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So, what’s that metal frame at the back of our boat?

boat side

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“R. Ian Fletcher,” just off Esopus Island.

Our patrol boat’s stern frame or “gantry” was built over the 2006/07 winter. We received a grant from the Hudson River Improvement Fund and had great help with design, fabrication and assembly from good friends Jay Ardai, Gary Amann and Hugo Van Der Heide.

We originally built the frame to do two-meter core sampling but we’ve used it now for all kinds of work — from deploying and retrieving DEC hydrophones for tracking tagged Atlantic Sturgeon, to deploying “Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers,” picking up huge truck tires, home appliances washed into the River during Irene, a leaking 55-gallon drum of gear oil, and every other kind of mostly plastic man made junk you can imagine.

Photo courtesy of John Lipscomb

The hoist is hand powered and there is virtually zero maintenance. We leave it rigged all the time — it’s so useful and we never know when we’ll need it.

One time, while we were drifting just south of the Tappan Zee Bridge to monitor construction activity an Osprey landed on the gantry and drifted along with me for a few minutes before moving on. I’ll never forget that day — when wildness came calling.

Below is a picture from 1998, the patrol boat’s first season on the Hudson and long before the gantry was installed. Without that frame and the current logotype, the R. Ian Fletcher looks quite different.

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