Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year Resolution

This was a few summers back, we took the Chesapeake 1000 up to Maine to lift this tug into the water. Washburn and Doughty had a fire and their railway was destroyed, so this was the solution for keeping the work on schedule while they were also working at rebuilding the yard.

The tug is the Laura K Moran. We were told that the boat weighs 500 tons, so the crane is working at only half capacity here - mighty impressive.

As for New Years resolutions, I don't usually make them. I am going to try to develop a routine for writing more though. It shouldn't be too difficult to sit down for a few minutes every couple of days and get some thoughts out there. The big news in my world these days is that I have quit smoking. Yup, started working on it over the holidays and today is my first day without a cigarette! I threw out a half a pack, my lighter, ashtrays, matches, rolling machine, all my paraphernalia. I'm gonna be using the patch for a little bit to help with the physical part of the addiction. That will make it a little bit easier to deal with the mental part - the triggers and associations between smoking and everyday things like smoking with coffee, or driving, or after meals, etc......That's all for now, see ya in a few days. I'm working on a few posts about how I got into this kind of work, and where I came from - that sort of thing.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Well, John quit last night. Guess he didn't like his brother telling him what to do. Don't have much to say today, I'm really upset about the whole thing. A lot of maintenance going on the past couple of days. We found a hole in the boat that needed to be repaired, we're getting new clutches installed too. more pics to come soon.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Haven't been near a computer for quite a while now. just thought I'd check in. I don't have any pics to post until I get home. I'm trying to sort through all the little things on the boat that need fixing, a little painting project here, a squeaky hinge there.........that kind of stuff. I had a cadet from Maine Maritime last week and put him to work degreasing the engine room. My brother is working here now, and I'm trying to bring him up to speed with the line handling and such. That's probably the biggest thing one has to learn on a tug, even if they've spent their whole life on boats. a nine inch ship line weighs something like 12 pounds per foot, and it takes a little getting used to. Also, we have to throw lines a lot when we're coming into a dock - there usually aren't people there to catch lines for us. So a new guy has to spend a little bit of time learning how to get a line on a bitt that's maybe 6-8-10 feet away without jumping off the boat. The other part of line handling - probably the most important thing - is learning how to make them up. That means tying it off. It's very important to do it in a manner that it can be untied at any time, like maybe when it has a strain on it or something like that. We can't have any "hatchet knots". Also you've got to learn how to lead it around the bitts so that it doesn't get fouled, or fetch up on anything like a sharp edge maybe. So all that stuff takes some time to master, even for a guy that's been around big boats all his life. I'm thinking he's going to be just fine once he gets to all that, and gets used to his brother telling what to do all the time. So far he's doing great, and I have high hopes for him. The really cool thing is that I know that he knows how to take care of a boat. The other I guy I had thought his only job was line handling. That is a big part of it, but there's also a lot of other things to do besides sitting in the galley watching Jerry Springer. It's not like we labor all day either, it's real laid back. I always say "It beats a real job any day of the week". but things do need to be done. Take on a little project every day, every week. No big rush

Friday, December 12, 2008

Back to Philly

Here's a picture of the Grace
I'm back in Philly picking up some work while I'm out from DonJon. Actually, I decidedto take back my spot on the Grace Moran, it's still open so I pick up right back where I left off. The money is less then it is at Donjon, but there are no layoffs here. It's a steady pay check, and it's still a respecable living. There's a lot to recommend it: If I need to work extra there's always a spot open, the work is challenging, but there's plenty of down time so I'm not killing myself. Also, the whole atmosphere is a lot more laid back, if I want t run up the street and get a coffee or something, go in town to the bookstore or whatever, it's no problem as long as it doesn't interfere with the work. It's a good bunch of guys here for the most part. I'm glad to be back, really.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Just a picture I took of a yacht when I was attending S.T.C.W. classes in Ft. Lauderdale last month.

So it's another day on the Charles D. I found out today that we get our deckhand back, so I'll be up in the wheelhouse with the captain. I did a job with him today, it was an assist out of a dock in Newark. He let me do the job - put a line up on the barge, answer the commands coming from the other boat, "ahead easy", "back slow", "back half", "all stop", "take in your line".

I was doing fine, but at one point, he took it from me - I guess because I wasn't doing it exactly the way he'd have me do it. Exactly 10 degrees rudder instead of 12, or 800 r.p.m. instead of 830. I don't know, maybe I'm the same way when I'm breaking someone in, but I'd like to think not. Here's a guy who needs to be better than everyone else, never mind that it takes a little time to get the feel of a boat. You know the type, doesn't get that the other guy is just as effective, even though he does things a little different.

So I get through the job, get released, then when I'm backing away, he takes it again, says we're getting too close to the edge of the channel. Whatever, I'll give him that one, but why not just say " don't come back too much, there's not a lot of water there". Anyways, another few days and we'll get through this, be on the other side. Bottom line is: I know how to do this, and I'm pretty good at it too. I've been signed of by a few guys already, and there are a couple of dozen docking pilots between Boston and Philly who are more than happy to have me on the job. If he wants to be anal about it, than I'll just move on, that's all. One thing I don't want to do though, I don't want to get into a personality contest with the guy, he's the Master - it's his boat. I'll grant him his command presence. It's not for me to tell him how to do his job, even though I might disagree.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I started at McAllister N.Y. on the 28th - the day after thanksgiving. Spent about an hour filling out paperwork, then hung around for aboput another hour or so waiting for my boat to show up. I wound up on the Charles D. McAllister which is an old Exxon/ Sea River boat. She's a nice boat, real quiet and smooth. the quarters are a little small though. where it counts it's real nice. she's a twin screw with flanking rudders which makes it real manueverable.
Funny thing happened when I got aboard though. I'm sitting at the galley table reading through some of the papers that the office gave me, trying to get through it and get it over with. A guy comes down and gets his coffee, sits down and just kinda' ignores me - so I just kinda' ignore him back. Long story short, it turns out this guy's the captain! Argh!! Note to self: always, always, be the first to say hi and introduce yourself. Man! Talk about an awkward first couple of hours.
Anyhow, they lost a deckhand today to another boat, apparently they move people around all over the fleet here. So I wound being the deckhand on the mate's watch. On a tug the captain stands two watches a day, from 6 to 12 on both sides of the clock. The mate's watch is from 12 to 6. No big deal, I'm supposed to be demonstrating my boat handling abilities and getting some local knowledge, I was hired as a mate. But I can be deckhand for a couple of days, there paying me the same, after all. We assisted a tug/barge unit into K.M.I Staten Island, then we sailed a ship out of Carteret. Ah, just like the old days! I figured I'd better get right into the role, so I cleared everything off the counters in the galley and got out the bucket and a rag and cleaned all the counters, bulkheads ( those are what we call walls on a boat) then swept and mopped the deck. I figured I'd do it just like I expect my deckhands to.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

These pictures are from the summer of "07 when I was working for Constellation Maritime. we were setting the buoys for the offshore LNG facility in Massachusetts Bay. Ships discharge their cargo directly into these buoys, which are connected to the pipeline on shore.
It was a very interesting job. we had to hold the buoy between our two boats and pass a wire to the large anchor handling tug so the could tie into the anchors which were already set on the ocean floor. That yellow line you see on the big boat is a six inch diameter cable encased in a protective coating. There are eight of them for each buoy, arrayed in a circular pattern- picture a wagon wheel with the buoy being the hub and each wire leading to an anchor like the spokes. You can see the buoy in the top picture being lifted off the ship. It reminds me of the space capsules that the astronauts used to splash down in. When it's all set in place it actually sits about 50 feet or so under water.