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Monday, June 25, 2012

MS CAROLINE - Vessel Stats

Asleep at the Helm. Vessel Stats: Vessel Information: Vessel Particulars: Vessel Name: MS CAROLINE VIN: 1199076 Hull Number: 1750 Vessel Flag: UNITED STATES Vessel Call Sign: WDD7349 Build Year: 2007 Service: Passenger (Inspected) Length: 156.4 ft Breadth: 31.0 ft Depth: 13.4 ft Alternate VINs: CG8613701199076, IMO Number: Service Information: Tonnage Information: Service: In Service Out Of Service Date: N/A Last Removed From Service By: N/A Deadweight: Gross Tonnage(GRT): 96 Net Tonnage(NRT): 66 Gross Tonnage(GT ITC): 409 Cargo Authority: Vessel Documents and Certifications Document Agency Date Issued Expiration Date CERTIFICATE OF DOCUMENTATION USCG April 24, 2012 May 31, 2013 Certificate of Inspection - Amended USCG May 16, 2007 May 16, 2012 Certificate of Inspection USCG May 16, 2007 May 16, 2012 Stability Letter ABS May 15, 2007

Marty Visits the Nina and Pinta

Replicas Visit the Hudson River. Thanks for the photos, Marty.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Ed's Fish Story

She’d pulled it out many times over the years: the photo of her at 18 on the deck of a fishing vessel. In it she’s surrounded by other schoolgirls with their hair in rollers, who marvel at a 250-pound blue marlin laid out across the stern of boat. My wife, at that time no bigger than its dorsal fin, had landed this monster in a seven-hour ordeal. She looked proud and exhausted. The other women looked envious. Everything I know about fishing, I learned from this picture.

At an hour even laughing gulls don’t find funny, four self-proclaimed sea sirens and I stowed our gear -- chips and Diet-Cokes, mostly -- in the cabin of the 50-foot charter boat Dollar Bill. Our mission: to catch a 600-pound tuna and sell it to the Japanese for $30,000 like some guy we’d read about in the newspaper.

As we settled in -- a matter of choosing our own piece of gunwale -- the Bill roared to life and before you could say “Dramamine,” we pulled out of Ocean City at 24 knots through what Captain Cale Layton called “medium chop.” This, I found, is a nautical euphemism for “hurl-inducing turbulence” featuring waves as high as an elephant’s eye -- and sometimes higher.

I can report that taking notes in “medium chop” causes mild queasiness... Make that extreme nausea. Excuse me...

Okay, I’m back. Doesn’t look like I missed much either. The Bill, bounding due East, has yet to reach the Hot Dog Lumps, an area 40 miles out where, we were told, schools of tuna, marlin and dolphin eagerly waited to jump on our hooks.

I can report that it takes nearly two hours to reach the Lumps and once you’re out there... well, there you are. No dogs, no lumps and for a long time, no fish.

After we watched first mate Scott Waltmeyer bait and cast eight lines, there was little to do except wait and wait and wait until the tuna noticed.

I found you have two options during this period: You can hold the pole or you can let the boat hold the pole. I’d recommend the boat.

Sandy, a fitness executive, insisted on holding her pole. Thereafter, however, her day was spent “feeding the fishes,” after which, she’d sleep for an hour, then stagger back on deck to flirt with the captain, throw up again and start the process all over.

Sekita, the next to succumb, grappled more actively with her mal de mer. Like a triumphant diva, she’d bow over the side and, with a gesture she refined as the day wore on, whip off her sunglasses and regally thrust them back into our waiting hands.

After watching these two perform, I can report that seasick sea sirens really do turn green.

Meanwhile, the hale among us whiled away the time planning how we’d spend our 30 grand. Tax-free munibonds seemed tempting until Joan, a practical publicist, argued persuasively for a new Lexus. As we debated color selection, a pole came alive and Scott scrambled into action. He whipped the rod from its mounting and cranked the reel like crazy.

“Shouldn’t we have some kind of orientation?” cried Joan as Scott handed her the pole. Never mind, we didn’t need it, for our quarry (a 600-pounder, for sure) broke free.

For the rest of the morning, we saw only two kinds of fish: One was the 9-inch Ballyhoo Scott used for bait (about which Sandy, in one of her lucid moments, exclaimed, “I thought that’s what we’d be catching!”) and the other was gold, came in a box and was made by Pepperidge Farm. These soon proved beneficial because Sekita, having once again demonstrated her patented maneuver, decided to eat a few to settle her stomach. “I never thought I’d be eating these for medicinal purposes,” she said. Within minutes she was fine.

Meanwhile, Scott, who fishes 365 days a year and loves every spine-tingling second of it, got antsy for action and began flipping pocket change into the Atlantic -- an old sailor’s superstition called “paying for the fish.” We chipped in six dollars, figuring it would be tax-deductible after our $30,000 payoff, but still got no nibbles.

Then, a brainstorm: a goldfish sacrifice! We began throwing handfuls of the little buggers into the wake and almost immediately got a strike. Scott was pretty relieved because the sirens had begun comparing his favorite sport unfavorably to golf. He gratefully snapped up the pole and set the hook as Sekita climbed into in the “fighting chair” -- a gynecological-looking contraption bolted to the center of the deck. “Women see a chair like that, and we get in, no question.” Joan said. “We know it’s made for us.” She dubbed it the “Throne of the Goddess,” because, “You sit in it and men bring you stuff.”

And, indeed, Scott brought Sekita the fishing rod, then secured it in the gimbal between her legs. “What do I do?” she shouted over the engine’s roar. “Pull up, crank down,” he hollered, “pull up, crank down, pull up, crank down...”

After 10 minutes of pulling and cranking, Sekita, though fit and still game, was struggling to hold on. With each exertion she began to moan and suddenly, fishing sounded sexy. “Am I’m missing something good?” the captain queried from his post on the flying bridge.

“Pull up, crank down,” Scott urged. “Pull up, crank down!” we chanted and slowly, triumphantly, Sekita won the tug-of-war with her valiant prey -- a 30-pound yellowfin tuna. Although it was 570 pounds shy of our meal ticket, we were still excited as it flopped on the deck -- no one more so than Sekita who, proud as a new mother, squealed, “He’s beautiful!”

Scott much prefers fishing with “lady anglers,” he says, “because women listen.” He delights in watching groups of big, blustery men stuff themselves with hoagies and beer, only to lose their lunches and beg for mercy before the day is out. “Even when women are seasick,” he says, “they’re still in there fighting.”

He told us about one woman who would barf in a bucket, fish like crazy, then throw up again and fish some more. “She caught a ton of fish and when she got off, she said, ‘You boys are nice, but the only Dollar Bill I ever want to see again is in my wallet!’” As for me, well, I still hadn’t touched a pole, but as they say at sea: women and children first. So Joan took the Throne, Rita blessed the goldfish and we made another sacrifice.

Moments later, Bingo! Joan had a bite and in ten minutes, another 30-pound yellowfin lay flapping at our feet. Of course there were the ones that got away, like the brightly colored dolphin (mahi-mahi, not Flipper -- don’t write in) who escaped as we attempted to haul it onto the boat.

When my turn finally came, I studied the horizon, contemplated my goal and became one with the ocean. Forty minutes later, when I woke from my nap, the sirens caucused and decided I had dissed the fish with my body-language (slumped) and my attitude (condescending). I’d have to atone for my sins, they declared, before the fish would bite again.

So I said my mea culpas, saluted the horizon, chanted holy words in the secret Atlantean language and bowed to Mother Ocean, but she was not appeased.

We tried more “voodoo goldfish,” as Scott called them, but but half an hour later, still nothing -- and it was about time to turn back. I had one last hope: trickery. I hid behind the Throne while Rita occupied it, pretending it was her watch. Two minutes later, I saw a telltale twitch in one of the rods and all hell broke loose. Fishing line spewed from the reel like there was no tomorrow. In a dandy doe-see-doe, Scott set the hook, Rita vacated the chair and I took my rightful place in the center of the universe. When Scott passed me the scepter, for one brief moment I was Neptune.

I had watched the women struggle valiantly -- pulling up, cranking down. I knew what had to be done. I was a man and I knew I could do it. I gripped the rod with my left hand and positioned my right on the reel, then jerked that pole back with a mighty stroke and started cranking, but...

“You jerked too hard,” Scott said matter-of-factly. I had dislodged the hook and now my chance at fishing history was, well... history. “You’ve got to ease the pole back, like the ladies,” Scott advised.

“You gotta use finesse,” Sekita said.

“You gotta fish like a girlie-man,” Joan cracked.

So, finally, I can report that in the battle of man against the sea, it’s the women who win. And though our group may not have landed the big-money tuna, we know how to get him next time.

We’ll bring more goldfish.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Balmoral Specifications

Vessel Information: Vessel Particulars:
Vessel Name: BALMORAL
VIN: 8506294
Hull Number: 616
Vessel Flag: BAHAMAS, THE
Vessel Call Sign: C6II4
Build Year: 1988 Service: Passenger (Inspected)
Length: 715.4 ft
Breadth: 95.5 ft
Depth: 30.2 ft
Alternate VINs:
IMO Number: 8506294
Vessel Information: Vessel Particulars:
Service: In Service
Out Of Service Date: N/A
Last Removed From Service By: N/A Deadweight: 4916
Gross Tonnage(GRT): 43537
Net Tonnage(NRT): 19985
Gross Tonnage(GT ITC): 43537

Balmoral in Rough Seas

Photo taken in 2009. Vessel transiting the Bay of Biscay.

The Hindu : News / International : Poignant moments on Titanic memorial cruise

The Hindu : News / International : Poignant moments on Titanic memorial cruise

Memorial cruise runs into bad luck retracing Titanic's course

Memorial cruise runs into bad luck retracing Titanic's course

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Merchant Marine License Renewals

Last June. on my birthday, I made a commitment to steer clear of opinionated posts, because I figured readers of the blog would be more entertained by lighthearted stories of boats and ships or posts that dealt strictly with facts and figures. Whether that's true or not has yet to be determined. Meanwhile, something has recently come to my attention that requires me to break my promise. That something is what is currently happening with the U.S. Coast Guard's Merchant Marine License Renewal Process.

Several of my friends are now in the throws of renewing their MMD's and Captains and Mates licenses. Without exception, they are frustrated, angry, and at wits' end.

One guy had to suffer through three days of stress tests because a few years earlier he had gone to a doctor for an arrhythmia. The guy was put on medication for a brief period, but the issue basically resolved itself after the guy cut out half his coffee. The "arrhythmia" was, however, still in his chart. Oops! This same guy also went to a sleep clinic to see about his snoring. Apparently, HUGE mistake, because he ended-up with the words "potential sleep apnea" in his chart. Guess what? The C.G. told him he had to go back to the sleep clinic for three days of testing to get a doctor to sign off on the potential sleep apnea. Incidentally, this guy works for the state, so the cost for these six days and nights of testing were paid for by the insurance company, i.e. the taxpayer.

Two other friends discovered their STCW certifications on their MMDs were going to lapse and not be renewed. Why? Because, even though both of these guys are full time professional mariners who work on tugs and ferries, they work inshore (inland) routes as designated by the COLREGs demarcation lines, which, as we all know, are geopolitical boundaries that have almost no practical relationship to weather, wind or sea state.

The U.S. has one of the most heavily regulated Merchant Navies in the world, and yet we're being asked to comply with international laws so that other countries professional mariners can be brought up to higher standard. And because we can't get the IMO to acknowledge that the same drills and training used by ships at sea are used (and have been used for years) by U.S. vessels operating in inland waters, experienced and knowledgeable merchant mariners in the U.S. are losing their ratings and certifications.

Slowly but surely, the IMO (the International Maritime Organization), is whittling away at the Merchant Marine Corp of the Unites States of America. And with congressional approval, too. Trust me, if the liberals and globalists in our government get their way, and they shave the teeth off the Jones Act, it won't be long before foreigners start manning the decks, wheelhouses and bridges of our inshore fleets. U.S. mariners will be pushed out of the way by out-of-control regulation, incomprehensible renewal instructions, ham-fisted bureaucrats and knee-jerk legislation.

My MMD and Master License doesn't expire for two years, but I'm heeding the warning and I think you should, too. Here's my advice:

1) If your life depends on your job, don't go to the doctor. There's not much point in having the doctor give you blood pressure meds or some other drugs and then have the Coast Guard come back in two years and say, "Oh, sorry, we can't give you your license back. You might have a heart attack at the helm." But, of course, it's OK to drive your car on some highways at 80 mph, or fly your Cessna across country. And it's OK if we give your job to a twenty-three year old who just got his captain's license and has almost no real experience.

2) Before sending in the paperwork for your renewal, make sure you have everything there. To get your STCW you'll need about one year out of five years of documented sea time in Near Coastal Waters. Inshore/Inland waters won't suffice, even though we both know -- from an STCW perspective -- there is no difference between working and training inside of the three mile limit and working and training outside of the three mile limit. Think about it, STCW - Basic Safety Training: Elementary First Aid, Fire Prevention/Fire Fighting, Personal Survival Techniques, and my all time favorite, Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities (e.g. how to wash your hands with soap and water while singing the Happy Birthday song, and how not stare at the first mate's tits when you're talking to her) . . . Come on! These things are exactly the same inshore as they are offshore.

Oh, and how well is the IMO's STCW plan working? Let's see. There's the Costa Concordia. And the other Costa ship, the one that went adrift after an engine room fire. How many ferries in the far east have capsized and sunk lately?

3) If you have an endorsement or a second rating, such as a Master of Auxiliary Sail or a Master of Towing, but you no longer work on a sailing vessel or a towboat and haven't for five years, then you won't have the sea time to renew those licenses. The best thing to do, if you want to keep those licenses, is place them In Continuity. This means they can stay in your file and if need be you can re-acquire them. I'm not sure how you would do this. You may have to retest, or re-aquire the sea time. Whichever, you need to fill out another application that requests that the C.G. Examiner place these ratings or certificates into Continuity.

4) If you want to hold onto a master of towing license or endorsement, and you can't supply the Coast Guard with a letter from a company stating clearly that you have been working for five years in this capacity, have participated in all drills and training and have accumulated 360 days of sea time in the last five years, you're screwed. Because if you can't get this letter, you'll need an Approved Designated Examiner to sign a statement confirming you are competent to perform all the duties required of you in the given rating. What is an Approved Designated Examiner? I don't know. Neither, apparently, does Peggy at the U.S. Coast Guard's National Maritime Center. I asked her yesterday and she said the Coast Guard does not have a list of Approved Designated Examiners. This is interesting, because the Coast Guard sent my friend a letter stating they were giving him 90 days to find one of these examiners and complete the renewal application process.

I suppose some of this makes sense to somebody. Clearly, you want a person at the helm of a tug and fuel barge who knows what he or she is doing. But what does In Continuity mean? If you need a job with a tug company, can you use it to get the job and then re-establish your certificate? I don't see how. Having the endorsement or the license In Continuity doesn't mean you can legally operate with it. So why would anyone hire you? They're not going to hire you at a captain's or mate's wages just so you can accumulate 360 days of sea time. Do you have to hire one of these mysterious Approved Designated Examiners, rent a 4,000 hp tug and an empty fuel barge and drive it around for a while?

For me, the writing is on the wall. Washington wants to eviscerate this country's merchant fleet and open domestic shipping to foreigners.

OK, rant off. Back to regularly scheduled programming.


Drifting Tsunami Boat Crosses Ocean

Friday, March 02, 2012

One Reason Boats Sink

Why you should never board a boat where marine safety means little or nothing. And if you must get aboard, don't be the first up the gangway. First one on, last one off, first one to die.

Helge for Sale

Type of vessel: Ex. Ice breaking rescue ship. Currently registered as private yacht.
Built: In 1944 at Hjalmar Johanssons Varv, Sweden, rebuilt at Djupviks Varv, Sweden in 1970 and later restored to original design at Djupvik Varv during late 1980´s.
Material: 55 mm oak hull with double 4” x 4” oak frames. Upper planking is 65 mm thick. Mounted with galvanized bolts. Outside 200 mm steel keel. Outside hull plated with stainless steel for ice protection.
Length: 18.75 metres.
Beam: 5.60 metres.
Draft: 2.20 metres.
Air draft: 15 meters.
Displacement: 50 tonnes.
Tonnage: 42 GT / 12 NT.

Main engine: Volvo TMD 100A, 210 bHp at 1800 rpm, installed in 1984, SCG MRF 22/3B reduction 3:1, four blade bronze propeller.
Rig: Main sail – 28.4 m2, mizen – 18.5 m2, fore staysail – 11.4 m2, jib – 15.5 m2. All sails made of Duradon in 1990 by the famous sailmaker Harald Karlsson in Rönnäng, Sweden and in good condition.
Engine room equipment: Expower GT501 24 Volt inverter about 500 W, battery charger at 24 Amp, Djupviks Stjärnpanna heater with electric Bentone burner and Grunfoss circulation pump.
Bunkers: Diesel – 2000 litres.
Fresh water – 200 litres.
Septic – 100 litres.
Speed: 8 knots at 1400 rpm and about 15 litres/hour. Maximum 10 knots.

Navigational equipment: Simrad CR42 navigator with plotter, Shipmate RS4500 navigator, Decca 150 autopilot, Kelvin Hughes MS-356 echo sounder, Dancom RT408 VHF, Tokai PW-5023S PR-radio, Tenfjord rudder indicator, Lyth magnetic compass, Weilbach Seaview rotating window.
Deck equipment: Lofrans Titan electric anchor winch at 2000 W/24 Volt with 60 metres chain and 50 kilo anchor. MOB-boat. Life rafts in teak boxes on deck.
General arrangement: The previous aluminium deck house was replaced in 1989 by a new teak-made with mahogany interior based on original drawings. Inside wheelhouse has room for 6 people around a table and another 6 people around a table on lower deck oak saloon. Taylor gas stove (model 041) with two burners on port side, also grill/frying table and 2.5 kW regulated oven and Isotherm refrigerator and toilet facility. Fore is two double cabins with a large mirror, comfortable bench and fold up table. Three small closets. Interior is made out of white coated paneling and mahogany. Aft deck with companionway to the old skippers cabin with two berths and couches.
Documentation: Registered as private yacht. National tonnage certificate with no other certificates available. This ship has well documented drawings.
Position: Djupviks varv, Tjörn, Sweden.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Costa Allegra Reporting Inaccuracies

It was reported recently that the Costa Allegra was a sistership to the Costa Concordia. Not true The Allegra was built as a container ship and later retrofitted as a passenger liner. The Costa Concordia was built as a passenger cruise liner from the start. They look completely different.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Costa Allegra Specifications & Details

Vessel Information: Vessel Particulars:
VIN: 6916885
Hull Number: WARTSILA M70
Vessel Flag: ITALY
Vessel Call Sign: ICRA
Build Year: 1969 Service: Passenger (Inspected)
Length: 616.5 ft
Breadth: 84.6 ft
Depth: 95.1 ft
Alternate VINs: CG038827
IMO Number: 6916885
Vessel Information: Vessel Particulars:
Service: In Service
Out Of Service Date: N/A
Last Removed From Service By: N/A Deadweight: 14369
Gross Tonnage(GRT): 28430
Net Tonnage(NRT): 11911
Gross Tonnage(GT ITC): 28430
Cargo Authority:
Vessel Documents and Certifications:
Document Agency Date Issued Expiration Date
Certificate of Compliance - Passenger Vessel USCG December 17, 2005 December 17, 2006
SOLAS Passenger Ship Safety Certificate IT October 19, 2005 September 20, 2006
Minimum Safe Manning Document IT December 3, 2004 December 2, 2006
International Load Line Certificate RINA May 16, 2003 November 30, 2007
International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate RINA May 16, 2003 November 30, 2007
Classification Document RINA May 16, 2003
ISM - Safety Management Certificate IT February 11, 2003 February 10, 2008
ISM - Document Of Compliance IT January 14, 2003 January 13, 2008
Tonnage Certificate, International IT July 28, 2001
Load Line Certificate (Coastwise) RINA November 2, 1994 November 30, 1997

Monday, February 27, 2012

Steven l. Waterman Photo

This is a low resolution copy of a photo taken by Steven L. Waterman of the Sea Wife, heading back to her mooring in Spruce Head Harbor, Maine on a foggy morning.

(copyrighted material used with permission)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012

Books for Sale by Robert G. Bernstein

A brief commercial break to help promote my books for sale at Amazon. What They Don't Tell You About Alzheimer's is a memoir about dealing with my mother's struggle with Alzheimer's Disease. Not marine- oriented per se, but told from a mariner's point of view, and of particular importance to me. The other two works are fiction, one a short story, the other a novella. And please visit my author's page and note the novel, due for release shortly. Thanks for looking.


Saturday, February 04, 2012

Monday, January 30, 2012

Ship Graveyard

More HERE from CNN.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Old Tug and Semi-Diesel

Laura Decker

Decker completes her circumnavigation! This pic was shot at the start of her voyage.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

AIS - Costa Concordia

The video below is provided by Qastar News ( It shows the position and course and speed of the Costa Concordia before, during and after the grounding. Some of what you see here is conjecture and some is derived right from the AIS (Automated Identification System) data stream. Clearly, the ship's captain erred in his initial navigation. He got too close to the rocks that damaged the ship, probably because he miscalculated the ship's dead reckoned position. It has been reported he was navigating by line of sight observations of landmarks on the island.

A point of interest here is the change of color of the graphic for the ship's position. It changes from green to yellow. In the AIS color scheme; Red indicates an identified ship that is considered a potential danger; green indicates an identified ship that is not a potential danger; yellow indicates an "unidentified" ship that is not a potential danger.

So why did the Costa Concordia become an unidentified ship? Perhaps it went from green to yellow because it lost power to the equipment that transmitted some of its data. Or perhaps Qastar interpolated the data for the ship when its speed dropped below a certain value. If this happened, the AIS plotter could no longer determine exactly how it was moving through the water.

Meanwhile, given what we're seeing here, it was quite a piloting feat to lay the ship on that sandbar.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hot Tapping the Costa Concordia

A representative from Smit Salvage announced to authorities that the company would be hot tapping the ship to get the estimated 500,000 gallons of diesel out of its bunkers. Hot tapping is a process that allows a pressurized containment system to be accessed without the need for additional venting or the shutting down of ongoing operations. Simply stated, a valve body is attached to a bulkhead or pipe by welding or other means. After the valve is in place, a special drilling tool is attached to the valve and a bit is used to penetrate the valve seal and the wall of the pipe or bulkhead. The valve is closed and the tool removed and then the valve is plumbed. Some hot tapping procedures are multi-functional, designed for venting, injection and material transfer, and some are designed for just material transfer, like in the excellent demo below:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Smit Salvage - Costa Concordia

Smit Founder Fopp Smit

Word has it Smit International has been tasked with the salvage of the grounded and half sunk ship. Who better?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Costa Concordia - Raw Video - Inside Ship Panic

Giglio Porto Costo Concordia Wreck Site

Below: Most likely resting on Cala del Lazaretto, about 500 yards north of the Porto Giglio jetties.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Costa Concordia Details - Specifications

Vessel Information: Vessel Particulars:
VIN: 9320544
Hull Number:
Vessel Flag: ITALY
Vessel Call Sign: IBHD
Build Year: 2006 Service: Passenger (Inspected)
Length: 951.8 ft
Breadth: 124.6 ft
Depth: 64.9 ft
Alternate VINs:
IMO Number: 9320544
Service Information: Tonnage Information:
Service: In Service
Out Of Service Date: N/A
Last Removed From Service By: N/A Deadweight:
Gross Tonnage(GRT): 114147
Net Tonnage(NRT): 87300
Gross Tonnage(GT ITC): 114500
Cargo Authority:

At the time of the grounding:

3206 Passengers on board with 1,000 Crew.
Hit ledge. tore 160' long gash in port side.
Rolled 80 degrees and sank. Presently half submerged.
Evacuation Complete.
3 dead. 14 injured. More than 50 missing.
Divers searching wreckage.

Costa Concordia Video