How to Dock a 630' Great Lakes Freighter in Black Out Fog




About: Hi everybody! I'm a Great Lakes District 2 ship pilot! As a result I don't have many other instructables to offer.

So you're at anchor in black out fog and your company is breathing down your back about getting into the dock.
Let's use that pressure to get in so we don't have to spend the rest of the day answering emails about when the weather is going to change or justifying to someone 600 miles away if it's really that bad.

Step 1: Get Underway!

First thing, check for traffic! Uh! Oh! It looks like somebodies coming out! We better make room for them. They are loaded and at a deeper draft, they're going to want that range line all the way out. .3 of a mile sounds good!

Step 2: How Fast Should I Go?

Well there's only about 500 feet of visibility and traffic, you might want to cautiously wait a few minutes. However, we have a mile and half to go! I don't want to sit out here all day! 2.5 mph sounds good. Clutch astern will get the job done.

Step 3: We're Flying IFR Now!

Let's make good use of that radar and make sure we still going the right direction! Yup, everything makes sense, there's the break wall. My EBL and VRM look good.

Step 4: Now We're Getting There!

Boom ! You're on the range line (in theory). Now I just have to tip toe on in holding a straight line. This fog can lift anytime now! Remember, no crunch means you made it.

Step 5: It's a Slam Far.

Look! You're now abeam of the break wall. I like to be about 2 boat widths off. Not to mention that confirms our 500 foot of visibility. No word from the look out, that's some thick fog boy!

Step 6: Your Almost There!

We're at Port Inland, we made our turn around the break wall, in theory we're on the second set of ranges, the corner is just up ahead. We have, I hope, about 30' of day light. Come on no crunch sounds! Also, now is about a good time to come down to a crawl. We've pushed our luck enough, let's say 1.5 mph until we can see something!

Step 7: It's a Bingo! (we Just Say Bingo)!

You did it ! There's the corner, everything looks great. All the heavy lifting is over and the deck hands are ready to go down the ladder. Just get spotted and ready to toss your heaving line over! A monkey can do this job!!

Step 8: Snooze Fest

How do you screw this up now? Believe me you can! Pretty soon you'll be tied up and feeding the little fox that lives on the corner, how cool!

Step 9: Why Is This Photo in Black & White?

I don't know? Now that your spotted and still have a little stern way on, 1.5 mph still, have the wheels man put her over hard left and just give her a good blast on the engine, not too much or you'll come flying in, don't forget you're only in ballast. Thrust the bow in at the same time and if you do it just right, she'll come in bodily, how cool is that?!



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    8 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    All the 630' freighter instructables are so cool. Grew up on the Great Lakes watching them go buy, but to see it from the captain's perspective is really cool. The mass and momentum you are having to control is just phenomenal. I also like your tongue in cheek writing style. It makes for a fun read.


    4 years ago

    Dear kiteman, your photo doesn't show up OR that is the best picture, the most dense fog I've ever seen.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Over the years, I've learned that just about anything could show up here at any time.

    I never saw this one coming. (pun included).

    I can go buy one because now I know how to park one.


    4 years ago

    Fascinating! All I need now is a freighter. Well done.


    4 years ago

    This doesn't really relate to me, but it's so cool I had to favorite anyway!


    4 years ago

    Woaaahhh that's like so coooool