Foggy Start to New York Vendee

The Manhattan Yacht Club marked the pre-start to the 2016 New York Vendee race with a blast from a small canon.

The IMOCA Open Class 60 fleet sailed past the Manhattan skyline on their way the Ambrose sea buoy -- the official start of the race.

Amaury Ross, the official event photographer, and team photographers Yabe Yoichi and Mark Lloyd documented the departure from New York Media Boat.

One of our RIBs was chartered by Jean-Pierre Dick's team, St. Michel/Virbac, to escort and support their boat to the start. Once past the Verrazano Bridge, fog rolled in and visibility dropped quickly.


Minutes before the start, Captain Eric maneuvered our RIB next to St.Michel/Virbac to transfer the remaining crew off the boat. The New York Vendee is a 3,100-nautical mile single-handed race.

Around 15:45, the boats crossed the start line at the Ambrose buoy.

We chased the ghost ships through heavy fog for another 10 miles before turning back.

The Sandy Hook Pilots advised the race committee of all commercial traffic in the area.

Container ships sounded fog horns all around us, and our radar and AIS systems aided us in safely navigating back to New York Harbor.

Hudson Plane Crash Recap

Within minutes of getting the breaking news alert, New York Media Boat was on the scene, as the NYPD, FDNY, and other agencies responded to reports of a downed plane in the Hudson.

You can see the NYPD rescue diver jumping from the helicopter into the water.

Unfortunately the plane, a vintage P-47 Thunderbolt, quickly sank to the bottom of the river with the pilot trapped inside. The NYPD located the wreck and attached a downline marking its location in only 20 feet of water.

A virtual AIS alarm was issued, alerting vessels in the vicinity to the situation. This was the first time we've ever seen a message like this on the screens.  A great use of technology!

News outlets lined the shores and New York Media Boat can be seen in much of the footage, like this report on ABC News.

On Saturday, the Army Corps of Engineers raised the aircraft and temporarily placed it at the Downtown heliport. We were surprised to see how little cosmetic damage there is to the aircraft.

U.S. Coast Guard Rescues French Sailor

Sunday afternoon French solo-sailor Olivier Jehl set sail in to establish a transatlantic record time between New York and Lizard Point in the UK with his 6.5-meter Mini 'Zigoneshi'.

New York Media Boat escorted him under the Verazzano Bridge and into Ambrose Channel to document the departure.

According to the US Coast Guard Jehl activated his EPIRB in the early morning about 120 nautical miles South East off New York. The on-board tracker shows the last position at the edge of the Canyon.

A HC-144 search-plane was launched from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod and a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City. The airplane spotted his flares and the helicopter hoisted Jehl to safety at 4:40am EST.

Jehl possibly struck a submerged object, which caused his boat to break apart. He deployed his life raft and awaited rescue.

"This case was a perfect example of how to be prepared for the worst case scenario," said Capt. Peter Mingo, the commanding officer of Air Station Atlantic City. "Personal beacons, life rafts, exposure suits and flares were the key to Mr. Jehl being able to effect his own rescue via the U.S. Coast Guard."

Running the America's Cup Media Boats

The America's Cup Event Authority chartered three of our boats to carry media to the front lines of the race course for its world series in New York Harbor. 

After two days of little wind, gloomy skies, and cancelled races, Sunday turned out to be sunny with gusts up to 25 knots -- the upper limit of what the foiling 45-foot catamarans can handle.

Pro sailing photographer Onne van der Wall came aboard to capture the AC45Fs battle it out in front of the Manhattan skyline, as did New York Times photographer Richard Perry -- you can see his slideshow here -- along with the Associated Press, Reuters, NBC, and others. 

Due to variable winds, the course was changed a few times between races. Each morning all VIP, stake, and press boats attended a briefing given by the organizers that covered safety, expected weather, possible courses, and the areas in which we were allowed to operate. The rules were strict and we were required to stay on the perimeter of the actual race area -- much to the dismay of some of the photographers.

Emirates Team New Zealand was the big winner for the weekend, with ORACLE TEAM USA a close second. 

All the boats are now packed away and the race village at Liberty Landing Marina is broken down -- only to be resurrected in Chicago for more racing next month!

Slow Start to America's Cup World Series

A fast-ebbing tide and a lack of wind nixed Saturday's races for the America's Cup world series in New York Harbor. But there wasn't a complete failure to foil -- the catamarans got lift from team support boats with tow lines during a parade of sail, and some managed to ride the minimal gusts that reared up every now and then. Here are a few shots from Saturday's show:

ORACLE Team USA gets towed past the crowds at North Cove Marina.

ORACLE Team USA gets towed past the crowds at North Cove Marina.

Land Rover Team Great Britain poses for the media boat cameras.

Land Rover Team Great Britain poses for the media boat cameras.

Emirates Team New Zealand finds some wind upriver.

Emirates Team New Zealand finds some wind upriver.

Squeezed Scallops Land High Prices

With her shrimp-colored outriggers and a home port of Seaford, Va., it wasn’t hard to wonder what a boat like Carolina Queen III was doing so far up north when she ran aground in a storm near Rockaway Inlet on Long Island last week.

Turns out she was chasing the nation’s most lucrative fishery: sea scallops, which, in 2014, amounted to a $400 million market.

“It’s a pretty mobile fleet,” said Deirdre Boelke, the sea scallop fishery analyst for the New England Fishery Management Council, explaining that the fishery spans an area from North Carolina to Maine, and that scallops prefer a depth of about 50 meters, or 150 feet.

“It wouldn’t be irregular for a Virginia boat to fish south of Long Island or off the coast of New York or New Jersey,” she added. “It’s a typical area for scallop fishing.”

She added that the title of most lucrative fishery "goes back and forth with lobster" -- although that fishery is managed by individual states. So in terms of "completely federally managed fisheries, by revenue, scallop is the highest."

But that may be changing. Scallop market revenue is down from $600 million in 2011. Similarly, total pounds harvested is down, from about 60 million in 2012, to 33 million in 2014 -- a level not seen since 2001.

“After a few years of great fishing, the larger scallops have been depleted -- that’s to be expected -- and the fishery is waiting for the smaller scallops to grow to a more harvestable size,” said Emily Gilbert, scallop fishery expert at NOAA Fishery Service. “There have been a lot of small scallops seen in surveys in recent years and management has been focused on protecting them for future harvest.”

Catch limits were lowered during these last few years, Gilbert said.

The New York Bight actually has the largest abundance of “open area” scallops. That’s opposed to “access areas” where hauls are subject to annual weight limits -- 51,000 pounds this year. Open areas, on the other hand, are limited to days-at-sea, which totaled about 31 days in 2015.

Both measures are down from a high of 72,000 pounds in 2012, and 38 days in 2010, respectively.

“This is a very healthy resource overall,” Boelke said, “but it is a natural resource that fluctuates from year to year, so some variation is to be expected.”

The figures aren’t out yet, but experts are expecting the downward trend in pounds and revenues to continue in 2015. 

Despite the declines, scallop boats are still making a decent living, averaging earnings of $1 million to $1.5 million annually, Boelke said. 

The squeezed supply is driving historical high prices. Scallops are fetching about $12 per pound at a landing, up from $8 per pound just 5 years ago. 

Boelke said there’s evidence that the fishery is on the mend: “In 2014 and 2015, we have seen above-average recruitment” -- that’s fishery-speak for growth of new scallops -- “so in a few years after those above-average year classes grow, landings and revenues are expected to increase again.”

Experts remain hopeful for signs of a recovery by 2017 or 2018, and the fishermen aren’t panicking just yet.

“The stock is healthy, and fishermen are making good money,” said Ron Vreeland, operations manager at Viking Village, one of the largest seafood producers in New Jersey.

Vreeland said the scallop fishery has been “a great success” and “one of the best models of rules and regulations working to benefit everyone.”

Overfishing was a major problem for the scallop fishery in the 1970s, but a federal management plan implemented in 1982 and subsequent revisions in the 1990s and 2000s have helped the animal bounce back, and have made the fishery profitable once again.

"It's a fast-growing animal, and it's very reproductive, so it bounced back quickly after we put management in place," Boelke said. "It's still a very stable, lucrative fishery."


Morris Canal Oil Spill

The fuel barge at Liberty Harbor on the north side of Morris Canal in Jersey City partially sunk on Sunday morning. 

The U.S. Coast Guard sent a boat out in -2 degrees Fahrenheit to investigate. An oil containment boom was placed around the barge and in the afternoon two pumps started dewatering the hull, which lasted into the night.

Overnight, tenants at an adjacent marina reported strong fuel odors and saw that their boats were surrounded by diesel.

NJDEP and Ken's Marine, a HAZMAT/emergency oil spill/clean-up service responded to contain the spill and boomed off all nearby docks.

The spill was reported by NBC News on their 5pm broadcast. The barge owner declined to be interviewed, and the clean-up is ongoing.

Sea Smoke on the Hudson

A thick layer of sea smoke blanketed the lower Hudson River and upper bay this morning. It's one thing to see fog roll in, but to see tall wisps of steam waft up from the water is more rare and enchanting.

Sailors aboard the Zanabe had the perfect eye-level view of the phenomenon:

According to a paper by Woods Hole researchers, sea smoke occurs when very cold air comes into contact with warmer water -- and the difference in temperatures has to be in the range of at least 5 to 15 degrees Celsius. That's about 40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Huge difference!

The water temperature at The Battery was 36F this morning, and the air temperature was -2F: the perfect differential for a stunning display.

Anthem of the Seas Returns to Port

After battling a storm in the Atlantic, Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas arrived back at Cape Liberty Cruise Terminal at about 8:30pm this evening.

Royal Caribbean reports that of more than 6,000 people on board, there were only four minor injuries.

Passengers were cheering on their balconies as the cruise ship docked.

As for visual damage to the vessel -- it seems one of the antenna domes is missing.

And one lifeboat's doors are boarded up with plywood.

Royal Caribbean states that most of the superficial damage has already been repaired, and Anthem will sail again on her next scheduled voyage, departing in three days.

ACL's Atlantic Star Arrives U.S.

The 'Atlantic Star' is the worlds largest Roll-On Roll-Off (RORO)/Container ship.

On January 9th, she arrived the U.S. on her inaugural voyage sailing under the Verrazano Bridge into New York Harbor.

Built in China in 2015, this is the first of five G4 ships commissioned by Atlantic Container Line (ACL).

With an overall length of 971 feet, she's rated at 3,800TEU + 28,900 sqm RORO + 1,300 vehicles with a crew of 16.

She will move cargo between Europe and North America with port calls in Hamburg, Goteburg, Antwerp, Liverpool, Halifax, New York, Baltimore and Norfolk.


After clearing the Bayonne Bridge she docked next to ACL's G3 'Atlantic Concert' in Port Newark.

Autumn kiteing in Atlantic Highlands

The beach at Sandy Hook Bay Catamaran Club is lined with kites and spectators, as the 2015 Foil Race & WOO Big Air Contest is happening this weekend.

Green Hat Kiteboarding put on the event calling all kiteboarders and foilboard riders from the tristate area to get together, and compete. While the foil race course was set up in deeper water about a half mile from shore, the WOO Big Air competition could be watched right off the beach. How high do they jump? On Saturday Denis Televnyy took 1st Place at 33.3 feet. Rudy Willemson claimed 2nd at 31.4 feet with 5.3 seconds airtime, closely followed by John Keenan who matched the height but landed 0.2 seconds sooner.

All height and airtime data are recorded by WOO clip-on sensors, attached to each board.

New York Media Boat stopped by for some photos:


A massive water salute erupted in New York Harbor, as the newest FDNY fireboat arrived just after 3pm today. She is named after Firefighter William M. Feehan who died in the 9/11 attacks. The name plates with red letters crafted from I-beam steel collected at ground zero are displayed on each side of the wheelhouse. 

Her 66-foot aluminum hull houses three C-18 Caterpillar engines for propulsion, delivering 1150HP each. Another 450HP Caterpillar C-9 engine drives the water pumps, and for additional pumping power, one of the main C-18 engines can be assigned to the main water canon. She delivers up to 7,000 gallons of seawater per minute and foam and purple-K additives are also on board if needed.

Her crew of five firemen consists of a pilot, an engineer, an officer and two deckhands -- safely housed inside the positive-pressure CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives) filtration system equipped bridge.

The $4.7-million medium-sized fast-response boat built by MetalCraft Marine in Kingston, Canada will be stationed at MARINE 6 in the East River, at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Tugboat Glamour Shots at the Great North River Race

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who would call a tugboat beautiful.

In a harbor full of tall-masted schooners on sunset cruises, custom-built sailboats, and sleek mega-yachts, tugboats are almost invisible, blending into the black and gunmetal gray backgrounds of industrial ports or the barges they tow. The tires that ring their hulls as fenders are reminiscent of mucky Hudson tidal flats where these rubbery doughnuts often come to rest. And it seems a wonder that any vessel with its bow seemingly cut off — like push-boat tugs — can even move water at all.

But when you finally get up close to these workhorses of the harbor, it’s easy to gain an appreciation for their individuality.

Maybe that’s easier when you’re observing them with Will Van Dorp, who runs the blog tugster (see the New York Times profile here) and knows most of the tugboats in the Great North River Tugboat Race by name.

“There’s Patricia,” he says, pointing to a light-gray, three-deck push-boat at the far end of a crowded field of some 20 tugs. Van Dorp has blogged about Patricia before. The first time was when he saw her out the window of a MetroNorth train and recognized her as a new kid on the block.

Almost all of the race entrants have been tagged on tugster at some point, usually observed from one of Van Dorp’s key vistas like the north end of Staten Island, where tugs thread huge barges through the Kill Van Kull.

As we weave through the race field for photos, I start to understand the appeal of tug-spotting.

The Robert E. McAllister is a big red fire engine with its high bow and long tail. The Eric R. Thornton is a hunter-green rain boot. Buchanan 12 is a three-tiered white layer cake with blue and red icing.

The tugs are also windows into how industrial the Port of New York still is. They move barges carrying gravel, salt, crude oil, grain, metals, and dozens of other commodities. Many of them bear the names of companies that started in New York Harbor in the late 19th century — Moran and McAllister, for instance — that in some cases still employ several generations of family members.

Horns blast to signal the race start, and the tugs nose up to the invisible line jutting west off of Pier I. When the countdown ends, they rev into gear and push south with the tide down the river. They throw a foamy white bow wake that completes the workhorse analogy, giving them the wispy white hooves of clydesdales.

Van Dorp is shooting away, and the tugs are flexing for the camera. Some of them look as if they’ve just downed a can of spinach (yes, there was a spinach-eating contest on the pier as part of the festivities) and their rippling muscles are going to send bolts and steel panels flying into the water.

In the tugster post that immediately follows the race, each boat that makes it into a photo is named and tagged, so its participation is on its permanent tugster record. Van Dorp hasn’t expressly called any of the tugs beautiful today — but then again, he doesn’t have to. A blog brimming with tugboat glamour shots says it all.

America's Got Talent

“A James Bond style boat chase in New York Harbor” is what an America’s Got Talentproducer wanted to film as a way to introduce one of their contestants. Damone Rippyfrom Texas was to compete with his flyboard in front of judges Heidi Klum, Mel B, Howard Stern, and Howie Mandel.

We set up three boats for the TV show — A ‘good guy’ boat for Damone and a bunch of bikini-clad girls, a ‘bad guy’ boat for the villain chasing them, and a camera boat for the crew.

The three-hour shoot was edited into a 10-second high-action intro.

Check out Captain Ken ducking out of the shot while operating the throttle, Damone and the girls rehearsing scenes at the dock, and the cameraman framing up a shot:

Harbor School drills Man Over Board

Students of the New York Harbor School performed MOB, Fire, and Abandon-Ship drills as part of their Safety at Sea class. The USCG Aids to Navigation Team joint in the evolutions and practiced medical evacuations between vessels. Handheld flares and floating smoke signals were deployed in the ‘Bayridge Flats’, as part of the exercise.

Trans-atlantic row: Ocean Valour 2015

The crowd cheered as Tom Rainey and Lawrence Walter walked  down the ramp and onto the dock at North Cove Marina in downtown Manhattan. They started their 3,800 mile row across the North Atlantic  at 10:30 ET this morning (May 3rd), course set for the United Kingdom. They are attempting to break the 119 year old record set by Norwegians in 1896 who completed the journey in 55 days and 13 hours.

Rainey is rowing in honor of his father who died from a brain tumor. He wants to raise awareness and $370,000 for the Brain Tumor Charity and the Brain Tumor Society.

His mother blessed their 23-foot custom row boat ‘Yves’ by pouring a bottle of champagne over the bow.

Sixty crews have attempted this route since, yet only twenty-three have reached the shores on the other side of the Atlantic.
You can follow their progress at

New York Media Boat escorted the team from Battery Park to The Narrows and we wish them a safe passage and great adventure!

Bomb Threat at Statue of Liberty

Visitors were evacuated shortly after 11am due to security concerns on Liberty Island. Statue Cruises sent their ships to move people off the island, as NYPD and U.S. Coast Guard vessels arrived and established a 1000-foot security zone around the island. The FDNY and other local fire departments staged their boats as well and the NYPD Bomb Squad was ferried to the Statue to investigate.

According to the National Park Service, a 911 caller had threatened to blow up the statue and K9 units detected an area of interest by the lockers said NYPD. A sweep of the island turned up negative and visitors will be able to return to the island on Saturday. The last time Liberty Island was closed to the public was after Hurricane Sandy caused major damage.

Swain swims Gowanus

Environmental activist Christoper Swain raised some major awareness this Earth Day by swimming in the toxic waters of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. He calls for an accelerated cleanup of the waterway, currently labeled a superfund site. Hundreds of people came out to see this stunt and anxiously awaited Swain, who is thought to be the first person in history to swim the entire length of the canal. Despite health officials’ recommendations and EPA advisories against coming into contact with the canal water, Swain donned his high-visibility drysuit, boots, gloves, and goggles and jumped in. The NYPD SCUBA Team was on standby, escorting him as he swam down the canal, under bridges lined with camera crews, photographers, and supporters cheering him on. He planned to swim the entire length of the canal, but approaching thunderstorms forced him to climb out early. He still made it some 8,000 feet and gave a press conference, dripping wet, in a Whole Foods parking lot.

Surveying the Five Gyres

Swirls of microplastics are undulating through five major ocean gyres — and the ‘Race For Water‘ plans to sail its MOD70 through each one of these.

These aren’t huge islands of trash. You don’t see bottles, fishing nets, and six-pack rings all bunched up and going for a ride around the Pacific. There’s not a big patch that turns up on satellite images, and you’re not likely to run into a lone mound of discarded tupperware on your Atlantic crossing, according to NOAA.

But there certainly are clumps of microplastics — tiny particles that are the breakdown product, through UV light and other environmental processes, of larger plastics — that get caught up in the inner circle of major ocean currents.

“Regardless of the exact size, mass, and location of these areas of concentration, man-made litter and debris do not belong in our oceans or waterways,” according to NOAA.

Race for Water says it will attempt to survey the island beaches caught up in the middle of these bands of pollution. These islands include Bermuda, Easter Island, Hawaii, and Tristan de Cunha — along with other remote islands that aren’t caught up in the trash-laden currents.

Drones are the main means of data collection. The images of island beaches they yield will be handed over to researchers at Duke University and Oregon State University for analysis.

There should also be plenty of observational data, too, as the six-member crew — all of them sailors, not scientists — will sail the 70-foot trimaran through the five major gyres on a year-long journey from Bordeaux and back.

Here are some photos of their New York stopover. The vessel is currently docked at Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City.

Brooklyn Blaze

The FDNY battled the 7-Alarm warehouse fire in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn from land and water. Engines and ladder trucks made little progress with their 1,000-gallons-per-minute nozzles…

… as strong west winds gusting over 30 knots kept fueling the inferno.
FDNY Marine Units responded to attack the fire from the East River.

The 65-foot fireboat ‘Bravest’ and the 140-foot ‘Fire Fighter II’ stationed upwind.

‘Fire Fighter II’ pumps 18,000 gallons-per-minute from her bow monitor, blasting the west-side of the building…

…successfully knocking down the exterior wall and fire behind it.

The warehouse is said to contain paper records from courts and hospitals, stacked in boxes from floor to ceiling. Twitter posts tagged #williamsburgfire showed embers being picked up as far as 2.5 miles downwind.
As firefighters keep dousing the building, the structure is expected to smolder for at least another couple of days.

New York Media Boat was on-scene for most of the day capturing images and video of the blaze.