Monday, January 27, 2020

Catching up: Marathon triple christening, 10-8-2019, part 2

Here is the second of three installments of photos from the christening of the motor vessels Mt. Vernon, Kenova and Patoka back in October. These focus on the people on the boats.

One-time offer: If you are in one of the photos, feel free to download it and get prints, use it for wallpaper, whatever. Enjoy.

Next up: A few leftover photos from the christening.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Catching up: Marathon triple christening, 10-8-2019, part 1

It's taken a while, but computer problems are behind me (I hope). This is the first of two installments of photos from the christening ceremony of the motor vessels Patoka, Mt. Vernon and Kenova at the Marathon dock at Catlettsburg, Kentucky, back on October 8.

This installment is of the boats and stuff. The next one will be of people I saw that day. There might be a third installment with some other pictures. I don't want to overload one post with too many pics.

Anyway, here goes:

I don't know when the next installment will be. My best guess is that it will be in a few days as I catch up with a bunch of stuff.


After years of having an Instagram account but never posting anything, last night I made the jump and put up a few photos. I'm at @jimross90 if anyone wants to take a look. There's one Ohio River photo on there now with more to come.

I'll be able to post more after I have my new computer repaired. The thing will run Lightroom but not an internet browser, so the posting I do is done on my wife's computer. That gets old really quick, even if her machine is a lot better than the one I have.

Next weekend I plan to post a longer piece about a historical artifact I've wanted to see and how have in my possession. It's not a world-changing or highly sought item, but it's important to me for reasons I hope to share next weekend.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

ACBL and its finances

The Wall Street Journal's website had an article Thursday evening about how the investment group that owns American Commercial Barge Line (ACBL) is having some problems.

The M/V D&R Boney, a boat AEP sold to ACBL in 2015.

The article itself is behind a paywall. For the time being, I have an online subscription, so I was able to read the short article. As a matter of professional principle (I'm all for people being paid for what they write), I don't copy and paste material that's behind paywalls. However, I will summarize it and add a few thoughts of my own.

According to the article, ACBL needs to restructure its debt, which amounts to more than $1 billion. ACBL has been owned by Platinum Equity LLC, which bought it in 2010 for about $770 million. In recent months or years, ACBL has had problems in its business of moving dry goods.

My own observations: Remember October 1, 2015, when AEP announced it had sold most of its marine transportation unit to ACBL for about $550 million? AEP kept 12 boats, but it sold the majority of its marine unit to ACBL. The next day, I had a list of the boats AEP was keeping, and it was the most viewed post in the history of this blog, and still is.

ACBL has sold off some of the boats it bought from AEP, but apparently not enough to help pay down the debt significantly.

ACBL might be able to restructure its loans to terms that are more favorable, or it might make a short trip to bankruptcy court to accomplish that. One thing I have no knowledge of is the extent of contracts ACBL has with whatever unions represent its workers, and I don't know if those contracts would be in danger. The same with whatever health insurance, retirement or other benefit plans ACBL has for its union and nonunion work force.

I do know that ACBL is not nearly as active on this part of the Ohio River (Huntington, West Virginia, around Mile 308) that it was a decade ago, but you can say that about other companies, too. I assume Campbell Transportation is doing some of the work for ACBL up here, based on what its executives told me a few years ago, but that information might be out of date by now.

When it sold its marine operations to ACBL, AEP was wanting to get out of the contract hauling business and concentrate on its core business of selling electricity. AEP still generates most of its own electricity, but it wants out of that business segment in deregulated states such as Ohio where it is not guaranteed a certain rate of profitability.

So that's all I know. If anyone has any more information from the inside, I'd be glad to hear it.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

M/V Tennesssee

Seen this warm but foggy morning upbound at Lock and Dam 27 on the Ohio.

This is one of my favorite places along the river, whether I'm boat hunting, shooting or relaxing.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Catching up

There's nothing like a cold that won't go away and a computer dying on you — but giving you enough advance notice to download everything of value you had on it — to mess up a lot of things in your life. The cold is still here, but the computer has been replaced, so now maybe I can start some serious overdue editing on some photos. And writing a couple of longer-form things I had planned to appear by now.

Until then ...

This was the M/V Stephen T of Superior Marine pushing a single barge down the river past Huntington WV yesterday. I went down to the park to clear my head (and my nose) of stuff that was in it that didn't need to be. After the Stephen T passed, I saw kids of various ages on skateboard and bikes at the skateboard area at the lower end of the park.

Now, it's catchup time on a lot of things.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

M/V O. Nelson Jones

I went on a photo expedition last Saturday despite the weather and impending darkness. I thought I had a good shot of the O. Nelson Jones heading upriver just below the Kyger Creek power plant, but there was no place to pull off the road safely, so I had to wait for it to reach a good shooting spot.

In this case it was the boat ramp in the village of Cheshire. It's a beautiful boat, whether in rain or shine or in color or black and white.

Meanwhile, I continue to work on a couple of projects that will take a while. Actually, more than a couple.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Clearing a backlog: The M/V O. Nelson Jones

I have several photos left over from last year to edit and post. Here is one.

It's the M/V O. Nelson Jones upbound at Huntington.

The trees turn green again in April. Only three more months ...

Thursday, January 2, 2020

M/V Capt Chase

The trips to Monaca from the Gulf Coast should be ending soon, so I figured I had better try to get a photo today. You never know if this will be the last one I get to see.

In this case, it was the Capt Chase.

Maybe if PTT Global decides to build its own ethane cracker at Dilles Bottom, Ohio, we'll see more of these, but for now, we're catching what could be the last loads of what could almost be described as a pre-fab chemical plant.