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Old 07-25-2016, 01:05 AM   #1
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My dumb azz....fatigue???

Fatigue is a buzzword in aviation these days....and with due credit, a very important word at that!!!! I had gone from IAH-POS...the first day. Then red eye to EWR the second day into the third day. Then onto SEA that afternoon after "day sleep". Then SEA-SFO-IAH the last day. AN absolutely brutal trip and, IMO, a trip that should not be legal.

Well I landed from this trip Friday night about 2230. After getting the plane squared away and riding the bus and all that other crap, I was headed home and looking at a midnight arrival at home. Well lil mama managed to attract some friends and she was entertaining on the boat. I honestly did not want to have anything to do with it...I just wanted to sleep....but I played along and went to the boat. Bottom line, not much sleep.

We woke up the next day and figured we would go to Galveston by boat. It is about a 2 hour trip. Weather was fine. I knew I had plenty of fuel but needed to switch tanks somewhere along the way. Guess what????.....I forgot to switch tanks. It was of no Immediate consequence. We got the anchor down and everything was fine.

We woke up the next day and started breakfast. RIght in the middle of breakfast, the generator quit. You guessed it!!!!....I had run that tank out of fuel. I don't have the choice of generator feed. It feeds out of the port tank...period!!! And that port tank was bone dry. It could have been worse. LIke passing a barge on plane and having an engine quit with asymetrical thrust and the ensuing problems that poses.

But luckily, none of that. Just a dead generator and no way to feed it. We made due with our situation.. Well we got home and plugged in the boat with shore power. EVERYTHING came back on like we left it when the power died. The one thing that was an issue was the stove top!!!!! Our galley does not have a ton of counter space so the stove sometimes does double duty as general counter space. And said stove was on when the power died and was still on when the power came back on(when boat was plugged back in at home slip). SO we are doing normal "arrival chores" when we smell something. The "general counter space" had a paper plate on it and was about to be aflame. Thank God it never made it that far. We turned it off and no worse for the wear.

Was fatigue an issue here. YOU BET!!!! I was dead dog tired and mama hosting people on the boat Friday night did not help. I ended up with just about 5 hours of sleep after that nasty trip for the past 4 days. Going forward, I will set an alarm to remind me to switch tanks. I have done this before but it had totally slipped my fatigue saturated brain by then.

This also shows you the "chain of mistakes" that leads to the big one. My boat easily could have caught on fire if we would have just tied it up and left. The "real mistake" was not switching tanks on the way down there....but that lead into a failed breakfast and then the subsequent potential fire that could have happened.

What did I learn???

#1....set an alarm anytime that tanks need to be switched over.
#2....very similar to airplanes....when you have an "aborted issue". you "act" like you are landing again. IOW, you do an "after landing" check even though you never took off. We should have secured everything after the generator died. Instead, I did what most people would do....went on a problem solving mission. Which is fine but don't lose sight of what just happened. And make sure everytthing is secure.....

Thanks for reading if you made it this far!!!!!
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Old 07-25-2016, 01:20 AM   #2
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I'm glad your boat didn't burn down! Speaking of fatigue, I have about 2 hours to get a nap in before I make my next port. I really should go do that...
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Old 07-25-2016, 05:42 AM   #3
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My dumb azz....fatigue???

I had a dumb azz fatigue-related incident yesterday on the ICW.

My "lil momma" came to visit me at a marina while I was on my 3 day trip bringing the boat back from Clear Lake to Rockport. We were at Harbourwalk Marina so we partied a bit, went to eat at Floyds on the water, had some cocktails, wine, etc. Didn't get much sleep at all and woke up early for the 11 hour run to Matagorda. Should have only been a 10 hour run, but I'm getting to that.

At about hour 8 I'm zoning, listening to a book on tape, pretty tired, dodging barges like crazy but not really paying much attention. One tow captain had his barge into the bank at an angle across a narrow part of the ICW, and I figured I would just go around him at his stern. I saw a little ski boat go around at that same spot so didn't think much about it, and I didn't radio the captain to get instructions. Stupid mistake.

The distance front his stern was maybe 20' from the bank, and as I got up to his stern I realized his prop wash was way more than I had anticipated, and it started to look shallow. His prop wash basically blew me sideways into about 2.5' of water, the keel hit the bottom and my boat tilted at a surprisingly scary angle before settling down into the mud. I looked back at the tow and a worker on the stern he threw up his hands and shrugged like "what the hell did you expect would happen dumb azz?"

I sat there feeling like an idiot for about 30-45 minutes until a nice fisherman came by and towed me off the mud. I feel pretty lucky I didn't screw up any worse than I did.

So long story short, I blame fatigue. 😂
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Old 07-25-2016, 07:06 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baker View Post
Fatigue is a buzzword in aviation these days.......I just wanted to sleep....but I played along and went to the boat. Bottom line, not much sleep. We woke up the next day and figured we would go to Galveston by boat. It is about a 2 hour trip. Weather was fine. I knew I had plenty of fuel but needed to switch tanks somewhere along the way. Guess what????.....I forgot to switch tanks. It was of no Immediate consequence. We got the anchor down and everything was fine. We woke up the next day and started breakfast. RIght in the middle of breakfast, the generator quit. You guessed it!!!!....I had run that tank out of fuel. I don't have the choice of generator feed. It feeds out of the port tank...period!!! And that port tank was bone dry.
Baker, as an aside, but it would have saved you some strife, why not have your tanks linked continuously via a T arrangement, as in my simple old, but extremely reliable old boat. It means that I can fill from either side, and they just equalise, and they both go down equally, so no trim issues and no way one could end up like things did for you that day. I'm surprised all boats aren't set up that way actually, as I can't see any downsides as long as you don't run out of fuel completely. The alleged benefit of a possible huge fuel contamination being confined to one tank is largely theoretical in this day and age and where we all mostly boat I would think. Just a thought..?
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Old 07-25-2016, 10:10 AM   #5
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Baker, you story reminds me of the old reports I would read 30 years ago mailed out by the NTSB I think. Blue newsletter with reports of errors written by pilots that could not be used against them.

Your account serves the same purpose, "learn from my mistakes".

It is 7:00 am and I am sitting in a wonderful coffee shop in Westview. I once again woke up at 5:00am u able to go back to sleep. So far I am on day 5 of 2-6 hours of sleep. I haven't noticed the fatigue catching up to me but we know from research that is false. Your story reminds me to be extra careful.
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Old 07-25-2016, 10:23 AM   #6
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AN absolutely brutal trip and, IMO, a trip that should not be legal.
A great tale and good reminder, Baker, thank you.

My first thoughts though; they allow/make these guys fly planes? And, could you get your butt canned for calling it as you see it?

Not your fault I know but is there no strength in your professional organization?

Was not the brutal schedule the first of the "chain of mistakes"?
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Old 07-25-2016, 06:13 PM   #7
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A great tale and good reminder, Baker, thank you.

My first thoughts though; they allow/make these guys fly planes? And, could you get your butt canned for calling it as you see it?

Not your fault I know but is there no strength in your professional organization?

Was not the brutal schedule the first of the "chain of mistakes"?
We can call in fatigued and the company cannot in any way shape or form, discipline you for calling in fatigued. I have no problem doing it. I was thinking this trip was a candidate. The only reason why I didn't is because I did manage to get good day sleep before that transcon to Seattle.

Another thing to remember....is fatigue is a lot like being drunk. How many drunk people have you seen declare they are absolutely safe to drive??? You sometimes just don't realize how impaired you are.
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Old 07-25-2016, 06:15 PM   #8
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Baker, as an aside, but it would have saved you some strife, why not have your tanks linked continuously via a T arrangement, as in my simple old, but extremely reliable old boat. It means that I can fill from either side, and they just equalise, and they both go down equally, so no trim issues and no way one could end up like things did for you that day. I'm surprised all boats aren't set up that way actually, as I can't see any downsides as long as you don't run out of fuel completely. The alleged benefit of a possible huge fuel contamination being confined to one tank is largely theoretical in this day and age and where we all mostly boat I would think. Just a thought..?
My boat is actually set up with a transfer pump. I have never used it and honestly don't even know if it works. I have tried to use it and did not hear a pump running and I really haven't investigated it any further. Maybe I should!!!...
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Old 07-25-2016, 06:29 PM   #9
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We can call in fatigued and the company cannot in any way shape or form, discipline you for calling in fatigued. I have no problem doing it. I was thinking this trip was a candidate. The only reason why I didn't is because I did manage to get good day sleep before that transcon to Seattle.

Another thing to remember....is fatigue is a lot like being drunk. How many drunk people have you seen declare they are absolutely safe to drive??? You sometimes just don't realize how impaired you are.
Early in my career we were flying in from an all night, offshore search back to Air Station Miami.

I was the newbie copilot so didn't know any better.

I woke up and looked around, I was the only one now awake.

In front of me level..maybe a tad higher, was a fishing pier off Ft Lauderdale.. I think it was FLL.

We had no real autopilot in those helos, so we had been in a slight descent for a little while.

In another minute, we would have hit the water or the pier 80 knots.

Learned a good lesson early in my career.

I also became a tiny legend as the aircraft commander that could catch a cat nap any place. I have slept under stairwells in international aitports, under the helo on the fueling ramp, in the pilots seat, etc. Comfort not required, lessening fatigue and increasing my survival rate was all my body needed to doze off.

Of course, it wasn't a handy tool for boring staff meetings....
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Old 07-25-2016, 06:32 PM   #10
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Re draining your tank with your generator. You may have a flaw with you fuel pick up for the genset. Genset pick ups are supposed to be higher in the tank than the engine pick up - just to ensure that this doesn't happen. In my last boat it was at about 20% of fuel level.

You may want to consider shortening the pick up.
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Old 07-25-2016, 07:13 PM   #11
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An easy way to trans fr fuel is to start the main engine and run on the good tank, but have the return fuel go to the empty tank. Most engines are pumping far more fuel than they burn. A Cummins QSB 5.9 pumps 50 gph. It would probably only 15 or 20 minutes transfer enough fuel to the empty tank, to start up the generator.
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Old 07-25-2016, 08:15 PM   #12
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Geeze, Bake. Not even a mention of a Starbucks Double-Shot or 5 Hour Energy or anything. You're an iron man.
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Old 07-25-2016, 09:22 PM   #13
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I once had to stay up most of the night to do battle with "yuge" Canadian mosquitoes. The next day I forgot to take the boat out of reverse after stopping in a lock.
We checked into a real hotel that night to catch up on sleep.
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Old 07-25-2016, 09:42 PM   #14
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I think most people underestimate the effect of lack of sleep. A lot think they can function fine without. Well, they can't. As you said about being drunk. They may be use to it and it may be their norm but it's a diminished norm. I will not drive a car or boat without sleep. If that means not making a trip then so be it. I know many people practice single handing overnight and long 96 hour trips with two people and only four hour breaks but I don't believe either to be safe. Can one make it? Of course. However, the odds of a sleep deprived person making a mistake is far greater than one with full sleep.

Thanks for sharing, Baker.
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