The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for January 20th, 2013

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

This Maritime Sunday posting presents the crossing of the Kill Van Kull by two tugs of the Coastline Marine Towing Corporation. They are moving a crane barge from points unknown to some destination at the Port Elizabeth Newark complex. Said shots were captured while onboard a Working Harbor Committee expedition during the summer of 2012. As you can see, it was a dark and stormy night.


Coastline Marine Towing has been serving the New York-Metro Harbors and US Eastern Seaboard for 20 years. We provide experienced crew and vessels that are ready to accommodate the logistics of your marine project.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Little information is available on the tug Ireland, although a friend of mine asserts that it’s a 1940 vintage vessel. It did not display radio call sign information on its hull, which would have aided me in discerning its past and capabilities. The radio call sign, for maritime vessels, performs the same function which a license plate does for motor vehicles.


Whether it’s a single barge, a group of barges made up as a single unit, or a vessel, when being moved by a tugboat, it’s called the “tow” (singular). A tug can move a tow in one of three different ways:

  • Astern – The tug pulls the tow via a tow line from the stern of the tug. This is common for ocean towing but less used in confined harbors as it may be difficult to keep the tow from swinging side to side.
  • Pushing – The tug ties off behind the tow, and pushes it forward. This provides a greater deal of control compared to towing astern.
  • Alongside (on the hip) – The tug ties up alongside the tow, typically aft of the midpoint of the tow. This method also provides a good deal of control.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The capabilities of google are confounded when a search term like “Tug Ireland” is offered to it. Lacking syntax, the algorithms of the search giant deliver a cogent result describing the coastal towing capabilities of a European nation state rather than those which would define and encapsulate the history of a single tugboat. Nevertheless, a hearty Maritime Sunday shout out is sent to both the faraway coast of an Emerald Island and to the crew of a singular tugboat alike.

also from

Port refers to the left hand side of a vessel as you face forward and starboard refers to the right hand side. Before the rudder was invented (by the Chinese), boats and ships were steered by means of a steering board. Since most people are right handed, it was customary to mount the steering board on the right hand side of the ship. This, the right hand side became know as the “steering board” side, which was eventually shortened to “starboard” side, and this term is still in use today.

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