Tuesday, May 12, 2015

stars align...

My employer leases access rights to a mooring buoy in one of New York Harbor's anchorages. This is good, as we've got more vessels than we do berths to put them. There's a 300-foot barge on the mooring line itself, and we can come along on either side and lash ourselves to that barge and just hang out.

   It's not that much fun, though.
        First, amazingly, being within a mile or two of the Statue of Liberty, the Verrezano Narrows bridge, the Staten Island Ferry Terminal and basically all of Manhattan, there's no fucking cell phone reception.

 Seriously, we're essentially in the heart of New York, and I can't make phone calls and stay online for shit. So that sucks.
 Second, the damn Staten Island ferry boats run by every 10 minutes or so, a lot closer than they really need to, and wake the shit out of us, making all the barges smash off each other and occasionally snapping mooring lines that can comfortably hold a frigging WWII battleship.

 So it goes. On the upside, if we're here, it means we're not working, so the mooring buoy is a place to rest, do maintenance and prep for the next job, all wholly positive things.

 Between traffic, a surprisingly strong current and occasional windy days, it's not uncommon for it to be challenging to get alongside the mooring barge. Often, we'll get one  two lines on the bow, then throw a heaving line at the stern to winch us alongside. If there's no one to catch the heaving line, or if the guy throwing screws up, some non-NY homeported mariners will 'chase the buoy', spinning the entire mooring flotilla in circles like a dog going after it's own tail, trying to get the stern of a barge alongside the stern of the mooring barge. Often too, this results in the actual mooring buoy (a steel cylinder about the size of a minivan) getting run right over by one of the barges, which sounds basically like the apocalypse, and pounds the hell out of the barge in question, causing panting in the shell plating, where the spaces between frames get scalloped inwards.

 So it goes. 's why tugboat operators get paid pretty well. It's a high-stress job.

 At any rate, today the wind was 90 degrees to the current, which meant that when we came alongside the mooring barge, the wind shoved us right against her and held us there, and the current was at max flood, so the mooring barge did NOT want to spin. It was one of the easiest tie-ups we ever had. Maybe 3 minutes from first line to all fast.

 I wish they could all be like that.

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