Colors 2

Every once in a while the colors out here will make you just make you stop and stare.

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28.5 and counting

Well I have been back on the boat for a day or two, but here is something I wrote at 30,000 feet on my way south.

It is no secret that I enjoy what I do for a living. While mud boats and the oil patch might not be the most romantic sector of the maritime industry, the 28/28 schedule is hard to beat. Especially when you couple it with the current pay levels, the good benefits, and decent to excellent equipment you get to work with.
However for a New Englander like me Belle Pass will never be Two Bush channel, Fourchon will never be Boston, and Houma will never be Penobscot Bay. This evening as my 737 climbed out of Logan Airport we traveled first to the east. Passing just north of Deer Island; I had a perfect view of the harbor. From Castle Island and Anchorage #2, to the Nubble channel and the Narrows. Climbing I looked down at the north and south approaches, Boston Light, the Hypocrite, and the Graves. The sun sitting low in the west lit it all up in a golden tone. Coming west-northwest from Provincetown was Salacia, cutting along with a graceful looking ease. My plane banked around offshore to head southwest towards Houston. From this vantage I had the whole harbor, the whole city, and most of the north shore backlit in bronze light. The Ruth E Hughes was east bound in the western way, and what was likely Ceteca was racing out of Hingham to meet her.
All of these sights, these boats, that light evoked a lot of found memories for me. Good friends and good times; being broke and not really caring. Having too much fun running passenger boats and spending most of our paychecks at the Times and Coop’s. These were great memories, great emotions, and beautiful sights.
However it is funny how life changes. Normally that take off is always what I want out of Boston. Today I wish I had sat on the other side of the plane. I wished for the minute after that turn I could have looked out the window and seen the Cape. While I couldn’t have exactly seen my house from there I could have felt it. Instead of long days of work and nights we hardly remember, my mind would have played back the last three amazing months of hanging pictures and playing with the dog in the yard. Images of me 20 feet up a ladder changing a bulb and the Therapist Fiancé holding the ladder while trying to keep the dogs attention. Images of the Furry Child growling at the Therapist Fiancé and me in bed for touching his feet, and the associated look of embarrassment from him.
It was only today that I really felt what it means to be truly homesick. You see because the last few years, since high school really, I haven’t felt home in any particular place. Everything has been temporary, just for now, and not a place to call mine.
This is the curse of the job, and what makes most people not understand why I do what I do. Today I kind of feel like that to, and it actually does make me feel a bit more normal. Don’t mistake me though; I still love what I do for a living. The privilege of bearing witness to some of mother natures greatest shows. Living for weeks at a time where blue meets blue, and seeing all the things that inhabit this space. The sense of camaraderie when you have a really good crew, not to mention some of the awesome toys they call company property. Though today I can say the past few months have shown me which half of my life I unequivocally love more. I have to say thanks to the Therapist Fiancé and our furry child for making our house, and our town truly a home. That and thanks for putting up with my nautically eccentric behavior!

28.5 days and counting hunny, please keep the lights on for me

Not everyone

Not everyone gets excited

even our furry friend

even our furry friend

for tug boat spotting!

for tug boat spotting!

Though I sure the Therapist Fiancé and our Fur Child being good sports was appreciated

Though I am sure the Therapist Fiancé and our Fur Child being good sports was appreciated

by the Maria T and.....

by the Maria T and…..

the Doris Moran!

the Doris Moran!

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The evolution of Auger

In 1994 Shell took a big step and launched the first floating Tension Leg Platform in the Gulf of Mexico. In recent years they have taken another big step and from that TLP have drilled the longest direction drilled well in the world from it to revitalize the platform and extend its lifespan. Below is a great video they put together about the entire project. Very Very Cool!

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Photo of the week 9-14-14

Here is one I have been chasing for a while, Boston Towboat’s Independence

Westbound for the dock.

Westbound for the dock.

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First Off, Last Home

For all my readers and friends who operated passenger vessels, and all those who ride on them on a regular basis, here is a short video from the NTSB as a result of the Sea Streak Wallstreet incident.

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Photo of the week 9-3-14

A photo from someone else than myself for once. This is from a classmate Stuart Siddons, who is captain of the Elizabeth T a ferry and tour vessel he runs out of Southwest Harbor Maine. Check out the company website http://www.sailacadia.com/index.html and if you drop in for a sail or a cruise tell Stu I sent ya!

Definitely an office with a view.

Definitely an office with a view.

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In house projects

The highlight of the hitch has definitely been an in house job of sorts we did earlier in the month. It involved heading to Gulf Island Fabricators in Houma to pick up three large housing units at their west yard, and then delivering and offloading them to the HOS Iron Horse in Mobile Alabama. One of the reasons I am more than happy to be on a smaller older boat is precisely this kind of job. The weakest part of my portfolio of experience is a lack of trips in and out of places other than Fourchon. I have been all over New England, but as far as the gulf is concerned I’ve done Fourchon and more Fourchon.
With this job I got to do another passage in and out of the Houma Nav canal, relatively easy all things considered, and then a trip inbound Mobile from sea. When I came back on watch after starting our transit to into Houma we were secured and it was a couple hours wait to load the housing units in the morning. This is the first special lift project of any kind that I have been involved with as one of the decision making parties and I am glad it was a relatively simple one. The housing units were pre arranged on the dock and after a pre job JSA and talk was conducted we went about loading the units. I discussed loading and securing with the lift director and in order to make the crane work easier and have the least movement with these 76 ton lifts it was decided I would slide the boat ahead on the dock to line up the second and third loads. Due to the sparse bollards on the dock this involved me keeping the boat into an aft leading stern line and using the rudders and bow thruster to keep up firmly planted on the dock.
As seen below the lifts went off with out incident and I was very pleased to have worked with such a great team on the dock. Gulf Island Fabricators lift crew was top notch to work with. Here are a couple go pro stills of the loading, and if you have been viewing my blog for a while you will know whats coming when I get to some faster internet!

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DCIM101GOPRO

The trip inbound Mobile I looked forward to quite a bit and while an over all very easy trip a couple challenges were introduced for me.

-Our arrival time orders got changed en route and we needed to arrive +/- sunrise
-I had to make the trip in at night in order to try and arrive around sunrise
-Further complicating this was a flood tide speeding our progress, coupled with already having planned to transit inbound at clutch speed.
-We had heavy rain and thunderstorms for much of the inbound transit

On the plus side this boat has great radars, great spot lights, and handles quite well even at low speed. Not to mention much of the transit up mobile bay is more or less a straight line. The channel isn’t terribly narrow and well dredged/marked. Certainly not narrow enough that you have to worry about playing Texas chicken with other vessels. Below are two shots of my radars coming up to the gap between the mainland and Dauphin Island, really the only curves in the channel.

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photo 2

After getting passed Dauphin Island we had intermittent rain, however the last mile before our turn into the Theodore Ship Channel the sky opened up and absolutely dumped on us. Torrential rains, gusting winds, and lighting all around. A typical gulf coast thunder storm. We made our way into Theodore and got secured alongside the HOS Iron Horse to stand by to offload our cargo.
As it turned out they still weren’t totally ready for us to offload and we followed them farther up the bay into Mobile itself to Signal Ship Repair. Here we again secured alongside and stood by to offload. The next morning we got to it early, shifting positions slightly and then swinging all three lifts with the Iron Horse’s 400 ton crane. They were stacked three high on top of each other just behind the ships superstructure and this was another well planned and executed lift.

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Look out for a time-lapse video in the next few days when I get to some fast internet!

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