Saturday, September 16, 2017

Carnival! (NSFW)

Something to brighten up your day. Warm thoughts.










Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Red Light District on board

I was pleased to see that our new Dangerous Cargo light came aboard just before I returned to work.


     Vessels moving fuel oils or cargo with an explosive nature have to display an all-around red light while engaged in their business at night. We're no exception, and shortly before leaving last week, I managed to break the old one.

"Rooooxanne!"

 Very simple little doohickey. I broke the old one because I had to run a breasting mooring line up to a ship, and it passed about 8 feet from the light, crossing from my centerline to the deck edge of the ship, and as we came up out the water, we edged forward a few feet, and when our tug nosed into position after the job was done, the mooring lines stretched enough to let the breasting line in question get against the steel pole under the light... and here's where I got lucky. One of the 3 bolts at the flange sheared off, and the base plate bent rather than the whole 30lb  piece energetically flying off into the wild blue yonder.
 The pieces in question went ashore for repair in our shop. Later it will be painted and be as good as new, and I can again advertise my services at night... uh, I mean, be in compliance
 At any rate, I took advantage of the lovely weather and bolted up the now-repaired light. We have spare solar-powered portable lights for exactly this sort of boo-boo, but it's never the same.

 Well, it's sort of good to be back, but it's absolutely good to be back drawing a paycheck. I hadn't planned on a spontaneous vacation and home repairs. Things are going back to abnormal it seems.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

We now return to our life in progress

Well, Hurricane Irma blasted through, and we made some memories at home. I'm heading back to NY tomorrow, and back to work. My unscheduled week off worked out as well as it could. I put my house back together, although there's some damage outside that will need professional attention. Overall we got very, very lucky.

 Welp, back to it tomorrow, anyhow.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Update

1300, Sunday.

   Storm is underway. It's gearing up to bomb the Gulf coast, while I'm on the Atlantic side, so I'm hopeful we won't get hit too hard. Say a prayer for the poor buggers on the other side, though. It looks pretty awful for them.

 I've met more neighbors here in the past few days than I've met in the past 3 years. Nice folks. The men in the neighborhood had already formed a plan to button up my house for Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife if I was unable to make it home before the storm. Luckily, I was here well beforehand, and bolted up the hurricane shutters- steel corrugated strips that bolt directly into threaded studs sunk into the concrete walls of my house that ring each window opening. So for now, my house is as dark as 3 foot up a welldiggers ass during a new moon. We're snug and secure, and still have power too. Wind is currently 50ish, gusting to 60. I'm poking my head outside periodically to look around. All is well as can be, currently.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

This might suck

Well, pretty much every prediction is that my house is gonna be in a trouble spot when Hurricane Irma says hello to Florida.


 I'm hopeful. My town proper is between all the models' spaghetti paths, which might mean we take our beating and be thankful it wasn't worse... might not work out that way, too.

 Either way, I'm breaking this tour and heading home tomorrow. On the chance that we'll take a direct strike from a category 4-5 hurricane, my place is there, not here.

 I'm in touch with a bunch of folks from my region. I've been able to chat with some very cool people in the gun and literature world in the past 24 hours. Kinda neat. Storm brought us together.

 Well, regardless, I'm going home. Back next week, all things being equal.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Be Prepared

Whether I'm at work or at home, I like to have enough food on hand to ride out any disruption in supply.

 At work, I'm not as diligent about this as I should be. I'm sure I could survive just fine with what we have on hand for a few weeks, but as I'm not far out at sea pretty much ever, these days, I like to have a lot of fresh green stuff on hand. I find salad dull after a while, but I do eat a lot of it.
 
     At home it's a different story. You'd think that Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife would be the food storage cheerleader in the house, coming from the 3rd world, but this is not so. Her parent culture has a definite preference for every-other-day market visits, and that's about it. Shopping day is entertainment.

 As I am still a relative newcomer to Florida, I've been blessed in that we've only had to shutter the house and hunker down for a hurricane just once so far, and it missed us, thankfully. Even so, while I was here on the HQ at the time, my wife got to watch the utter shit show that happens when there's a run on food, water and gasoline.It gets ugly, FAST.

       Peter Grant has a great post on prepping and being prepared for disruptions for the exact purpose of not having to take part in the angry mob that forms when gas, water and bread gets scarce. 


We keep a minumum of about a week's worth of drinking water for my family on hand, plus plenty of dry stored food and a spare propane tank. And ammo. Of course.

      We're all watching Hurricane Irma closely. At the present moment, it doesn't look to be heading for my neighborhood, but that can change easily. The damn thing formed up so fast and so far out to sea that anything could happen, and she looks to be a monster. Whatever happens, stay safe.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Short Volume Kabuki

Well, this has been an interesting night.

    Started off pretty good. I'm on night watch tonight, which means my day started at 2320, yesterday, and I'll go to bed after civilized humans start on breakfast. No problem. It's my turn in the rotation here at HAWSEPIPER's Afloat Global HQ/ tanning emporium. We're morning people on here; working nights isn't a favorite, so we switch off.  Tonight's my night, and wonder of wonders, it's the first night where I stepped outside before watch for my inspection, and had to put my coveralls on all the way. Generally, until I sign the DOI (Declaration of Inspection, the checklist that says you're in charge and everything's peachy keen), my coveralls are being worn as pants and the upper body part is tied off at the waist. Tonight I went outside and suited up a few seconds later. Between the temperature and the delightful breeze, it's been a lovely night.

      Tonight we were transferring fuel to a car carrier, a RORO, PCTC, whatever you want to call it. Car ship, and it was their first visit to the US. Like 99% of the ships we deal with, this was a foreign-flagged ship,


       At any rate, tonight we pumped 1,300 tons of fuel oil and 170 tons of diesel to this car ship, and, the engineer not being a regular visitor to the US, but being Japanese, he was obligated to perform the Short Volume Kabuki.

 Now, you don't have to be Japanese to perform the Short Volume Kabuki- you just have to sail a lot in 3rd world countries. Everyone who's handled bunkers outside the US has likely done it. It's formulaic.

 In much of the world, when bunkers are transferred to the ship, someone's going to try to cheat. Often enough, it's the bunker supplier. From ridiculous to subtle, there are a million scams to try to get free fuel and fuck over some strangers.  The most subtle trick is the Singapore Cappuccino, where unscrupulous bunker suppliers will aerate the fuel and increase it's apparent volume by trapping air bubbles in the oil, making a viscous foam. As the air eventually works its' way out of solution, the volume magically decreases, but by then the supplier is long gone.

 I've written on this stuff before so no need to rehash it too much, but the essence of Short Volume Kabuki is that no matter how much fuel you transfer to a ship, they're always short. What follows in the 3rd world is 'negotiations' where both sides try to come to an agreement on what is a reasonable amount for the thief to steal.

 This being America, it doesn't really work like that. It's just too much work to try to steal bunkers, and when delivered by barge, there's nowhere to go anyhow. Plus, a bunker thief will be caught and will be reamed by someone, and do time, whereas elsewhere, it's just part of how some folks make a paycheck.

 At any rate, after years of doing this, I try not to take it personal when someone's trying to sneak one up my Windward Passage without benefit of Ye Olde Reache Around, and I'm past the days of being scandalized and upset by it overmuch.  Under normal circumstances, the Engineer claims a shortage, the bunker supplier claims and overage, and they meet in the middle. Some days you win, some days no. Negotiations happen.

 Here, we calculate the volume and temperature of the oil, adjust the net figure for density, and arrive at a standard volume calculation before we leave the loading terminal. Most of the time, we have an independent cargo surveyor do the work with us as a disinterested party.
 On arrival at a ship, I do it all over again, and invite the ship to take part and observe. Sometimes they hire another independent surveyor of their own. Sometimes no. At any rate, we really like to have the ship at least come aboard and observe the volume measurements before and after we transfer fuel, to be sure there's no claims of tomfoolery. This helps. We also DO NOT NEGOTIATE. The volume is the volume, and is documented as such, and claims of an error are made through a formalized documentation system that ensures that should a volume disparity be grave enough, both sides can engage in legal mediation to discuss the matter and come up with a solution. This is thankfully far over my head, but I'm very fond of doing things the right way and keeping my ass from hanging in the breeze.

         So, once an engineer has unzipped and whipped out his street theatre cred and claim a volume discrepancy, I can pretty much predict how it will go.

 1) How much you give me?
 2) I missing x tons.
3) You give me more?
4) Oh, OK. You write (1/2x) on BDR, OK? 
5). OK.
                20 Minutes  Later..
6). OK, Thank You. No, no need. Bye Bye.

 That's about average. Now, from my end, it's

1) I show y tons, the number on the BDR.
2) OK. Chief, the volume is measured from my tanks, and is correct from my end. I realize you might need to recheck your tanks. You can come measure mine if you want again.
3) No, I'm empty. I can't give you more.
4) No. Is this your first visit here to the US? We don't negotiate, Chief. The volume is the volume.
5) Please give me a Letter of Protest showing the difference, and I will sign it for you.
6) No Letter of Protest? OK. Have a save voyage.

   That's about it. At this point, I don't see any return on being upset by the whole thing. It's impersonal. I used to get pretty upset about being accused of being a thief or a liar, but that's not what's happening. It's automatic, like pulling your hand off a hot stove- the signal doesn't even go all the way to the brain.

   At any rate, 90% of the time, there's no additional paperwork involved. Periodically, and especially with Indian/Pakistani engineers, they will go full Kabuki and engage in a waiting game and throw paperwork at me, which I duly sign. Sometimes they actually do see a difference between what I gave them and what they believe they received. Often enough it's a math error or an observer error, when it happens, in which case I really am sympathetic. That's easy enough and not always easy to find when it happens. For the most part, it's just a pro forma procedure; I don't have to like it, but I do have to deal with it. On the upside, after a few visits, it stops.