Monday, August 25, 2014

Packing the Stands

I have never been a tourist attraction before.

This was actually the second time going through the Soo locks, the canal between Lake Superior and Lake Huron near Sault Saint Marie, but the first time was early in the morning, foggy, and we were raised up to the higher water level of Lake Superior.

No one warned me until people started staring that the locks were a tourist attraction, and apparently a popular one on a Sunday evening. As we pulled in I could see people watching us in a park behind a large fence and the older AB that I was working with told me that they were watching us like we are in a zoo. I pointed out that the tourists were the ones completely enclosed behind a fence, so really it is us watching them in a tourist zoo set up for our convenience.

By the time we came to a halt in the middle of the lock, the two story viewing stand was completely packed on both levels. The spectators called out questions like what we are hauling ("it is government secret cargo") and if we were getting seasick ("watch out, the new guy projectile vomits"). The forward line tender, an employee at the lock, grumbled that the tourists all think they are so clever, but they make the same jokes and ask the same questions every time (and I rather suspect that the line tender makes the same complaint about it every time as well). I barely noticed the attention while there were lines to tie and things to monitor, but once we tied off I had to walk from forward to aft, going right by the stands with nothing to do but keep my head forward and face straight. Please don't tell bosun that I was successful in neither of those tasks.

Going down is also a lot different from going up. In both directions the ship is literally only inches away from the sheer concrete wall, such that if I had pressed my hand to the side of the ship it would be ripped to tiny bits. But at the top of the wall is a metal rail, and when we go down the wires slide tightly, sparking and jumping along the rail. It was not the first operation with danger on the ship, but it was the first time I thought to myself 'shit! I need to back way far away from this'.

Then the wire snapped and I lost both my legs, but the bosun says I should still be able to get all my work done if I try a little bit harder. No one apart from crew will be watching me work tomorrow, and as little as the spectators matter, I think I prefer it that way.


  1. There are a lot of distractions thus the reminder to work on your sea project. It is very easy to let it slide until it is nearly too late.

    Just my 2 cents.

    1. Thanks for the reminder, but I have everything done for the Deck section already except for anchoring and steering, which I haven't seen yet.

  2. Explain your sea project that anonymous refers to in his comments? Sounds interesting and important. JB

    1. It is neither interesting nor important. It is a big blue book filled with dull makework that we have to fill in. In theory, it verifies that we learned every part of the ship during phase 2, but in practice no one checks it and no one would let an apprentice play with those systems anyway. If it isn't all the way filled out, then they won't let me back for phase 3.

      Like so much of Piney Point, it is neither difficult nor educational, but it is lengthy and obnoxious.