Mooring Renewal

Yesterday I was up to the Port of NH to renew my  mooring for the Squamscott. It will be boating season  soon enough,and there is a deadline of March 1st.

This  is the tug that got swamped by the outgoing tide recently while working at the Memorial Bridge project.

There is going to  be a month long investigation of the incident. My view, someone did not check the lines securing the vessel  to the bridge abutment. This vessel has an odd bow for facing a strong outgoing tide. She is floating fine now. This tug travels all over the World performing lots of  duties and is likely crewed by qualified mariners.  The tide can be wicked on the Piscataqua and things  go wrong on  a boat real fast, any boat, anyplace.

“Did I put  what plug in honey?”

This dock above  is just  to the right of the tug, it’s a commercial dock .The Thomas Leighton(Shoals Steamship) is docked  to the right of this picture.

One night I was fishing  with a friend and  it got real foggy, so we left the channel and threw a line to the same cleat the fishing boat is using for it’s bow line. You don’t want to drop an anchor it would likely be fouled in this area. The fishing boat was not on the dock when we tied up. The Thomas Leighton had just returned from a night  cruise so it was about 11pm. There was no way we could make it up river and across the Great Bay  to Exeter, so we started casting as the revelers  on the Leighton hooted down at every  catch. The water was boiling with fish. The fishing boat showed up after 30 minutes of  fishing fun.

Fun over.

I got an earful from the Captain, about this dock being  a commercial dock. I did not make a peep and asked my buddy to keep the muttering down.

There are all types of folks on the water that’s for sure, but rules are rules. There are private docks, commercial  docks, and public docks. Unless you got an emergency, you better be on the right  dock.

The fog lifted  a bit soon after and we felt our way up to the General Sullivan bridge, we had to listen for cars on Rt 16 to find it, it was creepy and slow going. The fog then just  rose off the water like a curtain going up after we cleared the bridge and we raced home under a full Moon.

That is  one large vessel beyond at the State Pier.

You can  check ship registry’s now on the web. Those vessels that are using the AIS system show  up on  an interactive map of the World. Current ships position and track. The  This bulk carrier was last in Spain . It was there that it loaded cargo for  GP in Newington.

I had to slip across to Maine to get a good picture  of this ship, there was a slight morning haze still burning  off the water.

This  looks normal  right? A ship tied up and unloading, drive right by and that’s it.

“I saw a big ship today”

This bulk carrier  is unloading gypsum for the  Georgia Pacific drywall plant in Newington. Those vessel mounted cranes  are dipping into the holds to bring up the special  gypsum from Spain, I guess its very fine  stuff. This gypsum delivery has been going on for days. Another ship of the same type ,same cargo, same destination(GP) a few months ago took 6 days  to offload.

They are using trucks to unload this huge vessel and haul the gypsum up to the Sprague Energy Materials Storage area in Newington. They used the same method on the previous delivery months ago.

Sprague then trucks the material as needed  to the GP plant a few doors down. The  fleet of trucks is working 12 hour shifts. They leave the Port , get on Route 1 south to the traffic Circle, then up Route 16 to River Rd(Rockingham Electric) and the Sprague facility.

Don’t wash your car and drive on Rt 16 when this operation is ongoing.

So why are they doing this? This seems to adding a great deal of expense to the procurement of raw materials, and it’s tying up the State pier for a good chunk of time.

The shipper is using the wrong type  of vessel. That  vessel at the State pier can’t unload at the Sprague pier further up river.

This the right type of vessel to be using for the  Sprague Storage facility pier.

This type of bulk ship is a self -unloader and requires no shore side assistance. It is the type of vessel that normally delivers  gypsum to the Sprague facility. This  type of vessel is according to Sprague, in short supply for hire. These ships haul coal one month, grain the next, gypsum. Oh, I know all about gypsum now after  2 days.  I could give a lecture on gypsum.Wallboard too, it’s quite a story. Gypsum Mines were closed in Canada due to the general economic downturn  a few years ago  and  the dedicated ships were self unloaders plying the North Atlantic. They made regular stops up and down the east Coast, it was a milk run.

“Welcome to EXTV, tonight an in depth look at Gypsum with  Mike Lambert , just back from the mines in Spain”

‘Good evening , this is one of the many wine bags I collected during my investigation with my intrepid companion  Doozie”

I found a blog  all about Nova Scotia shipping news that details the capabilities of the special self unloaders and the demise of the gypsum trade.

Here’s a sample of that  blog Ship Fax

“Its most recent fleet upgrade saw two new self-unloaders, Gypsum Centennial built in 2001 and Gypsum Integrity built in 2008. Ostensibly sister ships, they could carry 42,000 tonnes, and unload gypsum at a rate of 3,000 tonnes per hour. These ships have now found work in other bulk trades.”

I looked up a few of the self unloaders using that ship locator site  and they are busy , in the South Atlantic, Africa, Brazil. They indeed have found other work.

Sprague might install shore side hoppers for the type for ship they are able to hire,then the cranes would simply dump it in the  hoppers and a  conveyer could move it to storage. Still seems slow  to  me.

This vessel  is tied up at the Sprague pier  in Newington, it’s a chemical/oil tanker. I really like  cruising around a working waterfront .

Today this vessel is transiting the Black Sea, off the coast  of Georgia.

“No smoking Sergei!”

The turning basin  off the Sprague  pier is scheduled for dredging and is  a huge project, maybe 10 million. Still a few years away.  We have had a grounding in this area by a large vessel making the swing.

I think an answer is to work a bit harder on securing the right vessel for transport and the Public should  be kept more aware of  operations  at the Port.

Is the State charging enough for the use of the pier.? Just asking.

I know wallboard had a hefty increase recently.

Do you  know where synthetic  gypsum comes from? I bet you will be surprised. This  information could be useful on Jeopardy some day.



I took this picture of the Tappan Zee bridge in 2010, July 4th from a Park in Tarrytown NY on the eastern shore of the Hudson River. Doozie and I were spending the 4th with our son Jeffrey who was through hiking the Appalachian Trail. He had not yet crossed the River, on foot. After the festivities we would be  dropping him  back on trail for his crossing near West Point. I met up with him again weeks later  in North Adams MA as he crossed into Vermont.

Upon my return from the 4th and reviewing the photos I did a little checking  on the span. It has to be replaced with a price tag in the billions. There is a pitched battle going on now in NY State regarding design and financing. The new  plans  have dropped a public transportation link, rail, dedicated  buses, in favor of cars  & trucks. This is  a very important bridge in our Country, it is vital.

It was built to last 50 years in a time of shortages(Korean War) and never was designed for the volumes of traffic streaming across the Hudson. It carries as many as 140,000 vehicles a day,it can spike to 170,000. Projections  say by 2030 200,ooo vehicles a day.

The future’s so bright you  gotta wear shades.

The  history of the bridge is rife with political maneuvering which resulted in it being built at one of the widest points of the River. The most important consideration was to keep it out of the clutches of the Port Authority and that all toll revenue would  go to the NY State Thruway System.

So, the  crossing location at  Nyack is one mile north of  Port Authority’s realm.

This replacement project is a top National priority.

This container ship is passing beneath the Bayonne Bridge  which spans the Kill Van Kull shipping channel between Bayonne NJ, and Staten Island NY. The Bayonne Bridge is the 4th longest steel arch bridge in the World. When opened in 1931 it was the longest. Twelve percent of all US international containers pass under the bridge.

The bridge is too low for the new super container ships, so for  for a couple of billion they are going to  raise the deck. It’s worth it.  This bridge project like the Tappan Zee has generated a  strong lobby of citizens asking for a rail or bus component, now missing.

The work on the new deck will be done  while traffic flows  underneath, then when completed , the old deck will be cut away. Only the largest  World harbors will be visited by these new behemoths of  the oceans. They carry huge amounts of cargo, and require new cranes to reach across the the full beam of the vessel. You also need significant  infrastructure on shore, rails, highways , to move the cargo .

A couple of weeks ago I bumped into Cliff Sinnott at Xtra Mart one evening. Cliff is the Executive Director of the Rockingham Planning Commission, and a neighbor. He had some news for me on something I had spotted regarding the Park Street  Bridge some time  ago. He told me  that project has been pushed off  at least 2 years, so no battle to join just yet( sigh of relief).

I told  him that my son Jeffrey  had sent me a note with a web link, “right up your alley Dad!”. It is a web site detailing our National Bridge Crisis. There is a map and it’s interactive, and sobering.

Please  try not to breathe a sigh of relief at NH’ s low numbers  of decrepit bridges.

You  might actually live  somewhere else  in the future, or take a drive beyond the State  line.

I mentioned to Cliff I wanted  to post  on the issue  as triage is  needed given the scope of the problem. He  liked that word “triage”

You might be waiting a long time for your home town bridge to get fixed, there are more important  bridges that are crucial to commerce  and  security, and safety.

I think Portsmouth was damn  lucky to get a nickel in funding for the Memorial Bridge. I hope  moving forward the locals everywhere in the Country realize  where  they  might be in line and are  more realistic.Enjoy all the hoopla , I guess, but  in the grand scheme your bridge could be just another bridge.

You might have to “go around” for awhile.

Today I was back at Xtra Mart and grabbed a Boston Globe to read with  coffee. Here is a portion of a  column from today’s edition written by Juliette Kayyem.

Bridge to the future

This time, let’s build infrastructure that lasts.

“Infrastructure projects are too often promoted exclusively for job creation, a legacy of Obama’s early stimulus package. They focus our attention on quantifiable standards of jobs gained or money spent. That’s not necessarily bad, but it can limit how we judge the quality of these investments and how we build those projects.

So, here are a few things we can predict about the future: There will be hurricanes and flooding, earthquakes and tornadoes, and even crazy people who will want to blow things up or tear things down. None of this is new, or particularly surprising. But these threats are multiplied by the interconnections of a society where people, resources, communications networks, and supply chains often begin and end at the same place.

In other words, not every bridge is “the’’ bridge, as former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff correctly suggested when talking about prioritizing security efforts. Losing a two-lane bridge down the street from his house would be inconvenient, but of insignificance compared to losing the Golden Gate Bridge.”

Transportation for America Bridge Map


Annoying bridge

Photo by

The condos at  this site are going up. I used to dock there when it was a  restaurant. Portsmouth could use more dock space for transients.

The completed project will be for 4 condos, nice  just four lucky souls. Now if they could get that bridge condemned they really would be sitting pretty. If you look at the  conceptual drawing you don’t want a condo on the bridge side. The walkers on the bridge could be so annoying. That bell ringing every time they raise the bridge( every half hour 7am -7pm). Maybe a really bad  performance of Grease could be torture if you took the Prescott Park side, decisions decisions.

Let’s not forget  all the hell that  Susan Conway had to go  through to get the deal done.

This article below  mentions Malcolm McNeill. I love any chance to spotlight  this fellow.  Whose strategy was the biker bar  ploy?

Loud Pipes Saloon Editorial


Here are the options from the Save Our Bridges  site. Interesting that  removal is on the list huh? I found this after writing the post.There is lots of potential for  funny business on this deal. One Harbor Place Condos has some players that might want the bridge issue resolved. The  Judd&Cyrus  Harbor  Tunnel? Let’s think big people.

For the Memorial Bridge, the options that remain are:

  • Rehabilitate the Bridge (Funding for this option has been applied for under the Stimulus Program)
  • Replace the Bridge (Remove the existing bridge and build a new bridge of similar design to replace it)
  • Replace with a Bridge downstream from existing bridge (Build a replacement bridge 60 feet East of the existing bridge before removing the existing bridge)
  • Close and remove the Bridge (leaving no crossing between Kittery, Badgers Island, and Portsmouth)
  • Replace the Bridge with a Pedestrian/Bicycle bridge (Remove the Memorial Bridge and build a new span)

UPDATE 2/23/10

No money  on the way for repairs. NH along with 9 other States got no monies for special  projects. Stamford CT lost a project long in the works for downtown, a significant transportation project.

Zip line across the river?

Anyone want  to invest in a bicycle ferry?

Keep your eyes  on this one.

That  bridge is so annoying.