Down the memory line

General banter about diving and why we love it.
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John Rawlings
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Re: Down the memory line

Post by John Rawlings » Thu Dec 02, 2010 5:13 am

Great stuff!!!! Warmest (really belated) congratulations on your marriage, Jan! :taco:
“Don’t pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he’ll just kill you.”

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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Post by Jan K » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:47 pm

And back to work on the Egabrag, which in reality never stopped as we kept adding
equipment, modifying existing gear for every job required something different. We
lived aboard, the quarters were small, after all, this was a workboat, not a pleasure
yacht. Note that we added a cabin behind the wheelhouse...
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And when the Egabrag was painted and we started contemplating the voyage to the
South Seas, I got married. :luv:
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As we prepared for the long trip, man from the telephone company walked down the
gangway and asked if we are for hire. The crane on deck and shiny white hull probably
got his attention. Of course we were available to earn some money, the reconstruction
drained the bank. Every so often, section of San Diego Bay has to be dredged so the
aircraft carriers and very large ships can dock at the Navy Coronado site. There are
submarine cables from San Diego to the base and they have to be moved in order to
allow the dredging. And that where we came in. The phone company was not happy with
the previous large tug and crane barge company and were looking for new contractor.
We inherited pile of stuff from the previous operation, mainly the modified oil drums
used to lift the very heavy armored cables. The communication cable has a lead shield
and that is protected with steel armor, it weighs close to 46 pounds per foot. Unfortunately,
the cable does not run in a nice line. Since they had to have extra length to accommodate the
moving, there were many kinks and loops from previous jobs which complicated the job.
In some places we had to cut sections out, so twisted they were.
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And then there was the dredging barge :eek:
When they grabbed by mistake the phone cable, we had to stop what we were doing and go
to the rescue. Lots of headaches. Where we had advantage over the previous company,
was that we gave up their oil drums after first couple days of working the cables because
they were very difficult to move in the currents. we replaced them with lift bags and
instead of using umbilical hard hat divers, we did all work on scuba. Single diver could
place all the bags by swimming along the cable and place it every ten feet, take out the
regulator out of his/ her mouth and add just enough air for bag to flap above the cable,
their yellow color made it easier to see in the murky harbor waters too. Another diver then
followed with air hose from the low pressure compressor aboard the Egabrag and filled
the lift bags. As the bags lifted desired section of the cable to the surface, our 21' Boston
Whaler with 200 HP outboard tied to the cable and started pulling. Surveyor on the
shore called on the radio when we were far enough. Scuba divers then deflated the
bags, and repeated the process at the next section ...
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Not only we moved the old cables, we also laid a new one.
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After moving all the cables back to the original area, we buried the cables in a trench
using a air lift and jetting with stream of water. The shallow ends were covered with
concrete "coffins". I don't have many underwater pictures since the visibility was almost
always bad because of the dredging and also my hands were always full of tools and
stuff. BTW, my buddy Helena worked on this job as other of my scuba diving friends :grouphug:
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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Post by Jan K » Tue Nov 30, 2010 9:13 pm

Not all the time was spend working on Egabrag, other job were taken to bring in some money.
One of the more interesting ones was the salvage of a charter fishing boat which run into
Mexican island about 17 miles south from San Diego . At night and in fog. Coast Guard rescued
the passengers and crew, pulled the boat of the beach, but it sunk in 80 FSW .
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It was a tricky salvage job, since I was the only diver and we were after all in Mexican waters :pirate:
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Fortunately, there was plenty of beer aboard the sunken boat and with this liquid gift
we made friends with the locals on the shore. So when the tug had to return to San Diego,
I landed on the beach with some more of beer and made our friendship even stronger :partyman:
There are no stores on this rock...
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Only much, much later I found that the rattlesnakes live nowhere else, only on the South Island.
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I rode the Lucky Nell all the way to San Diego, it was a slow go, they send my lunch and beer
down the tow line.
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It was a nice break from the grind on the Egabrag.

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John Rawlings
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Re: Down the memory line

Post by John Rawlings » Tue Nov 30, 2010 8:16 am

Great stuff, Jan! I can't wait to read more about the adventures of the Egabrag!!!
“Don’t pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he’ll just kill you.”

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Joshua Smith
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Re: Down the memory line

Post by Joshua Smith » Tue Nov 30, 2010 7:48 am

What a sweet boat! I can't wait to hear about the adventures you had on her!
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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Post by Jan K » Mon Nov 29, 2010 10:54 pm

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Two of the US Navy YGs took part in firefighting at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 !
Earning a Battle Star no less :supz:
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This was the first configuration of the Egabrag.
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And here is our home port, downtown San Diego. We even had palm trees to look at :)
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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Post by Jan K » Mon Nov 29, 2010 1:06 pm

Thanks. Now comes another conversion from a old US Navy boat into something new and different.
This time the metamorphosis involves an ex garbage boat. In the good old days, these small ships
collected garbage from big ships in the harbor and then sailed out into open seas, opened the eight
side-doors and washed out the garbage out. It took lot of work to transform the steel vessel into the
workhorse it finally became.
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The work was done by a few people, not a shipyard. Eventually we installed a crane on deck which
also came from a salvage yard, we had welding machine aboard, low and high pressure compressors,
even a small lathe.
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vlad
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Re: Down the memory line

Post by vlad » Sun Nov 28, 2010 11:46 pm

dwashbur wrote:
Jan K wrote:OK for the few who are still following the journey of mine.


"The few." Um, check out the number of views, my friend. I think everybody on the board is loving this. Keep it coming!


Absolutely! Keep this thread going, please!

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dwashbur
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Re: Down the memory line

Post by dwashbur » Sun Nov 28, 2010 9:45 pm

Jan K wrote:OK for the few who are still following the journey of mine.


"The few." Um, check out the number of views, my friend. I think everybody on the board is loving this. Keep it coming!
Dave

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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Post by Jan K » Sun Nov 28, 2010 9:12 pm

OK for the few who are still following the journey of mine.
We flew out of the Solomon Islands aboard Nauru Airlines jet. Back then, Nauru Island,
an independent republic in the middle of Pacific, was a very rich country mining phosphate
( deposits of bird guano ) and nobody worked, they hired foreigners to do the jobs. Their
airline served many of the places in the south seas, all seating was first class, food was very
good as well. All the flights landed back on their island, and continued on the second day.
Their hotels were too expensive for us, so we spent the night on the beach. The island
itself was not much to be proud of since most of it was being mined off.
(I read now, that Nauru is bankrupt, the phosphate is gone).
From Nauru we flew to Majuro and stayed with friends we made there. And on to Hawaii and
California. Did I mention that I was broke? :eek:
You would think that I had enough of boats... Well, not exactly. Water has that quality to
draw one close, as everybody on this forum knows.. So I ended up again on the waterfront :pirate:
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4ster
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Re: Down the memory line

Post by 4ster » Sun Nov 28, 2010 8:51 pm

Jan,

Thank you for sharing this with us. This has been an epic thread.

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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Post by Jan K » Sun Nov 28, 2010 7:16 am

And it is time to wrap the South Pacific venture.
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I got a chance to get a bird-eye-view of the island, pilot from New Zealand took me to the skies after he finished
fertilizing local rice fields. Please note the poor soul with the umbrella. After the pass he will move to mark
which section of the field to spray next ...
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And the time came to say good bye. Christian Rose was sold and we returned to California.
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Later I learned, that the new owner installed engine into the boat, sailed to New Guinea,
had problems with the crew getting along and returned to Hawaii on airplane.
I don't know what happened to Rose after that one voyage...

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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Post by Jan K » Sat Nov 27, 2010 7:40 am

Here is a little fishing story from the South Pacific :
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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Post by Jan K » Fri Nov 26, 2010 7:22 am

Land excursions into jungle of Guadalcanal Island.
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I was beginning to have problems with my Nikonos camera, the advancing mechanism started to fail,
rather frustrating situation. Pictures of waterfalls I was hoping for were not on the film when
I developed it later :(
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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Post by Jan K » Thu Nov 25, 2010 8:15 am

World War II remnants are to be found all over Guadalcanal, well, at least back in 1974.
Although the jungle is doing pretty good job in covering it all up.
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Since there was no any attempt to preserve any of the ruins of war, metal
salvage and souvenir hunters hastened the demise of many of the mementos
I found interesting.
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Without wide angle lens,strobe,or exposure meter, I was not equipped to photograph
any of the deeper wrecks.
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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Post by Jan K » Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:14 am

sitkadiver wrote: So, what happened to the boat? Did you just leave it in the terrible Solomons? (Jack London called them that in South Sea Tales.)

OK, I will get to the boat story later :pirate:
Since we are having record cold temperatures around us, I thought little bit of tropics might help
the spirits. As the boat for the time being found its resting spot in small boat anchorage near
Honiara Yacht Club.
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I started to explore the island of Guadalcanal which is steeped in history,
interesting to American mainly because in its role in the World War II. I found the natives friendly,
and once away from the capital Honiara, living their lives like they probably did for centuries.
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At the markets in Honiara, native women wear western clothing, but in the remote
villages, tradition was still alive, I walk many miles and did not see too much change from the
stereotype "South Pacific" picture I carried in my mind till now. Maybe a corrugated tin roof
added to traditional house...
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Stay warm :)

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Re: Down the memory line

Post by sitkadiver » Tue Nov 23, 2010 11:02 pm

Jan,

What a wonderful, awe-inspiring story. I hope someone in Hollywood gets wind of this and writes a decent script with you.

So, what happened to the boat? Did you just leave it in the terrible Solomons? (Jack London called them that in South Sea Tales.)
I do not believe in taking unnecesary risks, but a life without risk is not worth living.
-Charles Lindbergh

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Re: Down the memory line

Post by Scuba Skaughtie » Mon Nov 22, 2010 4:29 pm

Wow...What an adventure! Thank you for sharing your story.

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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Post by Jan K » Mon Nov 22, 2010 6:52 am

Anchors Aweigh !! Time to sail on.
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When your sole way of propulsion is wind, being close to the equator is not always a good thing.
It is almost unbelievable that the ocean can truly be " like a lake".. Also being far from typical
trade routes, we were alone, did not see one ship or other yacht the entire trip from Majuro,
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Happily we leave the doldrums and continue on, finally crossing into the southern
hemisphere.
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As we found earlier on this voyage, Christian Rose was not very well suited into sailing
close to the wind. And not having engine to help her out of tight places made progress
very difficult. What would otherwise take few hours, took days when the wind were
contrary to our goal..
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Nevertheless, Christian Rose managed to reach another destination, the legendary
Guadalcanal, which played such an important role during the World War II.
[img]http://jankocian.smugmug.com/Other/Trinec-2010-History-dive-show/Ch-Rose-74-arriv-Honi-S/1100508989_4PB3X-Honiara, Guadalcanal happened to be also the last port of call for the Christian Rose,
as Nick decided that he had enough. I suspect that he was little disappointed
that the vessel he designed and built did not perform as well as he hoped.
Also the realities of life in the islands did not fit into his vision of them, our dream
of idyllic life on the tropical islands was just that, a dream. What we found was reality
which requested port fees, bonds, permits and paperwork... Money was the motivation
even on remote, palm covered islands. And that item was in short supply aboard our little ship.

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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Post by Jan K » Sun Nov 21, 2010 9:01 am

For while the boat is not moving at all times, not need to get up at two o'clock at night and steer
by a faint compass light into the darkness, instead a peaceful lagoon anchorage, swaying palm
trees, shore excursions.
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We made friends, mainly with the few fellow American expatriates who made Majuro their home by marrying local women. Also couple guys from a small US Army detachment which is helping local Trust Territory government with engineering projects became very helpful with my attempts to develop and print some of my photos. I did carry aboard an enlarger and powered it with a car battery, but what made my task almost impossible was the high ambient temperature of our tropical
environment and so my developing and fixing chemicals were always too high for the recommended use. The Army had
an air conditioned workshop where I set up my photo lab. I made lot of friend with kids, giving them some pictures...
The adults were happy too, for this was all in the days before easy access to photos .. :rawlings:
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Although the Second World War spared Majuro of the fierce battles which affected so many other
islands in the Pacific theater, there were still remnants of that conflict littering local beaches.
Locals added their share of trash to it, it was disheartening to see rusting cars, home appliances
and just plain garbage litter the shores so close to their habitats. One had to walk away from the
populated areas to enjoy pristine beaches.. :(
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For diving, we were limited to snorkeling, there was no local Dive Shop to provide air or transportation,
so we made our frequent trips across the narrow strip of land to the ocean side carrying just our
mask, snorkel and fins. Please keep in mind, that back in those days, sharks were still viewed
as danger to man, so all our forays into their territory we considered a risky adventure :rofl:
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Norris
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Re: Down the memory line

Post by Norris » Sat Nov 20, 2010 10:15 am

Oh yeah and I also vote to sticky this thread....this is really good stuff!!
**Pinch it, don't stick your finger through. You're just pinching a bigger hole.
CAPTNJACK - 2012**

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dwashbur
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Re: Down the memory line

Post by dwashbur » Sat Nov 20, 2010 10:05 am

This is easily the best thread ever. Keep it coming!
Dave

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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Post by Jan K » Sat Nov 20, 2010 8:34 am

And we sail on. The trade winds are steady and we make good progress. Happiness is not
having to mess with the sails too often, the square sails are just the right stuff for going
with the wind. For the first few days after leaving Johnston, we enjoy fresh foods, not scurvy
aboard :)
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We reach one of the milestones celebrated by sailing ships for centuries. Crossing the Line.
Although usually associated with crossing the Equator, traditions also apply to the
crossing of the zero and 180th meridian, better known as the International Date Line.
Being aware of our duty as "old sailors" we performed the initiation ceremony on our
new crew member Pavel, even if in reality, it was only Captain Nick who never crossed
the Line before. :eek: The three of us, by the way of flight from the refugee camp in
Italy to the US did cross the Zero meridian :supz: But somehow, that would not look
good to make the captain walk the plank :) So we sacrificed Pavel, since he spent least
of time aboard the Christian Rose.. :pirate:
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OK, so doesn't Christian Rose look lovely ? Well, the motley crew on the other hand.. :eek:
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We did have fresh fish to complement our menu time to time. We troll a line behind
during the daytime and one of the duties of the helmsman was to look back and see
if the telltale sign of white water breaking the surface, fish being dragged through.
Mahi Mahi and Wahoo were fish which provided welcome break from canned fare.
This swordfish got away. Maybe for the better, because it was just too big for us to
handle. Even if we could get it aboard without hurting our backs, without refrigeration,
it would spoil fast...
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And we did manage to reach Majuro Atoll in the Marshall Island, but not without some
frustration. On days like this, we wished that stinky engine would take us inside the
calm lagoon.... To spend three days to go twenty or so miles does tax the patience.
But one has to be careful, shortcuts in so remote corners of the world are not wise.
Tired, we did manage to drop the hook in Majuro, safe and sound :partyman:
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After the entry formalities were finished, I slept for 16 hours....

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Joshua Smith
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Re: Down the memory line

Post by Joshua Smith » Fri Nov 19, 2010 6:02 pm

Blaiz wrote:can i nominate this thread for stickyhood?


Seconded. Mods- STICKY THIS THREAD!
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Blaiz
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Re: Down the memory line

Post by Blaiz » Fri Nov 19, 2010 5:17 pm

can i nominate this thread for stickyhood?
The student was ready.


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