A real OTG adventure

A friend of mine lives on a big ship.  The ‘J’ is over 100 feet long, pretty beamy and has a flat bottom.  It was a small tanker back in the day.  My friend handles it alone.  That, in itself, is not easy.  Hell, just getting the old engines started is NOT easy.  If this ship was more modern and had all the modern computer-controlled equipment, it would still employ a crew of three at a minimum.  Instead, ‘friend’ does the work of three people and, quite frankly, he is no spring chicken, either.  Not easy being Green (the colour of his vessel).

But that is NOT the adventure referred to in the blog title.  The real adventure is that ‘friend’ has to maintain the damn thing now and then.  Maintain includes all the things you would expect but it also includes cleaning the hull.  That’s right, over 2500 square feet of ship’s ‘bottom’ needs cleaning, checking and painting.

He does that alone, too.

He finds a shallow beach and calculates the tides so that he has an hour or two with the boat first resting on the bottom, high and dry, so that he can clean and paint the foot or so up to the waterline.  Then, as the boat rises with the tide, he bends down and starts to scrape off the barnacles and weeds by reaching under the boat.  That’s right – 2500 square feet of flat bottom ship is eventually just floating at over-his-head height as he walks under it along the bottom of the bay with a scraper and/or pressure washer.  Ship looms over his head.  Marine crap all falling down.  Dark.  Ominous.  Alone.

He can’t get it done all in one day (lazy butthead!) so he is anchored remote for the time it takes.  Typically 3 or four days.  Still the tides change by about 45 minutes every day and so his work schedule also shifts daily.  The only way he can keep track of it all is to set the alarm for 5:00 pm and he stops for wine and dinner then – no matter what.

He could use a little help.  “Hey!  Next time tell me a few months in advance and we’ll get in some W’fers.  They would love that adventure.  And I would love to boss them around.”

This is an OTG, west coast, liveaboard, somewhat common occurrence made special primarily because of the size of the boat.  Throw in a ‘senior’ doing it all alone and way up some lost channel somewhere and you have the makings for a real adventure.  But, but, but….he’ll share it with you.  I am taking names for the year after next.  If you are young, strong, willing to get wet and look good in wet t-shirts, you are eligible to apply.  If cleaning ship bottoms is appealing to you, you are on the short-list.  And, if you can cook and pour wine as well, you are in.


18 thoughts on “A real OTG adventure

  1. An O.A.P Living off the grid that in its self is gob smacking. A pensioner doing haul out maintenance on a 100 foot barge. I have no idea how to does that. Respect!


    • Oh, he has had family and females, dogs and kids, mortgages and debts, trucks, cars, boats and the whole middle-class lifestyle. But, at the end of the marriage, the timing was just right to get the hell away and enjoy what he he loves best – being a jack-of-all-trades out in the forest (but on the sea). With a dog. And enough friends to stop in now and then for a glass of wine. This is a skilled guy with enough brains and innate obstinance to ‘get the job done’ even when most of us would go for help. Plus he has tools up the wazoo! AAAaaaannnndd he can cook!


    • I am only lying by painting you ordinary. You are great! We’ll have to beat the barge groupies off with a stjck! How many can we handle? 20? 30? We’re gonna need a LOT of wine.


  2. still trying to figure out how he can walk under the boat when its floating with the rising tide….but huge respect!! I don’t look nice in wet t shirts, so I might let this one pass. Cutting down trees and chopping wood is more my kind of thing. Cleaning and painting the sides might work as well!


    • I’ve being trying to figure that one out too. I’ll keep at it and get back if I come up with anything. Maybe he’s got SCUBA gear, weighted to allow walking on bottom with boat floating overhead.


    • Well, guys. He has an old fashioned helmet and air-tube he refers to as a Hookah. However, he needs an attendant when using it and it is cumbersome so, this time, he only stretched and reached. Bear in mind that a boat floating six feet over the bottom allows for an unequipped fella to simply weigh himself down and dip under. He can walk from side to side with one breath. But that’s theory. In practice he uses the hookah or else he just reaches in from both sides. If we were there, we’d put some young kids in the helmet and have some one down there to pull them out if they looked to need that. It is a daunting picture but on a flat sandy bottom, it is not as awful as it might sound (he says never having done it).


      • That reconciles with what I imagined. He’s using a form of diving gear and weights, to allow him to walk on the bottom without himself floating.

        Yes, I suppose even sans breathing apparatus, but with weights, one could hold one’s breath and scurry from one side to the other, doing as much scraping as possible on each pass. That would decidedly be doing it the hard way. It sounds like this vessel must have a beam of about 20 feet. Breath holding and doing a lot of effective work on each pass would be a challenge. The hookah probably works well, allowing him to be unencumbered by a tank on his back.


  3. Next thing about which to wonder is the location of the “lost channel” with the flat sand bottom. Let’s hope it’s in Thailand or the Philippines or somewhere like that, where hypothermia is not an issue. And where finding a sand bottom is not an issue. Not many of those around in the Discovery Islands area. Maybe Savary Island (from what I have heard), or the shores of Naikoon Park in Haida Gwaii (from what I have seen). For sure, in the latter location, a drysuit would be on the equipment list. Omit that if the work is being done on Boracay.


  4. NOT Thailand. Definitely BC. And there are more than just a few such places. But this one is secret. I mean, nothing is really secret but as far as we can be secretive about this, we are.
    You guys are pretty funny……trying to imagine it all…..don’t forget – you can always bring t-shirts and lead slippers and come find out for yourselves.


  5. David, be honest, you really would prefer some ugly older guy with a wet t-shirt over some young Woofers helping you out? And think about all the wine we older guys would also be consuming after a hard days work. Be careful what you wish for 😉


  6. Sounds like fun!
    I get to wear a divers Helmet AND scrape slime off a ships hull that could crush me?

    Where do I sign up?


    • Oh, I already have YOU signed up! How else can i get access to that scotch? You are in! You may have to transport young w’fers but we’ll provide the t-shirts. And the water.


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