Boating NZ : FREE TO READ March 2014
“You have to think about six things: two propeller thrust angles, two sets of revolutions and two marine radios to converse with the pilot.” Tug boat skippers excel at geometry and visualise their drives working in quadrants. Dials beside each drive control indicate the direction of thrust within a quadrant. “When it turns to custard, it happens really quickly,” says McGregor. “If you lose one engine, the other one is spinning you around, having lost its partnering drive unit for balance.” A lever on each console controls the macho, 50-tonne winch on the foredeck. A foot pedal allows the skipper to transmit on the VHF radio to communicate with the Ports of Auckland pilot on the ship while still controlling both engines. Our first job was to help the container ship Cap Pascado exit her berth. Her crew lowered a heaving line with a loop to our foredeck where Pieter Barneveld, a former tug engineer who has returned to Wakakume for a refresher course, attached the light line for the crew to hoist through their fairlead, followed by the heavy towing line. With all secure, we reversed to bring the bow out as the other tug, Waipapa, assisted the stern. Bubbles and whirlpools erupted around us, extending out to the ship until the pilot on Cap Pascado called for ‘dead slow ahead’. The ship moved forward. During towing operations, all crew must be inside the cabin, behind the the 15mm glass windscreen. In days gone by, tow lines were more elastic and built up tremendous loads of kinetic energy which could be lethal if a line broke. Now, lines are synthetic with minimal elasticity. With Cap Pascado facing out of the harbour and our towline retrieved, we went to meet the incoming APL Jeddah and took station at her stern. With our towline secured, we stayed at heel as she moved forward, past the berth. Waipapa helped turn her bow to starboard, and the pilot called for APL Jeddah to reverse until she was alongside the wharf, just vacated by Cap Pascado. On final approach in reverse, the ship always gives two kicks ahead, McGregor explains. “The first one is to slow him right down to about a knot so if he’s going to have any sort of failure in the next stopping motion, it will minimise damage; it will hopefully glance off the wall.” The ship’s anchors are always set up LEFT: skipper Jamie McGregor on the bridge of Wakakume. ABOVE: the engine and thrust controls for the starboard engine, with the lever for the winches on the foredeck, right. PHOTOS: Rebecca Hayter. "I love sunrises" – a photo taken by tug skipper Jamie McGregor, as dawn breaks in Auckland. MAIN PIC: Wakakume at heel beside APL Jeddah as she prepares to reverse into her berth. 84 Boating New Zealand March 2014 Feature_Tug boat_March14.indd 84 18/02/2014 5:14:11 p.m.
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