Rain doesn’t dampen competition at Great North River Tugboat Race

The Oct. 9 rain date for New York City’s annual Great North River Tugboat Race brought more rain, but Sunday’s event went off as planned after being rescheduled from Labor Day weekend.

Eight tugboats rendezvoused at Manhattan’s Pier 84 on the Hudson River for the Sunday morning competitions. There was a race past the city’s West Side piers classed by horsepower, timed line throwing to the pier, and bow-to-bow pushing challenges.

“This is the best seat in the house to see this race,” said John McCluskey, as he narrated the action for about 200 spectators on Sightseer VII, a 151’x23’x11’ Circle Line tour boat running with the tugs in gusty rain and wind.

Despite the weather, the rescheduled event went on without a hitch. The race is a fundraising event for the Working Harbor Committee, a nonprofit group that educates the public about the New York and New Jersey maritime industry.

This year’s competitors and crews included:
Buchanan Marine LP’s two 2,200-hp tugs Buchanan 1 and Mister T
Donjon Marine’s 3,000-hp Emily Ann and 2,250-hp Meagan Ann
Miller Launch’s 1,500-hp Susan Miller
Norfolk Tug Company’s James William and Taft Beach
Wittich Bros. Marine’s 1,400-hp Sea Wolf

The winners, by horsepower class:

Class A: First place Emily Ann, 3 minutes 45 seconds; second place Mister T, 3 minutes 54 seconds; third place James William, 4 minutes.

Class B: First place Meagan Ann, 3 minutes 47 seconds; second place Taft Beach, 4 minutes  14 seconds; third place Buchanan 1, 4 minutes 41 seconds.

Class C: First place Sea Wolf, 4 minutes 28 seconds; second place Susan Miller, 4 minutes 35 seconds.

The Working Harbor Committee regularly hosts two-hour narrated boat tours of working waterfronts in New York and New Jersey, taking people to corners of the still-thriving maritime industry they would not otherwise get to see. The committee also engages with at-risk high school youth, introducing them to the harbor industry and the opportunities and educational requirements for maritime employment.

The tug race started in the early 1990s and was hosted by the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum. In the early days, it ran from the aircraft carrier at Pier 86 to the 79th St. Boat Basin. In the mid-2000s, a former Intrepid staffer, Capt. Jerry Roberts, took over running the event with help from others, including the Working Harbor Committee.

After experimenting at a couple of locations, the organizers settled on Pier 84, between the Intrepid and the Circle Lines terminal at the foot of West 42nd St. Now a park, the location affords spectators a good view of parading tugs and an opportunity to see them and their crews up close.

About the author

Kirk Moore

Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been a field editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for almost 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

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