Tag archive for "Ray Robinson"

Books, Velkommen

The Grey Seas Under

1 Comment 27 November 2013

The Grey Seas Under.  Hmmmm….unusual title. Under what?  Farley Mowatt. Unusual name.  The beginning is slow and disoriented, like being in a foggy unfamiliar harbor jammed full of rust streaked vessels, succumbing to neglect.  In retrospect, the sodden tone of the beginning, that caught me off guard, was an ideal prologue.

The Grey Seas Under chronicles the life of the 156′ salvage tug, Foundation Franklin, originally christened H.M.S. Frisky, from her purchase in early 1930 by the Montreal-based Foundation Company of Canada, to her last assignment during the cruel winter of 1946.  Her battles with the sea were epic. The men who sailed her, heroic, sometimes eccentric and the rescues she accomplished, legendary. The lives she saved: grateful beyond measure.

So what makes this book a must-read masterpiece?  It is not written to highlight an exemplary vocabulary.  There are no superlative descriptions.  Displays of elite literary proficiency are missing.

The Grey Seas Under is a song.  A ballad. Farley Mowatt is a minstrel, singing of a period in his life where he felt most alive, most connected to his fiber.  Those days pass quickly for mortals but the tone is not sad. It is an adagio form, punctuated with rolling staccato storms.  This is not a gilded representation of reality seen through progressive bifocals; this is a raw and salty reality lived by working men whose poetry sails  above varnished table tops with fiddled edges and coffee mugs. The extraordinary is commonplace.  No pontifications from the podium are found.

If you have a paperback copy read it twice.  Read it to your kids and grandkids.  If you have a hardbound copy in good condition, you have an appreciating asset.

BIG thanks to Ray Robinson for the loan of this fabulous book.  The Grey Seas Under.  Under what?  Under the keel of a good ship.  A ship that does not veer from difficulty, but takes pride in accomplishment and returns to home port, time after time.  The Grey Seas Under?  As it always has been, under the watchful but impassive heavens.


B Dock, Velkommen

Water Tank Project – Phase 6……progress report

No Comments 08 July 2012

Enlarge the pic with a click.

It’s time for an update on Velkommen’s water tank project. Mid August of last year was ‘Phase 5′ and then there was the little exhaust elbow repair in January.The last couple of months have been dedicated to the Hurricane heater. It was upgraded to 2012 standards by Gordon Jensen of Latitude Maritime.  The heat sheild exhaust blanket was done by National Marine Exhaust.  The installation positions the heater partially under the port exhaust elbow (the former problem child) with just enough room for the hydronic lines and the Hurricane exhaust to pass beside the  engine exhaust.  Both the inboard and aft panels of the heater are removable for service, so the current placement gives as much access as possible within the challenging confines of a lazarette.  Everything is mounted on rubber pads to isolate vibration and minimize chafing.  I puzzled a while on the placement and containment of the start batteries.  I think I came up with a creative solution.  It is simple and effective and I’ve never seen another like it.

I even got Ray Robinson’s “seal of approval”, and that’s really tough to get.  He slid through the hatch, inspected everything thoroughly, frowned and said, “Damn thing’s overbuilt”.  SWEET!  That is just the way I want it.

Books, Velkommen

Dead Men Tapping – the end of the Heather Lynne II

No Comments 04 March 2012

Dang! this is one seriously fine book: a tradgedy that will leave your soul weeping.  Weeping for lost fishermen, but Dead Men Tapping is so much bigger than the story it tells….weeping for the human condition. Innocence that does not see the larger picture until hindsight reframes and contorts the recollected scene into a raw and ghastly house of horors.  Poingant, gripping, compelling.  Events are seen with a zoom lens that focuses on the individual fisherman and Coast Guard personnel that are part of the accident scene, then zooms out for a larger scale and new perspective.  If the available resources could have been rallied, the outcome could have been different, but everyone was so focused on the little piece of reality they assumed belonged to them. There is a slice of blame for everyone:  the Coast Guard, the fishermen, the tug captain, the salvor.  No one gets spared.  The resources were there; the urgency was there, just no one to knit them together.   Kate Yeomans had to live this book to write it; grow up on the water, be part of the close knit fishing community.

The 45′ fishing boat Heather Lynne II was run down by a 272′ barge under tow  just 10 miles off Cape Ann Massachusetts just before dawn in September of 1996.  She capsized but remained afloat with the crew trapped inside.  Tapping…..pounding, clawing on the inside of the hull.  Dead men tapping.

The courtroom struggles are an oversized chess game with strategies unfolding as  both sides vie for position. Intensely dramatic, blow by blow testimony.  At the end of t he day everyone gets up and goes home.  Not so for the crew of the Heather Lynne II.

Big thanks to Ray Robinson for the loan of this book.

B Dock, Velkommen

Water Tank Project – Phase 5……progress report

Comments Off 15 August 2011

It’s been far too long since I’ve posted on Velkommen’s lengthy water tank replacement project.  The project grew, like most boat projects, to be much larger than first imagined.  Better to get it right than do it twice.

We are looking forward at the port-side space between the hull and the aft deck, approx. 9′ x 9′ x 2′.  The third coat of primer is dry and ready to be painted over.  On the left is the muffler, temporarily supported by a 1″ x 4″.  The black hoses are for the hydraulic steering and coolant routed through the Hurricane Heater.  The lines coming out of the hole in the engine room bulkhead run to the remote Sea Freeze compressor mounted high and center on a shelf bent from 1/4″ aluminum plate.  It is partly visible on the right edge.  Adjacent to the compressor, also partly visible, is the one of the new SS exhaust elbows.  The replacement of this particular elbow began the renovations and alterations that you see.

All images enlarge with a click.

The second pic shows the first fitting of the Hurricane heater platform and the battery platform.  The starboard side is actually farther along; the painting is complete and the water tank platform and the battery platform have been installed.  Besides the battery cables, the water tank fill hoses are wrapped around the red bucket, and then there is the green bonding wire,  held up out of the paint by vise grip clamps.

Pic number three shows the first coat of Kirby’s #25 Light Gray gloss coat while it is still nice and fresh.  Three coats of primer and three coats of gloss.  That’s the treatment.  Thankfully, Kirby’s paint does not require special application proceedures. In this case a 4″ nappy-headed roller works pretty well.

No, I’m not going to paint the overhead.  Sure, it would be a nice touch, but enough is enough.  I’m looking toward ending this project not augmenting it.

BIG Thanks to Ray Robinson (Robinson Woodworking) and Mark Hanger (Mark’s Marine Repair) whose encouragement and advise have been invaluable.  And also to Travis Hanson (Hanson’s Marine Services) who matched the gelcoat around the locker doors.

Gulf Islands

Killer Shrimp with Cabbage

1 Comment 18 June 2011

A couple of years ago, along about the end of July, I needed a decompression stop.

Puget Sound Thunder, her Captain and crew were quite accomodating.

It’s not often a pod of killers dances around your boat and your pots.  It’s an enchanting experience that most folks will never have.  Add an overnight at Port Browning, a little sightseeing and some beachcombing on Cabbage.  A weekend packed to the gunnels.  But even before it’s over, I want more. 

Even though the images are a couple of years old, I think you will enjoy them…..and the guitar of Buckethead.

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