Saturday, September 10, 2011

SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

BIANKA was docked at Chelsea Piers just up the river from the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11th 2001. I was not supposed to be there that morning. I had planned to start a two to three week cruise out toward Marthas Vineyard and Nantucket  the day before. But, I had trouble getting access to the Internet to take care of some business.   The weather report also called for severe thunderstorms on Monday afternoon ahead of a cold front that would be coming through. So I decided to postpone my departure to the next day Tuesday September 11th. Between the storms and Internet issue I thought well what's the hurry.

On the morning of September 11th there was a ...

beautiful clear sky and nice a crisp wind from the northwest that would be perfect for heading down Long Island Sound. I had about a half hour before departure. I was down below in the cabin stowing a few last minute items when I heard the first plane fly overhead. I had heard planes flying down the Hudson River on occasion but, I thought to myself that plane sounded awfully close. Just as I thought that I felt the impact of the plane as it hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The whole boat shook followed closely by the sound of the explosion.  I poked my head up out of the hatch and could see a black mushroom cloud flowing up the side of the north tower.
I jumped into the dingy and started to bail it out previous nights rain. While I was doing that the second plane hit and again I felt the vibration of the impact. I rowed out into the Hudson River with my video camera and began taking video and listening to the local news station on the radio I took out with me. All the photos here are screen shots from the video tape I took.

It was a strange feeling being out alone on the river watching the scene. One felt very helpless. The current was trying to push me down the river and I had only the oars to keep me in place. Something told me to make sure I did not drift down toward the towers so I rowed and rowed against the current that was supposed to carry BIANKA and I down toward the Battery for the start of our cruise. I kept rowing and video taping until I heard the reporter on the radio scream: "Oh my God, oh my God the tower is coming down":

I could not see the south tower from my vantage point as the North Tower blocked it. But, I could hear the rumble and see the dust cloud start to expand around lower Manhattan. It made the North Tower look like it was a rocket about to take off:

I kept rowing against the current which was getting stronger but, I could not keep my eyes off what was happening just down the river. I kept rowing and then at some point I heard another rumble and the sound of twisting metal and watched in horror as the North Tower collapsed. With the TV antenna perched on top it seem to come down slowly like a candle slowly burning down. It only took a few seconds but it seemed like a long time until all that was left of the World Trade Center was a huge dust cloud that covered lower Manhattan and soon spread out into the harbor:

I suddenly started to feel the ache in my arms from all the rowing I did. I headed back into the marina and just stared at the river for most of the afternoon. New York Harbor was closed down to all traffic and that night was very surreal as I sat on the bow looking at the river. It was silent and calm as not a single Tug or any other boat was out on the river.  I never did get out on that cruise. When BIANKA and I finally left Manhattan in early October I lost that dingy too in a gale heading down the sound.  Considering what others had lost on September 11th I consider myself very lucky.

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