The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for April 30th, 2011

time stained

leave a comment »

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Business carried me to… Staten Island… recently, and as always the charms of the place were lost upon my dross sensibilities. To one of my peculiar fascinations, the two most interesting things about the place are what’s floating around it on the Kill Van Kull, and the queer but persistent rumors that when Garibaldi hid from the Papists on Staten Island in the last century, he was in possession of certain Masonic treasures which did not make the return trip to Italy with him and that said antiquities might lie extant still somewhere on the Island.

It’s actually a lovely part of the City of Greater New York, of course, which I bear an unreasoning prejudice against… I’m all ‘effed up.

from wikipedia

The Kill Van Kull is a tidal strait between Staten Island, New York and Bayonne, New Jersey in the United States. Approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) long and 1,000 feet (305 m) wide, it connects Newark Bay with Upper New York Bay. The Robbins Reef Light marks the eastern end of the Kill, Bergen Point its western end. Spanned by the Bayonne Bridge, it is one of the most heavily travelled waterways in the Port of New York and New Jersey.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The maritime culture of Staten Island, once a thriving and all encompassing economy, has been reduced but it still quite active. The looming question of the landmarked Bayonne Bridge, which is now considered to be an impediment to further expansion and modernization of the portages at Newark and Elizabeth continues. The latest plan I was privy to described a process which would scrub the current roadway and build a newer deck that would allow egress to the gargantuan class of ships called “Panamax” which will dominate the transoceanic shipping trade within a few years.

An inability to access the docks in New Jersey would result in Asian and European cargo being unloaded in another state and municipality, which would drive a stake directly into the heart of our local maritime industry, and chart out a declining future for the Port of New York.

from wikipedia

Seagoing tugboats are in three basic categories:

The standard seagoing tugboat with model bow that tows its “payload” on a hawser.

The “notch tug” which can be secured in a notch at the stern of a specially designed barge, effectively making the combination a ship. This configuration, however, is dangerous to use with a barge which is “in ballast” (no cargo) or in a head or following sea. Therefore, the “notch tugs” are usually built with a towing winch. With this configuration, the barge being pushed might approach the size of a small ship, the interaction of the water flow allows a higher speed with a minimal increase in power required or fuel consumption.

The “integral unit,” “integrated tug and barge,” or “ITB,” comprises specially designed vessels that lock together in such a rigid and strong method as to be certified as such by authorities (classification societies) such as the American Bureau of Shipping, Lloyd’s Register of Shipping, Indian Register of Shipping, Det Norske Veritas or several others. These units stay combined under virtually any sea conditions and the “tugs” usually have poor sea keeping designs for navigation without their “barges” attached. Vessels in this category are legally considered to be ships rather than tugboats and barges must be staffed accordingly. Such vessels must show navigation lights compliant with those required of ships rather than those required of tugboats and vessels under tow. Articulated tug and barge units also utilize mechanical means to connect to their barges. ATB’s generally utilize Intercon and Bludworth connection systems. Other available systems include Articouple, Hydraconn and Beacon Jak. ATB’s are generally staffed as a large tugboat, with between seven to nine crew members. The typical American ATB operating on the east coast, per custom, displays navigational lights of a towing vessel pushing ahead, as described in the ’72 COLREGS.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Enthusiasts and colleagues always try to disabuse me of my dislike for the Island, and it’s rich history does tantalize. Vanderbilts, and Kreischers, and Willowbrook, and Snug Harbor are oft mentioned but the modern island- with it’s hideous modernist residences and consumerist population- causes me to shrink away and shun it’s charms. As mentioned, this is dictionary prejudice, and I’m not trying to start a fight with my counterparts in the antiquarian community of the Island.

Better that I stick to Richmond Terrace, with it’s spectacular maritime theatrics, than delve too deeply into the place lest I betray a mind closed to possibilities.


The Kill van Kull deepening project is part of the overall NY & NJ Harbor Deepening (50 feet) $1.6 billion project to deepen certain channels to 50 feet in order to allow the safe and economically efficient passage of the newest container ships serving the Port of NY & NJ. The first Corps contract was awarded in March 2005 for the Kill Van Kull Channel, S-KVK-2. Dredging for this contract started west of the Bayonne Bridge and worked east through the channel. Since the area along Bergen Point is made up of diabase rock, drilling and blasting was required.

%d bloggers like this: