The Summer Slump

Back at work and into the first weekend, it is definitely that time of the summer where things have slowed down and our biggest threat to sanity are the swarms of recreational boaters. Right now we are waiting on a slew of ships that the barge we are handling the next few days has loaded for. It’s nice when the client plans loads like this where we bring the barge to load once, and then bounce from ship to ship for the discharges. Occasionally, and for reason unknown to me, they will load the barge with a tiny amount and then have us run to a ship for the discharge. We then turn around and run back to the terminal, usually the same one, and load another paltry amount to do it all over again.

From a risk management standpoint I’ve never thought it made much sense. The riskiest evolution we do is landing and sailing the barge, particularly at the tide sensitive berths that the bunker barges are often loaded at. So ideally the more ships you can load for at once, and the less times you have to come and go from the berth, the better. It doesn’t always work out that way, and I’m sure a lot of it has to do with scheduling conflicts and uncertainty.

In case you’re wondering, this is the kind of stuff tug boaters start bitching about when its slow. We then move onto the food, each other, and eventually the dearth of our floating worlds…..politics and religion.

Anyway I’ll go back to inspecting safety equipment and asking the deckhand when dinner is ready.

About newenglandwaterman

1600 Master Near Coastal, Master of Towing Vessels, and a whole binder full of other pieces of paper. You can find me at the controls, hooked up and hard over, when I'm not at home playing with the dogs
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2 Responses to The Summer Slump

  1. PaulB says:

    My understanding is that most of it is uncertainty as to when the discharge time will be. A chartered barge with filled tanks can’t be used to load for a ship requesting a different fuel. Add to that the issue of oil cooling, (reheating would eat up the profit on selling the oil!), and the very common practice of ships requesting bunkers with no notice. A charterer would prefer to pay for a chartered barge to make 2 trips to a terminal, rather than hire two barges to do two jobs. Ultimately it comes down to profit-maximizing while minimizing lay time.

  2. I was actually hoping we might grab you guys at some point so I could ask you Paul!

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