By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina
Last year, on the spur of the moment, we attended our first-ever Great North River Tugboat Race & Competition (see the writeup, “We’re Off to the (Tugboat) Races!”).
We were stunned, blown away, and delighted by the experience.
So it’s only natural that this year, we were conflicted. On the one hand, we were eager to go again; on the other hand, how could it possibly live up to the previous time?
Let’s just say… it did.
Not only was the weather perfect (cool and cloudy) but the competition was cast right out of Hollywood: It was clear from the get-go that the real contest in this year’s event would be between the gloriously retro red Resolute and the ultra-modern white Red Hook. Both are gorgeous boats, with stalwart crews. And even though the Resolute won the actual race, the Red Hook picked up a number of awards—including the surprise twist of its captain winning the spinach-eating contest!
Another notable first was this year’s winning mascot—the first-ever donkey in the event. It was Buddy, the Debora Miller‘s mascot, and it placidly munched hay throughout the entire event—on its perch three stories up.
Retelling the narrative from start to finish is beyond the capacity of this blogger. So, let’s go straight to the photos (click on any photo to start a slideshow).
1. The tugs arrive and the fireboat John J. Harvey leads the parade of tugs up the Hudson River:
The tugs arrive from downriver
… and await the start
The fireboat “John J. Harvey” opens the proceedings
A splash of color
The parade up the river begins
The “Susan Miller”
The “John J. Harvey” sweeps past
Wait—the “W. O. Decker” is going the wrong way!
… as is the “Seagus”
We get wet
The “Debora Miller”
The “Peter F. Gellatly”
Red against the gray skies
The “John J. Harvey” sends up graceful arcs of water
… as she stands off in the middle of the river
The “W. O. Decker” brings up the rear
… along with the “Seagus”
… two diminutive tugs
The tug parade heads on up the river
… for the start of the race
The tugs turn around
The “Resolute” looks impressive
2. The race!
The tugs line up for the start of the race
The “Lt. Michael P. Murphy” joins in
The “Resolute” and the “Tasman Sea” might be the two tugs to watch
And they are off!
The “Resolute” and the “Hunting Creek” compete
The “Tasman Sea” throws up quite a wave
The “Resolute” forges ahead
… and overtakes the “Hunting Creek”
The “Resolutes” cheer
Behind, the “Hunting Creek” and the “Peter F. Gellatly” compete for second place
The “Tasman Sea” alone
The tugs sweep past to the finish
The fireboat “Three Forty Three” welcomes the finishers (photo by Johna)
The “Tasman Sea” comes up
… the biggest boat in the race
The race is over
3. Nose-to-nose pushing contests:
The “John J. Harvey” poops out
The tugs return to the finish line
A Miller contest: the “Susan Miller” versus the “Catherine C. Miller”
“Red Hook” versus “Resolute”
The “Tasman Sea” looks for victims
Another Miller contest: the “Freddie K. Miller” versus the “Debora Miller”
Downriver, the Statue of Liberty
The Miller tugs are still at it
The “Peter F. Gallatly” alone
“Red Hook” versus “Hunting Creek”
The two biggest ones: “Resolute” versus the “Tasman Sea”
The “Susan Miller” cruises past
“Red Hook” and the “Debora Miller”, disengaged
The “Debora Miller” comes closer
And what’s this on the top deck?
The business end of “Hunting Creek” (photo by Johna)
All this against the background of the city
Gingerly, the two tiny–and old and fragile–tugs, the “W. O. Decker” and the “Seagus”, nudge each other
Now the “John J. Harvey” can take it easy
… she’s by far the most colorful vessel in the event
The “Susan Miller” heads in
The “Freddie K. Miller”, one final time
They are all waiting their turn to try the line toss (unfortunately not well visible from our boat)
4. The tugs tie up at Pier 84 for the land-based contests:
The tugs tie up
Getting off can be tricky
Friends and family relax on the back decks
5. Spinach-eating contest:
One competitor prepares
… and another
… and a third, tense before the start (it’s a serious business)…
Approximately 12 seconds later, Joe is well satisfied with his meal
And he is the winner!
6. And finally, the one we’d all been waiting for—the tattoo competition!
Strutting their stuff—the competition begins
The lady judges start their work
Nautically-themed tattoos are preferred
Another competitor comes forward
… and yet another
All this requires VERY careful examination
… and documentation
The judges confer
A last-minute attempt at bribery
And we have a winner!!
That’s it, folks—it’s all over, until next year!
The official race and competition results are here.
Many other photographers, present on shore, on attending boats, and on some of the tugs themselves, have also posted great photos and videos of the event. Here are some of them: