Update on ferry boat horn nuisance

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March 29, 2014- By Steven E. Greer

Congressman Nadler updated the community today during a very informal meet-and-greet in front of Gateway Plaza. He seems to have made an earnest effort to speak to the U.S. Coast Guard about the laws now suddenly enforced that force the ferry boats to honk three times before they dock, and then again when they depart, from the Vesey Street slip. Unfortunately, his meetings have resulted in no progress, to make a long story short.

Being a military federal agency, the local Coast Guard officials are very resistant to common sense solutions. However, there are precedent setting cases elsewhere that could help convince our local Coast Guard to do the same.

According to Michael Fortenbaugh, the Commodore of the North Cove Marina, at a recent meeting of the Coast Gaurd’s Harbor Ops, “The head of Harbor Ops noted that on his tug boat, he has the option for three horn directions, one to starboard, one to port and one behind the tugboat. His horns are loud and the tug does not want to blast the people on their tow. So, they choose the direction of the horn needed.

This could be applied to the ferries. Right now, the ferries only have a forward facing horn and the sound is needed in their rear, so most of the sound is sent in the wrong direction; 95% noise pollution with no increase in safety. If the ferries were outfitted with two horns, one in the front and one in the rear, then at the WFC terminal, they could blow the rear horn only. Also, the rear horn could also be sized to be the minimal decibel level to comply with federal regulations.

In other words, this could reduce the sound by a very large percentage. Instead of blasting residents sleeping in their apartments, the ferries would target their horn towards at the water and behind their boats.  More sound would get where it is needed and less sound would affect the community.”.

Also, in other parts of the country, similar noise problems relating to maritime vessels and regulations have been solved by using whistles instead of horns. In Northern Michigan, the Coast Guard also began to enforce the laws requiring ferry boats to honk, but a town committee voted to switch out the horns to less disruptive whistles.

The Port Authority owns and operates the ferry boat slip affecting Battery Park City. Janet Cox is the point person, and she will soon have a new boss. In the wake of the Governor Christie Bridegate scandals, the Chairman of the Port Authority has resigned. The new leadership of the Port Authority could create an opportunity.

In addition to Rep. Nadler, Senator Schumer could also be of assistance. A group of concerned residents is planning to visit Senator Schumer’s office.

New Yorker Magazine covers our story on kayak activists

Letter: Our federal elected officials should address noise pollution of ferry boats

Letter to Rep. Nadler about ferry boat horn problem

Rep. Nadler reaches out to Coast Guard about ferry boat noise

Are CB1 members rigging the ferry boat slip for personal interests?

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3 Responses to Update on ferry boat horn nuisance

  1. Brian Bailey says:

    Read the CFRs. This is NOT a newly enforced law. The fact that vessels may have failed to comply in the past and have gotten away with it is irrelevant. With the outrageous jury liability awards given today in accident cases, you are exposing your group to possible major fiscal and legal liability should you successfully circumvent safety procedures meant to protect other mariners from casualty losses.

  2. Wolfgang Gabler says:

    There is nothing like total security!
    The only solution for total security would be to use no ferries, no cars, no airplanes and go back to Stone Age. Maybe a falling rock would hit someone then – as long as they blew their horns everything is fine – right?

  3. Mark D says:

    A lot of coverage for the battery park boat slips (understandably given the website) but would like to point out that this also a affects the 34th St slip on the east side. It appears that they have begun to blow their horns a lot more here. Last night, for example, they were blowing it until 11:49 PM. Midnight!

    While I understand the lawsuit argument, I don’t think their are many kayakers out at midnight. Maybe instead of enacting laws that protect people too stupid to know not to venture near a ferry with its engines running they enact laws to protect the ferries? Something like you are not allowed to come within 100 yards of a ferry terminal.

    I just feel it’s a bit ludicrous to be blasting this dog horn at 10 minutes to midnight.

    I thought it would be nice to enjoy the new summer weather and sleep with my window open…big mistake.

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