TAHITI

Travel Tahiti, What's Up?

My dream was to sail a forty-six foot sailboat from San Francisco to Tahiti and back. I kept putting it off until Elizabeth, my astute wife, realized it wasn’t going to happen unless she stepped up and made it happen.  She had little interest in sailing to Tahiti, but she was excited about sailing the Tahitian Islands. Her solution was a surprise  birthday gift of a two-week Tahitian cruise aboard the just launched, small cruise ship, the M/S Paul Gauguin.

In the summer of 1997, we boarded a plane in San Fransisco and flew into Papeete, the capital of the French Polynesian Islands. We took a launch to the small, nearby island of Bora Bora where we spent three days and nights in a unique thatched roof bungalow fifty yards off the beach. There was a hatch on the glass floor of the main room, that when opened, revealed stairs leading down to the water. The experience was mesmerizing and exhilarating. We felt like very special people. The sense of well being was quickly shattered when I got the breakfast bill for over one-hundred dollars, followed by a two-hundred dollars  dinner bill for a modest meal of the local fish and a glass of wine.

About eleven of the third day, we took the resort’s launch back to Papeete. The Paul Gauguin had arrived and the crew was preparing her for her maiden voyage that afternoon. The accommodating purser accepted our luggage, but said, we will not be ready for passenger boarding until two o’clock.” He suggested we visit the open marketplace just down the street, and explore the village while we waited. We headed for the marketplace. The sights, smells and sounds of the bustling, stinky, dirty, fly infested place surprised me. I’d never seen anything quite like it. We did a quick walk through and left. I found a decent, clean cafe a few blocks away overlooking the harbor, where we had lunch.

We were treated like royalty when we boarded our ship. We settled into our spacious stateroom, unpacked, and got comfortable. There were fresh flowers, a chilled bottle of French champagne and a basket of fruit on the salon table. The most enjoyable aspect of the room for me was the small lanai on the other side of the sliding glass door. We took the elevator down to the main deck to join the departure festivities a little before five. As we got off the elevator, a pretty Polynesia wahine draped us in fresh leis and offered us an island drink. We made our way over to the crowded port side rail to watch the last minute hustle and bustle on the dock. The final baggage and provisions were competing for space on the conveyor belt leading into the ship’s side. Vendors and baggage handlers were spontaneous, yelling, singing, laughing and cursing at one another in French. It was exhilarating.

Leaving the port, we were treated like royalty with fresh island leis, Mai Tai’s and tasty pupu’s all around as the Polynesian dancers performed to Island music and the purser snapped all of our pictures.

 The following morning we awoke anchored off of Marlon Brando’s private Island of Tetiaroa. This Island was settled by three of the mutineers from the ship featured in the true story ‘Mutiny on the. Bounty.’ Marlon played Fletcher Christian in the movie. Then it was off to Bora, Bora and the many lessor islands. We snorkeled, swam, jet-skied and toured the islands in three wheel motorbikes.

By the tenth day at sea, the opulent shipboard ambiance, beautiful scenery and attentive service had lulled us into believing we were special folks, possibly even ‘Sea Gods’ safe from any peril. However, as evening approached the sky darkened and a typhoon appeared in the distance. We were in open water when it closed in on us. The seas grew huge and rain came down in buckets. Thunder roared and lightning lit up the sky as we dressed for dinner at the captain’ table. Fifteen minutes into dinner service, the captain excused himself and disappeared. That was when I knew we were in for it. This five hundred foot long ship was starting to roll and pitch badly and Elizabeth was getting seasick. We too excused ourselves, as several other diners did.

We retuned to our stateroom and Elizabeth took to her berth moaning. I was ecstatic to be here. I had experienced a hurricane in Alabama, but this was way better, more dangerous and more exciting.  We were sailing through a typhoon in the South Pacific, Man. It was a dream come true, what a story! I felt the ship make a dramatic course change, which nearly tumbled Elizabeth out of her berth. She grumbled loudly and sent me to sickbay for some pills. When I got there a half-dozen passenger were ahead of me.

I hurried back to our stateroom and tended to my now very seasick wife. While she was in the head, I picked up the phone and ordered a cheeseburger. The kitchen crewman told me that he was sorry, but because of the heavy seas, the galley was closed.

I found a can of peanuts, an apple, and a bottle of Tahitian rum in the cooler. I grabbed them and went out onto our small private deck to enjoy the storm. It was an incredible experience. The ships powerful floodlights lit up the ocean and bounced light off of the driving rain. The white capped seas reached up towards me and occasionally crashed onto the deck at my feet. The rum, I was sucking down enhanced the experience. I was soaking wet and a little tipsy when a massive lightning bolt lit up the sky, followed by a deafening clap of thunder. It was beautiful and surreal. For a moment I was lieutenant Dan aboard Forrest Gump’s shrimp boat. I shook my fist at the heavens and hollered, “Bring it on, God! I can handle it! Elizabeth must have heard me, because she slid the door open and hollered, “Get back in here, Jake!” I did so, but I shall never forget that night. Jake

I FINALLY GOT MY BOAT

Sea Story, What's Up?

I FINALLY GOT MY BOAT

 

Frisky r

The Winston’s are people of the sea. Back in the eighteen hundred’s, our ancestors built and sailed ships out of Scotland. My grandfather, father,(seen in this photo) and all my brothers and sisters loved the sea and owned boats. From the time I was six, I spent countless hours on boats of all descriptions.

***

We sold our boat in 1999 and moved to the Hawaiian Island of Oahu, which is two-thousand-five-hundred-miles from the nearest main body of land. I stepped off the plane in Honolulu with the anticipation of living in what should be a boater’s paradise. Surprisingly, there were relatively few outstanding boating opportunities in Hawaii outside of ocean fishing.

unnamed (1)I would routinely return to the Northwest twice a year to get my boating fix. Sometimes I rented a sixteen-foot kicker boat and took my son and grandkids crabbing on Oregon’s Alsea River. Once I experienced a brief stint as a deckhand aboard a commercial gillnetter in Bristol Bay, Alaska. There were lots of weekends spent aboard leased cruisers in the San Juan Islands and sports fishing off of Vancouver Island, which Elizabeth, my wife, pointed out, worked out to about $62.50 per pound for the fish I usually brought home. These excursions to the mainland were a band-aid, not a solution, and I knew it.

 

IMG_1961I almost realized my dream when I found an older fifty-eight-foot trawler tied up at La Mariana’s Sailing Club and Restaurant, which needed work and was for sale. The price was right, and it came with a moorage right in front of the restaurant/bar. It was perfect. As I was negotiating the deal, a tsunami tidal wave wiped out La Mariana’s marina, and the boat disappeared.

 

Bow up

***

After that disappointment, Elizabeth decided to cheer me up with an afternoon of riding the surf in a six-man outrigger canoe off of Waikiki Beach. It was exhilarating, but it reinforced my determined to be out on the ocean.

***

The following summer, I was thrilled when the owners of the local dragon boat, “the Opala,” invited two of my buddies and me to join their regular paddlers in the annual international Dragon Boat races held in Waikiki. My fellow sixteen paddlers, a drummer, and a coxswain practiced for hours and drank beer every evening for six weeks in preparation for the race. On race day, we beat the favored Chinese boat by a full length and won.

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***

The following year we were invited back, and we were smoking the competition. As we approached the finish line, the coxswain ordered the paddlers to lean to starboard. The two big locals paddling in front of me misunderstood the order and leaned the wrong way, capsizing our canoe. The Opala slipped across the finish line upside down and without a crew.

***

I was through screwing around with these diversions to my goal of boat ownership. I started searching the newspaper and marinas for a proper boat to purchase. I knew I couldn’t afford the boat I badly wanted, so I lowered my sights to a twenty-four-foot Boston Whaler rigged for ocean fishing. I figured I could eventually trade up. As I expressed my dream to Elizabeth, she told me, “Listen, Jake, I’ve stood by as you bought and sold seven boats over the years. I know how much work and expense is involved in owning and maintaining a boat, and so do you. Please, why don’t you just rent or charter a boat when you get the urge. I could go along with that, but not with owning another boat.”

***

The next evening, there was a copy of an internet advertisement beside my dinner setting. A fishing guide up in Waianae was offering to rent or lease his twenty-four-foot boat to qualified skippers for the day or week for a reasonable price. I called the guy immediately and reserved the boat for Wednesday of next week. I hung up, wrapped my arms around Elizabeth and told her I was lucky to have such a wise woman at my side.

***

unnamedI can’t describe how much fun my grandson and I had on the following Wednesday. The ride up to Waianae, where the boat was waiting for us was an adventure in itself. We met the owner, who showed me how things worked and grilled me about my skipper’s qualifications. After he was satisfied, I could safely handle his eighty-thousand-dollar boat he handed me the keys. I politely asked some questions about the electronics and four-hundred horsepower engine, just so he would know I was an experienced mariner. When I ask him about the Fish & Game rules regarding the legal sizes of different fish we could keep, He laughed, “Where you from, Boy? This is Waianae, the wild west. You won’t see any fish and game guys anywhere around here!’

 

IMG_4763 copy 3The owner backed the boat and trailer down the launch ramp with my grandson and me aboard. As he watched my every move, I lowered the outboard, started it, and slowly backed away from the trailer. I slipped it into neutral and let the boat slow to a near stop, and I imperceptibly shifted it into forward and executed a slow, smooth turn towards the channel entrance. He looked satisfied and gave us a friendly wave, which I returned with a curt John Wayne salute.

 

IMG_4801-1Once we were in the ocean and out of sight, I pushed the throttle to the wall, and let out an exuberant blood-curdling victory whoop as we went flying up the north coast at forty-knots. Initially, I was confident and comfortable with this overpowered vessel, but as the day wore on, and we went deeper and deeper into the not so friendly ocean, I wasn’t so sure as the wind and seas rose to a menacing level.

 

 

IMG_4760 (2)When a twenty-foot-plus unidentified fish came alongside and shadowed us for several minutes as we trolled, I was concerned. The big fish was close enough that I could reach down and touch its dorsal fin if I so wished. It was indeed capable of flipping us over. That’s when I thought a twenty-four-footer wasn’t going to cut it.

***

When we returned home that evening, I realized Elizabeth was right. One of the highlights of the trip was getting off the boat, handing the owner $500 and leaving. I didn’t have to wash it down, untangle the fishing tackle around the prop, refuel it, or haul it off to the storage yard. There would be no boat, insurance, storage yard, maintenance and repair costs. I accepted the fact that renting made a lot more sense than owning for us at this point in our lives. Peace settled on our little household.

***

About six a.m. several weeks later, I looking for something on the internet, when I stumbled upon an ad on Craig’s List:

FOR SALE, 20-FT BOAT, AND TRAILER. $1.00

boat & trailer

I couldn’t resist, I bought it on the spot. I was excited and couldn’t wait to share my good fortune with Elizabeth. I waited until a little after eight when she had her coffee and proudly blurted out, “I bought a twenty-foot boat this morning, Dear.” She sputtered, “You did what…?” Ten minutes later, I called the boat owner and said, “Here’s the deal, It’s down to my wife, or the boat. Sorry about the boat, but I’m keeping the wife!”

***

Opportunity was not done knocking at my door. Six weeks later I had a chance to buy a nearly new kayak for a good price from my grandson who was headed up to Alaska for a summer job. I couldn’t stand to see him sell that boat to a stranger for pennies on the dollar. So, I bought it. Elizabeth had no fight left in her, and just let it go.

IMG_5320I was under the impression it weighed about fifty pounds, or about the weight of two cases of beer or pop. I knew I could handle that easily, but as I struggled mightily to get it down from the kayak rack, I realized it weighed close to a hundred and fifty pounds. Once I got it on the ground, I could neither lift it onto the roof of my SUV nor place it back on to its spot high up on the rack.

I was dejected, out of breath and out of ideas, I took a seat in my kayak and staring at the rack trying to figure out how to get the damn thing back up there by myself. Fortunately, a couple of college kids wandered by and asked, “Are you okay, Mister?”

“No, I’m a long way from okay. Can you guys help me get this kayak back into the rack?

“Sure.”

kayak 2They helped me to my feet and out of the kayak. They asked me to stand clear as they struggled to lift it above their heads and squeeze it back in its spot which was a tight fit. I thanked them, and after they left, I chained it up and stood back to take a look and study my options.

It was a nice boat, but I knew I would never go to sea in it. It was just too cumbersome for me to deal with by myself. My situation reminded me of the words to an old Bobby Bare song called. “The Winner.” It ends like this:

 

“…but, I got her boys, and that’s what makes me a winner!”

 

*** THE END ***

 

*Credit to the song “The Winner” by B. Bare

 

 

NORTHWEST BOATING HISTORY

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1-17-18 PART 1:

NORTHWEST BOATING HISTORY

EAGLE HARBOR

Eagle Harbor, Bainbridge, Island. A favorite destination in the ’80’s. Seattle in the background,

Boats and the sea are embedded in Jake Winston’s genes. He first stepped aboard a vessel in 1946, right after WW II when pleasure boating was for the affluent. The pristine bays and harbors were mostly deserted even in the summers. There were few docks, moorages, or fueling stations. The rich and famous rendezvoused and partied in places like Roche Harbor, Rosario, or Deer Harbor in the San Juan Islands in their expensive wooden and steel hulled yachts.

 

roach

Yachts tied up side by side to a log boom before there were a dock and mooring buoys at Roche Harbor. If a boat left, the vessels on either side had to re-secure their lines.

 

Company. vessel

 

The 110-foot Olympus wood yacht built in the ’20’s was one of the grand old ladies of that era.

 

 

chris craft 2

The mid-fifties and sixties saw the decline of those old wooden boats like the Olympus and the rise of a short-lived era of modern, wide beam, fast wood boats. Chris Craft led the way with its forty-five-foot Commander.

 

Frisky II fling copyThere were other boat builders like Higgins Industries, the manufacturer of WW II PT boats, who built a few smaller versions of their wooden PT boats, which Edgar Kaiser and Doc Winston bought and traded parts for over the years. These were unique fast cruisers with three big Chrysler engines.

kids 2When Uniflite and Bayliner introduced mass-produced fiberglass boats to the Northwest, they were a hit. First came the small runabouts, followed by mid-sized cruisers. They were inexpensive, sleek, and required much less maintenance than the wood and steel hulls. boats up to 32 feet were trailerable, and that was huge. You could take them anywhere and launch them on a boat ramp. There was no expensive moorage costs and annual unpleasant hull scraping and repainting. It wasn’t long before having a boat was nearly as common as owning a second car. The marine service sector expanded rapidly, and the post-war boating families crowded into the formerly pristine Island destinations. The old-guard yachting crowd gravitated to the Canadian San Juan’s to escape the influx of the inexperienced new boaters.

***

THE HOUSEBOAT

IMG_5145I was attending the University of Washington in the early sixties. The UW campus fronted on both Lake Washington and Portage Bay. My three roommates and I rented one of a dozen houseboats tied to a rickety floating walkway on Lake Union just around the point and south of the University. We split the twenty-five dollars a month rent three ways. It was hardly a house or a boat. It was a two-room, fishing cabin mounted on a dozen cedar logs strapped together with cable. We had power, telephone and water service, but no sewer. The toilet, tub, and sink emptied directly into the lake. Things were a little primitive, and an eclectic collection of beatniks and free spirits populated our poor, but happy, vibrant neighborhood. The houseboat was on Lake Union to the left of the 5.

I had repaired and re-fitted a sixteen-foot sailboat, the Wild Goose II, which I bought for a hundred-eighty dollars. It was tied up to a couple of fir logs at my back door. When the weather was decent, we often headed out into Lake union after classes with a couple of girls and a case or Rainier beer.

IMG_5147I’ll never forget the afternoon we climbed aboard the Wild Goose II and set sail. There was enough wind to zip along comfortably in and out of the boat and seaplane traffic.  I knew that the wind would typically die down in the late afternoon so I would need to be back before that occurred. That day, the wind just quit when we were about a quarter of a mile from home. Undaunted, we continued to party, and toss our empties overboard, knowing some good-hearted boater would eventually come along and give us a tow. That’s how it was back in the day.

I was surprised when the wail of a siren interrupted our happy little sail. It was the Harbor Patrol in their new inflatable thirty-four-footer. A very young officer raised his bullhorn and ordered us to heave-to. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do that since we were becalmed and just drifting. Never the less, just to go along with the officer, I hollered, “Aye, aye, Skipper, Sir!”

Despite the fact we were only a few yards apart, he continued to address us through his bullhorn. He inquired if the trail of empty beer bottles he followed came from our vessel. In his sternest voice, he bellowed at no one in particular, “You have created a threat to navigation, and that is a serious matter.” My roommate, Johnny Be Good, who was a little tipsy, rose to his feet and denied the bottles were ours. He belligerently demanded to see the officer’s identification. Just then, the wake of a passing boat rocked us, and Johnny fell overboard. Parker and I quickly dragged him, sputtering and coughing, back aboard.

The officer looked puzzled, and demanded, “Who is the skipper of this vessel? Identify yourself immediately!” I cheerfully raised my hand and announced with a big smile, “That would be me, Captain.” Elizabeth giggled. I overheard the first mate, an older sailor, tell the officer, “This stop is a little overzealous. If you charge these kids with creating an obstruction to navigation, your report will make you look ridiculous and possibly influence your career.” A moment passed and the officer nodded and ordered his coxswain to move on. I brazenly asked for a tow as they were backing away. I was surprised when the first mate grinned and tossed me a line. When he cut us loose close to the house, I gave the first mate my best John Wayne salute, which he returned.

***

 

THE OUTFALL LINE

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1-15-18:

Episode 1 of  THE OUTFALL LINE:

beach job a-1

The site of the effluent outfall pipe rupture off the coast of California at Eureka.

I got a call from George Diefenbaker, one of the local paper mill engineers out at the Samoa peninsula at six a.m. It was a chilly Thursday morning in November. He excitedly told me, “The Coast Guard had discovered a major leak in our ocean outfall line. They reported it to the EPA and us yesterday afternoon. The EPA is sending an inspector up here from San Francisco. He will be here at noon. The mill manager is concerned that if we don’t come up with a plan immediately and implement it, the EPA will shut us down and hit us with a huge fine. This is not the first time we have had issues with them. Meet me at my office in an hour. We have to get a plan together and get started today.” Then he hung up before I could ask any questions.

When I arrived at the mill, a very nervous George led me down to the mill manager’s office and rolled out a plan drawing of the pipeline on the conference table. He pointed his bony finger at a spot a quarter of a mile west of the beach, where he believed the break was. When I asked him for elevations, he produced a profile drawing, which showed the top of the six-foot-diameter pipe. The break was two feet below the sea floor, and that would be four feet below that week’s lowest tide elevation.

George was under a lot of pressure to get this repair done, and he didn’t handle stress well. He stammered, “Jake, I have given your firm a lot of work here over the years, and now it’s payback time. He turned to Howard, the manager and asked him, “Can we divert the effluent to a holding pond for six hours?”

“Yes, I suppose so, what do you have in mind?”

“I want to shut the outfall valve at the property line and then have Jake and his crew enter the pipeline at the beach manhole. Once inside, they can drag their material and equipment the quarter of a mile down to the break, and make a quick patch from inside the pipe. They should be able to do that in under six hours.”

I looked at Howard, and we exchanged concerned glances. George said, “Are you okay with my plan, Jake?”

“I don’t know George, that sounds pretty risky. A lot of bad things could happen when we are inside that pipe under the sea, and the only way out is a quarter of a mile away.”

He angrily insisted that his plan was safe and the risks were minimal. He repeated, “You guys owe me one!” I glanced at Howard and back to George and said, “I’ll tell you what, if you agree to lead us into the pipe, down to the break, and stay with us until the last man is out of the pipe, I’ll ask my crew to do it. What do you say, George?”

“Damn it, Jake! Don’t play games with me. I’m an office guy, and I have no business doing something like that, and you know it.”

“I take it your answer is no.”

George was shaking and said, “You’re damn right, I won’t go in there! I want you to do this, that’s why you get the big bucks.”

Howard intervened and told George, “Step out of the room and give us a few minutes.”

When he left and slammed the door behind him, Howard said, “How would you repair it, Jake?”

I thought about it for several minutes. Then I flipped the drawing over and sketched out a safe but expensive solution. After I walked him through it, He said, “Okay, Jake. I’m not going to tell you how to do it. Just do it, and I’ll pay you whatever it costs. It’s got to be less than the EPA fine.” I gathered up the pipeline drawing, returned to my office and assigned the project to Max, one of my senior superintendents.

Howard called me about one o’clock and asked me to sit in on his meeting with the EPA, a Coast Guard Petty Officer, and George. After I explained my plan and answered their questions, the EPA and the Coast Guard seemed satisfied that we had a workable plan. The EPA inspector said they would give Howard forty-eight hours to get the operation underway. If he didn’t comply, they would rescind his discharge permit. That would shut down the mill. As he got up to leave, he said, “The Coast Guard would be monitoring your progress on my behalf.”

When I got back to my office and construction yard, which was down the street from the paper mill, my warehousemen were busy mobilizing, and loading tools, equipment, and materials onto trucks. Max was down at the beach setting up a construction yard and building a wood chip road out to the shore-break to keep our cranes, truck, and other equipment from sinking into the loose sand. My steel detailer followed me into the office and asked me to okay his drawing to fabricate a rigging structure over the pipeline. I looked it over, “Good job Junior, give it to Jason in the steel fab shop and tell him I want it done and loaded on a lowboy by noon tomorrow.”

 

2-1-18:

Episode 2 of THE OUTFALL LINE:

beach job a close up 3I caught up with Max at the beach. It was a busy place. He had a bulldozer and a couple of laborers pushing a twelve-foot wide roadbed from the highway through the dunes towards the beach. Two dump trucks were feeding redwood chips to a second bulldozer, which was spreading the chips over the soft sand.  “I have six divers coming in from San Francisco tomorrow morning,” I said, ” Jason will have the rigging frame out here about noon tomorrow. Work with the divers to get all the hoses, wiring and rigging hooked up the way they want. Eureka Boiler Works is fabricating the big pipe clamp and delivering it here in the morning. The fifty-ton all-terrain crane will be available after four-thirty, and you can have the forty-five-ton rig at noon tomorrow.”

beach job a close up 2 copy  Divers setting marker buoys at the break. The next morning all hell broke loose. The divers pulled into our yard in two vans with all their gear. They were a rambunctious collection of ex-Navy Seals, and they were eager to get started. Max took them out to the shop to inspect the rigging frame. They liked it, but they wanted to add this and that, move this over to there, and then they were satisfied. They gave Merlin, the warehouseman, a list of hoses, fittings, and rigging supplies they needed. They told our electrician how they wanted the electrical set up. They walked through the yard and choose the compressors and generators they required. They even commandeered my little skiff. Two of the divers headed into town to get additional gear and the other four followed Max out to the beach where they dove down to the pipe, got a good look at it and set marker buoys.

beach job b ccBy the end of the day, everything was out on the beach, the preparations were complete, and we were ready for an early morning start.

 

 

2-15-18

Episode 3 of THE OUTFALL LINE by Jake

I rolled out of bed about four-thirty after a restless night. I had brazenly accepted the challenge of the dangerous operation I was facing that morning, but now that the moment had arrived, it was a different story. I thought about the many dangers related to this job. The rigging house could topple over if the sand floor shifted, and men could be killed or badly hurt. The divers could get trapped if the pipe clamp failed or if the temporary cofferdam breached. The deadly fumes from the effluent pipe could suffocate a worker. Anything could happen when you’re working ten feet below the surface of the sea. I put these thoughts out of mind, grabbed my Carhartt jacket and drove out to the Soma Peninsula to join my crew in the early morning darkness.

I pulled off the highway, drove down the chip surfaced road through the dunes, parked and joined the thirty man crew, an ambulance, fire truck and a roach coach. Max had thought of everything. We had our coffee and sandwiches, reviewed our plan as a group and waited for sun up. This was going to go well, I knew it.

beach job 1We Moved the rigging frame & pipe clamp to the edge of the water and went to work just as the sky lightened. We had a two-hour window to get the pipe repair clamp in place and pour the concrete jacket. Every minute counted. The Coast Guard’s semi-inflatable was standing by in case a rescue was needed. It was also there to videotape the operation for the Inspector from San Francisco, who had just pulled up in his rental car.

bj.3Shorty, my rigging boss, sent his four riggers to the top of the frame, where they shackled the fame to the hook on the crane. He signaled the crane operator to lift it a few feet off the sand so they made a few adjustments with turnbuckles and come-along to get the bottom of rigging frame reasonably parallel with the slope of the beach. When they set it back down, the riggers shimmied down the steel posts and took their places at the corners of the rig, to man the taglines. An electrician fired up the big gen-set, and two more electricians climbed the frame to check out the panels and switches. When the fifth electrician connected the rig to a waterproof shore power panel, the lights came on and lite up the beach. Max shackled the back of the crane to the D8 bulldozer’s winch in case the crane got stuck and needed a quick tow.

beach job 2Max shot a quizzical glance at me, I nodded my head, and he gave Shorty the sign to lift the rigging frame and head for the pipe leak. As the huge crane left the safety of the beach and rolled out into the surf, my heart was in my mouth. I thought, If one of cranes tires slipped into a quicksand hole and tipped over, somebody gets hurt. I no sooner had the thought when it happened, but the boys were ready for it, Shorty signaled the crane operator to quickly set the load on the beach and back out of the hole. He then directed the crane around the hole, and they made it safely to the break in the pipe. The divers directed Shorty where to spot the frame. As the crane extended its outriggers, the four-wheel drive backhoe took one more scoop of sand from the side of the now exposed pipe and backed away.

beach job f copyAs soon as Shorty lowered the rigging frame into position, the carpenter crew worked with the divers to set a wooden cofferdam into the hole around the pipe. It would also act as the form for the pipe’s concrete jacket. The divers used powerful water jets to loosen the sand and powerful pumps to remove the sand/water mixture ahead of the crane, which was lowering the four fourteen foot high forms into the excavation with the main line. The backhoe returned with a vibrating hammer type pile-driving device on its boom and vibrating the form as it descended into place.  As long as the pumps were running, there was a reasonably dry hole.

There was no time to waste. We had burned fifty minutes getting this far and only had a little over an hour to make the repair and get out of there. Max was standing on the rig giving orders left and right. A ten-man crew of divers and pipefitters worked as one and got the bottom half of the nearly half-ton steel pipe clamp in place using both the crane’s main and whip line to drag it under the pipe, lift it into place and hold it while the divers jetted and pumped the sand out of the way. I breathed a sigh of relief when the bottom of the clamp was in place. Thank God that’s done, I thought. If we can get the lid on and a few bolts in it, we’re golden and we’re gonna make it. The ironworkers blocked the bottom piece up with dunnage and cut the crane loose to rig and set the top half of the clamp on its mate. The sound of air guns rattling up the bolts was music to my ears.

I sent the crew back to the pulp mill to use their showers, clean up, get into dry clothes, and meet me at the Samoa Cookhouse for lunch. As the crew filed into the cookhouse, Max gave each of them a crisp, new one hundred dollar bill and thanked them for a job well done.

***

Four hours later, Max, two divers and I returned to the site. We sent the divers out in the skiff to anchor over the break and watch for leaks as we called Howard and told him to start slowly cracking open the beach effluent valve. We waited and observed for an hour, and there were no leaks. Then I went home and slept like a baby.

***

bj4

SUCCESS!

The next day Max returned with a crew and removed the rigging frame from the ocean, and restored the beach as my son Mike watched.

 

*** The end ***