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.

On Piracy…

Let’s have a word about piracy. As readers of this blog know, I’ve been researching a novel titled MacMillan Judge, Privateer. In the course of Mr. Judge’s adventure, he must face rogue Barbary Pirates who hold a Philadelphia merchant’s daughter for ransom. All is not as it appears, except for the fact that pirates are the embodiment of evil. Since MacMillan Judge sails in the year 1816, let’s move forward to 2009, when pirates are once again a serious issue.

Piracy is more than a simple criminal enterprise. It is an abomination, perpetuated against innocent victims. Any talk of economic necessity as a justification for piracy is absolute nonsense spouted by fools and idiots. Imagine you’re aboard a ship, cruising through international waters, when suddenly you are under attack by machine gun wielding savages. You are unarmed, virtually defenseless against this onslaught. You are actually forbidden in some cases from having weapons other than your bare hands. Sound frightening? It should. The pirates who attack you know that your are a member of the civilized portion of the human species as much as they are members of the savage class. Hence they prey upon your willingness to follow the rules even as they do not.

Please don’t listen to the pablum foisted by popular media and silly political types that declare these pirates to be poor members of the down trodden class with no employment options. Pirates are not cute and cuddly movie stars brought to you by the Disney Company. Pirates are killers, thieves, rapists, enslavers, and a menace to any civilized society. To treat them as anything less than vermin is to elevate them beyond their actual state.

And what to do about pirates? Take a look at the Caribbean of the 1700’s. The British Navy was quite tired of the pirates of Jamaica and elsewhere. Hence the British sent squadrons with specific orders to eliminate the pirates. Let’s be clear. Eliminate meant to destroy the pirate outposts, vessels, and either kill the pirates in combat or return them to England for trial and subsequent hanging. Today’s genteel world erroneously believes that pirates can be “talked to.” Really? People who attack unarmed vessels, steal cargo, ransom hostages, kill crew members, rape, and pillage are the type of people you can trust in the course of a parlay? Anyone who believes that is a mindless dolt not worthy of the air he breathes.

Let’s take a look at another example. After the young United States attacked and partially subdued the Barbary Pirates of the Mediterranean, the British and the Dutch sailed into the area to settle the matter for their own nations. The combined fleet shelled the city of Algiers, ultimately pounding the local pirate king (or dey as they were called) into submission.

The lesson here is that negotiating with pirates like negotiating with cockroaches. You stamp them out or suffer their infestation. To do any less is to sacrifice yourself at the altar of evil.

Published in: on April 11, 2009 at 12:09 pm  Comments (1)  
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Rising to the Challenge

In keeping with the theme of WHAT CAN BE DONE, take a look at this photo:

elecboatwrkThe man in the foreground is working on a submarine at the Electric Boat Works in Connecticut during World War II. Here are some statistics that should perk you up: During the Second World War, American workers built 5,777 merchant ships, 1,556 naval vessels, and 299,293 aircraft. This was accomplished without computers, without cellphones, and by people who for the most part had not finished high school.

Thus, it’s time to rise to the challenge, get to work, and quit complaining if we’re ever to live up to the accomplishments of previous generations.

Published in: on March 30, 2009 at 10:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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