We had a good day in class. The weather was gorgeous and we took the conventional boats out in the morning. We had to wait til the afternoon to drop the free fall boat. The water level in the River Dee would not allow us to do it safely until after lunch (because of the large tidal range).
So, we lowered the lifeboats and practiced manuevering and coming alongside the wharf. We all got some good experience coming in alongside, like we would if we were doing drills on the ship.
According to regulations, we are supposed to launch (and recover) our (conventional) boats at minimum once every 3 months (free fall lifeboats will probably only be launched in a real emergency since there is no practical way to get them back aboard once they’ve been dropped).
That is, IF we have the opportunity to do it safely (which turns out to be a nice loophole).
After lunch, we launched the free fall boat. WOW!
It was like being on a roller coaster. Except that it’s a hell of a lot more uncomfortable. The seats are placed one above the other, so you had to get in the bottom one, lie down and strap yourself in. Someone else would lie in the seat above you.
I am not really claustrophobic, but I felt VERY cramped, my knees were almost up against my chest and I’m pretty short. Some of the guys were much taller than I am and I think they were very uncomfortable. We were all glad to get out of the boat!
I can’t imagine what it would be like to have to load up and launch a large (60 man +) free fall boat in a real emergency. It does definitely take longer to get in there and strap yourself in.
We all got to launch the boat at least once as 1st coxswain and again as 2nd coxswain. I was trying to take pictures and get it on film, but I never did get a really good video. If I can ever figure out how to post my own video on here, I’ll do it. 😉
After class, I wandered down Market Street again. I decided to walk down the waterfront to see where I wound up. It was a pretty day and I enjoyed walking by the water. The boats are all tied up right there along the streets. Right up in the middle of town.
I saw one boat operated by a company I used to work for and wondered if anybody I knew was on there (the Seawell, operated by Helix). Too bad the ports are all so ‘security’ concious now. It’s not like it used to be when you could just stop by and say hello. It’s a real shame and a major loss as far as I’m concerned.
It’s sad, but we don’t see much of the working waterfront in the US anymore. They’ve moved most of the port operations way out of town and away from view. Most people are completely unaware of the maritime industry and what it’s all about. I think we’re losing important parts of our culture and history.
I walked through an area of quiet streets and warehouses. I wound up back on the waterfront at the entrance to the harbor. I found a couple more artfully decorated dolphins waiting for me by the old lighthouse. 🙂
I hung out there for a while enjoying the view and the sun. I was looking for some real dolphins, but no luck.
I took off walking towards a ferris wheel I could see in the distance. I don’t know why, but I never really thought about swimming at the beaches of Scotland. It turns out that Aberdeen does have a pretty decent sandy beach. There were only a couple of kids playing in the surf, but plenty of people walking along the ‘boardwalk’.
Right away I found myself in a strange little neighborhood of neat little townhouses. I had wandered into Footdee.
As I was wandering around, taking pictures of all the cute little houses and their fantastic, very creative decorations, I met a couple of friendly local people.
One lady was sitting outside enjoying the beautiful warm sunny weather while reading a book. She told me that the locals didn’t mind at all that the tourists come through to take pictures and ask them questions. I was a little surprised at that since when I was growing up in Florida, we all used to get a little annoyed when the tourists invaded our little town and pestered us constantly with the same silly questions.
I was taking pictures of the cute little houses when a man stopped to ask me if I knew what I was taking pictures of. Did I know what all those cute little houses were all about? No, I didn’t. So we had a really nice conversation about the history of Footdee and the fortunes of the local fishermen and their fellows around the world.
He used to be a fisherman (so did I) and he told me how the government had moved the fishing community from their previous location to Footdee (Fish Town) in the 1800s. The area is made up of the North Square and the South Square. There is a church/community center in the middle and the fishermen live in town houses surrounding the squares.
The cute little houses I loved so much were actually originally for the storage of the fishermens nets. The homes around the outside of the squares were all originally one story, but as a family grew and needed more space (and could afford it), they would add on another level.
I think I kept him there talking for too long. He seemed surprised when he noticed what time it was and had to hurry off to a meeting. 🙂
I continued on taking pictures until a tour bus full of excited Italians showed up. I left the fishermen behind and took a walk further down the beach road. It was nice to see the people walking their dogs and picnicing along the beach.
I walked down to the ferris wheel and amusement park I had noticed earlier from the lighthouse. The amusement park was closed, but there was a fairly large collection of bars, cafes and restaurants.
After a cup of hot coffee, I made my way back towards the city center. I came back up through the Market Square and down Union Street til I found the Terrace Gardens and the main library. It was a pretty area and some interesting archetecture and gardens to look at.
I finally wound up back on Union Street and then caught the bus back to my hotel in Altens. In for the night and another early morning.