Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ship Stability and Construction

How do they stack 1500 containers onto a ship and send it out into the ocean and maintain positive buoyancy? Well, that's what we've been learning at PMI this week. Monday we refreshed on basic ship construction nomenclature: strakes, stringers, camber, flare, web frames, racking stresses, mangers, breast hooks, stealer plates, wildcats, hawsepipes and gypsy heads.... To name a few. Then we took an exam and moved on to the nuts and bolt of this class... Stability.

Stability is about keeping a ship/boat afloat and evenly loaded. We learned specifics about center of gravity, center of buoyancy, metacentric height, reserve buoyancy and other extremely crucial factors that keep a boat or ship from sinking or flipping over. We also learned how to crunch numbers and distribute weight (cargo, fuels, ballast, stores) evenly in order to maintain positive, stable stability.

Here's a video example of numbers that weren't crunched correctly...


Our Instructor, Capt. William George, wrote the book on Stability... Literally, and he knows his stuff!

It takes quite a bit of patience, a good calculator and precise pencil-point accuracy to achieve good results. We take our final exam tomorrow and we can shelve this topic for a while.

I can't say that I'm ready to go out and start loading a ship, far from it, but at least I have a better understanding of the principles and ideas behind how it's done. The men and women who run cargo plans and figure this stuff out are pretty amazing. They keep our boats upright, our sailors safe and dry, and our loads intact.

Next week, it's "Emergency Procedures" and "Search and Rescue"..

I'll be shipping out on Friday for an " Anchorage Run" and gone for 3 weeks or so. Should be interesting as the weather up north is turning "winter". If I get time next week, I'll do a little recap on the week before I head up to the boat in Everett.



Saturday, October 12, 2013

Radar and Security

I just wrapped up 2 more weeks of training at PMI and am home for a 3-day weekend. The first week at school was a class/certification for Vessel Security Officer and a one-day class on general leadership. Week 2 was five days on Radar for our "Radar Observer Unlimited" certification. Having been a radar operator in the Navy, I wasn't too concerned about the practical aspect of this class, but the theory part of the course, which includes theory, bandwidths, pulse lengths, beam widths, etc, somewhat caught me off-gaurd. I managed to keep up, but it required a little more focus than I thought. All said and done, the class was good and I feel like I'm fairly proficient at any and all radar plotting and operation.

We spend a majority of the week calculating the closest point of approach and real course and speed of radar contacts, using a large plot called a Radar plotting sheet, or a maneuvering board. We also spent a fair amount of time taking bearings and ranges to fixed objects for general navigation.

We received our certificates for Radar and Security, and next week we move into ARPA, which is Automatic Radar Plotting Aids. ARPA is the feature that will essentially track your contacts for you on the radar and give you real courses and speeds, therefore eliminating the need to plot the contacts. Not all boats are equipped with ARPA, so we still need to have a full grasp in the plotting aspect of radar operations to determine that data manually.

Here's a few pics from class....

Plotting bearings and contacts
Radar Lab: Photo courtesy: Jared Wendell
The info we must attain


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Workboat Academy: Academic Session #3

After two weeks home, I packed up and headed north again. Before coming up, we had an epic week of cleaning out our storage unit and selling off a bunch of stuff that was taking up space. I also decided to sell my mountain bike, which hadn't got much use this year. This school thing is about making good on a career path that will let me "be somebody" before retirement comes, so sacrifices have to be made and the mountain bike had to go. School isn't cheap and the extra funds from miscellaneous things that I don't have time for, come in really handy. Once school is done, I'll have more time to ride my bike and can build up another.

At any rate, I'm here in Seattle digs, renting a room from a friend of a friend. My accommodations are awesome and I'm fortunate to have made this connection. The person I rent from is down to earth and his kids are cool as well. They remind me of my kids in many ways.

This is week one of a 5-week session. This week we are learning about Vessel and Port Security in the "Vessel Security Officer" module. Friday is "Leadership" and then we move onto Radar, Radar Plotting Aids, Search and Rescue, Construction and Stability and Emergency Procedures. This is one of the longer sessions, but at least it's a bunch of smaller, simpler topics. Our class is combined with about 10 other mariners from various backgrounds and jobs. We have salty captains and newer deckhands who are all in need of this certification class for some reason or another. It's fun hearing various stories from other parts of the world and industry.


Today, we discussed vessel security, bag searches, bombs, terrorism and other fun things that pertain to boats in today's world. We did some mock security checkpoints and discussed how someone might be able to "pull a fast one" on you in an attempt to smuggle contraband or weapons aboard your vessel. Once the class is over, we will be awarded the Vessel Security Officer Certificate, which isn't required for the Mate program, but essentially adds a nice piece of marketability to our résumé.

So far, the Pacific Northwest in the fall is everything that its cracked up to be. It has rained off and on since my drive up, but its not terrible cold. I don't mind it so much, but I'm sure after a few more weeks of this I'll be ready to head south. I'm looking forward to getting out this weekend to explore, or do some hiking. I'm assuming that its going to be too wet for riding, and I'm kinda itchin to hike anyhow.

I posted up a few older posts that apparently never made their way onto the site.. One of my classmates told me that they ran across a shipmate out there that follows my blog and was bummed that I hadn't posted anything in awhile, so I decided to sit and update. So, whoever you are, I apologize and I'll try to keep up on a regular basis. :-)

Off to study!