Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays from New York

Yeah so I wish I was home but I'm working with the hand that was dealt to me.If I was home of course I would have spent way to much money on gifts,but I would have spent some quality time with friends and family.The guys on the tug have become kind of like my family.You have to understand that we spend 2/3 of our lives together all day every day.Either you can look at it like prison or look at it like a good way to make a living and meet some interesting people.Sometimes I learn a bit much about my shipmates,but I guess they think the same about me.It's the second year in a row I have missed the holidays due to work and honestly it doesn't bother me to much.I know my mother is going to hate to hear that but hear me out.Two years ago I couldn't even afford gas to get to my parents house for the holidays.That's even if my 1992 Nissan Sentra would have made it the entire 20 mile trip.Now I'm well on my way to saving money and I'm not an emotional or financial burden on my family.My options are endless and I just want to take a second to thank my family for sticking with me through those hard times.


Today while on the phone with a female friend she asked me if I was lonely.Confused ny the straight forward question I responded that if I was home I would probably miss a few of my shipmates just as I do my own family.Just as my family has looked out for my well being so have my shipmates.Without them there is a good chance I would have been severely injured by now.The same goes for them,we all have to watch each others back.Disregard those last few comments mom,I won't and can't get hurt.HAHA,honestly the job has it's dangerous,exciting,boring and endless days.As long as the checks keep ending up in the bank I don't care.Once again,thank you to my family back home as well as my family on the boat.You all have been the best mentors I could ever ask for.Merry Christmas,Chanukah,Kwanzaa or whatever it is you people celebrate.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Brrrrrrr!

Down the Dock on Staten Island
Froze up from the Flo' up!

Tug June K. in the N.Y.C. Harbor I just keep telling myself,it could be worse.It's not even like I'm lying to myself,because it indeed could be much worse.I don't have it that bad.I'm sitting here drinking hot chocolate browsing the internet,getting paid.Tomorrow,oh tomorrow is a different story.As everyone knows the last week or so has been quite a wintry mess for the North East.I woke up this morning knowing it would be snowing and it indeed was.I'm from Southern Virginia so at the most I get to see the white stuff 3-5 times a year.Then within a day it's 60 degrees again and it's all gone.I forget that up here,this time of year,when it starts snowing,it doesn't go away.New York City is an all around sight to be seen.But,if you add in my love for Tugboats and a nice snow storm,the city makes for a great back drop.Unfortunately when cruising around the city to a different pier where our barge was located,I didn't get a chance to take many pictures.In the N.Y.C. harbor you never,ever,ever take your eyes off of the water.It's like rush hour in Asia,but with Tugboats.It seems we will be taking a small scrap barge down to my stomping grounds in Chesapeake,Virginia.Don't worry an article is in the works for the whole transfer of trash from state to state,it mostly disgusts me.However the morning brings a sweet forecast of 24 for a high and wind chills near zero.Winds from the north,of course,gusting over 40 mph.That makes a great recipe for going offshore,not really.I'm so excited about having to stand watch on the bow of the barge while exiting the harbor tomorrow,what fun that will be.Here are a few pictures I managed to take before my fingers quit to function,enjoy.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Part of the Deal

The engineer was excited,I'm not feeling it



So my last few days have gone a bit like this.Wake up early,5:30,eat breakfast,work till sun down,stand generator watch until 10 shower and repeat.Unfortunately today and a few other days it has decided to rain,sleet and then rain.We are in the shipyard getting the exhaust manifold repaired on the port main engine.It leaks and apparently exhaust fumes can be deadly,who knew.So as the shipyard mechanics repair the manifold the crew tries to stay busy.Now if everyone remembers we were in the shipyard for over a week this Summer and it was utterly boring.No problem because this time we haven't had a chance to breathe.Fixing everything from plumbing problems,AKA poo poo piping ,to drain pipes to lifting anything that ways over and up to a few hundred pounds.I tried my hand at welding again,that was a waste of time but I now know for certain I can't do it.We are scheduled to get underway Saturday morning,bound for New York.Oh joyous fun I'm excited.Let's go freeze!It's all part of the deal anyway.I don't get to much snow in my neck of the woods so seeing it for a few weeks won't kill me.I'm just not excited about the strong North winds that come along with snow storms,again just part of the line of work.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Into the Notch

video

So you may be asking what's the notch?The notch,simply explained,is the area on the stern of the barge where the bow of the tug fits into.Everybody got that?No,me either.That's why I took a video to better explain myself.However let me try again,in detail,with words.So the bow of the tug is "pointed".Most offshore barges have an area on the stern of them where an offshore tug can fit into,referred to as the notch.Now the reasoning behind this set up is quite simple.The tug fits snugly into the notch for a few different reasons.First and most importantly is better control.The tighter in the notch the tug can get the better the control.So what happens after the tug gets in the notch?How do they stay there?Easy answer,either cables,or lines or a combination of the two,are stretched out from the stern of the tug up onto the barge.The next step is tightening them using the large tow drum located on the stern of the tug.These drums,also referred to as the suitcase drum or money maker,are extremely powerful and often run by hydraulics.Oddly enough this set up is becoming out dated as new tugs emerge with a new set up.As hydraulics become more efficient,these new tugs are equipped with a pin system.Referred to as ATB or ,articulated tug and barge units,these new tugs have become the wave of the future.They simply come into the notch and a set of hydraulic pins,very large ones,emerge from the bow of the tug and lock into "holes" in the barge notch.This system allows them to be primarily a "push" boat as they can routinely take 10 foot seas with no worry of the pin system faulting.The old cable and line system will not tolerate more than 3 foot waves.So as the old system barges head offshore they have to set free and continue offshore by towing.Then upon arrival at the next port of call they break down again to get into "pushing gear" to dock the barge.As you might imagine this system causes much more work for the deck crew,but hey at least I have a job.If you have questions,ask away!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hey Waetherman

Dang it's warm,cold,warm,cold then just plain nasty.So is the normal weather pattern this time of year on the East Coast of America I suppose.Well laying alongside the fuel dock in Maryland finally.The trip up wasn't to bad just boring.Haven't had much sleep due to the new presence of a "green" deckhand.Apparently I have been put in charge of making sure he doesn't die,lucky me.I just wish he would stop eating all my dramamine.Well everyone has to start somewhere I suppose.Our next step appears to be get rid of the barge!When this is going to take place,hell I don't know that information.On a different note a few of the pictures I have taken over the last year are up for further review by a few different magazines.My articles on the other hand I haven't heard another word about.Oh well if it's pictures they want then it's pictures they shall get.Proffessional Mariner has been in contact with me over a picture I took in the Mississippi River this past spring,so that's good.The company I work for has informed me that one of the pictures I took in Pascagoula,Mississippi this Summer may appear on the cover of the new calendar.Lastly Merchant Mariner Magazine is being pressured by me to print an article on supply and demand I wrote,haha.Well only time will tell what will happen,stay warm.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Here it Goes Again




Oh hooray!I'm back at work,well almost,I'm sitting in the airport waiting on my ride to the boat.I tried posting a few of the longer,better videos I took last week while hunting but they didn't take.No big deal,I will try again when I have a bit of time to kill.A few days ago I ventured out on a fishing trip with one of my duck hunting friends on his boat.We had minimal luck catching striper and trout,but did find some great sea duck spots.Unfortunately it seems that every tard in Virginia put an offshore blind license on the end of there pier.We can work around that by just not hunting there and being disgusted at the fact that they can still do that.Why would they do that?















The main reason,as you may have guessed,is not to hunt it but to keep the neighbors from building on to there boathouse.Yes that's right if you have a current standing blind license on your property your neighbors may not improve there current pier,boat house or boat lift.So as you can see paying the twelve dollars every year to renew only makes sense.That way your view of the Chesapeake Bay isn't blocked,oh you silly rich people.Here's an idea let me hunt it.Then your neighbors will really hate you when I wake them up at six in the morning with a few booms and a rebel yell or two.












Enough of that nonsense.Well the main duck boat should be getting fixed at some point in the next month.That swell ethanol gas seems to have eaten my carburetor.It's cool though,this way I may have a bit of faith in it and not worry that it will leave me stranded in a slat march when it's snowing and blowing sideways.That's about it for now.I don't know where in the U.S.A I will be headed to on the tug.I can almost assure it that it will be cold and I will make it through.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Black Duck Friday

Someone decided white Peking ducks make good pets
Gotta get some chaw before the shooting resumes



videoAfter Shooting time,nature at it's best

I Needed This




Yes,I can't believe it,but yes we did it.We had a successful hunt and it makes all the unsuccessful hunts worth it.Where do I start,no matter what I tell everyone it just won't do justice to what exactly went down this past Friday,now commonly referred to as Black Duck Friday.One of my friends who left me hanging on a past hunt called me and invited me out on his brothers duck boat.I of course cleared the schedule for this opportunity that had come about.Why was it so important for me to go on this hunt?Well for starters,I'm just now learning how to hunt out of a boat and this would give me a chance to see how other duck boat elitist do it.Now I have hunted with this fellow before and we did have marginal success,however all the stories I have heard about his hunts made it seem that it could be much better.So I set out Friday knowing that I needed to pay attention,stay interested,and try and be a good duck hunter.After our initial set up my new friend made it clear as to how all the shooting and calling would go as there were three of us in the boat.I was to shoot first and he would do the calling.Now let's step back a second for a funny note.My friend down the way,his brothers friend has a given name of Dave.It's funny because if anyone needs a goofy nickname like Duckman Dave it's him.







Well I digress,after first light we had already been buzzed by a few mergansers.I had already told myself not to rush the shot,take aim and make it count,shells aren't cheap and I'm tired of missing the easy shots.Dave did a few calls and in they came as if beckoned like a bunch of sailors to a bar that advertises naked women.The first few volleys happened to be off to the side and I opted not to take a shot as there were many birds flying and my friend Aaron was having no problem throwing steel into the water.I did take a few shots at a mallard drake and yup I missed.After the morning hunt,the count was one black duck,three mallards and one merganser.





All morning I was told by both hunters that the afternoon experience would be much better and I just don't think they grasped the concept that as far as I was concerned this was the best hunt I have had all year.So we picked up went back to the dock and headed out for a healthy lunch of Mexican food.Dave,noticing that it was early,decided to let me in on a few of his secret spots.The only catch is that I had to promise not to over hunt them and always call before to make sure one of the few duck hunters who know about them aren't planning on going out there.See Dave explained to me what I almost had figured out.That around my area there aren't many duck hunters.So the few of us that there are need to stick together and be on the same page.What that entails is making sure we follow and obey every rule.Everything from having the correct paper work to not over hunting a spot.So after a nice afternoon boat ride we headed to the magical spot.





So there we were all set up in what seemed to be a very ducky place,however I saw no birds.I was instructed to just wait until fifteen minutes before sun down.We waited and waited and then it happened.Out of nowhere a pair of mallards landed twenty feet from the boat.I was told to let them sit and wait for the others.I kept low in the blind and sure enough in groups of 5-10 they came in.We were however running out of time and noting that we took out a few birds and watched the retriever Misti do what she does.As the birds continued to circle Dave instructed us it was time to pay respect to both the rule and nature.We sat there outside of the blind for over thirty minutes watching groups of ducks come and go.The sound of the whistling wings and the natural calls was completely amazing.I have never witnessed anything quite like it and couldn't help but just be thankful for this awesome display of ducks.Well I have a few videos and plenty of pictures so stay tuned.Lastly,thank you Dave and Aaron for what was truly an unforgettable experience.Simply amazing.



Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanks?!

Well everyone it's Thanksgiving and I hope all is well.As I sit here with a sweet head cold and a lousy cup of coffee I am still thankful.In the last few days I have found much to be thankful for,like people that take my money and don't deliver on what they advertise.Yes I am about to complain,read on if you wish.

So here it goes,guide services suck,in my opinion.Yup I won't call specific names,Duckman Dave,but thanks for taking a days pay out of my pocket and giving me a duck hunt I could have put on my damn self.If your a guide don't you think you would scout an area where you were about to take your clients?Well not if you Suckman Gave!Now my brother,Swamp Thing,may be a bit upset with me being specific with names but remember this is my opinion not his.He may have had a wonderful time,just ask him,haha.Anyway to sum it all up we paid an exorbitant amount of money to do something we could have done.Dumbass Dave put us on public land that could have been walked to,nice job Scout Master Flex.Nice looking out for your clients.Then when the worst hunt known to man is over and you want your money you go into the whole,wow the economy stinks,business is slow.WTF! I wonder why it's slow,YOU SUCK AT WHAT YOU DO!You can't call,you don't scout,and you don't have private land to hunt,why are you a scout?

What it all comes down to is this past Monday my brother and I had a better time hunting by ourselves,busting ice,not seeing birds,catching up on each others lives.Oh and how could I forget,watching Swamp Thing fall in the beaver run and swamp his waders with icy cold goodness.He won't email me the picture,yes there was a camera ready and another fella caught a picture of Swamp Thing doing the shark attack dance.A last bit of advice for everyone,don't use a guide service for hunting unless you don't know the area or it's a close personal friend.I learned on Tuesday that my brother and I know much more than we thought we did.We have two boats,plenty of decoys and time to find ducks.What we don't have is the money back in our pocket that Tardman Dave took from us.Everyone have a great Thanksgiving,I need a drink and I'm going to watch this parade,haha.Oh I didn't even take the camera out,it was that bad.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

So Close


I can feel it,I almost had it but not quite.Well I took the duck boat S.S. Shocker up to the Chickahominy River on Friday.It was booked to be an excellent morning hunt with a fellow DU member that's new to the area.I would like to thank the local weatherman for getting the forecast completely backwards.They say 25 MPH winds and I wake up to snow well thanks for that.Then I would like to thank myself for forgetting a crucial part of the entire set up,my gun.Yes everyone that is correct I forgot my gun.After pacing back and forth thinking about what I didn't have packed in the boat I forgot my gun.I did turn around and go back to get it after I was 20 minutes down the road.No harm,no foul right?WRONG!We got the boat fired up and got to the spot everything was fine,except we were apparently setting up decoys 5 minutes after legal shooting time started and yup multiple pairs of wood ducks decided to buzz over our head.So we hunkered down in the grass,surrounded by cypress trees.The geese decided to wake up early and pay no notice to the decoys because they weren't made of corn I guess.After a few more missed opportunities when I wasn't paying attention we packed up and headed home without a shot fired.My only hope is when I go up to Maryland to hunt with Swamp Thing my bad mojo doesn't rub off on our experiences to come next week.All I want is a damn Wood Duck is that so wrong.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Opening Day






Well Monday started off at 1:30 in the morning.I had to get up ridiculously early to make my journey to the middle of the great state of Virginia.I had to make the decision to go and I'm glad I did.Once at the farm we were hunting at we went through the painstaking routine of placing out all the goose,duck and crow decoys.After you do all that work you really hope it's worth it and Monday it was.To sum it all up we got a few geese and a buffle head that was a little lost.I want to thank the gentleman I went hunting with.I met him through Ducks Unlimited and he extended the offer to go hunting with him.In exchange I hope he will journey down to my neck of the woods later in the season and hopefully we can seek and destroy some sea ducks.I would go through the entire story of the recent hunt but it's a long one.We literally hunted from sunrise to sunset.I didn't get back home until 9:00 at night and I was a bit exhausted.I have another hunt planned for Friday and I hope it yields the same results.Stay tuned.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Breakdown

Well I made it home after a few sketchy flights,damn I hate flying.It's just not natural,something that big shouldn't be in the air.I digress,looking forward to what I waited all year for.The duck season in Virginia opened up last Saturday and talking to a few friends in the area and a few online DU buddies it seems that things are looking up.A cold front roared through the area this past Saturday,taking temperatures from the mid 70's to around 50 for a high.I know up North it's much cooler,heck it's down right cold up North,but I will take what I can get.I plan on heading a little West of Richmond Virginia to take up an offer to hunt with a few people on some private land.Another cold front is coming through the area Tuesday morning and that's our plan is to be out there in it.Hopefully we will have some success and my shooting won't embarrass as I have never hunted with these "Westerners" before.Later this week I plan on heading up to the Chickahominy and busting a few geese and ducks if my luck and the weather holds.On Sunday I head up to see Swamp Thing in Maryland.We have a few hunts planned next Monday and Tuesday,one with Black Duck Outfitters.Well that's the plan for week one.Week two promises to be just as exhausting but I can rest when I get back to work,yeah right.Stay tuned for pictures.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Headed South

Tug Crystal Coast on the Chesapeake Bay
It's always a great feeling when we come past a sea buoy going into port.For one it means calmer smoother seas.Secondly,it usually means some fast paced work that tends to make the days click by.Nothing can possibly be better than waking up this time of year and finding myself in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay.I walk outside with a cup of coffee and watch the sunrise.Calm bluish green water with a touch of salt in the air,I love it.Well on the same note it does hurt a bit coming into the Port of Norfolk and have to leave again.Being so close to home and not being able to get there is a downside of the job but we are all paid well for a hard days work.Coming into Port this evening was a little strange for me.See it's been one year almost exactly since I switched companies.I was working this exact area almost a year ago when I received the offer I had been waiting over a year to get.Obviously I accepted it and was well on my way to learning how it really is supposed to work out at sea.The assist boat we used this evening was one of the boats I worked almost four years on busting my ass,working my way up,pulling eighteen hour days,making half what other people were making doing the same job.If you are wondering why did you keep with it,why not quit and find another job.I don't know the answer,maybe deep down inside I was taught not to quit,maybe I'm stubborn like my father.Whatever it is and or was I'm glad I did stay with it.In the course of a year,I have become a much better Mariner and I still have tons to learn.The funny thing is I can't wait to find out everything there is to know about my profession.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yarrrrr!The Sea!



Oh my word people we have got beaten up beyond belief.It just won't stop.
We tried to outrun a low that was forming a few days ago,mistake number one.Then as the Low Pressure caught up to us and handed us our ass in a basket we tried to run inland away from it,mistake number two.The damn thing stalled out over Cape Hatteras.If you know anything about the East Coast then you understand that Cape Hatteras is never fun to get around so yeah we didn't make it and had to duck into Cape Lookout N.C. We are running a weather pattern currently,doing circles off the beach,just waiting for the Low to continue it's course North.On top of all that was going on before we came inland we the starboard engine busted a jumper line.Now this doesn't happen all the time but it does happen.Factor in ten foot seas and the fact that it had to be replaced immediately and the engineer,above,wasn't happy about me taking pictures instead of getting greasy like him.Well we are hopefully out of the woods weather wise now.The winds are switching and laying down so we should be able to continue Northward to Philadelphia late tonight.TEN FREAKING DAYS LEFT AND I GO HOME HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Jumper Line/Busted like a Hotdog with No Mustard!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Video Upload Try Numeber 2

video

Let's try this.Currently as I'm typing the video should be uploading.It is however taking light years so whatever.This video,if it ever uploads, is just a short one I took while in Mississippi during the terrible dredge days earlier this Summer.It was a common occurrence while headed out to the dump sight to run into a thunderstorm squall.The day this video was taken was a bit different.It was July 4 weekend so every one and there brother was out fishing,drinking and just generally getting in the way.Once the storm rolled in visibility went to near zero and many pleasure boaters seemed to be confused as to how to handle the situation.We handled it the best we could which means lay on the airhorn and scare the living hell out of every boater in the area,haha.One hour later...........Ummmmm it was downloaading but yeah now it says processing and yeah it isn't happening people,sorry I tried.Whoa my camera is a good one and this video looks poopy.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Diggity Dang Mang

Well I have come to the conclusion that the video idea simply won't work.Not because I can't or didn't make a video,I did,but because it won't upload.Whatever the reason our lesson will take a different direction.Now moving on to plan B,I just made up plan B,we will go into the hierarchy of the ship/tugboat/vessel.So here goes.Everyone knows what a captain is,but do they fully understand what they do?The Captain is of course in charge of maneuvering the vessel,that's the obvious.The Captain is also in charge of many many decisions that affect everyone on board.Just a few to consider,the captain is responsible for charting the route to the dock,he is also responsible for deciding what everyone else on board must do to make that happen.Whether it be what's for lunch or how to make up to a barge or even setting up pilots for rivers,line handlers for the dock.Most importantly he is solely responsible for the lives of the deck crew and any and all damage done to the vessel,barge dock etc.That was an easy one let's move on,shall we.


Following the Captain is of course first mate.The first mate is responsible for maneuvering the vessel when the Captain is resting.His job duties also include learning all that he can so one day he can be in command and make the calls.The first mate is the deck crew boss if you will,he ensures work is being done in proper fashion.Things liking painting,cleaning,splicing lines and so on.Most first mates tend to be younger than Captains because they are still learning and even though they possess a Captains license,they either don't have enough sea time or aren't confident that they are ready to step up and take command.




The deck crew is underpaid,hahaha,sorry had to say it.The deck crew consists of many rating,rankings and strange people.The larger the vessel the more deck crew needed due to Coast Guard regulations.I won't get into that topic to much,summed up it depends on the GRT,or gross rate tonnage,and how far offshore the vessel goes.Most offshore tugs consist of two OS or Ordinary Seaman and one AB or Able Body Seaman.The OS is responsible for cleaning,painting and general maintenance of the tug.The AB is responsible for everything the OS is plus a few extras.Things like talking the barge in when approaching a dock,helping the captain maneuver offshore,and dealing with ornery OS type situations.



The engineer,well that's self explanatory,yet still very important.Do I have to state the obvious here I mean the engineer come on people he keeps us moving and fixes everything we break.Well that's about everything on the subject.Lastly let me just state again that everyone on board has a purpose,a job and responsibilities.Without one person doing there job it makes it more difficult and sometimes impossible for the tug to continue operating safely or at all.Many ships have multiple AB and OS.They also have 3-4 Captains Mates and 2nd Mates.It all depends on the GRT.I haven't decided what the next lesson is.I would like to say that if anyone has any questions on this topic or any other topic boat related just ask.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Work Please


Well then fine be that way.I made a good video,even though my accent was annoying even to me,and it just plain and simple won't upload.So I will do it the old fashioned way and just take pictures and explain them.It will be a day or two until I get around to it so stay tuned.We are getting back underway heading to Charleston,S.C. expecting to be there some time tomorrow.Then we are heading north to Philadelphia and Baltimore.Pictures and explanations upcoming in the near future.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Sea Doesn't Care About You

This my friends is the beginning of lesson one.The sea does not care about you,your feelings,your aches,pains,lack of sleep,upset stomach or anything.You can not control the sea,you can merely try and follow the rules to get along with it.Now fortunately in this day and age of electronic gadgets we have many means of forecasting what the sea will do next.That being said,just because a computer model says it's going to be one way don't count on it.There have been way to many ships,tugs and other vessels sunk because they were not prepared for the situation that is going to sea.When going to sea and thanks to the USCG all sea tight doors must be closed and closed tight.This will prevent the vessel from sinking in under 30 seconds should it be taken over by waves,water or what have you.To many seaman have ventured to sea with calm forecasts in hand only to be dealt a completely opposite hand when arriving in deep water with no help in sight.Another thing everyone must realize is ships move around at close to 20 knots,most tugs and sailing ships only move around at 10 knots,WITHOUT A BARGE IN TOW!So lets figure I am on a tug thirty miles offshore and we run into engine problems and the weather is getting snotty.Running to shore on one engine would take three hours!That's on a good day and everyone knows how much the weather can change in three hours.Many variables would go into that last equation,like where is the nearest port,it may be 50 miles up the coast.The list goes on and on.Now that being said,the electronics on board every American ocean going vessel help out with steering,plotting a course and of course communication,we will get into that at a later date.The main part of safety and awareness is the crew.If anyone has any doubts about how a crew member will react in a situation they should and will let everyone know and then the situation is handled.Well I just wanted to give everyone the first lesson that is close to the first thing I was ever taught on a boat.ONE HAND FOR YOU,ONE HAND FOR THE SHIP.Next lesson a video tour of the first deck of the tug boat,hosted by ME!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Where to Now?


So I'm back at work,stuck in Georgia and it's very unexciting.Over the last few days I have had much time to sit and think about everything from duck hunting,work and how I need to continue forward with my career and many other things I shouldn't worry myself about.I also thought about how when I started this blog I completely intended to try and explain the life of watermen and in general just educate the public about everything tugboat.I may have tried but I believe I should try harder.So wtf do I do now?When at home people ask me about where I have been and what have I been doing.Most of the time I keep it short and simple with a response like,you now just making money and paying bills.However sometimes I respond with a more in depth response that involves as many nautical terms as possible and it usually ends with the other person giving me an awkward blank stare.How do I remedy this?Do my friends and people even want to understand?If they actually do then where do I start?So since I have nothing better to do when I'm at work not working I,over the next few weeks,will try and walk everyone through every single part of tugboat life.I know,it's even sounds boring to me.If and when I complete this task,the next time I get the blank stare,I will simply respond you should have read the blog.So everyone,all five or six humans that read this,over the next few weeks forgive me if I bore you in any way.I'm only trying to educate people as to what it's like to spend 65% of your adult life on a floating office.There will be pictures of rope,machinery,wire,safety equipment and many nautical term vocabulary so please excuse me while I do this project.On the other hand mid November I promise I will return to duck hunting pictures.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Striper Fishing at it's Finest

My twenty five inch striper(Oh Yeah it was tasty as well)
My friends not quite legal striper


Oops careful it's shallow there(stupid blow boater)

Back to What I Know

See everybody I knew Monday wasn't a day to be wasted.Since my friends and I got the boat trailer ready for when I get back off the boat,that left the entire day wide open.I pondered the idea of going back out and getting frustrated at the lack of ducks,Monday was the last day in Virginia for the four day split.Then my buddy who helped me with the hubs on my trailer decided it was to nice of a day for him to go to work and maybe we should go striper fishing.WHOA,I forgot,before I got so involved with duck hunting I used to go striper fishing with the same enthusiasm I have now for duck hunting.I didn't even by my saltwater fishing license this year,how pathetic.Luckily my friend has a boat license so I was covered there.Now my equipment has been sitting up on the porch for over two years collecting dust so it was time to score some new striper slaying digs.On to the Bass Pro Shop and after a little looking I find what was a little over kill but it's quality so to the boat I went.We loaded up my friends boat and away we went to the Back River in Hampton,Virginia.My friend fishes practically year round and usually goes by himself so he was happy to have the company.As a plus he knows where the fish are and what they are hitting on.He took us across the river to an abandoned pier and after a few casts,bam.To bad my drag on the new reel wasn't set and the fish wrapped me around some pilings and broke the line.A few minutes later my friend landed a two stripers that were literally a hair short of legal size so back they went.Then it was my turn,fishing in and around the abandoned pier,with grass everywhere it was a little frustrating.I did manage to land a 25 inch striper though!It was great,I missed that feeling of the fight on a small rod and reel.Eight pound test line was not quite enough but after a minute or two he was landed and high fives were all around the boat.We fished for a bit longer but didn't catch anything.Sitting around the boat later at the house,looking at my fish I thought maybe I'm spreading myself a little thin on my hobbies.It's hard to juggle everything I like to do when I have so little time at home.I couldn't imagine how I would do it if I had a wife and kids.Well I will just keep doing what it is I do and if the only problem I have in my life is how to equally spread my time out to all my hobbies,I figure I'm doing good.Well it's back to work on Thursday,so these will be the last nature based pictures for a month or so.

Monday, October 13, 2008

From Around Camp

The Set Up at Camp on the Chickahominy
Waiting In Anticipation,the Nutty One

It Wasn't a Complete Waste

Yes everyone as expected the hunting only got worse as the weekend warmed up and the creeks got flooded with late season bass fishermen and the weekend hunters.I have learned tons from my first few days of standing in marsh grass,let's review.Number one,ducks are not stupid.They learn very quick,coupled with the fact that wood ducks are small,quick and agile,they don't make an easy target.Number two,it's difficult to do it by yourself.Dropping a boat in the water in complete darkness and navigating a creek with a good spotlight is still very hard.Number three boats are expensive.After the opening day debacle I got home and took a long look at the trailer of the larger,wider,faster primary duck boat.The hubs were literally about to fall apart.Yesterday afternoon a few of my friends helped me completely replace the hubs on the trailer,so that's done.Number four and most importantly it's an awesome feeling getting someone involved in duck hunting and watching them share the same anticipation that I have for the first flight of birds.More specifically my brother.I just want to take a minute and thank him for arranging his schedule to make time to come to the woods and marsh and hang out,hunt and just generally get excited with me over duck hunting.I am the youngest of three brothers and the oldest brother,swamp thing,got me involved with duck hunting about five years ago.My other brother,the nutty professor,is only recently getting involved and it's a great sight.Just to see him out there holding a shotgun,dressed in camo,asking general birding questions,many of which I could not answer and then referred him to Swamp Thing.Also on that note a few of my non-hunting friends came up last Friday and hung out and camped and I want to thank them for that as well.This is not a bust on those who could not make it,I understand schedules of married and working folks are difficult to rearrange.Now that being said I do feel bad my brother who came up to hunt only got to see one bird and didn't get a shot off.It's good practice for when the weather turns and some birds make it down here.Once again thanks to those who came and when I get back from my next hitch on the boat I couldn't possibly be more ready to bust some ducks!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pictures from Opening Day






Read the story below and no I didn't even hit anything!
The two old fellas that scared me up some woodies that I couldn't hit.
Deep int the creek I again found nothing but scenery,want the whole story read the post below.

Who Smells It?

I do,I do,I got skunked on opening day!Yeah whatever,so what if I missed a pair of woodies that flew right over my head fifteen feet off the ground.Besides another group of 3 woodies,that was all that I saw.A few other guys up there in kayaks and canoes had little luck jump shooting woodies in the small creeks.It was a pleasant morning but just to warm and muggy to really get in the mood for duck hunting.I will say this,it's extremely difficult launching a boat by yourself when you are fishing,when it's 5 A.M and you are on the worlds darkest back road boat ramp it's even harder.Let's just leave that alone,I won't get into exactly went down,it's repairable,enough said.I still got out and I found a good spot,so I thought,and proceeded to put out a few decoys.Then I waited and waited and so on.Then a few old fellas asked if they could squeeze by me to proceed deeper into the creek I was set up on.They were in kayaks and I agreed.The way I saw it was I can't get back as far as they can and they may scare up a few and send them my way.So on they went and a few minutes later I heard a distinct human sound that told me something was on the way.Like two little rockets fifteen feet off the water they were over my head before I even shouldered the shotgun.I tried but to no avail to down the pair of wood ducks.Disgusted at myself for no real reason,I packed up not much later and came back home.I keep reliving that moment over and over trying to think what I could have done different.The answer,not much,I tried,I missed,the birds will be there in the morning when I head back out there to camp and hunt for the weekend.

Monday, October 6, 2008

It's Getting Closer!






And it's still 80 degrees,not good.Since I have been home almost an entire week I haven't done much in the way for preparing for the end of the week duck hunt/camping trip.To be honest I really figured either work or weather would interfere.It looks good as of now.The temps have warmed back up a bit so whatever ducks were on there way down here have stopped for a break I'm sure.The weather seems like it will dip a few degrees mid week then a little rain on opening day and warm back up for the weekend.I got my decoys all picked out and cleaned up from sitting on a shelf for almost two years now.I went to a little WMA by my house that's also part of a city park.I fish in the pond all the time but have never walked around the wetlands trails.It took me over three hours to walk only about half of the trails but it was good exercise and I got some great pictures.That being said the habitat was great yet only two groups of geese.I was looking,I didn't see a wood duck,a teal or even a mallard on the entire property.I have to say if I go spend three days in the woods and I don't see a single bird,I will be a little upset.I suppose I will just have to tell myself it's better than being at work,to bad it's a ton more expensive than being at work as well.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Norf Cackilacky

What a swell trip that was,pun intended.After hanging around the Newport News Virginia anchorage for way to long we headed out to what should have been a short trip to Wilmington,North Carolina.First off just to review we were at the Newport News anchorage waiting for a Low Pressure system to move up the coast.It definitely got nasty for a few days at the anchorage and I was thankful that I wasn't out at sea during those few days.That being said we had no idea the swells that were kicked up by the low would hang around for another three days.A strong East wind along with the Tropical Storm Kyle off the coast made for a rough trip down the coast.It had been almost a year since I have been in anything over five foot and I could go my whole life without ever experiencing it again.Enough of that,it brings back bad memories.Needless to say,we made it to North Carolina and did our thing.Headed up the Cape Fear River,a new one for me,and got the barge to it's destination.Then I decided I should go home,so I did.Here I sit in my stable house that doesn't sway back and forth and throw dishes and Tupperware at me.It also doesn't keep me awake at night by rattling tire chains on the side of the boat,damn that's annoying.So next week,starting Thursday,is Virginia's four day October duck hunt.I'm planning on taking full advantage of it,if the weather holds.I have a few friends that seem interested in going camping at the least,so it should prove to be a time to remember.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Rain Rain Wind and Wind

Tug New England Coast at Newport News coal pier We didn't make it far after leaving Philadelphia.A low pressure system off the Carolina's has decided not to move and to gain strength both in wind and rain.I will tell you it wasn't an easy decision for the crew to make after finding out that 15-18 foot seas awaited them off of Cape Hatteras.We took the scenic route through the C&D canal and the straight shot down the Chesapeake Bay to the Newport News general anchorage off the coal piers.It seems that tomorrow will be the worst day with 35-45 m.p.h winds and about an inch of rain.At the anchorage we shouldn't have any problems,as long as the barge anchor holds.Hopefully after the low pressure moves out late Friday we can go down the coast to Wilmington N.C. and then on to Georgia.Then it shall be a glorious day because it's crew change day next Wednesday or Thursday.I'm looking forward to a planned camping trip with some friends on the Chickahominy River.Also the four day October hunt will hopefully co-operate so I can get in the groove of hunting out of a boat as opposed to solid ground.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Southbound

Just a small note.We will be headed to North Carolina tomorrow so I will not be able to update the blog for a few days.I also just put it together that I will be home for the four day duck hunt in October,SAWEET!It seems I overlooked that fact when viewing the upcoming season.If my assumptions are correct after our visit to North Carolina we will be heading to Georgia and then Florida and then I may go home a few days early because I can,so ha.I will be back in contact in a few days.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bye Albany

Seems like I won't be going back to Albany any time soon,on a tug at least.Here is what happened after the grounding.We took the barge over and three of the members of the grounded tug came on to ours,which made it a tad crowded.We have six bunk rooms with two bunks in each so just about everyone was sharing a room.Thankfully that only lasted a few days until we got relieved.They were good crew members it's just to many people on a tug at one time.So after we took the barge from Albany to N.Y.C. and got relieved,we returned to the Penn Maritime Dock and took our barge down to Philadelphia.Then when we arrived here we got the word that we would be switching out barges at the anchorage overnight with a Penn tug.After that barge is loaded in Philadelphia we are to be bound for Wilmington,N.C.


So as you can see just about the time I get bored of sitting at a dock waiting for a job,it gets entirely to busy and I want a break.Crew change tomorrow,but not for me.Three members are going home and two are coming on.In other words it's only going to get busier.That's fine though as far as I'm concerned we can stay busy until October 1,that's my crew change day.On a side note I have some great pictures of Albany,when I get some time I will upload them.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Unforgiving River

After we apparently overstayed our welcome at dock something very unusual happened,we had to go to work.It's always an unfortunate event when a tugboat goes aground.There are always a million questions everyone asks themselves,why,how and most importantly who.It's a relief when you find out noone died or was injured and only minor damage was done.So far here is what the evil train of tugboat gossip has told us.Yesterday evening a hard rain set in just south of Albany,New York.When this happened a tug and 90,000 barrel barge,which was empty,were headed north,destination Albany.Needless to say they didn't quite make it.During the rain visibility was near zero and wash off was terrible.When trying to round a sharp corner the barge got set,meaning pushed away from where it was being steered due to either tide or run off,probably a combination.Next thing they knew bang scrape and they were stuck.Now usually when someone gets grounded it's the barge that's stuck,not this time.Since the barge was empty,the tug was drawing more water than the barge,around 12-15 feet,depending on how much fuel water and waste oil is on board.So any who we got the call to head north and lend a hand.It took a good twelve hours to get here and when we did the local tug boaters had the tug and barge free and they amazingly docked the barge with no trouble.I won't name drop on what company the grounding is affiliated with I will only say it wasn't ours.The Coast Guard is involved,as is standard procedure,and it looks like the divers have put the tug out of commission for the time being.All we have heard so far is that the keel coolers are busted on the port side however the divers have only been in the water a few minutes.We have been informed that yup you guessed it now we are in command of the barge.Once we get allowed to get close to the tug I will try and snap some pictures of any damage if I can see any,my guess is that it's all underwater.The Hudson River is a beautiful river,but with a snake like winding rocky bottom only a hundred yards wide in spots it is very unforgiving.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hanging Out

Brooklyn Bridge
Well after the tropical storm of nothing but rain we are still standing by.Yeah I know it's exciting.With the exception of a few assist jobs it's mostly the same routine everyday.Last word was our Canada trip has been postponed until later in the month.So in other words who knows when or where we will end up next.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

N.Y.C. Baby! Part 2




well here I am again,back at work.When I showed up to the boat I brought along with me a few hundred insect bites I accumulated while duck scouting with my brother.I'm a little itchy,I look like I have mumps and people think it's acne.We brought the barge up from Philadelphia and dropped it at Perth Amboy.The word is we will be bringing the barge back to the shipyard and sitting at the dock for a few days,not my favorite thing to do.Then last I heard we were heading to Canada.Well I'm itchy so I'm going to go scratch,here are a few pics.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Back to Work

Well it's been almost fun.Guess what,I'm going back to work early again.I'm so dedicated,to bad it wasn't exactly my decision.Over the last few weeks home I haven't had a chance to do much.I got my wisdom teeth pulled so that took up most of a week with the whole pain issue.It needed to be done and I did have it planned so I guess I made it through and at least I won't be in pain anymore.Over the weekend my big brother came down from Maryland to hang out,do some duck scouting and take his wife shopping,haha.Well it was less of an adventure than I feared it would be.See the problem is there is a great WMA near my town,however there isn't a boat landing and you can't explore the area by foot.The reason for that is because it's a series of islands accessible only by water.So the only thing that we could come up with is put the boat in at the public landing on the other side of the river from the WMA.It was a calm overcast day,the boat ran decent for the most part and we did what we had to do.The pictures from the excursion are below.Oh yeah we did manage to find what apparently are not my friends called seed ticks,I have a few bites to say the least.



So back to work in the morning.The chief engineer is coming up from North Carolina and plans on picking me up before sunrise.Then it's a trip up north in what I'm sure will be a cheap rental car.The plan,which will change,arrive in Philadelphia,do some grub shopping,crew change and get underway to I have no clue.I'm a little out of the loop so just stay tuned and hopefully we won't be heading anywhere near the Gulf of Mexico any time soon.On a serious note,I really hope everyone in the path of the hurricanes makes it through the next few weeks.

Big Brother Made Me Do It


Big brother with awesome WMA find



Exactly what we were looking for


You can't beat the scenery


I wasn't going to post this but oh well sorry brother

Friday, August 29, 2008

Picture Pages


The new camo job all done and ready for duck bustin.


Below we have a no you may not fish here sign.


Here we have some excellent habitat but nobody was hungry today.

Relaxation Denied/Camo Duck Boat Part 2

So I'm guessing this tooth thing is done with,besides the antibiotics I still have to take for a few more days.My stomach loves them!Since Most of my last ten days off has been spent in a bed in pain I feel like I have much to accomplish.To bad my employer thinks I should go back to work Monday.Well first off again Verizon Wireless I hate you,I really do.I just prepaid two months of my bill and your signal is better twenty miles off shore what's that all about.OK I feel better let's move along.OK on top of that now I don't have enough signal to upload pictures much appreciated Verizon.So I will have to do that this evening.


So yesterday in the drizzle I walked around the yard and found a few leaves,traced them with an exacto knife on a manila envelope and cut them out.Then after my fourth visit to Bass Pro Shops this week,I purchased one can of doo doo brown spray paint.That isn't the technical term just what my friend called it.So easy enough I just sprayed a few leaf stencils on the boat and now the duck boat is ready to go.To bad the season is over two months away,haha.Well my brother is coming down from Maryland to go do some scouting on Ragged Island WMA.It will prove to be interesting I can promise you that.



So this morning I woke up early and went to do a little freshwater fishing.Don't hold your breath for any of those pictures I didn't catch anything.Three of the lakes I went to had oil booms and a slick on top of the water with signs every where stating a chemical influx type situation.So I moved on and went to Bass Pro again to buy some 2 cycle oil for the boat.I came home and fired up the motor since it had been awhile and generally just got the boat ready for the next days activities.Pictures to come at some point.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I am so stoked


Yeah not really.So here is the deal,I got my toofs pulled last Friday and yeah I have been in a bit of pain.Of course like anything it didn't go as planned and I am still in pain.My plan was sweet and would have worked.It involved being done with the pain issue by last Sunday,so it went out the window.Anyway,here I be is,and I am chock full of energy and stuff I want to do.Only problem is I am still in a little pain so I just plan on taking it easy for now.




So today I woke up and thought hey I should do something cool.So I went to Bass Pro bought some supplies and came home and added some camo to the duck boat my brother and I purchased this Summer.The original plan of making stencils was tiresome and to Martha Stewart for me.So my Army buddy suggested the old foliage trick.We went down to the local boat ramp and borrowed some grass samples and went at it.I think given the circumstances,it could have turned out much worse.Next step is add a little brown and bingo let's bust some ducks.