The annual Waterford Tugboat Roundup is set for this weekend, September 7-9, with an estimated 30 boats expected to attend. The boats range from historic to modern tugs, workboats, fireboats, crew boats, tenders and more.
A main attraction of the Roundup will be the new paint job of the Harvey. This historic fireboat became itself a palette for Tauba Auerbach, an artist commissioned by the Public Art Fund and 14-18 Now Exhibition. The rendering of the Harvey shows contradictory directions of whites and reds, emulating the ‘dazzle designs’ applied to ships during World War I to confuse U- boats in firing torpedoes.
The U-boat captain determined the timing of the torpedo based on lining up a split screen in his periscope. The ‘dazzle’ camouflage design made lining up the split screen nearly impossible. A similar paint scheme exists on the USS Slater, a destroyer escort permanently docked on the Hudson River in downtown Albany. The paint schemes help celebrate the end of WWI on November, 2018.
The Tugboat Roundup will feature music throughout weekend with kids’ activities, walk-throughs of many of the boats, tour boat rides on the Caldwell Belle and more. A fireworks show is scheduled for Saturday night, weather permitting.
This year there will also be “Tug Talks” in the Visitor’s Center. Five presentations are scheduled on various topics including the saving of historic vessels such as the Harvey (of interest with recent attention to other historic vessels). Topics will include “Tugboats 101; What do Tugboats Do?”, a presentation on the sinking of a canal tug in the early 20th century and a presentation on continuing bicentennial plans of the NYS Canal System.
The John J Harvey will be arriving in the Albany area on Thursday, September 6, docking alongside the USS Slater at the foot of State St. While there, the Harvey will be open for tours.
The artist behind the dazzle paint job, Tauba Auerbach, works with various mediums, including photography, sculpture and language. With a personal penchant for history, she drew from an understanding of the WWI camouflage and an inspiration from rhythmic designs found in the wake patters of boats moving through the water.
The Harvey will be exhibiting this work through mid-May, 2019. After the exhibition closes, the Harvey will be restored to its historic paint scheme.
A major benefit to the Harvey was a full sand-blasting, hull treatment and epoxy base-coat which should help protect the ship from the elements for years to come.
The Tugboat Roundup is an annual event celebrating its 19th year. Described as the largest maritime festival in New York State, the Roundup is produced by the Town of Waterford and sponsor-supported. There is no charge for any part of the event other than food, any souvenirs and the tour-boat rides on the river.
For up to date schedules and parking information, click here.
Photo of the Harvey with dazzle paint provided.