Thursday, July 30, 2020

I'm not dead yet! (part 4 of 2)

One week to go here aboard HAWSEPIPER's HQ-In-Exile.

 It's pretty slow. I'm concerned about talking out of school about things that my employer might not want me to talk about, but the fact is that there's less ship traffic coming into New York, where I'm currently posted, and we're servicing that traffic, but between the seasonal lag (mid-summer is our slow season anyhow) and the state of things, I don't think I'm talking out of school when I say that it's pretty slow for us.

 There's work for all of us, though. We are getting cargoes to move, so that's a positive thing. It's not like we're growing cobwebs on the pumps.

   With the downtime, I should be hammering away at things I want to do, like learning CAD, designing things for my house and shop, and making plans, but I haven't really been doing much of that.  My house is a colonial design on in the inside (I mean, it's Florida. Outside, it's just a big concrete box, like a 3/4-McMansion), and Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife wanted me to put a barn door in to close off my master bathroom- it's at the end of a long hall in my bedroom behind a sitting area where we have  a couch, so it's already private IMO, but she wants it more private, so I at least got to design a barn door in a simple CAD program I already know how to use, Sketchup. It was actually pretty helpful in terms of being able to see the proportions and choose the right planks and such. So that sucked up a whole 90 minutes.

      Unfortunately, when we're not working, we're sitting at the company's mooring area at the lower end of Bay Ridge anchorage, and there's a donut hole shaped gap of cell coverage exactly in this spot. No bullshit, about 2 minutes out of every 5, and maybe 4 minutes out of every 5 during business hours, there is no usable cell signal. So working online doesn't happen.

 Well, small challenges. Anyhow, I could be being more productive, but what can you do? I'm ok. I've got a job, I have some free time now, so I can't complain. Maintenance on the temporary HQ is up to date, for sure, anyhow.

     The world beyond our hull is going mad, though. The whole mask kabuki theatre, people fighting, killing each other... if ever there was a time to be grateful that I chose a job removed from the horror that is other people, this is it.

  I have my opinions. They're probably what you think they are, and that's fine. I'm not ready to throw bricks at anyone who disagrees with me. I am going to do what I do. Keep my family safe, try to keep my job, and use economic, physical and class barriers to keep the mob away from my life as much as I can.

 Well, rumor is that there will be another Wu Flu refund, where the .gov is going to give back a teeny tiny percentage of the hundreds of thousands of dollars they've taken from me and mine and mostly wasted.

 Pretty sure I know what I'm going to buy to help do my part to stimulate the economy.
in case of in case of. And also because if I'm going to be accused of buying a penis substitute, I'm buying the John Holmes of pistols. 




Yeah, so I have to make flower boxes too for home while I'm there. And next week is Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife's birthday, and I haven't been home for one of those in a few years, so we have to celebrate that too. Basically I'm living for the future this week. 

Friday, July 24, 2020

And on the 7th day...

We rested.

        After a pretty long stretch of standing by waiting for a cargo, our cups suddenly runnethed over with 4 in a row these past few days, the last of which wrapped up in time for a midnight docking here in Brooklyn where we currently sit. Yes, with shore access, which has been almost nonexistent for the past 6-8 weeks. So I was up at 0500 anyhow, and got to the grocery store in time for the opening bell. It's been a bear to try to get ashore, which, this being New York, is probably not a bad thing.

           With about 10 days to go on here, and the weather being just awful most of the past few days, going ashore for a walk would have been nice for sure, but it's just horrible outside. And truly, there's not much to talk about. I'm on the HQ-in-Exile for hopefully another 2 tours, and after that, who knows?

Saturday, July 11, 2020

The invasion

So we had a cargo fixed for tomorrow, but it got pushed back a few days. There's a lot of tank vessels anchored up around NY harbor, including us and now, some friends who have rafted up alongside us.

       Big Chocolate and Co. are lashed to our port side, and while he has several cargoes fixed for the next few days, tonight we get to hang out. It's been... a long time since this happened.

         Back in the primitive past, say, prior to 5 years ago. It was normal for us to have long stretches of time (3-4 days) between cargoes. That was just how things were. As a result, there was a lot of social activity between tugs and barges that were in the same vicinity. I've had dinner or fed Big Chocolate perhaps 40-50 times in the 11 years I've known him. We're friends, part of a core group of tankerman within our company that can trust and lean on others knowing they're going to be there.

 In the last 5 years, I've maybe sat down at the table with Big Chocolate perhaps 4 times. Once a year at best. The breakneck, inhospitable pace that is our normal now doesn't leave time for socialization, and we are far more poor for it.

 But that's a gripe for another time. For now, tonight we can visit. While all of us want there to be more ship traffic moving in and out of NY, for the job security, at the least we can spend time with friends while the world goes through puberty or whatever.
  Shame he went vegan and I'm on a diet, but at least we can catch up. I almost feel like  a mariner again, and not a gas station attendant.

Friday, July 10, 2020

being quiet

It's been quiet here at HAWSEPIPER's Afloat HQ-In-Exile. We're currently getting hit by tropical storm Fay, which is throwing some wind and rain at us, bouncing us around a bit. We have a cargo fixed for this weekend, which is a good thing. If we're making money, we're likely to be left alone.

              I had a moment earlier, reading a very thoughtful post on another page, and I have had relevant experience that would be worth sharing. So I wrote up a fairly lengthy reply, and then sat there a minute. If I shared it, I would invite traffic here to my little dank corner of the web, and some of it would be people who disagree with me not because they don't like dick and fart jokes, but because of fundamental reasons of morality and politics.... and you know, I don't feel like inviting assholes here now. I'm already pretty jaded. So I deleted my post. I'd rather entertain people who are OK with dick and fart jokes interspersed with more thoughtful material. I like being read by people who are already OK with sifting the bullshit from the buckwheat when it comes to my writing.

  So what's up?  I saw a heavy-lift ship anchored in Stapleton Anchorage in NY yesterday. Something cool on board, maybe. They looked loaded down. I haven't seen a livestock carrier here in months. Maybe they're getting fuel in Boston now. Used to be they were loading Prime-quality cattle in Eastport ME for breedstock in Turkey, and they'd gas up here. I haven't seen one of those ships since last fall, though. It was kinda nice, the cows and bulls got the VIP treatment on that ship, and they'd clean it extra nice before getting here, so it wouldn't smell like a bible story.

 Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife and I celebrated our anniversary while I was home. No fancy trips, just a couple of nights out. It was pleasant to get out of the house for the first time in months.





   
     

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

better times

It was a bit of an odd time getting here. This was one of the easiest crew changes I've done in a long, long time.

     My flight was peaceful and not very full. There was a moment of dread when early boarding started extra early, as there were 20+ people in wheelchairs on a plane with 100 seats available. Oh, Jetblue actually does not sell their middle seats on their flights, which is wonderful. Delta and American both say they do not, but are almost always 100% full, from the 4 flights I've had with each airline in the past 2 months. Only once did I have a vacant seat next to me of those 8 total flights.

 So, yeah, big attaboy to Jetblue, and American and Delta can both eat a dick.

    Other than my kabuki mask, it was a  decent flight. Bumpy for much of it, but it often is, going up the eastern seaboard.
     My taxi was waiting at the terminal, and we now go to a new motel while waiting for crew change.-  the motel is in a word, horrible, but to be fair, it's less horrible than the last one. For one thing, it's a lot closer to the office, and in a decent neighborhood, and there are no Somalian refugees fighting and screaming 24 hours a day inside. The motel is very dirty, the rooms small, and the reek of cigarettes and weed is pervasive, but it's not too loud, and as I said, the neighborhood is better. I am not walking past burned out shells of buildings when I walk. And also I can safely walk. So, win there.

   My taxi the next morning was a little early, I arrived at the grocery store at opening at 0700, and the guy waited for me, since he didn't have anything going on. 20 minutes later I walked out with my grub, and headed to the office.

 At the office, I was told there was a hired launch at the tug dock, and I loaded my crap on board. I was the first one to be dropped off out in Stapleton anchorage, where the HQ is moored. Another win, being the first dropoff.
     B was standing by to heave up my bag and my food, and after a pretty crazy couple of months, it's been great to be reunited. We're almost definitely not going to be on here for more than another month or two, and lord knows what will happen then, but we're working together again, and that's a good thing. As I'm just arriving, I'm on nights for the time being, but that's OK. For this, my first watch, it's just anchor watch, and I have time to settle in.


           

Monday, July 6, 2020

travel day tomorrow

Another great time at home. Headed back to work tomorrow.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

The countdown begins!

I'm entering the last few days here on this tour. 3 barges in 4 weeks and a bout of homelessness. Quite a time. As I pretty much say daily, I still have a job. Gotta be thankful.

       So anyone who knows me knows that I do not like change. I like things predictable. I don't like surprise parties, I don't like shopping without a list or at least a mental list, and I don't like not having a destination in mind or a plan for the day unless that plan is to not have a plan. So not having a permanent home or any seniority is a challenge for me.

      Bear in mind I'm not bitching here. I landed on my feet. I like the new ride, I like the guy I'm working with too. I got lucky. I'm not the easiest person to live with because I like to be left alone, and for a social person, that's not always easy, wanting to talk with someone who doesn't want to talk with you much of the time. and my new shipmate is cool with all that. We have a nice talk 15-20 minutes a day, and that's about it.
 I dunno. I'm not that much of an isolationist at home. Just at work. Balance in all things I guess.
   The new ride is comfortable enough. The quarters are small, but tidy. I have all I need except storage space is at a premium, which often happens on a boat. With B and I spending more time than average aboard for this company (90% of the crews work equal time. The other 10%, including us, work more), we've tended to bring our lives with us, rather than having a rigid separation between home life and ship life.  We like our creature comforts, and generally more stuff than you can fit in 1-2 seabags.
           I don't know if this will ever be my home per se. Not just because we may get sent elsewhere when business picks up and laid up vessels break out, but also because the guy on here is fairly senior, and has been on here a long time, and besides that, he's had his crew ganked and replaced not with a new subordinate, but two equals. So now we're all chiefs, no indians. The last thing I want to do is piss in this guy's cheerios after he's already been messed with. It's not his fault that we got our barge taken away, I'm not going to take it out on him, and make him suffer too. End result, I'm not doing things the way I'd like exactly. I'm doing things HIS way. His way happens to be just fine, he's good at his job. But it's not the way we do things at home, so to speak. Of course. I'm used to co-parenting the HQ with B. Policy is a matter of comfort, not compromise with each other, which it must be on here for now, with no indians and all chiefs.
 Thing about compromise, no one gets what they want. They get what they can live with.

 Again, not bitching. Things are good. A golden era ended, and we're in the interregnum at the moment, not on unemployment or trapped with no crew change for 8 months like so many sailors.  Shit happens. Payday came and went already, and will come again.

           So, looking ahead, I'm excited to head home. I might be able to go out a little more while there, although I'm actually very happy not going out. Best quarantine ever.

      One big positive about getting sent to NY, direct and more affordable flights home are resuming. I don't have to pay a fortune for a discount ticket on a grade-z dirty airline, sitting on chicken crates and trade goods.
 Seriously, flying from America to Philadelphia, Occupied America, was pretty stressful. Nothing says pandemic like 100% full flights and 3 layovers.