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Articles published in 2013

"To the bitter end"

"To the bitter end" is a phrase that means "to the last degree," "until all things have been tried," "to the limits of one's efforts," or "to the last extremity."


Although the exact origin of the expression is contested, in 1627, Captain John Smith wrote A Sea Grammar . It is the earliest time that the phrase "the bitter end" was seen in print.


However, it is not certain if the phrase "the bitter end," was known before Captain Smith's writing or not.


The nautical connection: The anchor is shackled to the anchor cable (or anchor chain), the cable passes up through the hawsepipe, through the pawl, over the windlass gypsy (or wildcat) down through the "spurling pipe" to the chain/cable locker under the forecastle (or poop if at the stern (US fantail)) - the anchor bitts are on a bulkhead in the cable locker and the bitter end of the cable is connected to the bitts using the bitter pin, which should be able to be released from outside the locker to "slip" the anchor. This would occur if the windlass brake has slipped in a storm for example and you have reached "the bitter end". It originally applied in sailing vessels where the cable was a rope, and the windlass or capstan was powered by many sailors below decks.

Grounded Shell Oil-Drilling Ship Has Been Refloated

A Shell oil-drilling ship that ran aground near a remote Alaska island has been refloated, officials said early Monday.
Royal Dutch Shell's Kulluk was floated from the rocks late Sunday night and teams were assessing its condition, the unified command in charge of the effort said. Once they are satisfied that the vessel is seaworthy, it will be towed 30 miles to shelter in Kodiak Island's Kiliuda Bay.
The oil-drilling vessel, which has no engines of its own, was being towed for maintenance when it ran aground during a powerful storm on New Year's Eve.


Officials said that so far there is no sign the hull of the Kulluk has been breached or that oil has spilled from the vessel. It is carrying more than 140,000 gallons of diesel, and about 12,000 gallons of lube oil and hydraulic fluid.


The main tow line was attached from a towing vessel earlier in the day in preparation for the refloating when ocean conditions were favorable. The unified command said three additional tugs are on standby along with the Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley and two oil-spill-response vessels.


"Following this initial step forward, we will continue to remain cautious while we assess the Kulluk's condition," said Martin Padilla, commander of the refloating effort. "We will not move forward to the next phase until we are confident that we can safely transport the vessel."


The Kulluk is a circular barge 266 feet in diameter with a funnel-shaped, reinforced steel hull that allows it to operate in ice. One of two Shell ships that drilled last year in the Arctic Ocean, it has a 160-foot derrick rising from its center and no propulsion system of its own.


The tow attempt is being made by the same vessel that lost the Kulluk last month while attempting to move it to Seattle. A line between the 360-foot anchor handler, the Aiviq, and the Kulluk broke Dec. 27. Four reattached lines between the Aiviq or other vessels also broke in stormy weather and went aground.


Shell has reported superficial damage above the deck and seawater within that entered through open hatches. Water has knocked out regular and emergency generators, but portable generators were put on board late last week.


Source: Wall Street Journal