ARIZONA TO ALASKA

BUSY PLUS

By: joealaska, 7:18 AM GMT on July 26, 2012

I just broiled an Italian Sausage for dinner, threw it on lettuce and some bread with a bit of mustard.
Then I lost her to the floor en-route to the red COMFY CHAIR. (I have no dinner table, as well as no real eating utensils. It is amazing what can be done with duct tape and tin foil. Almost EVERYTHING). But that sausage was good, as I saved and salvaged.

OK, crazy busy. Under control, only because we have three great new employees. But they are being trained. So there is a lot of training time. Which takes time away from my normal crazy stuff. Frankly, it is all a breath of fresh air. We needed it. But I did not. There are huge orders I am writing up, as it would be me checking the new girl anyway. I save a bit of time by doing it myself.
This is all I am doing. LOTSA ORDERS.

Normally we are very busy right now. But we are also selling to most of the Shell boats here. Now we are sending out the second orders to these boats. It gets interesting when I have to convert from metric. Lots of math just to see what we are talking about. Then we have many (MANY) special requests for items I have never heard of. We try to find them, and we spend a lot of time doing this. And we often find nothing. But we do not charge for that...

We are selling hundreds of pounds of red king crab. $21.50 a pound.

I have been over the PASS twice now, and I have been up Ballyhoo twice. My favorite views seen many times before.

I am not an early morning guy, even though I served fifteen years in the paint business having to open at 6 AM with an hour commute. LOVE being gone.

But now I am showing up at 6:30 - 8 AM, and staying until it is done. I normally have a cup of coffee for breakfast. Now I have no lunch, OK, a cuppla bananas. I get home around 7 and hungry.

I LOVE The British Open (I KNOW, EVERYONE LOVES GOLF). I saw very little of it this past weekend. There is a replay on TV late in the day, and I was able to see the last few holes of that. Ernie Els won. Adam Scott lost. More about Adam Scott having a lead and losing it in the last few holes. A really big sports story if you know about Ernie Els and his kid.

Has anyone noticed that van in my “front yard” is GONE? Towed away recently, although a pile of peripheral pile of metal remains.

Better than nothing,

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THE PASS IS OPEN

By: joealaska, 7:30 AM GMT on July 20, 2012

Today we had an official high of 70 degrees, just short of the record high since I have been here: 72.
The thermometer on the Tahoe suggested a higher temp of 73.

I heard yesterday that the pass was finally open. Last night the weather was awesome, and I had a chance to cruise. GNU was still busy working, so I went solo and stopped many times for photos. Good to be up and over. The drifts that were blocking the road just over a week ago were now much smaller after meltage.

Last week we found the road up Ballyhoo also open. All is now accessible in Dutch now, just no time to do so.

We have been very busy. I have been doing two jobs, as I have been Joeofficegirl for a few weeks. It is a lot of paperwork. Especially when you have other stuff to get done. Now we have hired a new Office Manager and she is doing great. But it is even more work to train someone right now. A new warehouse guy starts this weekend. Still looking for one more person.

Noble Discoverer has been moved off to the far side of the bay, about 5 miles from where she lost a grip with the anchor. I have been wondering if the crew was distracted with that 300 pounds of red king crab we delivered to them the morning of that fateful day...

Kulluk is back at home in the special concave dock custom built for it at OSI. That BIG BUMBLEBEE tug TOR VIKING is due back at any time.

I have a window open right now and I just smacked my first mosquito.

Hoping UK gives us all ongoing local insight on the upcoming Olympics. As I write I am watching highlights of The British Open at Royal Lytham. Tiger is in the lead. Must be getting a few night rounds in.

Mount Cleveland? A few hundred miles west of here. Any ash could come our way, just like Makushin could erupt, just as THE BIG ONE could hit. If it happens we will deal with it.

We will prevail.

Now please put away your texts, there will be a quiz.

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ON THE ROCKS / SHIP HAPPENS

By: joealaska, 8:27 AM GMT on July 15, 2012

Today we finished up around 5PM, much better than the 8AM - Midnight deal yesterday.

As I drove home I went up and over the hill from our warehouse, went around the curve and headed down toward the water I saw the mast of Noble Discoverer. Horribly closer than normal.

This was the first of two Shell drill rigs coming by Dutch, heading north to the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas up north. Like I am not north enough! The Noble Discoverer is a self contained drill ship. A rig on a ship. It is different from KULLUK, that oil rig that came through Dutch last year. Kulluk is just a drill rig, and must be towed to get anywhere.

Discoverer has been a landmark parked in the bay in front of Safeway for the last couple of weeks.

Today it was closer to Safeway, and the Post Office. Very close. Scary close.

The anchor lost its grip in the sandy soil and the 50 mph winds pushed the big rig ashore.

It was the lead story on the Anchorage news tonight. Down south tomorrow it will be buried. They said the rig got within 175 yards of shore. Check out my photo ON THE ROCKS. You tell me...
They did not acknowledge it even hit shore. A possible “soft grounding.” All I know is it stopped at that point with no assistance.

So when I first saw the very close boat, I immediately pulled over to the edge of the water off the road. I noticed 2 other vehicles doing the same thing. In 2 minutes, there were 15 cars. So I was knew I was there just when it happened. I took 2 pictures and my camera said CHANGE BATTERIES. Shades of Ocean Harvester! I quickly drove to Safeway where there was a RARE line and bought more batteries. After I returned, I wore out four of those new batteries in about 15 minutes.

WHAT THE....?

But I saw a lot of action. Nothing moves in fast motion with boats, but I have posted pics, and will put together a film.

At first, one small tug- either Saratoga or the bigger Mike O’Leary- was struggling to pull the Discoverer off the shore. There were other boats all around, but they were standing by. The Discoverer was firing up its engines, as the black smoke indicated. But there it sat. My guess was it was about 80 yards off shore, close enough to be grounded.

A big crowd formed all along the beach, even though it was raining and blowing at 50 mph. Everyone was taking pictures. IDIOTS!! (See what I have posted).

It was more interesting to me as we deal with all the big players in this story. I even called one of the tugs as they were in route to help out, telling them we had some freight for them. They said hold on to it, they had a job to get done.

There are thre tugs (at least) with Dunlap towing who we work with all the time. They do a great service to Dutch, as well as the Horizon tug Gyrfalcon (JEER-Falcon).

As the whole Noble Discoverer episode unfolded off in the distance appeared KULLUK. Back with perfect timing. It was being towed in from Seattle by AIVIQ (EYE-VICK). The arrival could not have been more perfectly scripted. One big arrival, one big snafu. They pulled in within complete view, but after the Discoverer issue, they retreated back behind Hog Island out of sight.

Green Peace has already made a big statement about Shell not being able to handle a deep port anchorage, much less an Arctic drilling.

Don’t even ask me about work...

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AN ISSUE OF AMMONIA

By: joealaska, 3:56 AM GMT on July 09, 2012

OK. Very busy. Let’s move on.

The big story here is about the explosion on The Excellence Friday. I have not had the chance to hear what exactly happened. But I will. The result was a cloud of ammonia floating from the vessel down Ballyhoo Road across two of the busier docks in town. Not good. Potentially fatal.

This is a big boat who we work with regularly, including Friday. The boat was evacuated as was the immediate area. Two welders were flown to Anchorage for examination, but the captain told me they were walkin’ and talkin’. Not sure if the welders were part of the accident, or just victims working nearby.

After I heard about the accident I had a chance to glance down toward the dock and saw nothing, but it was some time since the accident. But later I did see a cloud coming from the area. Now a day later, I saw from a distance large fire hoses rinsing off the boat (like I said, it is a BIG boat, around 350 feet long). But it continues to be a local story. Police late TODAY were blocking Ballyhoo Road to inbound traffic, which directly affects us. Tomorrow morning we have a delivery to a boat down that road, as well as tomorrow night. A BIG delivery. The local radio said there will be road closures off and on over the weekend. Not sure why.

The cloud of ammonia also STOPPED the unloading of our already-late Friday vessel for 4 hours. But I called everyone and they all had a good attitude, WHAT CAN YOU DO? Dutch Harbor!

The wave of new vessels with Shell Oil are arriving. GREEN PEAS Esperanza came into City Dock and there was no huge riot. Now they are gone and off to The Pribilof Islands, then north to the oil fields in The Chukchi Sea northwest of Alaska. Now we have NOBLE DISCOVERER at anchor in the harbor. Our friends NANUQ are back, also at anchor. Then there is NORDICA, an impressive vessel with paint chipped on the bow I assume due to ice. More vessels are due soon, all BIG vessels.

KULLUK will not return, but will bypass Dutch Harbor on their way north.

We are trying to feed all of these new vessels.

SHELL is now having to deal with the still-present sea ice up north that screwed up the crab season. It has slowed down there plans to get vessels up north. That same late ice reflects what I am trying to beat getting over the PASS. It is a superlative year.

FOG is now rearing its ugly foggy head. Affecting flights. Saturday we had freight needing to LEAVE Dutch, so we chartered a plane. It was a big deal. We delivered the large crate in plenty of time to the airport. But the plane eventually turned around due to fog. Many flights were screwed up today. The DC-3 turned around and tried again today.

Today the plane (built in 1944) come in to take one piece of freight to Anchorage, then on to Seward. A roll of cable. It was only 1760 pounds, but would not fit in the door of the typical planes coming through here. The DC-3 was a big plane that could haul 4 times that weight. Plenty of extra room was left over.

We talked to the pilot. He had trubba getting in due to the rope of fog at both ends of the runway. After some plane posturing, he banked in steeply and got it down. We heard him flying around for some time, but could not see him, so we knew it was worse than it looked from the ground. They tried to fly in yesterday, but the fog won that battle. They circled for awhile then returned to Cold Bay and stayed the night at a rustic inn.

The weather has been great here. Sunny with big chunks of fog here and there.

Last weekend we chartered a DC-6 to bring in two 7000 pound motors for a big boat. These motors were not that big, just very dense in weight. Very. The widest dimension was about three feet.

That boat was waiting for delivery to fix a breakdown of equipment, in able to go fishing again. 125 people on board waiting to go to work. The motors pulled in the big trawl bag chock full o’ fish.

No pressure!

They easily fit in our wing truck, but the weight was maximum. My driver drove slowly out to OSI and got it done.

And they all lived happily ever after.

(This blog was written over several days so forgive me some of my past tenses / past pluperfects are messed up...)

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DAY OF THE EAGLE

By: joealaska, 5:50 AM GMT on July 03, 2012

It all hit just as I came back.

Just before I left for the reunion it was still a bit slow. Now, crazy.

Plus, we had to let a couple of people go, including my office manager. Now I work two jobs. I used to come in later and work into the evenings. Now I come in early, and still do the evening thing. Friday was your basic 17 hour blitz.

We had 8 container vans. I cannot remember that in my 4+ years here.

And we had UNUSUAL freight. Too heavy for us to handle. We had to unload what we could, then move the container to another venue. Extra steps, extra time.

I got the typical call at 6 AM. Wake up call. A boat need a delivery by 8 PM. Not a big order. If they called at 5 PM it would have been plenty early. But I am now UP. For good.

We had a group of boats waiting for their order to be delivered once we got it. It included a CUPPLA big boats. 58 pallets of food between them.

Our wing truck holds about 20 pallets. We loaded it up and went to the dock. It took two hours to unload. The dock was also slammed, so they had trubba getting to us. Another variable out of our control. The wing truck can be unloaded in 20 minutes, usually.

The whole process was backed up. We now had to slip in other deliveries before we went back to that slow dock. I was a juggler.

We started to deliver to those two boats around 10 AM. The last trip was done at 10:30 PM, a final pallet stuck in a van driven by me. My crew was stretched out and I was the only option. My phone rings too much. Talking as I listen to a another call beeping in. But I can function as I drive and get stuff done. I made the final delivery personally. Joked with the captain high up on the bridge. It was fun. Wish I could do it more.

We started at 7 AM, and we stopped at midnight. Good thing to get home, as there was a big day Saturday.

During the big rush, there was an eagle event.

I noticed MANY eagles swarming. Normally this means someone is cleaning fish somewhere. All I know was I saw swarming, diving, fighting among themselves, and one eagle diving to hit on a metal strap laying on the ground like it was food.. The action was too widespread to catch it on the camera, even though it was centered on the freight yard. I gave up trying to capture it and went back to work.

I was on the phone outside on our dock (it was a beautiful sunny day!) when I saw a flash of an eagle rocketing down and into our warehouse door. I almost did not believe what I just saw. So I hung up the phone and pulled out the camera. Filming, I walked into the warehouse door with no idea what I would see. At first, I saw nothing. Then some movement on the far wall... Now the wings were extended and here he comes. Nothing like being between a trapped eagle and his only means of egress. At this point the film gets very shaky as I YIELD. But the eagle avoids me completely by trying to escape through a one square foot window off to my side. He slammed up against the glass, dropping the fish head he was carrying. Evidently he was trying to hide in our warehouse to enjoy a meal by himself. Now he was in a panic trying to join his buddies back outside.

He stumbled and bumbled , trying to get off the stack of toilet paper cases he was trying to walk on. These birds need a little room to get started. And he did. Panic flying off into the wild blue. Yonder.

Leaving the fish head for us to fight over, as we had no lunch yet.

Film will be on youtube.

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About joealaska

With Dutch Harbor in the rear view window, I am camped out in Louisville, KY. looking for employment and a new chapter.

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