Water world – NYPOST.com
Every day, millions of people cross the waterways surrounding Manhattan to get to their jobs in the concrete canyons of new York City. but for another small, tight-knit community of workers, those waters mean far more than a bridge or a tunnel to cross.
Much of the city’s commerce once revolved around maritime trades — Manhattan was ringed with working piers, and the rivers were thickets of masts. Today, most of the active piers have moved to new Jersey, and the age of highly computerized mega-ships has put an end to the career of many a local worker.
Jonathan Baskin DOLING OUT DIESEL: Rich Naruszewicz ships out at 3 a.m. to bring fuel to vessels across NY Harbor.
Even so, a hardy breed still plies our waterways, driven by a love of the water, of hands-on labor, of the variety and unpredictability of maritime work. here are three of their stories.
Capt. keeps fuel flowing
When Capt. Rich Naruszewicz shakes your hand, you have no doubt about whether your hand was truly shaken.
These are the stout fingers that release the mooring ropes from his 63-foot fuel tanker, Captain Log, when it leaves its berth at 3 a.m. These hands play out 150 feet of hose to pump diesel into ships, tugboats, dredges and yachts all over new York Harbor. and they grip the wheel as Naruszewicz steers the tanker across the harbor an average of seven times a shift in his job for American Petroleum.
Naruszewicz (“pronounced like Manischevitz”) grew up in Bayonne, NJ, and has worked on the water since he was a teen. Watching tugboats pull massive ships into the harbor and seeing tankers refuel them, “I always wanted to get into it,” he says.
He was painting tugs for a summer job when he got his chance.
“Someone quit a job as a deckhand,” he recalls. “They told me to go home, pack, and be back in two hours.” The tug took a load of jet fuel to a Pratt & Whitney plant in East Hartford, Conn., and “a two-week trip turned into a lifetime career.”
During three years as an able seaman, Naruszewicz learned captaining on the job, thanks to some benevolent skippers who let him watch them in the wheelhouse after his shifts. he earned his license and took a job as a pilot for NY Fast Ferry, the city’s first high-speed ferry company. he spent eight years there, but was not fond of the vessels’ high degree of automation.
“it was like a Nintendo game,” he says.
He’d been doing a little refueling work on the side, and when Fast Ferry merged with another company, he decided to make it his full-time job. things are very different on the forest-green Captain Log, which Naruszewicz docks at Pier 83, at the foot of West 42nd Street.