The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘K-Sea

curious and cyclopean

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s Tugboat Sunday at the Newtown Pentacle, so let’s shine a little light on K-Sea’s Ross Sea. Named for the infamous Antarctic waters explored by Roald Amundsen, the ship is one of the newer tugs plying the waters of NY Harbor.


K-Sea Transportation Partners L.P., headquartered in East Brunswick, New Jersey, is a leading provider of marine transportation, distribution and logistics services in the U.S. From locations in New York, Philadelphia, Norfolk, Seattle and Honolulu, K-Sea operates a large fleet of tugs and tank barges that serves a wide range of customers, including major oil companies, oil traders and refiners.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Ross Sea, or specifically the Penguin infested Ross Island, is home to two volcanos which bear the dearest nomenclature of all geologic forms upon the earth- the polygenetic stratovolcano Mount Erebus, and the shield volcano Mount Terror.

The latter infernal mountain is mentioned in both the Poe Novella “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket” and H.P. Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness” as well (although Lovecraft’s Mountains are in Western Antarctica, and assumed to be at least 1,000 KM from the Ross Sea).

for all the technical data, manufacturing history, and more photos of K-Sea’s Ross Sea- check out

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Ross Sea, as in the Antarctic, is named for explorer Sir James Clark Ross. An Englishman, Ross led an expedition to the frozen south in two wooden ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror- for which the volcanoes were named. The astounding Ross Ice Shelf is named for him, although he christened the formation as “The Victoria Barrier”.

It must be mentioned that Ross Sea, as in the Tugboat, was the winner of the 2011 Great North River Tugboat Race,


The Great North River Race Results

  1. Ross Sea – Class A 1st place – Time: 4:44 

  2. Quantico Creek – Class A 2nd Place – Time: 4:55
  3. Maurania III – Class A 3rd Place – Time: 4:55.5
  4. Catherine Miller – Class C 1st Place – Time: 5:54
  5. Pegasus – Class B 1st Place – Time: 5:56
  6. Susan Miller – Class C 2nd Place – Time: 6:09.
  7. Growler – Class C 3rd Place – Time: 6:13
  8. Freddie K. Miller – Class B 2nd Place – Time: 6:29
  9. Sea Wolf – Class B 3rd Place – Time: 6:48 Best Tatoo (Wayne)

  10. The Bronx – Did Not Race Little Toot Award & best mascot

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A question I’ve often heard asked often about Tugs with the sort of configuration that Ross Sea exhibits, a second wheel house atop the mast, is “why it is thus”?

Short answer is that it enables the pilot and or Captain the ability to see over a barge whose own height occludes the way forward.

from wikipedia

The Ross Sea was discovered by James Ross in 1841. In the west of the Ross Sea is Ross Island with the Mt. Erebus volcano, in the east Roosevelt Island. The southern part is covered by the Ross Ice Shelf. Roald Amundsen started his South Pole expedition in 1911 from the Bay of Whales, which was located at the shelf. In the west of the Ross sea, McMurdo Sound is a port which is usually free of ice during the summer. The southernmost part of the Ross Sea is Gould Coast, which is approximately two hundred miles from the Geographic South Pole.

All land masses in the Ross Sea are claimed by New Zealand to fall under the jurisdiction of the Ross Dependency, but few non-Commonwealth nations recognise this claim.

A 10 metre (32.8 feet) long colossal squid weighing 495 kilograms (1,091 lb) was captured in the Ross Sea on February 22, 2007.

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 22, 2012 at 12:15 am

burst open

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent business, if you must ask, is the reason I found myself visiting …Staten Island… Kevin Walsh of wanted, sensibly enough given the sylvan landscaping and thoughtful architecture of the place, to offer a walking tour of St. George as part of his ambitious schedule of “2nd Saturday” walking tours. As an accomplice in his fiendish revelations, I was forced to return to this place by land.

It is one thing to motor past …Staten Island… on a ship or highway, and another thing entirely to touch it with your feet. This is when you are helpless, a pedestrian lost in a land of motor vehicles and steep hills, and movement noticed behind dark curtains might said to be an implied rather than suggested hint of an occluded occupant.


For the past two days, visitors to a park in Staten Island’s Fort Wadsworth section have stumbled upon a gory mystery — a mutilated animal, possibly a dog or a goat, wrapped in a white sheet.

Parkgoers found two such animals in Von Briesen Park yesterday and this morning, city Parks Department officials confirmed.

The discovery has sparked speculation of ritual sacrifice and cult activity, and has led one Port Richmond woman to douse part of the ground where one animal was found with holy water, in an attempt to ward off what she believes is an evil presence.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Overly sensitive to sleights, always ready to interpret malicious intent in an innocent gesture, your humble narrator nevertheless prides himself on what Brooklyn kids might call “spidey sense”. When certain instincts and triggers begin to fire off, the imperative to “get out of dodge” becomes overwhelming and flight ensues, if I am clever enough to acknowledge this “tingle”.

Every time I’m on the island which Richmond County squats upon, I start to tingle.


Staten Island ranks second in the overall suicide rate out of all five boroughs, behind only Manhattan, according to the most recent state Department of Health statistics.

In 2005, the most recent year available, there were 6.9 suicides on the Island per 100,000 people. Manhattan was the only borough that had more, with 7.6 suicides per 100,000; rates for the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens were 4.8, 4.6 and 5.4, respectively.

Sudden changes in behavior or personality; feelings of desperation, helplessness, hopelessness, aloneness, loss and depression; previous suicide attempt; and most importantly, suicide statements expressing a desire or intention to die are all some of the warning signs that sometimes go overlooked, experts say.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over the years paying attention to this “tingle”, sometimes felt by Our Lady of the Pentacle instead of me, has aided me in avoiding multiple encounters with the Constabulatory, allowed me to escape a burning building twice, and facilitated in sidestepping some of the dire consequences of a degenerate youth. Additionally, I seem to know which days it would be fortuitous to call in sick to work, intuitively avoid traffic jams and transit logjams, and when some baser denizen of the NY streets sets their sights on me- I know it.

It has long been my belief that physical cowardice is a genetic inheritance, a gift from timorousness ancestors who managed to run away before the Vikings or Mongols found them.

from wikipedia

Snug Harbor was founded by the 1801 bequest of New York tycoon Captain Robert Richard Randall for whom the nearby neighborhood of Randall Manor is named. Randall left his country estate, Manhattan property bounded by Fifth Avenue and Broadway and Eighth and 10th Streets, to build an institution to care for “aged, decrepit and worn-out” seamen. The opening of the sailor’s home was delayed by extended contests of the will by Randall’s disappointed heirs. When Sailors’ Snug Harbor opened in 1833, it was the first home for retired merchant seamen in the history of the United States. It began with a single building, now the centerpiece in the row of five Greek Revival temple-like buildings on the New Brighton waterfront.

Captain Thomas Melville, a retired sea captain and brother of Moby-Dick author Herman Melville, was governor of Snug Harbor from 1867 to 1884.

In 1890, Captain Gustavus Trask, the governor of Snug Harbor, built a Renaissance Revival church, the Randall Memorial Chapel and, next to it, a music hall, both designed by Robert W. Gibson.

Approximately 1,000 retired sailors lived at Snug Harbor at its peak in the late 19th century, when it was among the wealthiest charities in New York. Its Washington Square area properties yielded a surplus exceeding the retirement home’s costs by $100,000 a year.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are places which terrify, and intimidate. …Staten Island… with it’s hoary past and terrifying implications of Old World conspiracy- accomplishes both for me. I prefer to focus on what floats past the place, observing from the safety of running water, rather than delve too deeply into the rumors of those things which have been witnessed in the trees near Willowbrook.


All “aged decrepit and warn-out sailors” were accepted. Even some blacks. Eventually the Harbor also allowed steamboat sailors and inland sailors from lakes and rivers too, but they were no doubt frowned upon as not being adventurous enough. Once, while trying to affix a sculpture to one of the walls, we found a sealed-off compartment containing a book of photographs of hundreds of inmates (as the retired seamen were called). Here and there were some dark faces. All races and nationalities were welcomed. Only “habitual alcoholics and those with contagious disease or immoral character were banned.”

tentacled starers

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

The courthouse in Staten Island, found in St. George near the Borough Hall, has always filled me with some nameless dread- an unknowable and substantive certainty that behind it’s gabled window sashes, there exists a brain blasting horror and existential truth which would shatter my sanity were the curtains to shift and reveal what lurks within.

Since childhood, when school trips or camp outings would bring me to this jutting littoral outcrop from my homeland of infinite Brooklyn, I’ve always maintained that there is just something wrong about the place.

If you think about it, the decline of New York City as an industrial and cultural leader began when the Verrazano Narrows Bridge was completed.


Borough Hall was designed by Carrere & Hastings, one of the most influential firms in this country in the early twentieth century. John Carrere (1858-1911) and Thomas Hastings (1860-1929) both attended the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris and worked at the firm of McKim, Mead & White. They started their firm in 1885. Carrere, a resident of Staten Island, helped select the dramatic hilltop site of Borough Hall, and was involved with the plan and development of the Civic Center. The firm designed the Richmond County Courthouse next door, the Ferry Terminal (burned) and the St. George Branch Library.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It must be admitted that …Staten Island… is actually quite lovely in spots and that the prejudice I bear the place is entirely between my own ears. Another perfectly lovely community in the United States- Boulder, Colorado- also receives an unreasoning enmity from your humble narrator. No reasonable explanation can be offered except that both make me itchy and uncomfortable, representative of a way of life unattractive to my personality and tastes. Funny thing is, half of my old neighborhood from Brooklyn moved out here, including my own parents.

If you’re from …Staten Island… and reading this, just chalk it up to inter borough antagonism, and allow me to just rattle on…

from wikipedia

McKim, Mead & White was a prominent American architectural firm at the turn of the twentieth century. The firm’s founding partners were Charles Follen McKim (1847–1909), William Rutherford Mead (1846–1928) and Stanford White (1853–1906). The firm was a major training ground for many other prominent architects -partners, associates, designers and draftsmen.

McKim and Mead joined forces in 1872 and were joined in 1879 by White who, like McKim, had worked for architect Henry Hobson Richardson. Their work applied the principles of Beaux-Arts architecture, the adoption of the classical Greek and Roman stylistic vocabulary as filtered through the Parisian Ecole des Beaux-Arts, and the related City Beautiful movement after 1893 or so, which aimed to clean up the visual confusion of American cities and imbue them with a sense of order and noble formality.

Mead was the last of the firm’s founding partners to die in 1928, after McKim (1909), and White (1906). The firm retained its name after the death of Mead, until partner James Kellum Smith’s death in 1961. The firm – primarily Smith – designed the prominent National Museum of American History in Washington DC, one of the firm’s last works, opening in 1964. McKim, Mead & White was also involved with an urban renewal project at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in the 1950s and designed three buildings as part of the project: DeKalb Hall, ISC Building and North Hall.

In 1961, McKim, Mead & White was succeeded by the firm Steinman, Cain, and White, which by 1971 had become Walker O. Cain and Associates.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Perhaps it’s just a psychic charge which the place has carried since the maritime days, when old sailors who had capsized into Snug Harbor would dialogue with the locals in area taverns, exchanging wild stories of the south seas for a shot of whiskey or a glass of beer. Squid like monstrosities worshipped like heathen gods, or a 50 foot shark which bit the prow from a boat, Fijian mermaids, and even stranger reports entered the folkloric gene pool here and mixed in with the hybrid pestilence of both English and Dutch superstitions. Isolation too, held special horrors for …Staten Island…

from wikipedia

Stanford White (November 9, 1853 – June 25, 1906) was an American architect and partner in the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White, the frontrunner among Beaux-Arts firms. He designed a long series of houses for the rich and the very rich, and various public, institutional, and religious buildings, some of which can be found to this day in places like Sea Gate, Brooklyn. His design principles embodied the “American Renaissance”.

In 1906, White was murdered by millionaire Harry Kendall Thaw over White’s affair with Thaw’s wife, actress Evelyn Nesbit, leading to a trial which was dubbed at the time “The Trial of the Century”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Rumors abound as to the mission of a certain Catholic Lay organization, based in a dormitory skyscraper on 34th street and Madison in Manhattan- and why certain members of that group (who believe even the Knights of Loyola to have lost their way) seem to spend quite so much of their time on …Staten Island…

One theory which has gained my attention suggests that the Masonic Treasures of Garibaldi still lie extant and occluded in the vast acreage of the place, and that the Holy See wishes to see these relics returned to Roman hands. However, one cannot trust in conspiracy, although… Garibaldi did conspire to overthrow the papal states here, and later succeeded in doing so… But that doesn’t prove anything!

from wikipedia

Thaw was born on February 12, 1871 to Pittsburgh coal and railroad baron William Thaw. Violent and paranoid from a very young age (his mother claimed his problems had started in the womb), he spent his childhood bouncing from private school to private school in Pittsburgh, never doing well and described by teachers as unintelligent and a troublemaker. Still, as the son of William Thaw, he was granted admission to the University of Pittsburgh, where he was to study law, though he apparently did little studying. After a few years he used his name and social status to transfer to Harvard University.

Thaw later bragged that he had studied poker at Harvard. He also went on long drinking binges, attended cockfights, and spent much of his time romancing young women. He was expelled after being picked up for chasing a cab driver through the streets of Cambridge with a shotgun, though he claimed it was unloaded.

Thaw has been credited with the invention of the speedball, an injected combination of morphine and/or heroin along with cocaine sometime between 1896 and 1906. He was also reported by newspapers at the time of his trial to have once consumed an entire bottle of laudanum in a single sitting and carry a special silver case full of syringes and other parts of a large “outfit” of injecting equipment.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The woodlands of …Staten Island… betray it’s nature to visitors who observe the glacial erratics and kettle ponds which would be recognizable to the antediluvian dwellers of the place some 14,000 years ago. The predatory bipeds referred to as the “Clovis Culture” left behind evidence of their presence, and then dropped off the map entirely. The next direct evidence of occupancy, this time of recognizable humans, was some 5,000 years ago. What happened during the nine millennia between 3,000 and 12,000 B.C.? How does it relate to the stories told by the old mariners at Snug Harbor?

from wikipedia

The towns and villages of Staten Island were dissolved in 1898 with the consolidation of the City of Greater New York, with Richmond as one of its five boroughs.

The construction of the Verrazano Bridge, along with the other three major Staten Island bridges, created a new way for commuters and tourists to travel from New Jersey to Brooklyn, Manhattan, and areas farther east on Long Island. The network of highways running between the bridges has effectively carved up many of the borough’s old neighborhoods.

The Verrazano had another effect, opening up many areas of the borough to residential and commercial development, especially in the central and southern parts of the borough, which had previously been largely undeveloped. Staten Island’s population doubled between from about 221,000 in 1960 to about 443,000 in 2000.

Throughout the 1980s, a movement to secede from the city steadily grew in popularity, reaching its peak during the mayoral term of David Dinkins. In a 1993 referendum, 65% voted to secede, but implementation was blocked in the State Assembly.

time stained

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– 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.

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