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.