Sunday, December 20, 2009

Early Winter Snow

Apparently mother nature didn't get the note that Winter has yet to start.Either way if you were on the East Coast this weekend you no doubt felt some sort of effect from the massive Nor' Easter that crept up the coast.Now back at work,I was fortunate enough not be caught out at sea during the near white out conditions and fifty mph winds.We were and still are sitting at Staten Island,New York.I was fortunate enough to get out today and try to take some pictures.Unfortunately the dude forgot to charge the camera battery.So after a brisk walk I returned to the boat and charged the battery.I then tried to resume my mission to get some nice "city pictures",request denied.The Captain felt it "unnecessary" for me to go back into town.I honestly had no other motive but to get some pictures.I'm from South East Virginia so I'm not used to seeing any snow,let alone over ten inches.So sorry everyone but you will have to settle for pictures from the boat.Have a merry ChristmaChannaKwanzaka everyone!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Time Off

Honestly my lack of posting can only be attributed to laziness.I'm not scared to say it and I'm not ashamed either.I have been off the boat for over three weeks and it has been great.The waterfowl season has been closed for a week and I have accomplished absolutely nothing except catching up on sleep and television.The first two weeks I was home brought the November waterfowl season in Virginia.As in years past I was extremely excited and I have to say I had a few decent hunts and a few not so decent hunts.Over the course of the two weeks available to hunt I was able to get a few new guys to waterfowling on birds.I was also able to get my buddy Kevin and his new water dog out which was a blast.That hunt only produced one bird but it was an awesome all day experience I will not soon forget.I was able to get out for six hunts and all of them at the least we had birds work our spread.I shot poorly on a few hunts and I also made a few awesome shots I had no business taking.My extended time off the boat is due to weather and my lack of ambition to get back on the boat.It seems that everything may work out as I will now be due home in mid January.This may allow me to hunt the last two weeks of the Virgina waterfowl season.It should also allow me to hunt a few days in Maryland with my oldest brother, Swamp Thing.Hopefully I will have a chance to use my new layout blind that has been sitting in my living room for three months staring me in the face.Back to work this evening,enjoy the pictures and merry Christmas everybody!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Rough Weather and Long Days Part 2

That night we were sent inland to a calmer harbor for a nights rest.Upon awakening at 6 am we were greeted by members of the USCG and the salvage team hired to get the tug off the beach.Our sister tug was loaded up with 12 inch towline and we headed back to Va Beach.After arriving and seeing that the seas had laid down overnight we had a feeling that this wasn't going to be as easy as everyone else thought.In theory raw horsepower was to be used to free the grounded barge.In reality some luck and another higher than normal tide was going to be needed.With help from USCG zodiac boats and some extreme luck we were hooked to the bow of the barge via the emergency tow wire that was already on the barge prior to it's beaching.All offshore barges are equipped with an emergency tow wire and bridals in case the original tow gear fails.The problem is in rough seas it's literally a death wish to try and grab it off the side of the barge,so it ends up on the beach.Our sister tug paid out the 12 inch line it was equipped with earlier and it was towed to the stern of the barge with the help of the USCG boat.Now with the stern and bow being pulled on loosely the salvage team had great hope the job would be over soon.Apparently they forgot to check the tides.The barge moved all of zero feet and with sundown coming on quick the tugs were told to keep the lines tight throughout the night and they would return in the morning.At seven am with high tide quickly approaching the tugs were given the order to "give it all she's got" and the barge made a great leap of fifty feet.With the salvage team now understanding the situation of needing a higher than normal tide they quickly saw that the next day the tides were to run 2 feet above normal with a strong wind from the north.Noticing all efforts were futile before then everyone was told to ease the engines back down.Knowing the next morning may be there last chance before drastic measures,dredging the barge out,another tug was brought in and hooked on to the stern.The next morning brought rough seas and high winds.The salvage arrived and gave the order for full ahead and just like that the barge came off the beach bow first.It was a difficult hook up break down and just pain in the ass.That being said it's these kind of jobs that keep me interested and make the days go by quickly on board.Sitting around at a dock playing cards and watching movies is for the birds.Now if the economy would improve maybe we could get a few out of the country jobs.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Rough Weather and Long Days

I'm sure everyone who lives near or on the East Coast will have a hard time forgetting the Nor' Easter that did so much damage last week.That storm now will forever hold a special place in my heart and my brain.Last week I was in Charleston,S.C. on a dredge job when we noticed the weather was turning for the worse.We informed the dredge Captain of the upcoming weather and the job was put on hold for a few days.As the wind kicked up and the inbound ships sent in weather and sea reports we relaxed inside the boat watching movies living the tug boat high life,getting paid in the shade.As the weather had started to subside we were given orders to leave immediately,Thursday night,bound for southern Virginia.Unfortunately the tug is made to withstand massive seas and we had no choice but to leave.Heading out to sea,knowing we wouldn't see calm water for days is a bad feeling.Everything it tied down,bungied down and tied again.Then as we cleared the sea buoy it started with a calm four foot roll.We came around and started heading north along the beach taking six foot seas over the bow,not to bad we thought.On the second day as we came around Cape Hatteras and Diamond Shoal we all were quickly reminded why we get paid to do what we do.As you come around Diamond Shoal you have no protection from a north sea and you will make very little time as your boat,ship or vessel get mercilessly pounded to bits.The seas were in the twelve foot range with a sixty mile an hour wind.There is a reason why that part of the Atlantic is known as the graveyard of the ocean.We continued northward linking up with our sister tug heading toward False Cape,Va into what we have now learned is a salvage job.A barge bound for New Jersey "broke" it's towing gear and was unable to get the emergency wire hooked up before it got into shallow water,or so the story goes.I need to take a second and just say I wasn't there and I don't know what happened.I just know we were told to get there,survey the situation after the storm passed and get it off the beach.I will make this story a two passage event as I seem to have gotten a bit long winded.We arrived off of Virginia Beach and saw the reason for the hurry up.The barge,a 550 foot container barge,came to rest in front of some very high dollar condominiums and was a bit of an eyesore.We sat three miles off the beach in six foot seas reminiscent of a washing machine wondering how in the hell are we supposed to do this?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Slow Motion

Every now and then I actually get a little excitement out of life.That's a broad,depressing statement,so let me clarify.I'm a high stress individual that thinks the world is out to get me.That being said the majority of my life,I have wondered around trying to make sense of it all.Yeah,how's that going for me?In all actuallity it's going pretty well.I haven't found the cure for AIDS or how to make world peace,but I have found some peace inside of my little head.It's taken entirely to long to get it,however I'm glad I have it.Now I know everyone always says money isn't everything yet it really is.Sure there is always true love and finding inner peace but who ever actually gets that anymore.Ever since I was a little kid I wondered what ever happened to the trade and barter system,it worked so well.Now if you want something you have to pay for it.Whether it's something you need or something you want.Up until two years ago to the day,I was busting my ass trying to pay rent and feed myself,I was doing a terrible job at it.I finally got my first real adult break when the company I now work for decided to give me a chance.Over the course of the last two year I have learned,worked hard,traveled to distant locations and earned a decent paycheck.It wasn't until recently I nticed how much I have changed in the last few years.Besides losing the rest of my hair and putting on a few pounds I actuallt enjoy waking up most mornings.I find myself smiling throughout the day for no reason.Now with all that being said,it really makes me angry.Here's why,who's to say I get the job and he doesn't.Who's to say I get to be happy and he can't.It just doesn't seem fair to the "little" guy.No I'm not going to give him my job or all my hard earned money.I know it isn't fair because for the longest time I was the little guy and it wasn't fair.Why does everything in America have to be based on money and financial gain.Maybe it would be a good idea for everything to fall apart.Maybe we should all sit back look at the ceiling and imagine it isn't there.Imagine you are outside with no grocery store,gas station,bank or government to tell you what to do.Could you survive or would the little guy steal your food?Just remember the little guy has been stepped on his whole life,he isn't about to let you take his last can of beans.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Enough Already

Oh yeah I'm loving it!The shipyard everybody,it's the place professional mariners go to die.It's also unfortunately where I have spent the majority of this year.Sure I know what you're thinking,stop complaining you have a job,and well you're right.I have this want inside of me to get back out there and actually tow a barge.This shipyard situation simply can't go on for much longer.With colder weather moving in all the time,almost all outside work will be removed from the equation.There simply won't be much to do in the shipyard,so why should they keep bringing men in to sit on the butts and make hundreds of dollars a day?The simple answer,we're good,so good in fact that they don't care if we get anything done.So good they couldn't let us defect to another company.This of course is crap.Sure we do a good job but lets be honest there are at this minute thousands of overqualified mariners sitting on there butts at home no making a dime.I'm also quite sure they would work me under the table,take a pay cut and still be happy about taking my job.This being said,I think everyone should know something about me.In my personal life I'm a bit loud and sometimes a little too rowdy.At work I'm the exact opposite.Don't get me wrong we have a good time when possible but for the most part I try and stay under the radar.Unfortunately over the last month I have had to go on both the offensive and defensive to try and protect my job.This does not mean that I kissed ass or threw someone under the bus to get ahead.I didn't have to,other people tried that,failed and it made me look better for not being the one who tried.So simply said,by staying under the radar,doing my job well and keeping my nose clean I seem to have come out in a good way.If I knew where the end of this economic downturn would be it could make my life,as well as millions of others,a bit easier.I still don't enjoy having talks in conference rooms about other employees that hold a higher rank than me,it just doesn't feel good.Especially when you get called down to the office like it was elementary school and all your friends are snickering.It is simply a situation you can't prepare for and have to keep that used car salesman smile on 24/7.So that's where it's at,the shipyard I have seen enough of for a long time.Looking forward to a few days at home and then possibly coming back early to be home for Thanksgiving.There is an secondary motive to that as I don't care much for turkey,hunting season of course.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Few Pictures from a Few Hard Days of Work

The aftermath,this was after the area was chipped and cleaned and it still looked horrible
The rudder tiller,it's supposed to be either painted or polished

The ladder down into the "hole",aka the rudder room/lazzerette

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A New Project

After being kept home a few extra days I was sent back to work.The lack of a contract for my boat led me to another boat within the company nicknamed tug matchbox.It gets this name from the size and feel of it.The boat is the smallest in the company fleet,66 gross tons,and feels every bit of it.It was good to be back at work but very frustrating being on a small boat with three other large men.Large men who don't clean up after themselves or do any regular maintenance to the tug.However after thirteen days on the tug I was sent back to my original boat which,you guessed it,is back in the shipyard.The only difference is this time we aren't working on our boat we are working on an over used,under appreciated boat in the fleet.The boat has gone five years since being pulled out of the water and looks every bit of it.These are the really tough days to be a mariner.The days when you would rather be towing a barge offshore not picking up the pieces someone else left behind.The four other guys I'm working with would all rather be doing something else besides looking like they just got out of a coal mine at the end of the day.It's one of those projects that everywhere you look it needs to be fixed.Whether it's rusty,broken or just plain dirty.There isn't anything we can do but just take it day by day.Chances are when the upper management sees the work needed below decks the boat will either be scrapped or sold,have fun with that.Either way I just need to keep telling myself it's good to have a job,I guess.Pictures to come in the next few days.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Cruise Ship to a Matchbox

That's what it feels like anyway.After being kept home for a few days past my time off I am finally back to work.It seemed like an eternity,waking up everyday trying to figure out when I was going back to work.Well that's all over,for now,and I must say I'm glad.I'm not glad to have this awesome head cold/sinus thing and not have access to a doctor.No big deal I have survived worse.So my normal boat has been jobless since the end of last month and I was told I just needed to wait for something to pop up.So I did a bit of hunting with my extra time off and got pissed off my schedule got ruined for this upcoming hunting season.But without a job I wouldn't have the opportunities to hunt and fish in the manner that I currently do.So after six extra days home I got the called and was offered work which I accepted.Unfortunately I went from the biggest boat in the fleet,my normal boat,to the smallest one,ouch.Being on here really reminds me of when I first started working on tugs almost six years ago.Small tugs,small engines,strange crew,interesting jobs.In all seriousness everyone on board,all three people,have accepted me and have tried to make it as normal as possible.It's a hard thing to do when you open your bunk room door and it hits the door to the head.So there it is,back to work dredging in Baltimore,Md.It's good to be back,now I just need to kick this cold.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Early Fall Outdoor Activities

So it's been a hectic few weeks home,but it has all been worth it.We got the boat blind on which wasn't nearly as big of a pain as I thought it would be.The blind went together good,the instructions were adequate however we did run into a few problems.One was the lack of hardware.We were a few bolts and nuts short but that was remedied by a quick run to Lowe's.The hardware that came with it was not exactly to par but we used it and it should hold up for a season or so depending on the amount of salt water it encounters.The zip ties they give you are cheap and I had to purchase some outdoor heavy duty ones.Besides that it looks great and is easy to operate and not to heavy.The following day I headed to the mountains for a little rest and fishing.I was lucky enough to have some decent weather and caught some nice smallmouth,red eye and two rainbow trout.Those were my first and second wild,not stocked,trout caught on artificial bait.All hail the black rooster tail!This Tuesday was out early September Goose opener and I was lucky enough to get out.The weather was great,low 70's Northeast wind and plenty of birds.I missed the X by about 60 yards but we were still able to pick up a few birds.Today we will try again.I'm looking forward to a few nice hunts in shorts before the weather turns cold and the real waterfowl hunting begins in November.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Done and Done

Oh no a dredge scow,run away!

The Yorktown Monument in beautiful "downtown" Yorktown,Virginia

I've done it,yes it's over.Well for a few weeks it's over anyway.My sixty days on the boat us officially over.The last few weeks seemed to drag out like I was a four year old waiting for Christmas morning.The dredge job in the York River could possibly be over by the time I'm due back,but I will worry about that when I get there.I can't stay on the boat my whole life.The money is good but it's not my only interest in life.So I leave today for a short trip to Maryland to see one of the usual suspects and do a bit of fishing.I'm looking forward to the upcoming week as well.I will be picking up the new boat motor as well in mid week.The other usual suspect,Nutty Professor,is on the schedule to help me put the new Northern Flight blind on the boat around mid week.I'm very excited and I hope it all falls in place because next Monday our early September goose,aka park goose season,opens.I have never hunted this season and if it doesn't get below ninety degrees I may not hunt it this year either.I also have a relaxation trip set for the mountains at the end of the week.So what I'm saying is I will be taking some more interesting pictures in the next week and will be doing a review of Cabela's Northern Flight blind in the next week so look for some new posts.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Storm on the Horizon

Well as I sit down and try to concentrate I find myself with an awesome headache.As many of you know we started a new contract a little over a week ago.Also many of you know that I am once again the only deck help on the tug.As the company tries to train an army of engineers the deck department suffers.It's hard not to worry about things falling apart when I'm the only one around to pick up the pieces and put them back together.We have spent all Summer painting and fixing the boat and it has taken less than a week on the dredge job to annihilate it.Besides I really don't have the time to worry about that when every six hours it's either time to make up or break down from the tug or put the empty scow alongside the dredge.So I'm looking forward to my time off but it seems I won't be "home" for much of it.I plan on doing a bit of traveling as is the usual I suppose.Sorry I haven't been updating on a usual basis but my only time to sit down is offshore and the Internet has yet to reach there.Ten days left out of sixty,I can do this!Ah yes and the above picture is of an approaching rain squall on the Chesapeake Bay.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Get Your Dredge On

It was only a matter of time before they found us a contract.I knew deep down they would eventually get sick of dealing with us.That time has come,thankfully.Well I say thankfully but with the coming of a contract means the coming of the "trouble".The contract has already been pushed back a few times but I have it from good sources that we leave this weekend.Dredging isn't my first choice of work on a tug but after being in the sun 9 hours a day for the last 30 plus days,I will take what they give me.It shouldn't be the worst dredge job ever.We are scheduled to tow the dredge scows from the base of the Coleman Bridge on the York River to an offshore site.I'm thinking round trip from the dredge to the dump site back to the dredge should be between 6-8 hours.That's a good thing because we were asked if we could do it with only one deckhand.Answer,HELL YEAH,the dude can do it.So there we go,it may be a long last few weeks but I've handled worse.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Good News

So far so good.The "upper management" waited until the last minute to tell me my schedule request had gone through.So what's it all mean dude?For starters my waterfowl season is on track for some good dates.Early goose,if I want it,early duck,home a few days after opening day and the last two weeks of the season in January.The main thing and what drove me to push this until it was a reality is the rotation change on the boat.After the next thirty days go on by I will be on a different rotation and only have to deal with the "trouble" for fifteen out of my normal thirty day hitch.The things I'm giving up are well worth it I think.My brother,nutty professor,is off for the summer and I won't be able to spend much time with him.By the time I get home in August he will be gearing up to go teach for another school year.Fortunately for him,the Northern Flight blind will be waiting at the house for him to help me put on the boat.So as you can guess I'm a bit happier and I just need to make it through these next few weeks without getting sent home.All for now!Obviously I have been doing a bit of fishing in the evening,the pic is of the largest bass I think I have ever caught,6 plus pounds.Not as fat as the other one I caught a few months ago,but a bit longer and a much better fighter.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

An Interesting Situation

So some time has passed since I last made the time to sit down and type down some thoughts.The last few weeks I have had the time but my attitude has been shall we say in the gutter at best.Let's start with we returned to the shipyard after towing the Army Tug to South Carolina.I was given some things to do on a company barge,paint,pressure wash,etc.Everything was going fine until we got orders to go on the infamous Chesapeake Bay coal run.It isn't that I didn't want to do some sailing and get back out there and work.It was the fact that I had to work side by side,every watch with who had become my arch enemy,the Captain of the tug.Whoa now,I know it sounds like I need to check myself I know but let me explain.This "Captain" is let's say an obese oxygen thief at best.He is the definition of BACONATOR.he is the epitome of bad hygiene.Now on top of that he thinks he is the tugboat god.I have worked with this,oh lord,"man" for over a year and he has continually gotten worse and pushed me to the breaking point.My breaking point is a bit higher than others as I have been subject to some not so fun working conditions.I have always found a way out and made myself better and this situation is clearly no different.I won't go into exactly what he does because well my hands would cramp up and you would either get tired of reading about it or make multiple trips to the restroom to vomit.So earlier this week I was looking at the schedule and saw that as it currently lies with my 30 on 15 off schedule I would have little to no duck hunting season,unacceptable.So I worked out a few different plans in my head and made the call to the office.Of course it didn't go as planned but it could have been worse.I was told it's slow,maybe not this time but next hitch,blah blah bliggity blah.So we are back in the yard after a week on the coal run and my next course of action is take it to the top,yes talk to the owners.It is seriously that bad that I simply can not work with captain fatty mcgee anymore.I obviously won't refuse but I need a schedule change.One for duck hunting season,secondly so I can get off of his rotation,third so I don't blow my lid.Well by the end of the week hopefully I will have something figured out and will have cooled down a bit.Drink a cold one for your buddy the DUDE!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Take a Deep Breath

towing the ST-805 US Army tug
I'm back at work,hooray.When it was all said and done I was only kept home 3 extra days.I really got lucky that a small job popped up for the tug I normally work on.It was an easy one but I was glad to have the opportunity.We left Maryland June 22 bound for Skiffes Creek on the James River.Interesting enough that's where ol t-dawg started his tug career right on Skiffes Creek.It was strange going back there but it was only to pick up an Army tug and tow it to South Carolina.So we arrived June 24 hooked up to her and towed her rusty ass right out of the slip.This tug has been sitting in the slip since before I started going past the Army base towing rock over five years ago.Seriously it has never moved.So you may be thinking it's going to get scrapped,you would be wrong.We hauled it down the coast and into Denton Shipyard in South Carolina.After a quick turn around we arrived back in the shipyard in Maryland this past Monday.Beautiful weather,awesome salt breeze and damn it felt good to be off the coast and towing something.So that's it,the can of beans.Now it's more barge/boat/shipyard work.I'm not complaining as long as the checks don't start bouncing.Hopefully I can get some fishing in over the holiday weekend after work of course.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Back Home

the nutty professor with a White Perch caught at Blackwater Creek
Well after fishing a few different lakes and ponds in Northern Virginia it was time to return home.Once home I realized I still had a little over a week worth of free time before I was due back on the boat.Since all the rivers on the East Coast have been taking a relentless beating from weeks worth of rain,lakes and ponds were my best bet for fishing.Fish I did!Taking the small original S.S Gut Runner out to another spot on the inter coastal waterway,the Nutty Professor and I made a day of it.Going to a new recreational spot is always an adventure.Especially when towing a boat and not knowing what condition the ramp is in.Fortunately everything went smooth at 6 in the morning and we caught a few fish with no problems.I will definitely be returning to Blackwater Creek later this summer.More for a scouting trip then for fishing.It seems to be an excellent wood duck spot.

Over the last few days I have fished some local spots that I haven't visited for years.After fishing them I realized why I had not been there in years,they are all over fished.I had minimal success and never left without catching some sort of fish.Hey anything from a bluegill to a chain pickerel,it kept me from getting skunked and that's all that matters.I just need to justify why I got up at 5 in the morning.I was due back to work this Thursday but was granted a few extra days off that I didn't ask for.It seems that my boat finally has a job and I will be returning to work Monday morning.Maybe my next post will actually involve something interesting at work.It has just dawned on me that over the last few weeks I have fished just about every other day.Well I'm sure when I get home in mid July the weather won't be cooperating like it has over the last few weeks.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Marsh Run at C.F Phelps WMA,have fun fishing that muddy mess
It took me a bit but I found it
the magic spot at Germantown Lake

First bass at Germantown Lake,Northern Virginia

Fishing Northern Virginia

Last weekend I headed a few hours north to Baltimore to hang with the bid brother Swamp Thing and see a band.It was a great evening with him and his wife and it fit perfectly into my semi planned northern Virginia fishing trip.After seeing the Two Man Gentleman band On Sunday night my brother and I headed out at daybreak for a the first fishing spot in Northern Virginia.Lake Brittle is an interesting yet extremely shallow bank lake with good shore access for fishing.With it's fishing pier and boat rental that would have been the way to go.Unfortunately with a lack of time for Swamp Thing to fish,he had to be at a work site in only a few hours,we fished the bank with minimal success.Trying everything from small top water to crank baits we found the fish plentiful but weary of man made baits.After catching one fish a piece we called it all good and probably will never return to this over fished lake.Swamp Thing got on the road and I headed thirty miles south to my next destination the Rappahonnock River on the C.F. Phelps WMA.

Yellow Perch caught at lake Brittle on rooster tail

After my short drive down to the WMA,in which I only got lost a few times,I found an access point to wade the river.Unfortunately with the excessive rain we have been having the last few weeks the river was running a few feet above normal.Taking that into consideration with the normal muddy water of the river it was unfishable.Not willing to give up so easy I slapped on my knee boots and took the trail back into the woods and found a low spot,threw a line in and said screw this.So now what to do?I drove 3 hours North for nothing?Negative I say,the WMA supposedly has a 3 acre pond.So on the country roads me and my trusty Ford Ranger went searching.We searched and then some more of that and found a few other access points for the WMA but no pond.At this point in the day it was around 90 degrees,I had been up since 6 AM and had not had a bite to eat.I called a temporary retreat to fill up on rations and regroup.After finding a decent town with lodging I decided that at the least I needed some rest and food.After I ate my head cleared a bit and I decided with the power of my wireless internet I could find somewhere to fish.So then it was on to an evening of internet scouting and a nice comfortable bed.With the help of some of the guys on the Duck Hunters Refuge Forum and my big brother I located a few lakes that were quite close to my current location.With my 5 AM wake up call and a not so fresh biscuit from the hotel it was on to my next fishing destination Lake Germantown.

Upon arriving at Lake Gremantown I did the good thing and donated the "suggested" amount of money for out of county residents.When arriving at the boat rental spot and finding the attendant asleep I need I had made a quality choice.In all seriousness the kid was cool and helped me out quite a bit.He informed me the rate was 12 dollars an hour.Yes an hour,not a day an hour.Whoa I say!Well what to do,I'm 3 hours from home it's 7 AM,screw it let's fish.So on I went fishing the bank working my way down and away from the dam,which is where everyone told me to go.I'm not sure why I didn't follow there directions I just wasn't feeling it.I remembered reading online that the lake was spring fed.Now I came to Northern Virginia to river fish so if a spring was as close as I could get then so be it.So after a few lackluster bites I put on the old trusty buzz bait and headed around another curve and then I heard the magical miniature roar of a spring.I headed up to it and first cast,fish on, a nice one pound bass.I continued fishing this spot for a few minutes and found the boat getting literally pulled around the corner.the lake turned into a stream and the stream turned into kick ass.Just what I was looking for an actual creek feed into the lake.Working the rented boat and motor over a few slate rocks.sorry park management,I wanted to be in the right place before I started fishing.Apparently I was,as I through trusty buzz into the rapids time and time again.Continually getting nice strong hits and a total of nine bass in thirty minutes all weighing between 1 and 2 pounds.I switched to a rattle trap and caught 2 more bass and a crappie.It was such a great time and if I'm ever in the area again I'm sure to return.

So I returned the boat and left the area thinking I wrote down directions to find this WMA pond from Germantown Lake and I intended to find it.Well after an hour of driving with no luck I just started making turns on roads and started following my nose.It worked I found the pond,still not sure how,and took the trail down to fish it before the sun got to me.Half way down the trail the horseflies were murderous in there attempt to get me to turn back.I refused and carried on like any idiot who wants to fish.To no avail after thirty minutes fishing many fly bites and no fish bites I returned to the Ranger and called it good.

So all summed up a success!I saw a classic band and got some fishing in with my brother.Then on my own I scouted everything from a few local towns to lakes and a WMA.All total eleven bass,1 crappie and 1 yellow perch.I returned home and over the last few days have fished some of the areas closer to home that I have neglected in the last few years with minimal success.An upcoming post on them next week as I have 2 more fishing trips planned.The pictures for this post will be up on a different post as my computer sucks.Thanks Northern Virginia for a good time

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Dismal Swamp Canal

Well after a few days back at home it was time to get out and do something.With a few ideas in mind it didn't take to long for me and my brother to decide on what to do.The weather in our neck of the woods has been quite horrible as of late.So we decided to try something a little new to both of us.We decided to take the small boat with a trolling motor and go fish the Dismal Swamp Canal.Having already fished it once and scouted out the boat ramp the Nutty Professor was one up on me.I'm not the kind of person who likes going into an event with no prior planning or idea of what is to come.Fortunately the Nutty one came through and we had a very low stress fishing/sight seeing expedition on the good old S.S Gut Runner!
As you can see from the picture above the Dismal Swamp Canal is very much just that,a canal.It's history is an awesome that sparks some personal interest in me because of it's Maritime background.Barges are very rarely moved through this part of the intercoastal waterway anymore given the sizes of most modern steel hull barges and boats for that matter.If you want to learn more about the history of the Dismal Swamp well read a book because I haven't done much research yet.So the water is black and brackish leaning more towards fresh.We were aiming at just trying to put a few fish in the boat whether it be bluegill or bass,unfortunately we didn't get a single bite.No problems though we learned a few things and The Nutty one now has an actual freshwater pole and lures,hot damn.Take care of them and when we're fifty I'm sure you will still be using that same pole.No fish but a great time,some new scenery and a good reason to keep the small boat around until next year.Looking forward to a good music show in Baltimore with Swamp Thing and then a few days of more unplanned public area fishing in northern and western Virginia.Look out world the Dude doesn't have a pla
The now antique superintendent's house

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Sign of the Times

I knew it was only a matter of time before a wrench got thrown into my "plan".The company I work for is,for lack of a better word,downsizing.The oil and grain industries as you know have taken a huge hit from the current economic downfall.The company that employs me has been kind enough to keep me on as long as they could I suppose.I'm not exactly a high priority on their list of people.I have yet to receive word of being let go,however the signs are everywhere.Currently in the company shipyard we have four boats at the dock with no work.The crews,over the last few months,have been taken down to "skeleton" crews.This means only essential personnel are kept on board.This has turned into people being sent home early,kept home after they are due back and now getting the letter in the mail that says thanks for your hard work now kick rocks.I have yet to be screwed with.My schedule has stayed the same,I have gotten to know many of the office workers and the owners over the last month.I don't want to go home because I don't know when they will bring me back that's the bottom line.I'm due off next Wednesday and unfortunately my Grandmother passed a few days ago.I had to make the horrible decision to stay on the boat rather than leave early to go to the funeral.This,in my eyes,is a ticket to hell.Unfortunately giving the office a reason to lay me off is a direct ticket back to being jobless and eating corn every night for dinner.Yes I did that for a few weeks,it's possible but not fun.So I can only hope that my family will understand that I'm not proud of this decision however I think my Grandmother would understand.With no job I'm worthless and not a happy person.There is a good chance that even though I'm fulfilling my obligation to work that I will still be kept home.Only time will tell if I get to come back to work and if I have made the right choice.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I'm Still Here

Yeah I know,it's a big surprise isn't it.First let me apologize for the lack of posts I have been writing,or haven't been writing.Second I want to apologize for what my blog has become.I started this blog as a way for me to communicate with family,friends and strangers what it is I do at work.It hasn't worked in the least bit.My friends apparently don't much care,which is fine because I suppose I don't much care about the 20 A/C units they put in at a condo complex.My family I think already gets the idea and well my writing skills flat out stink.I simply can't convey what I do at work in words.It is literally impossible.The few videos I have made ended up being five minute explanations that confused even me.The pictures require entirely to many nautical terms that I don't even understand sometimes.All that coupled with the fact that over the last few months my boat hasn't moved a single barge.People are dropping like flies and I work my butt off just to try and seem important enough to receive my paycheck and not be sent home.While I'm apologizing/explaining,sorry that the "tugboatdude" blog has turned into half tugboats and half outdoor stories.Clearly I enjoy writing about my outdoor adventures more than tugboats,but I do honestly love them both.So all that being said there will be a few minor changes to this blog.It will be written the same,however what I intend to accomplish with this blog will change.I have only one goal,to write about what I know about.Does that make sense?So,again,sorry the tugboat posts have been slow but I simply have had enough of shipyard grunt work and don't want to write about it.I'm actually looking forward to making these changes as I won't feel pressured to write about something I may not feel like writing about.Whenever we do get another contract the tugboat posts will return with a full vengeance and in my off time there will be plenty of outdoor adventure posts.thanks for your understanding to the five people that read this.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Down the Same Road

Around this time last year I had my first experience with my employers

Shipyard.It was actually the first time I met anyone who worked in the office or home base as we call it.I got hired a few months before that when they were in a pinch for someone and my resume happened to be in front of them.I remember coming into the yard last Summer and wondering if everyone in the office was as evil as was portrayed to me.The answer was simple,no.So what if the first few times I met the owners they didn't even say hello or who the hell is that.I'm the kind of guy that does his job well and stays under the radar.So when we left the yard after a week or so last Summer my feelings weren't hurt at all.However we have been back to the shipyard four times in the last year for general maintenance and supplies.The funny thing is now every person in that office knows my name.Normally that would worry me,it always did in High school.How did this happen,I don't really know.I know this though,last hitch,in the Shipyard with all three owners drilling me with questions about the boat,I answered everything well enough that I was asked to stay on the boat when they sent everyone else home.It was a mixed blessing because it's hard,long hours in the shipyard but it's money.

Whitetail Deer seen during the walk back

So we left that shipyard a few days ago and headed back to "home base" in Maryland.Last Summer when we first came here,a few of the crew and I walked the property.Behind the shipyard is a few hundred acres of fields,creeks,barns and yes a pond.It's a long walk to the pond but it's a nice quiet country walk.After we returned from our walk last year one of the owners suggested we take a fishing pole with us next time as there could possibly be a few fish in the pond.We had no fishing pole on board and I was new to the company so I let it rest.Fast forward one year and with my ability to borrow a van to get into town I did this past weekend.My goal,to buy a fishing pole.I accomplished this at the lovely Wal-Mart.Apparently Wal-Marts in the "country" actually have decent fishing gear.So with my twenty dollar rod and reel combo and my two beetle spins and a few rooster tails I went back to the boat.The next day,Sunday,I awoke knowing this was to be the day I make the walk.Unfortunately after working all day the crew wasn't having the same idea as me.To bad for them because I took the walk.

Sunset in Chesapeake City,Maryland

Just like I had remembered it,beautiful.I honestly wouldn't want the maintenance involved with a ranch this size,but I do admire.Furthermore,I will enjoy it if someone tells me I have permission and I do.So I took my time walking through the cut corn fields and over the small creeks and I finally made it.I sat down and just took a deep breath.On any side of me I was easily a twenty minute walk away from any human beings,priceless.No sound but the wind blowing through the pine trees.I rigged up my Wal-Mart special with a small rooster tail or my indicator lure.I learned this from my brother Swamp Thing,try a small lure to see what's biting then go after the big ones with bigger gear.First cast and you guessed it,fish on.It was a decent sized Crappie and thinking it was merely beginners luck I took a picture.Usually when things start off that good then end quite poorly in my life,this was to be a different couple of hours.

First fish of the day/small Crappie caught on rooster tail

So it went on this way for about an hour,I cast and every few retrieves fish on.Everything from one pound Crappie to small Bass and Sunfish.My brother Swamp Thing happened to call me in the middle of this awesome experience and I relayed what was going on.We talked for a few minutes and I told him of my current dilemma.I wanted to put a beetle spin on to try for a bigger bass but if I was catching fish why bother just enjoy it.Well I didn't get greedy and after hanging up the phone I put my gear down and simply went for a walk.I knew I had around an hour of daylight left and I wanted to just check out the woods and other surroundings.I found a few old wooden private property signs and a place I like to call Bluegill Gap.There's a creek or two that zig-zag through the property and I followed one that seemed to be leading me somewhere.I ended up at a small natural waterfall and I couldn't believe how awesome it was.After snapping a few pictures I returned to the lake and continued fishing.

Bluegill Gap,Chesapeake City,Maryland

I fished the same bank of the pond where I left off and was rewarded with a few overweight Crappie.Upon returning to the exact spot where I started fishing I took one last cast and I landed a nice two pound largemouth bass.I was so excited I couldn't believe I caught this fish on a rooster tail with a Wal-Mart special.After I calmed down I decided a few more casts before I returned to the boat.Exactly two casts later I landed the biggest largemouth bass I have landed since I was a kid.It took everything I had to get that fish to the shore line.I forgot how much I missed that feeling of oh please,oh please don't break the line.So all and all I guess I learned a few things this past Sunday.Number one,you don't need expensive gear to have fun.Number two,just because you're tired doesn't mean you can't do something you enjoy.In the words of Captain Johny,screw it you can sleep when you're dead!

two pound bass caught on private pond in Chesapeake City,Maryland

Three poun-plus bass caught on private pond in Chesapeake City,Maryland

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Find the Time

Tug Calusa Coast

It has been extremely difficult to find the time to sit down and write down anything.I can't even really find time to myself as of late.I came back to the boat last Thursday and it was right where I had left it.The shipyard wasn't where I necessarily wanted to go back to work,however with layoffs starting to hit the maritime industry,I'm glad to have a job.So last Thursday we completed putting the tow machine back together,fortunately I missed the hard part which happened last Tuesday.Don't worry I did my "hard" part when I took the thing apart before I went home a few weeks ago.The tow machine back together and the boat is ready to go back to work.Unfortunately there is no contract for us.This can only mean one thing,more shipyard fun!So here we sit,twenty minutes from my house in downtown Norfolk.It could be worse,I could be unemployed I suppose.The last few days have been routine.Wake up 7,on deck at 7;30,work until 11.Work can and does consist of busting your hump until you don't want to play anymore.Then back to work at noon,work until 5,eat dinner,shower,sleep and repeat.Oh yes my life has become a routine,not cool.

Tow machine/Tug East Coast

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It's Been Fun

It truly has been a fun few weeks.I did everything that I wanted to do,which is strange.I usually over schedule myself but I think I nailed it on the head over the last few weeks.This past weekend was our annual Mancamp.Just to explain this is an annual tradition.It started about 7 years ago with my 2 brothers and my best friend at the time with his two brothers.Every year for the past 7 my friend and I have planned a camping trip to the Chickahominy WMA.It's a man only event for plenty of reasons.You may ask yourself why would women want to go to the woods with you fools anyway,I can't tell you why just that they do.This past weekend was a great time and it happened that both of my brothers were able to attend and we had a good time enjoying much of the scenery we all grew up with.The fish bite was a little slow but the weather was gorgeous and my boat semi-cooperated.more on that at a later time.I would like to thank both of my brothers along with all my friends who have made a point over the last few years to attend our get together on the lovely Chickahominy River.I know scheduling was a factor for some people not attending,but so was general laziness.It's back to the tug on Thursday so hooray for another 30 days of non-stop fun at work.I suppose I should be glad I still have a well paying job that allows me to do the things I enjoy.Until next time MANCAMP,as always it was fun.

A few of the boys from Mancamp '09

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Chickahominy Bound

Sorry for not completeing the last article.It's been a bit of a mad house in my neck of the woods.This will be the first time I have had the boat in the water since duck hunting season.So if you know me,then you know that means I still have hunting gear everywhere.The last few days I have been getting the boat ready for fishing and simply cleaning up.To sum up my trip to the mountains it was relaxing.It's not easy for me to relax but I did it.Hopefully this weekend on the Chickahominy will be more of the same.Yes it's finally here,MANCAMP '09!Be back Monday

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Relaxation 101/Part 1

The parents cabin/Southwest Virginia

So if you have been keeping up with the current trials of my life then you know that things have been a bit bumpy.Unfortunately my way of dealing with the BS of life is to turn my back on it so I don't knock someones block off.Fortunately for the last month I had a trip planned to SW Virginia and my parents new cabin in the woods.So last Thursday after a grueling nine hours with a few hundred other merchant seaman at the Towing Vessel Safety Seminar,I picked up my brother the Nutty Professor and we hit the road.After a few hours on the road and the city long behind us it hit me.I knew we were in for a great time.It was a bit of a tricky drive on US 58 at night especially because my navigator,Nutty,forgot his glasses.No worries we made it to the cabin around 11 at night and the day was over.

Upon waking up on Friday and eating a healthy breakfast of miniature sausage biscuits,my brother and I climbed in the truck to do some scouting.Crooked Creek runs through my parents property and is a beautiful sight to see.I'm more of a large tidal fisherman.What I mean by that is whether it's bass or flounder I'm just not used to fishing a creek.I have a little experience from fishing the Shenandoah River,but it's a much wider waterway than Crooked Creek.I also have little to no experience fishing for trout.Well after a few hours of scouting we headed back to the cabin for lunch.Some relatives,who I had never met,were supposed to be attending lunch.They were running late so navigator Nutty and I ate a quick sandwich and got the fishing gear together.The rest of the weekend stories are forthcoming.For now enjoy a few pictures from scouting.