Behind the dam…

Well, it’s not exactly a dam, but rather a coffer dam, or a door, or the thing that holds back the Delaware River at the former Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Take a look at this photo:

The coffer dam of a graving dock at the former Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.

The coffer dam of a graving dock at the former Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.

Click on the photo for a larger version, and count the numbers on the left, indicating feet above the bottom. Then imagine all the water that thing is holding back. If it lets go, you’re going to get deluged by the full force of the river. Thanks to a friend, I was able to check out the laying of keel blocks in this graving dock. More posts to follow, hopefully, showing the vessel on the blocks, which is an amazing thing in its own right.

Ships at Anchor

While on final approach at Philadelphia international Airport, I had a nice view of the Delaware River below. Although a cloudy, rainy day, the visibility was fairly good. Any time I’m in the air, I like to snap a few pictures. Here’s a look at some ships at anchor:

Ships at anchor in the Delaware River.

Ships at anchor in the Delaware River.

Of course, this photo was taken with my iPhone. Could be sharper, but good for the device and the conditions. Been a long time since I travel on the Delaware River. Was good to see a bunch of ships there.

Tugboat Tour, video

In conversations at book signings and other events, people ask me how I came to be a writer. It was a winding path, though plenty of interesting places. One of those locales was the Philadelphia waterfront, including the Delaware River and Bay as well as the Atlantic Ocean. Part of my business involved tugboats and barges. So, here’s a video tour of the tug High Roller, a boat that I worked with while in that environment.

That’s quite a piece of floating machinery, isn’t it? One of the main engines has just been rebuilt, to the tune of about $250,000. That gives you an idea of what things cost in this field. While underway, the boat burns close to a hundred gallons of diesel fuel an hour. Do the math at today’s prices and you come up with a steep number indeed. Nonetheless, the job has to be done and working with the High Roller was always a fun challenge. Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to interview the owner, a fellow who is a real character. Stay tuned.

Published in: on October 17, 2011 at 12:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Heavy Lifting

Once again, I was in the New York Harbor area, aboard a tugboat with the legendary Captain Silva. This time we tended to a few barge shifts than returned to Staten Island where there was a heavy lift operation underway. DonJon Marine moved in with their Chesapeake 1000 floating crane. This unit proceeded to lift a newly constructed floating drydock from the shipyard into the water. Here is a photo of the scene.

liftaThis can be a tricky procedure, full of pitfalls if the weather changes, something goes wrong, or simple human error. However, the job went easily enough. The drydock was lifted, the crane pivoted around, and then the drydock was set into the water like a dozen eggs in the fridge. It takes copious amounts of cooperation between the people on the ground and the fellow operating the crane, who may not be able to see everything, including obstacles in the way.

Just another way to travel and things to do. Great story material, too.


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