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

“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...

Get geared up at PME

It’s fall in Seattle. It’s wet and windy with occasional sun breaks. The Seahawks are back to their winning ways (Beast Mode!), and Pacific Marine Expo is set to open its doors Nov. 19-21.    Next week at this time, preparations for Pacific Marine Expo will be in high gear. Exhibitors will be setting up their displays at CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle and visitors from as far as Louisiana and Alaska will be checking into their hotel rooms. On Wednesday, the keynote...

Dueling fuels

Liquefied natural gas as a fuel is definitely gaining ground, in both terrestrial and maritime applications.The spec sheet for the new Harvey Energy platform supply vessel on Harvey Gulf International’s website identifies the boat as a “310' Duel Fuel Class DPS-2 PSV DWT 5,135.” Did you notice the typo? The description should read: “Dual Fuel.” Duel is a noun that means fight. Dual is an adjective that means two of something. For the Harvey Energy, dual fuel means the engines can...

Shell requests lease extensions in the Arctic

In a letter from Shell to BSEE, Shell says it hasn’t been able to complete its exploratory Arctic drilling due to factors beyond its control.   According to an article in Bloomberg News yesterday, Royal Dutch Shell wants the Obama administration to add five years to the company’s 10-year leases in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, some of which expire in 2015. In a July 10 letter from Shell’s Alaska office to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which was obtained by Oceana,...

The woes of Washington State Ferries

I just realized that the vessel colors for both Washington State Ferries and Foss Maritime are green-and-white. The realization came while looking at a photo of a Foss tug towing a WSF ferry that had lost power off Bainbridge Island.The cover of November’s WorkBoat magazine, which will be distributed at Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle Nov. 19-21, features two Pacific Northwest maritime icons, a Foss tug and a Washington state ferry. But the scene isn’t some color-coordinated photo op,...