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Archive for July, 2010

Karen and I have long wanted to circumnavigate Staten Island in Puffin. I’ve always been a bit daunted by the task: a long, narrow waterway; large commercial vessels; our small, slow boat. The day after City of Water Day, after checking out the new Willis Avenue Bridge, we headed for the Kill Van Kull, where we were greeted by the Charles D. McAllister, one of many vessels plying the waters between Staten Island and New Jersey that day:

Just past Snug Harbor we noticed this raised section of pipes on the Bayonne side and what appeared to be a marina beyond it:

Based on our charts and online research, we were not expecting to find a marina on this stretch of the kill, so we went in to investigate. It turned out to be the Atlas Yacht Club. An older gentleman was heading out in a small boat, and he intercepted us and firmly (but kindly) escorted us back to the main channel. All very suspicious, until we read this article from the New York Times. The Atlas Yacht Club was originally founded by squatters, and although today it is legit, its members shy away from publicity. Thomas Murphy has some great b&w photos of the club.

Back on the Staten Island side, we saw this unidentified Reinauer tug in one of Caddell’s dry docks:

There’s a great photo gallery on Caddell’s website.

Here’s the first bridge to cross (under). It’s the Bayonne Bridge, which Karen and I walked across in April 2009:

With a lot of traffic in the narrow channel on the south side of Shooter’s Island, and a very large automobile transport ship coming up behind us, we decided to take the channel to the north of Shooter’s Island. This brought us near Elizabeth, New Jersey, and this old building where Singer made sewing machines in the early 1900s:

More traffic. This is Dann Ocean Towing’s Ruby M:

This single bascule movable bridge has a large cement counterbalance (on the left):

Often the counterbalances are below the bridge, but this bridge is at water level so there’s no room.

Commerce on the kill—containers being loaded on the Duncan Island:

Two more bridges were passed under. The Goethals Bridge is in the foreground, and the Arthur Kill Railroad bridge (a vertical lift bridge) is behind:

This building on the New Jersey side once belonged to the General Aniline Works, a chemical plant that produced sulfuric and acetic acids as well as dyes:

This website has a lot of history and old photos of the company.

Thankfully this leviathan was moored for loading or unloading. The Atlantic Aquarius is 595 feet long:

The New York side of the Arthur Kill is where old ships go to die. A graveyard there contains the remains of numerous ships. This is what it looks like in Google Maps:

And this is what it looks like from the water:

The New Jersey side has its share of dead structures and boats:

How is it that these boats and pieces of infrastructure that were once vital to industry and commerce are just abandoned and left to decay?

This is the last bridge before exiting the kill and entering Raritan Bay—the Outerbridge Crossing:

At the tip of Staten Island we anchored and had lunch. We then continued around the point and followed the shore up to Great Kills Harbor. At the entrance to Great Kills it was just another day at the beach for these seagulls:

We left Great Kills Harbor and headed back to Brooklyn. But the NOAA weather radio had reports of severe thunderstorms moving into the area. We tried to beat the storm to Swinburne Island, a small artificial island in the lower bay, but the wind shifted so that we were broadside to the waves. We turned around and made for South Beach on Staten Island. Close by the beach the waves were smaller, and we anchored and rode out the rest of the storm. As the wind and rain let up, we weighed anchor and set our course for home. This was the view behind us toward the west, as the sky cleared and we approached Jamaica Bay:

All photos by Karen

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This past Sunday was the last day to see the new Willis Avenue Bridge resting on its barges at Weeks Marine in Bayonne. On Monday the bridge was towed across the harbor and up the Buttermilk Channel and East River to its final destination on the Harlem River.

Leaving the Liberty State Park anchorage Sunday morning, Karen and I headed for the Kill Van Kull, intent on circumnavigating Staten Island. But first we detoured to check out the new bridge:

A real bridge to nowhere:

This one shot shows the Willis Avenue Bridge, the skylines of Jersey City and Manhattan, and (very faintly) the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges:

And here you can see the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge off in the distance to the left of the cruise ship (click the photo for a larger version):

All photos by Karen

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July 24th was City of Water Day in New York Harbor, sponsored by the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance. This year’s event expanded beyond last year’s single venue of Governors Island to also include Atlantic Basin and Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn and Liberty State Park in Jersey City. Last year we made City of Water Day history by being the only non-human-powered recreational vessel to participate and dock at Governors Island (read about it here and here). This year we again took part, only we were not allowed to dock at Governors Island. (We didn’t take it personally. Well… not too personally.) We did get permission to tie up to the seawall at Liberty State Park, though, and that helped us feel like we were really participating. And we did get to visit some of the other venues, at least in passing.

First stop was Atlantic Basin, where PortSide NewYork‘s HQ, the Mary A. Whalen, is now berthed. Visiting for the day from its usual home on Manhattan’s west side was the steamship Lilac. Here’s Lilac tied up alongside the Whalen in an empty and quiet Atlantic Basin:

The m/v Cape Race was also visiting Brooklyn:

Cape Race was originally a deep sea trawler, built in 1963, and is now being converted into a “go anywhere in comfort expedition yacht.” The Cape Race website has lots of information and some amazing video of her in heavy seas.

Leaving Atlantic Basin, we passed north of Governors Island and caught a glimpse of the activity on shore. A quick trip across the harbor brought us between Ellis and Liberty islands on our way to Liberty State Park. Here’s the view back toward city:

And here’s Puffin tied up to the seawall at Liberty State Park:

The Hudson River sloop Clearwater took part in City of Water Day, too. Here she is making Puffin look tiny:

We had a lovely view of Lady Liberty’s backside from the park, a side of her not often seen by New Yorkers:

After the day’s activities wrapped up, we took Louis, one of the organizers from MWA, and George, a volunteer, for a quick circumnavigation of Liberty Island, which gave us another great view of Liberty’s aft section:

After dropping our passengers back at the park, we headed to the anchorage just beyond the park’s embayments for the night. This anchorage is quiet with good holding ground, and it’s well protected from wakes and most winds. We had it almost to ourselves:

We also had the unique opportunity to sleep within sight of both the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and the Willis Avenue Bridge, but more on that in another post.

The moon was very nearly full, and the night was hot and clear (until a quick-moving thunderstorm passed through around 1 in the morning):

Photos 1, 2, 3, and 7 by Karen; all others by Brian

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Here’s an upcoming event for those of you in the New York Harbor area: City of Water Day. On July 24, under the auspices of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, water lovers will converge on Liberty State Park, Governors Island, Atlantic Basin, and Brooklyn Bridge Park to celebrate the harbor. Activities will include music, movies, free boat tours, and paddling and rowing.

Click here for more information.

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As the brand new Willis Avenue Bridge makes its way down the Hudson from the Port of Coeymans it has passed under, or has yet to pass under, these bridges in order from north to south. (Just to confuse things, all views below are from the south.)

The Rip Van Winkle Bridge:

The Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge:

The Mid-Hudson Bridge (and on the far side of the bridge you can see the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park, formerly the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge):

The Newburgh-Beacon Bridge (which did not show up for its school picture).

The Bear Mountain Bridge:

The Tappan Zee Bridge:

And the George Washington Bridge:

All photos probably by Karen, except maybe the Bear Mountain Bridge (but I don’t really remember).

And here’s an update on the bridge’s progress from tomorrow’s (?!) New York Times.

Also, Cornell is not towing the bridge, but her owner, Matt Perricone, is working on the tug Margot, one of three boats assisting with the move.

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Thanks to Karen for the title!

This morning the brand new Willis Avenue Bridge began its trip from the Port of Coeymans, where it was built, down the Hudson. The 350-foot, 2700-ton bridge took 15 months to build and will replace the current Willis Avenue Bridge over the Harlem River, which has been in use since August 22, 1901. Details about the current bridge and the replacement project are on New York City’s Department of Transportation site.

Karen and I passed under the old bridge for the first time back in July 2008.

The new span was loaded onto barges this morning and will head for Bayonne, New Jersey, before finally being towed to the Harlem River. It looks like the tugboat Cornell has the honor of towing the barges. (See pictures on Cornell‘s Facebook page.)

If you’re planning to travel on the Hudson this week, you should be aware of these scheduled river closings and restrictions to travel. The East and Harlem rivers will also be subject to closings as the bridge makes its way up the Buttermilk Channel to its final destination.

If you want to see the bridge as it comes to New York, it should be near the George Washington Bridge around 3:00 a.m. on July 14 and at the Holland Tunnel ventilator tower around 4:15 a.m. The bridge should then transit the Buttermilk around 11:00 a.m. and head up the East River. (UPDATE: The “East and Harlem rivers” link above indicates the barge will be moved up the East River on the 14th, but it will not be moved until just before installation in August.) The new bridge will be installed on August 2, and the old bridge will be removed on September 20.

In 2005, New York City put the current bridge up for sale for $1 with free delivery within 15 miles, on the condition that the buyer keep it as a bridge and not scrap it. No one bought it, and the bridge will be demolished, with a piece kept as a monument in Harlem River Park.

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We spent July 4th in Portland, Maine, listening to the Portland Symphony and watching fireworks from the Eastern Promenade.

But on July 3rd, we were in Gloucester, Massachusetts, for the annual Fishtown Horribles Parade. According to the repository of all true facts, parades of horribles were common Independence Day celebrations in the 19th century and continue to be so in some towns in New England. Well, that’s definitely true in Gloucester. There were not too many “horribles” (my father did capture this one), but people put together some interesting floats (often sponsored by a local business), some businesses had their own floats, and some people seemed to put something together and march simply for the joy of being in the parade. Everybody watching seemed to know everybody marching and vice-versa. Karen remarked that it had the homey (not “homie” — more on that below) feel of a small town, even though Gloucester’s not that small.

The waterfront was bedecked with flags. If you look closely you can see the Man at the Wheel in the center:

Plenty of small boats, some being towed and some self-propelled:

This girl really got into the spirit:

The Gorton’s fisherman put in an appearance:

And there was a small mermaid. Maybe next year she’ll come to Coney Island!

And finally, Homie the seagull, GoodMorningGloucester‘s mascot:

Followed by Joey, the man behind Homie (literally) and the driving force behind GoodMorningGloucester:

GMG has many more pictures from the parade.

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