I can't bring myself to like this barge, so love is right out.
You might hate the work you're doing on a good boat. You might love it. Same with a bad boat, but it's a lot harder to enjoy your work when you're cursing the builder who, say, put a trip hazard just so, or made it impossible to walk where you really need to walk.
This hopefully temporarily-assigned barge we're on is impossible to love. Knowing it's probably not going to be our home for very long, we also haven't really taken ownership of it in a committed fashion. The last few men to manage it were abusive at worst, benignly neglecting it at best. Oh, she'll pass inspection, but no one has gone the extra mile to make it a home, or to make it anything other than a place to load and discharge oil, with a campsite located in a cramped and filthy berthing space. It ain't Bristol Fashion, that's for sure.
Well, we've got it hygienic, at least, now, but there's a miasma. Can't get the smell out of the berthing. I'm thinking mildew under the decking and cabinets, and the like. I don't like badmouthing coworkers, but what the fuck.
I had a similar barge when I first started with my employer 8 years ago. Similar condition, too. No one wanted that one, either, but my then-port captain prompted me early, promising me that if I gave him a 100% effort and a year, he'd see me into something bigger and nicer after. Over the next year, with needle gun, paint, supply requests and a couple thousand man-hours (we weren't so busy in those days) I made that barge nice. Nicer. I mean, the quarters were awfully small, and the head and bunkroom are... cramped. I've always tended towards if not claustrophobia then claustro-hateia. I hate being confined.
I can't love this design. Few can. It pays the bills, and to be fair, the shithouse on my old similar barge was better laid out. My shoulders could fit in the toilet space, for example, so I didn't have to launch the Brown October of a morning while looking like I'm water-skiing.
If we were to use a dog analogy, this barge is a Pitbull: wide, heavy, stubby, rugged, ill-tempered, not agile and hard to work with, pretty good at what it was meant to do, but also constantly biting the guy on the leash and not something you'd want to expose to the unwary. The HQ on the other hand, is a Sheepdog. More streamlined, reliable, a bit less beefy but taller and made for long days of work, basically good-natured and good looking when you take the time to clean it up. Something you'll remember always for it's pretty ways.
I've fished on boats I couldn't love, where you can't trust the boat, and even when the fishing's good, you're still on edge in some corner of your mind. I have that feeling 24 hours a day here. The noises and vibrations that speak as to the operations, conditions and the hundred little things, the language of boats, doesn't really work here. Oh, it has its' ways, certainly. The resonance of certain vibrations that tell you even in your sleep that an engine isn't right, or that there's air, or a pump is being starved, those things that translate into situational awareness, they're there, but they're not the same. The gestalt of being a mariner isn't here, and that's an issue- working on a barge that doesn't leave port is a starvation diet for the soul; doing so on a barge that constantly bruises you, where you can't cook and enjoy it, can't sleep soundly, can't eat like a civilized person, can't have a moment for a private conversation with a loved one, can't take a god-damned shit in peace- how can you love that?
It's a paycheck, and thank God for it. But it's costing me something that I never expected, too. I no longer feel content.
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