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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Jinxed

I am going to preface this by saying, I am NOT a superstitious person.  However....what is up this year with the weather in Nome (aside from global warming aftermath)?   It is storming again; leaving the Bering Sea gold miners fit to be tied!  The summer season generally offers around 80-100 days of suitable weather for dredging.  And, that is if the operation is up and running smoothly from around June 1.  This summer has been one of the wettest on record.

Goldenrod was on the water Sunday.  The crew got within  a short distance to our furthest lot and both of the Suzuki engines started signaling 'low oil pressure' (almost simutaneously and they are seperate units).  The oil was immediately checked in both engines and determined to be fine, therefore deducing the issue to that of an electronic setting of sorts.  Then, the crew eased on out to the dredge zone on one engine, as a precaution....They dredged for a while and then lost pressure in one of the Kubota suction hose pumps (went to 25 psi down from 48).  As a result, the crew decided to only run one of the suction hoses.  It is not as if they are reliving some previous error they made.  They are expeditiously trouble shooting a new problem again and again!  Not one at a time, but five.

I may not always fully understand the mechanical problems that the Goldenrod crew is faced with time and again, (as I document this journey from a desk over 24 hours of modern travel time away from the likes of Nome).  But, their frustration is very near and dear to my heart.  Makes me want to curse Mother Nature and kick a tire for them! 

10 comments:

  1. I appreciate your frustration! I've been exchanging e-mails with several of the Northwest Passage yachts as they travel between the Pacific and Atlantic Arctic Circle oceans. What becomes apparent is that man creates his own problems more times than not - I tell a captain about the Bering Seas storm approaching - he says he cannot stop in Nome because his agent has make arrangements to clear Immigration and Customs in Dutch Harbor... lol Why would someone beat their boat and crew through gale force waves and seas to go out of their way to Dutch Harbor when they could stop in Nome, clear-in and wait a few days while the storm moves by... just goes to show you that "horse sence" might have been left in the Arctic... long hours with adverse conditions... I've always told crews that the Bering Sea will be the real NW Passage challenge until you reach the Pacific Ocean you are going to learn a whole new meaning to "Deadliest Catch".
    Be sure to let us know what they discovered what the problem - two separate engine systems with identical same time problems - fuel, rain or electrical related?

    Standing by,

    Doug

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  2. So did operating at 50% production - one engine - for how many hours of suction time? 4hours? Produce two ounces of Nome color?
    What were the problems? How were they fixed?

    Standing by holding my breath.... hurry and reply...lol

    Doug

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  3. Doug,
    Just spoke with my Father, and will be able to answer most of your questions. My Dad and brother worked hard not to have to reinvent any systems on our dredge that had already supposedly been proven to work. However, that has not been the case. The primary dredge company's equipment that we utilized for this project has simply been fraught with problems. Our team consulted numerous times with the engineers during the design of our dredge and some of their ideas were, just that (IDEAS); untested and unproven. Therefore, our team is having to replace system after system on a tight timeframe.

    The Suzuki engines were due for their first oil changes, causing the warning lights to flash (first oil change after 25 hrs, then 50 hrs between oil changes thereafter).

    As for the Kubota engine that lost pressure...our team was advised by the aformentioned engineers to utilize triple belts to connect the Kubota to the water pump. The belt slips after 4 hours of dredging with the triple belt system. The Goldenrod crew is switching to a cog driven system to nip that in the bud.

    By the way, our furthest lot is 10-12 miles out and takes about 1.5 hours commute time from the Nome harbor. We've found our most efficient cruising speed (hull speed) to be 7-7.5 mph.

    Didn't ask about the gold yet. And, I do want to know too, but I'm patient.

    Wendy



    The

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    1. Before spending money for new cog wheels and 2 belts (one spare) - take all three v-belts off - verify that the belts are A or B and the pulleys grooves are likewise same A or B style. Go to NAPA auto parts and buy a matched set of belts that are the same as the pulleys groove A or B - then re-install making sure the alignment and tension deflection is correct. Next make sure the engine and pump foundations are not able to move and run for four hours. I once identified a triple pulley with two A grooves and a single B groove - all on a single triple pulley - what the heck - intended for two separate devices one device with two A belts and the other device for a single B belt - never heard of such a thing before. Test run again and advise.

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  4. I was talking with a Chief Engineer about belt slippage and related your story - he says to check for any cracked or worn engine/pump mounts that under heat and tension move.

    Standing by,

    Doug

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  5. Doug,

    Although my Father greatly appreciates the advice, he determined that the belts were correct and plans to move forward with the cog driven system. Thank you for your comments and concern.

    Wendy

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  6. Looking forward to a report on the change and operation (pix & price too).
    Thanks,
    Doug

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    1. See new post entitled They Told Us So...
      Lots of changes have been made, and time and money spent.

      Wendy

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  7. BTW - David Cowper aboard POLAR BOUND is in Nome harbor after successfully making a SOLO nonstop Northwest Passage from Atlantic Arctic Circle via McClure Strait to Pacific Arctic Circle - first ever in 161 year history of NW Passage. If you dad has time - ask him to stop by and snap a picture in front of POLAR BOUND - I'd like to post more of his epic story... THANKS!
    Doug

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  8. Wow! That is amazing... I just spoke with my Father last night, and he told me about the sailboats in the harbor of Nome, including Polar Bound. I will ask him for the photo when I speak with him in a while. Doubt he is awake yet being 5:30 a.m. in Nome now. David has a wonderful story to be told! And, you are just the guy to do it!

    Wendy

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