Back in November 2014 (November 1st and 2nd) the BROWN left Baltimore and headed to Colonna's shipyard in Norfolk, Va and traveled with a nasty storm. Two Chesapeake Bay pilots aboard the BROWN rated the bay water as some of the worst they had encountered. Two crew members were bunking in the ship's hospital for the trip; one was on the Midnight to 4am shift, and the other had no watch. That would be me. I slept on the bottom bunk from about 12am-345am, when crashing noises (sounded like a crazed homicidal maniac with an ax, tearing up all portholes and glass on the ship) and waves that almost rolled me out of my bunk, had me sitting up and putting my shoes on to head to the bridge to see what was going on (yep...I'll admit to some excitement...this was my first overnight 'at sea' trip. Pfft...newbie!). At about 410, my partner in crime came in from his watch to go to bed (it had been a tiring watch with rough seas trying to whip the wheel out of your hand and security sweeps involved staying upright on a ship that was rolling, rolling, rolling).
Tired crew member says..."Are you coming or going, because I need to sleep?" Excited but not wanting to appear too concerned or excited, I said "I guess I'll try to get some more sleep", and laid back in bed. At that moment the top bunk collapsed and the only thing preventing the top bunk from falling completely down, was a shelf with a reading light mounted on the bulkhead of the lower bunk, that the bed frame had gotten hooked on. With the person up top yelling 'Get the heck out, get the heck out!' (ok... we ALL know the word used was not 'heck', but I'm keeping my sea story clean), I jumped out of the lower bunk just in time, before it pancaked fully on top of my mattress. I'm sorry to say that I don't have a picture of the bed and scene of the crime, so just use your imagination.
Needless to say, we now had a new 'project' on the ship. At first, we assumed time had taken its toll on the wire bed racks, but eventually found that they had not been mounted into the bulkhead very well. While prepping the bulkhead, adding insulation and tearing out old wood, we found that we had a leak in the house that had messed up the bulkhead and the deck that also contributed to the bunk issue in the hospital. Our 'little project' had turned into a big project. The deck was messed up with a small hole that went through to the lower level, and the wood of the bulkhead was water-damaged.
In this last gallery of shots you can see that ALL the medical equipment from the hospital had to be relocated from the current room 17 to 19 (and then moved about SIX times...anytime there was a cruise or a time when crew were staying on board, because we were already down 2 bunks from the hospital, but then we were down a third because no one could sleep in the new 'storage room'). Also some shots that show the extent to how bad the deck was eaten up by water damage and in the last shot you can see the floor has actually been patched.
Once this initial level of destruction, insulation, fixing the deck and the bulkhead and room painting was complete, it was turned over to Phil our carpenter. As you can see in the next pictures, the decision to go with the wooden bunks over the wire racks really looks wonderful.
Currently, all of the carpentry is done and painted or stained, shelves are in, and the electricians are putting in outlets for medical equipment, fan, and lights. On Monday the medical officer was playing with equipment placement and just getting a feel for the room. The light is at the end of the tunnel. One project almost done. Here are some more recent shots of the project. All crew who worked on this did a great job, but I wish I had more shots of the painting and carpentry and electrical work that was involved. I'm also trying to get a project photo of all those who worked on this room from start to finish. It looks wonderful.
Just like with any old structure, there is no such thing as a 'small project', though we all like to delude ourselves into thinking they are just small ones. This one has taken over a year to complete. You can also see that this is a total team affair. If you would like to be involved with the ship, then order an individual membership (this can be ordered right on the website!) and come volunteer on Wednesdays and Saturdays and donate any time and skills you might have. Want to learn something? You can always tag along and learn as you go! Until next week, stay safe and watch out for falling bunk beds...
Project Liberty Ship, Inc is a 501(c)3 non-profit, all volunteer organization engaged in the preservation and operation of the historic ship JOHN W. BROWN as a living memorial museum. Gifts to Project Liberty Ship are tax deductible.