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At Anchor Today in Stumptown

Taking on grain at the Steel Bridge elevator today, the Global Challenger, not to be confused with a famous hot air balloon of the same name.

The huge grain hatches were open, and stenciled in very large block letters on their undersides were the words "SAFETY FIRST". You will see the irony of this in a moment.

At about 10:00 p.m. on the 6th of January this year, while headed up the Columbia River to get some grain, the Global Challenger ran aground near Skamokowa, Washington. Skamokowa is right above the "m" in my icon, and can I just say that Washington has the coolest place names in the whole West?

The ship spent about 12 hours grounded in the environmentally-sensitive estuary of the Lower Columbia River, next to a wildlife refuge filled with waterfowl. Must've freaked the blue herons right out.

The ship was empty. Oh, except for a quarter-million gallons of heavy oil and 56,339 gallons of diesel. Crew took soundings of the oil tanks all night long while a Coast Guard boat circled the ship watching for slicks. They concluded that no oil leaked into the Columbia. Good thing. It's really one of my favorite rivers.

Tugboats, the heroes of so many shipping tales, nudged the Global Challenger loose at high tide the following morning.

The Coast Guard investigated the cause of the grounding. "The initial indication is that it missed a turn," U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Paul Jewell said. "It went out of the channel about 130 yards, which is certainly not a good thing." Captain Jewell is good with the understatement.

It's news! But not really! It's the "Well, something almost happened" version of the news:

I bet the Global Challenger postively slunk up the river this time, embarrassed to be seen.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 16th, 2005 02:20 am (UTC)
That was my thought. They looked kind of freshly-painted.
Jun. 16th, 2005 02:25 am (UTC)
Good story! I swear that if these things were printed in the paper I'd read 'em! Or listen to 'em on the radio. I swear!
Jun. 16th, 2005 03:17 am (UTC)
I'm glad you're enjoying them. I'm perfectly happy with my little LJ audience, but I appreciate the vote of confidence!
Jun. 20th, 2005 08:59 pm (UTC)
You have such an entertaining way of writing about these ships. I always look forward to one of these posts.
Jun. 21st, 2005 01:20 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad you enjoy them. Watch this space for another edition in the next day or so. We seem to be in the busy season at the grain elevator.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )



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