Saturday, March 24, 2012

Notes from a place I always planned to move to (1)

I started travelling to Downeast Maine in 1995. I chose to attend Suffolk University because they had a summer research facility in Maine that a good friend raved over. As a prospective marine scientist of New England stock, I had no choice but to visit the Mecca of cold water marine science. I saw what I had wrought, and it was good.

    By the end of my first summer, I was hooked. I worked up there all of my undergraduate summers. After finishing my bachelors, I made a point to drive the 7+ hours at least once a quarter. I was broke as balls, but the money was worth every penny. For a kid from the suburbs with delusions of being a commercial fisherman/scientist, it was a living wet dream.

     Fast forward, however: my 3rd month into my first sea voyage on an oil tanker, and I am passed out semi-conscious on the catwalk of said ship's engine room bilge deck. My supervisor sent several of us into an enclosed compartment (between the outer and inner hull) to paint without ventilating the compartment or providing us with respirators.We are sleeping soundly in the shaft alley, under the propeller shaft. At the end of my spontaneous nap, I shower and go to the cargo office to ask the chief mate if I can go ashore. I want a half dozen beers and a bottle of Tylenol. He goes ballistic over the safety violations, and cusses loudly with an obvious Downeast accent. Turns out he lives 20 minutes from my former lab, and we know a dozen of the same folks. We become fast friends and he coaches me through the next 9 years of my maritime career.

      Eastport Maine is the focal point of my visits now. Although I don't get up there as much as I like (2-3 times a year), Eastport is where I'd move to in a split second, except for the fact that I'm married, and there's a distinct shortage of Brazilians there for my wife to chat with. She'd wither on the vine. Just not a country girl at all, more's the pity.

Tug 'Ahoskie,' one of the two little tugs used to assist pulp and livestock ships into the local cargo terminal. 

 The salmon memorial. A wonderfully tacky tribute to a failed FOX reality show filmed locally. 

The local supply of rotten sardine carriers is drying up. Sadly, this little one may be the last.

 A busy day in Downtown.
 "Needs Paint"

1 comment:

tugster said...

i love the sardine carriers