Tag Archives: tugboat katahdin

2009 Week 36 in Review

This week was my last cruise aboard the MV Catalyst and was a short hop from Petersburg to Ketchikan. We left Petersburg early Sunday, and sounded the siren in front of Doug’s house (he owns the Katahdin). After a 12-hour run, we anchored in Myers Chuck, a neat little place looking out to Chatham Strait.

We arrived in Ketchikan on Monday at about noon and I cleaning the engine room really before handing it off to Eric who will be the engineer for the rest of the season. Then I flew back to Seattle, ending another great season aboard a great boat, the MV Catalyst. Thanks everyone for a wonderful summer!

Remains of the Vashon

On the way to Ketchikan, I called several float plane services to see if I could get an affordable ride out to Johnson Bay to see the Vashon.

It’s a great old state ferry powered by the biggest Washington diesel ever made. I’ve known the boat was there forever (it ran aground in the early 1990s, another victim of the Tugboat Dream), but have never had the chance to go out and take a look. This seemed like my chance, but I couldn’t find a flight for less than $400 and even though the weather was nice in Ketchikan, there was enough wind to rule out just taking the Catalyst‘s skiff over.

Damn. I hope I can visit next year – I want to take pictures of the ferry and document how much is showing at what tide, so I can judge how much will show at a super low tide to possibly salvage some parts.

Nick scanned and sent me an article from the year it sank: Old Ferries Never Die. We’ve archived it here on Old Tacoma Marine Inc, along with the original photos published with the article; go check it out.

Back to Business

Even though it was a great summer, it was really great to get back to Seattle. The work never ends here at Old Tacoma Marine Inc, and the next big job is to get ready for the Lightship #83 Rehabilitation job. This means a lot of reading government manuals and filling out government forms since most of the project is funded by government grants, but we’re really excited despite all that.

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2009 Week 29 in Review

News from Alaska

I’m onboard the Catalyst again and I’m meeting boat friends everywhere: the crew from the Liseron, former crewmates Chuck and Nissa from the Mist Cove, and the crew from the Catalyst, who are all being relieved today by a whole new crew. Captain Steve, chef Lisa, deckhand Lia, and I will be running the boat together for the next few weeks.

Lia and I flew in on Saturday and after some last-minute chores and drinks at the Alaskan hotel, we picked up our passengers on Sunday and headed out to Endicott Arm.

This week’s cruise was from Juneau to Petersburg, stopping at Sanford Cove, Fords Terror, West Brother, Sheldon Cove, West Brother, and Scenery Cove along the way

We kayaked through Fords Terror, picked up a bunch of Dungeness crabs at Wood Spit, made a campfire on West Brother in Frederic Sound, and watched some bears in Sheldon cove.

We got to Sheldon cove early, so I pulled four valves to clean and swap. I exchange intake for exhaust valves every so often so that they wear evenly and we get more life out of them. Washingtons are hard on their valves for some reason.

We liked West Brother so much that we stopped there again and this time we had Norio Matsumoto over for dinner. He’s a great wilderness photographer and he showed a slide show of his work. On the way to Thomas Bay we watched some whales, then anchored in Scenery Cove and went for a walk to Baird Glacier.

Once we got to Petersburg, the whole crew was anxious to connect with the world we all had a cell phone attached to one ear while cleaning the boat, provisioning, and doing other chores.

This week was so nice. Getting aboard Catalyst was like coming home and I ran into each room to revisit great memories and see that everything is still where I left it. Frederick Sound is also some of the best cruising in the world – especially with the great weather we’re having. I have never seen so much sun up here. It made the glacier a beautiful sparkling blue, and it was so warm I could wear shorts and a t-shirt while on our hike there.

sunny days on the MV Catalyst

Engineer’s Log

Valves from 1 and 2 pulled, cleaned, and swapped in for out
Ex-valve for #3 reinstalled after Eric pulled it
Wiggled cord for the shaft tachometer; no improvement, still reading really low or not at all
Re-soldered wire to stateroom five port forward reading light
Cleaned and flushed bilge

We also did the numbers for this trip, the 11th of the 2009 season:

hours underway: 52:45
hours on main: 53.8
hours on the generator: 35:.6
hours on the water maker: 17:45
miles traveled: 231
gallons of fuel used: 179
gallons of water made: 1,035
gallons of gas used: 8.8
gallons of propane: 4.5
gallons of lube oil: 4
qts of half and half: used 6 (unusually high)

And finally, here’s a tasty recipe from the Catalyst‘s galley:

drop crab pots in 40 feet of water in top secret location with herring bait caught from just off the Taku fishery pier.
soak for one to two days, pull
return small ones and females
pull all legs of each crab, bracing the center of the body on the boat rail; legs and body meat should come right out of shell
scrape off gills
boil for 11 minutes
shell and eat

Kitchen notes: Crab-eaters of the world are divided into two groups: pilers and gobblers. Gobblers eat each piece of crab as they pull it out of the shell, while pilers pile up their pieces on their plate. Pilers beware, for the gobblers are happy to steal your pile.

Finally, crab-crackers are for newbies.

Waving to the Heavy-Duties

On the way into Petersburg, I saw the Katahdin, the Barron Islands, and the Cape Cross, each powered by a heavy-duty. It’s great to see the old workboat yachts out there.

More scraping at Indian Graves

In news beyond Alaska, I heard that the Indian Grave engine #3 ran for an hour and then the #2 main bearing got hot, so they scraped it down some more. This isn’t unusual – even with a good pattern on the bearing and the engine turning by hand really smooth, more scraping is often required after actually running the engine the first few times. Sounds like it’s going well.

Sexy sailor women

Diana the OTM Inc museologist had pictures taken for the 2010 Sexy Women of Maritime Calendar produced by Jack Tar Magazine this week. Apparently, the photos turned out great, but you’ll have to buy the calendar to see them because she isn’t sharing.

Social Networking

Old Tacoma Marine Inc. joined TheBoaters.com, which is like Facebook for boat trash. Check us out!

New owner for the Sound

I heard that Anthony bought the Sound. Poor sucker – he already owns the Chief. I love Enterprises, but there is such thing as too much of a good thing.

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2008 Week 32 in Review

The Catalyst is sticking to her Wilderness Discoveries cruises this August, running seven-day, six-night trips that “provide the best of Southeast Alaska.” Each trip is one way from Juneau to Petersburg, or from Petersburg back to Juneau, touring through some of the most beautiful and rugged land in the world. The boat has been booked solid all summer, with ten to twelve passengers each trip.

This week was a Juneau to Petersburg trip:

Sunday, August 3 – Juneau to Limestone Inlet: first paddle, fishing boats in Inlet, lots of fish in river (overcast)
Monday, August 4 – Limestone Inlet to Ford’s Terror: hike up Ford’s Terror, paddle narrows, skiff to head of inlet (cloudy)
Tuesday, August 5 – Ford’s Terror to Wood Spit: skiff to head of inlet, glacier hike, bear in stream, fishing, set crab pots (sunny)
Wednesday, August 6 – Wood Spit to Brother’s Island: swimming, fishing (not catching), skiff ride to sea lions (sunny)
Thursday, August 7 – Brothers Island to Portage Bay: meet Norio, whale watching, fishing x2 (w/catching!), (cloud then sun)
Friday, August 8 – Portage Bay to Scenery Cove: paddle in Portage Bay, skiff and hike to Baird Glacier, slide show (fog/sun)
Saturday, August 9 – Scenery Cove to Petersburg: pack, last run together (this year), return to “civilization” (heavy rain)

Here’s the crew:

And here’re the passengers:

I began my “eat Alaska” campaign that I am known for, in which I enthusiastically harvest whatever I can for meals like salmon, halibut, bull kelp, limpets, blueberries, crab, and shrimps. I also kayaked in some of my favorite places, like Fords Terror, named after a navy guy who spent six hours trapped in its tidal surges back in 1899. The passage is part of the Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness area, and is an amazing place:


We also had a few very sunny days to watching the glacier calve huge pieces of ice, see whales up close, and take a very short swim call with all the guests. I was very torn over which pictures to post in this blog, but you can see lots more at Lia’s online album or the official Catalyst slideshow. Check it out for some amazing pictures of Alaska at its best – and me doing silly things.

Characters of Southeast Alaska

Part of the fun of cruising Southeast is running into some of the regular characters of the area. We met up with Norio Matsumoto, an amazing whale and nature photographer. His online portfolio is here, and is well worth a look.

We also met up with Doug Leen when we got to Petersburg. He owns the Katahdin, a beautiful old tug powered by a six-cylinder Washington:

Washington Iron Works diesel engine in the tugboat Katahdin

The boat is beautifully restored, but the paint has been taking a beating from the Petersburg winters. Doug ran the engine for a show a few months ago, but he hasn’t taken her out for a cruise recently. He did take us to his house, right across the channel from town. We got the grand tour of what I think is the most amazing property: about 10 acres with lots of waterfront and many old buildings restored by Doug and Martina. Thanks for showing us around, Doug – and it was great to see the Katahdin again.

Business as usual

Catalyst‘s Washington diesel (awarded the “best geared six-cylinder” at the Classic Workboat Show last October) sounds great, though I noticed that at the “normal” cruising speed, the pyrometers read well off the 550 degree gauge. Bill has been working to cure the overload problems that Catalyst has had for years, but I don’t think we’ve sat and really thought these changes through. I’ll install new pyrometers soon, keep learning more on the subject, and stay hard at work — when I’m not oiling:

Oiling the MV Catalyst's 1932 Washington Iron Works diesel engine

The expansion tank also spit out some water, but the temperatures were okay. I think that maybe air was allowed to go from the air compressor into the water system. I just rebuilt the air compressor and replaced the gasket with asbestos, but maybe it requires a sandwich gasket with a copper ring. This might the problem, since the only thing different was that the air compressor was running hard. It settled down when I unloaded it.

One of the things that I like about shipping out as engineer for a while is that I have time to monitor and adjust an engine and really see what’s going on with it when it’s warmed up and at full speed. When I’m working to fix something on the dock or in my shop, I have to just get the job done by the time the boat leaves, and don’t usually get to watch it run for a while. I hope that by September, I’ve had time to make a lot of little adjustments to get it running perfectly.

Missing Lynden

I missed the Puget Sound Antique Tractor & Machinery Association‘s annual show in Lynden, Washington, since it was the day before we left town and I just couldn’t squeeze it in. I was really hoping to go but this call out caused such a shake-up that I could not find the time.

Several spies (thanks, spies) say it was the same great show that the PSATMA is known for (see pictures from last year here. They report that the Atlas-Imperial was running well, but the Washington had its injectors removed. There was also rumor of a bad rod bearing. I’ll try to learn more when I get back – they’re great engines and the PSATMA is doing great things with them.

Trends in luxury and disposable income

Did I miss the window for classy old diesel engines being luxury items?

I’ve heard that Model-T Fords have gone down in value because the new generation of “renewed youth” wants the GTOs, mustangs, and Harleys that were cool when they were kids. Now that they have the disposable income to make “luxury” purchases, they’re buying muscle cars and telling their mechanics to make them “just like 1967.” I’m worried about how everything else is thrown out the window in favor of the childhood fantasy of driving a muscle car with the wind in your hair. What about the classic yachts from the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s? What about all the other neat old stuff that the Beach Boys never sang about?

At least there’s a bit of hope for the next generation. Theodore Tugboat and World’s Deadliest Catch are at least getting old workboats on TV for future midlife-crisis children. Maybe 40 years from now, we’ll see characters in the Sopranos or Sex in the City buying converted tugs and big old engines, rather than cigarette boats and handbags.

This may be Old Tacoma Marine Inc’s next big project, so stay tuned.

OTM Inc Weekly eBay Auction

This week’s prize from the OTM Inc shop is an air intake manifold for a two-cylinder Washington Iron Works diesel engine:

air intake manifold for two-cylinder Washington Iron Works diesel engine

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