Journal Entry  -  September 24, 1999  -  Day 13

Friday Evening Position Report
8:00 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time

27 Degrees, 33 Minutes North


115 Degrees, 25 Minutes West

Days Run:

62.5 Nautical Miles


5.21 Knots (Average)  running at reduced speed due to a fixed ETA of October 16 at the Panama Canal.

Total Average Speed:  5.38 knots
Hours / Days This Leg:  73.5 Hours, 3.6 Days
Distance To Go This Leg:  2,552.1 Nautical Miles
Estimated Time of Arrival:  October 16
Present Course:  148 Degrees
Winds:  Northwest at 15 Knots
Seas & Swells:  Combined at 5 Feet
Barometric Pressure:  1017 Millibars
Air Temperature:  64 Degrees
Visibility:  10 Miles
Skies:  Overcast
Sea Floor:  The ocean depth below USS New Jersey in this part of Mexican waters has increased by two and threefold from this morning's position.   Depths range from 1,680 to 2,105 Fathoms, or from 10,080 to 12,630 Feet.

Position:  USS New Jersey is 22.5 Nautical Miles Southwest of Isla Natividad in Cabo Tortolo, a prolific turtle breeding area.  Towns around the Cape include Santa Maria, Puerto San Bartolome.  The Northern end of the Cape features an elevation of 871 Feet.

Clarification:  The complete title of our source for this morning's report describing Isla San Benito, published by the U.S. National Imagery and Mapping Agency, was: "Sailing Directions - West Coasts of Mexico and Central America."

Alaskan Winters In The Bering Sea - Enough, Already

Michael "Mike" Poirier, 46, of Bellingham, Washington, Second Mate on Sea Victory's USS New Jersey tow, is making only his second trip with a Crowley tug.  In April, he joined not only Crowley Marine Services as an employee, but also Captain Kaare Ogaard's tow of the USS Oriskany, with the Sea Victory, from San Francisco to Beaumont, Texas.

His towing career has comprised only half his 30 years at sea.  At 16, he got a job on a fishing boat, a purse seiner to be exact, working out of Seattle during summers, as many his age did then, he said.  One summer led to another, and by 21, Poirier was working steadily on the fishing boats, as a captain.

All that took him to Alaska, crab fishing, in the dead of winters in the Bering Sea. He spent the next six years there.

"We fished right through the winter," he said. "It was cold and miserable.  A trip would last while the fishing was good, a couple of days, or maybe two weeks if wasn't good.  We'd work the crab pots, 18 to 20 hours a day, on the deck, and it was so cold the gear would ice up. We'd have to break the pots apart on deck.  They'd be covered in ice, these 700 pound pots, and we'd set the gear, and it didn't sink, it sat there and floated like a big giant ice cube because it was that cold, that frozen.  At times we'd be out fishing, and it would be blowing 80 or 90 knots, with 25, 30-foot seas, and we'd be out there on the deck.  I broke about five bones doing it, falling, caught in the crab lines, things like that," Poirier said.

Why did he change course?  "Crab fishing up there is more of a younger man's game, long hours, brutal conditions, and when you get older you don't really want to be up in the Bering Sea all winter long.  You get a little smarter than that," he said, laughing heartily.

At 27 he began studies in Seattle which led to his getting a captain's license right off the bat, partly because of that harsh Alaskan experience.  At 30 he was licensed as a Master.  Then he worked again in Alaskan waters until joining Crowley this year, but in larger vessels and a variety of conditions, all preferable to his younger days with crab fishing.

He and his wife, Laurie, have a son, Nicholas, 19, who is joining the U.S. Army on Monday.  Poirier says he's looking forward to his association with Crowley, because his fellow seamen are all professional, and they receive a lot of support and backup that not all marine companies provide.  And it's not winter in the Bering Sea either.

Submitted by Bob Wernet onboard the Sea Victory.


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