Monday, December 27, 2010
It only took about 5 years, but the Yankee winter finally followed me to Virginia! All is fine here - but for those of you who've been wondering, here's my official report to the NHS leadership:
Gentlemen of the Board of Directors and NHS Leaders, On December 26 I implemented the Severe Weather Response Plan at the Dockyard to deal with heavy snow fall and high winds. Approximately 13" of snow and 35 knot winds were observed. This morning, conditions allow me to stand down the Severe Weather Response. Follow-up actions will continue as noted.
All boats and facilities are currently in good order and no damage was sustained. The following conditions were addressed during the response:
The cover of Monomoy No. 1 collects snow and begins to sag, putting a severe strain on the fittings and cover itself. This was addressed by removing the snow from the cover every other hour while the snow was falling.
The tarp tents covering Monomoy Nos. 2 and 3 did not collect much snow, thanks to the steep angle of the sides. The snow collecting near the bottom of the sides, however, posed a threat as the weight of the snow buildup acting on the sides caused the tarps to be placed under tension. This was addressed by sweeping the snow away from the edges every other hour while the snow was falling, an effort that continues at eight hour intervals due to blowing snow drifting at the bases.
The plastic covering on the lean-to attached to the rear of the framing bay held up well under the weight of the snow with no signs of the cover weakening or giving way. Snow buildup was removed as a preventative measure every six hours.
Due to the impassable or dangerous conditions on local roadways, I acted alone in executing these actions. However, a plan needs to be implemented in the future to provide constant attention to the boats and facilities in the event of my absence during future implementations of this plan. Additionally, lead time in implementing the response was about 6 hours, however no communication was sent out to local members seeking assistance nor announcing that the Severe Weather Plan was in effect, as the conditions of the roads did not permit safe travel to my assistance, nor was assistance absolutely required.
Respectfully submitted, WRK
I'm going back out to play with the dog in the snow and clear off my front sidewalk!
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
This weekend at the Dockyard, I'm still clearing up from Great Bridge and getting Monomoy No. 1 stowed for the winter. Some severe weather might keep me locked inside for a while, so standby for possible weekend updates!
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Merchant Mariners have higher professional training and licensing standards than the Navy. Hands down. My lowly third mate's license and 1-2 years of concentrated study at sea gave me a significant leg up, not only in ship handling and management but also in seagoing culture, that my USNA and NROTC colleagues didn't have. I subsequently qualified OOD and SWO much MUCH faster than people I truly believe to be my intellectual equals or betters. The Navy's belief in on-the-job training can only go so far.
The Merchant Marine doesn't seem to overburden its people with collateral duties that significantly detract from the time they spend doing their actual jobs in the shipboard environment. That's not to say damage control (DC) and force protection (FP), but mess cranking and visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) are two severe detractors.
And perhaps most importantly, Merchant Marine officers generally have no shortage of highly experienced professional mentors ready at hand. I have served under some great officers in the Navy, but very few that I didn't feel were somehow scrambling to get by. There was a certain cool professionalism in many of my Merchant Marine mentors, as if their years of experience had really given them great preparation to do their jobs well. I've seen that a few times in the Navy, but I don't feel that it is by any means prevalent.
A well regulated and governed Navy - any professional military organization for that matter -should embody three things:
- well prepared, flexible combat units that are equally capable of performance in routine and irregular conditions,
- efficient and self-sufficient sustainability and survivability in regular and combat operation, and
- a disciplined corps of professional personnel dedicated to preservation and exemplification of the previous two principles.
It seems to me that the Navy is giving up on all three principles when it considers proposals like this one. There was a time when our officers were well rounded seagoing professionals - at sea because they chose to be and not because it was the only career progression open to them in a bad economy. There was a time when our crews were composed of proud Sailors, each a technical expert in some realm of the operation of their command, and king of some small patch of deckplate because it had their name beside "POIC" (Petty Officer In Charge) on the bulkhead. We had great schools, bred fantastically efficient personnel who cared - deeply - about what they did. What happened?
I can't propose a solution to this that anyone might take seriously. But what I can say is that it is my sincere hope to take the best of what the Navy is and has been - including the legacy of pride in efficiency and readiness - and put it into NHS. Someday, we will build a world-class organization, even if it is very small. Our boats can and will be a hallmark of these traits, and show off in some small measure the pride we have in being Sailors.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
As we roll into the winter maintenance season, we're experiencing a great test of the "oh yeah, they're fine outdoors" principle of work to continue on all three Monomoy Pulling Boats. No. 1 is currently at home on her trailer, and there is no reason to expect she'll be shifted. The trailer itself is too wide to be shifted into the Framing Bay (aka my detached garage) and so she has few options other than living in the weather. As it is, she weathered last winter rather well, so I don't expect her to need a warmer home. Monomoys No. 2 and 3 spent the last year in an unheated hold of the Training Ship (T/S) Empire State VI, and so the cold there isn't much of a factor to their stability, but humidity and moisture is. There, I'm not entirely sure they'll be as fine as I hope resting outside under ventilated tarp tents. We have the option of moving one of them into the Framing Bay, but doing so severely restricts our available indoor shop space - as we saw with the Launch. And it still leaves the sister out in the weather.
And of course, just as important than the structural stability of our boats is the health, safety and comfort of the volunteers working on them. I received complaints about working in the cold weeks ago - long before the seriously biting cold - and I won't pretend I'm not concerned about driving them away with crappy working conditions.
So, what to do?
I've been thinking about heaters and the like - something that can temporarily heat the working areas to make them comfortable while work progresses. Kerosene outdoor heaters are available, and can be had at reasonable prices in used condition. Depending on how 'used' they are, we could make that a serviceable option. I am slightly concerned about having temperatures too warm, lest the wood in the boats dry too rapidly - or the cheap tarp covers begin to melt. We'll have to tread carefully on that one, and mitigate the effects as we go.
I've also been considering making detached work of various projects. If we can take pieces to heated facilities such as the Navy carpentry shop, isn't that better? It is a distinct possibility, but I know that the majority of work must take place in or near the boats. Frames, for instance, are bent most efficiently in the boats. But projects such as our stem and sternpost replacements can most certainly be shipped off somewhere else. In fact, we planned on making use of the better tools in the carpentry shop anyway.
All in all, I think we will have some bitter cold days where copious cursing and numb extremities prevail. But I hope that with some careful planning we can mitigate those frustrations as we go.
Or, as a last stopgap measure, we could just sacrifice the marines. They're used to freezing their tookasses off.
I remember a 19th century poem "Into my heart's treasury, I slipped a coin, that time cannot take nor a thief purloin. Oh, better than the minting of a gold crowned king, is the safe kept memory of a lovely thing!" For those who were fortunate enough to be at the camp fire sat evening, in the falling snow, you
can well understand! Good company, a falling snow and while outrageous lies and war stories were told some efforts at humor, feeble tho' they were, did bring laughs. All in all, an evening to be treasured. Apologies to all who missed this jewel of an evening!
It will certainly enter my memory as one of the great moments.
More about this past weekend's event as the official after action reports come in.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Preparations for Great Bridge this year are complete and this week we shift into execution mode, under the leadership of the Operational Commanders. This year we're being led once again by our esteemed Marine officer, Joe Sturiale, who for this event is summarily promoted to Captain to meet appropriate rank for registration numbers. He'll be joined by Lieutenant Glenn Atherton, who will command all forces afloat. Administratively speaking, a Navy lieutenant is equivalent to a Marine captain, but Mr. Sturiale is technically senior as his commission pre-dates that of Mr. Atherton. NHS ranks follow the seniority rules of their real life counterparts, afterall - which is the easiest and most natrual way to proceed considering that, in the case of Mr. Atherton at least, he holds the same rank in the real Navy.
I, on the other hand, might be a Navy lieutenant in real life, but for this event and many in the future, I'm living the dream as a petty officer. And I mean that in all seriousness - for me, there is nothing so stressful as being Dockyard Guru and rolling straight into operational command. Not fun. I much prefer to enjoy myself kicking back a bit and enjoying the freedom of subordination - where I can spend my spare time making trouble for the establishment. And at Great Bridge I fully anticipate concocting plenty of historically appropriate 'liberty incidents'.
I put liberty incidents in quotes because unlike the modern Navy, the Royal Navy in the 18th century specifically avoided what we think of as liberty at all costs. Rather they preferred to bottle up their crews aboard their ships in an effort to prevent desertion. These were top notch people, we're talking about. And the Americans were no different. For many many eons of naval history, letting your crew enjoy time off the ship near civilization of any kind was asking for mass casualties. Crews would desert, get into trouble, cause civil disturbances - much like today. The only difference as I see it is that we preempt the desertion factor and choose to man our ships well below their proper compliment - then call it 'optimal manning'. But I digest.
Why desert? I mean, think of it in a logical mindset - crews were fed reasonably well, paid regularly, clothed, got reasonable medical care (all of this by period standards). Why would they run? Well, a lot of that has to do with the means by which they got to that place. Many sailors came by way of the ever-dreaded press gang, though others did actually volunteer and others were forced to it by legal threats or angry husbands and fathers. The point is, very few people actually wanted to be there at the get-go.
Then take the standard psychology of the sailor - you're on a ship, in the middle of the deserted ocean for months on end, living within the confines of your wooden world while moving from here to there. Then you drop anchor in some harbor in a completely foreign land that looks incredible - after all, you've seen nothing but the ship for months - and you can't go ashore. The frustration is compounded by the fact that everywhere you go, bum boats ply their trade right alongside - everything from fresh fruit and trinkets to prostitutes. At the end of the day they return to the same mysterious and alluring shore that's beckoning you to visit. Ship food, accomodations and organization take their toll, even in modern times. It is not so unusual to think that the less reputable elements in a ships company - ahem, ALL of them - would try to escape at some point and seek their fortunes ashore.
What happened when sailors did make it ashore? Well I'd give you three guesses but you'd only need one. Generally speaking - the first instinct was probably to elude capture, followed a split second later by booze and women, in no particular order.
And what prevented them? Marines. There were other factors of course, but in the end I think the primary threat were marines. Those sub-human non-sailors who don't belong on ships, don't eat with us, don't bunk with us, won't give us the time of day. Damn we hate marines. They're just so... soldier-like.
Hint hint, lobsterbacks. Consider yourselves warned.
Current registration numbers are through the roof, though we should always expect some attrition. Right now everyone is topped out - marines are stopped to the cork at 11 privates and 1 sergeant; sailors are flooding out of the bottle at 3 petty officers, 16 able and ordinary seamen and 2 boys. Not all of these will be camping, and we're still tracking those figures down but all in all, we should have a very respectable showing, and consequently a great time. The irrascible Mr. Woodard is attending as Purser, so mess cranks: watch the scales carefully.
More to follow as we get closer and closer to showtime.NNNN
Monday, November 29, 2010
This is where, as you have probably anticipated, the plot thickens. I hadn't given it much thought but the gap in the scarf was in the middle of the joint, not the ends as you might expect if you were to force the pieces back and forth. Photo 1:
Yes, the stopwater hole is aligned. Unfortunately that's about the only thing. Well no - the bearding line (where the inside of the planking meets the stem, above in illustration 2). The rabbet is completely off - like nearly 3/8" off. I should also note that I had to cut off a chunk of the piece on the left - go back and see photo 1, you can see my saw cut (I put the piece back for the photo). On photo 2, the gap is clear - that big black wedge shaped void. And as my mind wandered, suddenly I saw it. The rabbet is not off. Somebody MADE it that way. Look again. Photo 3, a little closer view. A red arrow points to the smoking gun.SOMEONE and I'm not pointing fingers (at the idiots and assholes who may have repaired - or thought they were repairing this boat before me) but the rabbet was cut back to match the misaligned pieces! The photo doesn't do it justice - its more than apparent in the flesh. Wood flesh. Real life. Whatever. Bastards.
Okay. I'm onto something here. Clearly I've found the original orientation, and I'm getting farther afield from my index point - remember that's the stopwater hole - but the inner and outer curvature still eluded me. Look again at the parts aligned on the stopwater, from a distance. Photo 4:
Okay. Stepping back and looking at it, I realized that the answer was remarkably simple. Go back to Photo 1, and look at that checking in the wood of the lower part of the scarf. I'll wait.
The checking forced the wood to expand, forcing the lower right portion of the scarf to push to the right and throw the scarf out of alignment. The maintainers unknowingly just kept shovelling putty into the gap. When somebody got around to repairing the resulting sprung garboards (which explains the condition of those parts quite well) they had to chisel back the rabbet to make it fit. If I were to just carry the curve from the right piece onto the part of the left piece that isn't checked. And surprise surprise - its a fair curve. Look at Photo 4 again. It seems so obvious to me now. Elementary, my dear readers. Yeah right! Took me about three hours of heaving and hawing, adjusting, readjusting and playing with the batten.
Now I can proceed tomorrow with finishing up the pattern. Why didn't I do it tonight? I dunno - because I've been too busy BLOGGING about it. Oh well. Small victories.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
- framing up longitudinal supports under the 'flat' of her bilge, to transfer the weight of the boat off of the keel. These will be made up like the wall of a house, only in that the "header" will be curved around the hull. I expect quite a bit of shimming and wedging and lots of Dockyard S&M.
- Once the longitudinal supports are in place, the 'droop' of the sides should be pushed back into place. Of course, I will force the issue if needed. Fit beams transversely across her gunwales to prevent movement, then remove the thwarts and centerboard top.
- Proceed to remove keel bolts. This is going to be a bitch. Pardon my Anglo Saxon. But I like my dog so I'll take out all of my worldly frustration on those rust scaled ferrous pieces of vulcan excrement and drive them bloodily before me.
- IF all goes well with the bolts, the keelsens can then be removed. I fully expect to be disappointed with the condition of these as they come out - we found plenty of soft spots in the keelsens on No. 2. But once removed I should be able to use them to make templates - and if not, they'll be sacrificed on the pagan altar (fire pit).
- Removal of the keel means pulling the centerboard trunk with it. Hooray for two birds with one stone. Or two problems instead of one.
- Keel removed, a new one can be fabricated using the old one as a pattern. Once that's done, reinstall and get the mess fitted in the way of the centerboard trunk.
So plenty of work there. And while I don't expect to be able to get all of that done, I do hope to be able to get the first part accomplished - building the longitudinal exterior framing.
On No. 2 we have other issues. First, the stem still needs to be removed, and we haven't even touched the sternpost yet. Both show signs of rot, a great deal of cracking and other forms of horrible structural deterioration. Much of that work is done, but we are now learning that the gunwale, gunwale clamp, rub rails and sheer strakes need to come off. AND the garboard strakes - those wonderfully twisted planks that are fastened to high heaven - they still need more work to remove them as well. Oh what joy I have ahead of me! If time permits, I'll start tackling that as well. Once removed, we can make patterns from the original parts and attempt to fit them back into place.
Lots for me to do by myself this holiday weekend. But that's always when I seem to be most productive - when I work alone. If my energy permits, I will try to keep posting as the weekend progresses. I anticipate a rush of energy, time and some epic ninja boatbuilding and repair skill comminatcha!
To all - enjoy your Thanksgivings and rest up - we have a busy week ahead when Monday rolls around, and I suspect that nobody will be safe from the onslaught.