Date: 1 January 2014. By the Shipyard.
[again posted late as power (or lack thereof)
For most of us of a certain age, it seems that
retrospection is almost a given. I look back at the previous year of
2013 and wonder where the time went. It seems that the clocks spins far
faster after fifty than prior to! Still, a lot of wonderful things have
occurred and life afloat truly is amazing.
The start of 2013 found me not too far west of here in
Panama City. At the east end of the town (though in practicality a rural
spot) there is a fascinating ship building plant along the north side of
the G-ICW*. As depths were good near the complex I chose to the anchor
there for a few days.
*Gulf Intracoastal Waterway
The red star is the shipyard site and I anchored at the black
The channel by the red star is where the new ships are launched.
One of the best parts of this retirement thing is the
ability to set my own schedule and I was curious as to how the ships are
hoisted and welded together. Having read about the LCM's (Landing
Craft Mechanical) built during WWII, there was an interest in seeing how
it is done in this century. Well, not specifically LCM's but the whole
ship building via sections thing...
And yes, I do have a curiosity about the world and like
understanding how things work. That in and of itself is a useful
trait for a cruiser. It's for certain that items aboard a boat will break and
having the ability to figure out how something works and how it might
again function is good too. This is particularly important if you do not
wish to throw money at every problem. At my end of the financial spectrum
that is not a possibility so I learn a bit more.
Aside: Quite frankly I know way more than I ever wanted to
know about the gasoline beast in Seaweed. And soon enough I'll begin
learning about my new-to-me Volvo diesel. I've already had an educational
reminder on one thing: Volvo parts are expensive! They are available even
for old engines so that's a good thing. My mechanic (Just Right Marine [http://justrightmarine.com]
in Carrabelle, 850-697-5366) found all the parts required for the rebuild
of both motor and transmission in England for me so progress is being made
on that front.
According to a Panama City local couple (Frank and Jewell)
the boats built there range in size up to about 300'. I will say watching
the massive collection of cranes in operation was fascinating. The best
part though was the friends I met while anchored there.
At about 0800 Skipper and I were getting ready to pull in
the anchor and head a bit further east. This spot is exposed and we prefer
to be someplace where if the wind blows and the waves kick there is no
long fetch to worry about.
Fetch for land-lubbers is what happens in a place where
winds and waves build up due to the topography. For instance, in a place
where a river is wide the current often is slower moving. Where the river
narrows rapids form. The same amount of water must now flow thru a
narrower opening thus the dramatic increase in current.
The same funnel-like effect can occur when winds blow thru
a narrow area for a long distance. Waves build in front of the winds and
it is far more dangerous than in a protected anchorage away from fetch.
That's why you'll find experienced mariners prefer those secluded spots
without a lot of distant horizon.
In any event, I'd anchored in the open near the shipyard to
observe and enjoy. The following morning I heard on my VHF a call to the
trawler anchored near the building site. That's me! This was literally the
first instance on this coast when I was radioed. The best part was the
invitation by a river-front "neighbor" to have a cup of coffee ashore. How
nice that was!
For those that "save" battery power by
shutting down the VHF overnight,
may I remind you that it's just possible you're missing more than you
Frank and Jewell were truly one of the bright spots of 2013
and I enjoyed their hospitality. Being open to new experiences is such a
pleasure and I'm grateful for the kindness and friendliness of those on
Perhaps one day I'll see you out here too. Happy Cruising!
Do you keep the VHF on 24/7 like I do?
Have you any further details about the shipyard? I'd love to know more
We've Seen Worse ~
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