Posts Tagged ‘hudson river’

vermont sail freight

In a bit of a departure from the usual fare here on A Movable Bridge, I’d like to draw your attention to the Vermont Sail Freight Project.

Erik Andrus of Ferrisburgh, Vermont, has developed this demonstration project to show how sailing vessels can be used to deliver non-perishable Vermont-produced foods to markets in the Lower Hudson Valley and New York City. He and a bunch of volunteers are currently at work building the boat, whose design is based on that of Thames River sailing barges.

As of this morning they had received $14,338 in pledges toward the $15,000 goal on Kickstarter. There are nine days left in which to pledge. Click here to learn about the project on Kickstarter and to make a pledge.

For full information about the project, visit the Vermont Sail Freight Project website.


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Those of us who spend time on or near the water are quite familiar with the amazing variety of tugboats. Most are quite large, but sometimes you need something small to get the job done. Here are some of the smaller boats I’ve seen around.

Herbert P. Brake at the entrance to the Gowanus Canal
Bosco from Boston near Troy, NY
Harbor II at work in Erie Basin
An unidentified boat in the Delaware at Marcus Hook, PA

And a personal favorite:

Brian in Gloucester, MA

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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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World’s End is the third novel by T. Coraghessan (now T.C.) Boyle, published in 1987. The title refers to a point on the Hudson River just above West Point, which we passed on our trip last July. Very briefly (because it’s hard to do justice to the plot in a short space) it’s the story of three families — the Van Brunts, the Van Warts, and the Mohonks — in the late 1600s, 1949, and 1968. Most of the action takes place in the Hudson Valley, near the fictitious town of Peterskill (which bears a remarkable resemblance to the actual town of Peekskill). Boyle assembled his book non-chronologically, jumping back and forth in history, which allows us to experience New York when it was a Dutch (and then English) colony, to be there for the riots at the Paul Robeson concert, and to enjoy the parallel histories the characters experience.

There’s just enough magic (or magical, if you prefer) realism to make you grin when you come across it (if you like that kind of stuff), but not so much that you groan and wonder if you’re reading Gabriel García Márquez by accident. I don’t want to call World’s End a sprawling epic, because I don’t want to frighten potential readers, but it is a sprawling epic (well, epic in scope, not in size). It has everything: the weight of history, fate and destiny, familial expectations and obligations, murky moral choices, tragedy, and even a literary version of the Hudson River sloop Clearwater.

Let the first sentence be your invitation:

On the day he lost his right foot, Walter Van Brunt had been haunted, however haphazardly, by ghosts of the past.

Open the door and enter this world that is both familiar and exotic.

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With the season’s first snow yesterday, I found myself thinking back to this past summer’s amazing boat trip up the Hudson. Looking through pictures from that trip, I found this one of the full moon, taken at Catskill Marina. I’ve put it here since I can’t think of anything else to do with it.

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Today Karen, the kids, and I along with our friends Elisa and Jon took a tour of Bannerman’s Island. Also known as Pollepel Island, it was bought by Francis Bannerman VI in 1900. Here he built an arsenal to house his inventory of military surplus and also a residence for his family. Last winter I took some pictures of the island and its ruins, and we passed by on our trip up the river in July, but this was the first time we actually set foot on the island.

The coolest thing about the tour was that we had to wear hard hats:


This warning sign was also cool, if a little scary:


Bannerman was not an architect, but he was rich, so he designed the castle himself, taking design elements from various castles he had seen:



He also invented a coat-of-arms for himself and a Latin motto, which used to appear over the entry:


Bannerman was fond of carving words in cement. These are the steps that lead down to Wee Bay on the south side of the island:


Also on the south side are the ruins of the Bannerman family residence:


This tower:


reminds me of this painting:


The image carved here refers to the story (probably false) that Bannerman told about how his ancestor carried the banner of Scotland back in the days of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce and was called the “banner man.” Hence the name.


Here’s one last view of the arsenal as we boarded the boat back to Beacon:


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Here are some more pictures from our July trip up the Hudson River. There are seven lighthouses on the river; presented here are six of them. Do you know which one is missing? Here they are, from south to north.

First is the Little Red Lighthouse (nestled beneath the Great Gray Bridge). This tower’s light was first lit in 1895.


Next up is the Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse, formerly known as the Tarrytown Lighthouse or the Kingsland Point Lighthouse. It was first lit in 1883. (This was taken on a slightly rough day, and we didn’t get too close; we were more interested in getting to that day’s stopping place—Alpine Boat Basin.)


Farther up the river is the Esopus Meadows Lighthouse. The first lighting of the current tower was in 1872. Note the guys in orange painting the building. They were a work crew from some prison (one of the sweeter gigs, I would think). You can see the guard just to the right of the building. He was watching very carefully as we came by and took pictures; he really had no idea what a lousy getaway vessel Puffin would make!


The Rondout Lighthouse is just outside Kingston, NY, the first capital of New York State. The first lighthouse here was built in 1838, but the current building dates from 1915. The Hudson River Maritime Museum runs tours out to this one.


The really cool thing about the Saugerties Lighthouse is that you can stay in their bed and breakfast (but you have to make your reservations way in advance). The first lighting of this tower was in 1869.


The northernmost lighthouse on the Hudson is the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse. This is the original building on this site. It was built and first lit in 1874.


For more information on these lighthouses (and to discover which one is missing from these photos), check out the Hudson River Lighthouse Coalition.

All photos, except the first one, by Karen

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We survived our night at the Alpine Boat Basin. In fact, once it was nearly high tide and I realized our lines were set well, and when it became obvious that the predicted horrible thunderstorm was only going to bring a lot of rain and no thunder, we ended up having one of the best nights. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to get a lot of sleep, as I watched the tide come in and the planks to Puffin‘s starboard were submerged, but my fears were unfounded.


Alpine does have this going for it: at $1/foot it is the cheapest place to stay along the whole Hudson River (except for Waterford, which is free).

Heading down the Hudson we met the North River, one of the Department of Environmental Protection‘s sludge vessels:


This was an appropriate end to our river cruise, as the Hudson River was once called the North River (and still is by today’s commercial captains).

We then took the Buttermilk Channel around Governors Island and went over to see if Carolina was around on PortSide NewYork‘s headquarters, the Mary A. Whalen:

whalen_smShe wasn’t.

Entering the home stretch in Jamaica Bay, we spotted Frogma out for a paddle:


In all the time we’ve been boating in Jamaica Bay, this was the first time we met on the water. There she goes, off toward the Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge:


All in all, it was an amazing trip. Karen and I both feel a much stronger connection to the river. It is one thing to drive up the Thruway or take the train to Albany; it is altogether a different thing to spend a week on the water, rarely going more than 8 m.p.h., spending almost no time on land, and not straying more than a mile from the river’s shores.

Top 2 photos by Brian; the other 3 by Karen

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One of the reasons we hung out at Half Moon Bay was because a photographer from Northeast Boating was coming to take pictures, and we were hoping he would put Puffin in the magazine. The photographer arrived and walked past us with barely a glance in our direction, so we decided to leave.

Conditions in Haverstraw Bay were rougher than yesterday — south winds at 15-20 knots, with 2- to 3-foot waves (some perhaps 4 feet). It was a very bumpy trip, and we were glad to arrive at the Alpine Boat Basin in New Jersey. Glad, that is, until we discovered that Alpine is an old style marina with fixed, rather than floating, docks. Puffin is in a slip that is 41 feet long and 16 feet wide. It took us two hours to get dock lines set up in a way that will allow us to rise and fall with the tide without either hanging from our lines or floating all over the slip. Never again will we take for granted the convenience of floating docks.

Other than that, Alpine is in an amazing spot at the base of the Palisades, and now that we have the lines set it is fairly comfortable.

photo 071109 002

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