Author Archives: Blueoceanmariner

About Blueoceanmariner

Working my way up the Hawespipe. This is the maritime term used to describe someone who works their way up the ranks instead of going to an academy. Please follow along on my adventures!

Where to start

My energy for blogging seems to have faded somewhat.  I mean, I want to blog more, but finding the time to peck out posts and especially add photos (they seem to be most time consuming) is the most difficult.  When I get home from a hitch at sea, and have energy, I don’t usually have the will power to sit down and report.  Theres all that other stuff like mow the lawn, fix things around the house, prep the rental house for new tenants, change the oil, drink some beers with the boys, etc. 

So here it is in a nutshell:  I worked my ass off in 2017!

It went something like this: I was home January part of Feburary at which time I had 3 wisdom teeth pulled out.  Everything went fine and I was healed up in no time.

I worked the last half of Feb. in the shipyard on the TGT.  Most of time was spent needle gunning small spaces around the ship that we normally would never get to.

I had a few days off and flew to Honolulu to meet the R/V Sikuliaq.  We sailed approx. 38 days to Newport, OR.  The science on the trip was studying ocean currents and eddies and we deployed and recovered lots and lots of drifting sensors.  The focus is on the mixing that occurs when warm ocean currents collide with cool ocean currents.  It is interesting stuff but when asking the scientists about it, they quickly get so technical that they may as well speak Klingon. 

I got home in early April and had about a month off before heading back to the ship yard for 3 more weeks.  Lots more chipping and needle gunning!

I had two days off and then left on a tugboat to Alaska for 53 days.  We left Seattle with tandem barges.  We dropped the first barge in Ketchikan and carried on with a 380′ to Juneau, Yakatat, Anchorage, Dutch Harbor.  Then reloaded for a trip to Bristol Bay and Naknek.  From Naknek we went further North and made a roughly 90 mile trek up the Kuskowim River to the town of Bethel (good Verizon coverage FYI).  Then on to Dillingham and then back to Bristol Bay where we layed on the wire waiting for enough salmon to be caught, delivered to the cannery, canned and delivered to the dock so we could load it for Seattle.  Ended up in detention, as we call it, for seven days before we could load.  Lots of Beluga  Whales in the Naknek River.  Once loaded, we went back to Dutch Harbor, and finally back to Seattle and home.

For 10 days.  Then I left on another tug to Alaska for 45 days.  This time we hit Whittier, Valdez, Dutch Harbor, Beaver Inlet, Dutch Harbor and back to Seattle and home. 

I had 6 days off and in mid Sept left for a second relief hitch on the R/V Sikuliaq.  This time I met them in Nome, Alaska and we dead headed to Newport, Or (can’t get away from that place!) where we did an OOI buoy deployment trip.

I got home from that trip right smack dab in the middle of deer season so I loaded up the next day and went hunting for 5 days.  Didn’t get one but it felt great putting some miles on the old LPC’s (leather personal carriers).

Had just over 2 weeks off and returned to the shipyard to help put the final touches on the Thompson, do sea trials, shakedown cruises and student cruises and get ready to put her back in full service.  We’ve had a few bumps along the way, but overall it’s gone smooth and the ship is performing well.  We left the shipyard around the 17th of December after 556 days (or something like that).    We are back at our home dock and there are a few yard guys and contractors here working their punchlists.  We have one more big inspection, by the National Science Foundation, next week to certify that we are ready to perform the science mission we’ve been assigned.  Then we will return to our dock for about 10 more days of outfitting before steaming over the horizon.

We are scheduled to go to ports in New Zealand, Taiwan, India, Sri Lanka, South Africa,  Austraillia, Phillipines and to the ice edge in Antartica.

For me, I’ve chosen my schedule very carefully to hit the ports and places that interest me most.   In another 34 days, I’ll hit my “hump day”, or halfway point in my 200 day hitch.  That. Is. Not. A. Typo.  I missed all but 10 days of summer at home in 17′ and in 18′ I’ll be home for almost all of it.  The main reason for such a long hitch is that I will be within an angel’s kiss of enough time for 3rd Mate Unlimited.  I still have to take a celestial navigation course this summer before I can apply.

I have a metric shit ton of photos from the last year.  I’m not sure I have the patience to get them all posted in some sort of orderly fashion but I will try to get some for you to see.

Here is a video I shot from our rescue boat just after we came out of the shipyard.  They were conducting testing on our dynamic positioning system at the time:

R/V Thomas G. Thompson

Hope everyone has a safe and prosperous 2018.

TT

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Demolition of Ripple Rock, Seymour Narrows, British Columbia

Seymour Narrows is a narrow section towards the South end of the Inside Passage running between Puget Sound and Alaska.  Currents up to 8-9 knots flow through here and Ripple Rock was a major hazard to navigation.  This route is very busy with cruise ships, tugs and barges, fishing vessels, and recreational vessels.

Here is the story of removing that Ripple Rock hazard:

 

Honolulu Fish Auction

The Sikuliaq is tied up at pier 35, just across the wharf from the Honolulu Fish Auction.  The Auction runs 6 days per week and as much as 100,000 pounds of fish can move through each day.  Beginning at 0100 boats arrive and offload the catch that they are delivering for the days auction.  At 0530 the auctioneer rings the brass bell to open the live auction and within a few moments fish are being sold.

Buyers from many different brokers, hotel restaurants,sushi bars, markets, etc. arrive and start inspecting the quality of the fish around 0430 and the live auction  starts around 0530.  As soon as the fish is purchased, a tag is placed on the fish to identify the buyer, the price per pound and a check is cut that day and sent to the fisherman.
All types of fish such as yellowfin tuna, bigeye tuna, mahi mahi, swordfish, wahoo, opah, and several bottomfish species such as paka paka , onaga are available to bid on.

Tours are available, or you can just come in and watch the action like I did.  If you go, remember to wear closed toed shoes.  Everyone is required to walk through a one half inch deep both of disinfectant as they enter.  It’s also climate controlled inside so bring a light jacket.

The fish are offloaded from the boats using big trailers they tow around with forklifts and brought over to the building.  They are weighed, sorted and tagged.  Once they have been purchased, the fish move out the far side of the building and are loaded into the buyer’s trucks.  Very efficient!

Above a tag shows the price paid was 2.40 per pound, the fish weighed 57 pounds and on the far right, almost out of the picture, shows who the buyer was.

Here’s another example:

Walking back to the ship, the skies opened up and we got a little wet.  It has been stormy and not so nice here the last few days, but it is a warm rain.

Our ship is nearly loaded and we will be casting off sometime soon.  Have a good week.

TT

Sikuliaq, tugs, shipyard and training

I’ve been home since just before Thanksgiving and enjoyed a nice holiday season with the family and got a lot done around the house too.  

Shortly after Thanksgiving I took a Vessel, Company and Facility Officer Course at PMI in Seattle. 

 Right after that I flew to New York City, rented a car and drove about an hour and half North along the Hudson River to complete my TOAR ( towing officer assessment record) on a very old diesel electric tug named the Cornell.  The program is offered by Diamond Marine Services and helps mariners like me who have a good chunk of their toar complete but are having a hard time getting the time at the wheel to finish the maneuvering portions.  In my particular case, the tugs I work on mostly tow freight barges from Seattle to Alaska.  When we pull into port, the chief mate, second mate and ab’s are all up on the barge to make her fast.  Only the captain remains aboard to maneuver the tug (sometimes the captain and chief mate trade roles).   It could take years before I could knock out all of the assessments, especially since we don’t do many of the maneuvers often or where I could break away from my job to get time to do them.  Diamond’s program lets you complete all the maneuvering with their tug and deck barge.  

As soon as I returned from New York, I turned in another application at the USCG in Seattle .  It took nearly 2.5 months to get my new MMC in the mail as they were so backed up with mariners trying to beat the rule change deadlines at the end of 2016.

I did one quick little overnight tug job from Seattle to Vancouver, Canada and back in January to deliver a barge to a shipyard:

Seattle, the Emerald City (evening):

Vancouver, Canada (very early am):

Mt. Baker along the way:

In early February, I was scheduled to work at Vigor Shipyards (formerly Todd Shipyard) for one month onboard the Thomas G. Thompson. She’s in getting a full makeover and re-power refit, re-pipe, paint, and many other upgrades. Shortly after getting my schedule all figured out, I received a call from the University of Alaska to make a relief trip on the R/V Sikuliaq.  I had to change my shipyard stint from one month to two weeks.  Trust me when I tell you that two weeks was plenty!  The ship is all torn apart and a ton of work to get done.  It was interesting to see the progress being made.  It will also be interesting to see if it will be done on time or not.

Shortly after accepting the relief gig on the Sikuliaq, I got called by my tug company to make a run to Dutch Harbor for roughly 35 days.  It’s their slowest time of the year so when I told them I found some relief work they were totally cool with it because they had several people to try and keep busy.  When I return in April they should picking up steam and probably keep me super busy over the summer.

So shortly I’ll be leaving home to join the Sikuliaq.  She’s got an ice class hull designed for science trips in the Arctic.  I’m meeting her in Hawaii and taking her to Newport, Oregon stopping by Musician Seamounts for some project that I’m not yet sure of.  She’s 261′ long, 55′ wide and was launched in 2014.  Until recently, she had a terrible reputation as having a awful ride.  A problem was discovered with the ships roll tank and once that was corrected the ride has improved dramatically according to those I’ve talked to.  We shall see.  Here are some more pics:

Everyone be well and I’ll try to keep updates rolling……..if the internet works.

That time a fighter jet landed on a merchant vessel

Running low on fuel, an emergency landing on the Cargo Ship Alraigo by British Navy Sea Harrier ZA176 and Sub-Lt Ian Watson, June 1983.
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In 2007, Britain’s National Archives released a number of Royal Navy files, and the second inquiry report was finally made public. Noting that Watson had completed only 75 percent of his training before he had been sent to sea, the board blamed Watson’s inexperience, and his commanders for assigning him an airplane “not fully prepared for the sortie,” a reference to radio problems. Nonetheless, Watson was reprimanded and given a desk job.

The total paid salvage claim was £570,000.  The crew of the 2,300-ton Spanish container ship Alraigo won a salvage claim and shared £340,000, with the remaining £230,000 going to the owners of the vessel.

Sub-Lt. Ian Watson eventually acquired 2,000 hours in Sea Harriers and another 900 in F/A-18s before resigning his commission in 1996. Today, he says that media attention embarrassed Royal Navy brass and caused the punishment, but refuses to point fingers. “It was me,” he says. “I was there and that’s where it should stop.”

Paul Harvey and the story of an old Buckinghamshire Barn – Amazing Nautical History

The great Paul Harvey tells the story of an old barn in Buckinghamshire, England.  This old barn may have an incredible past:

 

To all of the sailors at sea and military personal on duty around the world: Merry Christmas!