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Old 18-09-2008, 07:09   #1
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Good Morning all.

I'm not a new sailor but definitely new to sailing!
I'm a retired US Navy engineer and have been landlocked since 1995 in West Texas. I haven't even seen the ocean since I walked off the deck of my last ship in Charleston. I've been hiding out here on my ranch since then and dreaming about cruising the south Pacific on my own boat. We are just about in a position to get one now and of course I have a ton of questions that I hope you all won't mind answering.

I've only been out on one sailing vessel and it wasn't a pleasant experience. Without giving too many details that may embarrass the owner in case he is a member here, it was owned by an officer on a Navy Fast Frigate I was on and he took a bunch of us out for a week long cruise one time. We were pulling out of Catalina late at night and everyone was 3 sheets to the wind if you know what I mean and the captain hit some rocks. It was NOT a fun swim to the mainland!!!
That experience taught me a lot about things NOT to do and I hope it never happens again.

My plans now are taking some sailing lessons over the next year or two and looking for a 40 to 60 foot cruiser thats capable of going on long cruises. I've had my course mapped out for more than 20 years now and can't wait to get started. Basically, it begins somewhere in South Texas, around South America, To Hawaii, Island hopping due West from there then heading south around Australia and across the Southern Atlantic. I absolutely hate going too far North anymore. Been there done that and don't want to do it again. I've done a complete 360 degree roll in the Barents sea on a Frigate before and a 40 degree roll on an aircraft carrier just above the arctic circle that we darn near didn't recover from so I'm done with that part of the world.

Anyway, I hope noone will mind all the dumb questions I will have in the future here.

A little about my background: I was in the Navy and served on 5 ships. 2 carriers, a Battleship, a frigate and a tender. The tender sucked!

I was a machinist mate but had a pretty wide ranging number of jobs over the years. One of my captains had an idea one day about having an all enlisted watch team driving the ship before he retired and he made it happen. As a second class I qualified for underway OOD and stood the watch for a couple of years. It was a nice change from the engine room for sure. I only put myself through all that to help prepare for my future plans of navigating the pacific on my own boat with my family. I hope all the sleepless nights I spent working on my quals will pay off.

Now I'm a rancher out in West Texas. It's a long way from the ocean I know and we're still trying to figure out the logistics of owning a boat on the coast and living so far inland. I'm happy to accept any advice anyone has on that subject.

My avatar is a picture of my first two ships, the Midway and the Iowa refueling. They were my favorite two ships too.

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Old 18-09-2008, 07:46   #2
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I guess Ike was trying to push the ocean closer to you? Hope all is turning back to normal for all in the path of Ike.

Once the call of the sea has been heard. It is hard to refuse her calling. BEST WISHES in returning to the arms of our Mother Ocean.I know I miss her embrace dearly.......i2f

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Old 18-09-2008, 07:52   #3
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i2fro will shortly be part of the official welcome committee here, welcome to the forums and thanks i2fro for being such a nice host
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Old 18-09-2008, 07:55   #4
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I really do miss it badly. I even tried to go back in the Navy last month. They aren't taking anyone but new recruits in right now. That sucks! The Coast guard isn't taking anyone! I tried that too. It doesn't make much sense to me being in the middle of a war but oh well. The Navy did actually tell me I can go back now if I change rates but none of the rates they offered interested me. I'm an engineer and always will be. Just because the steamers are almost completely gone doesn't matter to me. They will always need engineers.

Ike actually completely missed us but we still got nailed as it came ashore. There was a typhoon that came across Baja and then downgraded to tropical storm and parked right on top of us because of Ike for 3 days. We broke all the records for here for rainfall in all of Lubbocks recorded history because of it and had some good flooding. Officially at the airport they got something like 7.6 inches. We got over 12 on our ranch here and all f my pastures were under water. It almost looked like Hong Kong harbor here for a while with all the junk floating around on some of the other farms near us. We came through fine though. Only thing that got damaged was the phone lines and I really couldn't care less about that.
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Old 18-09-2008, 08:02   #5
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Welcome Aboard!

Sounds like you have some great stories to tell from your experiences in the Navy. Stick around and read through the threads. I think you will find some good information that will help answer your questions. If you have questions that you cannot find answers to them please ask. Any question asked is a good question.

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Old 18-09-2008, 09:02   #6
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My biggest dilemma right now is a place to put a boat. Living on it full time is not an option for several more years. Maybe never. I just can't figure out what to do. I want to buy an older one, 40-60 foot, in good shape but needing a refit so I can do it myself. Ideally I would have it hauled to my ranch here to work on where I can take my time but I don't know how realistic that really is. It's got to be expensive hauling something that big. I don't think the state troopers would let me get away with hauling it behind a big truck with farm tags either. I did think about that.

Having been in drydock so many times and overhauling so many ships and boats in my life I really want to do this all myself so I can be sure it's done right the first time. I just don't trust anyone else anymore.

Is it doable hauling a big boat down the highway or is it too cost prohibitive?
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Old 18-09-2008, 13:08   #7
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Aloha Triple R,
Welcome aboard! Retired Navy here too. All destroyers and cruisers. I could have used your help rebuilding and aligning my engine a few months ago. Good to have you here and hope to be able to help with all your questions.
I'd go smaller on your choice of boats. They are cheaper in initial price and for spares and replacement parts and they are easier to handle in tight quarters if you are short handed.
Kind regards,
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Old 18-09-2008, 13:37   #8
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I would have loved to help out on your boat. I would have done it for free probably too! I actually taught a pump alignment course, same thing as dong an engin, and could have done it blindfolded I'm sure. I've never found a diesel I couldn't rebuild either. Your state is big on my list to visit when I am ready to go too. I reenlisted on the Arizona the first time. I'll never forget it.
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Old 18-09-2008, 19:13   #9
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RRR - Welcome aboard - Rolling a frigate sounds pretty exciting, running aground in catalina does not.

In terms of building big assed boats and moving them over roads check out YachtRodney's posts. He had to cut is boat in half because the road access changed from the time he started till he was ready to float, proving anything is possible.

I love this guy (in a manly way - LOL) but Penny is the boss...

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Old 19-09-2008, 07:33   #10
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G'Day and welcome also,
Guess you did not have time to take pictures as that frigate rolled, did you?
But even a description of how it happened and the outcomes would I am sure, enthrall a lot of readers - if you've the time to share it with us.
Don't take life too seriously. No ones going to make it out alive......Go see our blog at
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Old 19-09-2008, 08:48   #11
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No way I or anyone else had time to take pictures. Not in that storm.

What happened was we were coming back from the Indian ocean pretty much pedal to the metal to make some deadline I forgot about now in Pearl Harbor.

About 2 days out from Pearl we were overtaken by a huge typhoon. Our helicopter was out on deck as we had a bunch of stuff stored in the hanger bay when we started having 20-40 foot swells hit us from the rear. Someone decided to send the flight deck crew out to put extra tie downs on the helicopter and while they were doing it the decision was also made to turn the ship into the wind, and the swells like normal. During the turn we laid over about 40 degrees and a swell swamped us over the starboard side taking the three men that were tying the helicopter down with it. Someone called man overboard and that was when it started to get ugly. It was the mid watch and zero visibility outside. Instead of the normal procedures all hands not on watch were ordered on deck to look for the men overboard. We knew exactly who it was, flares were already in the water real close to them and everything. It happened so fast!

I was on watch in the engine room at first on the throttles and I remember getting a back emergency full bell. That was bad! Later I learned that the OOD chose that instead of the Williamson maneuver out of stupidity mostly but also because he was scared to turn broadside to the wind and waves. The captain took over then. Almost as soon as I had the screw rolling over backwards and dragging the crap out of the boilers in the process we took another hard roll. I think it was somewhere around 35-40 degrees. All I remember was the trash can that I normally sat on in front of my throttles hit the port bulkhead and took the chief engineer out of his chair on it's way. With that hard a roll and dragging the boiler down so hard in an emergency bell the low water alarm started going off in one of the boilers and the BT's ended up doing a shutdown on it. I was ordered to hold the back bell the best I could even though normal procedures were to shut the throttle but we saved the other boiler. That is how it got ugly at first. We backed through that crap, into the waves, and alongside the first man we found. He was dead. The wave cut him in half when he was washed through the lifelines. I had known him quite a while too. We went to boot together and were from the same town.

As the SAR swimmer was bringing him aboard I was getting constant bell changes to try to hold our position for almost 30 minutes. Back full, ahead full, ahead flank, back full, 30 minutes was all I could handle of all that wheel spinning and I got someone to relieve me. I took turns with someone else for the rest of the night on one hour shifts. One of us would be on the throttles and one on deck looking for survivors.The weather was terrible! We were doing a search box all night and only going 4 knots in over 80 mph winds and well over 60 foot swells. All by ourselves! We kept getting full and flank bells to ride over the swells all night long too.

Sometime during the night someone spotted another flashing light in the water and we made for it. The SAR swimmer went in the water to retrieve what we thought was a body and while we were holding station for him a huge swell as tall as the mast came out of nowhere from port I think and we rode up and over then fell in from the side. When we fell over in the trough it was maybe 60 degrees or so over we went then when we started going up the other side the water came down on us and we capsized. The boiler went down and luckily before we laid completely over everyone topside got in and were able to shut all the hatches behind them. That was the scariest thing I had ever experienced! It seemed like we were upside down for hours but in reality it was just seconds then the top of the next trough rolled us back over. When we rolled the other boiler went down and things got real ugly from there.

The SAR swimmer was still in the water of all things. I remember him real well. He was a first class that had been in since vietnam. He was also a Navy SEAL previously and a big time fitness freak. It's the only reason he survived. He was able to cut his tether and swim free of the ship when it rolled just barely.

Since our fires had gone out and we were cold dark and dirty we had no way to get to him. I was back out on deck at that time when we were told to try reaching him with shot lines. All of us that knew how to fire a rifle tried it and one of us, no idea who, got one close enough to him that he was able to reach it. It didn't help for long but it kept him close till another swimmer could get suited up and in the water with a heavier tether. When the next one went in he right away got pulled under the boat and hit pretty hard. It broke both his legs I think and we fished him out. ONly about 5 minutes had elapsed so far from the roll till this happened.

The chief engineer came up with a plan to do a residual steam light off and I had to go back down to the generator room, where I was the supervisor, to make it happen.
I don't know how many of you old engineers out there have done this before, not many I'm sure, but it's very dangerous and doesn't always work. This was my second time.
Our diesel generators were out of commission from the roll and our electric forced draft blower was out. It was underwater in the roll. All we had to restart the generators and the boilers was the steam left in the pipes.

First we hurried around aligning the steam system to do it. It was well over 150 degrees in engineering already too with no ventilation fans going.
First I just gagged the governor on the generator I chose to light off and started cranking open the throttle as fast as I could to get it all the way up to speed as fast as possible. The rest of my team was taking turns on the hand oil pump so it wouldn't blow up in the process. As soon as the electrician could put a load on it he did. It took about 30 seconds I think and I was having to hand throttle the generator the whole time. As soon as the power came on in the boiler room they started the electric fuel oil pump and feed pump and lit fires without a blower at first. We provided combustion air with a positive ventilation in the boiler room and a ventilation fan instead through the dampeners on the boiler. I know it was smoking to beat the band but it worked. They brought steam up a lot faster than they were supposed to and were able to power my generator then so we could light off other equipment. We did all this without blowing anything up and got real lucky. The first time I did it on another ship, we did blow up the boiler and killed everyone in the room.

I think it took about 15 minutes from no fires till we were making turns on the shaft again and we recovered the swimmer. We had to give up the search after that and the other two men were lost. We were out on our own at the time with no carrier or other ships that can handle the weather so we limped back to Pearl harbor for repairs and had funeral services on the way. It was a really sad day for the whole crew.

In pearl, they discovered our expansion joint was broken so badly during the storm that we were scary close to breaking in half. Our rudder post was bent, several main engine bearings wiped, the generator I used to light off had damage from the wet steam and was out of commission for a couple months, Both diesel generators had to get overhauled and lots of other damage. We still got ordered back to the gulf a week later. It sucked because I had just gotten leave approved and went home to marry my wife. I got called the second day home and told to come back. I didn't see her again for 9 months. We did the deployment in support of desert storm and came home to San Diego when it was all over. The Navy decommissioned the ship pretty soon after that with some things from the storm still not fixed. In 2001 I think it was finally sunk at sea during target practice. My captain, who I consider the best I ever served under was killed in a car wreck the day we decommissioned.
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Old 19-09-2008, 09:39   #12
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In that I mentioned it was my second time doing a residual steam lightoff. You all would like the story of the first one too and probably won't believe it.
I'll just give a real brief series of events for now and maybe later the rest of it.

I was on the USS Midway then and new in the Navy. We had just come out of drydock in Japan and were finished with our sea trials. We almost got decommissioned during trials because of a roll we took on that ship. It was bad! just less than 1 degree of what the builders considered it's unrecoverable tip over point. Can you imagine the media circus these days if that happened to a carrier at sea?

Anyway, we were headed out on a IO cruise after they did what they could to fix our rolling problems and halfway out of the bay some volcano erupts and just trashed the ship. The ash was so thick it dumped 6 feet on the flight deck and smothered out the fires in all of our boilers. Of the 12 boilers on that ship we had 8 online and this ship was built in the 40's so it had no electric means of restarting the boilers. We had to use shore steam to do that.

Out in the middle of the bay we were cold dark and dirt, no power, no boilers and blocking the ship channel. We went to general quarters and some one decided to do something that hadn't been done since WW2. A residual steam lightoff.
I think it was 2B boiler they chose to light and through a series of very complicated reroutings of steam light off my generator room, number 4. It took us almost an hour to set all the valves right and the engine rooms, boiler rooms and darn near everywhere else in engineering blew out all the thermometers. They were 180 degree thermometers breaking. We did 5 minutes in and 30 out and had several heat strokes along the way. I was almost one of them.

We brought up our generator on residual steam and got the feed pump, condensate pump and fuel pump going over there in the boiler room.
They lit fires in the one boiler, using the ventilation fan for air again and started sending out steam then the boiler ran out of water. It exploded and I think killed everyone in there.
We got another boiler online real fast and got the plant going again and went back into port. I will NEVER forget that day either. I was barely 17 years old when that happened and scared to death. Within a couple months we would be out in the North Arabian sea getting shot at by Iran too. What a way to grow up and earn your sea legs.

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