The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for April 2nd, 2010

Bodiless, luminous, rejuvenated

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s what the gulls say.

As described in earlier posts, my mother has been ill, which has necessitated travel to and from… Staten Island… on the part of your humble narrator to safeguard her interests. I won’t bore you with the horrible realities of geriatric care in the City of Greater New York, but will instead share the way that I’ve passed the time while traveling back and forth from Astoria to… Staten Island.

Luckily, a fairly straight forward course exists, the R line connects western Queens with Manhattan, and its last stop in the Shining City is South Ferry- where the Staten Island Ferry docks at the Whitehall Terminal.


The following New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) Staten Island Ferry Passenger Rules of Conduct shall be adhered to by all passengers to ensure the safety of the public and all employees.

1. No disorderly conduct or behavior that may be deemed unsafe or disruptive.

2. No littering. Place all trash and garbage in the receptacles provided.

3. No spitting or creating of any other unsanitary condition.

4. Lying down on seats and benches within the terminals and vessels is prohibited.

5. Feeding of any animal within the ferry terminals or on any vessel is prohibited.

6. Smoking is prohibited onboard the vessels and within all enclosed spaces in the terminals. Smoking is allowed only in designated open areas.

7. Distribution or posting of any literature or advertisements without a NYCDOT permit is prohibited.

8. Unauthorized carrying of a firearm or weapon within the terminals or on the ferries is prohibited.

9. No person shall skateboard, roller skate or ride a bicycle, scooter or any other vehicle or device (except a wheelchair required for transit) on or through any part of the terminals or ferries. Bicycles and non-motorized scooters must be walked through the terminals and ferries and board the vessel via the lower level.

10. Commercial use of video, photography or audio recording equipment without a NYC permit is prohibited.

11. Playing any audible device without the use of earphones is prohibited. Audible devices include but are not limited to radios, game devices and video/audio playback devices.

12. Pets, other than service animals as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, are not allowed in the facilities and/or onboard the ferry boats, unless they are caged and/or muzzled.

13. Destruction, graffiti, or marking of any facility or vessel is prohibited.

14. During an emergency all passengers shall follow the direction of NYCDOT facility personnel or vessel crew members.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The short trip across NY Harbor passes the Narrows and the nearby Kill Van Kull which provide ocean going craft with a pathway to the titanic facilities of Port Elizabeth Newark. On the Staten Island side, the Ferry docks into the St. George terminal.

A vast industry is at work on the water though, wholly visible in the weird and dynamic lighting generated by that queer luminance filtering through the humid valences which typically occlude the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself during seasonal transitions from winter to spring here in the City of New York.

from wikipedia

The St. George Ferry Terminal is one of two terminals of the Staten Island Ferry with the other being South Ferry which is located on the southern tip of Manhattan near Battery Park. The Staten Island Ferry runs 24 hour service between both terminals.

Staten Island Ferry terminal at South Ferry in Lower Manhattan

Today the Staten Island Ferry annually carries over 19 million passengers on a 5.2 mile (8.4 km) run that takes approximately 25 minutes each way. Service is provided 24 hours a day, every day. Each day approximately five boats transport about 75,000 passengers during 104 boat trips. Over 33,000 trips are made annually.

During rush hours, ferries usually run every 15 and 20 minute intervals, decreasing to 30 minutes during the mid-days and evenings. During very late or early morning hours (the midnight hours) a ferry is provided once every 60 minutes. During the weekends ferries run every 30 and 60 minutes. In November 2006, additional ferries running every 30 minutes were provided during the weekend morning hours – the most significant change in the ferry schedule for about 3 decades.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Staten Island Ferry moves at a good speed, generating airborne turbulence that attracts avian opportunists. Floating in the boreal slipstream of the great ship, gulls and other harbor entities accompany weary citizens on their cross harbor commute. The commuters entertain themselves with magazines, newspapers, and gadgets while out on the water- where a 24 hour heavy industrial work schedule is maintained. Pictured above are the tugs Frederick E. Bouchard and Linda Moran.


From his first voyage at eleven years of age as a cabin boy on a sailing ship bound for China, Captain Fred Bouchard knew that shipping would be his life. By 1915, he was the youngest tugboat captain in the Port of New York.

NY Times Article from June 8, 1900

Woman and Child Saved (by Captain Bouchard)

On July 30, 1916, while on watch of the tug C. GALLAGHER of the Goodwin, Gallagher Sand Co., Captain Bouchard witnessed the infamous Black Tom Explosion, which detonated $22 Million dollars worth of WW I munitions. Always one to set out to accomplish what few others could, he took his tug from the Long Dock at Erie Basin in Brooklyn and headed for New Jersey. Amongst continuing explosions, which blew the glass panes and lights out of his tug, he worked to rescue the 4,000-ton Brazilian steamer TIJOCA RIO, and the schooner GEORGE W. ELEZY, of Bath, ME. Later the US District Court awarded the Captain a salvage award and an additional award for personal bravery, which totaled $9,000. He quickly invested the salvage award to create his own company, Bouchard Transportation Company, which was incorporated in 1918.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The enormous orange car carrier cargo ship is being guided by the Miriam Moran, a 3,000 hp tug. The cargo ship, Tancred, is operated by the Wallenius Wilhelmsen company, and is just the latest ship of the historic Norwegian-America Line to bear that name. Maritime nomenclature refers to Tancred as a RORO- or Roll on and Roll off cargo ship.


The company Wilh. Wilhelmsen was founded in Tønsberg in 1861 by Morten Wilhelm Wilhelmsen as a brokering and ship chandlering company and eventually became the largest Norwegian shipping company. In 1865 he entered shipowning when he purchased a share in the barque MATHILDE. The company’s first steamship, the TALABOT was purchased in 1887. 

In 1901 the company progressed into liner services and in 1911 in partnership with Fearnley & Eger, established the Norwegian Africa and Australia Line. At the same time, the two companies took over the Norway Mexico Gulf Line.

By 1914 The Straits, China and Japan were added to the schedule and by this time the company was trading world wide. Although mainly a cargo company, many of their ships had accommodation for up to 12 passengers. 
In 1913 the company acquired it’s first oil tanker and by 1918 owned ten of these ships and had moved their operations to Oslo. In the inter war years, the liner trade was greatly expanded and the tankers and tramp ships gradually sold.

In 1920 Wilhelmsen took over the sole management of the Norwegian Africa and Australia Line and the Norway Mexico Gulf Line.
In World War two, 26 of the company’s ships were lost, but were rapidly replaced after the war.

In 1969, Wilhelmsen, Fearnley & Eger and A. F. Klaveness jointly established Barber Lines. Later Wilhelmsens took over ownership and in 1975 established Barber Blue Sea Line jointly with Brostroms and Blue Funnel Line of Liverpool. 
In the 1970s, the company diversified into the offshore oil industry but sold their interests in this activity in 1995. The same year, Wilhelmsen’s acquired the Norway America Line. In 1999, The company formed a joint company with Wallenius of Sweden to operate both companies under the name of Wallenius Wilhelmsen Lines and still trades today.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Tancred is capable of transporting thousands of automobiles in one ocean going structure. It was built at the Sumitomo Heavy Industries shipyard in Japan in 1987, has a gross tonnage (fully loaded) of 48,676, and is some 195.05 meters long. That’s 639.927822 feet, roughly one eighth of a mile. The fact that Tancred is riding so high in the water suggests that it has disgorged its cargo at the nearby Port of Newark.


The PCTC (Pure Car and Truck Carrier) MV Tancred is one of three vessels built by Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Japan and she was delivered in April 1987. The vessel is specially suited for cars and trucks but she has also flexibility to carry other project cargo. MV Tancred has a total capacity of 5930 cars (RT43) or 552 trucks. Her sisterships are MV Tai Shan and MV Takara. The ship is built to the class of DNV (Det Norske Veritas) with the following designations DNV +1A1, Car Carrier MCDK, PET EO.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Miriam Moran, of course, is operated by Moran Towing and was built at the McDermott Shipyard in LA in 1979.


The Moran Towing Corporation, Inc. is the largest privately owned tugboat company operating on the East Coast of the United States and a leader in oil and dry-bulk barge transportation. A family-owned business for more than a century, the company was purchased in 1994 by a group of investors headed by Paul R. Tregurtha and James R. Baker, who were also principals in the Mormac Marine Group and the Interlake Steamship Company.

Although it was incorporated in 1905, Moran Towing traces its origins to 1855, when Michael Moran, a 22-year-old immigrant from Ireland, used money he saved as a muleskinner on the Erie Canal to buy a barge. Five years later, after acquiring several more barges, Moran headed to New York City, where he set himself up as a tugboat agent. In 1863, he paid $2,700 for half interest in the Ida Miller, a 42-ton, steam-driven harbor towboat.

By the 1880s, Moran Towing was an established company serving the busy New York Harbor, and in 1883, Michael Moran was asked to serve as commodore of the tugboat division for the 1883 ship parade celebrating the centennial of the British evacuation during the Revolutionary War. After the parade, Michael Moran continued to use the title “Commodore.” His son, Eugene F. Moran Sr., then 11 years old, recalled in Tugboat: The Moran Story, “Nothing, since he established himself in New York, gave him a greater sense of accomplishment than the name of commodore…. He had become a personality among seafaring men.” Almost 70 years later, The New Yorker would describe Michael Moran as a “bold but pious” man who “often found it necessary to use a fleshly approach in refining the general spirit. Upon finding a couple of his subordinates drunk and brawling, he would seize them and start banging their heads together, meanwhile crying out admonitions mixed with Scripture.”

Michael Moran also started the company tradition of naming tugboats after family members in 1881, when he christened the Maggie Moran, the first tug built for Moran Towing, for his first wife, Margaret. About the same time, he began the tradition of painting a block letter “M” in white on the black smokestacks of his tugboats.

When Moran Towing was incorporated in 1905, Michael Moran, then 73, was president of the company, and Eugene Sr., then 33, was vice-president. That same year, Moran Towing set a record for long-distance hauls when it towed a barge from New York to San Francisco, 13,220 miles around Cape Horn. Michael Moran died a year later and was succeeded as president by his son, who quickly developed a reputation of his own.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned, the Staten Island Ferry does not dally, and one must not prevaricate when photographing onboard. The whole journey across the harbor takes approximately 25-30 minutes and is currently free.


The Staten Island Ferry provides 20 million people a year (60,000 passengers a day not including weekend days) with ferry service between St. George on Staten Island and Whitehall Street in lower Manhattan.

The ferry is the only non-vehicular mode of transportation between Staten Island and Manhattan. NYC DOT operates and maintains the nine vessel fleet as well as the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island, Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Manhattan, the City Island and Hart Island Facilities, The Battery Maritime Building and all floating dock building equipment.

The Staten Island Ferry is run by the City of New York for one pragmatic reason: To transport Staten Islanders to and from Manhattan. Yet, the 5 mile, 25 minute ride also provides a majestic view of New York Harbor and a no-hassle, even romantic, boat ride, for free! One guide book calls it “One of the world’s greatest (and shortest) water voyages.”

From the deck of the ferry you will have a perfect view of The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. You’ll see the skyscrapers and bridges of Lower Manhattan receding as you pull away and coming into focus again as you return.

A typical weekday schedule involves the use of five boats to transport approximately 60,000 passengers daily (109 daily trips). During the day, between rush hours, boats are regularly fueled and maintenance work is performed. Terminals are cleaned around the clock and routine terminal maintenance is performed on the day shift. On weekends, three boats are used (75 trips each Saturday and 68 trips each Sunday).

Over 35,000 trips are made annually.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mom is doing better, but still has a long way to go before she returns from disease to ease. Literal in my thinking, I often find myself lost in the technical aspect of words like “disease”- literally a lack of ease. I’m all ‘effed up.

It’s like the gulls say: ia, ia, ia

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 2, 2010 at 2:00 am

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