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Thursday, April 26, 2012

M/V Constant, 63-ft Vripack Pilothouse Trawler

Earlier this past week, an older cruiser in beautiful condition entered Bell Harbor Marina. It was the M/V Constant, Anacortes, WA. According to, M/V Constant is a 63-foot pilothouse trawler built in 1974 by Vripack Yachting, Sneek, The Netherlands. 

The Noisy Guest Who Wouldn't Leave . . . Finally Did

We enjoy following James and Jennifer Hamilton on their blog at as they cruise the Pacific Northwest in their 2010 Nordhavn 52, M/V Dirona, which is moored at Bell Harbor Marina in Seattle. When Dirona is in port, we see it from the window of our Alaskan Way apartment.

While traveling a couple of weeks ago, we learned from the April 13 entry in Dirona's Puget Sound Spring 2012 Cruising Log that a 229-meter dry bulk carrier owned by STX Pan Ocean Co., the STX KYLA, had tied up at Pier 66, just outside Bell Harbor Marina. We have seen passenger ships and naval vessels tie up at Pier 66 -- but never a cargo vessel. So this was a noteworthy event. We had a chance to see STX KYLA up close when we returned to Seattle a few days after its arrival.

The Hamiltons surmised that a mechanical issue may have forced STX KYLA to tie up at Pier 66. We agree. The ship arrived on Friday, April 13, and remained there for ten days. We were aware of its presence even when we weren't enjoying our view of Elliott Bay. The ship's generator ran non-stop while it was here. We began to think of STX KYLA as a noisy dinner guest who wouldn't leave.

On Monday, April 23, the ship finally departed. As it pulled away from Pier 66, we heard the ship's pilot advise Puget Sound Vessel Traffic Service on VHF Channel 14 that the ship would be conducting engine trials in Elliott Bay and would continue on to sea only if such trials were successful. We took that to mean that mechanical issues had, indeed, been the root cause for its unusual 10-day stay at Pier 66.

Despite the background noise, we enjoyed the novelty of a cargo ship at Pier 66. But, as would be the case with a talkative dinner guest who doesn't have the good sense to recognize when it's time to go, we were happy to see the ship depart.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Controversial Drillship Enters Elliott Bay, Contributes to Sunday Afternoon Traffic Jam

At mid-afternoon today, Royal Dutch Shell Oil's drillship Noble Discoverer entered Elliott Bay enroute to Vigor Shipyards, where it is scheduled to undergo cold-weather modifications before departing for the Arctic. The ship has been granted permission by the EPA to drill exploration wells in Alaska's Beaufort and Chukchi seas, beginning this summer. Additional approvals are required before drilling can begin.

In February 2012, Greenpeace activists boarded the vessel in New Zealand and occupied it for four days, impeding its departure for North America. According to The Washington Post, a US District Court judge has ordered representatives of Greenpeace to stay a kilometer away from Noble Discoverer and a sister vessel until the end of the open-water drilling season.

Noble Discoverer was but one of many vessels entering and leaving Elliott Bay concurrently this afternoon.  CMA CGM Samson, a 335-meter containership with a capacity of 8,530 TEU that was delivered to its Greece-based owners in December 2011, was departing Pier 18 . . .

 . . . while the smaller Camellia, a 224-meter containership with a capacity of 2,824 TEU, was awaiting the berth just vacated by the Samson.

At the same time, we had WSF Wenatchee departing Pier 52 for Eagle Harbor and WSF Kitsap arriving from Bremerton.

And did we mention Victoria Clipper III arriving at Pier 69?

It was the marine equivalent of a three-ring circus.