Monthly Archives: February 2012

Dry Beam No. 2

On the other end of the phone I hear a cheery “This is your morning wake up call”.   The phone is lodged between my ear and my shoulder while my right hand is flipping a pancake and my left is holding the cast-iron flying pan.   “You’re too late Galen; I’ve been awake for hours!”  Before I can utter more, he quickly jumps in, “thought you might like to get yourself over to Ogden Point right away.   There’s an interesting barge being hauled in by a large tug.   It’s mighty colourful and it’s nosing up to the Dry Beam.   Looks like a fuel barge of some sort.  Bright Blue and Yellow, you better get  over there,” he repeats.   Boy! Now what I am I suppose to do?  The house smells like fresh-baked goods and the steaming pancakes are a perfect golden brown.

Harbour tips that come out of the blue always put me in a bit of a tizzy.  First off, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate getting a head’s up but it does cause me some fuss.  For example if I am in the middle of something then it can cause me more than a little anxiety.  Maybe when the phone rings I might be cosy in my morning chair by the window staring at the birds. Or I am in the middle of poking sticks into the fire of my outdoor patio fireplace watching the smoke curl up over my deck.  So today do I really want to leave my  plate of pancakes behind?   But just thinking about missing out any action gets my nerves in a pickle.

If on the other hand Ceilidh and I are just out on our daily walk and we chance by the boys working in the harbour, my God, then all goodness breaks lose.  My blood pressure rises like a Chinook day in Calgary I am so thrilled.   My only twinge of anxiety is when I am trying to figure out which way to run, where’s the sun, which camera to use, and all the other subtleties of tug boat chasing.   Oh course my stomach always does some hicupping but that’s only pure happiness bubbling up inside.  Like yesterday all by chance  I caught the boys  doing sea trials (above pic), which I think should be renamed “spinning donuts around the harbour”,  with the  newly conditioned Smit Pride.

But this morning’s call from Galen has let loose images of tugs and fuel barges that are bouncing around my mind.    I know I won’t have any peace until I go see what’s going on.     Breakfast will have to wait as I load a barking tail-wagging dog into the car.    On the way across the blue bridge I noticed the Seaspan boys are not home at their dock.   I think to myself I’ll probably will see them over assisting with the fuel barge.

So here I am sitting in the car trying to pump out a sketch.   In front of me is the fuel barge “Petrobulker” from Vancouver and tied up to the right is a mighty Seaspan tug “Corsair”.   Over to the left is the crippled Dry Beam sucking up some fuel so it can  motor over to the States for repairs.

First thing I noticed  as I drove up to the Petrobulker is that the boys aren’t here.   “Must be over in Esquimalt” I tell a bouncing Ceilidh in the back seat.   The Corsair looks impressive!   I don’t think I’ve seen this tug before.

My sketch was done but I still felt a bit glum. What’s missing? Then I sense movement and I lift my chin up! Low and behold  the Cates 4 is slipping by the backside of the Corsair heading straight  for home. I snap a quick pic before she runs out of sight.

I drop my head down and when I again sense movement up I look and see the  Cates Twenty scooting  by.  Moving so fast I didn’t even have time to grab a photo.   “Not our day” I mutter to the dog   My head drops harder and then I feel a flicker of movement and I see the mighty Foam skirting by the stern of the Corsair.

Down goes the sketchbook and up comes the camera.   Before I know it I am outside scrambling over soggy grass, slippery logs, and sharp rocks getting myself in position for whatever comes next.

Which seems to be coffee and a break for the boys.  Oh well! I plunk my butt down on the least moist rock and take a moment to breathe the salty air.   Next thing, before I can  even shake a stick  I hear the grinding and see the billowing of powerful engines.  Oh Jimmy crickets! this looks promising!

Time to unleash and movin’ out!  You ready?

Look at that – colour, tugs, and men.   Gee, wasn’t that the name of my last art show.

Deep radio voices, bounce over the water to all us looky-lou’s.  Steel against steel grind and rub together.  Smells of fermenting seaweed and crying of swooping seagulls add to the moment.

Whenever my grandson visits he loves to play with sticks and poles on the beach.   Looks like he’s got this in common with the deck hands gappling lines off the barge.

Thank you Galen, if you hadn’t called I’d still be home digesting my pancakes in my rocking chair.   Yes, the Buddhist in me prefers to live in the moment.  Like being caught off guard when Ceilidh and I are out for our harbour strolls.  Just taking life as it comes.  But today proved to me there is no one way of tug boat chasing better than the other.   Both are good.  Following through on Galen’s tip was the right thing to do at that moment.    Now my camera is full and my spirit is light.   Yes, in life there is many paths to fulfillment.  We can each choose our own path that  suits us best. My own path seems to be wandering around sketching, painting and blogging about Victoria’s working harbour.

Ceilidh is giving me the hang dog look.   Time for our walk.   “I wonder what’s up at the shipyard, Ceilidh girl?”…….


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Dry Beam

Today was a good day.   A real good day.   First thing this morning, all by accident, I met up with the boys over at Ogden Point.   I didn’t know they were going to be  over there.    I went over to sketch the Dry Beam, a  Singapore cargo ship that  has been tied for the last few days.   She is all crippled up from a rogue wave that smacked her hard up the coast last week.  The rushing wave hit with such a force that the logs shifted and toppled some of the load into the sea.   The long line of steel poles containing the load of logs bent like melted candles on a birthday cake.  Under the weight of all those American logs that  poor freighter must have been tipping and rolling.  My lord! if  I was on board  that ship I would have you-know- what in my pants.   Now looking at those twisted poles I can well imagine the Filipino crew scrambling for their lives, jumping about,  cayay-ing away in high Filipino tones.

“Gee Ceilidh I wonder what’s going on!” I tell my dog who is bouncing around in the back of the car.  Poor girl  thinks she is going for her morning walk along Dallas Road.   All I can see as I swing my little VW into the  parking lot is cars, people, camera’s, tripods,  even a TV crew all lined up at the end of the cement pier.    The Dry Beam is tied up along side the  pier but then I quickly notice off to the side is  an empty barge.  The “Seaspan Phoenix” is its name which has two mighty gigantic Seaspan cranes sitting on top of it.  The cranes are already at work lifting the logs from the freighter unto the waiting deck of the Seaspan barge.    At the bow of the barge, beaming in the morning light, is one mighty red and white Seaspan tug.  “Oh Dear! Here we go again Ceilidh girl!” I tell her as my veins begin to pulse.

My knees would buckle too if I got smacked out of  nowhere by a gigantic wave.   Thank goodness it didn’t happen to me last winter when I went to Newfoundland.   It was bad enough being on the  “Smallwood” with 140 km winds in the Alantic Ocean  and being tossed about like a matchstick in a bathtub with a two year old. 

My foot hit the gas and next thing I know I am sliding into the only parking space left open along the pier.   The very minute I turned off the ignition and looked up I saw right in front of me the dark stacks of my favorite little tug “Cates 4”.  The 4 was  pushed up against the concrete barrier, bow thrust forward, resting in place.   My pulse was thumping as  I reached for  my camera,  I leaped out of the car,  I heaved myself up onto the cement barrier and when I looked up, there, right there, ya, ya,  right there…  in front of me was  my most favorite tug boat captain and crew in the whole world!!  In the next fleeting of moments, as I lifted my head to have a better look around me  I saw a figure in orange coveralls slipping around the side of the  cabin.  It’s one of my boys!  He’s clamoring  up over the bow of the tug  coming to meet me.

My heart hits my throat as I reach up and give  him a great big hug.   As we chat  I feel oblivious to what’s going on around me.   I am so thankful to be here.   To be standing here with clear sky’s and tugboat’s surrounding me.   All my winter doldrums slink away.   We talk about the Dry Beams harrowing story, how long the Phoenix might be in port and what jobs they are up to next.  He says to me “have you been OK we haven’t seen you out taking pictures for a while, the boys been wondering how you doing?”  Those are words that can make a tugboat girl cry on the spot.   I suck it up and tell him honestly ” I’ve been under the weather the past few months”.  It’s too bad that right now I can’t remember the juicy details of our conversation.  I’d love to be able to pass the harbour gossip along to you.  But I am afraid nothing stays in my brain when I am around the boys and the tugs.  My mind is all a twrill.

Like life all pleasant things come to an end and the boys had to get back to work.  So with my jiggly hand I do a quick 5 min sketch.    From now on I’ve decided take less photograph’s and do more drawing’s.     I’ve decided that even a not so good sketch is much more personal than a photograph.

Later on at supper time I drove over to the old tank farm.  Cars were lined up with people staring into binoculars who were all gawking at the transferring of logs.

Victoria doesn’t generally get this kind of action.   Maybe in the old days we would get log barges coming in here but not no more.  Probably have to go North, Port Alberni, Campbell River or further north Prince Rupurt or something like that to find working log dumping barges.

The sun was going down.   This one was sketched with gloves on.   Quick, simple to give me the feel of the moment.

Meeting up with the boys today has got me  feeling frisky like the birds out my  morning window.  I am taking that as a good sign.  Spring is here and I am roaring to go.   Happy sketching painting and of course tugboating everyone.


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