Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Well it's off to the Bahamas tomorrow.They finally finished unloading the barge tonight and after they put the hatch covers on we plan on leaving at first light.It should take us about 5-7 days transit time to get to the Bahamas 3-5 days load time and 8-10 days back to Richmond Virginia.Then I go home!If everything goes as planned should be home in plenty of time for the Memorial Day festivities.However usually on foreign trips there usually is a kink or two involved in the plan.I plan on posting plenty of pictures upon my return,hopefully none of any bad weather and plenty of sunshine and sandy beaches.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Well I didn't think it was possible to go so slow.It took us three days to go 147 miles.That's right between the federal pilots,aka safety nazis,and the current we didn't make anytime.I would have taken pictures but muddy water and flooded trees aren't that appealing.Well good news is after we finish offloading here,sometime thursday,we head to the Bahamas.Oh yeah one of the reasons I got into this line of work is to see the world while I'm getting paid.In the last six months I have been in Louisiana,Philadelphia,Baltimore,Deleware,Texas,Guatemala,El Salvador and the Panama Canal.Now don't get me wrong there is still a lot of work that has to be done it's not a cruise ship.However the scenery and the local people are a good bonus.After we are done loading limestone in the Bahamas then we head to Hopewell Virginia and I get to go home.Estimated round trip from Louisiana to the Bahamas to Hopewell is around 15-20 days.That can change very easily with all the factors involved weather,material availability,loading procedure and many other things can set us back days.As long as I'm still getting paid we can sit at the dock for all I care.I just want to be home for the Memorial Day weekend!
Saturday, April 26, 2008
So we were headed up river and everything was going way to smooth.Then the rain started and I knew it was about to get bad.The orders came down to drop the anchor on the barge because we were going to be at "the dock" to early for the line handlers to help us out.See we tie in between mooring buoys so they can bring a crane barge next to our barge and offload the material into smaller river barges.Anyway we need help getting our mooring lines out to the buoys because they have about a two-three hundred foot lead on them.So back to the anchor.Problem number one driving rain,problem number two it's my first time dropping anchor on this barge,problem number three people have to much faith in me,or they are just to lazy to go up on the barge to help me out.I found out how to fire up the generator,the air compressor and the hydraulics by myself.That's a big deal because I'm no good at heavy machinery.Then I even got the anchor in the right gear,a miracle by any standard no doubt.I even dropped the anchor without incident.Then it didn't hold.Hey watch out for that ship and those barges and the bank.Well I got the anchor back up,which took way to long,then we dropped it again and it held.All I know is the current on the Mississippi River is no joke and I still hate heavy machinery.Cold and wet I headed back to the boat, with a radio that didn't work after all the rain,only to find everyone having a good laugh at me soaking wet and shaking.FEEL THE LOVE!
Friday, April 25, 2008
Headed back up the muddy river going to New Orleans to offload material.A pretty uneventful trip back from Texas.We had beautiful weather,only 2-4 foot,although we didn't catch any fish along the way.The crew got some interesting news today,we may be headed to the Bahamas in the next week.However anyone who knows the marine industry knows that it's always subject to change.We still have 2-3 days of offloading and then another day or so to go back down river to get the barge cleaned off.I can't complain that I don't have much to talk about,that just means that everything is running smoothly and according to plan.
Monday, April 21, 2008
So I'm an idiot.The "red dirt" I mentioned is boxite.It's not from India it's from Jamaica and Peru.Now that being said let's go through the process again.The boxite is brought over by ship from Jamaica and Peru,then it's offloaded into a bathing plant.The problem is they don't bathe it they cook it.Anyway then the aluminum oxide,as seen above all over the barge,is loaded into the barge and carried to the New Orleans area.After the barge is moored in the river then smaller river barges are loaded full of the aluminum oxide and they continue upriver to an aluminum plant.After arriving at the plant the river barges are offloaded and the aluminum oxide goes into large "tubs".Electrodes and I'm sure a few other chemicals are placed into the "tubs".Then just add electricity and bingo bango your pizza doesn't stick to the pan and I have a boat to fish out of.I just wanted to clear that up before I forgot and got dumb on the subject again.The picture above is "wintry mix Texas style"
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Ok well I forgot to explain the process of how they get this aluminum oxide.This is gonna be good and not scientific at all.Well first off a ship from somewhere in India brings over what seems to be red clay.Then they offload that onto a conveyor belt and do some sort of bathing process,then it's heated and one of the by-products is aluminum oxide.So it's put on another conveyor belt that wraps around the shipyard and bam onto the barge with a product resembling snow.They say it's not bad for people to breathe in haowever I will wear a mask thank you very much.Ok so then the product is taken back to New Orleans and thats all I know so far.I'm glad I could thoroughly confuse everyone and at the same time not educate anyone on the subject.Above is a picture off the bow of the barge coming into the amluminum extraction facility.
Well the barge is almost loaded and with any luck we should be underway back to New Orleans to offload.Everything went as planned,except for a new barge captain that didn't have a clue and a broken dock line or two.It's nothing that the crew wasn't prepared for and we all took it in stride.The new barge captain,fresh out of pampers,seemed a little confused that there was actual work involved and wasn't to keen on getting his hands dirty.That's how it goes in this industry and many others when people focus on the money accept the job then find out they have to work for there paycheck.Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we should be in New Orleans sometime Friday.Above is the tug Barbara Neuhaus that assisted us into the dock in Corpus Christi, a very well maintained tug in good working order.I will make sure to take plenty of pictures in the next few days and will post agian upon returning to New Orleans.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Texas, I now can say I have been there.Well in about an hour we will be securing this barge to the dock.We have been underway for three days and the weather coopersted for the most part.It should take approximately threee days to load the barge full of aluminum oxide,then we go back to New Orleans.We should be granted shore leave to go do some grocery shopping at the least.Eating frozen pizzas and cans of corn can get old after awhile.MORE PICTURES TO COME!
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Well everything went as good as it could have.The weather man got the forecast wrong in our favor it didn't rain.My brother came down from Maryland on Saturday and we did some fishing and a little scoutinf for the upcoming duck season.Everyone had a blast ,my boat operated correctly,the fish were biting a little.I cant complain,except that I got called back to work on Monday,but thats ok there is money to be made and I intend to make it.So I'm on the Mississippi river right now and it's in flood stage.Quite an awesome sight to see.Going up river is slow going,but going down is a whole other story.Well I will be on the boat for the next month or so and will be constantly updating the blog.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
So I'm going camping this weekend up on the Chickahohiny River.It should be a good time a few of my friends and my brother are supposed to show up.Hopefully the weather will cooperate but only time will tell.I plan on taking plenty of pictures,of fish that I wont catch no doubt.I will make sure to update in the near future.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
In the near future I should have a few pictures on here of one of my latest tugboat trips.I had the rare chance to travel to Panama and a few other Central American countries.I spent Christmas and the new year there but I made money and got to see some sights that many people pay money to see.Hopefully soon I will be able to share my other experiences with everyone.
ok so i went out and bought a computer,that was my first mistake.Technology has changed since seven years ago when I last had a computer.I'm trying to figure it all out but it is slow going.After awhile im sure I will understand how to get pictures on here and how to organize this better.For now just hang with me while I navigate Al Gores internet invention.