Try this shit sometime.
As long as I live I will never forget the time back in 1980 after Mt. St. Helens blew and they pulled every Dredge they could get their hands on out of moth balls and everything trying to open the Columbia River channel back up after all the ash flowed down the Toutle river, into the Cowlitz river and then dumped into the Columbia river at Longview Wa.
It plugged the shipping channel up between the ocean and Portland Or. so there were some folks real excited about getting that back open.
They pulled this one big fucking dredge out of mothballs and we spent a couple of months getting it working again. Of course that means shit was always breaking down, it had been moth balled for a reason.
Anyway, this Dredge looked just like a Mississippi River Paddle Boat, minus the paddle wheel.
It was fucking HUGE.
This is one of the dredges I worked on just for a little while, they renamed it The Lofgren after some dude who was a mucky muck. It should give you an idea of how big some of these damn things were. That’s 30 inch pipe coming out the back and I used to walk on top of it, in the middle of the night, in the middle of the river. It’s like walking on a rounded 4X4, that is moving.
You will notice the two large metal poles on the back, one on either side.
They call those Spuds.
They pull an anchor way off to the side on both sides up in the front to pull on and make the dredge swing back and forth with winches.
While they are swinging, one of those spuds is picked up so the whole dredge is pivoting on one of them. When they want to walk the thing forward, they will drop the other spud while they are swung all the way to one side, pick up the first one and then start swinging back. Just repeat this over and over and the thing “walks” down the river.
Those spuds are lifted by cable winches.
One of the lifting eyes broke off one of the spuds while we were pointing down river, right in the middle of the channel, on an outgoing tide.
Let me tell you, the Columbia river is a fucking MILE WIDE at that point and when the tide is going out, it is hauling ass.
That picking eye was up high enough off the water we couldn’t reach it by boat. There is a Welding shop right on the dredge for fixing shit.
They had this Alaskan Eskimo dude who had been a welder on the Alaska Pipeline working there. I’d say at the time he was about 35 years old.
This is the part I am sure both he and I will never forget.
They tied a rope around that poor fuckers ankles and dangled him upside down off the back of that thing so he could weld a new picking eye on that spud.
Then he had to reconnect a one inch wire rope back to it with a shackle while still upside down.
All the blood rushed to the guys head and when they finally pulled him back up his eyes were bugged out of his head kinda like this,
And you think your job sucks?
I think of that guy occasionally to this day when I think I am having a shitty day.
Kinda puts things into perspective.