Monday, October 27, 2014

More LNVT 41's Out There Than We Knew (Tuggers Vol.62)

While Tommy Chen can't remember the exact number he knows he made two or three LNVT 41's that were sold to buyers in Japan. The 41's were built at South Coast Marine (SCM). One of the tugs was featured in the Tokyo Boat Show. Tommy said he couldn't believe how expensive it was to put a boat in the show there. Instead of being called LNVTs they were renamed to appeal more to the Japanese market. The Japanese market subsequently dried up when the Japanese government ruled that boats were no longer eligible for long term financing.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Perfect Sized Dustpan & Brush

From the Great Idea department comes this dustpan and brush from OXO. It's the perfect size for a boat and really works well.

Thistle on the Chesapeake

News Flash: Stove Causes Headliner Leaks (Tuggers Vol. 61)

"I didn't do that" said Tommy Chen evenly as I was asking him about the hole under the smoke stack through which the propane line disappears below decks. "That hole will cause leaks" he said next as though guessing where I was going. Indeed it has caused leaks as almost every 37 has some water staining in the galley headliner. So how did that hole get there? It turns out that much of the equipment aboard our tugs wasn't installed in Taiwan but rather by the brokers here in the US. As Tommy explained, why pay to ship the equipment from the US to Taiwan, where it would incur import duties, only to pay again to ship it back to the US. Making the broker responsible for installing things like the stove, spot light, windlass, VHF radio, etc., was a prudent cost saving measure. What is surprising is that the broker installed the gas line between the stack and stove too; something at which they were clearly less competent. "To keep that hole from leaking you'd need a flanged coupling like my yard did here" Tommy said as he pointed to where the bilge blower line passes through the saloon's roof. I'd gotten more than I'd bargained for. Not only did I now know how to fix Nellie's galley leak, I knew the process by which the leak came about. While I couldn't easily replicate the yard's nice stainless flanged coupler, a PVC 3" to 2" bushing is a reasonable stand in. The bushing was centered over the hole and then bedded in polyurethane caulk. I'm happy to report that the galley headliner leak has not reappeared. It's always more fun when you can fix a problem and at the same time learn a little more about how our boats were made.

Monday, October 20, 2014

In The Details -- Salon and Pilothouse Roof Construction

In April, aboard Marty Raymond's and Jay Sterling's Cruz-In #74, I saw core samples of their salon and pilothouse roofs. These cores go a long way in explaining how these surfaces were laid up. We already know that a single mold was used to form the inner bulwark, deck, cabin side, and roof. The core samples (see photos ) are 1-1/8" thick and composed of (1) a layer of gel coat, (2) 3/8" of fiberglass, (3) 9/16" of 7-ply plywood, and (4) another 3/16" of fiberglass. Tommy Chen, whose yards built our tugs, told me that the plywood in the ceilings is broken into squares and that each square is separated from its adjoining squares by a waterproof material. This is clearly visible in the core samples as each has a 1-1/4" wide channel, of what appears to be polyester filler, separating the plywood pieces. The reason for including the polyester separator is two fold: it makes the decks stiffer i.e. feel more solid underfoot; and should any water find it's way into a wood square, via a leaking screw hole for example, the water will be contained within that square.

Knowing how these surfaces are made informs how we can safely attach things to them. If a mounting screw is 5/16" or less then water could never get into the core via the screw hole. If the penetration is greater than 5/16", the fasteners should be bedded to prevent water getting into the core. Finally, limiting a fastener's penetration to 1" or less will keep the fastener from penetrating the lower layer of fiberglass and into the space above the headliner.

In summary, the salon and pilothouse ceilings are a plywood checkerboard sandwiched between layers of fiberglass. Each square of the checkerboard is isolated from its adjoining squares by a waterproof material. A little forethought before screwing into these structures will keep the roofs robust for a long time.

From House to Tug

John William 37VT68 at her now dock in front of  John and Sue Mackie's new home on Merritt Island, FL.

Life aboard a NOAA ship, Ed McChain (Thistle 37VT47)

Yes, some volunteer for this, people say is it fun (well not quite the right word), but it is very interesting.  I am aboard the vessel Pisces which is 200 feet in length and is the third of four new Fisheries Survey Vessels to be built by NOAA.  More information about the ship can be seen at:

We tow a big cone shaped net to see what we can catch, we are working near and extinct and are working near and extinct volcano off Cape Cod, about 200 miles out to sea. Some of the tows are along the bottom and some about 1/2 way down, the bottom is about 2 miles down.  We left Providence RI on October 14, 2014.  We were working in the path of the hurricane and towed till 3AM Friday.  The sea was very rough, some squalls wind hit 40 knots.  We finished processing the haul about 5AM but it was so rough that much of it was lost.  Rather than sit out there getting sick and not sleeping for a few days, and with forecast wave to  hit 18 feet, the wise decision was made to run for Providence RI and drop anchor.  So, here we sit.  The food is great. There are 12 scientists and helpers (me) aboard along with the crew are a couple engineers and a couple on the bridge rotating thru 3 shifts.  The science crew work 12 hour shifts, I work the mid nite to noon.  In general layman's terms we look for new species, to determine if some of the species are really the same as ones caught in the Gulf of Mexico by taking tissue samples.  We also are attempting to determine if some of the bottom dwellers migrate to the top at night and for that reason there are no tows done at dusk or dawn.  

Life aboard ship is interesting, first of all, on this ship scientists room with a crew, two people in each cabin, that way we all get to know each other very quickly.  The science and ships crew are about equally split between men and women, and rules are very strict in that re guard.  My roommate is a young Ensign, seems a really nice guy, went to the coast guard school and would hope to have his own ship some day.  The skipper is an Annapolis Navy grad and an avid J-24 sailor.  We have access to the bridge except when docking.  This boat is so smooth and quite, turns a submarine prop for quite running (don't want to scare the fish) and has generators to run 600 volt 3-phase motors.  The rudder is huge and jointed like a hinge in the middle with a dragger that goes down 30 feet.  Many instruments are attached to the dagger board  such as a side scan sonar.  This enables us to cruise along and look up the side of and the top of the volcano at the same time.  We eat very well, usually choice of 3 entries each meal, always snacks and ice cream when one wants.  

My job is helping sort the catch, many ells, small fishes, some very strange, squid and octopus and crustaceans.  We then count and weigh them, some tissue samples are  taken, some pickled and sent on for further study, many pictures taken. Lots of other studies are done, but it is beyond my level of knowledge,  

 I guess that gives one the general jist of it, we are scheduled to up anchor at 10AM  Sunday (October 19,2014) and start the first tow at 8AM Monday on Bear Seamount. Unfortunately it is supposed to blow again this coming Wednesday and Thursday.  We will have to see what happens!   

Hiaqua 37VT03 Has New Owners

We are Yvonne Bates & Randy Miller, the new owners of Hiaqua #3. Yvonne is a retired pharmacist and I am an Industrial Designer. We live in West Seattle but will keep Hiaqua in Anacortes (along with Carolina and Sounder). We are really excited to carry forward the wonderful job that Joe & Laurie have done during their ownership.

Besides sailing/boating we enjoy international cycling trips. We look forward to meeting our fellow tuggers,

Yvonne & Randy

Thursday, October 9, 2014

2014 East Coast Rendez-vous

L-R: Knock Off, Nellie D, Thistle, and Victory at the Howell's dock.

Just in from The Seymours -


Four tugs, 27 owners, 2 past owners, 4 wannabes and friends gathered at Dave and Vicki Howell's on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay's Chop Tank for the annual East Coast Rendez-vous.
Sue Mackie, Mary Ann McChain, and Jeanne Niccolls
Everyone pitched in, bringing an amazing array of food, salty stories, and eclectic items for the silent auction.

As usual a very popular activity was tug inspections. Rabid enthusiast and wannabe Al Robichaud looks longingly into Thistle's pilot house.

Thistle Captain Ed McChain explains door hinges to Al and Dean McChesney of Fun, and another wannabe, Ken Maitland.
L-R: Roger Lee, Sally Seymour, Martha Burke, John Isaksen, Nils Isaksen, Tommy Chen, and Ed McChain aboard Ed's tug Thistle.
Ed McChain treated us to a run on Thistle along the Chop Tank.

 He turned the wheel over to Ken Maitland.

Honored guest Tommy Chen, builder of our tugs in the 1980's, demonstrated his precise method of measuring. Tommy lives in Vancouver, BC. This was his second year coming east.

Remember the ladies walking across the lawn in photo #2? Oops! Even though the Howells are great planners, they couldn't control the weather and the water creeping into their front yard, due to unusual wind and tides. This called for quick action.
 It gave new meaning to the Howell's exclusive waterfront campsites and forced campers to go to Plan B. 
 It called for a team-building exercise.

The Howells thought it was a howl.

Fortunately, the rest did too, including Keefer Irwin, Callisto.

The unrelenting deluge forced Tug Talk to move indoors.

Bill Irwin, Callisto, explained how he coveted Knock Off's mast seen at last year's rendez-vous and he spent the winter building his own. Other riveting topics included the perennial favorites of fuel tanks, treating wood, polishing brass, tea stains, water tight hatches, thru hulls and bulwark doors.

Victory #2 and Thistle #47 provided good examples showing the evolution in design and construction of the tugs. Take the "Tug Differences Survey" to help Dave Howell complete this chart:

The rigorous daily activities always worked up good appetites. 

John Niccolls was ecstatic over his winning bid in the silent auction for this ancient flare holder. Lisa Taylor agreed.
 Wannabe Pam Maitland from Duxbury, MA.
 Nils and John Isaksen, Neptune, from Fairhaven, MA.
Bill Irwin, Allan Seymour, Dave Howell, John Taylor
Tug Talk continued into the wee hours.

Sunday morning dawned and captains were anxious to get underway. A front had passed through overnight and high pressure brought cooler temperatures and brisk winds. The waters on the Chesapeake would become choppy.

Larry and Marilyn Johnston, Loretta May, prepared to drive home to Kingston, Ontario, but first joined everyone at the dock for the send-offs. 
Ed and Mary Ann McChain departed on Thistle.

John and Jeanne Niccolls aboard Knock Off.

Captain Bob Alnutt, Victory, and his crew from Titan, Clara Mincy ...  

... and Key Stage, from Edenton, NC cast off next.

 And finally, John, Vicki and Dave Howell were happy to have Nellie D ship shape once again after 1-1/2 years of work. 
 Dave and John departed for a fast fall cruise down the ICW to Naples, FL where she'll spend the winter at John's yacht club.
Bon Voyage to all!

Monday, October 6, 2014

This just in from Nellie D. 37VT63

We [John and Dave Howell] just got beaten up for 40 miles heading into Norfolk--24kts on the nose with tight steep waves.  In the calm of the harbor now.  Our fuel tanks were low enough, and it was rough enough, that the back two tanks started shipping air.   Shutting the tanks's valves off took care of the engine revving problem.  (Picture from the APRS HAM tracking system aboard Nellie D.)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

John Williams #68's 5 Blade Prop

Begin forwarded message:

From: John Mackie <>
Date: October 1, 2014 at 12:34:57 PM EDT
To: Dave Howell <>
Subject: John Williams 5 Blade prop

24 x 17

Sent from my iPhone

A blast from the past 2012 (Tuggers Vol.61)

We [Laurie and Joe Payne, Hiaqua 37VT03] ran into Kerry and Anne (Syd is the owner, but Kerry takes care of the boat for him and works on it) on Tortuga 37LV69 in Winter Cove in Gulf Islands and cruised together for several days.  This picture is from Princess Marguerite bay in the Gulf Islands.  Hiaqua on the left, Totuga on the right.  Notice our dog Tucker photobombing in the picture.