Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sorrounded by Sharks

As we lay anchored off Pascagoula, we were surrounded by Sharks. These were young ones and were only about a feet plus in length. Its rather rare to see these creatures out at sea, because unlike Dolphins and Whales, these don't come out of the water and so are very hard to spot from a moving cargo ship.

But luckily as we were at anchor and the water was very clear, we could spot these chaps as they swam all around us. As you can see there were many of them all around and I manged to count as many as 14 of them at a time. As far as I can Identify, they seem to be the Atlantic Sharpnose Shark, which is also found in good numbers in the Gulf of Mexico.

I read out here that a huge gathering of whale sharks are taking place off the coast of Mississippi and Louisiana. Since I am around these waters, it would be really neat to get a sight of these chaps as well.

Links : Sharks In Wiki, Shark Species ,

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fishing Vessel " Angie baby"

The above picture was taken on a beautiful day at Freeport, Texas, when my ship had gone there. By habit, I put everyone of such vessels that catch fish as fishing vessels. Out here in the US Gulf, they are called the "Shrimp boats".

The Angie Baby pictured above was trawling in the waters of the inner channel and the dog on the deck was exibiting a calm detachment that would have made any dog proud.

When I think of shrimp boats, I am invariably reminded of "Forrest Gump" and his shrimp boat. As a matter of trivia, reported on this website, the shrimp boat used in that movie is moored in the moat at Planet Hollywood restaurant in Disneyworld resort in Florida.

The above picture was ofcourse taken before either hurricanes Gustav and Ike. As I write this, the port of Freeport is closed and most of the Nav aids to the port have been washed out.  Boats that small can't head out to sea like us to ride out the storm, and are rather at the mercy of the tidal surge and winds. I can only hope that Angie Baby fared well.

Monday, September 15, 2008

USCG 559

Everytime a hurricane comes out, it screws up everything out at sea as well as the damage it does out on the land. During the hurricane Gustav that passed through a few days back, all the approach channel buoys of the port of Pascagoula were washed off. These buoys are anchored to the sea bed and can be dragged off position in strong winds and swell.
It is the job of ships like the above US coastguard vessel to get those buoys back in place. You can see a couple of buoys lying on their decks, which they were probably carrying incase a few of the buoys might have been lost.
These guys did a stellar job in getting things moving when Gustav passed through and they are going just as good a job now that Ike has gone by.

Friday, September 12, 2008

NOAA Vessel Pisces at Pascagoula


Few mariners on the US coast will have anything disparaging to say about the NOAA. I have always been a fan of the organization, and am especially grateful to them for the invaluable assistance they give us during the current situations such as the Hurricanes. So I was especially pleased to spot on the horizon, a ship with the markings of the NOAA. A couple of posts back, I had put up a picture of an oil platform in the US gulf. The picture above is of the research vessel, "Pisces" as it is passing that same oil platform.

The Pisces was launched on 19th Dec 2007, and if the launch page is to be believed, she was going to begin operations in Late of 2008. So it is quite possible that I captured her on one of her first voyages out to sea. Do look at the video of the launch that I found on Youtube, which is amazing to watch.

The Pisces is one of the four ships to be launched in Pascagoula that is supposed to be a quite ship, which improves the research facilities. Another neat gadget on the NOAA website is the Ship tracker page, which lets us track all of the NOAA ships. Sadly they haven't uploaded the Pisces details on the website yet, so we can't see her on the map.

Source & Links : NOAA on Wiki ,

Big Bad Ike

"Big bad Ike" is what the media in US is calling the lastest hurricane to hit their shores. After dubbing Gustav as the mother of all storms, one would have thought that the granny wouldn't show up the next week, but that is pretty much what has turned out to be.
The problem with Ike is that even though it is still a force 2 Hurrican, it is one monstrous system. If you look at satellite picture of Ike, you will see it witha footprint all over the US gulf. When we got Gustav a few days back, the gale force winds were forcasted within a distance of 160 miles from the eye. With Ike, the figure is 250 miles, which is actually 500 Km. Our ship is atpresent more then 300 miles form the eye, but we are bobbing around worse than a cork in a bathtub.
But then there are worse places we could be right now. At the storm centre, there are actually waves of 35 feet rising up as we speak. Picture six storied buildings crashing all around you.


Right now I am hanging on to my ship as we are being banged around by Ike, so this is a good time to remember the good weather gone by and yet to come. The above picture is from the Port of Pascagoula when an unusually large number of Seagulls were foraging around in the wake of the ship. Its usual to see these trailing behind trawlers as they scoure the waters, but seeing them swooping around our stern was a welcome change.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Stolt Concept at Freeport

I had put up a post about Freeport, Texas and the way it was a sleepy little town. This place really is one of the biggest thing going for the town. Pictured above is the Stolt Concept, moored at the Jetty of the Dow Chemical plant at Freeport.
I haven't personallt sailed in Chemical tankers myself, but the ship above is as big as a chemical carrier is going to get. The Concept is 177 m long and has a beam of 31 m. The Ship was built in 1999 and operated under the Liberian flag untill 2000.
As I said earlier, the complex of piping in the background is the Dow chemical plant. The pilo told me that when he had first started working at Freeport, a total of forty thousand people used to enter the gates of this chemical plant everyday. The number sadly has decreased to about nine thousand these days. 

Absolutely Unrelated and irrelevant Titbit - Dow Chemical was the sole supplier of Napalm to the US Military during the Vietnam war.


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Ike is here

I think the one thing that is stopping people from talking too much about Ike is figuring out how to pronounce it. But seriously, with one hurricane following another, one gets tired of the whole show. The season has barely started and we are on to the 9th hurricane and now we are already hearing of the Josephine following Ike. And the scary thing is that the season actually ends in October.

Well anyway, Ike enters the US gulf sometime later in the night, and is expected to make land-fall sometime over the weekend in Texas or near the Mexican border. Thankfully I should be floating around far away from the path of Ike to not be bothered too much.  Will keep you all updated.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Oil Platforms

The US coast all along the GUlf of Mexico is dotted with oil Platforms and installations that pump oil back to the shore along a vast grid of underwater pipeline network. Pictured above is one of the bigger oil platforms to be seen out here.
As you can see out here, on the left of  the platform is the accomdation space and also visible if the Lifeboat for emergencies. When Gustav came, platforms like these were evacuated and are now coming back to normal status.  Also at the foot of the left pylon is a Supply boat. These supply boats are the work horses of the US Gulf and supply everything from stores to people to these rigs.