Fun in the North Pacific

We arrived in Seattle today after an interesting five days in the North Pacific. The amount of freight traveling from Hawaii back to the mainland is minimal, so the ship was extremely light, carrying only about 200 containers. As a result, the movement of the ship was far more dramatic than it had been on the way to Hawaii. To make matters worse, we hit rough seas only hours after leaving Honolulu.

The night after we left, we experienced extreme rocking. We awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of drawers slamming open and shut and belongings flying across the room. To make sure I didn’t fall out of bed, I had to put my life jacket under one side of my mattress and sleep against the wall.

Although conditions were worse than usual, life continued as usual aboard the Manoa. Most impressive were the ship’s cook and steward, who still managed to prepare 3 delicious meals a day despite the pitching, rolling, and slamming of the ship. Hannah and I continued working in the engine room, where we lashed down everything we could to prevent damage to the machinery.

With a little luck (and a lot of Dramamine), we managed not to get seasick, and soon grew accustomed to the motion of the ship. As we drew closer to Seattle, the weather calmed down a bit. Hannah and I continued our work in the engine room. One day, the Chief Engineer showed us a problem. Water was leaking into the machine shop through two holes in the ceiling, one in a computer room and one in an adjacent electrical shop. Together with the Chief Mate and Chief Engineer, we set out to find the other side of the holes and determine how to fix them. Above the machine shop is a cargo hold, accessible only from a hatch on deck. After making the long descent into the empty hold, we quickly found one of the holes, we quickly found one of the holes, which we identified as the hole in the computer room. The hole in the electrical shop should have been only about 9 feet to starboard, but it was nowhere to be found. We searched for a while and gave up, deciding that the hole must have been behind a bulkhead in another space.

Hannah and I went up to the ship’s plan room to get a better idea of the ship’s structure in that area. The ship’s plans, however, are original construction blueprints from 1982, and proved very difficult to read and make sense of. We eventually gave up and resolved to find the hole in the morning. The next day, we were tasked with staging the space for workers who would patch the leaks as soon as we docked in Seattle. This meant running electrical and compressed air lines into the hold and setting up lights, a welding machine, and safety equipment in the space.

When we were finished, the Chief Engineer and I continued to search for the missing hole, while Hannah went back to the machine shop to take measurements from below. The chief and I were baffled. The hole was nowhere to be found. After finally returning to the engine room, we ran into Hannah, who had made an important discovery. Our initial assumption that the hole we found was the one in the computer room was incorrect. It was actually the hole in the electrical shop. This meant that we should have been looking 9 ft. to port. We went back into the hold and, sure enough, the other hole was exactly where we thought it would be. Lesson learned: when faced with a seemingly impossible problem, reconsider your initial assumptions.

Once we had finally found all the holes (including a third), the Chief Engineer asked us to take some photos and make a drawing of the space (shown below) for the workers in port.

We finished up the week by barbecuing on deck with the engine department. Our wonderful third engineer, Michael, grilled up some delicious Hawaiian-style barbecue, despite the cold weather and rolling of the deck. Keeping the grill from rolling around was fun.

Barbecue on deck


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