Quissett Harbor, a little slice of heaven

The last few days have consisted of a large dosing of sunshine, cape sand, and salt water. All courtesy of a spot called Quissett harbor, and “The Knob” in Falmouth. Just up the coast from the Buzzards Bay side of Woods Hole Passage is the fantastic Quissett Harbor. Lined with beautiful coast, and home to a large fleet (30 plus) of H class day sailors, there aren’t many spots more quintessentially Cape Cod. The entrance to the harbor is marked by a large rock lined outcropping called simply “The Knob”. This is the end of the line for the several paths in the Cornelia Cary conservation area that makes up most of the seaboard side of the harbor. Dogs are allowed and we’ve gotten both the furry children tuckered out on the paths and beaches. We even got in a nice afternoon of paddling and swimming as well. All in all the last few days have us dreaming of an H Class Doughdish of our own to get in on the Wednesday and Saturday racing action during the summer, as well as lazy afternoon sails. If you want to learn a bit more about this wonderful small boat, check out the blog “Take the Tiller” located here.

Anyways, here are quite a few more of my feeble attempts at real maritime photography!

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Photos Of The Week 08-16-16

Some photos from the past hitch, and some from bouncing around on boats closer to home during my off rotation.

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Fort McHenry

The latest in a line of 3000 HP Sassafras class tugboats was recently delivered to Vane Brothers in New York. I was lucky enough to have a good vantage point for the first time she was put to work, were the rubber meets the road…er Barge, so to speak.

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That’s a wrap

Just a couple more hours and that’s a wrap for this hitch folks! Here is some of what we did the last few weeks.

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Photos of the Week 8-6-16

Some more time behind the camera and at the computer the last week, the later from some different vantage points on the boat. The weather has been fantastic and the best seat in the house the other night was on top of our lower wheelhouse as we headed to a ship in Stapleton Anchorage. I’ve been working on taking a lot more abstract type photos of the vessels and terminals around the harbor, and shooting with black and white in mind. If I have some time while I’m home I might try and do a post of what I consider my best work in that theme. “Maritime Art” or what ever you might call it. The kind of thing hipsters might like to pay way too much money for.

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Proposed Hudson Anchorages, or “you know what really grinds my gears?”

Let me start this post off by saying one thing.  When it comes to navigating the Hudson river I’m still as green as they come. I’ve made a pair of trips to Heritage Kingston,  one to Roseton, and one to Albany. Not exactly ready to draw charts for pilotage! I do however know enough to sit quietly at the edge of the grown ups table and listen to the guys who have been doing this as long as I’ve been alive discuss things.

That being said in week 14 of 2015 the USCG issued an MSIB, or Marine Safety Information Bulletin, citing reports of vessels anchoring outside of designated anchorage areas in the Hudson River. This was no surprise to the Tug and Barge industry as there are multiple spots in the lower Hudson that for years have been used by vessel operators to anchor for safety reasons. This MSIB however reminded operators not to anchor outside of federally designated anchorages except in case of “grave emergency” and spelled out the regulations and penalties. This prompted representitives of the companies and mariner’s operating on the Hudson to draft a proposal and request for the USCG to create a series of “new” designated anchorages in the traditional areas to once and for all make the standard safe operating practices of so many vessel operators in full complaince with federal regulations.As part of the proposal process the USCG issues a request for public comments and the misinformed have responded in mass.

So you know what really grinds my gears? To see the campaign of misinformation being spread by people opposed to the proposed designation of federal anchorages in several locations in the lower Hudson. People, who they themselves don’t understand the proposal, the reasons for it, the actual use, and where exactly the fuel for their cars and home heating oil comes from.

My favorite bit of biased misinformation thus far is this article from the “Peekskill Post”. The title starts off the bias and ignorance right away with the line “Coast Guard Plans to station oil barges in Hudson River near Peekskill”. The first paragraph states that the federal government plans to “anchor oil filled barges in the waters of the Hudson River, not far from Peekskill”.

That couldn’t be farther from the truth. The Coast Guard isn’t stationing anyone anywhere. All that are doing, and at the tug and barge industry’s request, is creating designated anchorages in the areas that vessels have anchored for decades during transits of the Hudson. These aren’t places people anchor because they are out of places to anchor in the harbor, or because as the article insinuates “because its cheaper”. These are all places vessels anchor before transiting the upper reaches for a variety of navigational safety reason. Due to fog, weather, delays at a berth, tide, and during the winter to allow for a daylight only transit of the upper reach of the river.

The article goes on to quote Peekskill Councilman Joe Torres,

“They want to put oil barges in the channel of the Hudson River and I am concerned about the negative impact of having oil spill into the river and the dangers of navigating a boat with barges in the middle of the channel at nighttime,” said Torres, who himself is a boater. “The other thing is that it will be an eyesore for the river.”

Pay attention to that last sentence. “The other thing is that it will be an eyesore for the river.” At the end of the day that’s all these people care about, and its the agenda that the public will push and loudly. The alleged idea that un attended barges will be anchored forever in these places, spewing oil and scaring the tourists away.

So as one of the mariner’s who could be greatly affected by this proposed rule making, I ask anyone who reads this to voice their support for the men and woman in this industry who strive daily to safely and efficiently provide the public with the juice that makes the modern world go round. We’re in the business of risk management, and having these anchorages officially designated makes our job a lot safer. In turn protecting the incredible resource and area that is the Hudson River. Please I implore you the public to go to the proposed rule making website, located here and actually read the attached documents from the USCG and the Tug and Barge Industry. Don’t listen to the hype, and don’t listen to the N.I.M.B.Y. crowd who are crying safety when that’s really the last thing on their mind.

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The Summer Slump

Back at work and into the first weekend, it is definitely that time of the summer where things have slowed down and our biggest threat to sanity are the swarms of recreational boaters. Right now we are waiting on a slew of ships that the barge we are handling the next few days has loaded for. It’s nice when the client plans loads like this where we bring the barge to load once, and then bounce from ship to ship for the discharges. Occasionally, and for reason unknown to me, they will load the barge with a tiny amount and then have us run to a ship for the discharge. We then turn around and run back to the terminal, usually the same one, and load another paltry amount to do it all over again.

From a risk management standpoint I’ve never thought it made much sense. The riskiest evolution we do is landing and sailing the barge, particularly at the tide sensitive berths that the bunker barges are often loaded at. So ideally the more ships you can load for at once, and the less times you have to come and go from the berth, the better. It doesn’t always work out that way, and I’m sure a lot of it has to do with scheduling conflicts and uncertainty.

In case you’re wondering, this is the kind of stuff tug boaters start bitching about when its slow. We then move onto the food, each other, and eventually the dearth of our floating worlds…..politics and religion.

Anyway I’ll go back to inspecting safety equipment and asking the deckhand when dinner is ready.

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