After many months of numerous
physical and financial challenges, ODA's new flagship is finally with us in Southern California!
Captain Paul Watson and Sea
Shepherd Conservation Society had made an incredible donation of this formidable vessel to ODA in October 2006,
and we struggled for more than seven months to locate a berth somewhere in Southern California
with reasonable rates and a good location. Jared Rubin was finally able to locate what we needed in Wilmington
Harbor, near Long Beach, California.
The next step was getting
her trucked down from Friday Harbor, Washington, where it had been berthed for almost a year and over-exposed to the elements
including heavy rainstorms that caused some flooding in the engine compartment. After an extensive search on the
internet and phone, Chris Aultman found us a good deal with a company out of Colorado.
With all the logistics and transportation
costs figured out, the boat arrived on a flatbed truck Thursday, May 24th, at 7:30 am in Huntington Harbor. After unloading it
off the truck and putting it into the water, we all kept our fingers crossed that no damage had been sustained during the
transportation process. We checked for leaks and didn’t find any. The safety straps from the crane were
let loose and we secured the deck lines to the dock while we tried to start the engines. After a couple anxious cranks,
the engines started with a much welcomed roar. A few minutes later we let loose the lines and were on our way.
It was an exhilarating feeling
to finally get out to sea. After getting out of the mouth of the harbor I just wanted to keep going till we hit Catalina,
but the instrument panel and the prime gauges were basically dead. We took the conservative route and headed right
for our new berth. John Milligan, Jared Rubin, Erik Burrows, Chris Bell and Chris Aultman all took time off from their
jobs to help out. Thanks guys!
A former Canadian Coast Guard
patrol vessel, the Clearwater is a very solid 38 foot aluminum boat with two massive diesel engines.
While she's exactly what ODA needs to continue our life-saving work, the main drawback is the dramatic fuel consumption.
We have calculated that the engines get about 1 mile per gallon, typical for boats of this size, draft, and
engine type. Couple that with a $500/mo slip fee and ODA’s fundraising ability will be put to an extreme test
while expanding our range from Laguna Beach and Long Beach,
out to the Channel Islands.
We worked tirelessly for
6 weeks testing all the functions of the boat and repairing what wasn’t working. The electrical team had their
work cut out for them. Much of the electronic system and gauges were not operating properly, but
we had some good schematics of the boat systems that helped us understand how the boat was wired. As usual the team
was lead by John Milligan, but unlike with the Garibald (ODA's first workboat measuring approximately 25 feet), this time
he had a lot of expert help. Erik Burrows and Chris Bell steeped in and took ownership of different functions that needed
repairs. All three of them put in an inordinate amount of hours first figuring out how all the systems worked, then
fixing the issues.
There were also numerous
mechanical projects. Chris Aultman took ownership of the engines and the engine room. We spent 3 weekends cleaning
the entire engine compartment. No small feat given that it was drowning in 140 gallons of bilge water. We had
to pump it out by hand and put it into 5 gallon containers, then dispose of it. Next was the task of scraping all the
gunk off the walls and flooring, then attacking it with cleaning fluids to assure we would not allow any oily water into the
ocean when we emptied the bilge. The final task was giving the entire compartment a cleaning with a pressure washer.
It is now devoid of any major amounts of grime, plus you can actually see the aluminum floor.
On the deck, we had
to grind down the whole davit support system as it was absolutely cover with rust. Then we applied rust prohibiting
paint on all the surfaces. Now we have a functioning davit that we will use to pull up all the debris that we find.
No more fighting with the traps to get them on the deck!!
We also got a carpenter to
volunteer his time to fix up the galley area. Thanks to Reeve, we now have a galley that resembles a nice kitchen!
My heartfelt thanks go out
to all who helped work on the boat over the last 6 weeks: John Milligan, Erik Burrows, Chris Aultman, Chris Bell, Jared
Rubin, Jim and Lisa Lieber, Holly Gray, Eric Cabrera (our newest member!), Phil Robledo, and Reeve.
The Shake Down cruise…
On Sunday, July 15th, we
let loose the deck lines and headed out of the berth toward Palos Verde. The crew was composed of Jim and Lisa Lieber,
Erik Burrows, Chris and Kyla Bell with 2 of their friends. It was the kind of weather I like, overcast and hardly any
wind. Great conditions for a good day on the sea. The boat ran extremely well with no electrical or mechanical
Similar to a formal dive boat, we will need to install
seating arrangements that will have tank holders incorporated into the seats to keep them from rolling around and causing
danger on the deck. That will get all the gear off the deck and make it a lot easier to suit up for the divers.
We also need to design, manufacture and install a dive ladder and cover to protect us from the harmful effects of the sun.