Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Joy is Back (Six Weeks Ago ...)

Entonces, so am I.

Coming to the end of the second watch (Again, folks here call their hitches "watches." They call their duty shifts "watches," too. It's only occasionally confusing.) on a new boat -- my fourth in the past six months, and I'm getting lots of wheel time.

This watch I've handled four dockings soup to nuts. Coming alongside an inbound ship at somewhere between six and eight knots is one of the more challenging things we do here; well, it's sometimes challenging to do it gently and on-target and timely, anyhow.

It's the first chance I've had to do that since I was on the big Z-Tech last year. So far so good.

Another really fun evolution is maintaining a 90(ish)-degree angle while a ship is backing down, often at over a knot. At higher speeds astern it's only possible by maintaining a "cheating angle" and balancing fore-and-aft thrust while twisting the tug. Kinda basic twin-screw stuff, but going sideways, and either pushing or pulling on the ship or being careful to do neither.

Flanking rudders -- and this boat has them -- theoretically should make it easier. Fat, square sterns -- and this boat has one of those, too -- don't. I found out yesterday, too, that if you get enough water moving across the flanking rudders fast enough, they're going to stay there until you come off the throttles. I'm guessing the steering pump is a little underpowered.

There is no permanently assigned DE on this boat, so my TOAR languishes at just under 90 percent complete. Same place it's been for the past two months. Hopefully one will parachute in next watch. In the meantime, I'm happy to take advantage of the opportunity to practice.

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