As I mentioned in my last post, I spent a week filling in for an absent barge captain in the middle of last month. My surroundings weren't bad at all, just... different; suffice to say I was very happy to return home.
Now, my wife would take exception to me calling my current whereabouts Home, but in many ways, it is- my true home is some 200+ miles north of where my ass is planted at the moment; that is my home o' the heart, as Patrick O'Brien would call it. Here, aboard, however, this place is my home too.
The day after I came back here, I was offered a captain's slot aboard my company's newest barge- a comfortable beauty less than 6 months old; the Cadillac of my employer's fleet of manned barges, and crewed by some thoroughly great guys. With only 2 seconds' hesitation, I said no. This place is home.
There's a world of difference in accommodations between a ship and a barge; a barge is a 5-star dorm room, at best. My barge's accommodations are nothing extraordinary. However, they're comfortable and comforting; a small crew and the ability to handpick permanent crew makes for good living. Living with like-minded guys for a month at a time, it's possible to keep clean carpets so that one can wear socks in the galley and hang a sweatshirt on the back of a chair, but the level of cleanliness doesn't dip below par; I could have my mother over for dinner without shame.
I make no bones about it, however. For the majority of my time, this place is home- not my ideal home, and there's a distinct absence of beautiful and sweet-smelling wives with enchanting foreign accents, but I spent 66%+ of my time here. Spartan conditions would be a disservice, as would a sterile, undecorated environment. As sailors, as men, we often accept less-than-ideal when it comes to accommodations. A 'Wal-Mart' mentality, as Deep Water Writing
puts it. When there's an option, however, why not make one's home-away-from-home a place of comfort? Too many men don't bother, I guess, preferring to live out of their seabag when there's a perfectly good wardrobe in the bunkroom. There's a whole treatise could be written on why sailors choose to live with no comforts, even when the comforts are freely available.