New York is a city dressed in glass, anchored in stone, driven by an energy fueled with creativity, invention and commerce. Her heart beats with dreams but her blood flows from the sea.
Today we celebrated the 26th annual Tugboat Race and Competition on the Great North River (aka Hudson).
The day was fittingly wet, and unseasonably cool. The gray moist sky blending with the Hudson set the mood.
The competition began with tugs parading past pier 84 where judges noted the competing tugs, their crews and captains. Taking their place along an invisible starting line, the tugs gathered their steam and readied for the horn that would signal the start of the race. The deep sound of a river horn blower set them off, their large engines churning the dark river to white froth.
After the race, tugs challenged each other to nose-to-nose pushing contests, blowing black steam from their stacks as they struggled to turn their opponents bow.
These are working boats, the laborers of the harbor. They move the cruise ships into their slips, push barges up and down the river, and manage the heavy lifting of work that lives on the river.
All except the Decker. W.O.Decker, built in 1930 is small by today’s standards. He spent his life moving barges along the eastern waterway. Like the WWII veteran that never gives up the fight, the Decker makes his appearance on special occasions, and can usually be found on the piers near the South Seaport Museum.
This day of fun and games allows those of us who long to be a part of the river, a few hours of connection with the beloved tugs.
The games are presented by the Working Harbor Committee whose mission is to strengthen awareness of the working harbor’s history, its vitality and opportunities for the future.
The Annual Great North River Tugboat Race takes place each September. The event is free and can be witnessed from pier 84, or tickets may be purchased for the spectator boat. The weather seems to celebrate the day as well, bringing the cold wet winds of the Hudson.