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Hudson Valley Magazine

A Hands-on Life on the Hudson

Valerie Havas
October 8, 2009

From skyscraper to wheelhouse: one woman’s new career as a Hudson River boat pilot 

Nine years ago, Jessica DuLong could usually be found behind a desk, working long hours on a wellness Web site. These days, the 36-year-old Stanford graduate is often on the Hudson, happily ensconced in the engine room of a retired fireboat or in the wheelhouse of a former army tug. Enamored of the craftsmanship of old vessels, DuLong is chief engineer of the John J. Harvey, which was built in 1931, decommissioned by the New York City Fire Department in 1994, and saved from the scrap heap by preservationists. She also pilots a 1956 tug, Gowanus Bay. Her experiences have ranged from helping to pump Hudson River water to firefighters in the aftermath of 9/11, to participating in Quadricentennial celebrations of Henry Hudson’s historic voyage up the river. Her work gives her a unique view of the Hudson and its role in shaping our nation, a perspective she shares in her recently published book, My River Chronicles.