Friday, December 30, 2016

welcome to the shit show

It's been a busy few days. We've got some end-of-year accounting being done, because there's plenty of ships trying to get fueled with those suwheet 2016 dollars, and also plenty dragging their feet, running on fumes, trying to get the next fuel bill to show up in 2017.
      Our oil suppliers are throwing their inventories out there, which means that we're blending fuels in our tanks, making up the correct specifications for the customers. This represents a couple of extra steps and some calculations on our part- no problem for experienced hands, but new to new guys it's a new level of risk, a taboo magic to be feared and loathed. Takes a year or two to get comfortable with it.

 I've got a green tankerman filling in for my right hand man this week. Poor kid has the permanently-startled look of someone who is working way over his head what with the pressing workload and the doing things he has heard of but never actually seen done.
 I'm handholding where I can, but ultimately he'll be fine... except for last night, when a borderline abusive Black Gang (engineering crew) on a container ship really just shit all over him and then made a hash of his paperwork.

       New guys can either be mild as milk or explosively temperamental when  dealing with a hostile situation with a foreign ship crew. My new guy is a marine, and can control his temper. He'll have to learn with time when to be a bear.

       End result though, the guy had a brutal night, and I don't like learning that my people have been abused. Abusing my people is a right that I reserve exclusively for myself. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

I missed that too, dammit

Welp, halfway today. I'm midway through my latest tour here on the Big Metal Monastery, and that's a good thing.

 The newest member of the B family, the son of my oldest nephew, was born a few weeks ago. He's the first of the newest generation of the B family. Although my mom was traditionally the MC of the B family get-togethers, her frail health and advanced age have brought my oldest brother and his wife into the forefront, taking over. It was my oldest brother's firstborn who is the new dad.
 Anyhow, Christmas Day, my mom was well enough to travel to my brother's for dinner and presents, and to meet and hold her great-grandson for the first time.
 Not a dry eye in the house. I certainly was dealing with a suddenly dusty room when I saw the pictures. My own branch of the B family is up there this week, taking part in the festivities, too, so the whole group has time to see each other.

 I'll make my way up there again come Feb, God willing.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016!

As I write this, I've got a 'virgin hot toddy' steaming next to my mouse, and, while it tastes as vile as it's alcohol-laden-counterpart, I can attest that it does knock me on my ass and make me sweat and crap my brains out, as does its' more traditional counterpart. Hopefully, along the way it works towards ameliorating my cold.

 As I write, in a warm office, with my computer, which I use to keep in touch with the entire world, I'm feeling pretty fuckin' blessed. 2016 killed off some nice folks, some bad ones, too, but for me, it's been a good year. Some folks are dealing with the 'what do we do now?' feeling of knowing that next year they don't have much of a voice within the federal government. It feels shitty to acknowledge that. I spent the last 8 years hiding my light under a basket, I empathize. Today, being the loudmouth that I am, while I'm an admitted small r Republican, a Reagan republican with libertarian leanings, I'm optimistic for the corrective measures that seem to be in place. We have an opportunity to have people who actually DO represent my interests in our government, and, God willing, they might get some things done. Let's hope, anyhow.

           So, tomorrow's Christmas Day, and, while I am working, we've got a decent schedule. We've got a small cargo parcel to load at 0200, and hopefully we'll be done by noon, and can sit and cook a massive and coma-inducing Christmas dinner after. Discharge isn't until sunup on the 26th. I've been eating healthy for a few weeks now, and am looking forward to ruining that temporarily.

          My first missed holidays started when I was 18, when I was pumping gas on Thanksgiving and Christmas days.  I was 18 and single, and the manager of the gas station rightfully put me on there 6am to 6pm, as I was single and childless. Still sucked though. I missed Christmas Day the next year too, although I caught Thanksgiving, and after all, I was home that night after 6pm sometime.
        3 years later, I spend Christmas in Blue Creek, a Mayan village deep in the rain forest of Belize, one of the last communities to make contact with the modern world. It was inspiring, and made me appreciate the true spirit of Christmas, as our day was focused on the people around us, and the meaning behind the season.

 Over the intervening years, I've missed probably 2/3 of my Christmas Day celebrations with family. I don't begrudge it. In my 20's and early 30's I was single, and, being childless, it made sense for shipmates to have the time to be with their loved ones. These days, older if not wiser, and with both wife and Child, I have a good job, but I only get Christmas with my family once every 3 years. On the upside, next year is my year, and when it does happen, I make a very big deal about it and enjoy it, and, in the 'off' years, my nuclear family celebrates when we can. Whether it's early December or mid-January, we have another Christmas day for us, and we enjoy it and make it work. This year, we did Christmas 2 weeks early, and, although my wife and kid are now with family up north to celebrate the day itself, I got to enjoy my Christmas, and got to church and confession and all that when I could, early on, exchanged presents (well, most. I always reserve some things for them to open on the day itself), and generally, made it work for us.

 So, tomorrow I plan to eat myself into a coma, and while I can't be with family or get to attend mass, I'll have a nice day, God willing, and that's enough for me. On ships and tugs, it often falls to the captain to ensure that Christmas is still special, even if it just means a good dinner. I was lucky enough to have a good example set by my early captains, who always ensured that there was a wrapped present for everyone, decorations, a tree and a massive dinner.

Our Bosun, Christmas 2008, aboard the SS NEW RIVER

Whether you're at home or at work, at sea or on land, I wish you all a Merry Christmas. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Righteousness for Rent

So, we were at a lay berth last night, so my partner and I out here headed ashore for dinner.

 We're in a healthy living phase right now here at HAWSEPIPER'S Afloat Global HQ/Muscle Factory.  As such, we're eating clean as we can.

 So, after some days cooped up, we went out last night ant tried a healthy restaurant.

Nature's Grill is a New York company that sells healthy food. That's what I can say about that. It's not great food, and it's not cheap food, but they sell food. 

 I had a bowl of veggies and teryaki chicken. Big B had a wrap of some sort. We had protein smoothies to drink, being on the clock and all. 

      Being curious, I asked if the place had a breakdown of the nutritional content or calorie count for the items. They do not. Many of the other healthy-eating burger joints and hipster vegan feedlots in the area do. Militantly, in fact.
       3/4 of the way through my dinner, an intestinal  cramp sent me to the head. That's a bad sign, not being able to finish a meal before it pulls the eject handle. While I went to the restroom to take an urgent, ah, rest, shall we say, I had a moment to think about what I bought. 

 I bought a feeling more than a dinner last night. I bought a feeling that I was eating healthy, that I was doing my body a solid, so to speak, looking out for it, irrespective of any digestive issues. There wasn't any substance to the feeling, of course, and it's subjective, but it's an obvious selling point, that they're selling a lifestyle item. When I worked out the calorie content of my healthy-seeming meal, which contained no real heavy carbs or bread or fats beyond the cooking oil, it was quite high- I barely made my dietary goal for the day. My plate, full of food that normally is fed to my food for THEIR food, was a letdown. Hot sauce helped. 
     The walk back helped. The day prior, I had walked 7 miles and was still feeling it yesterday a bit in my feet. It was a nice night, and  other than a vague concern that I'd need to use the can on the way, pleasant if cold. 
    We made it back, and after an hour or two, the farting started. 

 Oh my God. It was funny at first. But it wouldn't stop. Both of us. It was like two anxious ships passing in the fog, over and over. I wanted to hang one of those stinky trees for your car from the back of my belt. 

It's still happening today. I walked 5 miles this morning, putt-putting like an old motorboat. Luckily, in Brooklyn, it already smells mostly bad anyhow.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Hawsepiper and the Real Model

So, being aware that I'm too goddamn fat and too prone to enjoying fine food, fine whisky and fine sitting on my ass, while I was home, last couple of times, I started building a new boat.

 If you know me in the real world, you know that I used to build skiffs and runabouts in my mom's garage. Some I sold, none I kept. The largest one, I held one of the best boozefests in my party history for a turnover party, where 12 people helped me turn the boat over, w/ blocks and tackle, as I built the hull upside down and spun it over to finish the interior. In the end, that boat was my greatest failure. I ended up chainsawing it to clear space in the garage for my brother to restore a SWEET 1971 Olds Cutlsss 442.
     At any event, in recent memory, I haven't built shit, so I starting building a little boat.

CNC precut panels and assorted materials

Crash Bulkhead and the display cradle (finished in a basic brown paint I had on hand). 

Frames. The sticks at the bottom will be used as supports to rest on the bench when placed, to align the frames

The keel, including shaft, sitting on the Mommobile. Fucker's big for a toy, isn't it!

mounting frames on the keel

aligning in 3 dimensions requires bubble levels, emory boards, superglue and superglue accelerator, and epoxy.

hull, slightly modified off-plan, w/ fantail stern. Thank God some key parts were precut!

hull and stern detail. shaft and stuffing box were a bitch to epoxy in.

frame, sitting to dry. I had to arc my booze nad beer bottles for 12 whole hours while the epoxy was setting. Kept me paying attention. 

Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife has been enjoying that this work has kept me sober and available during daylight hours, although she has NOT been a big fan of me sneaking out to my Fine work bench in the evenings to 'set one last piece to cure overnight.'
       Such fuckery has not gone unpunished. I got to enjoy sitting and watching her watch Brazilian TV for an hour or two on a couple of occasions, with a 'hey, I was waiting for you and got sucked into this show' after.
 So it goes.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

much stuff

Lots of things going on, most of which are not interesting. That's about right for most of us, yes?

         The EL FARO wheelhouse voice recordings were made public. If you can stand to read them, I suggest trying, but be warned, the last few minutes, well,it's an absolute heartbreak, and you may get something in your eyes, chances are- and whatever the court of public opinion may say about the Captain's decision to be where he was when the ship went down, the transcript will surely show you the man himself, who died a hero.

"Captain Davison is the only Master in recent memory who – as far as the evidence can tell – died at his post, on the bridge of his ship, for the sole reason of ensuring that the last remaining crew member under his direct command had a chance of survival. The facts clearly show that Captain Davidson acted with Physical Courage on the morning of October 1st, 2015."

 You can read that op-ed piece HERE. 

 Here's a link to the transcript.

I figure better men then I can comment on this on maritime fora. Regardless, for those so inclined, prayers for the repose of the soul of the captain and his good crew are reasonable.


 Here on board the HQ, we're dealing with the first true cold snap of the season. I woke up at 2320 to one cargo pump down (gelled fuel, maybe, or whatever, but no pump), and our hydraulics frozen at several key outlets- a capstan and the swing motor on our deck crane. Restoring motion in a limited way is an unpleasant exercise, but after 30 minutes, successful enough to keep working.

Tough night. First of many, I suppose. So it goes.

I want to share an obituary from a guy who came from a town close to where i grew up. It may be the greatest obituary I've ever read. Certainly made me wish I had met the guy.

Irishman Dies from Stubbornness, Whiskey

Chris Connors died, at age 67, after trying to box his bikini-clad hospice nurse just moments earlier. Ladies man, game slayer, and outlaw Connors told his last inappropriate joke on Friday, December 9, 2016, that which cannot be printed here. Anyone else fighting ALS and stage 4 pancreatic cancer would have gone quietly into the night, but Connors was stark naked drinking Veuve in a house full of friends and family as Al Green played from the speakers. The way he died is just like he lived: he wrote his own rules, he fought authority and he paved his own way. And if you said he couldn't do it, he would make sure he could.

Most people thought he was crazy for swimming in the ocean in January; for being a skinny Irish Golden Gloves boxer from Quincy, Massachusetts; for dressing up as a priest and then proceeding to get into a fight at a Jewish deli. Many gawked at his start of a career on Wall Street without a financial background - but instead with an intelligent, impish smile, love for the spoken word, irreverent sense of humor, and stunning blue eyes that could make anyone fall in love with him.

As much as people knew hanging out with him would end in a night in jail or a killer screwdriver hangover, he was the type of man that people would drive 16 hours at the drop of a dime to come see. He lived 1000 years in the 67 calendar years we had with him because he attacked life; he grabbed it by the lapels, kissed it, and swung it back onto the dance floor. At the age of 26 he planned to circumnavigate the world - instead, he ended up spending 40 hours on a life raft off the coast of Panama. In 1974, he founded the Quincy Rugby Club. In his thirties, he sustained a knife wound after saving a woman from being mugged in New York City. He didn't slow down: at age 64, he climbed to the base camp of Mount Everest. Throughout his life, he was an accomplished hunter and birth control device tester (with some failures, notably Caitlin Connors, 33; Chris Connors, 11; and Liam Connors, 8).

He was a rare combination of someone who had a love of life and a firm understanding of what was important - the simplicity of living a life with those you love. Although he threw some of the most memorable parties during the greater half of a century, he would trade it all for a night in front of the fire with his family in Maine. His acute awareness of the importance of a life lived with the ones you love over any material possession was only handicapped by his territorial attachment to the remote control of his Sonos music.

Chris enjoyed cross dressing, a well-made fire, and mashed potatoes with lots of butter. His regrets were few, but include eating a rotisserie hot dog from an unmemorable convenience store in the summer of 1986.

Of all the people he touched, both willing and unwilling, his most proud achievement in life was marrying his wife Emily Ayer Connors who supported him in all his glory during his heyday, and lovingly supported him physically during their last days together.

Absolut vodka and Simply Orange companies are devastated by the loss of Connors. A "Celebration of Life" will be held during Happy Hour (4 p.m.) at York Harbor Inn on Monday, December 19.

In lieu of flowers, please pay open bar tab.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

the return

 Well, I'm back. Another month here on board, and Christmas and the Holidays will come and go while I'm here. So it goes. Part of the job. I'll have Christmas next year.

 I spent very little time online while I was home, other than occasionally trolling people on fecesbook while on the toilet or drinking, so I've got hours of catching up to do.

 Anyhow, I've been enjoying 'Bertstrips' recently. You can see some more examples HERE:  

 I'll be back after I enjoy some fake news and visit pages of the folks who I like to read here in my little corner of the world.

 You should too.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Gearing up

Welp, time to head back north and get to work. I'll be leaving later today, to spend the night at a hotel prior to crew change.

 I'm dealing with my first hangover in years, modest, actually, and almost gone by late morning, but still a great reminder that I'm not as young as I was, and also that I should make sure that it's years before the next one, too. How I managed that is another story for another day, except that it's dumb and boring.

 I haven't worn long pants or anything other than tshirts at home or polo shirts when out (I tend to dress nice. Being fat, it's too easy to cross the line from casual dress to slovenly dress), and shorts, obviously, though it got cool here one night. Must have been 68.
 Something tells me I'm going to miss that.

Saturday, December 3, 2016


I'm at home, decompressing. Back soon. \