Saturday, September 14, 2019

making stuff

With just a few days to go before heading back to the HQ, today was my last day of goofing off in my shop. Next time I go in there, I'll be tidying up in preparation for heading back to work.

 I didn't buy much new wood this time, and in fact I cut down or used a a good bit of my cutoffs, stock that doesn't have much use. I made a couple of charcuterie boards

 And also a wooden flag made up of the last of my 1x2 castoffs.

 Carving those 50 stars was a royal whore for me, and I don't love the waving lines, but I wanted to try freehand carving with a dremel tool, rather than picking at it with a chisel, which, given the low-quality of the soft pine, wouldn't have worked out. Still, it was a fun project, and the boards were a good lesson on what my bandsaw can and can't do- I snapped 2 blades putting too much lateral force on the work, and since I'm working with walnut and rock maple, it's just too much for my little bandsaw. Luckily, the dings weren't too bad, and some superglue loaded with sawdust hid the scuffmarks pretty good in the joins.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Catching up

I've been home for 10 days already. Hard to believe. The first week was a matter mostly of hurricane prep and then restoring the place to normal. We got a glancing blow that did no damage to the B homestead beyond being physically draining. Very, very grateful. After the hurricane passed, the heat and humidity went back to early-July levels, where it's been staying, so doing much of anything outdoors has been deeply trying. I've been swimming a lot, which is an exception. Great swimming weather.

       Today is really my first day to myself where I don't have a big list of shit I have to get done before I get to do the things I want to do. I'm going to be cutting some expensive wood up, the last of my good maple and walnut, which is really just a couple of  3x6x8 rough cut lumber that'll have to be planed down and shaped to make my next little project, a charcuterie board in a drunken curved pattern, one of my favorite cuts. The leftovers, I dunno what I'll do. Maybe make some boxes or something. I have the pine stock to make a wooden American flag on hand, which is going as a gift to a disabled vet I know, also. Having 3 weeks off is awesome, although I sure do miss the paycheck I won't be getting this week.

          I took an extra week off last fall to care for Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife after she had abdominal surgery, which was a lot of work requiring near 24h effort for all 3 weeks. This is way better. I'm pretty beat, though. Since I'm not at work, I'm trying to take advantage of every extra minute I can. Soon enough I'll be back at the grind.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

buttoned up

Well, Castle B is all shuttered and ready for come what may, as best we can be, anyhow. My preps were more or less ready on day 1 of hurricane season, so I have a week's worth of water for everyone, not to mention plenty of beer, booze, ice and other critical supplies. Hurricane Dorian is a category 5 at the moment, just a beast.
 It's not healthful to drink whisky in high temps and high humidity, so I have enough ice blocks to keep my fridge and freezer happy for 4-5 days, plus about 10-15lbs of ice cubes. You know, the important stuff.

      So, having spent thousands of dollars I didn't have to buy hurricane panel shutters earlier this summer turned out to be wicked smaht after all. In the end, I put up just over half of them, and managed to get heat exhaustion AGAIN, second time this summer, and retreated inside to have a good barf and a cool shower. I got gouged pretty hard by a local contractor who put up the remainder of my shutters for cash on the barrel, but it seemed like a good idea. I have a SHIT TON of windows, and many of them are on the second floor. I was useless for the rest of the day, and helped Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife clear the patio furniture and the like, shit that didn't require being in the sun too much.

    Yesterday I was back at it, helping a neighbor with a similar house to mine. Single dad, so he definitely needed the help. I got roasted again, but since I wasn't up a ladder or anything, I made it through OK.

 I learned a lot from judging the state of things around where I live. Gas and bottled water become impossible to get early on. I was lucky enough to spot a gas tanker truck at a local station and was only like #9 in line for the pumps, so I was able to top my tank, which was only like $10, but still, who knows when there'd be another chance.

 So, guns are clean and clear, and we're enjoying the last day of nice weather. I have a couple of little jobs to do today, putting up the shutters over the french doors at the back of the house, so I will have to say goodbye to the sun for a while, but so it goes.

 Weatherwise, it looks like we caught a break and it went from a projected direct hit to a glancing blow. If the forecast is right, we shouldn't see too much over 70kt winds, which is enough to fuck things up a bit, but a hell of a lot better than the 140mph they were predicting 48 hours ago. I hope it is so, but if it isn't there isn't much I can do differently.

     As has been pointed out, it is a super dick move to pray that some other poor bastard take the hit and I be spared, but if it pans out like that I will be relieved of course for my own sake, and I do hope that there will be minimal impact to all. I didn't pray for anything like that, and yet I'd probably still feel guilty anyhow.

          As often happens in a crisis, I've been getting to know my neighbors more here in my new neighborhood. Super nice folks.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

broken voyage

Dammit. Gotta break this trip a week early. Head back home to shutter the house. Doesn't look like much of a storm, but I have an awful lot of windows and trees right near the windows.


Thursday, August 22, 2019

Midway day

Well, yesterday was halfway day on this tour, and we're well and truly in the doldrums here aboard the HQ. Routine AF. Boring is good, and this is true. But boring is also boring. Nothing too exciting.

Monday, August 19, 2019

light days

Not much has gone right in the past 48 hours, but I have a watch off, so I'm going to enjoy it by watching boatbuilding videos and doing minimal work-related work.

 If you came here from Peter Grant's page, welcome! I don't always tell stories that turn the stomach, and I don't normally have an absolutely awful job. Some days are just... shitty. So to speak.

 We bunkered an absolutely massive CMA-CGM container ship a few days ago, one of the largest vessels to ever call on New York. Between my deck height and my crane height, I was reaching 75 feet in the air, and I could only reach about 2 feet under their lowest deck. Just an absolute beast, but the crew was amazing. So fast and responsive. Makes a huge difference in our workflow.

...and then we did another CMA-CGM ship last night and it was just rage-inducing. Crew were a soggy bag of smashed assholes.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Code Brown on board

We had a Code Brown emergency on board the HQ last weekend. It's been  a busy week, and between our schedule and the recovery time needed, today was my first real chance to write about it.

    Hiding behind technobabble, we had an explosive loss of containment in the Marine Sanitation device. Put simply, the shit tank blew up REALLY energetically in a confined space.

 How bad was it? There was shrapnel (crapnel? Heh.) out to about 25 ft, and as the MSD is located in a void space underdeck, and that space runs the full width and full depth of the HQ. So, it's 50 by 20 by 20, with closely spaced framing running across all surfaces. Framing that traps liquids and solids to a depth of about 6 inches.

 So, the shit tank blew out, unfortunately more or less straight up, and put simply, it contaminated the entire compartment.

 I won't lie. I considered sealing the compartment, putting in my notice and finding new employment, but there wasn't much to do but fix the problem.  We had to wait 24 hours to get time and space and the equipment necessary to handle it.  When it was time, we docked at company HQ on a sunny, hot and humid day.
      The technical part, causing the failure, was that an air regulator (MSD's are made to break down the poop a bit using bacterial colonies, so they need air, like a really really awful aquarium) failed, so the tank got...impacted. a Blivvy, in other words.
  Before the engineers could come at the problem, though, we had to set up ventilation, using big air horns under compressed air to blow out the space and test the air. After just an hour, the compartment registered perfectly safe.

 So, me being unwilling to pass such an awful task to anyone else, I took a solo adventure into the compartment with a high-pressure garden hose and fresh water. No fire hoses for this sort of work. Too much risk of blowback. I put on a Tyvek suit, rubber boots and rubber gloves duct taped to the suit, a bandanna over my head, goggles and a respirator.

 And I went down into that 100+ degree dark and drippy hell to the first platform, 10 feet down, opened up the MSD fully, (protip, don't look in the tank. Pretty sure my hair is gonna come in all white now), and fired up the hose, flushing down everything from overhead, the bulkheads, and the grating, down to the bilge. While I was doing this  a vacuum truck came in, with a septic tank crew, and put a hose in the bottom of the compartment.
 I then lifted the planks separating the platform deck from the tank tops at the bottom and crawled down another 10 feet below into the darkness.

Dodging the water droplets still falling from above, I cleaned up that space, and it took an hour. By the end I was overheated and gasping for air, and just as I finished, the air meter clipped to my suit zipper went off- stirring the shit displaced enough oxygen that it was time to go anyhow. So I headed up, and felt poorly for a while, with minor heat exhaustion and having been breathing mephitic, slightly oxygen poor air for so long.
 After about 30 minutes, a half-gallon of water and pouring the sweat out of my boots, I went down with a case of bleach, and sanitized the compartment, then rinsed and vacuumed it out with the hose from the honey wagon on the dock. Took about 45 minutes. Then repeat with a 5 gallon bucket of powerful concentrated soap. And rinse. Only THEN could I approach the MSD and vacuum out the... contents, then rinse, sanitize and rinse again. At that point the engineers came in and fixed the actual problem, and I was so overheated and ill that I jumped in the shower and sat in a chair for an hour, feeling poorly, drinking water slowly.

 It was hell. But OTOH, we have a shiny happy crapper tank, so we can do our business in a businesslike manner again, I guess.
 I threw away everything I was wearing, right down to my socks and drawers. It all went into a bucket, and after my shower, I put on gloves, closed the bucket, put it into a heavy plastic bag, and that went to the dumpster. At that point I was done. Our shoreside staff didn't ask any more out of me, which is good, as I was done in a literal sense. It took almost 2 days before I felt 100%. Getting older, getting heat-sick is not so easy to snap back from.