Jessica DuLong, a U.S. Coast Guard-licensed Merchant Marine Officer, is one of the world’s only female fireboat engineers. She’s also a journalist whose work has appeared in Newsweek International, Rolling Stone, Psychology Today, CosmoGIRL!,Parenting, Today’s Machining World, and Maritime Reporter & Engineering News, and other publications. Her passion for the Hudson River took shape at her post in the diesel exhaust-filled engine room of retired New York City Fireboat John J. Harvey, where temperatures climb to 130 degrees. The 1931 vessel, dubbed “Ambassador of the Hudson,” now operates as a living museum, offering free public trips around New YorkHarbor and an annual whistle-stop tour up the Hudson River, with DuLong at the engine-room controls. On September 11, 2001, Fireboat John J. Harvey was called out of retirement to pump water at the WorldTradeCenter site. The John J. Harvey’s civilian crew, including DuLong, pumped water alongside FDNY crews for four days. Later recognized in the Congressional Record for “ensuring constant smooth running of the engines” during her service in the days following the attacks, she was also immortalized as a character in Maira Kalman’s award-winning children’s book, FIREBOAT: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey, and featured in Ben Gibberd’s New York Waters. DuLong’s boating and writing worlds first collided with the publication of her essay “Below Decks” in the anthology Steady As She Goes: Women’s Adventures At Sea (Seal Press, 2003)–a piece that was singled out in Publishers Weekly as “stylish” and a “high point” of the collection.
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