SSV Robert C. Seamans Blog
Position information is updated on a workday basis only.
It was another productive day aboard SSV Robert C. Seamans at the MGBW Chula Vista Facility.
The day started with our usual morning meeting, following a dynamite breakfast prepared by the Illustrious Steward Lauren. It is there
that our indefatigable Chief Mate Ryan reminded us of the approaching Williams- Mystic trip, and the end of shipyard. “Four days of yard left, People,” he declared.
With that we turned- to with alacrity, efficiency, and an undying
thirst for high-quality craftsmanship.
All departments brought the thunder, as usual.
The Deck Coatings team had another major milestone with the painting
and non-skid application atop the Lab House. The non-skid is of the “Silver Strand State Beach Variety,” 0.5 mm, 98% silica, of course. This aggregate is sustainably harvested from a local San Diego beach by vegetarian surfers during a waxing gibbous moon, and is the only aggregate approved by the State of California as “Certified Pretentious.”
The exhaustive preparation for recoating the Lab House cannot be overstated. For a coating to properly adhere, and withstand years of abuse in the salt air of the tropics, meticulous prep work is essential.The Coup de grace was delivered, though, by Deckhand Collin, with his Peter Pan Rig. His high flying act enabled him to scatter the aforementioned aggregate just so, to ensure good footing for sailors
for years to come.
Engineering saw great strides with the final welds coming together in the fuel tank piping project. To the uneducated it may have looked
like a game of “how many engineers can fit in a tank,” as overseen by the Always Charming Senior Chief Engineer Dusty.
In the Rigging Department, Manimal Deckhand Blaine broke only one steel leverage tool while tuning the rig. Boatswain Will shook his head in awe, and found a way to carry on while the welders performed the requisite repairs to the tool.
Ambitious Carpenter Brittany stuck around after hours to ensure the new work bench top received a topcoat of paint. It looks too good to work on, and she swears she is going to hit it with a ball peen hammer once, and smear a little grease on it, just to get it over with. Meanwhile the Foul Weather Gear Locker received its teak trim, giving it a look
of refined finality.
The Science department toiled away quietly in the Wet Lab, ensuring
that Niskin bottles were clean for deployment, and that the ADU5 was up to snuff.
All the while our Cool Collected Captain Coughlin ensured the whole thing was happening safely and properly, while coordinating with regulatory officials, yard managers, and department heads. Not to mention that she oversaw the loading of a large and heavy component of the steering system from the dock to the deck to the dog house to the aft cabin.
It was a gang busters day, that everyone seemed to enjoy. After dinner and showers, the crew enjoyed quite a lovely sunset over a sliver of an isthmus on the far side of South San Diego Bay.
“Three days of yard left, People.”
Position: Marine Group in Chula Vista
Photo Caption: Crew barbeque at Bayside Park
We have been so busy out here, sweating our faces off in this SoCal heat. It’s a constant battle with the sun to keep from getting fried and to stay hydrated. We bought a kiddy pool to cool down in after the work day. Ha - I wish! The science team did buy a kiddy pool but they used it to wash nets in. They’ve also been doing a lot of acid washing bottleware, repairing nets, and painting the hydrowinch.
Team Deck has been stripping the paint off the house tops since we arrived in Chula Vista, and they just started laying the first coats of paint last night. Our Carpentry department (Third Mate Ben and
Deckhand Brittney) built a beautiful work bench top to cover the
battery box on deck, and are assembling a new lobby foulie closet. Our Aloft department (Second Mate Will and Deckhand Collin) has taken down the bottlescrews on the jib stay and cleaned them up, and are preparing to take the jib stay down. Deck has been rust busting like crazy on port lights, masts, housetops, the bowsprit etc.
In the Engineering world, our aft shower has been refitted with a new non-galvanized pipe for improved water flow. They carried all the emergency batteries (which each weigh over 100 pounds) out on deck in order to replace the module that they sit in, and serviced the pumps
for the watermakers, including replacing the motors. We had the ABS inspector back onboard today, who checked out the welding on the pass through in the fuel tank, and okayed us to start putting pipes inside it.
You might be reading this and thinking, “Man these guys are working HARD!” but don’t worry, we’ve done our fair share of fun stuff too. Last night we had a barbeque at the park next to the shipyard, and the night before that we had a fashion show which brought out a fair amount of ridiculous costumes. This past weekend was the San Diego Festival
of Sail which featured over 20 tall ships in the SoCal area. We got a chance to chat with the other crews and ogle some beautiful boats.
We’re having a guest chef cooking fajitas for us tonight (First Scientist Annie) and it smells delicious. I better go get a seat at a table before I’m late!
I’m not sure where we left off with the blog (more on that in a
moment), so I’ll give you a brief summary. We’re in Chula Vista, CA (south of San Diego, [barely] north of Mexico) at the Marine Group shipyard. We’re putting some serious work into the boat, with the help of the professional yard workers here, and it’s going really well. Current big projects include cleaning and painting the rig-tensioning equipment (because we don’t want that to rust), painting the lab house, and some welding inside one of our fuel storage tanks. Science is also doing a lot of maintenance, including updating and backing up all of
the computers. To that end, they have several of the computers off of the boat right now, which means that I can’t read past blog entries. So, if any of that was recap for you, my apologies.
Yard is really for projects that can’t be done under way. All of the things I’ve mentioned so far fit that bill, for sure; we’d be in a really rough spot if you were to transplant the boat into the middle of the ocean right now—not least because we currently have our steering gear in several (massive) pieces. The steering gear is the linkage between the helm (the big wheel we use to steer) and the rudder itself. There was some slight play in the gearbox which we attributed to wear in the bearing surfaces. To inspect and rectify this, we had to pull the top of the steering gear. All several hundred pounds of it are currently on the sole (floor) of the aft cabin (see the picture). In case you’re wondering, yes, that is more grease than you’ve ever seen
in one place. It’s pretty intense.
The current plan is to resurface the bearing mount and reinstall all of it, but we’re still working out the finer details.
I hope this finds you all well, and that Hurricane Issac isn’t causing anyone too much grief.
Max McClorey, offgoing Assistant Engineer
Position: Marine Group dock in Chula Vista, CA
Photo Caption: Birthday cake!
Day 3 of yard done with 12 more days to go. We had a few welders come onboard yesterday. One was in the galley welding a small piece to the stainless steel counter, which will hold fiddles in place underway to prevent food from flying over the counter edge. Another welder was in the engine room cutting a hole out of the fuel tank in order to place a tunnel through it. The welders require special fans and ventilation to get the smoke out of the tight spaces they are working in, and they
wear heavy suits and huge face masks to protect themselves (remember Flashdance?).
Today we welcomed Melissa, our new deckhand, and said goodbye to our third mate Sarah, who is going to the Mediterranean to work on another sailing school vessel. Welcome aboard and fair winds!
In case you’re wondering who the mom is, today is the birthday of both our steward’s and assistant steward’s moms!
Happy birthday, Moms!
Position: 32˚37.88’N x 117˚06.51’W
Photo Caption: Charley taping Tyvek on the foredeck
Well here we are in San Diego (Chula Vista to be exact) at the Marine Group shipyard, starting our yard. We’ve already been in San Diego for a week and we spent it at the Nimitz Marine Facility - the dock of Scripps University of California. Security at the Scripps dock was pretty tight. Each crew member was given a badge that had to be worn
at all times, all guests had to check in to security with IDs, and we had to enter a gate passcode every time we passed through. While at Scripps we repaired the JT, replaced the tops’l braces line, and did some block maintenance. We also got a new wire which involved spooling all 4,000 meters of the old wire off onto the dock, and spooling 5,000 meters of the shiny new wire onboard. That was a one and a half day process which happens every five years, during which the whole science deck was closed.
The American Bureau of Shipping is the agency that inspects our boat
and the ABS inspector came onboard for a partial survey and to check
our load line. He’ll be back throughout the rest of our yard, inspecting and supervising big projects.
We just arrived here at Marine Group on Friday afternoon and we’ll be here until September 17^th. The facility is pretty great, and they
have a concierge! We were shown the crew gym, our office, and shore heads/showers. This shipyard is known for working on “superyachts” - ships over 100 ft long - and right now they have a few smaller boats hauled out as well, and are in the process of building a larger ship
for the navy.
At this moment the deck is covered with Tyvek to protect it from all
the debris from rust busting, paint stripping, sanding etc, the J-frame is off the ship, and all the deck boxes have been unscrewed and moved for cleaning. Mama Seamans don’t look like she used to! But she’s gonna look so good when we’re done.
Position: 32˚37.88’N x 117˚06.51’W
Photo Caption: Bringing the ship through a narrow channel to dock in Chula Vista
Robert C. Seamans is in yard every year, and is hauled out every other year. Last year the ship was hauled out in Ensenada, Mexico, and this year we are spending 3 weeks at Marine Group in Chula Vista, CA. This is a time to give some love to the boat and take care of serious projects that we’re unable to do underway or between programs. We’re really able to focus on big projects like welding, calibrating machinery, servicing large equipment, and CLEANING!
The crew is living onboard while we’re in yard, which is a little unusual for most boats. The crews of the boats in this shipyard are
not staying onboard - they might be in hotels, staying with friends, or in another location altogether while the Marine Group crew works on their vessel. We don’t stand regular watch while we’re here - we have work days from 0715 - 1600 with weekends off.
The crew complement while we’re in yard is also a little different than when we’re on program. We have 5 engineers, our Science Coordinator, and 5 deckhands onboard right now, as well as the stewards, mates and captain. Many hands make light work!
RCS Yard 2012 here we go!!