Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Catch Up After a Long Hiatus

My last post was on May 12th. Three months. Yep that is not good . . . not good at all. This summer has proved to be much busier and more challenging than originally planned.

So if the Fish Princess hasn't been blogging and ruling the Fish Kingdom, what has she been doing all this time?

I wish I could say sitting on a beach in Hawaii, drinking mai tais and snorkeling. But I suppose the truth is the next best thing.

Barge Driver

Back in April I mentioned Ramps and Floats and said that it was a short brutal season of installing dock systems for the summer season. Well as it turned out, the short brutal season transitions into a longer more mellow season of repairs, mooring inspections, new equipment installations, and salvage.

The months of April and May were dedicated to hauling people's floats off from beaches, anchoring them, and hooking them up to a stationary dock.

Step 1: Get the float off the beach

Step 2: Push the float into place

Step 3: Hook the float up to the wharf

David does the heavy lifting and hookup while I drive the barge and hold everything in place against the wind, tide, and currents. Initially I had not really intended to be a part of Ramps and Floats, but after my first season I am glad that I am. It is source of pride, not only that we installed over 100 systems this spring, but also that driving the barge has become second nature.

At first operating the twin engines and controlling the big blue pig took every bit of my concentration and focus. I had to think about every action and move I wanted to make and work it backwards to figure out how the force of the engine would impact the barge, which in turn would impact the floats and ramps that I was pushing. Now, after months of practice, I just do it. Without thinking, the barge does my bidding.

Mud Master

In June we transitioned into mooring inspections. Inspecting moorings, while being much slower paced than Ramps and Floats, is infinitely more dirty. The basic idea of a mooring is to hold a boat or float in place using a combination of rope, chain and some sort of an anchor. Usually, our anchors are cast iron mushrooms or blocks (granite or concrete).

We build and install new moorings for customers, but the majority of our work is inspecting and repairing them. We use our winch to lift the smaller ones to the surface so we can check for corrosion and damage. When they come to the surface they bring with them mountains of black mud, kelp, rocks, fish, crabs, tiny creepy crawlies and even an occasional lobster trap that has become tangled.

For moorings that are larger than 5,000 pounds and I have to suit up in my dive gear and perform in water inspections and repairs. This was the part of the job that I had loads of experience in. During college I had worked as my dad's diver.

It wasn't until David and I took over the operations that I learned about the rest of mooring repair and construction. This summer I have learned how to splice three strand nylon and use an oxy-acetylene cutting torch. I can design, build and set a mooring from beginning to end.

David splicing eyes for a new halter
A granite mooring block on deck for inspection and relocation
When was the last time your mooring was inspected?
This customer was very lucky that we inspected when we did.

The new 1/2" chain next to the old 1/2" chain to be replaced

Repair and Construction

At some point this summer we also became marine carpenters. 

A new gantry

New runners to extend the life of this float

A New Float

Our New Deck Hand

While we worked hard up until the end of June, real life came to a screeching halt on June 28th when we picked up our new deck hand.  

Our first time meeting Nemo

The day after we brought him home

Nemo's First Sail

Nemo's first camping trip

But eventually we had to go back to work and Nemo had to learn to be a barge dog.

At first he did a lot of sleeping on the job.

But now he is starting to get the hang of it.

So you can see I have not been completely idle these last three months. Things have slowed down a bit, we have begun to figure out our new lives and schedules and I hope that I will be able to get more focused on being the Fish Princess and pick up where I left off.


If you happen to need any mooring work done in the Harpswell / New Meadows area I can be contacted at soperoceanservices@gmail.com or you can visit me on Facebook