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Discussion Starter #1
Dear chaps. I'm writing a piece about Mahanada, c 8.5k tons, with a mostly full cargo, traversing Galveston Bay (6 to 12 ft deep) by means of the 30 mile Houston ship channel (dredged to 25 ft). I'm wondering what sort of depth of water would be under her keel. Any ideas?
Wonder what width the channel was.
I suppose it would be a buoyed channel and she'd have a pilot.
 

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Hello, tides, loaded, in ballast, trim, is there a turning basin that can accomodate the overall length of vessel? are you the owner/captain, what is yourinsured loss? You need be aware of what you are doing and the risks you are asking others to accept?
 

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#1

It might help to bear in mind that the significance of UKC (whatever the actual measurement might be at any given time) is generally reckoned to be three times greater on a falling tide than it is on a rising tide.

On a rising tide, minimal UKC can be safe, whereas on a falling tide it is anything but safe.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
That link is most helpful, Greg. Thanks. And also to Barrie and David for your responses.
I suppose a vessel intent on transit would wait for high tide so as to benefit from increased depth and sal****er - the Bay has river inputs.

Re the chart: some islands to the east of the channel look to be artificial - from their shape, that is.
 

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Harry
I can't speak to under keel clearance in Houston, but it was and I believe still is normal to transit the channel to Stockton and Sacramento with a calculated under keel clearance of one foot. We had good soundings from the Army Corps of Engineers, plus the bottom was soft mud which enabled this to be accomplished with safety.
In order to carry the maximum draft and thereby cargo for a shipper, we would on occasion transit a portion of the route, anchor and await the next tide, and then proceed across the second shallow area of the passage. The same process can be utilized to transit under low bridges and power transmission wires.
It's also much easier to carry deep draft with minimal under keel clearance upbound as the vessel transits the route with the rising tide. On a downbound transit the vessel is transiting through the tides which sometimes requires the need to anchor enroute and await the next tide.
Again, the nature of the bottom is very important and soft mud is very forgiving!
 

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Hi, Harry

To wait for high water would usually be too late, as by then the tide will be falling.

Usual practice is to go as soon as the going is good (i.e. as soon as the tide has risen enought to give any UKC at all) in order to gain maximum advantage.
 

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Harry, The current charts of the Houston Ship Channel across Galveston Bay would reflect an increased depth to accommodate the large container vessels that berth at the Bayport and Barbours Cut terminals than when the Mahanada would have transited.

I was on the Maihar in 1977 when she docked at the Port of Houston near the turning basin to offload bales of jute. We had already worked our way down the Eastern seaboard discharging rolls of carpet backing so we fairly light with only one more port of call left, NOLA.

Yes, the islands in the bay are built up with spoil from the dredging needed to keep the channel to the depth and width needed.

I don't know if the Pilots still have to carry out the Texas Chicken maneuver, in which passing ships set up for a head-on collision and use each other’s bow wave pressure to swerve safely past each other. This was the only way to handle two-way traffic in the Houston Ship Channel.

Mervyn
Houston, TX
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you Wallace, Barrie, and Mervyn. Lots of material there - not all such ends up in a written piece, but reading and considering the facts does give me a degree of confidence I would not otherwise have had. I've done research for historical novels in the past and that is similar; actually the research can be the most absorbing part of putting a story together.

I now recall a bend in the channel where it turns west into Houston. Maps sometimes have the adjacent west bank referred to as Buffalo Balou, and it was there that Gen. Houston defeated the Mexican Santa Anna at the battle of San Jacinto. The site is now a national park - in 1957 as Mahanada sailed up I was enthralled to see the Battleship Texas anchored close by. She was a Dreadnought that served in both world wars. She's in dry dock now - preserved.
 

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I've been retired for 8 years, but the Texas Chicken maneuver was still in practice in Houston when I was piloting. I never did the maneuver with ships in the San Francisco Bay area as the channels that would have necessitated it were one way traffic, but I did practice the maneuver at Port Revel on the manned models and I can attest that it works very well. Traffic on the Stockton Deep Water Channel (200' width) was two way for many years until there were several near misses wherein a rigged gangway was torn off passing ships and the channel was changed to one way. What doesn't work at all is overtaking in a narrow channel which we also practiced with the manned models at Port Revel. The overtaking ship will often be sucked into the quarter of the overtaken ship as she attempts to pass.
I spoke with masters at Teekay regarding the Texas Chicken maneuver where they were meeting Panamax bulkers of 106' beam on Afromax tankers of 140' beam in a channel of 400' width enroute to Houston with deep draft. That would leave about 50' clearance between the meeting ships and 50' from the bank. The problem they encountered would be when the maneuver was near its completion and the starboard quarter was near the bank and a "full ahead hard right" command was needed to overcome the bank suction on the quarter. Nonetheless, they said the maneuver was a safe and efficient one when carried out by knowledgeable pilots and ship handlers. They all held the Houston Pilots in high regard.
 

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The Houston Ship Channel follows the course of Buffalo Bayou which runs through Downtown Houston. Allen's Landing the original port for Houston was located on Buffalo Bayou just north of what is now downtown Houston.
 

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Harry, The tide range in the Houston Ship Channel are minimal compared to the range in, for example, Liverpool. Usually about 1-2 feet). What is more importance is the influence of the winds especially with a strong frontal passage or a tropical event. Frontal passages are a winter event which essentially blows the water out of the bay. A tropical storm can produce a storm surge which can result in massive flooding.
I think I was on the Marwarri with you which sailed from Houston direct to Liverpool at a full draft similar to the Mahronda. The other was on the Maidan which loaded at both Houston and Galveston, not full draft out of Houston, but we did enjoy a blackout heading towards a berthed tanker in the ship channel. Good job we had chippy on the forecastle to drop an anchor.
We had trouble with the customs on this trip as some stevedore's equipment was left on board for use in Galveston and we were fined for coastwise transport on a non US flag Vessel. Other difficulties were the changing from the Houston pilot to the Galveston pilot in Bolivar Roads.
Later in my career I was involved with bulk carriers out of both Houston and Galveston, including Blue Funnel's Ajax with a deadweight of around 26000 tons, so with a reasonable trim there should be no issues getting the Mahronda through the channel during her service with Brocks.
Let me know if you have any questions where I may be of help.
Ian
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Harry, The tide range in the Houston Ship Channel are minimal compared to the range in, for example, Liverpool. Usually about 1-2 feet). What is more importance is the influence of the winds especially with a strong frontal passage or a tropical event. Frontal passages are a winter event which essentially blows the water out of the bay. A tropical storm can produce a storm surge which can result in massive flooding.
I think I was on the Marwarri with you which sailed from Houston direct to Liverpool at a full draft similar to the Mahronda. The other was on the Maidan which loaded at both Houston and Galveston, not full draft out of Houston, but we did enjoy a blackout heading towards a berthed tanker in the ship channel. Good job we had chippy on the forecastle to drop an anchor.
We had trouble with the customs on this trip as some stevedore's equipment was left on board for use in Galveston and we were fined for coastwise transport on a non US flag Vessel. Other difficulties were the changing from the Houston pilot to the Galveston pilot in Bolivar Roads.
Later in my career I was involved with bulk carriers out of both Houston and Galveston, including Blue Funnel's Ajax with a deadweight of around 26000 tons, so with a reasonable trim there should be no issues getting the Mahronda through the channel during her service with Brocks.
Let me know if you have any questions where I may be of help.
Ian
Hello, Ian. It's lovely to hear from you. Thank you for that info, particularly the bit about the effects of a front on the bay.

Re Marwarri: Here is what I gleaned from archived Lloyds Shipping movements records now held in London:
ports and dates from search by
Jeanie Smith
Assistant Librarian & Keeper of the Lloyd’s Marine Collection
Guildhall Library
Aldermanbury
London
EC2V 7HH
http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/guildhalllibrary

The archive service is excellent. I paid about £9 for the records of my several Brock ships.

SS Marwarri - first voyage - 6 months. My wife, Beryl, joins crew as supernumery:
13 May 1960, Manchester, sign as 1st R/O, Foreign articles. 18 May, depart.
22 May, arrive Middlesbrough. 28 May, depart.
31 May, arrive Bremen, West Germany. 3 June, depart.
4 Jun, arrive Rotterdam, Holland. Depart same day.
5 Jun, arrive London. 12 Jun, depart for terminus Calcutta.
23 Jun, arrive Port Said for Canal. 24 Jun, depart Suez.
26 Jun, arrive Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. 27 Jun, depart.
29 Jun, arrive Assab, part of Abyssinia (now in Eritrea). Depart same day.
30 Jun, arrive Djibouti, French Somaliland. Depart same day.
1 Jul, arrive Aden. 4 Jul depart.
11 Jul, arrive Trincomalee, Ceylon. 12 Jul, depart.
13 Jul, arrive Madras, India. 14 Jul, depart.
17 Jul, arrive Calcutta. 24 Jul, depart.
25 Jul, arrive Chalna, East Pakistan. 27 Jul, depart.
28 Jul, arrive Calcutta. 14 Aug, depart.
18 Aug, arrive Trincolmalee. 19 Aug, depart.
27 Aug arrive Aden. 28 Aug, depart.
2 Sep, arrive Suez for Canal. 3 Sep, depart Port Said.
6 Sep, arrive Malta. 7 Sep, depart Malta.
22 Sep, arrive Savannah, USA. 23 Sep, depart.
27 Sep, arrive Gulfport, Mississippi, USA. 28 Sep, depart.
29 Sep, arrive New Orleans. 10 Oct, depart.
12 Oct, arrived Houston, Texas.15 Oct, depart.
16 Oct, arrived Galveston, Texas. 17 Oct, depart.
18 Oct, arrived Brownsville, Texas. 20 Oct, depart.
6 Nov, arrived Liverpool. 8 Nov, signed off.

On that trip, I recall a rough passage without sun across the Atlantic to home. The mate, Bill Milne was forever asking for fixes via cocked-hat d/f bearings but always declared them in error - they did not agree with his dead reckoning. He changed his mind when we saw the cliffs of south-west Ireland emerge from the sheets of rain dead ahead. We were 40 miles north of where we should have been.


I did two deepsea trips on Marwarri. You were on the first one at least. Were you on the 2nd?


SS Marwarri - 2nd voyage - 5 months:
16 Dec 1960, Birkenhead. Signed Foreign Articles as 1st R/O.
21 Dec, departed Liverpool.
1 Jan 1961, arrive Port Said for Canal. 2 Jan, depart Suez.
7 Jan, arrive Aden. 9 Jan, depart.
20 Jan, arrive Sandheads for Hooghli River pilot.
21 Jan, discharge 15 tons at Diamond Harbour.
22 Jan, arrive Calcutta. 5 Feb, depart.
7 Feb, arrive Visakhapatnam. 10 Feb, depart.
13 Feb, arrive Chalna, East Pakistan. 19 Feb, depart.
20 Feb, arrive Calcutta. 28 Feb, depart.
3 Mar, arrive Visakhapatnam. 5 Mar, depart.
8 Mar, arrive Colombo, Ceylon. 15 Mar, depart.
21 Mar, arrive Aden. 22 Mar, depart.
24 Mar, arrive Port Sudan. 25 Mar, depart.
28 Mar, arrive Suez for Canal. 29 Mar, depart Port Said.
10 Apr, arrive Tilbury, London. Sign off. 12 Apr, sign on Home Trade articles and depart for Avonmouth, Bristol Channel.
15 Apr, arrive Avonmouth. 17 Apr, depart.
25 Apr, arrive Manchester. 2 May, depart.
2 May, arrive Irwell (in Ship Canal). 4 May, depart.
5 May, arrive Liverpool.
11 May, 1961. Birkenhead. Sign off for the last time.
.......

Another small point, According to a site devoted to Black Houston dockers in the 50s, The black and white dockers kept to their own gangs and worked segregated - I don't recall that, do you?

What cargo did we ship out of Brownsville? It seemed a bit of a desert. And Panama City -Florida, what did we ship from there/

regards

Harry (I've a broken left arm slowly mending, so typing is laboured; hurrah for cut and paste!
 

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#14

Experience at Liverpool was very similar, with a requirement of 3 feet as a standard for UKC on a falling tide.

On a rising tide, UKC of 6 inches was sometimes considered enough. 1 foot was considered ample (with great caution and minimum headway, of course).
 

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Hi,
I was on the Norvegia Team in 1977 - 78. We arrived at Suez for a northbound transit and the Egyptian canal authorities determined that we had a draft of 47' 1" that is 1 inch over the max. We had to transfer several thousand tons of fuel to a bunker barge. Between Seuz and the Great Bitter Lake we hit something, probably and obstacle left over from the Arab-Israeli wars. We were down by the head and anchored in the Great Bitter Lake while underwater welders patched the hull. After pumping out the water we were still down by the head by 300 tons. That was the sand we had taken on board. Fun and games getting that out. We were on the hook for about 3 weeks before joining a northbound convoy.
 

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