New Subway Stop is Close to Media Boat!

New Yorkers were glad to see the Cortlandt Street/World Trade Center stop on the 1 train finally reopen after it was destroyed in the Sept. 11 attacks — and we’re especially thrilled because it’s so close to New York Media Boat.

It’s only about a five-minute walk from the western exit of the 1 train to the NYMB dock in North Cove Marina. Here’s a little photo-tour of how to get there: through Westfield shopping center, into Brookfield Place, and finally out into the marina.

Here’s where you’ll exit the 1, at the westernmost end of The Oculus:

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Look to the right: you’ll see a long hallway that connects Westfield & Brookfield:

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Head down that long hallway, checking out the animation on the long screen:

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Take the escalators up into Brookfield place. At the top, you’ll see the BFPL shops:

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Walk around either side of those shops to the atrium:

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Take the left-hand exit out of the atrium:

And you’re at the marina! Keep heading left — we’re in the lower left corner.

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We hope to welcome you aboard!

Bountiful Bunker? Advocates Clash with Big Fish Oil in New York Harbor

Posted 9/7/18 at 5:03 pm. Updated 9/8/18 at 6:46 am.

Advocacy groups are sounding the alarm on Virginia-based fishing fleets coming into the New York bight to harvest menhaden -- a bait fish better known as "bunker" -- but NOAA Fisheries says the species is not at risk of overfishing.

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The boats work for Omega Protein, a company based in Reedville, Virginia, that runs the largest menhaden fishing operation on the east coast.

Menhaden are abundant now, but they'd been severely overfished in the past and advocacy groups like Menhaden Defenders and Gotham Whale are concerned about that happening again -- especially since whales have returned to New York City waters. The cetaceans feed on menhaden, and fewer fish could mean fewer whale sightings, they say.

Advocates also worry about by-catch. The boats use huge purse seines that round up millions of fish at a time, and there's concern that dolphins and other marine life could get caught up.

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In a press release, Omega Protein charged that advocates are making "false statements" about their fleet, noting that there's currently no concern about bunker overfishing and that their operations are completely legal. The company turns menhaden into commodities for fish oil supplements, dog food, fish meal, and other products.

Jennifer Goebel, a spokesperson for NOAA Fisheries, confirmed that there's no current threat of overfishing for menhaden.

"There has been concern over the years from certain environmental groups regarding localized depletion in Chesapeake Bay, but studies have not found any evidence that localized depletion is occurring," she said in an email. "The coastwide assessment shows the Atlantic menhaden stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring."

She added that Omega Protein "follow[s] the schools and right now, if those schools are off New York, that’s where an industry vessel could be fishing."

But Paul Sieswerda of Gotham Whale is skeptical: "There should be schools off Virginia and the fact that these boats have to steam all the way to New York tells me that they have fished out southern waters."

"They can deplete a local population and where does that leave us?" he said. "They did it in the past and it's taken from the 1960s until now to bottom out and come back."

As for by-catch, the mid-Atlantic menhaden fishery is classified as a category II fishery under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which means "occasional incidental mortality or serious injury" may occur -- chiefly to the bottlenose dolphin -- but that purse seining has historically "had a negligible impact on marine mammals."

Goebel noted it's "illegal to intentionally set a purse-seine net around marine mammals," and that NOAA Fisheries actively monitors the fishery along with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

Per NOAA regulations, industry can take a total of 216,000 metric tons of menhaden each season. The Virginia fleets have been hard at work near New York in the last few weeks, led by factory ship Calcasieu Pass on Aug. 29 and by Rappahannock the next day. 

Thursday evening, New York Media Boat captured some shots of factory ship Fleeton and fishing boat Dempster seining menhaden in the New York bight, beyond the three-mile state water limit.

By 8 am Friday morning, those vessels were already back in Virginia waters, heading into port. The journey was about 600 nautical miles round-trip. 

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'CBS This Morning' Covers Lady Liberty Climber

'CBS This Morning' came aboard today for a second-day story on the woman who scaled the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty on July 4th to protest Trump administration immigration policies.

Correspondent DeMarco Morgan did a live shot from the bow of our 9-meter boat. You can watch the full story here.

We picked up the news crew at 5 am and were back at the dock in time for our first 10 am Adventure Sightseeing Tour!

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Crane Delivery: Shanghai to New York

It was an impressive sight, those four giant ship-to-shore cranes appearing on the Horizon.

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On April 20th, the Heavy Load Carrier 'Zhen Hua 20' arrived in New York. She had departed Shanghai on February 15th -- that's 66 days at sea -- traveling at an average speed of just 8 knots. 

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The four cranes on deck were built by ZPMC in China for the Maersk Terminal at Port Elizabeth in New Jersey.

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Many modern heavy load carriers are constructed with the wheelhouse forward of the cargo area for unobstructed views. On this ship, a box houses the the look-out on the bow.

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A clearview screen ensures a good view in any weather. This rotary wiper is installed in the window and houses an electric motor mounted in the center, which spins a glass disk inside the circular metal frame at high speed. Rain, sleet, and sea spray get dispersed immediately upon contact by centrifugal force.

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Anchor was dropped in Gravesend Bay to reconfigure the total height in order to transit under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and the Bayonne Bridge.

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With the booms lowered the total height was 213 feet. Three Moran tugboats assisted as she sailed through the Narrows into New York Harbor.

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The iconic Manhattan skyline always makes for a nice backdrop!

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One World Trade Center is currently the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.

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Stability calculations had to be exact in order to extend the booms this far from her port side.

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The recently raised Bayonne Bridge was transited at low tide, allowing some extra room to pass underneath. 

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Tight quarters, but she made it!

 

New This Winter: Seal Watch Tours

People are often shocked when we tell them that there are seals in New York harbor, and we usually have to break out a few photos to prove it. But it's true -- each winter, these creatures return to local waters, and you can usually catch them drying off on the rocks at Hoffman and Swinburne Islands, just south of the Verrazano Bridge.

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This year, for the first time ever, we're running seal-watch tours in partnership with the Center for the Study of Pinniped Ecology & Cognition, which is run by scientists at SUNY and St. Francis College. 

During the two-hour tours, a scientist will talk about New York harbor seal ecology, while a New York Media Boat photographer will help guests take top-notch wildlife photos. The on-board researcher will also be taking a count of the animals and studying their behavior, and will be happy to answer any questions from passengers.

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So far, we're offering seven of these exclusive tours (seats are limited to two passengers per tour) through January and February. Our closed-cabin boat will run round-trip from North Cove Marina in lower Manhattan.

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You can book directly on our website using the "Book Now" button, or feel free to call us with questions at 347.789.0588.

We hope to welcome you aboard -- it is truly amazing to observe these creatures in their urban habitat!

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Lights Out at the Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty has gone dark, without a single spotlight illuminating the symbol of freedom that overlooks New York Harbor.

It's a highly unusual sight, as we've been told that the National Park Service takes great care to make sure she's lit up at all times. 

Just last month, the Statue had partially gone dark, with her back standing in shadow. We'd noticed the lack of lighting from our apartment window. That was when our contacts at the National Park Service told us it's very rare for those lights to go out.

We can vouch for that. We've never seen anything like it in the five years we've been running New York Media Boat, and in the three years that we've lived in an apartment with a direct view of the Statue.

There's a lot of speculation as to what's causing the outage: foreign hacking, a travel ban protest, or solidarity with tomorrow's Day Without A Woman. Or it could just be a tripped breaker.

We're looking forward to answers from the National Park Service.

NOAA's Take on the Hudson Humpback

The humpback whale that’s been cruising the Hudson River likely got lost after chasing baitfish, according to NOAA experts.

There’s probably not enough food upriver, and chances are the whale is ‘lost,’ said Jennifer Goebel, a spokesperson for NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Region.

It doesn’t appear to be in danger, so NOAA doesn’t plan to intervene at this time.  

But that could change if the health of the animal declines, or if the location ends up posing a danger, Goebel said, acknowledging that the whale is certainly a hazard to navigation in busy New York Harbor.

The whale is likely a juvenile or a young adult, and concerns about it ‘missing its migration’ are unfounded, Goebel said.

While adult animals move to tropical breeding grounds in the winter, younger whales don’t always make the entire journey because they’re not reproductively active, and there’s less for them to eat down there.

Indeed, there’s some evidence that a number of juveniles overwinter in the mid-Atlantic, where they continue to feed and grow, Goebel said.

Even adult humpbacks have been reported to migrate later in the season, remaining off New York and New Jersey into late fall, and overwintering in the mid-Atlantic, she added.

There are 14 subtypes of humpback, and it’s not clear which one this whale belongs to. Four subpopulations are endangered, and one is threatened, but none of these live in the coastal waters off North America.

While the North Atlantic humpback population was estimated to bottom-out at 700 animals between 1865 and 1980, today NOAA estimates that there are 12,000 humpbacks swimming through its waters at any given time.

Many New Yorkers will be anxiously waiting to see if this animal finds his way back to his flourishing population.

Humpback Whale in New York Harbor: Monday 11/21 Update

Gale-force winds gusting 40 knots stirred up the harbor, making it difficult to locate the whale's occasional spout among whitecaps everywhere. Despite recent reports "off the Statue," "at the 1 Bouy" and "north of Governors Island," it took us over an hour to find the mammal. We finally spotted it south of Governors Island right around slack tide.

The whale swam west, crossing the shipping lane, and began surface feeding just east of the Statue of Liberty. Due to the adverse weather conditions we didn't see the whale as much as on previous days, making its path much less predictable.

Marine Mammal Researcher Kristi Ashley Collum from the American Museum of Natural History, who also collaborates with Gotham Whale, joined us on the escort. Kristi deployed a hydrophone off the boat to record the whale's vocalizations. 

For about an hour the whale swam in a north-south pattern along a 0.3-nautical mile transect of a shoal, surfacing about once a minute.

At 3:30pm the whale headed south towards the Jersey Flats and we returned to port.

Humpback Whale in New York Harbor: Day 3

At noon we set out with hopes of locating the whale again. Early that morning, it was seen south of the Statue, a friend later reported it by North Cove Marina. With an incoming tide we reasoned that the flood would carry it upriver just like the previous day. At 1:20pm, Kristina spotted the whale just north of 79th Street Boat Basin on the Manhattan side of the Hudson River. The FDNY fireboat 'Bravest' was also in the area and the whale surfaced quite close to their vessel.

It was significantly less active than the previous day -- we timed 1 to 2 minute breathing intervals and the whale was was cruising slowly, only occasionally lifting its tail out of the water.

Earlier that morning we spoke with a researcher who has been documenting and cataloging whales in the New York Bight for years. He wants to identify this individual and said to pay special attention to the white pigmentation under the flukes. The color, pattern, ridges and scars act as unique identifiers. Photos will help determine if just one or multiple whales are being sighted in the Upper Bay. The first photo is the underside and the second photo the top side of the same tail.

Trying to estimate its size, we checked the Simrad structure-scan/sonar and were amazed by the image!

It seemed there was less fish in the area than yesterday. Only once did we observe surface feeding.

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As flood changed to ebb, the current carried us and the whale south again. Floating with the engines in idle for hours, only occasionally making small course corrections to avoid anchored barges. The most incredible experience of the day was when the whale surfaced just next to the boat. It was a huge surprise, since we were careful to maintain at least a 100 yard distance at all times.

Today the whale hugged the Manhattan side as it travelled downriver at 3-4 knots.

It passed within feet of the cruise ship terminal.

Then it picked up speed, moving past Hudson Yards and Chelsea Piers at 7 knots.

At the Whitney Museum of American Art, it showed its tail again.

 Finally, as the sun set, the whale made its way south towards the Verrazano Bridge. We hope it will find its way back to the ocean soon.

Humpback Whale in New York Harbor: Day 2

Captain Eric and I set out around 10am to see if the whale was still in New York Harbor. There were no recent confirmed reports. Someone said they may have seen something off Chelsea Piers, another unconfirmed report came from Hoboken and 34th Street. We started our search in the Deepwater Range, where we saw it last the previous night and cruised up the North River at 4 knots. Around 1pm a workboat in the vicinity of the George Washington Bridge reported the whale surfacing. We got there quickly and started tracking the whale again, keeping a safe distance to the mammal.

The whale had swum north with the flood, and as the tide switched to ebb it changed direction and headed back towards downtown.

NOAA's Humpback whale approach regulations call for a distance of 100 yards, slow speed, and to not place a vessel into the path of the whale. New York Harbor is teeming with tugs, barges, ferries and other commercial traffic so once again we decided to just stay with it, and coordinate with oncoming traffic in hopes of providing safe passage for the whale.

Most professional captains appreciated our guidance and steered clear of the whale. Around 3pm the whale started moving in an east-west pattern and began breaching. Fish jumped out of the water in a last attempt to get away.

Note the distinctive bumps on the whales head. Each bump is a hair follicle and researchers suspect they help the whale detect density of fish while feeding.

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At dawn the whale was lobtailing -- slapping the water repeatedly with the tail, some scientists believe it to be a non-verbal form of communication, or part of the feeding ritual, stunning fish or driving them closer together.

As the sun set, we lost visual contact to the whale and updated the US Coast Guard to its last location so ships can be advised to be extra vigilant and operate at a safe speed in the area.

Check back later for video of the whale feeding.

Humpback Whale in New York Harbor

Passengers aboard our Adventure Sightseeing Tour got to see the newest attraction in New York Harbor! A whale made its way up the Hudson and was spotted off the Statue of Liberty.

We watched the whale for several hours, providing a safety zone and communicating with commercial vessels to avoid potential collision.

Encountering whales is not uncommon this time of year out in the Atlantic Ocean, but rarely does one swim into the harbor.

The whale surfaced within feet of the boat, allowing us to take truly unique photos.

It's a Humpback whale and we are searching the national database to learn more about this specific animal.

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For more photos and videos check out the Day 2 and Day 3 blog posts.

Viking Invasion of New York Harbor

It's an intimidating sight: a 115-foot wooden Viking ship with more than 30 people on board, all chanting in Old Norse and rhythmically beating the ship's oak planks. That's how the Draken Harald Hårfagre Viking ship arrived in New York earlier this week -- and it was easy to see how such an entrance would strike fear into any nation that might be facing a Viking invasion.

But the Draken's mission is far from conquest. Owner Sigurd Aase wants to raise awareness of the Vikings' historical journeys across the Atlantic to North America, long before any other Europeans arrived. And he wants to spark young people's interest in adventure.

Draken's "Expedition North America" started in Norway on April 26, with stops in Iceland and Greenland before entering the St. Lawrence River to get to Quebec City and Montreal. The ship then spent the latter half of the summer sailing around four of the Great Lakes with stops in major lake cities like Chicago, Green Bay, and Duluth.

She was built in Haugesund in Norway, and is the largest Viking ship in modern times. She's not a replica, but was designed using data from archaeological finds and Old Norse literature. Her 80-foot mast is the trunk of a Douglas Fir.

The 260-square-meter red sail, which is made of silk, gets her cruising at 14 knots, and the bow's dragon-head is thought to protect against sea monsters.

After a brief stay at Liberty Landing Marina in New Jersey, the Draken made her way to North Cove Marina in lower Manhattan, where she'll be open for tours at $10 per person. 

Unlike a thousand years ago, the Vikings received a warm welcome, and their ruler was pleased: Aase sported a big smile along with his Nordic King robe.

The Draken will sail on to Mystic, Connecticut, where she'll be laid up for the winter and overhauled for future projects.

Sailing with the Coast Guard

Earlier this month, we sailed aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle, the military's only active-duty sailing ship. She serves as a training vessel for cadets at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut -- and we got to watch just how tight a ship these hundred-plus trainees run.

We boarded a Coast Guard small boat at North Cove Marina (it was almost as fun of a ride aboard one of our RHIBs!) and transferred to the Eagle just past the Verrazano Bridge. It was quite the jump, even in fair seas. Tough to imagine being a Sandy Hook Pilot in a storm in the middle of winter!

Captain of the Port Michael Day and Eagle Captain Matt Meilstrup welcomed passengers aboard. There was a lot of insignia to learn that day, but it's easy to tell a Captain by his four solid shoulder stripes.

Steering the ship requires six cadets at the helm, a hallmark of traditional sailing. Built in 1936 in Hamburg, Germany as the Horst Wessel, the ship ended up in U.S. possession as war reparations after World War II. 

The U.S. Coast Guard sailed her to New York in 1946, with the help of her German Captain and volunteers from the German navy -- many of whom were happy to see the end of the Nazi era. Eagle leadership told us that Germany had worked hard to build its navy long before Hitler came to power in 1933, and many of its naval leaders didn't sympathize with the party.

Throughout the trip, cadets meticulously mapped our course, taking three directional bearings every couple of minutes and plotting them on the chart.

They also had the help of Sandy Hook Pilot Mark Wanderer -- seen here in slacks and a tie, typical pilot attire -- in keeping an eye on the course. 

Other guests aboard included cast members of the Broadway show 'Hamilton,' who were seen here being interviewed by ABC News.

At the top of its tallest mast, the Eagle was flying the two-star flag for Rear Admiral James Rendon, who was also aboard. He's currently the Superintendent of the Coast Guard Academy.

Climbing the rigging was tempting, but the Eagle is definitely not a place for rule-breaking. The cadets had strict systems for handling the 9-plus miles of rope on board.

We also had free rein to wander below deck. Here's a conference room -- wish more of my meetings would be held at sea!

After a 4-hour sail, we came ashore at Pier 86, near the decommissioned aircraft carrier U.S.S. Intrepid. The cadets put on one last display of their coordinated line handling as they tied up. Then, they carried a huge gangway across the deck to let guests disembark -- and we figured we learned the origin of the phrase "gang way!" You better move out of the way when the gangway is coming through.

The Eagle has always been an impressive sight on the water, but now we'll be even more excited to see her return to New York Harbor so we can relive our time aboard.

The ALIR at 40

More than 70 sailboats gathered off Rockaway Point for the start of the 40th annual Around Long Island Regatta (ALIR) last Thursday.

Hosted by the Sea Cliff Yacht Club, the ALIR covers 190 nautical miles and combines ocean and coastal sailing, attracting cruisers and offshore racers alike.

Moritz Hilf and his Pogo 10.5 Max took second place in the double-handed division 6.

Peter Becker and the Young American Jr. Big Boat Team took first place aboard High Noon in the spinnaker division 9 -- and third place in the IRC division 0.

Brendan Larrabee and crew hiked out aboard the Andrews 68 Simon Says YC.

And Bartosz Bilinski sailed into sixth place on Narwana in the spinnaker division 5.

These are just a few of the vessels we captured at the race start. We may have a picture of yours! If interested, email NYmediaBoat@gmail.com with your sail number and boat description.

Women Set Rowing Record

The first women's rowing team attempting to break the 43-day speed record across the North Atlantic fell just short of their goal, making landfall in Falmouth 49 days after leaving New York Harbor.

They did, however, become the first all-female crew to make the journey, led by Olympic rowing medalist Guinn Batton. 

 We snapped this shot of the team on board the 26-foot boat 'Liberty' on June 7, just off of Coney Island, with 3,000 miles of ocean still ahead of them.

Solar Plane Soars Over Statue of Liberty

All three of our boats departed Liberty Landing Marina around 1 am: Captain Joel picked up Bertrand Piccard and crew at Pier 25, Captain George had Andre Borschberg's family aboard, and the Solar Impulse media team set up their cameras on my boat.

The boats met at the Statue of Liberty to await the solar plane's fly-by, which began around 2 am. It was a spectacular sight: The plane's wings, spanning that of a Boeing 747, were lit from the underside and looked like no other plane that's ever flown over the harbor.

Party boat captains were putting out calls on the radio asking if anyone knew what those strange lights were. We were happy to explain.

Pilot Andre Borschberg made about four laps over the city and the Statue of Liberty. The plane was completely silent as it flew slowly overhead at a cruising speed of around 25 knots.

Bertrand Piccard, who will be piloting the next leg across the Atlantic, was narrating the arrival on camera aboard New York Media Boat.

The plane's batteries charge during the day via solar arrays on the wings and power the electric motors throughout the night. Solar Impulse's mission is to promote clean energy on this flight around the world, which began in Abu Dhabi in March last year.

The crew of New York Media Boat is honored to have had the opportunity to work with the Solar Impulse team in both 2013 and this year, and to have had both Piccard and Borschberg aboard.