Last week we changed out our tow line. It took the better part of our morning and a lot of heavy lifting – it may just be rope, but let me tell you it is a bitch to move it around.
When we got the line, the mate spent half the night watch splicing an eye into the working end. That splice is similar to the technique used for the barge line I posted last month; the strands in this line are just much bigger. The line is made of a very fine, very strong synthetic material known in the industry as plasma. We took the old line off the winch, as well as the stretcher (a heavy line used to connect the new line to the old), and the even older length of line which formed the bottom layers, which we threw out. The stench of that bottom layer was unbelievable, strangely enough; it’s surprising how rotten things can get when they are soaked with seawater and then tucked away from the air and sunlight.
Once we got the old lines off and the new onto the drum, we had to make it off to a bollard on a nearby pier and stretch it out again then wind it back onto the winch so it would lay on the drum better and not take up so much room. This was the first time I’d seen this done! We burned a lot of diesel doing what was essentially a bollard pull test which, considering the horsepower of these boats, put a considerable strain on that towline.