I’ll continue on the speed riff for a bit longer. It often seems that everyone’s in a hurry to go nowhere fast. Call it hurry up and wait, pedal-to-the-metal syndrome, poor voyage planning, or plain old impatience. Constantly putting the throttles “in the corner” is a common standard operating procedure for many. But why?
If there’s any weather on it beats up the crew, boat and tow unnecessarily, and increases the chances of someone getting hurt. Because running “hooked up” is always faster than the engine’s most efficient cruising speed it wastes enormous quantities of fuel (money) over the life of the vessel and wears out the drivetrain faster with nothing much to show for it. I remember reading years ago in National Fisherman magazine that engineers were changing the way they viewed normal engine wear and the maintenance schedule for diesels: not necessarily by engine hours alone but rather by how many gallons of fuel they had burned through. Yes, there are certainly numerous occasions when one must get the job done quickly and get on to the next one. But this can lead to the formation of a mindset wherein rushing around becomes the norm even when there is no reason for doing so.
On the longer voyages better voyage-planning certainly helps maintain peak efficiency. Kennebec Captain’s excellent post on the “old-fashioned” yet highly useful and functional Weems & Plath Nautical Slide Rule (a.k.a. TSD Calculator or Whiz Wheel) deserves your attention.
One of the captains I worked with during my oilfield days on a Gulf of Mexico mud boat, a Birmingham, Al. native, had a great standard retort whenever the company man (drilling supervisor) or dispatcher would start pushing too hard for us to hurry things up. “That oil’s been down there for millions and millions of year’s already”, he would drawl. “Y’all can wait just a little bit longer so we can get this done safely.” Kinda puts in perspective, doesn’t it?