A Fast Trip Down The Hudson [More on Standard, 1906]
by Walter M. Bieling

Standard retired to the St. Lawrence a couple of years ago, and the interested ones to a man thought she had been placed in the "family horse" class for the balance of her days; but that they were in error has been amply proved by her performances during the past Summer. Built originally for the Riottes in 1904 by the Marine Construction & Dry Dock Company from designs gotten up in the yard and on the longitudinal frame system of construction as patented by Mr. Henry N. Whittelsey, then in charge of the yard, she was sold in 1905 to Price McKinney, of Cleveland, who shipped her up to his Summer place on the St. Lawrence. Being a good sportsman in spirit, and being also possessed of plenty of that other stuff which permits good sportsmen to be good sportsmen, Mr. McKinney decided on a few changes. First, he had "Joe" to put on a new 1/4-inch mahogany skin. (everybody on the St. Lawrence knows "Joe", but for the benefit of those who do not, Joe is a boat-builder, a good one, and his last name is Leyere, "By gar.") While Joe was putting on the new skin, the Riottes were busy on a new-fangled, double-acting, six-cylinder engine, the horse-power of which, according to St. Lawrence authorities, ranged all the way from 500 to 1,000, but called by the builders a modest 300 horse.

After having a few tryouts before the Gold Challenge Cup races of the A.P.B.A. at Chippewa Bay, Standard was put in shape for the free-for-all race which was scheduled to take place the day following the final race of the series. Owing to the rough weather and various other unknown reasons, only Dixie was on hand to try conclusions with the rejuvenated speed merchant. The start was made, and Standard won easily, but not until she had broken her steering gear and very nearly frightened the writer and a few friends out of a year's growth.

A party of enthusiasts were on board the Godshalk boat, Tramp, with the intention of taking photographs of the boats. We were across the river from the starting line when the two boats came tearing along at top speed; as we were directly on the course we naturally were delighted at the prospect of getting at least a couple of good views from the three cameras on board. As the boats dashed down on us, with Standard some 300 yards in the lead, she suddenly gave a terrific swerve directly at us, and, in the vernacular of the small boy, we thought we were "picked"; grabbing the steering ropes the helmsman and crew straightened her out and she disappeared around an island on the course. The pictures we didn't get would have been the best ever, had we not forgotten to take them; the other two forgot to push the button and I got a very pretty view of the bottom of our boat.

When the owner of Standard decided to send her down to the week's Carnival of the Motor Boat Club of America, my good friend, Mr. Riotte, invited me to take the trip down the Hudson, and when she arrived at Albany the party, consisting of Messrs. Eugene and Carl Riotte, Dr. Bartels and the writer, met the boat at the Albany Y.C. and, together with the captain and engineer, brought her down to New York.

We got under way at the club dock at exactly 8:20 A.M.; the weather was perfect and the river smooth as glass. The stage of the river being low, we shipped a pilot to go as far as Hudson. While we were lying in the basin at Albany, Standard was inspected and criticized by a crowd of local river men and the passengers of the big People's Line steamer, New York. We intended starting with her, but our pilot vetoed this scheme on account of the narrowness of the river at this point; consequently, we left ten minutes before the Day liner. We got off rather suddenly; our start was most businesslike, and we went out of the Albany Y.C. basin, according to the pilot, "like mud through a tin horn." The spectacular effect of the start was somewhat lost to the passengers, Dr. Bartels and myself, for while we were in the midst of a heated argument as to whether everything, or only 75 per cent of everything, Albany did not want, was shunted into the yacht club basin through a nearby subway, Mr. Carl Riotte pulled a little lever and the passengers suddenly assumed a seated position with great haste and considerable force, the M.D. having the misfortune of totally shattering a vial in his vest pocket containing preservative which was to have lasted the entire trip.

As soon as we got well out into the river, Mr. Riotte opened her up and the banks of the noble Hudson began to slide by like "touring Holland" when the boy runs the Biograph too fast.

After about twent-five minutes of running the local pilot steered us into a lemon crate, or something of the sort, and we slowed down until the engine was barely turning over, while the paid hand poked the debris from off the bow with a pike pole. About five minutes later we started up and again began to fly by the ice-houses. Coxsackie was passed at 9:10 and at 9:20 we flew by the lighthouse off Hudson, which was twenty-four nautical miles from Albany and which works out at about 27.63 statute miles an hour.

Climbing over into the engine space, I asked Mr. Carl what he thought the oil basket was doing; listening intently to the working of the engine for several minutes, he said:"Oh! about 28 miles." Having told me previously that he hadn't the faintest idea what speed she would develop, I felt that, for a rough guess, this was going some. Catskill Landing went by, going upstream, at 9:36, and we rapidly overhauled a little, blue hunting cabin cruiser in the distance, which I knew to be my old friend, Tramp, bound home to Philadelphia, with Commodore (Mrs.) Clark at the helm. As we ripped by, I could distinctly see her say, "Why, the idea!" while her first mate, the Honorable Reuben, builder of the well-known Sparrow, dipped the ensign in salute. Not to be outdone, one of us, no names being necessary, climbed or rather clambered, out on the crowned spray-soaked after dec to return the courtesy; and while busily engaged, a sudden swing nearly precipitated the gentleman in question from the rear porch into the river, to the great amusement of the balance of the bathers. It would be well, perhaps, to state here that a heavy dew was falling and most of it fell in the compartment allotted to passengers, we came to the conclusion, after intercepting several significant glances between the builders, that we were due for something strenuous later in the day when we reached more open water.

We passed Germantown Landing at 9:45, Esopus at 10, and at 10:24 passed Rondout Light, which is just 45 knots from Albany, and which distance we had covered at the rate of 25.12 miles per hour. About 10:30 we passed the old time river steamer, Oswego, with a large number of barges in tow, slowly wending her way along; to us, apparently standing still.

At 10:49 Poughkeepsie Bridge hove in sight, and from the speed with which we approached it the bridge appeared to rise bodily up from the surface of the river, like a colossal Tower bridge over the Thames.

The bridge was directly overhead at 11 o'clock; the engine was slowed down and we came up to the wharf at Poughkeepsie with as little fuss as a small power tender, and with a great deal less noise; the engine being so thoroughly muffled that the exhaust is hardly perceptible. As Poughkeepsie is 59 knots from Albany, and our time was 2h. 40m., our average speed for the distance was 25.58 miles per hour.

The pilot, who had entirely forgotten about getting off at Hudson, left us there; and after a bite to eat, we got underway at 11:40. When we stopped at Poughkeepsie we discovered that the weather was uncomfortably hot. Coming down the river we felt quite cool, but as soon as we reached the wharf we noticed what little breeze there was blowing was red-hot.

At Newburgh, which we passed at 12:16, we met the big new river steamer Hendrick Hudson, just slowing up to make a landing; she was chock full of sightseers bound up the river, and they gave us a great cheer; Henry contributing three lusty grunts.

We passed the Highlands at 12:30, and just above West Point ran by the power boat Bison, ex-Hard Boiled Egg, and Arcadia, which, though capable of good speed, appeared to be anchored. West Point Light was abeam at 12:39, and just above Iona Island, which we reached at 12:55, we witnessed a most unusual sight, considering the locality. As we swept around the point, with a "snap-the-whip" effect, we cut under the stern of a large two-masted schooner loaded to the gunwale with ladies and children. Where the expedition started and where it was bound, I do not know; but it certainly was a proud day for Marie, of Stonington, Conn., and the old hooker looked very much hurt when her fair crew, to a man, deserted their stations and flew to the rail for a look and a cheer. Even the old barnacle at the helm vouchsafed us a critical glance.

At Peekskill, which we reached at exactly 1 o'clock, we encountered a strong head-tide, which we bucked the balance of the trip. We here passed the old slide-beam steamer, Norwich, with a large village in tow, the population of which gazed at us with stolid indifference, but no doubt our presence started all the shellbacks off on tales of terrific speed trials in which they had participated.

Stony Point Light was abeam at 1:09, and Rockland Lake lighthouse, opposite Ossining, which has a decided list, at 1:27. At 1:39 we passed Tarrytown Light, and at 2 P.M. were abreast of Yonkers,--and here it happened. A little insignificant brass pipe, whose sole function is to convey plain water, busted off just as we were about to make a grand-stand finish past the town of New York. As the pipe fell off and a fine miniature Niagara poured down the writer's neck, Mr. Carl Riotte at once shut down the engine and hastily crawled into its interior. Brother Eugene, who was steering, turned quickly around and made one fatal mistake of an otherwise perfect day. Said he: "What's the matter, Carl?" Brother Carl, by main strength, hauled himself from the bilge, poked his head between the engine and the coaming of the engine compartment, and, in his short, sharp and crisp manner, delivered himself thus: "_______ ______ _____ ____ ______," etc.

Having thus explained to the entire satisfaction of all concerned the cause of the day, he quickly made repairs and at 2:10 we were under way again, and the manner in which we ate up the distance between Yonkers and New York was a caution. If she was flying before, she was going like a bullet now, and I became convinced that we hadn't been half-opened up, for in less than thirty minutes we passed the steamboat pier at 129th Street, New York City, and to make sure we took the time at Grant's Tomb, some distance below the pier. Comparing watches, we found the time to be 2:40, three timers agreeing, making 6h. 20m. our total time from Albany to New York, including the 40-minute stop at Poughkeepsie, and out actual running time 5h. 40m. The total distance, according to best information obtainable, is 140 miles, which works out at a speed of about 25 miles an hour for over 51/2 hours of almost continuous running.

Standard was brought down to New York for the purpose of competing in the mile championship race, consequently no attempt was made to push her to the limit; but the trip was a fast one, nevertheless, and the record will probably stand for some time.

(Transcribed from The Rudder, December 1906, pp. 735-736. )

[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page. —LF]


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