So, this week we took on a new trainee barge mate. I am wrapping up his training, and if all goes well, in less than a week, he'll be 'released' to work on his own, unsupervised.
Poor Scott isn't from the Northeast. He's from Corpus Christi, TX, and has been working in places like Iraq and on the Mexican border these past few years.
Well, last night we sailed from Philadelphia to Baltimore, via the Chesapeake & Delaware canal. Gale force winds, but minimal fetch (distance of open water for waves to build). Lots of flying spray, and damn, it was cold. Once we were through the relatively narrow C&D canal, we got hung out on the tow wire, and spent a relatively peaceful 7 hours being towed.
I woke up an hour early to break ice, and Scott joined me. The foredeck of my barge was a sheet of ice, and all the lines and shackles needed to haul in the towing gear were buried under a 2-inch thick ice pack, frozen solid. So it goes. We spent the hour working up a sweat, eventually breaking free most of what we needed to work. I only fell once.
There is little in the world more frustrating that having to work with frozen rope. It just doesn't want to bend, knot or unknot. Putting rope on a capstan to heave up is even less fulfilling. It's icy. Ice is slippery. You get the idea, and chances are, if you're reading this, you've dealt with this.
Anyhow, courtesy of a 130-degree heated cargo, there wasn't much ice on deck, but we do have the foredeck which is now loaded with rime ice, and, in the 36-degree heat of the day, things are moving the way I like, from icy to ice-free. In the meanwhile, Scott got to shovel ice for the first time (!) and I got to enjoy a beautiful sunrise.