Rik van Hemmen's blog

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Thursday, December 14th, 2017

The Big Maritime Things in 2017

 

I have been making these lists since 2012, and so I feel compelled to add another one this year. Maybe I have not been paying attention as closely as usual, but somehow I did not see as many milestones as prior years. This should not be interpreted as gloom and doom. I just think that 2017 was a pregnant pause.

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I wrote this story many years ago, back when .PDF readers were still very confusing to use and cell phone systems were analog. It deals with what, today, I call "hyperventilation control," a timely subject, I would say.

 

I hope our clients, colleagues, associates, friends, and family will enjoy it as a heartfelt Martin & Ottaway holiday present.

 

Happy Holidays and a Prosperous 2018 to All!

 

 

There once was a King who tried very hard to be just and fair. But, because he tried to be just and fair, he was often asked to judge.

 

This King originally held public court on Monday mornings, but once his subjects discovered that their King would try to be just and fair when he held court, more and more subjects appealed to him to resolve their grievances and disputes.

 

Soon he was holding court deep into Friday afternoon. He already had to stop playing golf with his advisors and ministers on Thursdays, and he realized that in a few more weeks he would not be able to play with his kids over the weekend.

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Monday, November 20th, 2017

Thank You, Union Drydock

 

A few weeks ago we surveyed the No.4 Union Drydock for purchase by Bayonne Drydock. The deal was consummated, and now the No. 4 drydock is in Bayonne. By now most of Union Drydock in Hoboken has been liquidated. We are sorry to see this 100 year old company go, but, on the positive side, it looks like the site itself will continue to serve the New York City marine industry as a New York Waterways yard.

 

We enjoyed our work at Union Drydock, it always seemed that the interactions between the shipyard, the surveyors, USCG, ABS, and the owners took place in a, funkier, more freewheeling setting that reached back to earlier days. Whenever we had a job there, we had the chance to do some real negotiating, which meant you always had to bring your A game. That high standard was mostly driven by Bruce Southern the yard’s long serving manager. Bruce would drive you, but never leave you hanging. Most of all, when the deal was done, it was fun to reminisce with him about prior jobs, or to exchange some waterfront stories.

 

It was no different when we did the drydock survey. We were given documents that reached back for decades and Bruce and his yard personnel provided us with insights into the drydock operations that were deeply practical and allowed us to get our head around the issues that a new Owner would encounter.

 

We had most of these discussions in Bruce’s famous office trailer. I suppose that soon that trailer will be gone, which means that a huge storehouse of New York City waterfront trivia will have disappeared since the trailer’s walls were decorated with hundreds of pictures and memorabilia.

Before I left, I got a chance to take a picture of my father’s picture that Bruce had pinned on the wall. read more »

I try to attend the SNAME annual meetings every year. Mustering the energy to attend can be daunting, but once I am there, I realize that there are so many benefits to attending the annual meeting that the cost and time are well worth it.

 

At every meeting I try to attend as many technical paper presentations as possible, but it is very difficult to get in more than about 8 presentations because there are so many other important activities. These activities range from my very satisfying involvement on the (mt) editorial board, to meeting with other professionals (which through a bizarre set of circumstances included Chris Kraft, the NASA legend), mining for new technical solutions at the exposition, re-establishing old contacts, and making new contacts (especially with the very committed young professionals who have decided to attend).

 

Regardless, central to all of this is the ability to learn, and at the end of each annual meeting I always ask myself: "What was the most important thing I learned?"

 

This year the outstanding learning experience was the paper by Dr. Doerry and Dr. Koenig: "Framework for Analyzing Modular, Adaptable and Flexible Surface Combatants." read more »

My wife posted this picture on my Facebook page. I copy it here because the picture made me think, and that led me right into a patent and copyright approach that I have been toying with for a number of years.

 

First of all, I could not figure out where the picture came from (who owns it), but if I am infringing a copyright please let me know and I will sort things out. Interestingly my idea is an improvement on the concept in the picture, and therefore may skirt copyright issues. Regardless, I very strongly believe in reasonable intellectual property rights.  read more »

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Monday, October 9th, 2017

Surveying Tools

In a recent blog, I discussed laser scanning as a surveying tool. That made me think of all the tools that surveyors carry in their proverbial tool bag today.

 

Surveying equipment used to be pretty simple when Francis A. Martin did his thing in 1875. We still use Francis A. Martin’s stuff, although often in improved versions, but, boy, has the list grown.

 

Writing blogs is fun, since it allows me to ponder the subject while I write about. I thought I was going to discuss the growth in surveying tools, but in writing the list, I noticed that in the last 10 years the smartphone has revolutionized the marine surveying field too. It is amazing how many marine surveying measurements and recordings can be made with a smartphone. A smartphone truly is starting to beat a Star Trek tricorder.

 

1875. Francis A. Martin’s tool bag:

 

1.            Pocket notebook (we still have some that he used). The neatest ones today are Wetnotes, but they are never easy to find)

 

2.            Pencil. But we also have some pocket notebooks where he used a fountain pen. Today only Wayne occasionally uses a fountain pen, but we have a favored mechanical pencil in the 0.7mm Bic Velocity. 

 

3.            A surveying hammer. I have a fancy Japanese one on my office shelves. We certainly don't get to take it on the plane. Often a tool that we can get in the yard when needed (it generally is a chipping hammer).

 

4.            A piece of chalk. Today we more often use spray cans and sharpies, but a crayon or a piece of chalk still is nice.

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When I joined Martin & Ottaway, Harry Ottaway told me that Francis Martin used a horse and carriage to be dropped off at the various surveys.

 

Roy Kanapaux, a surveyor that still worked with Martin & Ottaway in the early eighties (at age 80!) and whom I met when I visited my father at the office, never had a driver’s license and used cabs to get him to jobs. In the last few years that became difficult because there were certain areas of the New York waterfront where cabbies would drop you off, but not pick you up when you called from a pay phone.

 

I myself started with Martin & Ottaway when we just acquired personal 35mm compact cameras. Before that we shot in 110 format (ugh) or, much nicer, by means of a shipyard professional photographer. Today, digital photography is really just too cool, and since a picture tells a thousand words, emailing a picture is often much easier in trying to describe a complex problem than words alone.  

 

It can be argued that surveyors will adopt any technology that makes their life easier, and I suppose there is nothing wrong with that. We still occasionally use our ultrasonic hatchcover tester, not too long ago some surveyors tried rappelling gear for tank inspections and now we are messing with drones. All fun stuff, but, of all the new stuff, I like laser scanning best, because it accomplishes a task that I could not effectively perform before. read more »

During our MAX1 study effort we focused on optimal environmental operational practices, but after we issued our MAX1 final report, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation asked us to perform a follow-up study that focused more tightly on operating costs.

 

In the initial effort we avoided this task, because we felt that it would be near impossible to come up with a simple answer. However, Hannah van Hemmen was intrigued by the question and decided to give it a shot. 

 

She collected cost data but knew that cost data by itself does not provide an economics case and she also needed to balance the cost data against the economic benefit of compliance and this is where things became really complicated.

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This is a somewhat longer blog, but anybody who has spend more than a second thinking about installing roof top solar should read this story. It provides real life details about how to fit and finance residential roof top solar in NJ. I am a card carrying solar energy nut, but never thought that acquiring roof top solar could be this easy and be such a good deal. 

 

This winter our neighbors to the south took out two huge pin oaks and we went from a completely shady backyard to a sunny backyard. Our cape style house has the roof ridge aligned North/South, which is not great for solar, but the back of the cape roof has a large shed roof that actually is a little too flat for perfect.  That roof got a leak and I started efforts to get the roof fixed.

 

While talking to a roofing contractor I realized that the roof is now quite sunny. So I called my friend Nancy Makofka who has had a solar roof for years. She told me to call Sea Bright Solar. Sea Bright Solar is a local roof top solar supplier and their salesman happened to be only a few miles from our house when I called. read more »

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Friday, June 2nd, 2017

Brilliant Black

My friend Danny had to take his Black Jack wooden inboard Jersey sea skiff to the Sea Bright NJ Marine Police Barracks to get it titled. David's Diesel Jeep Cherokee lease was almost up and it had not yet towed anything of substance. Furthermore, it was a nice day, which made it unfair for my dog Harris to just sit beneath my desk or mooch biscuits from Marianne.

 

So I decided to put it all together and compose it as a "Study in Brilliant Black".

 

 

Three black things and all brilliant in their own way.

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