It’s good to be back in NY, back to tugboats and the working harbor. The highlight of the trip was the arrival of the US Army Corps of Engineers “Side Cast Dredge, Merrett”.

She will be dredging the ferry lanes between Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island, as they have filled in with sand from storms, causing the ferries to make a long roundabout trip between the islands.

Back in NY Harbor, a quiet day on the water, with a couple of photos from the SI Ferry.

Dredge “Merrett” arriving in Hatteras Harbor, North Carolina. Photo by John Skelson.

Merrett. Photo by John Skelson

Merrett out for a days’ dredging. Photo by John Skelson

Stormy Petrel going fishing. Photo by John Skelson

Ferry “Neuce” named for a river in North Carolina. Photo by John Skelson

Back in NY, Henry Marine’s tug Pelham with a “Spud Barge” On the Hip. Photo by John Skelson

Barbara McAllister in the Upper Bay. Photo by John Skelson

Clipper City out for a sunset cruise. Photo by John Skelson

My photography exhibit “Tugboats, Workhorses of NY Harbor” on the Historic Lighthouse tender “Lilac” has been extended through the end of August. Hours are Thursday 4-7PM and Saturday and Sunday 2-7PM. Pier 25.

Happy Ship Spotting… John Skelson

All photos by John Skelson, generously shared with the Working Harbor Committee

Colonial-era ship timbers buried in the mud, stopped construction at the World Trade Center site on the morning of July 13, 2010. Photo courtesy Lamont-Doherty.

Do you remember when the timbers of an ancient ship were found beneath the World Trade Center site, near where the Twin Towers once stood?

Archeologists whisked away the mud-encrusted wood, and after 4 years of intensive study have determined the ships origin. [Lamont-Doherty]

A team of archeologists with New York-based AKRF cataloged each timber and artifact before hauling the pieces off site. Photo courtesy Lamont-Doherty.

Tree ring analysis of the white oak frame timbers show the vessel was built in or around 1773 in a Philadelphia shipyard.

Detail of north elevation of Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall), from 1752 map of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Image: Library of Congress via wikipedia

What’s more, the white oak used in the mystery ships timbers came from the same old growth forest in the Philadelphia area as wood used to build Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, built between 1732 -1753, where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were signed.

The Hickory ships keel told scientists the ship was probably built in the northeastern United States. Photo courtesy of Lamont-Doherty.

The ship’s keel, made of hickory, was the first breakthrough. Hickory had disappeared from Europe thousands of years before the Colonial-era which indicated that the ship had most likely been built in the northeastern United States.

The entire ship was scanned before its removal to create a precise record of where each of its pieces were originally found. Image: Corinthian Data Capture LLC via Lamont-Doherty.

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory | Columbia University: In a study now out in the journal Tree Ring Research, the scientists say that an old growth forest in the Philadelphia area supplied the white oak used in the ship’s frame, and that the trees were probably cut in 1773 or so—a few years before the bloody war that established America’s independence from Britain.

Well-defined growth rings in the white oak in the ship’s frame. In dry years trees form tighter rings, in wet years, wider rings, creating a record of the climate in which the trees lived. Photo courtesy Lamont-Doherty

As trees grow, they record the climate in which they lived, putting on tighter rings in dry years and wider rings in wet years. In the process, a record of the region’s climate is created, allowing scientists to see how Philadelphia’s climate differed hundreds of years ago from say, New York’s Hudson Valley. The climate fingerprint also serves as a kind of birth certificate, telling scientists where pieces of wood originated.

Archeologists identified the ship a Hudson River Sloop much like Pete Seeger’s Clearwater. Photo by Anthony Pepitone via Lamont-Doherty

The ship itself has been tentatively identified as a Hudson River Sloop, designed by the Dutch to carry passengers and cargo over shallow, rocky water. It was likely built in Philadelphia, a center for ship-building in Colonial times.

Read more of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory | Columbia University report here…

by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee.

Moran tug Cape Cod and the Bayonne Bridge. Photo by John Skelson

The Port Authority has announced that the Bayonne Bridge will be closed to vehicle traffic for the next 3 weekends.

Tight squeeze. Photo by John Skelson

Starting this Friday at midnight and lasting through Sunday at 4 p.m., the bridge roadway will close for the next 3 consecutive weekends – August 1-3, August 8-10 and August 15-17.

Bayonne Bridge. Photo by John Skelson

The closure is necessary to conduct work on the Bayonne Bridge “Raise the Roadway” project – allowing for the safe removal of portions the bridge structure, subsequent reinforcement of the span and support towers, as well as the safe lifting of huge sections of steel and concrete onto the bridge.

Should be quite a sight!

Maryland navigating Stolt Effort under the Bayonne Bridge. Photo by John Skelson

More weekend closures are expected as the project progresses. To get the latest, register for Bridge and Tunnel Alerts at, call 511 or visit or for updates on traffic conditions.

I am going to miss this spectacular view. Photo by John Skelson

The $1.3 billion Bayonne Bridge project will lift the bridge span 64 feet to allow the larger post-Panamax ships to enter our port. Read the complete Port Authority Press Release here…

by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee. All photos by John Skelson, generously shared with the Working Harbor Committee

Photo Credit Victoria Johnson via New York Daily News

You’ve seen them lining the piers and waterfronts all over our fair harbor, standing for hours with their buckets and lures. Fishermen… there are loads of them here in the city. Question is, do they eat what they reap from the waters around New York City and is it safe to?

Fishermen in the area say it depends where you’re casting your lines. Each angler will claim their spot to be clean. [New York Daily News]

Photo Credit Tequila Minsky via The Villager

New York Daily News: Some eat their catch from Jamaica Bay but turn their noses up at shad from the Hudson, due to the GE plants that left polluting PCBs in the banks further up.

Photo via

Others enjoy the piers at Red Hook but consider that stream of water polluted when it becomes the East River, due to the effluence from Manhattan. With the water no longer shiny with oil, or filled with needles and condoms, more fishermen have joined the conversation.

Photo Credit Heuichul Kim via The New York Sun

These days, after decades of cleaning efforts, the city is covered in fishing spots. A culture of bait shops and lure crafters has arisen to take advantage of the cleaner waters.

Photo Credit Passer-By via Wikipedia Commons

Weekenders fishing to relax after 80-hour weeks share brine and piers with undocumented immigrants with families to feed.

Those who eat their catch often do so despite the state’s warnings. There are things like crabs and eels that we should never eat, according to the authorities, from places I saw men crabbing and even looking for mussels.

Photo Credit Bill Paciello via Visit Staten

Then there are fish that we should only eat in limited amounts — or not at all if pregnant. Some of the larger fish live for 30 years, so they have been through dark, dirty water full of antidepressants, birth control chemicals and whatever else New Yorkers flush. Read more by @DanGenis at the New York Daily News here…

by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee


Folks over in the “newly hot” Gowanus neighborhood has been getting a little more “grit” than they bargained for, according to The New York Post.

Every time it rains around here, a foul-smelling brown goo bubbles up from the drains in their homes and businesses.

Gowanus Canal Photo: Brigitte Stelzer via The New York Post

The New York Post: “It’s a very weird goop,” said Kitty Hernandez, owner of the Brooklyn Colony bar on Fourth Avenue near Carroll Street.

“Just yesterday, I had to pull a drain out because there was a foaming goo coming out of it . . . It overwhelmed the whole bar. I think it was sewage. The smell was horrible,” she said.

Photo Courtesy Josh Verleun via Riverkeeper

The area around the Gowanus Canal is no stranger to constant flooding, but residents and business owners say that it’s getting worse.

Angry business owners claim the city has done nothing to flush away the putrid problem — which has been described as smelling “like rotten eggs” “poop” and “barf.”

“It’s bad. We keep complaining to the city and nothing gets done. They keep promising they’re going to fix it and nothing gets done, ” Rodriguez said.

“It comes out brown and you say, ‘Oh my God.’ My tenants called 311 to find out what’s going on,” said Joseph Internicola, 67, the landlord of a building on Union Street near Bond Street.

Photo via

He added, “You have a 700-unit apartment building going up. How are they going to handle it? We’re all going to get backups. It’s crazy.” Read more at The New York Post here…

by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee

Photo by Mitch Waxman

NY1 News reports that the Rockaway ferry is definitely done-for after the summer. Since the low-cost ticket price will no longer be subsidized by the city, the service will cease operations in October of this year. [NY1 News]

The low-cost commuter service has been in operation since Hurricane Sandy wrecked the A-Line subway service in the area.

Ferry to the beach is ending this October. Photo by Mitch Waxman

Sadly the announcement comes as no surprise since we learned last month that the Mayor had chosen not to allocate any money to support the ferry service in the city’s 2015 budget.

The Rockaway Ferry Service transports approximately 400 commuters daily. Photo via NYCEDC

NY1 News: The Rockaway Ferry Service is slated to end this October.

It currently carries about 400 commuters from the Rockaways and Brooklyn to Wall Street and 34th Street. A request to extend the service was submitted, but the mayor’s office says it has become too expensive to subsidize.

The city says it will monitor service over the next few months, but unless ridership spikes significantly before October, the ferry will be cut. Read more at NY1 News here…

by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee

Newly wed Capt. John Doswell will be hosting today’s Hidden Harbor Tour of Port Newark. It’s a beautiful day to be on the water, and what better way to spend a gorgeous Saturday morning than to take a cruise behind-the-scenes of our magnificent working harbor.

Bill Miller will be guest-narrating with Capt John, powerhouses of our working waterfront. Bill, an expert in the history of the Hudson River and her glory days as the Ocean Liner Capital of the East, and Capt John Doswell with his extensive knowledge of the inner workings of NY Harbor, will enthrall you with their stories.

The 2.5 hour tour will cruise the KVK, ships highway to the towering cranes at Port Newark – passing maritime dry dock repair, state-of-the-art FDNY fireboats, while motoring alongside tugboats navigating huge container ships beneath the graceful arch of the Bayonne Bridge into the 3rd largest port in the nation.

Get an insider’s view of how the working harbor really works and learn about what all those ships and tugs do. Enjoy close up views of port terminals where container ships dock and unload their goods from around the world.

Our tour boat leaves Pier 84 (W42 St./12 Ave.) at 11 am (boarding at 10:30am), returning to Pier 84 at 1:30pm. You can get tickets at this link, or purchase them dockside at the Circle Line ticket booth. Just ask for the Hidden Harbor Tour!

See you onboard!

by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee. All photos by Mitch Waxman, generously shared with the Working Harbor Committee


It has been almost a week since I’ve seen a tugboat! I’ve been on overload with the Hatteras-Okracoke ferries, day and night. I do have some new photos from the KVK shot before I went on vacation.

Ferry Floyd J Lupton. Photo by John Skelson.

Ferry Croatoan. Photo by John Skelson.

Union County NJ Police Launch patrolling the KVK. Photo by John Skelson.

USAC Container ship Asir. Photo by John Skelson.

St Andrews in Push Gear. Photo by John Skelson.

Oleander is a regular visitor to NY Harbor. Photo by John Skelson.

MSC Kim riding high in the water. Photo by John Skelson.

McAllister Sisters. Photo by John Skelson.

Laura K Moran passing Bruce A McAllister. Photo by John Skelson.

Joan Turecamo. Photo by John Skelson.

Tanker Emma Miller hitting a wake. Photo by John Skelson.

Bruce A McAllister. Photo by John Skelson.

From Hatteras North Carolina… John Skelson

All photos by John Skelson, generously shared with the Working Harbor Committee

PortSide NewYork, a nonprofit maritime organization in Red Hook, Brooklyn will be having a massive “heavy metal” sale of maritime hardware this Sunday, from 11am – 4pm, as reported by DNAinfo.

Head over to Red Hook this Sunday and get yourself a Crosby Hook, or a 4-foot tall turnbuckle – there’s 3 shipping containers full and everything has to go!

DNAinfo: “This is a gold mine for people who repurpose,” said Carolina Salguero, the organization’s founder and director. Funds raised will benefit the nonprofit and its Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts.

All of the items — which were donated by a local shipping supplies firm that shut down — are in working condition and can still be used in the marine industry, Salguero said.

Photo via Portside New York

Single souvenirs like the Crosby Hook — which has become the informal symbol of Red Hook — will also be available in large numbers. “A lot of local people are interested in hooks,” she said.

PortSide NewYork’s “Heavy Metal” fundraising sale will be held on July 27 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Pier 11 loading dock in Red Hook.

Read more at DNAinfo here or visit Portside New York for more information.

by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee



5 million pieces were lost in the brink. Photo via the Plymouth Hearald

17 years ago,  62 shipping containers-full of 5 Million Lego pieces ended up in the brink when they were lost in rough seas. [The Maritime Executive]

Hundreds of thousands of tiny Legos have been washing ashore ever since.

The tiny pieces have been washing ashore for 17 years. Photo via The Plymouth Herald


The Maritime Executive: On February 13, 1997, a shipping container from the Tokio Express holding nearly five million pieces of Lego fell into the sea after being hit by a wave. Since then, countless pieces of the plastic toys have showed up along UK beaches providing scientists with new insight into how ocean tides function.

The pieces have a distinct maritime theme. Photo via The Plymouth Herald


The tiny Lego pieces have been reported in Cornwall, Devon, Ireland and Wales. Many of the Lego are maritime-related, and seem to be very rare pieces. Read more at The Maritime Executive here…

Have you found any tiny scuba fins? Share your finds in the Lego Lost At Sea facebook community. Photo via The Plymouth Herald

Tracey Williams, a British writer and beachcomber who would walk the beaches near her South Devon UK home, started The Lego Lost At Sea facebook page, documenting her tiny plastic maritime finds. She now lives in Cornwall, UK where she continues to find washed up Lego bits everyday.

by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee.

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