Monday, August 25, 2014

Excitement and Adventure in Exotic Silver Bay

The captain has a letter that he gives out to everyone that comes on to the ship. It says a number of things, like where the laundry facilities are located and when meal times are. But it also says, explicitly, that safety is more important than efficiency, and this attitude is actively embraced by every single crewman that I have worked with. There is emphatically no running on the ship, ever, and people really do stop at the start of each new task to make sure that everyone knows the correct safety procedures.
The Silver Bay Steel Mill. Because no one wants to admit they just went to Duluth.
Routine at sea appears highly variable, with an emphasis on making sure no one goes into over time. Port routine, though, is much more exciting, though much more routine. We came out on deck about a half hour before arriving in Silver Bay. Me, the two GUDEs (General Utility Deck and Engine, both Piney Point fourth phasers) and another AB unclamped all twenty hatches, then watched as the ship slowly pull into dock next to a huge pile of iron pellets. The two GUDEs got off and I, the bosun, and the AB tossed mooring lines at them, and they tied us up and came on. Then we sat for the next four hours watching the giant conveyors dump iron into our hold, following behind as they moved and shoveling the iron dust that didn't make it in.

Silver Bay, on approach. The ship behind us is the MV St. Clair, where another of my classmates, the really hard working one, went to. I didn't see him this time, but we waved at each other the day before in the Soo locks.
In the midst of all this, we found a little bat, maybe a fruit bat but the only species I am really familiar with is Batman, that had gotten caught in the conveyor and dumped onto our deck. He wasn't quite dead, but with a torn wing and a generally unhappy demeanor he was clearly not long for the world. I didn't want to toss him into the hold, because while I am sure there are already other dead things in there, but I didn't want to deliberately contaminate the hold. I considered throwing it off the side, but we aren't supposed to be throwing anything at all off the side. So I tossed it in the incinerator to at least give it a quick end. Poor bat.
The loading process begins.

We took a short break from waiting and occasionally shovelling to unload the non-burnable garbage onto the shore where we traded it for groceries. A large winch did all the heavy lifting, so it was just pushing the raise/lower button and doing a little bit of manuevering and then back to waiting. After about six hours (a very quick loading) that felt much quicker the crane closed all the cargo hatches then we went around and clamped them back down. The ship got back underway about an hour before sunset and then we hosed off the deck.
Loading up close. The guy operating this conveyor spent most of his time playing with his cell phone, which we all agreed was dangerous before we went back to playing with our cell phones.

I started work at 1PM yesterday and finished at 1130PM, but it didn't feel like anything at all. None of my work so far has been hard, and all of it is just enough to do to keep from being boring. In fact, all my hours have been flying by, whether working or eating or sitting in my room reading. I don't think I want to do this for a living because the work isn't very fulfilling, but I have yet to be given any bullshit make work and everything I do has had a tangible, obvious purpose for the ship, so I certainly don't mind doing it for the next thirty days.
A hold full of Steel Pellets, little bullet sized spheres of metal.

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