Tuesday, September 06, 2011
Off To The Races!
Pier 83! 8:45 am, Monday, Sept. 5th.
Our chariot awaits! Boy, it has been a LOOOONG time since I was on a Circle Line boat.
9:00 am. All aboard!
It was fun listening to the banter among the crew - they sounded like they were almost as psyched about getting to work the tugboat race cruise as we were to be passengers on their boat. Some of the deckhands on the other boats who were just getting ready to go do their six-gazillionth trip around Manhattan sounded a little wistful when our crew told them where we were off to!
Northbound on North River. The contestants have just begun their post parade from the Intrepid in the background. The bargelike boat with a derrick on it is the Army Corp of Engineers harbor cleanup vessel Driftmaster - for a little while we were speculating on whether they'd decided to go head-to-head with the tugs in the race, but it turned out that they were there to mark the finish. A sailboat wanders onto what will, in twenty minutes or so, be the last place in the area that a small craft would want to be.
Fortunately for them, there were plenty of volunteers from the local Coast Guard Auxiliary on duty, watching to make sure no unwary passers-by got trapped in the coming stampede. Here comes one of the CGAux vessels to let the sailors know.
Circle Line Manhattan has now pulled in closer to the parade. Here are four of the nine contenders passing Riverside South (aka "Trump Place"). The starting line was just at the north end of this development, around 70th street.
Arriving at the starting line, the racers begin to turn back to the south. I think the northbound post parade took about half an hour. The southbound run back to Pier 84 (at West 44th Street) will go a LOT faster!
The committee boat stands by to start the race. Hooray for the committee boat!
On your mark...get set...five, four, three, two, one...
And with a great and gleeful blowing of horns (in which our Circle Line captain gleefully joins), THEY'RE OFF!
Takes these big guys a little time to get up to speed...
but gradually the white foam piles higher and higher, and the field begins to spread.
By around 60th street, the tugs have gotten up a good head of steam - look at the foam flying around those broad bows now as the three biggest tugs pull away. That's K-Sea's Ross Sea with the tall pilothouse in front, with McAllister's Maurinia III just nosing into second and Vane Brothers' Quantico Creek just behind. If I've read their specs correctly, that's a stampede of around 10,000 horses going on if you combine the three of them. MIGHTY impressive to watch them getting to cut loose and go like this!
By the way, Tugster Will explained to us later that the race is handicapped so that the Growler, the US Merchant Marine Academy's handsome vintage 65-foot ex-USCG yard tug, has got just as good a shot at winning as these big modern tugs - 1st, 2nd and 3rd on the course doesn't really mean anything, it's just all about pushing your boat as fast as it can go without going beyond that (there was at least one tug that pushed it too hard in a past race and had to be towed home themselves).
Fireboat Three Forty Three (named after the number of firefighters lost on September 11, 2001) begins a water display at the finish line.
The leaders now passing the blocks in the mid-50's - the smaller tugs charging hard past the sanitation piers at 58th and 59th street.
Leaders pass the cruise ship terminals. I wonder if the captain and crew on the tug with the fuel barge are wishing they could've joined in, or if they're just enjoying getting a show with their good day's work?
Nearing the finish line - here's a nicer shot of Three Forty Three. It was a nice morning, but a bit hazy, as I'm sure you noticed.
Frontrunners approach the finish line --
and then they disappear behind the sheets of spray.
Here comes the rest of the fleet!
And here come the big tugs working their way back north. The pier with all the garage doors that's between the northbound pair and the southbound one (Pegasus, I think - not the 1907 one I have on my sidebar and am so fond of, but another nice old tug that shares the name) is at 34th street - took the big guys somewhere close to ten blocks to stop! This is why smart recreational boaters don't mess around with crossing in front of these guys...it's not that they want to run us over, it's just that there's these laws of physics.
Hey, it's the Old Salt again!
The fleet reconvenes at Pier 84 after another great, great, Great North River Tugboat Race. I still don't know who, but I think Tugster's got it right when he says,
"my bias says everyone who participated or spectated–even before hurrying to baseball, tennis, picnicking, or what have you– won."
Oh...yeah...and that WAS a video camera the Old Salt was wielding in both of today's posts. So now that you've gone all the way through my writeup with pictures -
Yes! NOW you may go watch the video!
Next Up: Pushy, Pushy! and, The Scenes of Carnage Which The Tugster Was Kind Enough To Spare You But I, Alas, Am Not! MUAHAHAHAAAAA!
Thanks again to everyone Working Harbor Committee for making this race happen. What a wonderful way to celebrate Labor Day in New York City!