50 Year Old Tug Honored – As a New Solar- Powered Tug Debuts at Tugboat Roundup


WATERFORD, NY -- A 50 year old tugboat, specifically designed to push barges on the Canals of New York State, has been named Tug of the Year for the 2015 Waterford Tugboat Roundup. At the same time, a new solar-powered boat, specifically designed to carry cargo, will make a debut. The solar boat has recently received grant support from Cascades Tissue (locally in Waterford, NY) to transport a load of recycled cardboard from Buffalo to Mechanicville for processing by Cascades. This will mark the first time since mule-powered vessels that cargo has been moved on the canals of New York State.

The Roundup will open its 16th year in Waterford the weekend after Labor Day (September 11, 12 and 13th). This annual event highlights the region’s heritage in inland waterborne commerce in a festival.

The event’s Tug of the Year, Cheyenne, is a working boat based in New York Harbor. It’s currently on the Great Lakes and expected to work its way back on the Oswego and Erie Canals in early September in time for the Waterford event. The boat is operated by DonJon Marine of Hillside, NJ. DonJon has local offices at the Port of Coeyman’s.

The solar boat is called Solar Sal and is specifically designed to carry cargo on the canal system with zero emissions and zero use of fossil fuels (or mule power!).

The Solar Sal Project has been developed by a retired professor from RPI, David Borton in Castleton-on-Hudson. The boat has been seen at the Waterford CanalFest and events. The boat is designed to demonstrate practical solar electric marine propulsion. Borton’s group also plans prototypes of tourist dayliners and cabin cruisers.

Cheyenne is described as a “canaller” type tug, sporting a telescoping pilothouse. This type of pilothouse offers great visibility over a barge being “pushed ahead,” while still giving clearance underneath the bridges on the canals and in the New Jersey channels off the Hudson River.

Powered by an 1,800 hp Fairbanks-Morse diesel, the boat was built in 1965 at the Bushey Shipyards in Brooklyn for Red Star Lines. It was later acquired by Spentonbush Towing, then Amerada Hess, Empire Harbor and finally, DonJon Marine.

The Roundup event bestows the honorary Tug of the Year title to a different boat each year, typically one that brings its own unique history to the event.

The Tugboat Roundup is sponsor supported and annually produced by the Town of Waterford. It’s held along the waterfront in this historic village at the eastern entrance to the Erie Canal.

The Express Newspaper is the official publication of the Tugboat Roundup.

Solar Sal (from website)