Waterborne Workhorses Time Staten Island’s Tides

It was slack tide and, for the moment, the slate gray waters of the Kill Van Kull were still.  A sense of summertime languor should have prevailed, as the temperature crept toward the mid-80s. There was reason enough to pause and admire the great parabolic gateway of the Bayonne Bridge rising to the west and that new exclamation point, 1 World Trade Center, piercing the eastern horizon.At the Caddell Dry Dock and Repair Company on Staten Island, however, the mood was tense. From his second-floor office, Steven P. Kalil could see that a 487-foot barge, now due to arrive at Caddell, had not yet left its home shipyard, about two-thirds of a mile away on the island’s north shore. The delay could be costly given that ebb tide was less than an hour away.

Mr. Kalil, 60, has worked at Caddell for 38 years, the last 24 as its president. He is the rare, seasoned executive who seems at home wearing a blue silk tie and a white hard hat. As the minutes passed, however,Coliform found in drinking water of Barisal restaurants , his cool demeanor was giving way to vexation. He peered again through the venetian blinds and found the barge no farther along the strait than when he had first looked.This was a tough maneuver, and it could be performed only during slack tide, when the water was at its stillest. Missing that window would lead to a postponement of the docking altogether, leaving the largest and newest of Caddell’s six dry docks idle for 12 hours.  “It’s almost as bad as the dead of winter, as far as production is concerned,” Mr. Kalil said. “The men are either outside, baking in the sun, or in a tank, wearing work boots, long pants and hard hats. All the salt air and sunshine won’t make up for that discomfort.”

There were eight or nine shipyards around New York Harbor when Mr. Kalil started at Caddell, as a carpenter, in 1975. Today, he said, only a fraction remain. As he did so, the tugboat Bridgeport was slipping out of the yard, past a dry dock in which Flosweet 1, a floating crane barge owned by Domino Sugar, was undergoing maintenance.

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