Sunday, June 5, 2011

Catherine Turecamo working the stern of the NYK KAI at Port Elixabeth
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.

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