Friday, May 22, 2015

deep thoughts

Click photo to embiggen

        We're transferring mad diesel oil here at the 'Q, as a side-effect of the rapid expansion of ECA (Environmental Control Areas)'s that happened on Jan 1 of this year. Essentially, sulfur-laden heavy fuel oils that power ships have been restricted to use on the high seas in most areas now, and the cost of stripping heavy fuels of the sulfur content is about in line with the cost of diesel oil, so the cleaner-burning diesel, which also has the virtue of providing faster throttle response to the house-sized engines in many ships, is a viable, if pricey option when it comes to how you get from the deep blue sea to alongside the dock.

   The 'Q is now approaching maturity for her class. The new bunker barges that are coming out are compliant with always-evolving construction regulations brought about by the US Coast Guard in the name of keeping the Coast Guard in control of jobs that other nations relegate to private interests safety. The new barges are Swiss army knives, able to do more, but the HQ, in my opinion, is a Greyhound- less versatile, but more able within her purview.
   The one thing that strikes me in this photo is how open my decks are up forward. There's less steel projecting above deck, which means less rust and fewer things to trip and fall over- and let me tell you, there are damn few days where someone doesn't stumble while walking around any working boat out there. It's also why the HQ looks so damn good and surprises folks when we talk about her approaching 8 years in service. Well, that and my fetish for painting.
  Honest, I love painting. It relaxes me. I like being able to turn my brain on standby and lose myself in the work. There's a zen there, which makes the month of grinding though cargo much more tolerable.
    Painting season is well ahead of schedule, which scares me. The old HQ went from looking like a Pakistani hospice to a Cadillac in the 18 months I had her. The interior had custom cabinetry, a tasteful paint scheme, brass everywhere and potted plants hung. It looked like a home. As soon as we were wrapping up the massive project of beautifying and undoing 5 years of benign neglect, the old HQ got taken away, and the current HQ, which was in a similar state of looking like she had some city miles on her, was given to us.
   We haven't modified the interior of the current HQ. Bad juju. They might take her away or break up the band if we do. We're superstitious now. Plus, I hate the idea that some filthy caveman will be able to enjoy the fruits of our labor and let the whole operation go to shit while they sit on their asses and be allergic to the pride of taking part in proper seamanship. A shitty-looking boat is either the result of a shitty owner or a shitty captain. My employer likes handing out paint, so there's no blame there. We're not oceangoing, so there's no problem with having an inch-thick layer of dried salt everywhere, either. I'm not pointing fingers here, except that there's a subclass of tankermen out there who are pretty gross human beings. This is endemic to merchant mariners in general. One time I threw a chicken wing in a shipmates' bed and he didn't notice for 4 days.

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