Friday, January 30, 2009

To Late to Turn Back Now

That doesn't belong on the deck!

So after my uneventful trip on multiple planes up North I made it to the Tug with no problems.This surprised me as the weather up and down the East Coast was changing for the worse.I am glad to be back aboard the "Mother Ship" as it feels more like home and I was well recieved.The next morning,Thursday, we got underway from Providence,Rhode Island bound for Somerset,Massachusetts.Only a twenty mile ride I was excited to be back on a Tug that I know all the in and outs of.We had to pull a few sketchy bridges in an curve in the river which made for a few hectis moments.No fear with the mate and captain working side by side and trusty Tugboatdude on the bow giving appropriate steering directions we cleared the bridges.Now with the power plant in sight I just knew I would be back aboard before the evening news.This was an incorrect assumption.

The engineer was sent up to check it out,nothing he can do about it

So as the saying or sayings of the same sort go,if it can go wrong it surely will.I would like to start this damage summary off by saying no persons were injured only metal structures.So with the assist Tug waiting just off the dock he approached full steam towards the barge,bad idea tough guy.After a clear warning that the freeboard,the amount of barge sticking out of the water,was very little the assist did not heed this warning unfortunately.His lack of lower bow rubber to rub on the freeboard that was available was indeed a downfall.Instead of coming into the side of the barge at a ninety degree angle he decided to "walk" the tug up the barge.Only very skilled pilots and a few Captains possess this ability to make a Tug move sideways or walk it.None ever and I mean ever have been able to do it while the barge is still in motion.So there is the set up my friends.Now here is how it went down and sideways and crash boom.

Take a guess who this could be

The tug "walked" unsuccessfully into the side of the barge almost backwards.Upon making contact she spun around and with no lower bow rubber caught the safety stanchions on the side of the barge.After ripping a few off of there base he proceeded to push on the barge to get the tug at a ninety degree angle.Problem is he ended up pushing the barge into the dock at an inappropriate time.He was then ordered to clear the barge and stand by.A few minutes later when ordered to catch a line to prevent the barge from smashing the dock the same thing proceeded to happen at a different spot on the barge.I stood clear the second time knowing full well this was bound to happen.A few snotty remarks over the radio later and he was ordered to stay clear.The barge was then landed and the damage was assessed.

A few more bent but not broke

I guess the funny thing is the owner of the assist tug is the owner of this brand new coal container barge.The other funny thing is I was asked to take my camera with me as the Captain was warned about the assist boat and the lack of skill possessed by it's current helmsman and captain.So there I was after docking the barge taking damage pictures with the crew of the assist boat staring me down.Sorry guys just doing my job and covering my own ass.We are under contract and we don't want to lose this contract because some wahoo can't steer his boat.On another note as I'm sure everyone knows,it isn't easy to steer a tugboat,it in fact is quite difficult.It isn't like driving a car as many people think.I won't post the most incriminating photos out of respect of the crew that had nothing to do with there captains lack of skill.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Rhode Island,Providence to be exact

Thanks Mr.Assist boat,really,thanks for that

Just a quick note and a few photos.I got shipped back to the land of frozen aka the North East to get back on my regular boat.I was glad in a way but sad to leave behind near 70 degree temperatures in North Carolina.We had a bit of destruction done to our barge by an assist boat today.I managed to get a few pictures right after it happened.I will go into depth with this in the next few days.

A definite WTF situation

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Playing in the Mud

Seen here the Tug Calusa Coast made up on the "hip" to a common dredge scow.The scow,once filled,will then be towed out to sea to be dumped in a predetermined area approved by the Army Core of Engineers.Working under contract to tow every scow filled with mud is non stop work.By the time we return from our thirty mile trip to sea the next scow is loaded and ready.The only break we get is when the dredge breaks down which doesn't happen enough.The dredge is brought into an area that simply enough needs to be deepened.This can be for several reasons,either a new dock is being put in or an inlet is becoming more and more shallow by the ingoing and outgoing tide.The run off associated with the tide is the normal culprit in the need for a dredge.Some major areas are constantly dredged to keep them open to ship traffic.Indeed it does make financial since to continue dredging such areas as the revenue associated with ships bringing in cargo way overtakes the cost of employing a dredge.It may seem like a simple enough job to plainly dig mud to deepen a channel but there is much more to it.The scows have to be towed to an exact location.I mean within a few hundred feet they must be dumped.The A.C.E,Army Core of Engineers,predetermines and monitors the dump site very closely.These areas are listed on nautical maps as spoilage areas.Stay away from them at all costs unless you want to be towed back to shore by another boat.The scows are all remote controlled.The remote stays on the boat and when the time is appropriate the button is pushed to start the engine on the barge.Once a set of lights illuminates atop of the barge it is ready to dump.The dump button is pushed and a few seconds later the bottom falls out of the scow,literally.Then the lights on the scow signal the barge is empty and the close button is pushed and we return to the dregs for another.It really is a great sight to see the scow go from fully loaded and drawing a fifteen foot draft,to completely empty in a matter of seconds.If anyone is wondering the fine for missing the drop zone is a mere 250,000 dollars,no big deal.So that about sums up the joy of playing in the mud.It's slippery on deck and it is non stop busy bust ass work.I keep telling myself at least I'm not stuck at home without a job,but damn this needs to be over with.Sorry for the lack of pictures,cameras are not allowed on deck of the scow.
Dredge Virginian of Norflok Dredgs Company

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dredge Post Upcoming

When I get a good few peaceful minutes I will be informing everyone of the joys of working on mud scows with a dredge.It's a bit of a pain right now to find the time because it's non stop work.Even when it isn't my watch I'm just to tired to turn the computer on or we are offshore dumping a scow and I don't have signal.No worries,hold true my friends and I promise you shall receive!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Quick Word

As I sit here waiting on the taxi to take me to the airport to get my rental car for work,I want to quickly reflect on the past few days events.Unfortunately I don't have time to type it all out right now.See I'm getting sent to a new boat.So that means I have to forget about my tugboat family on the other boat and hope I get accepted on the new boat.The switch is taking place because the economy sucks.No really,multiple boats from multiple companies have been out of work for yup,multiple months now.There is work,yes in fact there is to much work.The problem lays in the fact that companies are trying to make budget after they all fell way short at the end of the calendar year.Now I want to say I am not complaining about having to go to a new boat.It does make it a bit difficult,having to buy new work everything because all my stuff is on a boat in New York.Along with having to meet new people that I have no choice but to get along with for thirty days.No,I'm not complaining,I'm happy I have a job.So,last weekend I went hunting with the Swamp Thing and we had a great time.I'm hoping he will write a detailed article on it in the next few days as I'm pressed for time.I'm sure he is to,but he's a landlubber,he spends his nights on the beach,YARRRRRRRR!
Swamp Thing with a healthy goose

Friday, January 16, 2009

Old Man Winter abd the Goose

Swamp Thing can't feel his fingers or toes
Swamp Thing and the crew trying to stay warm in the corn stubble
Had a great goose hunting trip with my brother,Swamp Thing.this past Thursday in western Maryland.More to come of the weeks events after Saturdays Goose hunt.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Good Afternoon

So what if we didn't get any ducks to come into the decoys.I can't think of a better way to spend a Monday afternoon.With a good friend of mine and my brother we attempted to hunt a spot we had scouted this summer.The area was very "ducky" but the weather did not cooperate.With a full moon and a blue bird day it's hard to get sea ducks interested in breaking up there raft to come and check it out.No worries though,it was a smooth ride across the Hampton Harbor and we had a good time just talking and hanging out in the 45 degree weather.I had a great video of my brother,Swamp Thing,playing the Ghostbusters theme song on a duck call but it won't post unfortunately.We have a serious cold snap heading our way on the East Coast.Unfortunately quickly all the ponds and small creeks are sure to freeze.So with the weather being what it is,the Swamp Thing and I have a few field goose hunts planned in his neck of the woods,Maryland.The ducks I'm sure will be here next week,to bad I will be back on the boat.So it seems my duck hunting season is over and now I'm left with some promising goose hunts.So I guess my first season with a boat wasn't a complete loss.I found a great early season wood duck spot and I have been allowed to hunt a few decent puddle duck spots.No problem I will be ready again next year.No reason to be down,I still have a chance to get some get geese later this week.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Hunting with the Nutty Professor

Had a chance to try and get my brother the Nutty Professor involved in duck hunting.After relentless checking of the weather and tide,it was decided that a boat was out of the question.The reasoning behind this is because with a steady Southwest wind and a full moon all of our creeks have no water.I mean absolutely no water,well a little but not much.So the decision was made that a canoe and some good chest waders,were in order.It was a bit of a struggle getting back to the "magic spot" with the long paddle and the mud to our waist.I just look at it as exercise.We got set up and had a few surprises that lead us to take worthless shots.This spot holds mainly local birds that return right at sunset to roost.The one mallard and two buffleheads that we missed I knew would be nothing compared to what would happen when the sun started setting.The problem was the birds showed up fifteen minutes after shooting time.It was a spectacular show,just like last time.I'm glad my brother had a chance to take a few shots and see some birds.I hope he sticks with it and has the want to hunt next season when he gets a chance.Better yet he should use his vacation to go hunting,I'm sure his wife would love that idea.So no birds in the freezer but once again an awesome show from mother nature.I really needed a stress free hunt.Sure I do wish we would have downed some birds but I think we made some memories.We had chances and I wouldn't say we botched them but we could have done better.Looking forward to hunting with Swamp Thing on Monday and then again on Thursday,Friday,Saturday.Yes it's that time of the year!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Home Free

Well I made it home late Monday night and haven't done much the last few days.I did try a seaduck hunt today,bad idea.Apparently when they say 30 mph winds they mean it!In the mouth of the Chesapeake bay is a bad place to be in a 16 ft boat.Sand from the beach is in everything and we didn't even get a shot.I did get my boat back,to bad the mechanic told me it's about to fall apart.Oh well I will try again Friday up on the Chickahominy.Then next week Swamp Thing and I have plans in the works for some serious duckin'.Stay tuned and maybe I will get an opportunity to take some pictures.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


SOOOOOO how bout those Hokies?I don't have much of a topic left to talk on.There are only a few days left in my "tour" and to be honest we haven't "toured" anything.As of today it's been twelve days of sitting at the dock in New York.Of course we are still getting paid and the on watch duty has been extremely light due to the weather.So what's the problem,sounds pretty awesome doesn't it?NOOOOOOOO it's troublesome and nobody on board wants to talk about it.but we all are thinking it.Are our jobs in danger?Now for some who have over 10 years with the company,no there jobs aren't in danger.To tell you the truth the rest of us could be fine.We aren't about to start asking the office about it!I do have a leg up in that I'm needed on the boat if it is to go offshore.Problem is,we need a job first!CALM DOWN TUGBOATDUDE,just CALM DOWN!I'm good,no problems here..........Moving on,for Christmas one of my shipmates bought me a duck that grows as it is soaked in water.I know it sounds lame,but I find much enjoyment in the fact that it has taken three days for it to grow to full size.That's three days I killed so far,just by watching a duck grow.Yes I am losing it.Hopefully when I get home next Monday the "boat mechanic" I dropped my boat off with four weeks ago will have finished it so I can get out,do some scouting and put some birds to sleep.So yeah,Happy New Year!