The Newtown Pentacle

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alarmingly low

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Tugboat! There’s a tugboat coming!

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Bemoaning a life lived poorly with a ribald song of lament, your humble narrator found himself crossing the fabulous Pulaski Bridge over Newtown Creek recently, whereupon the appearance of maritime traffic entering the waterway sent a bolt of joy up my crumbling spine.

Even feckless quislings can catch a break sometimes, thought I.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One was forced to scuttle at double pace across the bridge, in order to not allow the opening of its double bascule mechanisms to visually isolate me from the passing Tugboat.

Occlusion is frustrating, extremely so.

Accordingly, haste was made for the Greenpoint or southern bank of the Newtown Creek.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The NYC DOT, who operate this bridge, will unfortunately not allow me to get close enough to shoot properly, so several lenses were utilized. Swapping out lenses is not something I like to do in a spot like the Pulaski Bridge, where the particulate dust and soot circulating on the air is particularly dense, for fear of allowing contaminants to settle inside the camera itself.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Regardless of risk, a few swaps were made, as I had luckily decided to carry a full kit with me that day. The Tugboat was Vane’s “Hunting Creek.” Hunting Creek has been mentioned here before, in the post “last ounce.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Unfortunately, I was quite far from the Tug, and less than ecstatic about the images produced by my “longest” lens. The next upgrade to my photo bag is going to be a good lens with lots of reach, an expensive proposition. Of course, the simple answer to not having a lens with sufficient magnification or optimal resolution is to simply get closer to your subject.

Hunting Creek pulled away, towing a fuel barge to some destination eastwards, but I knew that eventually… she had to come back.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Hunting down anything along Newtown Creek is my speciality, as well as finding the best spot to view it from, so your humble narrator was waiting with a medium reach but high quality lens attached to my camera when Hunting Creek made its way back towards the East River and the greater harbor beyond.

What? I like photographing tugboats.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The warning horns that Pulaski was opening sounded and the tug maneuvered into its course. Tower Town in LIC is really coming along, incidentally, and views like the one following will soon be a happy memory.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

They’ve already blocked out the Chrysler Building. When Greenpoint Landing gets going, we’ll lose Empire State as well.

That’s what I saw on Newtown Creek one day last week, when one set out to cross a bridge and walk about in the radiance of the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

When I was walking home - through Greenpoint - I almost stepped on this flat rat, which kind of ruined my day. Curdling horror notwithstanding, the sight shocked me back into a looming sense of depression and reinstated the familiarly manic state which I was hoping to alleviate via the perambulation across the Pulaski Bridge and the banks of fabled Newtown Creek.

I guess it’s true what they say – “A Feckless Quisling just can’t catch a break these days.” People say that, right?

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

2014 Walking Tours

Up Next: 13 Steps across Dutch Kills, at Newtown Creek with Atlas Obscura, Saturday, April 5th – click here for more information and ticketing.

last ounce

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A short Maritime Sunday visit with the Vane Bros.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The Vane Brothers’ brand new Tug Magothy recently rolled past me at the exit from Kill Van Kull, while onboard with the Working Harbor Committee. Vane started out as a Ships Chandlery in 1898, down in the port of Baltimore. They’ve become a towing company over the last century, and operate a fleet of tugs and barges in the ports of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Norfolk, and Charleston.

from vanebrothers.com

The tug Magothy is the fourteenth in a line of Patapsco-class tugs. She was designed by Frank Basile of Entech & Associates, and is under construction at Thoma-Sea Boat Builders’ West Yard in Houma, Louisiana. The Magothy is 100’ long, with a 34’ beam, and a depth of 15’. Her gross tonnage is 99 tons. She is powered by two CAT3516, 2100 horse-power engines with Kort nozzles.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Oyster Creek, as seen on the same Working Harbor Committee Newark Bay tour, steaming along on the Kill Van Kull. Many of my photographer buddies abhor white tugs, decrying their lack of contrast with the sky and water, preferring the pigments and color ways of McAllister, Reinauer, and Moran tugs (all incorporate reds). Me, I like the challenge of getting the exposure right.

from vanebrothers.com

The Oyster Creek is a coastwise 3,000 horsepower towing vessel measuring 90’ long, 32’ wide, with a 13’ hull depth. Powered by two Caterpillar diesel engines, she is dedicated to 30,000-barrel tank barges. Her gross tonnage is 99 tons. The Oyster Creek is named for the Oyster Creek cove and tributary stream in Maryland.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Vane sent the Hunting Creek and Red Hook to compete in the 2013 Great North River Tugboat Race. Here they are just about crossing the finish line. Official results not handy at the time of this writing,

from vanebrothers.com

The Hunting Creek officially joined Vane’s ranks on February 3, 2012. Since then she has been a bunkering workhorse in New York Harbor. The sixth in a series of eight from Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Maryland, she is a 3,000 horsepower vessel, measuring 90′ long, 32′ wide, with a 13′ hull depth. She was designed by Frank Basile of Entech and Associates of Houma, Louisiana, and is named for the Hunting Creek cove and tributary stream in Maryland.

Upcoming Tours

Saturday- September 21, 2013
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura- tickets on sale now.

Saturday- September 28, 2013
Newtown Creek Boat Tour with the Working Harbor Committee- tickets on sale now.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

shaking encumbrances

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently spotted, the tug Nanticoke, plying NY Harbor. Upon reading the name “Nanticoke,” your humble narrator grasped for some meaning behind this enigmatic arrangement of ordinary vowels and consonants. Knowing that the Vane company often names its vessels after inland and coastal waterways, a certain river came to mind.

from wikipedia

The Nanticoke River is a major tributary of the Chesapeake Bay on the Delmarva Peninsula. It rises in southern Kent County, Delaware, flows through Sussex County, Delaware, and forms the boundary between Dorchester County, Maryland and Wicomico County, Maryland. The river course proceeds southwest and it empties into the Chesapeake at Nanticoke, Maryland. The river is 64.3 miles (103.5 km) long.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Nanticoke was on duty with a barge, heading south toward Staten Island from some origin point northwards on either the Hudson or East Rivers. A fuel barge, who can guess what sort of volatile cargo might have lurked within it, vouchsafed by Nanticoke?

from vanebrothers.com

The Nanticoke is 95’ long, with a 34’ beam, and a 15’ draft. Her gross tonnage is 99 tons. She is powered by two CAT 3516, 2100 horsepower engines with Kort nozzles, and maintains running speeds of better than 12 knots. Featuring a model bow and square stern, her fuel capacity is approximately 90,000 gallons. Potable water capacity is approximately 9,000 gallons. With accommodations for seven crew members, the Nanticoke is dedicated to 50-class tank barges on the coastwide trade.


- photo by Mitch Waxman

The Maritime Sunday staff here at Newtown Pentacle HQ offer a wave of the hand and official shout out to the Vane Brothers Nanticoke cast and crew. Huzzah!

also from vanebrothers.com

The Vane Brothers Company has served the maritime industry in the Port of Baltimore and the U.S. Eastern Seaboard for more than 100 years. Today, we are comprised of five divisions operating out of the ports of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Norfolk, and Charleston.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 17, 2013 at 12:15 am

partly delirious

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently spotted as it plied the estuarine expanses of the East River, the Vane Brothers Sassafras Tug. Your humble narrator was onboard an East River Ferry, heading from Manhattan to Greenpoint, and spotted the tug moving iconically along the strait.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

In the dim past of industrial supremacy, this was one of the busiest stretches of aqua firma in the world, and it is truly a condemnation upon our modern civilization that the passing of a tug and barge along its expanses is something remarkable. A blogger of a century ago would have been limited to monographs, of course, but such a creature would have found very little to say about such a thing. In modernity, it would be like commenting on the passing of a common truck.

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Upcoming Walking Tour- The Poison Cauldron, with Atlas Obscura

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Meetup at the corner of Kingsland and Norman Avenues in Greenpoint at 11 on Saturday, August 25th.

We will be exploring the petroleum and waste transfer districts of the Newtown Creek watershed in North Brooklyn. Heavily industrialized, the area we will be walking through is the heart of the Greenpoint Oil Spill and home to scores of waste transfer stations and other heavy industries. We will be heading for the thrice damned Kosciuszko Bridge, which is scheduled for a demolition and replacement project which will be starting in 2013. Photographers, in particular, will find this an interesting walk through a little known and quite obscure section of New York City.

Be prepared: We’ll be encountering broken pavement, sometimes heavy truck traffic, and experiencing a virtual urban desert as we move through the concrete devastations of North Brooklyn. Dress and pack appropriately for hiking, closed toe shoes are highly recommended- as are a hat or parasol to shield you from the sun.

Bathroom opportunities will be found only at the start of the walk, which will be around three hours long and cover approximately three miles of ground. Drivers, it would be wise to leave your cars in the vicinity of McGolrick Park in Greenpoint.

Click here for tickets, and as always- a limited number of walk ups will be welcomed- but for safety reasons we need to limit the group to a manageable size. Contact me at this email if you desire further details.

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