Rik van Hemmen's blog

Life is complicated, and designing to deal with life’s complications is difficult. Unfortunately bad design unnecessarily punishes humanity by increasing inefficiencies and frustrations. Design mistakes get made, and sometimes the mistakes cannot be easily corrected. However, it is difficult to imagine anything more destructive to humanity than bad design that affects many people that can be easily corrected, but is not, due to mental laziness by those in charge. This story is about a sign.

 

 

 

On Easter I visited Hoover Dam. Earlier that week we had visited some of the great National Parks in the area and marveled at the skill of the National Park Service in designing and redesigning access to some of the most striking places in the world. Knowing that the Hoover Dam, like the National Parks, falls under the Department of the Interior, I was disappointed to note that the Bureau of Reclamation does not lean into the problem like the NPS.

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In almost every technical case, or operational problem we get involved in we find that it first takes the construction of a chronological narrative to get an idea as to where the shoe sticks.

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In 1522 a sailing vessel, named the Victoria, arrived in Spain and thereby completed the first circumnavigation of Earth using only sustainable power (wind). This voyage is generally called Magellan’s voyage, but the person who completed the voyage in command was Juan Sebastian Elcano.

 

Since that time, humans have circumnavigated Earth in any number of novel fashions including rockets, aircraft, and submarines, but with the exception of a balloon circumnavigation (Picard and Jones, 19 days, 1999), which is more akin to drifting with the wind rather than navigating, all those novel methods used fossil or external fuels in some fashion.

 

By water we have copied the Magellan feat any number of times using solar cells or much faster sailboats, and greatly improved on the circumnavigation time. The record for a sailing circumnavigation is 45 days and the record for a solar waterborne circumnavigation is 584 days. Not bad, noting that the original voyage took 4 years but these feats are really improvements on a method rather than a novel approach.

 

Only this year, almost 500 years later, are humans attempting to take a new approach.

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Rik van Hemmen's picture
Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Double Dog Day

Dog days are good days in an office. Today is a double dog day. Jim brought in beagle Buddy and Rik brought in golden/lab Harris.

 

Nothing easy about taking a picture of two dogs at the same time. 

 

 

Of all the shipping companies that I have had any contact with National Bulk Carriers and its Owner Daniel Ludwig is probably more deeply submerged in lore than any other company. Every time I meet somebody who has worked for NBC I am regaled with yet another story of clever derring do led by Daniel Ludwig and his team of engineers. NBC built the first ULCC's starting with the Universe Ireland. These 300,000 tonners moved crude from the Arab Gulf to Bantry Bay in Ireland.

 

M&O had occasional contact with NBC presenting claims and Henk van Hemmen, when he worked for the US Salvage Association, was deeply involved in risk management and start up issues with the Universe Tankers and Bantry Bay. I remember him describing the primitive conditions there in Bantry Bay when he returned from his first visit.

 

Oddly, very little is available on the web on these revolutionary vessels, but I did find this Pathe newsreel on the vessel.

 

But even more fun is this "Modern" shanty about the vessel.

 

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In the first half of 2015 Martin & Ottaway will be performing a study for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, "MAX1 Studies" (MARPOL Annex I Studies), that will address the following questions:

 

  1. How effective are shipboard Oily Water Separators?
  2.  
  3. What can be done to further increase the effectiveness of shipboard oily waste management?

 

The intent of MAX1 is to establish the deepest possible industry cooperative framework and seeks partners and participants to address the wide ranging issues concerning OWS systems and machinery space waste stream management.

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Cold weather actually makes us busier. Cold weather makes people seek shelter so they pay less attention and cold weather makes equipment operate and fail in unusual fashion.

 

It has been cold out (we almost had iceboat conditions on the river) so there is no time to ruminate any further.

 

Instead I will post a few of Henk van Hemmen's drawings that I discovered in a sketch book a few weeks ago. They are dated 1987, and I think that was the year my parents took a cruise to Indonesia, hence the tropical themes. I suspect my father drew the type of ships he wished he had sailed on and used the available backgrounds. Or maybe he dreamed it all up on a cold day in New Jersey.

 

Ah, tropical latitudes; copra, hemp, spices, long port calls, warm breezes ........

 

 

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Rik van Hemmen's picture
Monday, December 29th, 2014

Christmas Poetry

 

Many years ago Arthur Mournian gave me a quirky little book named Nautical Poetry, which was a collection of (what the editor considered to be) the best nautical poetry. It contained some good stuff, but not this Robert Louis Stevenson poem that was sent to me over Christmas by my friend and former colleague John Luard.

 

It should have.

 

 

Christmas at Sea

 

by Robert Louis Stevenson
(1850-1894)

 


 

The sheets were frozen hard, and they cut the naked hand;
The decks were like a slide, where a seaman scarce could stand;
The wind was a nor'-wester, blowing squally off the sea;
And cliffs and spouting breakers were the only things a-lee.

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So here, at the end of the year, I have spent a few moments pondering the maritime events that affected my life. As usual, this is a personal list, but checking back against prior lists I am surprised that this list making can be very unpredictable. It almost seems that these annual lists carry a hidden common thread, and this year it seems the things that affected me most are not as clearly eventful as prior years. Instead they appear to be subtle, occasionally disturbing and occasionally promising and sometimes both.

 

Here we go: read more »

Rik van Hemmen's picture
Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Big Load Afloat

 

As a company maybe we love salvage more than anything else, but load outs must come in as a very close second.

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