Today we found out we were going to load our barge from a ship rather than a dock. Instead of the ship discharging all it's cargo at the dock, it is going to first fill us up with 55,000 barrels of diesel fuel. So we had to haul anchor and maneuver our barge over to the anchored ship.
I've never been much of a fan of docking our barge next to ships filled to capacity with oil. Can you say Exxon Valdez?
With a little help from our friends, we came alongside the ship nice and easy. It will take us about 7 hours to fill up the barge, and then we will deliver the cargo to Aguirre, a town on the South Coast of Puerto Rico.
I've been doing this type of work for a long time and I still wonder how in the world regulators deem it safe to transport oil this way. A tug alongside a barge maneuvering to a dock or a ship is really like a bumping car ride at the amusement park. The tug bumps the barge to move it sideways, then tugs it back to stop it's forward progress. This progression of tugs, bumps and yanks ends up, in most situations, with the barge docked safely at it's destination. It really is a credit to the talent of these Captains who do some really difficult things with these units, in often time unpleasant conditions.
It was very hard for me to write that last sentence, because we Engineers secretly believe we are the most important cog in this wheel, but those guys really do some impressive work sometimes.