Category Archives: Uncategorized

The New AIS Setup.

I tweeted the above photo of my new setup, and it seemed to be quite popular, so i thought i would post an explanation of the setup.

All vessels over 350grt are required to transmit an ais signal (automatic identification system) over VHF. I have a 8′ VHF antenna mounted on my house connected to an SR-161 AIS receiver. The AIS receiver converts the VHF signal to an NMEA sentence. The NMEA sentence is sent to an old laptop running ShipPlotter which takes the NMEA data, logs it, displays it on screen, and sends the update to marinetraffic.com. (I operate station 347)

the 3 monitor setup is accomplished by running 3 instances of ShipPlotter. The first (the basin display) is a remote session to the PC that is connected to the AIS Receiver. its set to send data to the machine running the 3 monitors, and runs 2 instances of ShipPlotter. those 2 instances listen for output from the first on their own ports. then it was just a matter of adding the proper charts, and choosing the desired zoom level.

A big benefit to the 3 displays is that i now have a clearer view of traffic, and the ships render to scale. for clarity sake, i set the charts to be 75% transparent in ShipPlotter, which preserves readability, but makes the screen less cluttered.

having logged data let me do things like make maps after the fact. I have posted 2 revisions of the traffic map, the full view, and some closeups, as well as a how to post covering how i built it.

November 11th

The Brooding Soldier

This week, haligonians will collect up their trash and take it to the curb. It’s such a normal activity, we think nothing of it, and no one really notices the trash piled at the end of the driveway waiting collection. 

Last year in Belgium, 250000kg of unexploded ordnance was dug up by farmers and construction workers just going on with their normal lives. When people find it, they stack it on the side of the road, and call the army to collect it. Since the end of the first world war, its munitions have killed over 300 people.

Tyne-Cot Cemetery in Belgium. there are 8000 Canadians here.

the remnants of war are common, and normal, just like taking out the trash.

Today the battlefields of Belgium are pastoral. There is little sign of the destruction that the war caused – though its there if you know to look. The town of Ypres in Belgium looks hundreds of years old, though the date on the oldest building is 1922. though the town stayed in Allied hands throughout the war, it was obliterated.

When you visit vimy ridge, the monument is striking. But so is the landscape. The ground is pockmarked with shell holes, one connecting with another, no spot untouched. If you ski, and know what a field of mougles look like – that’s Vimy ridge, though grassy, and now dotted with trees. Fences and signs warning of unexploded shells keep you on the roads. 

this is where in flanders fields was written.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved, and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders Fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders Fields.

Major John McCrae, a field surgeon in the Canadian artillery, in the midst of the Second Battle of Ypres, in Belgium, in May 1915. He died of pneumonia at Wimereux, France on January 28, 1918.

CSS Acadia Dry Docking

The Province has released the RFP for the Dry docking of the CSS Acadia. the CSS Acadia was built in 1913, and is 106 years old. The much needed work was announced last December.

The Scope of work includes Sandblasting and repainting the hull, Testing and replacement of Steel less then 1.4″ thick, Replacement of a hatch cover, replacement of a fuel tank, improved access to the engine room, and some restoration and maintenance work.

the ship is to be towed to a shipyard, and when returned, will be docked bow in.

Ocean Force – lightly loaded.

A very light Ocean Force arrived at Fairview Cove this morning, and is due to sail this evening. The ship arrived from a New Jersey Anchorage.

Built in Germany in 1983, the Ship was originally named Condock III. besides being a CON-Ro, capable of taking containers and Ro-ro cargo, the vessel is also semi-submersible, allowing it to transport boats and other floating craft loaded via a full width stern ramp.

the ship is owned and operated by Prime Transport based in the Ukraine.

“Halifax Traffic is not very happy with me right now.”

Wednesday night is race night for the various yacht clubs around Halifax, and for the clubs in the North West Arm, that means racing in the Middle Ground – the area off Point Pleasant between Ives Knoll and Maugers Beach.

The race committee vessel, confirmed with traffic that the racing would be kept out of the channel, to the west. The race Committee vessel were also made aware of the 18:30 departures of Grandeur of the Seas and the container ship X-Press Makalu.

Despite the clear communication with Halifax traffic, however the race course was set to use Mark #37 on the NSYA Race Mark Sheet. Mark 37 is more commonly known as buoy H22, or Ives Knoll West, and getting to it requires crossing both traffic lanes.

CCGS Frederick G. Creed impeded by sailing Vessels

The CCGS Frederick G Creed was inbound, and had to slow up considerably, complaining to Halifax Traffic about the racing yachts failing to give way. the Pilot aboard the X-Press Makalu also complained about the conduct of the yachts blocking both channels as they were coming off the dock. By the time the two outbound vessels were underway, the yachts were held clear of the channels and the two ships passed without the use of Horns.

It would appear that the the Race Committee misled Halifax Traffic about their intentions. They got called out for being in the wrong place by both the Pilots, and a Coast Guard vessel, and potentially put peoples lives in danger.

the race fleet cleared the channel, staying clear on both sides.

Halifax Traffic will have recordings of non-reporting traffic in the lanes from the radar on Georges Is, as well as recordings of the the communications on VHF Ch12.

One final note..
the comment this post is going to receive is the rules of the road say Sail has the right of way over power. While this is true, it is not compete. Colregs Rule 9 gives right of way to any vessel over sailing vessels and vessels under 20m (60′) in a narrow channel. the traffic lanes would count as narrow channels. Sailing vessels are required to give way to Vessels Not under Command, Restricted in ability to Maneuver, or engaged in Fishing.

Give the Full Colregs a read at https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/c.r.c.,_c._1416/FullText.html

USS Billings Due today

the Latest Littoral Combat ship is due to stop in Halifax, late this afternoon. USS Billings collided with the cargo ship Rosaire A. Desgagnes June 21 while departing from its berth at the port of Montreal bound for Halifax. The ship looks to be scheduled to Tie up at Shearwater, perhaps in an attempt to arrive quietly.

Video of the USS BILLINGS hitting the ROSAIRE A. DESGAGNÉS minutes after departing it’s berth at the Port of Montreal. Video credit : Shipspotting Canada via Anonymous

Posted by Steve Geronazzo on Monday, June 24, 2019
video of the collision was posted to Facebook.

USS Billings Captain, Cmdr. Michael Johnson was relived of command after the incident. Word from the river was that the Johnson was arrogant captain, which would explain how you sail into the ship behind you with 2 tugs and a pilot aboard.

Command was turned over to Cmdr. Nate Rowan, who successfully brought USS Wichita out of the river.

USS billings is the 7th Freedom class Littoral combat ship, built by Lockheed Martin and Fincantieri at Martin Marinette shipyard in Wisconsin.  Of the 7 ships of the class, on their trip out of the lakes to their homeport, one was damaged in a lock, two suffered engine failures, and 1 spent an unplanned winter in Montreal due to ice.

Feds announce funding for the Port

The Feds announced funding for two port related projects. A total of 47.5 million federally will be spent to upgrade rail between the 2 terminals with the goal of removing 75% of the port related trucks from downtown streets. The announcement was vauge, but it appers trucks will be handled at the Ceres yard, then containers moved by rail to Halterm as required. CN, the port and the City own a great deal of land by Ceres, so there is ample space for expansion.

The second announcement will fix the Windsor Street Exchange with changes to Lady Hammond and the Bedford Highway To improve flow.

The total cost of the two projects in 90 million, with the feds picking up 47.5 milliion, and the rest divided between the Port, Province, City and CN.

Cynically this announcement could be viewed as an attempt by the federal liberals to secure Andy Fillmore’s seat. Most Haligonians I suspect are most interested in the Promised improvements to the Windsor street exchange. that the announcement featured no renderings suggests that the improvements could be seen as politically damming to Fillmore.

Here is what the Release said about the project.

The second project will upgrade the Windsor Street Exchange, which is the main access road to the Port of Halifax. This work includes realigning the Bedford Highway, upgrading Lady Hammond Road and installing new traffic signals to improve traffic flow. These upgrades will reduce traffic congestion, improve safety and increase the reliability and efficiency of freight movements.

Area Councilor Waye Mason tweeted

If you look at the mechanics of the Windsor street exchange, the biggest problem is people coming off Joe Howe and crossing the lanes to get to the bridge. At the same time, Joe Howe is the way to get trucks from Ceres to Highway 102. Lets Look at what the Announcement tells us.

“realigning the Bedford Highway” this likely means that the the Bedford highway will now end at an intersection with Joseph Howe. this would also be the entry and exit point for the Ceres Terminal. This is evidenced by the statement “installing new traffic signals to improve traffic flow” suggesting the addition of an intersection. controlling the flow from Joe Howe would solve alot of the congestion problem. “Upgrading Lady Hammond Road” suggests that the street will be extended towards the new intersection, and the existing exchange will likely be simplified.

Though not explicitly mentioned, i would expect transit priority measures to be put in place as well. The Costs also suggest that an overpass is to be constructed, likely to expand the Fairview overpass to accommodate an intersection over the rail lines.

Concept from the 1945 master plan for Halifax. the traffic circle was never built, but the original road alignment can be seen, with the origins of Joe Howe.
From the Functional plan for Harbour Drive. Again shows the connections through Fairview.

The Changes i have proposed are not without historical President. The Bedford highway previously joined with Dutch Village Rd before Joseph Howe was built, and Lady Hammond served as the main road onto the peninsula via the passage under the train tracks where the fairview overpass now is.

Everything old is new Again.

So you want to run a Water Taxi.

With recent news of a NW Arm Ferry service waiting for dock installation to start, the question was asked what is required to Setup and operate such a service. So here is what you need to do it.

As a passenger – Look for the vessel registration on the bow, and Blue Compliance Decal

Kings Wharf Water taxi (file photo)

Captain and Crew.
In our post, so you want to be a captain, I covered various licenses, and what they allow you to operate. Since Halifax is a sheltered waters Voyage, A PCOC is valid if you only need to carry 6 or fewer passengers and your boat is under 8m in length. the Kings wharf water taxi operates under this regime. To Carry up to 12 passengers, you will need a SVOP+medA3. In either case you will need a Marine First aid Course.

Crew will Require Med A3, and First aid.

The Vessel.
if the Vessel is over 6 meters, it will need to meet small vessel construction standards. something built as a pleasure craft will not necessarily suffice, though in the case of a pontoon boat, it likely meets the stability and rail height requirements.

The vessel will need to be registered with Transport Canada vessel registry. Registered vessels will either have a name on the stern, or in the case of small vessels, a registry number on the Bow. The vessel is also required to be enrolled in Transport Canada’s Small Vessel Compliance Program (SVCP).

The SVCP requires reporting to TC every 5 years, and they issue you a decal that certifies your vessel is compliant. The form is essentially a checklist to ensure compliance with regulations that mandate required safety equipment. if the vessel is found compliant, then a decal is issued to the vessel. (Blue is for Passenger vessels and work boats, red for Fishing Vessels.)

Operations.
Transport Canada requires a safety briefing be given to all passengers indicating the location and usage of life jackets. it can be Oral, a Video, or signage with pictograms.

I spoke to another tour boat operator about Insurance. They carry $2 million in Liability coverage, plus hull insurance on the boat. Coverage cost is around $3500/year.

Sea Shepard Vessel due for port visit

word has reached me that the Sea Shepard Conservation Society Vessel Brigitte Bardot is headed to Halifax. I was told the vessel will be open for tours. its currently off Lunenburg, I estimate an eta of 1400.

Originally named Cable and Wireless Adventurer she was built for the purpose of circumnavigating the world in less than 80 days. This was successfully accomplished in July 1998 in 74 days, 20 hours, 58 minutes. Sea Shepard acquired the vessel in 2010.

UPDATES to follow at: https://blog.halifaxshippingnews.ca/2019/05/sea-shepard-vessel-due-for-port-visit.html

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