Thursday, August 25, 2005

Boat Collision

It’s been a funny summer! I really think the intense heat and humidity stretched out over so many weeks has been cause and effect for strange and unusual events in these parts. I want to show you want looks on the surface like just another pretty picture of the boats and waterway.

Notice anything out of place? Let me show you a little closer shot.

Notice it yet? Something just doesn’t look quite right, does it? Can you see it in this next one?

I’m almost afraid to go into work after my two days off anymore. Two weeks ago I was greeted by a sinking boat. Yesterday I find this. Okay, here’s what happened.

I arrived at work Wednesday morning on time and started my usual opening routine. I checked the printout on the fuel tank monitoring system, turned on the VHF radio base station and powered up the handheld VHF radio I wear on my belt all day. Then I checked the phone messages. I had one. Here’s how it went:

"Sam this is mmmpppfff… on (static) we left the dock this morning at six o’clock and hit mmmfffffppp (static) (static) engine may (static) hanging. Please rush (static) (static) check immediately (static) (static) call us back at mmmppfffpp (static) 9 (static) 94 (static) (static) Click.

My very limited appreciation of cell phones was not enhanced by this urgent and almost completely garbled message. Fortunately I recognized the voice and knew where to start looking on the docks for a problem. I thought to myself, "Engine hanging? What in the world?" You can see above what I found.

The departing boat had been caught up in the current and lost control. That boat hit the boat docked next to it as it was leaving and ripped the outboard engine off of the dinghy as it hung on the davits at the stern. The dinghy, by the way, is normally in a horizontal position on those davits. The force of the collision pushed the dinghy into a vertical position and it got caught on the davits and stayed that way.

Once again I grab the maintenance director because I am working alone on Wednesdays now that school has started. My summer help is in classes during the week these days. We launch a marina boat and go out and inspect the damage.

The force of the collision pushed or pulled the engine that was mounted on the back of the dinghy so hard that it separated the engine from the engine mount. You can see that the mount without the engine is still on the dinghy in this shot.

The net result is the engine is hanging just above the water held only by the control and electrical cables. This is a thirty horsepower engine and is not light by any means.

I send the maintenance director up onto the sailboat and I lift the outboard motor up to him in stages until we get it resting on the deck as you can see in this picture. Whew!

I take many pictures of this situation because I am sure there will be an insurance claim filed on this one.

Later I got a call I could actually understand from the boater that hit the other boat. After I called the owner of the boat that got hit, I started to relax. Except my right arm was all prickly and itchy now. I remembered why.

 The gasoline and oil that was dripping from the fuel tank on the dinghy got all over me as I was lifting the outboard from the water. I went to a sink and washed my arms. Checking in a mirror to see if there is any more grease, oil, or gas on my arm, I noticed my freshly starched uniform shirt. It is now covered with grease, gas, and oil! Sigh!

After I took my shirt off and scrubbed it for what seemed like an hour with a special degreaser, I began to think maybe I just shouldn’t come to work on Wednesdays anymore. By the way, I did get most of the stains out of my shirt and shorts. Oh well! All in a day’s work, I guess!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Happy Anniversary


Happy anniversary to all of you in J-Land and thank you all for the warm welcome you have given me this year.  I am in awe of the talent that is continually on display in the journals that I visit and am honored to be a part of all of this.  Cheers to you all!


Audio entry

Monday, August 15, 2005

Running Late!

Why does everything seem to happen when you are running late? I am the type that is never late to work. Yep, just check out my time card. When I do run late bad things are bound to happen and the other day was no exception.

In truth, I was only two minutes late, but that is not like me and I still felt the pressure I put on myself. You know the feeling. You champ at the bits at every stoplight and curse at the law-abiding citizens who are going the speed limit when you are late. C’mon, confess! We all do it, though we know that we shouldn’t!

I screech into work and quickly size up the situation. Nothing. No one is around and no one is waiting with a whip and chains next to the time clock. I check the docks on one side of the property. All is as it should be. I go out to the Bluff and look over the docks on the river. From the Bluff I can see all but maybe two or three boats at the most. All looks good. My heart is beating almost normal again so I go into the kitchen for my usual cup of coffee. Actually it’s a cappuccino/espresso combination that I make myself, but that’s another story.

Now I have my coffee and I am starting to breathe normal and my VHF radio crackles to life. The voice on the other end asks, "Sam, did you know you have a boat sinking on the front docks? It’s too far gone for me to do anything for it, do you think you can come take a look?" That does it! Fear and self-loathing for being two minutes late consumes me for all of about, oh, say, three seconds. Then it’s Dock Master Sam in his crisis mode.

As an aside, let me just say here that more boats sink at the dock than anywhere else on an annual basis. I save two or three boats a year from going under, so it’s not like I don’t know what to do in these situations. In fact, I am pretty highly trained in that regard and have never lost a boat yet that wasn’t already completely submerged when I found it.

I go out to the front dock at break-neck speed in my trusty golf cart. I run down the ramp and sure enough, it’s one of the only three boats I could not see earlier because a huge yacht parks on the shore side of that same dock and hides these few boats from view if you are on the Bluff.



I am very relieved, because I know immediately that I can save this boat. At the same time, however, my heart sinks because I know the owner of this boat. He is my dentist and he is the salt of the earth. More than once he has done emergency tooth repair for me and wouldn’t let me pay him a dime.

I go to the maintenance building and collect my huge crash pump and hoses and grab the maintenance director for help on the way. Together we fire up the gasoline motor on the huge water pump as he guides the hose into the hull. I have to board the boat and stand on the far edge to make the boat lean over enough to stop the water coming in over the transom as the giant pump kicks in.

In a matter of about three minutes, the hull is pumped dry to the point that we want to get our smaller electric pump to finish off the job. This pump is about four inches in diameter and only six or eight inches high.

We plug in the small pump that can go deeper into the hull and nothing. It does not come on. I try another electrical outlet. Still nothing! I look closer at the pump and see that the last user of the pump must have pulled on it using the electrical cord to move it around and part of the wiring is pulled out. It figures!

The boat is stabilized pretty much at this point, so we go to my desk and take the electrical pump apart and rewire it. It takes a while but we get it done and finish pumping out the boat.

This is a picture of the brand new electrical pump I bought later in the day as a back up so that I’ll never have to wait again.

As for the boat, the engine never went under, so there’s no problem there. The side of the boat that went under is the side most of the electrical wiring is located on so most of that will have to be replaced. I towed the boat around to the hoist later in the day and got it out of the water and back on its’ trailer.

This all seemed to prove my point that for me, it never pays to be late. Something will ALWAYS happen.

Monday, August 8, 2005

Cars and more debris

Well, today is certainly not going how I planned it. Sometimes one just has to go with the flow, or as I like to call it these days: "Let go and let God." My poor stepson has had a run of bad luck and just as some light is shinning at the end of the tunnel, his car died in my driveway after he dropped Trenton off for the day. So now I have Trenton AND his father here for the day.

I am fortunate to have many friends and contacts locally, so my resources were not strained at all in finding a mechanic who will come and diagnose the problem with the car in a couple of hours.

I set Trenton and his Dad up in the Family Room with one of the new DVD’s that I bought the other day and I sneaked back here to the computer room to share another story with all of you. For those of you with dial-up service, my apologies if this takes a long time to load. There will be a lot of pictures.

Oh, hang on a minute, the mechanic just rang my doorbell.

Ok, it’s now a quarter ‘til four in the afternoon. My friend diagnosed the car and took the starter off. I took the starter into town to another acquaintance. He didn’t have a rebuilt one on the shelf, but he will have that one rebuilt for me by noon tomorrow at a cost of $75.00. This guy does good work and has a sterling reputation. The car will stay in the driveway for the night.

Now, back to the story. I wrote an entry on debris that got pulled out of the river a few entries back, and I thought that would take care of that subject nicely. Wrong. You have got to see this piece of debris that floated into the marina and became a huge headache for my crew and me!

A dock nearby fell into the water and pieces started floating with the tidal currents. I called the Coast Guard, however, other than broadcasting a warning to mariners they could do nothing about it. I then called the Department of Natural Resources and reported it. Two days later an agent showed up and I took them for a grand tour of the dilapidatedstructure. They were amazed that the owner would let it get to that point and wrote a letter to the property owner demanding that the structure be removed in a timely fashion. Mean while, chunks keep breaking off and floating my way.


This is what the dock looked like before and after the collapse.

This is a picture of me and the County Marine Patrol guys.

The roof of the dock house on the fallen structure wedged itself underneath one of the boats at our place and I called them to make an incident report in case an insurance claim had to be filed by the boat owner.

The roof was finally dislodged from under the boat and tied up at my dock. What to do with it was the topic of discussion for an entire weekend. On Monday, two weeks ago, I went in on my day off and moved the roof with a couple of boats around to the hoist to be lifted out and hauled off to the dump. Because it was a day off, I did not wear my regular work outfit, opting for a Tee shirt and a baseball style hat instead. I did not want to mess up my normal gear because of this mess.

The plan was to tow with one boat and use the boat with the rubber sides to keep between the roof and the boats docked at the marina so no damage would occur if they bumped. Thiswas very tricky, but it worked.

I decided I needed to be on the boat with the rubber sides, so I made my assistant change boats with me.


Once out in the river, we untied the towboat and both used our boats as bumper type boats to push it around to the other side of our property to the hoist. It did not want to cooperate, LOL!



I saw this guy coming by and thought he might help. No such luck, LOL!

Does this look like I am determined?


I am attaching a line to the roof.


Here the hoist is starting to lift the roof



Now that it’s out of the water, look at the size of this thing.

I could not believe that our director of maintenance was going to tow it to the back of the property with this little trailer and his golf cart, but it worked (just barely).


This is the final resting-place before the chainsaws came out of their cases and this was bundled off to the dump.

My apologies to those with Dialup Service if this took forever to load.  I just thought Y'all might enjoy seeing this whole process.

On a final note, I am still picking up pieces of this dock every day because the owner hasn’t fully removed it yet.

Two Updates

We’ve had quite a weekend with all the rain in Georgia. It meant cooler temperatures, so I’m not complaining. Working outside like I do, you take what you can get.

This will be short because Trenton is coming over early today. I’ll do a longer post tomorrow on a different topic with some pictures to spice things up a bit. I just wanted to post an update today on a couple of items.

First, thanks to all for the nice comments. The project mentioned in my last post spurred some interest in the community and it was nice to hear from so many of you. In all fairness, now that the gift has been sent and received, I thought I should let you know the rest of the story.

The gift was a piece of driftwood that I found on the docks one day. It had been pulled out of the river with a stack of other pieces of lumber. This piece was different from the rest, though. It was older, much older I’d guess. It had large wormholes in it, some an inch or more in diameter. It had symmetry. It had beauty. It needed a home more fitting than the Dumpster fate the rest of the wood faced. AND, it talked to me.

Okay, I know some of you will think I am a bit loony, but as soon as I put my hand on it, I heard a little voice in my head. It said, "Please send me to Judi." I’m serious. I heard the voice!

Most of you know our resident artist, Judi Heartsong. She was a strong influence on me to start this journal and I have mentioned her before. Judi has given so much of herself to this community that I thought it would be nice to give something back.

The problem was, this was a fragile piece of wood that was once a 1’X6"X8’ piece of lumber. Yes it was a board I wanted to send to Judi. Oh, and it was very light for it’s size and fragile. Hmmm. Did I mention fragile? Hence, the crate building project.

The fun in all of this is that it was a surprise gift and Judi read about the project and left a comment.  Then she received it and wrote about that in her journal, so you could see the whole story from both perspectives.

On the down side, I was so focused on the deed itself that I did not get any pictures of the wood, the crate, or Trenton and I building the crate. That won’t happen again, I promise. Now, if you all ask nicely, perhaps Judi will publish a picture of the wood at her place so you can see what all the fuss was about. Remember, though, whether you like the wood piece or not, it was the thought that counts.

Thank you, Judi Heartsong. Thank you for all you have done for this community and thank you for all you have done for me.



The second update for those who read this space regularly is the answer as to who is coming to my town for a visit. Our own E is coming with B to visit E’s family here in town. E is Emfeasel and I am sorry to say she just closed her journal so if you haven’t gotten to know this kind, witty, off the wall journalist, you may have to wait a while. If she goes public again it will be worth the wait. Oh, yes, I do know what the E stands for, but this is how most of us refer to her here in J-Land.

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

The Project

It’s been an interesting couple of days. Some of you know that I have Mondays and Tuesdays off. I also keep watch over my Grandson for part of the day on those days.

Well, it all started when I came up with the need to ship an oversized item to a friend of mine. The item I want to ship is an odd size, approximately 1" x 6" x 6’8." That’s right, it’s almost the same dimensions as a piece of lumber. Oh, and it’s fragile!

My first thought was to just drop it off at the UPS Store near me and let them pack it and ship it for me. Not going to happen!

I got up early Monday, well, I get up early every day, so let’s just say I got out of the house early Monday and went to Home Depot to get some ideas on how to package this thing. I thought a couple of one by eight pieces of lumber with a couple of one by ones sandwiched between them would do the trick. Wrong! The price of lumber these days is almost as much as gold was a few years back. To do it that way it would weigh a ton and cost over thirty dollars just to pack.

I came home and got a call off to the UPS store, told them the dimensions and asked for a price quote. Just for the cardboard boxes alone it would be sixty dollars and that’s before labor was factored in! Nope! Back to the drawing board. The rest of Monday was spent with Trenton.

Oh, yeah, tell me, how can a six-year-old boy enjoy watching the same movie for the one-hundredth time? Yikes!

Okay, Tuesday dawns and I’m out early again, back to Home Depot. I am trying to think light this time.

I remember using door skins to build something years ago that had to be light. Yes, I find door skins! Only six dollars for a four-foot by seven foot sheet. I got them to do two cuts on it for free and it was off to find the one by one pieces of lumber. Hmmm, they didn’t have one by ones, so I settled on one by twos. I needed two of them, and they cost less than two dollars each. Now off to look for a box of screws. I chose zinc instead of stainless to keep the price down. The package will probably get discarded after unpacking, so who cares if the screws rust six months from now, right? Oh, total cost is less than fourteen dollars. Yeah!

Now it’s off to Wal-Mart’s, which is close, to buy some new DVD’s for Trenton and to save my sanity, LOL!

I get home and get everything laid out and Trenton arrives on cue. He is excited that Grandpa has a project for US  to do. He sees the 18volt battery operated drill and his eyes go wide with excitement. He picks it up and squeezes the trigger and I know he is imagining it shooting out a laser beam and taking out the house next door.

As I start to drill the guide holes for the screws Trenton asks, "When can I drill one, Grandpa?" Hmmm. This twenty-minute task is now going to take the better part of an hour, but I give in and hold the drill each time while he pulls the trigger. Then we line up the pieces to screw together and he is a big help here. He gets so excited as the packing crate takes form. I guide the drill as we screw what seems like a thousand screws into the wood. It’s looking pretty good at this point.

It’s time to fit the last piece on and seal the packing crate up. I go get the item to be shipped and it fit in there perfectly. It’s just a hair tight, though, so when it’s unpacked, it’s not going to come out by opening one end and sliding out. No, the receiving party is going to have to unscrew one side and lift it out. Sorry, but it’s a gift, right? So I hope they still appreciate it while they are unscrewing that fiftieth screw to get the crate open, LOL!

Paulette arrives home, as we are finishing up. Trenton stays with me and we are done. Trenton’s Dad pulls up and He and Trenton go inside to see Paulette before Trenton is bundled off to home.

Later, Paulette tells me all the little guy could talk about is how he built the packing crate. His Dad is going to have to hear about the project all night long. I love it!

Today I’ll try and get away on a break and take this to the UPS Store and get it shipped. It felt good doing something nice for a friend and getting the little guy involved. I had a good two days off!