Saturday, April 30, 2011

Still blowing and a bit more on the upturned barge

Well it blew up again during the night and I got involved this morning in helping a couple on a nearby boat retrieve their dinghy and outboard which had turned over during the night. It was a lightweight dink with a tiny 2 hp Suzuki and a line attached to rowlock soon pulled it over. We got the motor on to its rail mount sprayed it with fresh water, removed the plug and gave it a few pulls, replaced the plug, a splash of fresh fuel in the tank followed by a liberal spray of WD40 and Jeff prepared to give it a go. He said that this was the third time it had been dunked. 4 or 5 pulls and it coughed a couple more and the little clockwork YoYo spluttered into life. Jeff blipped it a couple of times and beamed, "best $60 I ever spent. You just can't kill it!"

Over a beer or two I discovered that they were both Canadian, in their late 70s and had been cruising for over 20 years. During this time they had made the trip down the thorny path from Florida through the Bahamas and out to the USVI no less than five times. RESPECT.

A bit more on the upturning of the barge from a local surveyor

The barge was loading cement from a ship in Kingston St Vincent by laying alongside and they had 3000 tons to deliver to Canouan for a hotel project. They would normally load the cements slings two high but because the weather has been very calm and the crew wanted to be home for the Easter Weekend in Bequia which is where the tug and barge call home, they decided to load the slings three high and carry all 3000 tons in one trip rather than the two it would normally take!

Well they finished loading around 2 in the morning and decided to take off. The tug was tied up alongside with its port side to the tug, the lines were cast off and the vessel pulled it away from the ship and then made a hard turn to head out to sea. The barge heeled a bit towards the tug and it just kept going until the cement slid across the barge and piled up between the tug and barge. Luckily for the barge the lines must have parted or it would have gone down to.

There is considerable damage to the topsides and superstructure of the tug. If you look closely at the pic you can see they have a tarpaulin over the wheelhouse.

As the barge capsized one of crew got caught up somehow and had one of his feet cut off but that was the only injury!!

Obviously all 3000 tons of cement is now lying in a pile on the bottom of Kingstown, it might even be a hazard to shipping as the bottom is not very deep there and it might have to be moved!!

I would think the captain if he was responsible is looking for another job!!

Getting the barge back upright is not going to be easy or cheap. It will have to be carefully sunk on one side only until it can be rolled over but this requires skilled divers, air compressors a calm port and someone with the knowledge to do it.

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