 500,000 people in about nine hours from lower Manhattan. It’s amazing how so many people were taken to safety in such a short time. (During WW2, the Dunkirk Boat lift took nine days to move over 338,000 troops from the coast of France.)
No I didn’t need to watch it happen again, I haven’t forgotten.
My last piece was generated from a rant I expressed in my pilothouse on my last trip down the East River heading for an anchorage in New York’s Bay Ridge Anchorage 21B. Generally, my postings originate as rants that are rendered raw and then tempered with a good bit of editing for language and content. I don’t just go off and shoot from the lip. Usually.
Of course, my professional perspective is what I draw on and my opinion is given full sway, it’s my blog after all. But since my last post I’ve had some feedback that puts a neat spin on the ultimate aim of the article. Education, for me as well as others.
A rather brave young woman decided to upbraid me for what she believed were insults to the Kayaking Community. She was right on the money on some points and I give credit where it’s due. She provided a couple of links I had not previously seen and found them to be really thoughtful and comprehensive in their advice on mixing recreational traffic with commercial vessels here in New York.
So in the interest of passing along the lesson of “you’re never too old to learn”, I wanted to recognize these organizations for working to make everyone safer in the pursuit of their particular vision of happiness.
The first one I’d like to share is one that includes enough information to rate as a must read for any recreational boater seeking to play on the waters of New York Harbor, or any busy waterway for that matter.
I Boat NY Harbor The content of this site warms this lil’ old tugboatman’s heart. It’s comprehensive, articulate and clear and I ‘m glad someone has thought to do such a thorough job. Kudos.
Safe Harbor.US Listing educational videos and notices of the events taking place in the harbor and good concise articles relating to interacting and avoiding close encounters with the behemoths that ply the waters of N.Y. Harbor. The video catalog alone is worth a click.
I think it bears mentioning that the State of New York doesn’t recognize paddled craft as “vessels” subject to the rules as we understand them, that’s a big WTF as far as I’m concerned. This story just boggles the mind.
Everyone on the water has to have an understanding as to their responsibility when they take to the water for any reason.
And for now I’ll close with a thank you for the comments I’ve received. Be safe.
Who’s the mental midgit that came up with the idea of kayak tours of the East River’s waterfront? There’s a growing trend of flotillas of multi-colored kayaks and canoes in all the wrong places in the recent past. Not long ago I read an article somewhere extolling the beauty of the New York skyline from a kayak and all I could think was, “Hey Jackass, that’s what the Circle Line boats are for”. Kayaks aren’t meant for a commercial waterway.
A quick Google search reveals quite a few sites for kayaking in the New York City area. I visited a few of these sites and saw little in the way of educating kayakers to the danger of playing in the midst of commercial traffic, although to their credit they do keep novices quarantined in protected coves or basins to start. These stalwart if misguided souls that venture into open water relate how awestruck they are by the experience of New York Harbor kayaking, but I don’t think they’ve given serious thought to the environment they’ve entered. We’re just a quaint backdrop to their vistas. Awestruck is what they will be when they’re caught in a back eddy off Hallet’s Point and I come around the corner in a full slide…but I don’t think the word can begin to describe the feeling they’ll have.
The sites I visited expressed no caveats or understanding of how dangerous we are to them. Yeah I get that the waterways are public, but do you really think that a ship is going to be able to wait for your pals to catch up to the group?
With kayaks paddling along in the East River, jet skis blasting by with more than two riders, water skiing on the sea plane approaches off 23rd St on the East River, NY., fishing in the channel, chasing tugboat wakes on jet skis, it’s going to get real ugly. It all adds up to a situation where recreational boaters end up in the midst of heavy commercial traffic and they just don’t get it.
So here it is, the 4th of July weekend and I’m watching kayaks paddling up the East River off the Brooklyn piers and along the ferry slips of Lower Manhattan as I make my way to Bay Ridge Anchorage. I mean really, kayaking on the East River! C’mon already, you’re so low to the water that you’re barely visible to traffic at half a mile. With no less than a dozen ferries and tows tossing wakes and flying by at a fair clip a disaster is only a matter of time. God help you when you’ve finally figured out why you made such good time up the river only to find yourself paddling you ass off against the current to get back to your expensive SUV before dark. Are you having fun now?
Every day during the recreational season boaters submit themselves to potentially fatal exposures and are completely oblivious to it. Thousands of pleasure seekers take to the water and expect their days to be just like the catalog pictures they perused before they bought their boat. Carefree and sunny days afloat without a care in the world, just bring enough sunscreen, granola bars and water. No concern for proper radio etiquette or the correct channel to call for a radio check…jeez if they even have a radio. Hell, most don’t understand a GPS unit enough to relay their position when they do get in trouble. Kayaks? They may have a flashlight or even a small strobe, riiiight….another bouncing glittering light lost in the city’s skyline.
There’s an urgent need to educate the recreational boater and identify the issues that commercial traffic faces in everyday operations and that information should be spread far and wide with notices of “no-play-zones” enforced to minimize the dangers the recreational community is up against by being on the water along with the commercial community.
I submit that these enterprises should at least make an effort to have their presence announced or perhaps provide some sort of radio equipped motor escort on their little jaunts. At least there would be someone to talk to.
For the life of me, I can’t seem to wrap my head around this kind of nonsense of playing in a commercial waterway, you might as well be playing hopscotch in the truck lanes on the New Jersey Turnpike.
Here’s an offer, if you or your friends are part of this madness, drop me a line. I’d be willing to address the issue of education with your group (for carfare and lunch, gratuities will be accepted). You’ll be safer for it and so will I.