The letter below was produced by the KSC Board of Directors, on behalf of the Sailing Club, in response to a Coast Guard proposal that will allow permanent barge anchorages in the Sailing Club’s home waters. Make your voice heard by accessing the proposal online and clicking the comment button in the upper right corner https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=USCG-2016-0132-0001. A PDF copy of this letter is posted in our ‘racing documents’ section if you would like to download it.
Kingston Sailing Club
c/o Hudson River Maritime Museum
50 Rondout Landing
Kingston, NY 12401
August 3rd, 2016
Craig D. Lapiejko
Waterways Management Branch, US Coast Guard First District and Department of Homeland Security
RE: Proposed Anchorage Grounds at Kingston Flats, Port Ewen and Big Rock Point, Docket # USCG-2016-0132
To whom it may concern,
The Kingston Sailing Club has more than 40 years of history on the Hudson River, running weekly sail races between the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge and the Esopus Lighthouse, regional HYRA regattas, Full Moon Sails and Raft-ups just off Freer Park in Port Ewen where guests are introduced to the beauty of the river.
The founder of our club, Warren Spinnenweber, was an active supporter and protector of this stretch of the river, and was distinguished as the last human keeper of the Kingston Lighthouse.
Thus, our observations of potential impacts of the proposed anchorage grounds stem from a thorough knowledge and continual use of these waters for four decades. The US Coast Guard is already aware of our club’s use of the river with racing lanes from bank to bank from the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge to the Esopus Lighthouse. A usage permit request two years ago was deemed unnecessary by the Coast Guard because it was considered “normal use activities.”
The attached map shows the race courses in typical use on any given weekend with an overlay of the proposed anchorage grounds. As you can see, the proposed anchorage off Port Ewen for one vessel sits directly North of the race start area. That area is already problematic because of a submerged sea wall along the West shore where our club has maintained warning markers following the cardiac death of one of our sailors whose boat ran into it. Constricting the start area further with the presence of a barge increases the hazard to our sailors.
Two other points are important to note about this area: The cove just south of the Kingston Lighthouse serves as safe harbor for vessels of all kinds in foul weather and is a training ground for our fleet of novice small craft sailors.
The anchorage for three vessels near East Kingston Flats also sits within our northern race routes which use the East channel of the flats to race to the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge.
Perhaps more importantly, returning nighttime vessels from the South line up with the buoys from Esopus Light that lead the vessels straight to the entrance of the Rondout Creek. Having four barges stationed through the night at Big Rock and another at the entrance to the creek physically blocks that line of sight and creates visual confusion with competing light sources on the river.
A daylight concern about Big Rock Point anchorage is that it would essentially create a wall of barges in the heart of our racing area. We have had experience with barges that have used this area as a periodic resting spot over the last couple of years. The effect is equivalent to putting a mountain in the middle of the river. It changes the wind flow and it’s difficult when a smaller boat gets stuck in the lee of one of these barges.
If the barges are there all the time, there is very little room between the barges and the western bank sandbar. As sailing vessels, we need the breadth of the river to tack in order to make progress. This particular anchorage ground would seriously hamper the ability of racers to progress down the river on course and would result in more boats grounding on the sandbar or knicking the barges in an attempt at a maximum line of sail.
Mapping out the Southern end of the Kingston Flats anchorage on our navigation charts, it seems to overlap a cable crossing on the river, which could cause serious utility service problems if mishandled.
The Rondout Creek is historically a barge-friendly location and we understand the needs of the operators to have resting grounds where they can stage approaches to challenging areas of the river. It is curious that Homeland Security would not have its own concerns about fuel-laden barges along the river creating an exponentially dangerous terrorist target hazard where currently none exist. (i.e. Deploying a drone weapon over open water is moderately interesting. Dropping it over anchored fuel barges increases the damage a hundredfold). However, that aspect is for Homeland Security to evaluate, not us.
Our concern as a long-term sailing organization is to ask for mitigations that would allow a compatible continued use by both the sailors and barge operators:
- Maintain a transient barge presence rather than permanent barge parking area.
- Limit barge layovers on weekends.
- Equip barge and tug lights with directional shields that provide the necessary lighted deck security without creating glare light pollution for the shore communities and night sailors. This does not apply to required anchor and navigational running lights which should be visible from all angles.
John Stephenson, Kingston Sailing Club Commodore,
and Kingston Sailing Club Officers:
Past Commodore: Ian Westergren
Past Commodore: Barry Medenbach
Vice Commodore: Catherine A. Maloney
Rear Commodore: George Minervini
Treasurer: Renee Newallo-Stanley
Secretary: Jody Sterling
Race Committee Chairman: David Wightman
Cruise Committee Chair: Deborah Medenbach
Kingston Sailing Club Racing Area
Proposed Anchorage in Kingston Flats
Proposed Anchorage by Port Ewen (upper)
Proposed Anchorage by Big Rock Pt (lower)