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


Swamp Thing said...

Sometimes the channel gotta get low, low, low, low, low, low, low, low.

tugboatdude said...

Yes and sometimes they gotta send tdawg to rhode ilsand to get on another boat,yikes.Not looking forward to this at all.

Swamp Thing said...

Yo, check out this link (it's not tore up):