I’m told I tend to use a lot of local slang and colloquialisms, so in an effort to be clear I will list the worst offenders here with other references to decipher “tug speak” for the uninitiated. I will add to the list as I go;
“Rounding up”, “topping around”; The terms are interchangeable, they mean to turn the vessel or tow around and head in the opposite direction. A tug and tow “rounds up” off its berth in order to stem current or wind, to set up to work into the influence of the wind and current.
N.V.I.C. Background Information;
A Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) provides detailed guidance about the enforcement or compliance with a certain Federal marine safety regulations and Coast Guard marine safety programs. While NVIC’s are non-directive, meaning that they do not have the force of law, they are important “tools” for complying with the law. Non-compliance with a NVIC is not a violation of the law in and of itself, however non-compliance with a NVIC may be an indication that there is non-compliance with a law, a regulation or a policy.
NVIC’s are used internally by the Coast Guard to ensure that inspections and other regulatory actions conducted by our field personnel are adequate, complete and consistent. Likewise, mariners, the marine industry and the general public use NVIC’s as means of determining how the Coast Guard will be enforcing certain regulations or conducting various marine safety programs. NVIC’s are issued by the Assistant Commandant for Marine Safety, Security and Environmental Protection and address any of a wide variety of subjects, including vessel construction features; mariner training and licensing requirements; inspection methods and testing techniques; safety and security procedures; requirements for certain Coast Guard regulatory processes; manning requirements; equipment approval methods; and special hazards.
NVIC’s are numbered consecutively by year, e.g., NVIC 7-02 would be the seventh NVIC issued in 2002. The “zero” NVIC, numbered 00, is always the index of NVIC’s in force or still current at the beginning of the calendar year. Thus, NVIC 00-99 would be a list of all NVIC’s that have not been canceled before January 1, 1999.
“Shanghai“; To take one’s gear and report to another vessel on the next crew change, harkens to “getting Shanghai’ed” as in the old method of kidnapping crew to serve aboard a ship. Of course it wasn’t nearly as bad….
shang·hai play_w2(“S0316600”) (shng-h, shngh)
*[Recency is a bit of a misnomer and in a nutshell refers to a tugboat operator’s familiarity with his geographic area. There must be a minimum number of trips (12) over a route for an operator handling an oil barge to be considered “recent”, something the replacement workers did not have at all. See 46 CFR § 15.812(b)(3)(iv),]
*[“Operation Big Tow” is the latest initiative instituted then rescinded by the USCG in response to the T/V Mel Oliver-M/V Tintara incident in NOLA. They are boarding and checking towing vessels throughout the country making certain the operators are properly licensed.]
To “banjo string” the wire; When towing on a shortened tow cable necessary for entering most harbors), the term refers to what happens when the towing vessel and barge are out of sync in the sea, the waves act differently on each vessel and force the wire to be brought up tight and pulled into a straight line above the water (tight as a banjo string). This is an extremely dangerous situation since shock-loading the wire very close to its breaking point could cause the tug to break its tow wire and lose the tow.
“Crossing the table“; when talking about dry docks and graving docks the threshold is usually referred to as the “table”. Technically a misnomer for a graving dock, it’s the deck of a dry dock that extends past the wing walls of the floating work station. Once the vessel crosses the table going into the dock, the Dockmaster has full responsibility for the vessel. Once the vessel crosses the table leaving the dock, the vessel’s master resumes responsibility.
bitts and cleats; An article by Mr. Bob Hill.
“Peanut whistle”, also known as a “peep” whistle; In the days before radios and traditionally used for answering throttle commands from a docking pilot or signaling a man on deck to take slack in on a line, or return to the boat.
Monkey’s fist; A weighted knot added to a smaller line that would be heaved towards the dock in order to attach a larger rope to be pulled ashore or aboard when mooring to a dock or another vessel. These have since been outlawed as too dangerous, they really hurt when you catch’em with your eye socket.
A ” Bell Ringer” refers to when the tug makes a contact so hard it causes its own bell to ring from the impact. Generally attributed to poor timing of the throttle. Usually there is a time delay (4 to 8 seconds) that needs to clear before the engines can be reversed, mis-time it and one may not be able to slow or stop the boat in time, this is customarily followed by a red-faced apology to all concerned.
Every one of us has a “bell ringer” story or two. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about the wheelhouse or the engine room, everyone has a story to tell as Chief Engineer Bob Mattesson does here in a fine piece of writing from a tugboat engineer’s perspective . It illustrates error and redemption in a great story.]
P.D.B.; “Poor dumb bastard”, usually used as a reference for someone who didn’t stand a chance. Closely related to the P.C.V.
P.C.V.; Population control volunteer (Also frequently referred to as an “organ donor”.), this individual has demonstrated his lack of concern regarding his own and anyone else’s safety by injecting himself into a dangerous situation that can only end badly. Generally reserved for operators of P.W.C.’s and some ridiculously high powered speedboats.
P.W.C.; Personal water craft/ jet skis