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?