Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
So here's what's wrong: Notice how each line is only hooked on one horn of the cleat? That's no good! People do it, and make a habit of it for a whole career and never get in trouble, but it isn't right. If one of these lines should fail, the boat will slide until the other lines just falls off the cleat, and then we're just hanging on that stern line. the problem with that is two-fold.
As we're making way through the water, we are cramming loads of water between the scow and the boat. These lines are under tremendous strain holding the two vessels together. Now all of a sudden we have nothing there, what happens? The two vessels get pushed apart by this wedge of water, and the only thing holding it all together is the stern line. First of all, we've lost control of the scow. We have no means of steering it. We could put the rudder hard over, bringing the boat back to the scow and doing a big circle until the deckhand gets a couple of lines out - but we need a lot of sea room to get that done. What if there's another boat, or a rock, or some other hazard there? The other problem - and it's a much greater problem - is that as the two vessels separate, they get sideways to the flow of water. They open up like a V. The scow goes one way, the boat goes the other, and now the boat is getting towed by the scow, instead of the other way around. If the scow starts towing the boat sideways, it leans the boat over. we call this getting tripped. The boat leans way over, water gets all over the deck and into any openings, doors, vents, etc..... and starts flooding the boat. Many tugs are lost in this manner. Tugs are built very low to the water, there isn't a lot of freeboard, or reserve buoyancy. You get a little flooding, and it doesn't take much before it's all over.
So why do guys do this the wrong way? It's faster. It's easier than teaching the deckhand about leading the two parts around one end of the cleat and dropping the bight on the other, or even educating them about terms like "the bight" or the "bitter end" versus the "standing part". It's a little easier to get the line off when they are like this too. Take a look at the next post for the right way to do it.
The right thing about all this is that both lines have a solid purchase on the cleat. We refer to it as a "fore and aft" lead, although it's called different things in different places. If one of theses lines should fail, the other line stays firmly on the cleat. It will be a little slack as the boat slides fore or aft, but I've still got a solid hold on the scow - albeit a little sloppy - until we get a new line out. This is basic good seamanship, pure and simple. Do it right, don't take short cuts, no matter how many times you might get away with it. It's only going to take one time to ruin a perfectly good day, or get someone killed, or even just get you doing a bunch of unpleasant paperwork.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Laura K Moran on the bow
Chicago Bridge at Port Elizabeth
Chicago Bridge with tugs alongside
This is what we get for scenery these days on the Brian. No big orange ferries, or joggers on the East River. Watching the boats work the ships has got me thinking about my time doing ship assist, in Boston, and for about a year in Philadelphia too.
I liked it because it made me become a better boat handler. The pilot is always expecting a quick response, so one learns how to get it done efficiently. Trying to stay in front of a ship coming out of Chelsea Creek while the deckhand is trying to retrieve your line on the fantail requires finesse and attention to detail for sure. I remember when the craziest, scariest thing was trying to hold the boat in place above the Chelsea St. bridge while waiting for the ship to come through so you could get a line up on the starboard bow. On one side is the channel where the ship is coming, on the other side is the wall of a pump house, where you are trying not to get pushed into. As the ship is coming at you it's pushing a whole bunch of water, which is trying to blow you out of the way. After a while it becomes routine, bump it in and out of gear, hold the boat almost in the way of the ship as it comes, then allow the bow wave to push you aside as you're steering into the ship to land without pushing him around too much.
That was after getting the bare basics down pat. The captain would let you run around light tug, then when he thought you were ready, he'd show you how to come alongside a moving ship. The first time I did that, I came in too hard and knocked everything all over the wheel house. There's some things to know there too, like in anything. I was taught to let the point on the ship, your landing place, to pass you - or at least let it come abeam of you. Then you have to match the boat's speed to the ship. The rest is fairly easy, but it takes a little practice, bring the boat in FLAT alongside the ship. My mistake was that I angled in and landed the shoulder on it, like a lineman laying a block lol. Turn the rudder a little toward the ship, bring the boat in some. Then shift the rudder the other way to flatten out. Keep repeating that a few times till you lay it up alongside gentle as can be. Once your in there, put a little rudder against the ship to keep you pinned without pushing the guy around. Easy as cake.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Monday, May 30, 2011
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Stay tuned for some sort of tug related post , real soon.
Hey Bill. thanks for following. We need to get together soon.
Friday, May 6, 2011
Either there is ship traffic that we need to move a dredge off station, or we need to swap out scows, or help the big boat make up for the dump run. When none of that is going on, it's "stand by to stand by". The deckhands have been doing a little painting, I've been keeping the chahrts and logs up to date, and other than that it's a lot of time for reading and catching up with our friends on thhe other boats at the dock.
No pics for today, we've got a real slow connection so there's no sense aggravating my self trying to put something up.
Monday, May 2, 2011
I wonder if this guy drew the short straw for this assignment, or was it a reward?
John, of the Megan Ann and Claude passing time
Atlantic Concert inbound for Port Elizebeth
There's always something that needs painting on a tug.
Friday, April 29, 2011
Here's an interesting job; This is the tug Herbert Brake with the Willis Ave. Bridge on a scow. It is heading into the canal at Claremont to be cut up for scrap. The captain on the Herbie is Pat Folan, who is an awesome boatman and a great photographer too. Here is his website with tons of pictures of boats and stuff http://www.pelicanpassage.com/
Friday, April 15, 2011
I had never been that far out Long Island before. It's a nice place, reminds me of Cape Cod a lot. I'm going to put it on my list of places to go when I have more time to poke around a little.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
I have a short video of the approach and the make-up and departure that I will post when I get home.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Not long after stepping aboard a tug, one becomes intimately familiar with these tools and their use - and the mind numbing rattle of that needle gun doing its thing.
I'll do a post about the Mary at some point in the future, she's a great boat. I was mate on her for a while before I decided to try a career change last year.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
The Paul is on the small side, at 68 feet, with 1200 horsepower; Despite her small size, she's quite a work horse, and among the best kept boats I have ever seen. Because of the clean burning modern Cummins diesels, she is often used as a dredge tender, keeping the N.O.X. emissions down, which is a consideration on Army Corps of Engineer dredging contracts these days. I've been told that Donjon has a competitive edge because one of our dredges and this boat meet this environmental challenge pretty readily. When I was a mate on the Mary Alice, we had orders not to spend too much time standing by alongside the dredge Delaware Bay unless absolutely necessary because we didn't have the same low low emissions as the Paul did. She was built in 1968 as the Miss Holly by Breaux's Bay Craft of Loreauville, Louisiana. She was previously operated by S.C. Loveland Co. of Philadelphia PA. and is a very well traveled boat.
An interesting thing about Tug Boats - at least to me anyways - is how durable they are. 1968, 43 years old, and still going strong. This is not uncommon at all, with regular maintenance and up grades, these boats go on and on. My current boat, the Brian Nicholas was built in '66. Most of the boats I have worked on are about this old in fact. How many trucks on the road are that old? Not too many, that's for sure. A quick Google search reveals that the average age of a tug in the U.S. is 38 yrs. old.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
From time to time, I'll be posting photos and short posts from my phone, then coming back to elaborate on them later, just so's we're all on the same page here :~)
I think I have a video of an inbound transit to this dock at home. If so, I'll post it when I get a chance.
Friday, April 8, 2011
Thursday was another great day at work. We were dispatches to the Dept of Sanitation paper run, which is maybe my all time favorite job here at Donjon. I keep saying I could do this run daily until I retire, but I'd probably get bored with it sooner or later. What it is is recyclable paper which gets loaded unto a scow at 59th street Manhattan, on the Hudson river, and gets taken down to Vissy Paper which is located on the Western shore of Staten Island in the Arthur Kill. It's about 18 miles or so from one dock to the other, and almost always there's a return trip with a light scow.
From 59th street it's a nice ride down along the Manhattan Riverfront, past the Intepid Sea Air and Space Museum, the passenger ship terminal, the Chelsea Piers, and that spectacular New York skyline. Then we jog over to the New Jersey side of the river and pass Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, as we head down towards Constable Hook and turn west into the Kill Van Kull. This where things get real industrial. From here on out it's mostly oil terminals and other kinds of industrial waterfront all the way to our destination.
This took up all of my afternoon watch, which runs from noon to 6 pm. Then it was a quick dinner then off to bed. I had to be up again at midnight for my next six hour watch, but I just tossed and turned until at least 9 - I kept trying to read myself to sleep, but it just wasn't happening. As you can imagine, I wasn't too happy to get woken up at 12, but that's the way it goes. usually there's a couple of those kinds of lost sleep nights every hitch. Such is the life of a boatman here in the big city.............
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Geese are a common sight around the docks, they get used to a free meal now and then from the boats.
Finally, back to some real tug boating! I guess it's all real tug boating, but since before Christmas we had been dredge tending in Newark Bay, never getting more than about 2 miles from our home dock.
When we showed up for our hitch last Thursday, we were sent over to Claremont to do shifting work among the scrap scows there. this was because the tug that usually does it was in drydock.
As with many things, I really started to enjoy it once we got into the thick of it. It is a bit more intense than some of the other work I've done around here, in that a typical day will consist of a dozen or more more moves within the yard. It's close quarters, one part of the yard has a narrow, shallow canal - and other parts involve sliding the scows in between other pieces of equipment and this requires both deckhands to be up on the scow to handle lines and give steering directions. Because of this, we were "off watches" - working a regular 10 hour day and getting our rest at night like normal workaday folks. I am not really too fond of that arrangement, as I've grown accustomed to watching the world go by 6 hrs. at a time while at work.
So we did that until Tuesday, then we got back on the scrap runs. This is great because it gets us out and about in the harbor. the first run was from Claremont up to the the Bronx river, where we exchanged a light (empty) scow for a loaded one. Boy was it great to be out in the bay again, up through the East River and Hell Gate to Hunts Point and then back down to Claremont. The running joke for the past few months was whether or not we could find these places, or know what to do once we got there.
Things are humming along here on the Brian, we've been suffering some crew problems, which isn't all that uncommon in the business, but we're soldiering on.
Friday, March 25, 2011
I think tomorrow I'll be ready to get some paint on the decks finally. Strangely enough, I'm really enjoying this work. It's been three days now of scrape, sand, and vacuum. I'm beginning to see now why some people become so attached to their boats. I'm generally not a real go getter when it comes to maintenance, I much prefer to run boats and leave that stuff to the deck hands, but this past few days has instilled a pride of ownership and a sense of accomplishment. Like I might have said in an earlier post, I'm totally psyched to have a decent looking boat this season. I've got just a little more prepping to do to in the A.M. I thought I was all done today, but there are some areas that looked okay from one angle, but closer inspection shows that they aren't quite ready yet. I'm really focusing on trying to get it as faired and smooth as I can before I rush the paint. To think, I was trying to sell the boat this winter. I think I'm beginning to embrace the "go small, go now" philosophy. Smaller sails, smaller docking fees, smaller upkeep, I'm digging it!
I've been following some cruising blogs, which are very inspirational and entertaining.http://svgeminidreams.blogspot.com and http://weehappy.com/
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Moving day tomorrow - the Uncle Buck era is over, on to the next chapter.
Monday, March 21, 2011
On the work front, my new license came back from the NMC. It was waiting in my mail when I got home. It isn't a big piece of paper anymore, it is all contained in a little passport-sized book now. The MMD is in there too, so I don't have to keep track of a license (how were we supposed t0 keep them in good shape in a sea bag anyways) and a separate ID card. It's all one thing now, and goes right next to my passport, hardly takes up any room, and I stuffed them in a zip-loc baggie to keep them dry. So now I can leave this big clunky binder at home, I need to figure out a workable solution for my radio operators license though. Why does that have to be a big 8"x11" paper instead of a wallet sized card?
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied, "Only a little while." The American then asked, "Why didn't you stay out longer and catch more fish?" The Mexican said, "With this I have more than enough to support my family's needs." The American then asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?" The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life." The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing; and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat: With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor; eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles and eventually New York where you will run your ever-expanding enterprise." The Mexican fisherman asked, "But, how long will this all take?" To which the American replied, "15 to 20 years." "But what then?" asked the Mexican. The American laughed and said that's the best part. "When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions." "Millions?...Then what?" The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."
An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, "Only a little while."
The American then asked, "Why didn't you stay out longer and catch more fish?"
The Mexican said, "With this I have more than enough to support my family's needs."
The American then asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"
The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life."
The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing; and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat: With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor; eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles and eventually New York where you will run your ever-expanding enterprise."
The Mexican fisherman asked, "But, how long will this all take?"
To which the American replied, "15 to 20 years."
"But what then?" asked the Mexican.
The American laughed and said that's the best part. "When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions."
The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."-- Author Unknown
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