The heat wave of the past few days finally broke on Monday, with cooler air moving in and heavy thunderstorms hitting in the afternoon, knocking sailors and other recreational boats off the River. Commercial traffic was light and not particularly notable. Saint Emilion, Morgan Reinauer, and Mako remained at anchor in the River in the morning, but Saint Emilion left by midday and headed for IMTT in Bayonne. Mako also left at midday, but made a loop down in the Upper Bay and came back to its original spot, still killing time.
The annual New York City Triathalon was held Sunday, though the running and biking segments were cut in half due to the extreme heat. The swimming segment went off as planned, unlike last year when elevated bacteria caused that leg to be canceled. Swimmers entered the water off a dock at 81st Street and swam a mile upriver with the flood tide to 99th Street, where they transitioned to their bikes.
There were a large number of FDNY and NYPD boats attending, as well as work crews from Miller’s Launch to maneuver the barges used as docks for the swimmers to enter and leave the water. By 10am, the swimmers were out of the water and the escort and work boats were heading home. Temperatures were scorching, approaching 100F, but fortunately there was a steady 10 knot wind out of the southwest, building into the evening and making for nice sailing conditions.
A short trip to Cleveland brought an opportunity to observe some marine traffic away from the North River this week. In Flushing Bay next to LaGuardia, we observed two Norfolk Towing tugs operating near the DSNY’s North Shore Marine Transfer Station, where commercial waste is transferred to containers and loaded on barges destined for the Staten Island container terminal or the Waste Management Elizabeth docks, and from there to Covanta’s Newark incinerator or landfills out of state.
In Cleveland, an old lake bulker the William G. Mather has been converted to a museum piece. The Mather once brought iron ore to Cleveland steel mills and was in service from the 1920s until 1980. These lake bulkers are longer and narrower than the ocean going bulkers we see on the North River as they are built to traverse locks, and have their bridges forward.
Also anchored at the harbor were two Federal vessels which look more similar to boats we see on the North River. The 140’ Coast Guard cutter Neah Bay is based in Cleveland and is a sister to the Penobscot Bay and Sturgeon Bay, Bay Class icebreaker tugs which make Bayonne their home and frequently patrol New York Harbor and the Hudson. The Army Corps of Engineers tug Cheraw is based there too.
Meanwhile, back on the North River, Saturday morning saw the Mako, the Morgan Reinauer, and the Saint Emilion at anchor with their tanker barges.
A heat advisory remained in place Thursday, with Manhattan temperatures in the 90s even as steady southern breezes continued to provide a modicum of relief on the water. In the early afternoon, thunderstorms formed over New Jersey and moved across the River, sending recreational boaters scurrying for safety. Commercial traffic was rather light.
Wednesday brought another day of blazing hot temperatures, though a southerly wind built throughout the day providing some relief on the water. Commercial traffic was rather heavy mid-week, with a number of tanker barges, hoppers and a bulk carrier moving through
The former Bouchard tug Evening Mist came through with hoppers loaded with stone or gravel, arriving from the pier of a former cement plant up in Catskill, New York. We saw this tug, which is owned by Haugland Group, making the same run a few weeks back, and presumably they are using that pier to load stone. Later in the morning, after spending some time off Red Hook, the Evening Mist passed in the other direction, heading back north with empty barges.
Scorching heat prevailed Tuesday, with Monday’s storms having done little if anything to cool things down. Fortunately, decent 10+ knot winds out of the southwest provided some relief by the water. River traffic was generally familiar and typical, with one notable exception seen in the skies.
The highlight of the day was to see a 1945 era DC-3, the Esther Mae, passing through heading southwest from Rhode Island after making a loop over Woods Hole Massachusetts. As of 17:30 EDT, the plane was heading southwest over Lancaster, PA.
Lines of thunderstorms moved through the area throughout the day, starting first thing and then recurring at midday and in the afternoon. The sun broke through periodically but humidity remained high. The Haggerty Girls was (were?) anchored in the River in the morning, but headed down to the Upper Bay in the afternoon and was (were) replaced by Nicole Reinauer.
Dann Marine’s Treasure Coast made a light trip up to Yonkers and back, likely to assist Carolina Coast with some docking operations at the Domino Sugar plant.
Buchanan12 was heading back north to the Clinton Point quarry with empty barges.
Coast Guard cutter Sturgeon Bay, one of two ice breakers based in Bayonne, headed upriver to Haverstraw Bay. The NYC DEP water quality monitoring boat was making a circuit of Manhattan, perhaps checking impact of the recent heavy rains on water conditions.
As we move into mid-summer, the days start to run together. Heat, interrupted by occasional storms, and winds from the southeast building as the heat builds up through the day making for excellent afternoon and evening sailing. River traffic continues as usual, and boaters, sailors, paddle boarders and even swimmers are out in force.
I always feel calmer when I’m by the River, but this morning the calm was mixed with a heavy dose of sadness knowing that an 8-year old boy had died in yesterday’s afternoon’s boating accident. The river is wonderful and vital, but it is also crowded and powerful, and can be dangerous at times.
The local press has covered the accident heavily. The Daily News has some good detail, as does WNBC news. It seems the victims were twelve members of a family, some of whom were visiting from Colombia, who had chartered the boat. The owner of the boat was following close behind on a jet ski and assisted in the rescue attempts.
According to WNBC, the boat itself was a 24’ Yamaha AR240 jet drive powerboat, an open boat with a soft top. The Daily News article has a photo of the boat being raised out of the water by the Corps of Engineers which seems consistent with this.
The cause of the tragedy will of course be carefully investigated. The Daily News quoted a Harbor Patrol officer as indicating they believed wakes from passing ferries may have contributed and that the boat may have been overloaded. Eleven adults does seem like a lot for a 24’ boat, but the official capacity of the boat is 12 according to The Boat Guide website.
Conditions at the time of the accident (2:45pm) were reasonably calm though there were advisories in affect ahead of thunderstorms expected later. There was an ebb tide running against a southerly wind, and ferries can create big wakes. Perhaps they hit a large wake awkwardly at speed, or got rolled by a wave hitting the beam with too much weight on one side. As near as I can tell, the incident occurred mid-river off Pier 86 or so, but the boat would have drifted south with the ebb and emergency services staged off Pier 79 as seen in yesterday’s post.
The crane boat in the Daily News photo is the Corps of Engineers boat Hayward, which often is in the river fishing out large tree limbs (or tree trunks) but is sometimes called on for special salvage operations. We watched the Hayward fish an engine off the bottom from United Airways 1549 after it broke off in the 2009 emergency landing and saw her pull a wrecked WWII era fighter plane out of the river after it crashed near the Jersey side in 2016. Coincidentally I photographed the Hayward earlier in the day on Tuesday, about an hour before the accident, with the crew certainly unaware of the grim turn their day would take.
Meanwhile, activity was fairly light on Wednesday on the river, and seemed weighted towards military vessels for whatever reason. A 44’ boat belonging to the New York Naval Militia, the naval arm of the National Guard, passed by in the morning heading north with no AIS signal. Later in the day, four Coast Guard 29’ boats were doing their drills off Riverside Park, with machine guns mounted on two boats as usual.
Tuesday saw a terrible accident on the river as a small boat carrying twelve people capsized and partially sunk. Ten people were rescued by ferries according to reports, but FDNY and NYPD divers had to retrieve two. Apparently, two were brought to the hospital in serious or critical condition. There was no word on what kind of boat was involved. UPDATE: Local media is reporting that a child and a 20-year old women were declared dead on arrival at area hospitals. A sad day on the river.
The response was massive, with a staging area set up by the NY Waterway docks at Pier 79. Conditions at the time of the accident were calm, with the incident occurring well ahead of heavy thunderstrorms expected to move in from the south this evening. For more, see https://nypost.com/2022/07/12/four-hospitalized-2-critically-after-boat-capsizes-in-hudson-river-near-nyc-pier/?utm_source=url_sitebuttons&utm_medium=site%20buttons&utm_campaign=site%20buttons
The day started out quite typical for a summer weekday, with the usual mix of commercial and recreational activity. The small cruise ship Insignia was in town, heading out in the late afternoon for Bermuda with help from Moran Towing.