Saturday, March 2, 2013

View from a 140-foot Coast Guard Cutter

Aboard the Penobscot Bay:
West Point to Poughkeepsie and back
After celebrating Hawser, Line and Wire's 50th birthday last Thursday I concluded "Coast Guard Week" on Tuesday with a tour aboard the Penobscot Bay, a 140-foot "Bay Class" Coast Guard ice breaker.

Lo and behold, in late February in the Hudson Valley little ice remains to be broken. Nevertheless my colleagues and I enjoyed meeting the able crew, hearing about their ice breaking and oil response operations and left totally impressed by their dedication and skill in keeping the Hudson River open to traffic, safe and clean.

Here is a file photo of the Penobscot Bay.  Clearly the crew is happier when presented with a challenging floe of ice like this day, January 26th at the Hudson Athens Light:

Penobscot Bay
And here she is viewed from 212 feet above from the old Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge, later to become Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park :

Penobscot Bay from above

Leaving West Point
On Tuesday, after our safety briefing by Chief Petty Office Eric Goldberg, we pushed off the dock at the US Military Academy at West Point in to a placid river and sailed north toward World's End, a narrow, doglegged choke point and at 216 feet the Hudson's deepest point.

CPO Goldberg on the forepeak
CPO Goldberg
Preparing to leave the dock  
US Military Academy at West Point
The United States Military Academy at West Point, established in 1803, is one of New York's most historic sites.

Warner Sisters' home and dock at Constitution Island
In 1834 Susan and Anna Warner moved to the island with their father.  Anna later wrote "Jesus Loves Me," a song we sing with the Navajo children in their native tongue in Bluff, Utah each July.

Lots of good information about Constitution Island here:

World's End.  Gee's Point (left), Constitution Island (r)
and Breakneck Ridge in distance.
The Hudson bends to the left around the rocky shore
Except for the light tower, Henry Hudson would have experienced this same view in 1609.  It appears as if the Hudson River abruptly ends here--thus the name "World's End."

Gee's Point looking west

Around World's End and up the Hudson
But the river turns wet and then north, opening up as if a beautiful lake framed with fjord-like cliffs.

Now around World's End, looking north we see Magazine Point
on Constitution island (l) and Target Point (r) and
Storm King Mountain behind 
Target Point and Storm King
Magazine Point, Bull Hill and Breakneck Ridge

In the Pilothouse
In the warmth of the pilothouse, the commanding officer McCormack explained about the Penobscot Bay's ice breaking operations:

And northward under the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge:

Finally, some ice--and bald eagles everywhere!
Recently, after a 100-year absence, the bald eagle population has made a dramatic comeback on the Hudson River. We saw about 25 and as many as none at once on the ice floes between Newburgh Bay and Danskammer Point.

My 'hood
After our briefing on the Coast Guard's spill response operation, I looked out the window and saw my neighborhood whisking by.  So I scurried out on deck and caught some photos:

Bob Shepard Highland Landing Park.
Once a small oil terminal--now a nearly completed park.
New bulkhead, boat launch, dock, and environmental center

The foot of my road--Mile Hill Road.
I live 1/2 mile up the hill

Mariners-on-the Hudson.
My favorite waterfront restaurant
and marina where I keep my sailboat

Back south past Walkway Over the Hudson 
Walkway. My commute when I bike.

The Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge, opened in 1888 and abandoned after a fire in 1974 was reopened as a linear park to great fanfare in 2009.  Soaring 212 feet above the Hudson, the park attracts about 1/2 million annual visits.  It s soon to be connected to a network of rail trails spanning Ulster and Dutchess Counties.

The Mid-Hudson Children's Museum, Piano Key factory (now condos)
and Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which rises above Poughkeepsie's Little Italy
The FDR Mid-Hudson Bridge, carrying Route 44/55 across the Hudson.
My commute when I drive.

Franny Reese State Park and Blue Point
Once the site of 850 proposed condos, Franny Reese State Park, was saved by Scenic Hudson

Franny Reese State Park
Blue Point.  The Dutch called it Jeffrous Hook

Penobscot Bay detail

You know who you are.

Newburgh and the Hudson Highlands
Former Regal Bag Factory, Newburgh
Bannerman's Castle on Pollepel Island
Storm King 
Main Street, Cold Spring

Thanks to the US Coast Guard and the captain and crew of the Penobscot Bay for their hospitality during our tour, their commitment to the Hudson River, and their service to our nation!