Monday, January 30, 2017

old stuff

still the best job I ever had.

couple years of this, you start being able to see sounds and taste colors.

My dad's last boat, the submarine tender LULU and submarine ALVIN

Saturday, January 28, 2017

not my turn

I've been sleeping like shit this past week.

       Normally I sleep better on board HAWSEPIPER's Afloat Global HQ/ Gas n' Guzzle  than I do at home. This just hasn't been the case this past week.

 We've been nonstop since shortly after I got aboard. The longest I've been on watch without running cargo has been 90 minutes. Now, I'm not bitching here, not at all; someone's gonna pay me, they're going to expect me to work when asked to do so. That's fine. It's just been bad luck- bad weather, bad berths, bad people.
      It's been gusty but not too cold since I got back almost a week ago. Tugs bouncing off us, us bouncing off docks, etc, etc. These things happen no matter how perfectly you plan and execute a mooring or a making-up.
     For some reason, we've been dealing with container crane noise to an unusual degree. I don't know if the local stevedores just released a bunch of trainees or what, but we spent one night where people were exercising the roll motors on a container crane, which is accompanied by an ear-splitting 3-tone alarm. Right over our heads, for 8 hours, most of which was my off-time. There was no sleeping that night. The very next watch, we were discharging into a big container ship, and the two cranes working over our heads were just SLAMMING containers off each other, to the point where I watched a stack sway up towards our bow, far overhead, and stayed the hell away from our bow for a while, and the noise of the operators crashing containers into place was so intense that the vibration carried through a 1,000+ft  100,000+ton ship and rattled the dishes in our cabinets. For hours.

 So, between that, and the healthy eating I'm doing these days, I've been plenty grumpy. Nothing like working in the cold and damp for 8 hours, followed up by a salad with no dressing except for pepper and vinegar and a piece of baked chicken the size of my palm. Bon Appetit!

   So, tonight, 2 hours after falling asleep, I am woken up by our tugboat blowing the whistle, trying to get the bums on tonight's container ship up and out of each other's asses and to pull up our lines. This took an hour, whereas normally it runs 10-20 minutes. Nothing to do with our tug, which has great boat handlers on boat watches. After an hour, I'm half-dozing, when the crash of container lashings right over my head starts. It's the sound of broken glass, pretty much, having these steel rods dropped from a height onto the deck of the ship about 25-30 feet over my head. Then the cranes start smashing the containers off the cell guides in the hold of the ship right next to me.
 So, no sleeping through that. I get up. My partner, Big B, is an eggplant color, after fighting with a slow, lazy and uncooperative engineer from the ship. B is more patient than I. Whereas I will fuss and threaten, make phone calls (having the ship's agent call and wake up the captain to tell the engineer to hurry the fuck up and do his job is one of the great pleasures of my life on board. Nothing soothes anger like spreading it) and pressure ships' crew to get cargo moving, Big B will be curt and patient, and seethe for but a moment. He's 10 years older than me, and will probably live longer than I will.
  At any rate, I hit a patch of zen just before coming on watch at midnight. Since we're carrying a large load of diesel and a full load of heavy fuel oil, it's going to take up most of the night and all of the morning today to get it off of there. Much of which can be spent productively. So, amazingly, despite what would normally be circumstances that would lead to a personal meltdown, I'm OK, and thankful that B got to fuss out the ship's crew, and I get to be Good Cop by just pumping cargo and keeping my head down and yap shut for once.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Progress on the little boat

Well,  work on the little boat continued my last few days at home.

 Overall beer consumption stayed about flat during my time off. Whiskey and Cachaca consumption declined considerably, which was sort of what got me interested in building it in the first place. The less weight I gain at home, the better I feel at work, although I confess I barely got out on my bicycle this time off. I did find a new place to ride closer to home, and quiet too, so I don't have to feel too ridiculous.

initial sanding and shaping. Some flat spots, which will be faired later.

laying out fiberglass cloth
Once the fiberglass cured, I started sanding and shaping. Again.
Alt view before sanding and fairing

Sanded and faired to about 90% finish. After a final fairing, 3-4 coats of epoxy will be brushed on after priming. Painting will happen after the decks and bulwards are laid in properly. 


Are you reading Ace of Spades? Because you should be reading Ace of Spades. 

 I very much appreciate when people more articulate than I can encapsulate a complex subject better than I, and share it with the world.

And then came along Trump, a guy just ripe for demonization by the left. I think it's fair to say that even his early supporters worried that the Democrats would successfully make him toxic to the general voting public with his boorish behavior, vulgarity, multiple bankruptcies and very public divorces.
But something strange happened. Not only did Donald Trump not care about attacks on his character, neither did anyone else. We saw this new paradigm assert itself over and over during the primary throughout repeated media predictions that this time he's gone to far and he's cooked.

This same indifference that helped Trump carry the election has continued into the early days of his administration. With it comes a refreshingly freeing state of mind. Personally, I don't feel in any way responsible for Trump, nor do I feel compelled to defend him against attack.
Why? Because I voted for retribution.

"He's think-skinned and petty!" shrieks the left. "He takes everything personally!"

Good, I say. I want him to take attacks personally and deal out payback. I know I won't be the target, you will be.

"He's unpresidential! He'll destroy the integrity of the office!"

No, that's already happened. Remember, you elected a shit-talking jackass who takes selfies at state funerals when he's not giving stealth middle fingers to his opponents during debates. 
There is no dignity of the office, not after Clinton and Obama.

 "He's a narcissist! He's got totalitarian impulses!"

Yes, he's basically a mirror version of Obama. Except now, he'll be working for what I want. The end justifies the means. You taught me that.

"A sitting president going after the media. OMG!"

Oh, like Obama trashing Rush Limbaugh and Fox News? How about when he sent his lackeys to berate news reporters for failure to flatter him at all times. Oh, and NSA spying on the press. That was pretty great, too.

"He won't show his taxes!"
Don't care. Where are Obama's college transcripts, by the way?

"He's a bully! Is this what you want? Someone who uses his power to bully other people?!!!"
And this is where everything funnels down to the very nexus of my change in attitude from "Do unto others" to "I will do unto you what you do unto me."

Well, enough about politics for now. I'm feeling more inspired to get back to maritime stuff and dick and fart jokes these days, anyhow. You know, the stuff you came here for.

Not tired of winning at all

The past few days have seen my shitposting on Facebook reach a crescendo and start to decline. I've actually reached the summit of the Everest of snark. I'm just tired now. I guess after you see the Sistine Chapel's ceiling, you no longer look at spray-painted murals on the side of buildings the same way. 

I have yet to see the Sistine Chapel at all. I'll get there too.

      At any rate, my 'friends' list now contains more people I actually like.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Bumpy ride

Damn me for a liar if today's flight from south FL to the NY area wasn't the bumpiest ride I've ever had in an airplane. Holy hell we got our asses kicked... but we made it.

 If you're not in the area, FL got hammered last night with high winds and thundersqualls. It was blowing about 40 but warm and sunny this morning, thankfully, so we could fly out without delay.

 Well, without locally-caused delay. There was a 2 1/2 hour delay for anyone flying into Newark, which I was. FL got wind and thundersqualls and tornadoes to the north that killed people. The northeast is getting a nor'easter. 50kt winds and freezing rain at the airport caused the FAA folks to delay us at our departure airports, rather than in the air  around the NY area, which is a good thing, because the first 30 minutes of the flight, once we finally got off the ground, the wind was rolling and yawing the hell out of us, and the last hour of the flight, we just got our asses kicked. Hard.

  But you know, there were flights to Laguardia getting cancelled at my local airport, so I was just grateful that the folks on my airline gave it the 'ol college try, even with the sore back and ass that the flight gave me.

 Anyhow, I checked into the hotel my employers book for us, a one-star dealie, and I'm currently waiting on my Chinese food to show up. It's kind of lonely, but at least I've got a giant Somalian family screaming at full volume at the TV in the room next door.
 Judging by the cheering, they're probably watching 'Black Hawk Down."

            So, while I was at home, as I mentioned elsewhere, I got plenty of work done on my little boat, completing the planking. Since I stretched the hull slightly from what the plans called for, the planking included a couple of really shittily-fitted planks, which I epoxied into place and filled in the gaps, though I was disappointed in myself for not starting over. Truth be told, I'm planking the hull but fairing it to roundness, so no planks will be visible anyhow. It's going to look like a steel hull when done.

those joins at the turn of the bilge were just awful. I faired the ever-living hell out of them later. 

First cargo.

      I haven't uploaded the fairing pictures, but the hull was made with rough-cut balsa planks of middling-quality, so there was a LOT of fairing to be done. I'll post that, and a word about the dust storm involved, later.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

the autumn of vacation

Well, last couple of days home, and I'll be back to work soon. It's been awesome.

 I fiberglassed the little boat today. I much prefer using polyester resin, but I sprung for the epoxy. It's less forgiving than the poly, that's for sure. Gonna be a fair bit of sanding to do, and some fairing, too, I'd warrant.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Home! Week 1

I've been home for about a week, and it's been great. Warm and sunny. No rain, which is great for the most part, but my pond is a little low right now, so ospreys have been picking off the fish. Not sure what that will mean for my occasional drunken fishing derbys on the back lawn.

 The little boat is coming along well. The hull is planked, which took about a week. I snapped a couple of the planks, trying to cover the fantail, but eventually made it happen without steam bending. Tomorrow I'll start fairing it down. Pictures, eventually.

 At any rate, it's all good down here in Margaritaville.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Gentle reminder

We got about 4" of snow yesterday here at the Afloat Global HQ/Sanatorium for Those Afflicted With Channel Fever.  It was absolutely a fine reminder of why I moved to south FL.

 I woke up at midnight to find that the young tankerman who is filling in here for Big O had shoveled the entire deck perimeter, the working areas around the crane and main pumps, and also shoveled pathways to our tank tops and ullage ports. Altogether he cleared about an acre's worth of deck.

 It really pays to have a 22 year old Marine out here sometimes. I wasn't dreading doing my part, per se, but it's really nice to not have to. I'm very grateful and impressed with the kid's performance. He came here half-trained by an absolutely rotten tankerman, but the kid's sharp as a knife, so I've only had to show him some of the basics- calculating a load, how to blend 2 disparate cargoes to make up a blended load at the correct volume, and the legal issues that we deal with in terms of compliance. He spent a year or two on board my employer's oldest, most rotten tug, since gone to scrap, so he knows marlinespike seamanship and safety already.

 All that and he busted his balls while my lazy ass was sleeping.

          I wish I were a more patient man, and could train some of these green tankermen, but I'd grow tired of washing the blood off my coveralls and hiding the bodies. It's not just the horror of having to explain cargo handling, but having someone underfoot and constantly needing attention and teaching. I can do that shit for a bit, but an hour or two, and I need to be left the hell alone, and we live at close quarters already here at the HQ, and I get distressed and stressed at spending 90% of my waking hours with a strange man in my personal space. It's supremely stressful for a basically introverted guy like me. I just don't like talking that much and it takes time and effort and a lot of luck to find shipmates with whom one can share a comfortable silence. I think that's part of the affinity that our current permanent crew has. We can talk for hours, or not talk for hours, but when that changes, and one or both of us wants to gab or to be left the hell alone, it's an easy transition- no hard feelings, no discomfort. That kind of rapport is rare and precious.
 FWIW, the new tankerman that's on here this week can share a comfortable silence, but it can be strained, with both of us aware of it. He comes from a similar enough background to me that we had good rapport right out of the gate.

Friday, January 6, 2017

picker upper (semi NSFW)

Well, in the last days of this tour, I'm really slogging through it. I got sick in the middle of things, with a lovely cough/cold. Coming out the other side now, though, just in time to go home and be healthy, wealthy and wise. Well, healthy, anyhow.

      So, just like the best way to make a bad day better is passing it to someone else, so it goes with good things, too, so here's this month's ladies from Brazil.

Monday, January 2, 2017

 Not feeling inspired lately. Dunno why. Male menopause?