Monday, November 30, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
As the late Willie Wilson, who at the time was manager of Merdie Boggs and Sons at Catlettsburg KY said, these two boats could “talk to the wndows.”
They were the Omar and the Omega. They were built by St. Louis Ship in 1981, and they had two technological innovations, one or both of which produced the rumble and the rattles.
Here was how I explained it in a story in The Herald-Dispatch of Huntington WV on March 21, 1982:
Two new boats are turning the heads of river hands on the Ohio.
They are the M/V Omar and the M/V Omeg, two new vessels owned by Ohio River Co. as experiments in adapting seagoing technology on the inland waterways.
The boats are noted for their engines and their propellers.
The engines are capable of burning No. 6 diesel fuel, a thick liquid that must be heated to be pumped. After being blended with No. 2 diesel fuel, which the boats burn now, Ohio River Co. will spend only about three-fourths as much for fuel as it does for conventional boats. Considering the large amount of fuel a large towboat burns in one day, that amounts to substantial savings.
The other innovation on the boats are the controlled pitch propellers. In layman’s terms, the propeller blades swivel 180 degrees on their hubs. This eliminates reverse gear and also gives the pilot more control over the boats’ movements in tight spots. ...
I boarded the Omega to talk with its steersmen. They both were bothered by the vibration problem. One went about the pilothouse stuffing small pieces of paper into the ceilingtiles to eliminate the rattles. They could reduce the vibration some by keeping the stern fuel tank loaded, which kept the rear of the boat deeper in the water.
As for the propellers, the steersmen praised the boat’s handling.
That was then. The Ohio River Co. is gone, and the boats are owned by Ingram Barge. And the boats have been repowered. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the Omar up this way. The Omega has been renamed the Erna E. Honeycutt and spends most of its time on the Mississippi.
They look similar to the Jackson H. Randolph and the W.H. Dickhoner, but the dimensions are a bit different. I try to look at those two when they’re in this area. It’s the closest I get to a visual reminder of what it was like along the Ohio when the Omar or the Omega was in this area.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Somewhere in the earliest of my memories are images of boats such as this one traveling the Ohio River in the early 1960s. One in particular was white with a peach-colored pilothouse. Seriously. But I have no recollection of what its name was.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Now, five more species have been added to the endangered species list nationally, and two of them are in the Ohio Valley: the diamond darter and the rabbitfoot mussel. I'll admit I hadn't heard of either of them until today. If I had, they probably wouldn't be endangered, would they?
Monday, November 9, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
(This is the first in a series on my favorite towboats or types of towboats on the Ohio River. They are not presented in any particular order.)
Yesterday morning, as I woke Adam for another day of fourth grade, I knew he would be disappointed with the news. The mv. Buckeye State of AEP was in the Greenup locks upbound. It could pass Huntington before he got home from school.
Adam was crushed. He has wanted to see the Buckeye State since June, when I found it in a photo I took on May 22. I was on the Ohio side of the Ohio River at the Gallipolis Locks and Dam. Darkness was setting in, and I saw a new AEP boat across the river getting ready to lock through upbound. I thought it was the AEP Mariner or the Chuck Zebula. It wasn’t until several days later, when I looked at the photo more closely, that I realized it was the Buckeye State.
The Buckeye State is one of five new towboats AEP has in service, with the others being the AEP Mariner, the Chuck Zebula, the Mountain State and the AEP Leader. Adam had seen three. He was at his grandmother’s when the newest, the AEP Leader, was in this area. He really, really wanted to see the Buckeye State.
He faked a sore neck, but I didn’t fall for it. So off to school he went. Later in the day, I noticed that the Buckeye State hadn’t finished its lockage until 9:40 a.m. or so. We live about 30 miles above the Greenup Locks and Dam, so if the Buckeye State did maybe 5 mph upstream, we could see it. I caught Adam as he got off the bus. He didn’t even want to come in the house. He threw his bookbag into the car and off we went.
We didn’s see the Buckeye State until it had already passed under Huntington’s East End bridge. There are a couple of spots up the river on the Ohio side that we use when we chase towboats, so we hit both of them. We took the Ohio side because evening was coming, and the sun would shine on the boat if we viewed it from that side of the river.
It did, and we got some good photos and good views.
Adam was pleased. Now he just has to see the AEP Leader and the Hoosier State when it hits the river, and he will be satisfied.
The new AEP boats are on our Top 10 list because they are new and because they look so different. They’re tall, but they also have those large pilothouses that make them stand out from, say, a Dravo Viking.
I got to tour the AEP Mariner with my older son, Joey, last year during an open house in Huntington. The crew told us the boat has shock absorbers or some other system that dampens vibrations so much that if you wake from sleep on the boat, you can’t tell if the boat is moving.
This year, Adam and I toured the Mountain State during its open house in Point Pleasant WV. That particular boat has moved to the top of his list of favorite boats, although he does want to see the J.S. Lewis on the river some day. (Hint: It’s possible that boat is on my personal Top 10 list).
I’m in no position to judge a boat by its handling, its fuel economy, its power, comfort for its crew or anything that might matter to a person who works on it. I can only judge them by they way they look on the river. And, in some cases, how they sound. And by what they have meant to me as I received my river education.
The new AEP boats definitely make my Top 10.
Top photo: The Buckeye State upbound passing the Lesage and/or Cox Landing area of Cabell County WV in the background. Photo taken from Rome Township in Lawrence County OH.
Here, the AEP Mariner has just passed under the West 17th Street Bridge between Huntington WV and Proctorville OH. The pilot aligns it to pass under the 6th Street Bridge.
Here, Adam puts his hands on the controls of the Mountain State. The AEP Mariner and the Chuck Zebula have a bit of a blind spot for the pilot, who has a hard time seeing the area between the tow knees. The Buckeye State, Mountain State and AEP Leader have pilothouses where the control area has a gap so the pilot can have a better view of what's below and immediately in front of him.
And here's the Mountain State.
These boats spend much of their time on the lower Ohio, usually in the Newburgh pool and below. We try to see them when they get up this way. One hope is to see them when they stop at the AEP port in Lakin WV. We can't get in on the West Virginia side, but there's a boat ramp across the river at Cheshire OH that we can use to get some shots.
One more thing. In recent weeks, Adam has become a fan of Dick's Towboat Gallery. Sunday night, as he was going to bed, his momma came to wish him good night. As she did, Adam told her he was on that site and saw that the Chuck Zebula is 166 feet long but the Mountain State is only 157 feet long. As she often does, she shook her head and said, What a kid.