Saturday, November 27, 2010

cheat day

So I'm sitting at my desk on a saturday morning, and I've got the house to myself. My wife and boy are at an all-day church-related affair, and I am catching up on bills and paperwork, and also eating cold pizza and drinking full-strength, sugared soda. And it's good. Basically, I'm having salt, sugar, cholesterol, and probably some nitrates, triglycerides and what have you, too. Can't remember the last time I ate this badly, but it's been a long while. And it's mighty nice. I'll probably spend the next three days curled up in a ball next to the toilet, but whatever.

I'm home for an abbreviated time, however. Much has happened in the past 10 days. I stayed on an extra week at work, because the wedding of the year is happening just a few days after I was due back. So, I arranged for a relief, and managed to score a fill-in job up in New York harbor to jog my schedule into alignment with my plans.
Well, plans change. Looks like I was a hit in New York, because I am apparently transferring up there some time next month. We'll have to see what that entails, I guess. For now, however, I'm thinking no further ahead than this afternoon, when I plan on warming a bar seat with my butt for a while and spend some time with friends.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bad bunker design: cruise ships

My coworkers and I trade scuttlebutt, like any sailors do when there's more than one of us in a room. Among the usual conversation among the black oil set is the subject of what a particular misery cruise ships are to tie up to.

Slab-sided ships like cruise ships and Pure Car/Truck Carriers use recessed bitts to allow for transit through the Panama Canal, where guide wires can be fastened to the hull to guide her through the canal locks. As such, they're placed for use by the mules, the little trains that guide the ships through the canal. They look like this:

These recessed bitts are not placed, however, for use by bunkering barges. They can be used for such, thankfully, but they're placed for canal transit, not for bunkering use. The ability to employ these mooring points is coincidental to bunkering.
Now, these types of ships usually have to take fuel oil through a watertight door or recessed area in the side of the hull above the waterline. Generally speaking, both PCTC's and cruise ships are a pure misery to securely tie a smaller vessel to. One has to pass up a bow line and fall back on it... a long damn way, half a cable, sometimes, in order to line up a bunker barge to pass up a fuel hose. Then, hopefully, there are one or two recessed bitts (but never three!) that can be used to get some spring and breasting lines to the barge. Hopefully. Sometimes not. And finally, one can hope and pray to be in the neighborhood of the stern of the vessel so that a stern line can be passed up, and one can hope and pray that there will be some way to fairlead the line to hold the stern of the barge in.

You can see that there is a lot of hoping and praying involved in getting this sort of job set up. Some ships, like the Queen Mary II, just aren't set up very well at all for bunkering. The QMII, in fact, is downright nightmarish.

Nary a chock or bitt to be seen. In fact, it's possible to get a bow line, and then there's a small recessed bitt just aft of the bunkering port... and that's all there is to get a bunker barge or self-propelled bunker tanker moored alongside. Well, we don't have self-propelled bunker tankers here in the US, and they being generally much longer than the American Tug/Barge combo that is the norm here, there's no way to get an effective stern or after breasting line between the ship and barge. What this means is that of the maybe four lines that a barge can use, there's little protection from surge, should, say, a Staten Island Ferry blast by at high speed, pulling the barge off the QMII as she surges by. This can create something of a stressful situation, and exposes all parties to less-than-idyllic conditions.
As I've mentioned in my other entries on this subject, it boggles the mind that to date, most new ships aren't built with bunkering in mind as part of the design. Granted, it's a subacute issue; no one's going to not charter a ship based on the fact that it's an assache to bunker up once a month. And in all honesty, a small loss, in terms of manpower and efficiency, I suppose. BUT, over the course of a long lifespan, a few hours' loss take a long time to add up. One catastrophic loss, even, might not be enough to make anyone change their thinking- say, having a bunker barge get ripped off her moorings and a 6" fuel hose at 60psi torn apart, spraying oil for a good 30 seconds or so. That's certainly enough to get national attention here in the US. In the rest of the world, where such things do happen periodically, it's not such a big deal. Nonetheless, more than some seagulls will pay the price when this does happen here. I'd imagine that the QMII is safe, merely because it IS so difficult to tie up to. It's an attention-getter that screams for extra lines and hyper-vigilance. PCTC's on the other hand, are more businesslike, and familiarity can breed complacence in mooring up to them. Other than New York, the major cruise ship ports can quietly handle a bunkering mishap. BUT, New York is a popular cruise ship port, too. For the cost of just one extra recessed bitt in the neighborhood of the bunkering port, a lot of potential liability can be reduced.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Invasion

I am in New York, working for an extra week. It's busy here!


For those that don't know about history ... Here is a condensed version:

Humans originally existed as members of small bands of nomadic hunters/gatherers.
They lived on deer in the mountains during the summer and would go to the coast and live on fish and lobster in the winter.

The two most important events in all of history were the invention of beer
and the invention of the wheel. The wheel was invented to get man to the beer. These were the foundation of modern civilization and together were the catalyst for the splitting of humanity into two distinct subgroups:

1 . Liberals

2. Conservatives.

Once beer
was discovered, it required grain and that was the beginning of agriculture. Neither the glass bottle nor aluminum can were invented yet, so while our early humans were sitting around waiting for them to be invented, they just stayed close to the brewery. That's how villages were formed.

Some men spent their days tracking and killing animals to BBQ at night
while they were drinking beer. This was the beginning of what is known as the Conservative movement...

Other men
who were weaker and less skilled at hunting learned to live off the conservatives by showing up for the nightly BBQ's and doing the sewing, fetching, and hair dressing. This was the beginning of the Liberal movement.

Some of these liberal men eventually evolved into women. They became known as girlie-men.
Some noteworthy liberal achievements include the domestication of cats, the invention of group therapy, group hugs, and the concept of Democratic voting to decide how to divide the meat and beer that conservatives provided.

Over the years conservatives came to be symbolized by the largest, most powerful land animal on earth, the elephant.
Liberals are symbolized by the jackass for obvious reasons.

Modern liberals like imported beer (with lime added), but most prefer white wine
or imported bottled water. They eat raw fish

but like their beef well done. Sushi, tofu, and French food are standard

liberal fare.. Another interesting evolutionary side note: most of their women have higher testosterone levels than their men. Most social workers, personal injury attorneys, journalists, dreamers

in Hollywood and group therapists are liberals. Liberals invented the designated hitter rule because it wasn't fair to make the pitcher also bat.

Conservatives drink domestic beer,
mostly Bud or Miller. They eat red meat and still provide for their women. Conservatives are big game hunters, rodeo cowboys, lumberjacks, construction workers, firemen, medical doctors, police officers, engineers, corporate executives,
athletes, members of the military, airline pilots and generally anyone who works productively.

Conservatives who own companies hire other conservatives who want to work for a living.

Liberals produce little or nothing. They like to govern the producers

and decide what to do with the production. Liberals believe Europeans

are more enlightened than Americans. That is why most of the liberals

remained in Europe when conservatives were coming to America . They crept in after the Wild West was tamed and created a
business of trying to get more for nothing.

Here ends today's lesson in world history:

It should be noted that a Liberal may have a momentary urge to

angrily respond to the above before forwarding it.

A Conservative will simply laugh and be so convinced of the absolute

truth of this history that it will be forwarded immediately to other true

believers and to more liberals just to piss them off.B