Sunday, February 24, 2013

Rigging Department - Week 2

Well, I sit here writing this post while I begin the process of packing up my apartment. Eric and I are preparing for our final week here in Louisiana. We will have our last day of work at Metal Shark on Wednesday, and will begin our journeys North first thing on Thursday morning. I have a 6AM flight to Philadelphia, and Eric will be hitting the road shortly thereafter. I can say that while I have loved my time here at Metal Shark and I have grown fond of Louisiana, I am ready to get back home.

Anyway, this week I was moved to a new boat in the rigging department. I spent my week working on another 38 Defiant, this one for the Army Corps of Engineers. Unlike the 38 Defiant for Bangladesh which uses water jets for propulsion, this boat uses standard straight shaft propellers. Though these boats are both 38 Defiants, they are very different boats.

I had a lot of different jobs this week, all of which taught me something new, with only exception. The first job we had was preparing the boat for rigging. This means that all of the exposed aluminum walkway surfaces and the roof must be covered with cardboard to prevent them from getting scratched. This was the only job where I did not really acquire any new skills, but it was a necessary part of the job. I worked on installing cockpit lights, which is trickier than it sounds because if the hole you make for the light is even a fraction too big, you will not be able to screw the lights in. Fortunately, we managed to get all of the lights in without too much difficulty. I helped install a radar unit on the top of the boat, which was a learning experience for all of us because no one on the crew had ever installed that specific kind of radar before. But we got it in with no trouble. I helped install all of the exterior floodlights on the boat as well as the anchor light and tow light. I also installed the loudspeaker on the roof. I cut and helped install all of the insulation for the bulkhead between the engine room and the rest of the boat. I installed the forward bilge pump and float switch underneath the cabin of the boat. I mounted four DC receptacles in the cabin. My final task of the week was to install Deutsch connectors on the wires for the lights inside the cabin, however after completing only one connection I ran out of time and had to clean up.

As you can see, I had a busy week. I was very fortunate to work with another good crew who taught me a lot about their jobs and how to fit out a boat.

On Saturday, Eric, Alex and I went to New Orleans. We figured that we couldn't spend two months in Louisiana without even visiting New Orleans once. We will have a full post about our trip once Eric gets around to dealing with getting the photos off of his camera.

Well, that's about it for now. Other than the New Orleans post, I'm not sure if I will be writing anymore before I leave. I will probably be spending my nights packing up all my worldly possessions for transport back to the Northeast. Hopefully you have all enjoyed reading the blog and I thank you for taking the time to read up on my adventures in Louisiana.

T.J. Brackin

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Update from the rigging department

As I told you all the last time I wrote, I am no longer working in the welding department. Now, I am working in the rigging department. The rigging department is responsible for putting everything else in the boats that is not installed by welding. Generally, this includes all electrical wiring and components, engines, seats, non-skid, and pretty much anything else you can think of that you need to have on a finished boat. 

So far, I have worked on two different boats in the rigging department. The first boat that I worked on was the U.S. Coast Guard RB-S, aka the Response Boat-Small. This is the 29 foot pilothouse boat that was also the first boat I worked on in the welding department. In fact, I began rigging on the exact same boat that I had welded on, RB-S # 29. Things got moving rather slowly with the RB-S crew for me. For the first two days that I was there, I really didn't get to do much but watch what they were doing. Slowly but surely though, I got to do a little bit more as the week progressed. The slow start is understandable though because this crew has been working on thirty of these boats, so they are all in a system and really didn't need any outside help. Despite the slow start though, I really did learn a lot during my time with the RB-S crew.

The boat I am currently working on is the 38 foot Defiant for the Bangladesh Coast Guard. I started on this boat on Wednesday of this week when we returned from the Mardi Gras holiday. This is only the third Bangladesh boat that this crew has rigged, so there was plenty of work that I could help out with. Immediately I was involved with running and putting the protective sheathing around wires, installing lights and fans, installing rub rails and many more little tasks around the boat. I was certainly not bored. Then yesterday, I got to be a part of putting the collar on the boat. This was not a whole lot of fun. The collar is the large foam ring that goes around the gunwale of the boat to protect the boat when docking or boarding. The collar is made of a vinyl outer shell with large pieces of foam stuffed into it. The vinyl is thread into tracks on the side of the hull, and the foam is then stuffed inside the shell. Putting the collar on is a very violent process. After the vinyl shell gets into the tracks, the foam is basically just beat into place with large paddles. Those who are not beating the foam with paddles have to hit on the foam that is already inside the collar with rubber mallets. After several hours of this, one can certainly see how it could become very tiring. But, once again, working on the Bangladesh taught me a lot about the rigging of a boat, and let me get some real hands-on experience with what these guys have to do every day. 

As I mentioned, in between my work on these two boats was the Mardi Gras holiday. Metal Shark gave all of its employees the day off on Lundi Gras and Mardi Gras, which meant that I had a four day weekend. My mom and my uncle decided to come celebrate and spend the weekend in Lafayette with me, and we had a really great time. We tried every kind of local Cajun food that we could, listened to a Grammy award winning Zydeco band, and even did a swamp tour. We had an awesome weekend, and none of us were real excited about going back to work on Wednesday. 

Well, that's about it. As of now, there is only another week and a half before we pack up and head for home. Eric and I will be finishing work on Wednesday, February 27. I will be flying home to spend the weekend with my family before I return to Webb on Sunday. I'll be posting at least one more time before we leave so check back sometime at the end of next week!

 - T.J. Brackin

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Short Update - Eric Harris

Good morning!

I know that a week or more ago I promised renderings of a vessel I am working on and I have attached them to this post. There will be a longer post coming in the next few days, but I only have time right now for this short one.

See below for renderings!


 It is a 24 foot Riverene boat for Uganda.

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Trip to Texas

Well Hello!

-Eric Harris

This last weekend, three of us went to Boumont, Texas to see what there was to do there. It was on Saturday and in the morning we started heading out on our two hour drive to Beaumont. Everything went well on the way there, including a short stop to get some fries and chocolate shakes for snacks.

Once entering Texas, I saw two sights that I had never seen before. The first was an eighteen wheeler that had flipped on the side of the road. It had happened less than a few minutes before we passed by because I saw road workers ahead scrambling to clear the road and the cop that was working the construction jump in his car and spin around to go flying towards the accident. I do hope that fellow was alright, but I couldn’t tell since it was off the side of the highway.

The second sight that I saw was a speed limit sign of 75 miles per hour. Pretty great, but it seemed as if there was some strict laws on the speed limit because in the first 5 miles I saw at least five cops.

On our way into Boumont, we had decided that we were going to go see at least two things off the bat. Alex wanted to see a minor basilica that was located in the city but when we arrived it was all closed for the day. There was nobody home at all, and then the stairs tried to kill her by jumping up and throwing her down them. But shes tricky and kept her footing.

Next we tried going to a steamboat museum, but when we got there, a sign hung on the door said “by appointment only,” so like a couple of sad puppies left in the rain we went and hid under a porch. Wait… that’s not a good metaphor at all… So like a bunch of hooligans we took some candid pictures and ran away.

We found a museum in Port Arthur that was a oil and gas museum and decided to go there. It was modeled after an old style town that had the original wooden buildings. We were able to see a whole bunch of things exactly like they were back when Boumont became a boomer town because of the oil rush that happened there.

After the museum we went to go find the water near Port Arthur. We found a nice spot on some rocks to hang out for a few minutes and then saw an island called Pleasure Island. We decided to go see what was there, so we hopped in the car and drove to the bridge. On the way there we saw a field of 40 oz beer containers… A. Field. Of. Forites… Twas a sight, unfortunately we didn’t get any photos…

Once we got across the bridge we found an epic playground that looked kinda like a castle. It was a lot of fun because it was so epic. Although there was a lot of profanity all over it and I got some sideways looks from being a 20 year old on a play set, but it was so massive and fun. ^.^

After the playground we went to find the marina and we saw a barge leaving the area. Alex really wanted a photo so I stopped on the side of the road and she jumped out. No sooner had she left the car and closed the door than we were swarmed by mosquitos. They were slamming themselves against the windows and doors trying to get in. I tried moving the car, but it didn’t work. When she got in the car, she practically jumped in and slammed the door. In those two seconds, five mosquitos, much larger than I am used to in Florida, entered the car and went on a quest for blood. They were mercilessly slaughtered very quickly though because it was super creepy. It was almost as bad as the movie “Birds” by Alfred Hitchcock, but with bloodthirsty, rampaging mosquitoes.

Once we found the water we drove around for a bit and then tried to find a cool place to go in Boumont. We settled on Crockett Street, which looked like a cool place to go in the evenings. When we arrived, however, it was completely empty because it hadn’t opened yet. So we went on a quest to find some food. We ended up finding a pretty awesome steakhouse that had deliscious steaks, some of the best bread I have ever had, amazing spinach and artichoke dip, awesome mashed potatoes, and an all around good atmosphere. It more than made up for the two hours of driving.

We then settled in the car for a pleasant two hour drive home. Upon returning home, we sat around and watched “Smokey and the Bandit,” which I had never seen but absolutely loved, and then went to sleep.

And that concludes my tale of a Saturday well spent adventuring. Below are some photos from the trip for your entertainment.

Eric Harris

There. Was. A. Waterpark. In. A. Grass. Field. In. The. Middle. Of. Nowhere.

End of the Road!

 The sign bananza of bilboards following billboards lol