The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Skimmer Boat

promised haven

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Maritime Sunday drifts in today.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Witness the United States Army Corps of Engineers DCV Hayward as it hurtles into the so called Buttermilk Channel section of the East River.

The legend of Buttermilk Channel is stated thusly- in the ancient days of the Dutch decadence, the Brooklyn to Governors Island section of the tidal strait was so shallow at low tide that farmers would drive their cattle across the muddy puddle and set them to grazing on the island. The cattle would be vouchsafed against canids or the attention of thieves by the high tide, allowing the farmers to move on to other more profitable pursuits. Returning to fetch their dairy cows at the next low tide, the farmers would find that their herds had fed on Governors Island plentiful salt grass, and the cows would produce vast amounts of wholesome milk the next morning. This is how this section of the East River came to be called Buttermilk Channel. Or so the legend states.

Balderdash, claims Captain Doswell of the Working Harbor Committee, although your humble narrator argues for the historical record and colorful story. We agree to disagree.

Subsequent dredging, much of it accomplished by the stewards of the Hayward- the USACE- allows a maritime channel of sufficient depth to disallow the transit of cattle to Governors Island from Brooklyn in modern times.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The maintenance of this channel, specifically keeping it free of floating debris which could impede or injure vessels plying it, is the responsibility of skimmer boats like the Hayward. Built in 1974, Haywards’ crane can handle 120 tons, and she is specifically a “drift collection vessel.” Hayward is one of three such vessels the USACE operates in New York Harbor (with the 1948 vintage Driftmaster and the 1980’s Gelberman) which remove just north of 100 tons of debris from the water annually. This debris includes downed trees, trash of all sorts, really anything that might find its way into the water. Sometimes this can involve downed aircraft.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Want to see something cool? Summer 2013 Walking Tours-

Glittering Realms Saturday, August 3rd, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Kill Van Kull Saturday, August 10, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets now on sale.

13 Steps around Dutch Kills Saturday, August 17, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

short work

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Today’s post is part of the Maritime Sunday series.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent business carried me to the tony DUMBO section of Brooklyn, and having accomplished my meeting, your humble narrator made for the East River Ferry stop at Fulton Landing to get home to Queens. It was a foggy day, with the mist seemingly on the edge of unleashing precipitants, and the always picturesque Brooklyn Bridge was vamping for the camera while I waited for the ferry, so…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s when the NYC DEP Skimmer boat “Jamaica Bay” appeared. SV Jamaica Bay was new in 2005, Its service area is reported tersely as “Tributaries,” it is 50 feet long, and can carry a capacity of 3,000 -12,000 lbs of wet material.

from epa.gov

Floatable debris consists of a wide assortment of plastic, wood, paper, glass, rubber, metal and organic waste materials that float or are suspended in the water column and may eventually be deposited on shorelines and beaches. Floatable debris originating from street litter, combined sewer overflow (CSO) discharges, storm water discharges, decaying shoreline structures, pleasure boaters, and littering beach goers, can harm the marine environment and cause area beaches to close.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For the benefit of those of you who don’t spend all of your time puzzling out the make and model of things which randomly navigate past you, a “skimmer” is a kind of work boat which travels along and scoops up “floatables.” This can mean anything from tree limbs to trash, and the NYC DEP operates just one several of skimmer fleets on the harbor. NJDEP and US Army Corps of Engineers also perform this task. The gizmo at the front of the thing opens up and forms a boom, and onboard conveyor systems draw flotsam and jetsam out of the water column and into a bin.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Skimmer boat “Jamaica Bay” is one of several “small” skimmers operated by DEP, and the big one is called “Cormorant.” One thing about which jumps at me whenever I look at the NYC DEP… as a department… is just how GIGANTIC it is.

A hearty maritime Sunday shout goes out to the Captain and crew of SV Jamaica Bay.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Want to see something cool? June 2013 Walking Tours-

The Poison Cauldron Saturday, June 15, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Kill Van Kull– Saturday, June 22, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets now on sale.

The Insalubrious Valley Saturday, June 29, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

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