15) Old Fashion Stern Wheeler Model
16) The USNS Hayes
15) Old Fashion Stern Wheeler Model
Model of typical old-fashioned Stern Wheeler I completed in several months
about ten years ago. It's from a Spanish kit, and is hard wood. One thing unique
about the old Western River boats was that they were very pliable...in other
words, the deformity of the bottom of the vessel when aground on un-even mud,
was transmitted to the very top of the vessel. The poles you see were called
"siffening" poles...by tensioning the wire, the bow, and stern could
be literally "bent" up, or relaxed...depending on the load. The vessel
this model represents had two rudder just forward of the wheel. They must have
been a bear to manuever.
Though the plans called for a static model, I counldn't resist animating the drive rods.
Photo by Dick McK.
16) The USNS Hayes
( The bundling
of wood )
Hayes showed up on my horizon in the early seventies. I had just finished a year
on the USNS Vanguard, sitting down in Rio, when I got word I would be
taking over the ship. She was barely a half-year old, and
hadn't seen any real service. She had been built in Seattle, Washington, and
aside from the trip down the West coast, through the Panama Canal, and a short
run over to the Azores, she hadn't yet really been sea-tested. She did do a
little test though on the skipper I relieved by doing her slamming thing in a
moderate sea, scaring the poor fellow off the vessel. Barely six-months old, she
already had the reputation - given to her by the previous command as a "bad
scene" - "will never go anywheres".
The sponsor of the vessel -
the Naval Research Lab, had been given this ship as replacement for a old
sea-plane tender they dearly loved, and were now wishing they had back. Well...I
guess that's why they sent me..."ain't no ship, or female goin' to get off
easy with me in charge." they summized.
The problem with the Hayes,
as with all catamarans is the vulnerability of it's cross-structure to the sea,
and swell. In the case of the Hayes at that time, it cleared the surface in calm
water by seventeen feet. This "cross-structure", at which the two
hulls were joined, was flat...flatter'n a pancake, and unbeknownst to me, and
others at the time, just plain housing structure designed to take no more than
five-pounds per square inch of pressure. Later on in tests with sensors, we
found pressures to excede two-hundred pounds per inch when pounding in a heavy
At the time, the Navy was
building two similar catamarans, and had plans for eleven more for MSC - my
outfit. The Navy cats were being built for submarine rescue, so were really
loaded down with gear, and an additional deck below the cross structure, giving
them less than ten-feet clearance from the sea. They later proved to be unfit
for ocean service because of "slamming", and were used just for show,
meandering from port to port along the coast. If they ever had to get to a scene
in a hurry, they'd sink first.
This, however did not turn
out to be the case with the Hayes. I had heard about the "pounding"
the former skipper experienced, and heard what he had done to relieve it - slow
down, though that only made it worse as the ship decelerated.
After all the formalities of
assuming command, I was invited uptown Alexandria, (Va.), for lunch at a nice
restaurant. There were some officials from NRL, the fellow I just relieved, and
a Navy captain who was being groomed for one of the Navy's cats. This poor
fellow couldn't get it out of his mind that I was taking over this vessel
without any "training" in catamarans. Where he ever thought I would
ever get that kind of "training", there being no other cats this size
in the world, I don't know. He was presently being given six-months briefing on
his new assignment. After he kept shaking his head just too many times over lunch, I
had to tell him I was a seaman, been nothing other than seaman, and will always
be a seaman, and that anything that can remain afloat for a minute, will be
sailed...by me anyways.
That night we slipped our moorings
under darkness - sounds clandestingly spooky...doesn't it, but the sailing board
had been set by the previous skipper, and if I had set it, it would have been at
a decent daylight hour. It's a long, tiresome trip down the Chesapeake, and
during my normal sleeping hours, I don't appreciate that. Never again, like all
other ships I've had, did that ever happen again. We broke out into the Atlantic
the next day bound for the Greenland Sea where we were to start underwater sound
studies. We'd eventually get up to 79º 30' north...as far as a ship can go
without ice-breakers, and then sometimes not.
The first seas we encountered were
during the evening when we were just south of Greenland. The seas were building,
being about eight, or so feet when I turned in. We were doing full speed - 16
The Hayes was 5600 horsepower,
should have been 7200, but the builders put in the wrong size reduction gears,
which couldn't handle the full potential of the engines...one of the numerous
dumb things the poor ship had happen to it.
At around 0500 I was awakened by a
pound, a slight grazing of the sea along the cross structure. Immediately I felt
the engines slow down, and then she really started to pound...like depth charges
going off under the ship. The phone rang...it was the Chief Mate on watch:
"She started to pound, so I slowed down." he said.
Without telling him what I
thought, I told him I'd be right up.
A few minutes later when I got up
to the bridge, and saw the seas were about twelve feet or so, and it looking
like that's all they would be for some time I said" "Full ahead".
With a look of amazement on the mate's face, and the words "Hold on to you
hat." under his breath, we came up to full speed again. I stayed for a
while, and watched the timing of the sea, and ship's pitching, and when all
seemed back to normal, I left the bridge for breakfast.
As I was eating, the Chief
Engineer came in, and he Senior Scientist. "Would you believe we're hooked
up into a twelve-foot sea." I said to the two.
"What? You gotta be kiddin'.'
was their simultaineous replay.
"Yup' I said, explaining that
unless the timing of the seas gets out of synch, we're good for the duration
like this. I told them the mate had caught a little grazing, and panicked, as
did my predecessor, and made matters worse by slowing down.
I also knew, but hadn't told them
yet, that when the timing does get to where we will pound, I will tack, or take
the seas on either bow, but never slow down.
Later on in heavy seas, my theory
proved correct. The Hayes now could go anywheres, anytime. She was a good
A view of the Hayes' stern. Would you
believe we had to place a large warning sign forward between the hulls warning
boaters not to try, and go down between the hulls. When hooked up, Hayes' twin
controlable-pitch propellors would churn up six-foot "rooster tails"
between those hulls...instant chopped
OAR...get it? - OR...
SIGN IN, AND JOIN THE "CHAIN" GANG