Tuesday 18 August 2015


What a week and change it has been. It's 4:47 AM a week ago Friday morning, and I'm rushing across a lawn at Baseline Station in Nepean to meet a 4:50 AM bus to take me to my garage to start work at 5:10 when for a nano second I realize I'm tripping on a curb that I didn't see in the dark and am now belly flopping the asphalt roadway. Budda-bing, Budda-splatt. c):-() I could see that my right ankle was already swelling but it seemed to be okay when I got up and started limping to the bus stop. My knee was bleeding and I figured since I was able to "kinda-walk", I was good to go. I made it just in time to the stop to be picked up, went to the garage, ordered my bus, continued to limp along during my circle check and then boogied out to the airport to do my 97 west to Bells Corners.  About 20 minutes into the drive I started having chest pains when I took a deep breath which probably resulted from my Costco bought Contigo stainless steel coffee mug being rammed into my rib cage when I hit the tarmac. So since I fell on the property I called my controller to bring him up to speed and suggested we complete an incident report later on in my shift, just in case I actually hurt myself. After my next trip, the 118 to Hurdman Station, I met with the supervisor at Billings Bridge Station and after completing the report together he told me to take the bus back to the garage and get to a hospital to checkout my injuries. To make an already long story shorter, after 6 hours at Queensway Carleton Hospital's emergency department, the doc finally told me that my ribs were only bruised, my puffed up ankle and sore wrists were slightly sprained but my left knee cap was broken.
The "Good News" was that I didn't need a cast for my knee but instead I was given a leg brace called an "immobilizer" to keep the knee cap in place in hopes that the broken bones would fuse back together preventing the need for surgery which I find out about on August 20. Meanwhile I was told I could walk around provided the immobilizer was on. Of course it's not actually walking that I'm able to do but rather a pendulum-like swing of my bum leg similar to what the character "Chester Goode" did in that old TV western on Saturday nights called "Gunsmoke". 'Oh Mr. Dillon" is what the sidekick (no pun intended), Dennis Weaver use to say while trying to catch up to the marshall until he scored his own TV comedy-drama called "McCloud" and laughed all the way to the bank, or NOT c):-(). 
The 'Untold but not really Bad News" is the reason they call it an 'immobilizer' is because the moment you try to move, that is, stand up or take a step or two, gravity kicks in and the brace starts to slide down your leg leaving you "immobile" and requiring you to stop wherever you are and re-adjust the velcro straps over and over and over again. It's so tiring, all you want to do is sit, which is another bone chilling experience all in itself because the action is no longer called "sitting down" but due to this immobilizing brace that's strapped as tight as you can from your thigh to your shin bone, positioning yourself downward is better termed as "A CONTROLLED CRASH". "Oh how I hope the chair has armrests to guide me into place". Fortunately to date the toilet seat has been down. I could go on, so I will. 
No actually I won't because regardless how troublesome it has been for me (and my direct family), I know from my experience as a transit bus operator in Ottawa, many people are enduring far worse situations than mine. Due to my injuries, obviously I cannot drive a city bus, but you can ditto that too for the  family car (house rules along with going down the stairs to do the laundry, YES!! c):-D). I know being off from over a week now might beckon the question, "Where's my Boat Blog?" Well, I'll have you know I've tried but the only way for me to type and relax my broken knee and swollen ankle is (as the photo up above shows), is to perch my achy break legs on my wife's ottoman (or as we part Newfie's would call it, a "dumpy"**) and reach towards the keyword from about a foot or more away. A great stretch for a stretch but any longer that, it then becomes a extended pain in the butt. That combined with continually being stared at by all kind of birds while working in my home office, and compelling me to take there pictures of them instead of working on a boat blog post. It's been very distracting to say the least. But enough said about my ailments and those darn pretty birds. Let's talk boats...

Like this tweet little tanker, the 462' VÉGA DESGAGNÉS which I snapped at Loyalist Park near Mariatown on Canada Day 2014. Built in 1982 in Helsinki, Finland, this pretty bird has been called many names, nothing bad like when I caught Mr. Squirrel trying to get into the Cardinal feeder, that slimey @#$%^& hairy rat!! No, just nice names like when she was owned by Shell Oil of Rotterdam, Holland, her name was SHELLTRANS, then in 1994 she became ACILIA and BACALAN in 1999. When Groupe Désgagnés of Quebec City purchased her in  2001, her name was changed VÉGA DESGAGNÉS.
"Oh, look at the pretty beak, I mean bow on the VÉGA!" Unlike so many other tankers we see plying the St. Lawrence and Great Lakes which sport "bulbous" bows, VÉGA's is designed like that if an icebreaker and has a 1A Ice classification which is about the norm for ships that may need to cut through ice covered harbours in the Baltic's, (like what she would have done soon after being built), Canada's Atlantic coast line, the Gulf and St. Lawrence River during the winter months.
Oh look at the baby geese with their mommies and daddies going for a swim up river. "Hey, you're going the wrong way!! The nearest golf course in Morrisburg is in the other direction!!"

When I snapped these pics, VÉGA DESGAGNÉS was winding her way around the many Seaway shoals below the surface like a flock of ducks might do while migrating south for the winter. Later that day,   the VÉGA would have made it to the Montreal-East oil refineries and return many more times laden with oil or chemicals from Sarnia or Nanticoke until the shipping season ended in late December 2014. Instead continuing with normal St.Lawrence River and Atlantic Canada trading, VÉGA DESGAGNÉS laid up in Montreal for the last time.

Like a feathered friend that more often dies a violent death by a predator, with her name and Désgagnés banners painted over, all indications suggested that this rare bird would meet the cutter's scorching torch more sooner than later. Instead, she re-hatched to become the Panamanian-flgged FORT ABEL and on August 14, she took off out of Montreal like a bat out of hell, destined to Plateau Dakar, Senegal some 6,244.5 kilometres away, as the crow-flies, that is. "I hope you return again Miss VÉGA or whatever your name is. We'll leave some seed, I mean fuel out for you. Looking forward to your call!"  c):-)

**A "DUMPY" is a Newfoundland term for a square box-like piece of furniture that may be turquoise and rose in colour and covered in genuine-synthetic leather. The top may or may not have a hinge but the dumpy will be opened and filled with discard newspapers and items you might not want to be seen laying around if your mudder come by without calling' eh b'y. Hence the term "DUMPY".   To check the icebreaker bow many Désgagnés tankers have, click on to this link about VEGA's sister, ESTA DESGAGNÉS, http://carlzboats.blogspot.ca/2013/08/tanker-esta-desgagnes.htmlor NOT c):-)B-)


  1. Some great stuff here Carl!

  2. Good marine story. Bad news about the boat-man. As you grow older there is a pressing need to be careful for oh so many reasons. I use the Winnipeg Transit System when I can't use the Vespa (most of the year). Even as a passenger, due to my age and new-found humility, I no longer run to catch a bus. First, it is undignified. Second, sure as God made little green apples, I will fall. Which is also undignified. Nope, I smile and put my hands in my pockets and take in the world around me as I leisurely amble to the bus stop - without my iPhone in my hand or earphones in my ears. Carl, for the love of Mike, be careful. jim w.