This ship has a 12h watch system: 0600 to 1800, 1800 to 0600. The crew of 35 are on 6 weeks, off 6.
A front watch gets the sun. A back watch gets no sun–and no Captain down their backs.
This offshore tug has the luxury of a 3-watch system (the benefit of any voyage more than 600 nm): 4 on-8 off, 8 on-4 off. Their breakdown is 0600-1000-1400-1800. “We do it this way so whoever cooks does not end up with the pots.”
You were on watch to see the sun rising, the smell of breakfast is cooking, the engine is loud, someone is hammering: it is time to go to bed.
I am not going to touch the fatigue issue on boats. However, I will direct you to some fascinating sites. The Nautical Institute urges mariners to report issues relating to fatigue as part of their database.
Peruse the USCG’s Crew Endurance Management literature. Reactions to it are on Towmasters and by NYTugmasters, with links to studies on the matter. Good reading on the experiences are found on Kennebec Captain and on Old Salt Shaker’s ‘rest in pieces’, ‘inhuman error’, and ‘groundhog day’.
So, don’t request a tug to blow their horn as they go by: there is always someone trying to sleep. They fight constant noise, vibration, light, motion, odors; are interrupted by drills — I just cannot imagine it. As one chief mate puts it: “…bear in mind that we work aboard vessels that are essentially designed to collide with things…”
One offshore tug chief mate said, “I don’t know how harbor guys do it. I had to do it for 2 weeks, and at the end, I couldn’t remember my name.”
Another mate wrote: “It was a 2-watch system (captain, mate, two deckhands and an engineer) until the economy fell apart – and then most ship assist tugs went to “singled-up” crews (captain, engineer, and deckhand) – don’t ask how they complied with work and fatigue…!”
Knowing all this, though, it still might help to take the advice of one well-meaning journalist girlfriend should you attempt to date someone who goes to sea/incommunicado for weeks at a time:
thank you Julie, Will, Jed, Robert, Wesley and O, Linked Ones!
Vessel Traffic Service announced on VHF 13 that all tugs and barges longer than 400′ may not meet or overtake other vessels in the KV. Curious, I called VTS (718.354.4088).
“Yes. No meeting, no passing from KV buoy 1 to KV buoy 5 for all vessels longer than 400′ and deep draft vessels.” The three buoys have been moved 600′ to the north of their original positions last week, and it became mandatory for large vessels to observe one-way traffic until further notice.
The Kill van Kull was once at a natural depth of 15-18′, and home to rich beds of oysters, clams, and fishes, surrounded by salt marshlands. Today, dredged to 50′ below mean low water, it is a major shipping channel, making it possible to bring in imported goods, cars, fuel, chemicals, orange juice, and to ship out our recyclables.
The Army Corps of Engineers, with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, has been working on the Harbor Deepening Project since the 1980’s. They have had to contend with a bottom made of soft and stiff clays, red shale, serpentine rock, glacial till, and granite. Different kinds of dredges are used for the different materials.
What is happening now is quite special: We’re in the final deepening phase off St. George, the dredgers have encountered bedrock, and a unique use of equipment is at play (oh, I mean ‘work’)…
“That cutter-head begs to serve as inspiration for a horror movie.” – Tugster
The hydraulic dredge, the Illinois was described by Bill as a “floating factory;” it is huge.
Hydraulic dredges usually use a cutting head to dislodge the sediment which is immediately suctioned and pumped through a pipeline to an offsite settling area, often several thousand feet away.
However, working boats in the area have noticed an absence of the pipeline. If there is no dredge spoil, then there must be no dredging. That cutter-head seems to be drilling away at pure bedrock (instead of blasting). Dredge 54 comes along behind it to dig it up. A support barge is there to replace the hard teeth on the cutter head.
What has been the observed result of the dredging of NYHarbor?
° Working mariners have noticed that the current has increased, and that high and low tides have been affected. Those Eldridge tide predictions are no longer accurate in places.
° Docking seems to be more dangerous, but if you dock only at slackwater, you might have several hours to wait, which would cost more money.
Tugster, who caught amazing photos of the machines and vessels at work, poses two questions:
1. what would happen if dredging activities ceased? Not sure how fast it fills in here, but several points along the east side of North River silt in as quickly as about 2′ a year. The way things are set up now, our harbor cannot afford not to dredge. (And, dredging is expensive! that’s fine if your project enjoys federal, state, or city funding, but what if you are a mom&pop little shipyard? you are between bedrock and a hard place: you cannot afford to dredge, but you cannot afford not to!)
…alternatively, if we stopped dredging, the kill would become a kill again (creek in dutch), oysters, clams and mussels would be sold alongside hotdogs, and you’d have to take a train to Baltimore to get those plastic lawn chairs.
2. “How come the mainstream media pays no attention to these activities?” Really cannot fathom, because it is fascinating. Go and look for yourself: the very best deal of the harbor, the Staten Island Ferries, will take you past the dredging site–for free!
Thank you, Bill & Will!
Oops, this just in: Tugster reports that the Illinois is not there anymore. I’m very sorry, they were never vigilant about their AIS.
You will still see the Dredge 54, but this is how the Illinois looked from one of Tugster’s photos:
Michelle Jeanne sent the txt: Traffic (VHF channel 13) reported a humpback whale at Craven Shoals, 9 apr 0822.
Protected by a ring of coast guard and police boats, the whale cut safely across the Ambrose Channel and popped up by the excavator dredge J.P. Boisseau and tugs Thomas Witte and Meagan Ann while they were working at Rockaway Inlet.
Capt. Anthony of the dredge Michigan caught a photo of the popular visitor. The consensus: it was big, even though this one was only 30′. Humpback whales can reach 50′.
photograph by Anthony LoPresti
The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation requests that should you spot a marine mammal (whale, dolphin, seal) or sea turtle, please call their 24-Hour Stranding Hotline: 631-369-9829, so their biologists can track them.
However, Right Whales, of which there are 300 left by NOAA’s estimation, is protected by federal law, and must be given a berth of 500 yards. A mandatory ship reporting system for North Atlantic Right Whales exists, and the information can be found in this link.
Thanks–in chronological order of events–Bill, Charlie, Tom and Anthony!