Its only a little ice…



As I don’t typically concern myself with too much that happens outside the engine room (except for when things break), it is unusual that I would get to see a lot of what happens on deck. This is especially true this winter, as it the first time I’ve been sailing during this season. So being that it is cold and usually unpleasant outside, and warm and cozy in the engineroom, I’ve been treating like every other time I’ve been sailing. However, there are some interesting things that happen in the winter time that don’t get in seen in the warmer months. Icebreaking is one of them, though I have yet to experience it, the running of the boiler, and freezing spray.

Freezing spray is like freezing rain on your car, if it was constant, and never-ending while you were in motion, oh and your also a courier who delivers packages for 24 hours a day for 28 days straight. Of course the temperature has to be just low enough to cause the spray to freeze on contact with the hull of the ship.

Well no big deal you say, what is a little ice on a ship, surely it will just melt or fall off. Yes this was my thought process as well, but what I didn’t realize that a) it is consistently too cold for the ice to melt b) ice just doesn’t fall off once it is frozen on c) ice is really, really heavy.

So to avoid trying to explain ship stability (perhaps I will try this at a later date), more weight higher up on a vessel can be very bad if not addressed. In the worst case scenario it can result in the capsizing of a vessel.

In situations like the one pictures above, when weather is permitting, the deck crew will remove ice from the vessels by beating it off with mallets, or using steam. This will restore the ship to more favorable stability conditions. I did not participate in the removal of all the ice from the forward of the vessel but it sure looked like a lot of hard work in cold, weather.

Depending on the weather conditions that a ship will enter into cleaning off of this ice may happen multiple times over a trip. Which is multiple times when the stability of the ship is compromised in some way. It is a little scary but it never gets to the point where anyone would be in danger, hence having to clean the ice off frequently.


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