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.

About newenglandwaterman

1600 Master Near Coastal, Master of Towing Vessels, and a whole binder full of other pieces of paper. You can find me at the controls, hooked up and hard over, when I'm not at home playing with the dogs
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2 Responses to Proposed Hudson Anchorages, or “you know what really grinds my gears?”

  1. captbbrucato says:

    I am one of the old guys. I have been up and down the river from the Battery to as far as the Troy Wall starting in 1973 when I was a green deckhand. I have navigated that stretch in all weathers with all manner of tows more times than I care to number. Yes, it’s beautiful, yes its character and scenic wonder are lovely. But it is also a critical artery of commerce and has been for centuries. The standards a professional mariner must uphold and the scrutiny we are under doesn’t put too heavy a burden on anyone but us. We have and maintain a safety record envied by any other mode of surface transport. Making anchorages more scarce is tantamount to closing the shoulder on the thruway or denying aircraft an emergency landing field. The present drop in oil prices has reduced the traffic on the river, that will change. Double hulls and highly qualified mariners make these transits with little fanfare and great skill. The proposed anchorages are being requested as a safety measure, a bailout in case of a critical system failure or weather event. They are a reasonable and necessary accomodation to grant the maritime transport community. The alternative of moving the kind of volume overland will certainly take a greater toll on infrastructure, environment and personal safety. Adding thousands of tanker trucks to the roadways seems counterintuitive to me.

    • Thanks for commenting Capt. Brucato. The comments on the proposal site, as well as the few Facebook groups and websites against the anchorage also boggle my mind.
      From the start the industry groups went about wording this proposal in the wrong way. Highlighting the crude trade, a know issue with many of the environmental groups, in their initial proposal was like handing them a loaded gun. Public relations professionals exist for a reason.
      Secondly the NIMBY and Green crowd are sorely out of touch with how energy is transported on the river, as well as how the energy business actually works. The main tag line I keep hearing is that there will be this massive line of barges “storing oil” along the river. Often with the connotation that it will be bought low and stored until the price is higher. Which as we both know can’t be farther from the truth as the economics of scale are skewed in the wrong direction with the size units we are talking about.
      It’s this focus on crude oil, which even at its peak didn’t account for anywhere near the majority of the traffic coming to and from Albany, that is clouding any possibility of them understanding the grand scheme of commerce on the river.
      If the price of oil is high, crude is going to come down river regardless of the anchorages. If they want to stop the Bakken crude business they need to be fighting a different fight, they just don’t know enough about the industry to see that.
      Besides, really what this is about is units anchored in front of a few houses in Kingston. Through the miracle of Facebook, I found the profile of the woman who initially contacted the USCG in reference to the Dean, Christine, and Justine being anchored in front of her house while waiting to go up to Albany. She’s even given a radio interview talking about, and is the source of most of the photos used by river keeper. She’s a old rich white woman who takes abstract art photos of the water and lives a cushy insulated life. NIMBY at its finest.

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