Weather systems and Joaquin off the coast combined to create some nasty weather in the Chesapeake Bay for almost a week. We can't go much further before we ask that our readers think/pray/wish positive energy on El Faro and her 33 crew members. El Faro has not been a stranger to Baltimore, as she was berthed here for a few years and was a backdrop in many pictures. We are all worried and thinking about the crew and hoping beyond hope that there will be a positive end to this narrative.
Closer to home with rain and more importantly, heavy winds on the bay, the decision was made to cancel the October Cruise. Decisions like this are never made lightly, because of the amount of planning, time and money that goes into each cruise, but the decision was made on Wednesday to try to catch crew and passengers before coming from out-of-town. We still had to pay some costs, like much of the food from the caterer, for instance. And to make this more painful, this cruise, though not sold out with 700+ passengers, had well over 500 which is more than we've had in the last two years.
There were still lots of crew members around and while we had a large number of volunteers on hand we did some required winterizing and other chores. The port o pots are getting picked up next week, so we lowered them to the pier for easier retrieval. We have racks of life preservers fore and aft which are stowed below during the winter months. The racks that are located on the aft deck must be winched overboard, moved forward and then back up into the #3 hold.
Our position on the pier was awkward and the platform for the gangway was not sitting correctly, so the options were to move the ship or make it work somehow. The easiest way was to do some slight cosmetic work which enabled the platform to sit flush with the rail on the pier.
Here the crew are putting out the storm wires for not only this weather event but for the winter.
To get the 'potty' started, we needed to move all of the port o pots to the shore. This is a job that is taken very seriously and done with great care, but it's a 'duty' we have. Sorry...these shots were just ripe for some puns....
To move the racks to the number 3 hold, we needed to remove the number 3 hatch and one I-beam. This take practice and some precision as you can see here with Liam and Joe. There is actually a method to the madness.
You can see the I-beam being slowly and carefully lifted and placed on the deck. This weighs 3,000 lbs. So again, a careful and slow process.
The life preserver racks are collected and moved into the hold in the tween deck for the winter.
Taking the guns apart and bringing them below to be cleaned and stored until next year.
And of course feeding our crew and visitors is always a priority.
Wet, rainy and damp, the crew would have preferred to be on the ship in sunny weather with over 500 passengers and 150 crew and entertainers. But there are things that can't be changed, as much as we would like to change them. As for those lemons that we were handed... we made our own form of lemonade by weather proofing the BROWN for bad weather and the winter. Much of the work completed on Saturday are things that are done over a couple of Wednesdays and Saturdays but with so many crew around and available, it turned into an organized work weekend. We are currently in the process of refunding the cost of tickets and there is still much work to be done on the ship. But we hope to see everyone for our cruises in 2016!
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.