Brain-Teasing Boat

B and I went to Discovery Park a couple of weeks ago. I’ve got so many very delicious photos to share with you! It was brilliantly sunny just about everywhere except for Magnolia, which was fogged in. The entire park was shrouded in mist and mystery.

The boats on the Sound looked eerily awesome. Most of them I could figure out: there was the ferry, with the sunlight shining on it through the mist.

Image shows a ferry sailing over a misty Sound. There's a glint of sunlight from the front that makes it look like it's got a train's headlamp shining.
One of the ferries – probably the Bremerton Ferry – with sunlight glinting off its front windows.

Ferries are dead simple to identify. They’re Janus-faced, looking both forward and backward, because they don’t ever turn around.

There were a few barges hauling freight, and even some sailboats. It’s been a terrifying mild January so far. Even that day, with all the fog, was relatively warm, and the breezes just right.

This boat, though… I can’t figure it out.

Image showing a very strange boat silhouetted against the mist-shrouded islands. It had a hump at one end, and a lot of arms akimbo along its length.
Odd Boat I

Some of the fishing boats have weird appendages, but I couldn’t tell if this was a fishing boat or not.

The same boat, zoomed in. The detail still isn't resolved. A pale bluff is visible behind it.
Odd Boat II

I love how you can see the pale yellow bareness of the bluff behind it in that one, but nope, still can’t tell what it is.

Then it swung close to the lighthouse. I’ll always haz a sad that I didn’t manage to capture the awesome image of it churning along behind the lighthouse, because it looked freakishly wonderful, but at least I got a good snap of it coming closer.

The boat now is quite visible. It's red and black, and seems to be a barge. There's an orange crane-like thing on it, and a piece of yellow construction equipment that looks like a backhoe.
That looks like construction equipment. The heck?!

Alas, after I took this picture, I got distracted by some fresh surfaces exposed in the Olympia Interglacial sediments, and only caught a glimpse of it sneaking out of sight. It looked like a mutant junkyard mechanical lobster with a wake. So very cool.

It looks to me like a barge ferrying construction equipment around the Sound, but wherefore, and where to? So of course, I had to show you it. Plus it just looks freaking awesome with those fog banks lifting above it. Everything looks cooler in fog, even boats with construction equipment on them.

Do you have any favorite amazing-things-in-the-fog stories, my darlings? Speculations about our boat? Meditations upon humankind and nature? Tell me them!

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Brain-Teasing Boat
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12 thoughts on “Brain-Teasing Boat

  1. 1

    Looks like a snag boat, used for picking floating logs and such out of the water. The two tall verticals would be spuds which can be dropped into the muddy bottom to keep the boat in place. However, I don’t see the Army Corps of Engineers logo I’d expect — there’s some other logo. The name appears to be “Justin”, but of course my searches keep coming up with Bieber. I’ll dig farther.

  2. 3

    I like foggy nights in San Francisco so I can pretend to be Sam Spade. Other than that, fog is cold, and makes you wet, and it makes accidents more likely, so no, not really a fan of fog.

  3. 4

    My husband checked this out. He says it’s a motorized barge (as opposed to one that is towed by a tug) used to repair breakwaters, docks, seawalls, etc. Definitely not a fishing boat.

  4. 5

    Looks like what we used to call a spud barge. The two vertical thin bits might be the spuds, steel poles that get driven into the seabed to stabilize the barge so that the track-hoe, the bent-over yellow arm with the digging bucket on the end, and/or the crane, the red thing with the boom and headache ball, can set piles or manipulate the shore or bottom. When the spuds are set the track-hoe and/or crane can typically drive around on the barge.

    Spud barges are pretty commonly used for heavy construction in coastal and swampy areas. Some larger spud barges have four or more spuds and once set they can lift the entire barge up and out of the water. This allows work to proceed independent of tides and wave action.

  5. 6

    I think it’s a backhoe dredge. Dredges or dredgers are used in shallow water for excavation, most often to widen and deepen shipping channels.

  6. 7

    You guys really need to follow my links! It’s the Jason, owned by Waterfront Construction of Seattle. They build docks, seawalls, and such. It’s a former landing craft. Lorn is also correct about the spuds, which I mentioned in my first reply.

  7. 10

    Trebuchet @ 7:

    Sorry for duplicating much of your information. No insult was intended. I neglected to refresh the page before starting to post and didn’t see many of the answers.

    I’ve done a couple of construction jobs with crews using them and have been on a couple. None of them were exactly like the one pictured but spud barges tend to get modified frequently to meet the requirements of the day or job. After a few months heavy use they tend to be rusting and dented one-offs. Typically with the deck strewn with reinforcements to accept point loads or trackways, pad-eyes allowing stuff to be tied down, and the weld, grind and rust tracks of previous modifications made by bored, and/or over-enthusiastic welders.

    I once saw a beautifully detailed and all-round welded toilet paper holder that must have weighed in at 200 pounds and involved $1000 in half-inch steel plate and welding supplies. It used a piece of what looked like #14 rebar as a spindle to hold the roll. Quite the fixture for a chemical toilet in a makeshift corrugated enclosure. Like I said … bored welder with a unrequited desire to express his creativity and artistic tendencies.

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