Sunday, June 20, 2010


Had a big problem tonight with my old nemesis Error 400 & the blog would not publish so I have had to go back & take all the pictures out again except for two which I'll try now to publish.  Monday night I will publish the rest of the photos from tonight's blog & hope that works.  Wished I knew why I am having these ongoing problems with either Blogger or Live Writer.  Didn't use anything from the external hard drive so that isn't the problem this time!!!!    11 P.M. here goes!!


I headed down to the harbor area this morning just in time to see the Coast Guard vessel pulling in from it's home base in Goderich.  While they were docking & getting set up I watched about a dozen sailboats a quarter mile off the end of the pier zig zagging & criss crossing amongst themselves in some kind of contest or race.  I could here someone blowing a whistle occasionally.  People were scrambling around on the decks & the sounds of large wind driven sails could be heard flapping in the stiff on shore breeze.  I know absolutely nothing about sailing but thought some of the boats seemed to be uncomfortably close to each other. 

After a few minutes I noticed they had the Coast Guard boat secured so walked back down the pier & waited by the gang plank.  A uniformed crew member waved me on board & it was apparent right from the start that Rescue Specialist Jamie Oakley was the first of 4 courteous crew members on duty today.  A narrow steel walkway with a white hand rail led back to the aft deck & up a short ladder to the top outside bridge.  Jamie pointed out the state of the art electronic navigation & communication equipment-gyro stabilized radar, electronic charts, RDF equipment,VHF intership communication & VHF AM air to ground communication systems.  All this equipment & more is replicated one deck below in the wheelhouse where I caught a glimpse of Capt. Greg Kingston on his way to an even lower deck.  He too was busy with the tour.

From the upper bridge it was back down the  rear ladder, around a tight corner & into the enclosed deck below.  Practically every inch of space is utilized & this was where I saw a lot of weather gear hanging.  Heavy coats, jackets, & coveralls.  Janet Elliot, the boat's engineer was in this small space & happily opened a second hatch door facing rear & downward.  This was the engine compartment with it's 2 large gleaming Cat 3196 geared diesel engines.  900hp drive 2 fixed pitch 4 bladed propellers & the boat can reach 25 knots.  Janet seemed especially proud of the gearing system located under our feet.  She pulled up a couple deck covers to reveal the transfer cases & one of the propeller shafts facing aft.  I have a feeling this gal likes to get in there & get her hands dirty:))

Another small hatch opened forward through the bulkhead to reveal another space with a lot of canisters, piping & tubing.  CO'2 containers were stored here with a lot of other things I didn't recognize.  And again, another small heavy metal door led forward into the bow space.  By the way, you do not walk upright through these doors.  You pretzel yourself up, grab an overhead hand rail & somehow unceremoniously launch yourself through the opening.  Large black plastic containers held more gear in this bow area but I have forgotten what kind of gear.  Not a lot of room to stand up in some of these spaces & there I was lugging around my long 300mm lens bashing it against this & thumping it on that.  Both Jamie & Janet were eager to explain things & I was trying my best to come up with some intelligent sounding questions for them.  Bit of a stretch for me you know!!  It wasn't until later that I wondered if they had some kind of washroom of sorts on board.  Or a pull down cot for a quick snooze maybe.  Or a small fridge for snacks & drinks.  What about a coffee maker & where did they stash their on board peanut butter!! (I couldn't go to sea without my peanut butter)

From the gear room it was up a short ladder with a squeeze through into the interior bridge.  This small space was crammed with all kinds of electronics.  I have seen Jumbo Jet cockpit pictures that looked like this.  Two captains chairs were in here & it looked like it would be a bit of challenge to even get into them.  Jamie did allude to the fact about the interior design not being optimized to it's full design potential.  Directly behind the seats another short ladder led up & out onto the exterior bridge above where we had started the tour.  Crewman Jason Hamilton was there explaining the bridge electronics to a few more folks.

There were a fair few people gathering on the boat for the tour now so I was anxious to free up some space & get myself back on the pier.  We RV folks are used to tight spaces but our rig is a palatial palace compared to the tight quarters aboard this Coast Guard Vessel.  Jamie & Jan filled me in on the names of the crew members before I debarked & with a firm handshake & an armload of pamphlets I was across the short gangplank & back on the pier.  A big thank you to all the crew for the tour:))

Here are a few additional stats on the "Multi Task Medium Endurance Lifeboat."  It is 14.63 meters long (47ft) with a breadth of 4.27meters.  Carries 1560 litres of fuel & 22.7 litres of fresh water.  Space enough to seat 5 survivors & this boat has the technology & ability to right itself if it rolls over in heavy seas.  This class of vessel has a medium range with moderate to high speed capable to operating in all weather conditions.  The crew does not live on board but is based out of a shore station which in this boat's case is Goderich Ontario just up the coast from Bayfield.  During the winter this vessel is dry-docked in Sarnia Ontario.  You may have noticed I haven't referred to this vessel by it's name & I am embarrassed to say that is because I never thought to look on the side of the boat for her name.  And here I am, an old Navy guy from way back in the 60's & I didn't even get the name of the boat I was on today.  Geeeezzzzz!!  But wait, I just did a little sleuthing on Google & I am guessing the name of today's boat was......Cape Discovery:))  In fact, once I had a good look at today's pics I did notice that I had caught the name on the side in one of the pics.               

Spent the afternoon working on the days photos & found some time to take all the furry guys over to Deerpark for a swim on the beach.  Both Checkers & Max love the water but the little Motormouse won't have anything to do with it.  Members of Kelly's family spent the week-end at Deerpark & I'll blog about that with some photos in a later blog.  All & all, thanks to the Canadian Coast Guard, I had myself.......a good Sunday:))



  1. What a great tour, I spent my Navy career on bigger ships, They had to be big enough to store helicopters and have a fight deck of some sort, so I small ship like this would have me claustophobic, I have seen pictures of some of our Coast Guard ships doing full rolls and I would not want to be on one when that happened. Have a great day. be safe out there. Sam & Donna.

  2. Pretty cool. I liked the pictures that loaded and sorry to hear you are having troubles with the others. Where is Rick when you need him??

  3. What a great tour to be able to take!

    But, a palatial palace? Guess that makes you a cursmudgeonal cursmudgeon! :)

  4. I love to walk through boats & ships, small, medium and large ones, as long as they are secured to the dock. You wouldn't get me 3 ft away from the pier!

  5. Wow! That cockpit picture sure does look like the ones you see in a big airliner.

    Error 400 messages are notoriously difficult to figure out. I'm wondering about one thing though as your problem seems to be with images. Are you linking to Picasa Web Albums to display your pics? If you are, then you might want to try and insert the pics into your blog direct from your computer and see if that makes a difference. You could even try reposting today's blog with the pictures you had to take out.

    If this doesn't change anything, then there are a few more things to try, but this is the most obvious one - at least to me.

  6. Great tour! Al, did you take notes, use a tape recorder...or do you have a photographic memory?? Our son was on the USS JFK aircraft carrier in Desert Storm..Just before they deployed we did a parent's day cruise from Norfolk out into international waters and they launced aircraft..unbelievable!! I would love to board a coastguard ship!