a counteruniformitariansism weblog


Dear readers: Bruce, the story teller here, is an old Coast Guard buddy from way back. We served together on the old cutter LaMar. The LaMar was decommissioned at the same time we were discharged from the service at Government Island (scene of the old C.G. boot camp) in Alameda California. They took the old ship out to sea and used her for target practice. Us, they just turned loose. I thought I'd share this story with you.

Mornin Joe,

Ya this is a model, one of the nicest I’ve ever seen. The detail is just amazing. I almost sank in a boat, full sized, just like this. This is like the boat we had, probably the Lamar’s original, before we got the new improved model. One beautiful, but very windy, Sunday we had to take the ole girl out on her last run down the coast a bit to try to get a buoy, big buoy, that had lost its anchor and was drifting towards the beach, lights and horn still active. The 40 couldn’t get it and the 44 fail too, if you can believe that. We got a half hitch on it on our third pass. The seas were huge that day but that boat sure could surf the big waves that we encountered as we turned each time to make another pass. Once we got a hold of the buoy I think the anchor chain, which must have been hung up on a rock, broke loose and the “tow” started to dragenough to flood the, self bailing, deck. We managed to get a heaving line tied onto the tow line and pass that off to the awaiting 44, who took over and we headed back to Monterey. We were plowing back but there were still several inches of water on the “self bailing deck”, weird! All that flooding wouldn’t have been so bad if the big brass deck plate on the after deck was good. It wasn’t, and not only that the ocean that leaked into that compartment then leaked into the engine “room” through the prop shaft gland that was bad also. It was an old Buda diesel and, because of all the action on the high seas, it had been a while since I’d looked in to check on things. I lifted the forward hatch and got a face full of the ocean that was sprayed out by the generator fan. Further review of the situation revealed water about half way up the engine, close to the dip stick. Seems like I had read that if salt water gets into the sump it could explode. Sounds far fetched but that is what I recalled at the time. We had a radio but failed to get a hand hump so I told the recruit with us to start bailing with his boot. He thought I was kidding. I wasn’t so he started bailing with his boot. Oh, the story he can tell now, eh? I wanted to shut er down but the boson said no so I waited. We passed the glass bottom boat place in Pacific Grove, still surfing with huge waves pushing us. We had called the station and told them we were sinking and they sent out the 40, again. You should have seen the boat round the breakwater where the seals used to hang out. The waves were so big…and they had an excuse to blast off, they were completely out of the water, all forty feet. It was amazing. Once I was them I shut down the engine but that sure pissed off the boson. Oh, well!!! The 40 picked us up and towed us back. The next day we headed up to Alameda and got our new boat. The end.



What a great story! Actually, yes, I can imagine seeing the side pushed in a number of inches each time that bouy bounced off it. While working on the old Retriever (pictured), and it's sister the Goliah in Seattle harbor on ship assists, it wasn't unusual to see the side of the hull in the engineroom bend right in enough to crack paint when making up alongside a ship to help it into a berth.

It does seem to me that if the water ran into the dipstick hole and mixed with the oil the engine would break. It is surprising though, how much abuse those old diesels would take! Did you know, for instance, that if your cooling water was leaking out somewhere, you MIGHT get away with dumping several pepper shakers full into the radiator if it is WAY overheated. I did this on a river tug running from Kotzebue to Nome (NOT the boat pictured) when one of the GMC engines (keel cooled with expansion tank - no radiator). Now THERE'S another sea story! See how something ALWAYS seems to run into telling another sea story?
The stories we could tell, eh? Maybe we SHOULD write them all down, but I guess I am just too lazy for a project of that scope.

I wonder if anyone at all would be interested in a SEA STORIES blog?

No comments: