Historic boat tour for City of Water Day Festival

The News Leader

July 14, 2010 1:13:41 PM PDT
New York is a city filled with so much history, but not all of it is on land. Some of it is on the water. This month, the Third Annual "City of Water Day Festival" on Saturday, July 24, will give you a chance to learn some history and have some fun.

People in New York think of Broadway, Wall Street, and other places on land. They're not tuned into the fact that many of them are living on islands. All of the boroughs are islands or part of islands, except for the Bronx. New York City has a fabulous waterfront.

John Doswell is the captain of an old boat with a story. The John J. Harvey was built in 1931. Back then it was the fastest, most powerful fire boat in the country. Spraying 20 thousand gallons of water a minute, it put out fires on ships and along the harbor for 50 years. After that, Doswell and 12 friends bought it for $28,000. Now he's Captain Doswell.

"How can you not love a boat and an old steel boat that's got a history? How can you not love it? There's nothing better. We love taking people out, we spray water," said Doswell when asked why he purchased the boat.

Doswell hopes to take people out on his boat during the "City of Water Day" festival to introduce more New Yorkers to this piece of history and reacquaint them with their waterfront.

The John J. Harvey is docked at Pier 66, at the end of West 26th Street. If you visit, you'll see the old bronze water cannons, called monitors. Firefighters would turn them on, stand by, and monitor to ensure a huge amount of water came out.

On old ships like the John J. Harvey, the captain had to telegraph orders to the engineer in order to move the ship.

Visiting the John J. Harvey shows history, and its living history.

After a visit, Captain Doswell hopes other New Yorkers will start to feel connected to the rivers and the boats that are part of their hometown.

The City of Water Day Festival is really all about the water. Organizers want to bring New Yorkers down to the waterfront to learn about the ships, learn about the piers, and learn to take advantage of all that's available to them on the waterfront.

Click here for more information on the City of Water Day Festival.