Bruce BulsBruce Buls
With a degree in English literature from the University of Washington (Go Dawgs!), journalism experience at the once-upon-a-time Seattle P-I, and at-sea experience as a commercial fisherman in Washington and Alaska, Bruce Buls has forged a career in commercial marine trade journalism, including stints at Alaska Fishermen’s Journal and National Fisherman, WorkBoat’s sister publications. He lives on Puget Sound’s Whidbey Island, about 20 miles north of Seattle (go 'Hawks!), and looks forward to riding on that big new green-and-white locally built ferry.

Blog Activity

Buls Eye

Foss, Shell lease hubbub hits Seattle

The Port of Seattle’s lease to Foss Maritime for Shell’s Arctic fleet stirs up action and reaction. We’ve been having a huge brouhaha here in Seattle about the port's waterfront lease to Foss Maritime, which, just by historical connection, should be as non-controversial as it gets. But the two-year lease to Foss also extends to Shell Oil, Foss’s client, which wants to stage its Arctic drilling fleet out of Seattle’s Pier 5. The Port of Seattle, which wants to upgrade Pier 5 in the near...

Navigating EPA engine deadlines

Tier 4 emissions territory is upon us. It’s confusing. That’s for sure. You’ve got your different engine categories — depending on cylinder displacement — and you’ve got your escalating tiers that reduce emissions limits. You’ve also got engine emission category deadlines based on overall engine power, for which the regulations are listed in kilowatts, not horsepower, which is also confusing. Engine categories based on displacement were important during...

Vigorized

Taking another look at the Vigor-Kvichak merger. In a blog called “Vigor gets bigger” last week, I wrote about the recently announced merger of Portland’s Vigor Industrial and Seattle’s Kvichak Marine Industries. In the blog, I recounted a chance encounter with Art Parker, Kvichak’s sales manager, at a Portland hotel during a PVA convention. As I was sitting in the lobby with my Vigor-logo laptop bag (a Propeller Club raffle prize), Art walked by (from the bar) and commented on Vigor’s...

Vigor gets bigger

Vigor Industrial just announced the acquisition of Kvichak Marine Industries. A few years ago while at a Passenger Vessel Association convention in Portland, Ore., I was working on my laptop in the hotel lobby. My raffle-prize laptop bag was sitting on the chair next to me, its Vigor logo exposed. Art Parker, Kvichak Marine’s sales manager, walks by and sees me and my Vigor bag. Art’s reaction was something along the lines of “wow, did they get you, too?” Well no, Art, but now they’ve...

“Overloading Leads to Catastrophic Failure of Crane Boom”

Boom, you’re dead. That’s the title of BSEE Safety Alert No. 308, which was issued March 19, 2014. In this case, “catastrophic” refers to the crane, which bent and broke after its dynamic load limit was exceeded; no one was killed or injured. An investigation found that the load chart was incorrect and that the crane operator had used the static load limits as his reference instead of the dynamic load limits, which are lower, as required by the contractor’s standard operating procedures....

Management shake-up at Washington State Ferries

The new head of the country’s largest ferry system is reshaping top management. Last fall, when I wrote November’s cover story about Washington State Ferries, I interviewed Larry Seaquist, a state legislator from Gig Harbor. Seaquist and another legislator, Norma Smith, had written a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee about design problems with the new Olympic-class ferries and had also expressed concern about “the continuing management issues with WSF.” When they wrote that letter, Capt. George...

It’s vigorous in Portland

Swan Island has long been a commercial center in Portland, Ore. During World War II, Kaiser Shipyards established one of its seven wartime shipyards on Swan Island. Now, it’s home to Vigor Industrial.    Last Friday, I got a tour of Vigor Industrial’s shipyard in Portland, Ore. My guides were three women: Hilary Pickerel, executive assistant at Vigor, Jessica Fetterman, a Vigor project engineer, and Athena Maris, owner of The Maris Agency, which provides marketing and...

Fighting fire with fire

There’s nothing like training with the real thing.    They go through a lot of propane at the India Tango marine firefighting purpose-built mock-up, the M/V Fire Dragon. All those fires in the “engine room,” “galley” and “wheelhouse” have to be fueled by something and propane works well for generating big flames that can be doused with water and CO2.   Firefighting training India Tango is the marine firefighting program at Seattle’s Fremont Maritime Services,...

Stop the cable ferry madness!

Residents of Denman Island on the east side of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island will soon be getting a new cable ferry — and they aren’t happy about it.    While preparing for a short write-up of a new ferry under construction in Vancouver, British Columbia, for February’s On the Ways section of WorkBoat, I discovered a hornet’s nest of opposition to the project. The primary issue is the design and propulsion: it’s a cable ferry. Instead of diesel engines turning...

Seahawks, shipyards and love

“There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done/Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung/Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game/It’s easy.”    Those who follow professional football know that the Seattle Seahawks are one of the premier teams in the National Football League. However, after embarrassing Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl last February, the team stumbled out of the gate this fall by losing three of their first six games. Since...