Archive for the ‘ship’ Category

15th December 2009

December 16, 2009

Another challenging moment (there have been a few during the last 8 days). This time a large ice floe had drifted across our floats and was threatening to drag them out of position and probably causing another tangle.

Some slick maneuvering with the bow thruster by yours truly and Sandy on the frwd deck with the throwing grapnel we managed to pull the floats clear and haul the line.

Fishing has been very good lately, better than last season, and probably one of the best starts we’ve had for the Ross Sea Toothfish season strengthening the knowledge that this is a sustainable fishery.

As predicted for this time of year the ice is thawing quite fast now and we anticipate heading south through the maze of leads and rotting ice floes to gain access into the Ross Sea within the next 2 weeks. It’s usually around Christmas day we start heading south and this season appears much the same as others with the massive ice thawing process.

Rgds: John B.

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26th November 2009

November 29, 2009

Steaming South.

Its about 1,300 mile from Timaru to the Northern Ross Sea ice edge, it’ll take us around 6 days to get there if the weather is reasonable. (Unreasonable weather is more than likely).

Information we have indicates the ice is thawing faster this season than it did in 2008 and 2007, however, our records show much less sea ice during 2000 to 2005 than we’ve seen for the last 4 seasons. With global warming the hot topic of the day, we do not see it happening in the Ross Sea in recent years. 

The first job we must do before exiting NZ waters is check the sink rate of our lines to be sure they comply with guidelines set by CCAMLR. These guidelines have proven to be effective in the Ross Sea resulting in a zero seabird by-catch for all vessels involved in the fishery since it began 11 years ago. (Every vessel has at least one international observer aboard, the four NZ vessels carry two observers each, this is to help with the additional research we undertake). The line sink test is carefully monitored by both observers with the results sent to the Ministry of Fisheries (our lines must sink at no less than 0.3m per second) after that we receive a “warrant of fitness” allowing us to proceed to the fishing grounds.

Some of the crew making up fishing gear in the TV lounge. From left: Matthys (The CCAMLR observer lending a hand), Hamish (The Cook), Blain, Patrick, Adam and Sandy.

24th November 2009

November 27, 2009
Preparations in Timaru for sailing went well, most of the crew had arrived by Thursday 19th for an all day ACC training seminar while Francois and I were at the Wellington briefing. On Friday / Saturday fuel and stores were loaded leaving Saturday night for the boys to celebrate Christmas, New year, birthdays and whatever else they will miss during the next 10 or 12 weeks at sea. Amazingly, all crew turned too at 08:00hrs Sunday morning for last minute stores and lock down hatchers for sailing.

Just before we left the wharf, Greg (Sanfords deep water fleet manager), came aboard and wished us well for the coming season and a reminder about safety on board in Antarctic conditions. He also explained the conditions and changes to our permit from last season and emphasized the importance of compliance in an internationally managed fishery.

The weather forecast looks reasonable and I expect we will enter CCAMLR waters on about the 26th. However, I don’t think we have to travel too far south to find our 1st ice berg, by all accounts they are drifting north to meet us this year.

Greg J addressing the crew in the mess room just before sailing at noon on Sunday.

 Rgds: John B.

6th September 2009

September 8, 2009

Going around Cape Horn is a milestone in any seaman’s life. For many of this crew it’s their first time while some of us have made the passing several times. This time we all assembled in the wheelhouse for another family photo followed by a shot of Navy Rum that some friends from Port Stanley had given us just for the occasion.

The weather was reasonable for the Cape with 25-30kts westerly and a strong westerly set at about 1.5kts reducing our speed to 7.4kts for the day’s run around the Horn.

From here we have around 4,500 mile to steam before we reach Timaru. We will take the rum line, steaming straight west. The shorter, great circle route, would take us too far south into the ice, that is not a good option on a south-westerly course into the prevailing weather.

This will be our last Blog for the next 20 days as not much happens between now and then.

Horn 06-09-09

From Left, Thaio, Aaron, Sue, Ritchie, Chevy, Matt, Francois, Marli, Jamie, Laurie, Shane, Jake, Noel, Jessie, Greg, Juliet, Carl and Sandy(Missing from the photo is Dave the 2nd engineer and me with the camera).

Rgds: John B.

4th September 2009

September 8, 2009

As the wharf space in Port Stanley is limited, when the catch verification process is finished, and we have loaded the stores and supplies we need for the trip home, we must move away and allow the next boat in line to start their verification process.

The last thing we need is about 154 ton of fuel to top up our tanks before we head home. Usually we do that from the wharf, but at this time, shore supplies were low and we had to go alongside a small trading fuel tanker in Berkley Sound, just around the corner from Port Stanley. That went well, and we were finally on our way by 02:30hrs on Friday morning. First waypoint is for Cape Horne, about a day ½ South-west from the Falklands.

Home boys

This shot was taken just before we left the wharf at Port Stanley.
From left, Grant, Masa and Shooter have been aboard since April and are looking forward to the flight home on Saturday, it’s been a long haul for them, 5 months at sea. Migs (from Sulivan Shipping) has been our agent for the last 4 seasons and he takes care of coordinating customs, port authorities, stores, equipment and just about anything we need while we’re at the Falklands. Dean (on the right) is our vessel manager, he has flown over from NZ to meet the ship. Dean is kept busy during the verification process working alongside the MSC people that weigh our fish and eventually issue the very important  “Catch Documentation” paperwork.

Rgds: John B.

2nd September 2009

September 8, 2009
Port Stanley when the sun comes out looking South West.

Port Stanley when the sun comes out looking South West.

We have been alongside the wharf in Port Stanley for 3 days now and the crew have just finished reloading. This is called the “catch verification process”, we must unload all of catch and have the weight checked by inspectors from the South Georgia government. This has to be done to satisfy requirements for MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) accreditation. Without this we can not sell our fish anywhere in the world.

Each fish is wrapped in a plastic bag, the big fish go into sacks and the smaller fish are packed in 20kg boxes. Each sack and box has a barcode label that is scanned during the unload. At the end, our reported catch figures must be the same, or very close, to the figures the inspectors have before they will officially verify our catch. This season we had a difference of 0.08%. To the best of our knowledge nobody has come close to that level of accuracy in this fishery before. We’re patting ourselves on the back for that.

Unloading in the snow, FIPASS wharf, Stanley.

Unloading in the snow, FIPASS wharf, Stanley.

Reloading from the holding containers, into the cargo nets to be lifted back aboard.

Reloading from the holding containers, into the cargo nets to be lifted back aboard.

Tomorrow we take bunkers (Fuel) and start heading for home.

Rgds: John B.

31st August 2009

September 1, 2009

It’s a 26 hour day today as we turn the clocks back 2 hours to Falkland Island local time. We have been steaming west from South Georgia into a force 8 gale with sleet and snow for the last 3 days and the prospect of laying still alongside the huge floating barges that form the Port Stanley wharf, and a stroll on the beach after 72 days at sea in the Southern Ocean, is much like anticipating a summer holiday or the start of a long vacation.

But it’s not over yet, we still have to unload and reload out catch for the verification process, (That all takes about 3 days) take on fuel and stores and make ready for the long haul home.

A small Patagonian Toothfish.
A small Patagonian Toothfish.

Rgds: John B.

28th August 2009

September 1, 2009

Our South Georgia season is coming to an end now. Yesterday we hauled the last line and started steaming for Port Stanley. With reasonable weather conditions we should be docking on about the 31st Aug, right now we have 45kts NE, not so comfortable for steaming. It’s a good feeling to finally be on the way home, but the work isn’t over yet, now we have the big clean up. During the trip the processing factory is cleaned regularly and kept up to standard for our fish pack house license. But now, everything to do with the fishing operation is dismantled, checked, repaired if necessary and then put back together and made ready for the next fishing operation, whenever that may be.

From now on, it’s the long haul back to NZ from ½ way around the world.

A shift change, from left, Juliet, Jake, Sandy coming on shift while Sue and Shane knock off and head to the mess room for dinner.

A shift change, from left, Juliet, Jake, Sandy coming on shift while Sue and Shane knock off and head to the mess room for dinner.

Jake doing his cleaning duties. Jake and Aaron are responsible for keeping the changing room tidy. The rest of the crew are all allocated different parts of the ship on their cleaning roster.

Jake doing his cleaning duties. Jake and Aaron are responsible for keeping the changing room tidy. The rest of the crew are all allocated different parts of the ship on their cleaning roster.

Rgds: John B.

19th August 2009

August 21, 2009

It’s only 12 more days until the end of August and the close of the South Georgia Toothfish season. All 10 vessels must have their last lines out of the water before midnight on the 31st August. Then its time to start heading home. The first port of call is Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands where we must unload, weigh then reload our entire catch before bringing it home.

This has to be done to satisfy the MSC requirements so our fish can be sold to international markets. It’s an interesting time with all vessels heading for port at the same time and everyone needs to get their catch unloaded and verified by the South Georgia fisheries then reloaded as soon as possible so we can finally be on our way home after 5 months of fishing. Some of our crew will fly home but many of us will stay on and bring the ship home to NZ, that takes about another month!

Masa and Jamie in the hauling room, thinking about that nice warm fire and cold beer at the local Stanley Pub.

Masa and Jamie in the hauling room, thinking about that nice warm fire and cold beer at the local Stanley Pub.

Rgds: John B.

16th August 2009

August 18, 2009
The hook room is a hive of activity for around 18hrs a day while lines and hooks are coming aboard.

When a line is hauled it comes in through the hauling room, around the main hauler, and then pulled to the hook room by the combi hauler. The combi hauler catchers the hooks and hangs them on the magazines as the line is pulled from the hauling room.

If the bottom is rocky, or there are big tangles, the crew can replace up to 1,000 hooks on each line that comes aboard.

Thao on combi

 

Thao working the combi hauler, to his right is the CCTV monitor focused on the main hauler, 20m further forward in the hauling room. Operating the combi is the most stressful job on deck. If it’s not set up properly the combi will simply drop the hooks and miss the magazine guide… then they end up on the deck.You can’t wear gloves while doing this job and the water temp this line has just come from is -1 degree, it can’t get much colder without freezing.

Juliet is hanging new hooks on the repair rail and getting things ready along "Skid Row" as the next line is about to come aboard.

Juliet is hanging new hooks on the repair rail and getting things ready along "Skid Row" as the next line is about to come aboard.

The hook room in top gear with Grant on the combi, Shooter backing up,Aaron (pulling a... I'm a zombie on the combi face), and Shane splicing the 4 strand lead core back bone where a large tangle had been cut out and was still in the hauling room waiting to be un-tangled, de-hooked then re-hung on the magazines for shooting latter that night.

The hook room in top gear with Grant on the combi, Shooter backing up,Aaron (pulling a... I'm a zombie on the combi face), and Shane splicing the 4 strand lead core back bone where a large tangle had been cut out and was still in the hauling room waiting to be un-tangled, de-hooked then re-hung on the magazines for shooting latter that night.

Rgds: John B.