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


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

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.