Monday, October 31, 2022

Improvised decorating

Well, happy Halloween everyone.  Normally, with space in the living quarters on board the HQ at a premium, I just bring a teeny little 4" pumpkin to carve a jack-o-lantern out of, but I forgot this year so we had to improvise. 

Anyways, We're too busy to answer the door, and we're at anchor, but just in case anyone comes by for Trick-Or-Treating, they can reach in and take a treat. But just one. No being greedy. 

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Advancing Rearward

 Ever since I got aboard the HQ earlier in the week, I've been getting bombed with negative news. 

    The single largest benefit to a life spent on boats is that there is almost always something pretty to see while you piss over the side. I can't overstate the value of inspirational views while filling the ocean back up.  One of the secondary benefits is that I don't have to participate fully in the rat race. And I'm mostly not into social media, and yet, why, in the name of the seven mad gods of the sea, do I pour over the news? There's nothing there but links to click and more bad shit. 

           So... yeah, amidst my preparations for suppuku I realized that there is an easy solution. I cracked open a new book to read. Fiction. 

   Seriously, I gotta stop reading the news. I have neither an unlimited supply of Lisinopril or patience. 

Falling into routine

 It's all quiet aboard here on the HQ.  We have a couple of small cargo parcels fixed for the weekend for multiple charterers, so we're running back and forth between fuel terminals and ships and back again, although we're running to different places each time. The pedigree of some of these jobs is making my head ache- we're loading oil for a 3rd party charterer who bought the oil from an oil major who bought the oil from another oil major. I'm assuming everyone gets paid, so this serves as a reminder to me that I don't know squat about the office side of moving oil.  I just turn wrenches and valves and do sailor shit. Still, if all goes well, we'll have been pretty occupied during this whole thing and while we're moving oil we're earning. 

 Also, while we're moving oil my own office folks aren't  going to gank me off here and put me on board an unhygienic POS moving oil that shouldn't be transported without being under a blanket of IG. 

     Just before getting relieved on my last voyage I was pulled off the HQ to go aboard a gasoline barge that had been laid up for a time. Unfortunately, whoever laid up the barge failed to perform any basic cleaning, and so I arrived aboard with no linens or towels and no means to clean them, and so I had to sleep fully clothed with a hooded sweatshirt covering my head. I got a fuckin' rash out of it so at some point I guess my shirt must have ridden up. There are some disgusting motherfuckers who work on the water. I wouldn't doubt but that someone at one point wasn't using linens on the God-damned bed. I mean, there were a couple of ancient pillows, a diseased stained yellow color, and quite crusty and about 1/2 inch thick, yet they each weighed about 6lbs. I had fantasies about throwing hot grease on whoever gave me that rash. 

 The whole IG thing is a personal beef of mine. Not the time or place. 

         Still, it's a couple of weeks later now and the quiet and peace is welcome. It makes me appreciate being on the HQ a little more. 


Monday, October 24, 2022

Quick range day before work

So tomorrow it will be time for me to fly out again, catch a nap at the Weed Palace and psych myself up for heading back to work. Good tour off, busy tour off, expensive tour off. Time to go stick my head in the cargo tanks and taste the color 7 for a bit. So if you follow my on Instagram, which is the only social media I use (to look at boobs, guns and boats), yesterday we had a Very Special Episode. Inaproppriately Hot Foreign Wife for the first time went with me to the gun range. This was VERY cool for me. I've known it was coming, and we've been doing a lot of talking through the 4 rules, safe and responsible handling, etc, etc, but there is just nothing so good at cementing an interest in guns as just shooting guns.
My son is also an enthusiastic shooter, so it was a nice family day, and we got sushi afterwards. And I got the sushi farts after afterwards, so it wasn't perfect, but it was good. ...and now she wants a gun for Christmas. Shooting a rifle for the first time was a real treat to watch.
"Oooohhhh. I like dat." Being a giant ham, I did have to stop for photos a fair bit. You can see the smile on her face, and it stayed there a fair bit. I gave her one of my AR-15's to shoot, and she took to it well, just plinking at paper targets at 50 feet. Holy hell, 5.56 is still expensive AF. the 9mm we were shooting was my oldest stuff at about 6-7 years old, so it was good to get it gone, and the replacement I bought was at a fair price. It's been a good 2 weeks. Lots of living packed into a short time.

Friday, October 21, 2022

History and hiking with the Mrs... Now with Irish Breakfast

 With a 5 year absence from Massachusetts, and I think 8 years since we last lived there, our recent visit to the Boston area gave me a chance to show Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife a little bit of local history that I was remiss in showing her years ago when it was local to us. I had my reasons for skipping over things. First off, my wife only developed a sense of patriotism after leaving Massachusetts and it's nihilistic sense of self-hatred when it comes to history, and second, by the end  I was discouraged myself by the anti-American propaganda that has infected leftist enclaves. 

 BUT, on reflection, I thought it a good idea to take a 30-minute detour from one of our family visits, and show my wife a few places.  That particular day we were to spend the morning in the woods on a pond in the forest, where her cousin had settled down in a little house with a retired Marine Corps vet. 

        I instructed Inappropriately Hot Foreign wife to dress warm, and to wear comfortable footwear for a fair bit of walking on uneven ground and maybe taking a spin in a canoe on a cool, windy day.  

Brazilian hiking heels

"you should wear jeans, shoes that are good for the woods, and a warm top" 

Advice Given: 2

Advice Taken: 0

Not a historic site, but no adventure starts with getting a salad.

        Seeing where we were, I thought it important that my wife see Plymouth Rock, the spot that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year,  that commemorates where the Pilgrims first landed. I spent a lot of the drive talking up this deeply impressive monument, promising that she would be deeply impressed. 

yes, it's a rock. Wow. Lol. 

OK, so everyone who grows up on the Irish Riviera, the seacoast between Boston and Cape Cod, has to take a school trip to see Plymouth Rock, a site of deep historical significance  rock.  With a date stamped on it. In a hole. That is for some reason always filled with dead sea life. It's a bit like "The Great Egress" of PT Barnum fame. It's a monument to tourism-based dollars. 

"Wait... is a rock, hohnee. Dat's eet?  Chu took me 30 minoots to see a rock in a hole dat smells like a mens room?"

    If I had to suffer through it multiple times as a child, I was going to disappoint her, too. Disillusionment is best savored in company. 

   Luckily for me, she has a good sense of humor and she was more impressed with the MAYFLOWER.  She made an interesting point on the 1620 arrival date carved into the rock, though. It was 2 years after the Portuguese had already built the "New" marketplace in her city in Brazil. 

       Our visit to Massachusetts coincided with peak foliage season. I'll admit it's a beautiful 2 week period, even in Massachusetts. It's easy to forget that something like 80% of the state is still shaded by tree canopy. There's lots of trees even in urban areas.  In the 8 years we lived in MA together, I never once took my wife apple picking, which is something of a fall tradition. Luckily, my oldest brother set it up as a family activity while we were visiting him. Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife luckily packed her hiking high heels, which is a thing, but not a practical one. 

     After complaining about very cold and damp feet as a result of leaving the Irish Riviera and travelling inland where the Swamp Yankees are (the approaches to Cape Cod away from the seashore), I was happy that my wife's apple picking hiking high heels at least had closed toes. 

    ...and I should have remembered that my wife is Brazilian and has been wearing heels probably since she learned to walk. She wore boots with giant heels and this was mostly not a problem for her on a farm, despite my predictions of "you're gonna end up with your ass in a mud puddle."  

     She did of course wipe out, but just the once and got the whole family laughing. Latinas are not quiet people. Her yell was pretty echoey and I'm pretty sure knocked a few apples out of the closest tree.  Then she got up and scooted up a tree in 4 inch heels,  quick as a blink to join my nieces and nephews in getting the good apples that were up high.  

You can take the girl out of the Amazon but...

    By late afternoon, my brother lit a fire on his deck and we had time to drink some local microbrews that were actually pretty damn good. After that, we drove the hour into Boston proper to visit another cousin of hers.  This required a wardrobe change, and while it's true that Brazilian women are not shy or self-conscious, American men who marry Brazilian women are moreso. So that was how I ended up distractedly driving down the highway, briefly, with a naked wife, who, to be fair, is good at it. 

I get along really well with her cousin's husband, and so while the ladies were chatting away, he and I settled into the arduous task of drinking a lot of Irish whisky and laughing about the ridiculous but fun parts of being married to the foreign women we chose.  My wife got to drive us back to the hotel that night. As long as we kept up stories that made the other laugh, we kept having a drink, and so my liver got a serious workout. Luckily I drank a ton of water before bed, and in the middle of the night too and avoided a hangover. The next morning my voice was hoarse. I talked more that night than I had in years. 

     The next morning, feeling the lack of energy presumably caused by my bruised liver, we went out for an Irish Breakfast. And not just an Irish Breakfast, but THE Irish breakfast, if you live in Massachusetts. 

   O B.'s Cafe in Quincy MA   is where you go for Irish Breakfast. Because I am me, I know the owner, Stevie.  Point in fact, we went to high school together and my sister was best friends with his aunt, and since she was one of 16 kids (Hello, we're Irish Catholics, nice to meet you), naturally the family consisted of about a hundred people in a relatively small section of town. 
     I hadn't been in OB's in 5 years, and even so, got a great welcome.  I have a particular fondness for Stevie, as I brought my parents in for breakfast every week or two all through their declining years, and he was there as a part of a lot of great memories (and Irish Breakfasts), and for their parting as well. Even at the end, for both my parents, Steve was always ultra warm and welcoming, would come out for a chat with them, and went out of his way to make sure they enjoyed the meal. And so I have a very strong association with his food and his restaurant and good memories. 
       So, OB's Irish breakfast is scrambled eggs, toast from homemade bread, bangers (with brown sauce on the side), a grilled slice of tomato, Irish bacon, some sort of wizardly home fries that are a secret recipe that I have never seen bested, and both white and black puddings and also beans, if desired. I usually don't get the beans, myself, as I don't want to subject my loved ones to the results all damn day long. 

White and black puddings are a type of sausage. Black pudding is blood pudding, by the way, as in made with blood, yes, and it's peppery, complex and insanely delicious.  Really, the blood pudding is the crown of the meal, as it's something I can't get in my area in Florida, which bans the sale of offal-based foods.   My wife pretty much threatens divorce and pulls out a wooden stake and a crucifix every time I suggest she try a piece, but she admits that her father, an immigrant to Brazil from Italy, used to make his own. 
     Other than seeing family, Irish Breakfast was the best part of my visit to Boston. Not gonna lie. 

A Former Bostonian in Boston

 They say you can't go home again. Son of a bitch, that sure turned out to be accurate. 

    Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife flew into NY last week to meet me, and while we had other plans, a last-minute crewing issue caused me to get ganked right off the HQ and put on a gasoline barge that... wasn't a pleasant place to work. With the timing of my crew change in question, I changed plans,  and so the wife and I rented a car in NY and drove to Boston to see friends and family. 

What followed was a VERY busy time. Mostly wonderful. 

 I drove my my old neighborhood, to see where my childhood home used to be. It was leveled and a massive and really pretty house was put on the lot, which given it's location was worth more than the nice and sunny but small raised ranch I grew up in. So, no going home there.  That was a weird feeling.  

I definitely didn't get to see everyone I wanted to see, but we did pretty good. We got to spend time with friends and family we hadn't seen in years, literally.  Now I'm at home again, my real home in Florida. I've got the weekend and then it's time to head back to work. 

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Aging like fresh milk

 So I got a vist from my old 2nd man, RayRay, tonight. Ray is rafted alongside of us here at the HQ, out ta' anchor here in the 3rd world seaport where we're currently working (New York). 

 RayRay was my first subordinate here, almost 15 years ago. We worked together for several years at different times as he moved about the fleet and worked his way up the ladder. 

   It was amusing to sit there in my galley, compare our aches and pains, his gray hair, and mine that falls out before it can change color, like the live oaks in my yard at home. Talking of the follies of marriage, between two happily married men. The baby whose birth he had to go home for is a teenager. I see Ray 2-3 times a year, but seeing him is usually a matter of 5 minutes, or a wave from 300 feet away from one dock to another at a fuel terminal.  We hadn't sat down to talk for 4-5 years and tonight we had 2+ hours to catch up.  It was a good night. 

Monday, October 3, 2022

We has found the A-hole, and it is me.

 I woke up grumpy this morning here on the afloat HQ. 

 I slept a grand total of 45 minutes last night. We're now in day 2  of the first winter nor'easter here in New York harbor.  Last night was grand. Now, yesterday was a bit longer than planned, as we had problems getting tied up to a bulk carrier that had anchored in the harbor. 

It was blowing about 35, not awesome, but not a nightmare, just shitty, and the pelting rain coming sideways wasn't joyous either. Wind and tide were having a beef, though, and the vagaries of how I had to load a small parcel of oil for the ship meant that all the oil was in the stern, and so we were ass-end squatted down in the water, which meant that the stern was acting like a big sail underwater in the current, and the bow was acting like a sail in the high wind... and wind and tide were not at all coming from the same direction, so our natural inclination was to go about 60 degrees to the wind, and wallow there. Now, we're in protected waters, so it's not like there's a big swell- there was maybe a 4-foot chop, but steep and rapid, so when we were next to the ship tied off to them, we made THEM sit funny in the wind and tide, and we ended up just doing a sideways heave of about 4 feet back and forth regularly, like watching an accordion going in and out...  which was hard on our fendering, which, sadly, on that side of the HQ, are just tires stolen from a 747 jet. 

  So I only got to bed about 10pm, after we were all fast, and by 11pm we were bouncing off the side of the ship pretty well- oh, the tires did their job, but while the tires absorb shock, they do not mitigate momentum, and so every 6-8 seconds we'd bump, and every piece of metal, crockery, door, cabinet, and unsecure item would rattle and maybe go for a quick jaunt somewhere. This included me, in my rack. 

 So, no sleep for me. Listen to me bitching. I wasn't even working in all the shit weather, and the ship's engineering crew was particularly disagreeable, doing the usual complaining and lying ("Zir, ve are missink so much oil, yis yis.") I only spent a sleepless night and got rattled around like the last coffee bean in the can. My partner B got rained on, shit on and his patience tested. He's the one deserves the pity, really. 

  Even so, about 30 minutes before I was about to take over the watch, I came into the galley, opened a can of breakfast (A Monster energy drink), and stepped into the head to throw some laundry in the washer. On getting out of the head, not 60 seconds later, a tugboat deckhand had wandered into our galley, foul weather gear streaming from the rain, sat down in my chair at the table, soaking it, and moved my can of breakfast out of the way.  

 Now, it was raining, he was early coming up aboard to help get ready to sail, and basically did everything right, except I suppose some shitty part of me was looking to brighten up my day by darkening someone else's. I mean, I was really looking forward to having my caffeine and having a quiet sit-down for 20 minutes before starting my day.  B and I, after so many years together, both enjoy quiet when we are not ready for watch yet. Ideally, we just say Good morning, and that's it, until we're fully in the headspace for work or conversation. Then we can chat all day, and do, sometimes, or not. 

 At any rate, this guy's doing the right thing but he's messed up my very comforting routine on a dirty night... dirty morning, by this time. It's like 0500. 

 Now, all I said was "Bro, you wanna get the fuck out of my chair so I can get ready for my day?"  I mean, as far as rebuking someone goes, pretty mild. To his credit, the guy said nothing, just gave me a look and got up, obviously a bit insulted, but whatever. He didn't desserve to be cussed at obviously, and here on the far side of 16-oz of carbonated Attitude Adjustment I'm regretful of my word choice. Well, regretful is a strong word. I wish I had said something less cunty, though. But, to be honest, after ostentatiously getting a towel, wiping down my chair, then planting my ass down, and making eye contact with the guy while I dragged my can of breakfast across the table with a satisfying rasp and taking a big slug out of it, I settled down into a brown study (my father's term for a shitty mood) and quietly caffeinated, but by watch change I was not hard charging at my normal pace, but I no longer wanted to Kill All The Things. 

   Well, B and I had a laugh after.  We all have those moments. This was mine. 

 This is where I was saying I am the asshole of the day. I normally make a point not to be needlessly rude. I'm very specifically rude by choice, when I indulge.  

Saturday, October 1, 2022

The British are coming

 Well, they're here already. 

      The HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, the flagship of the British royal navy, is visiting New York this week. 

        ... and anchored right next to us. 

Change in seasons

 I work outside a lot, and always have preferred to. Oh, every rainy day I lament that I work outside, don't get me wrong, but I prefer to work in the open air and be a little more in sync with my environment. The change in seasons is always important to me, of course, as we go from the misery of summer to the misery of winter- those few weeks of relative comfort sure are nice though. 

    The northeast doesn't have much of an interregnum between hot and cold weather, but such as it is, we're in it now. And of course the changes bring instability. Hurricane season down south, and nor'easters up north. We're in the first nor'easter right now, riding it out at anchor, God be praised, in between jobs, so I don't have to be outside wearing 20lbs of foul weather gear and cursing the day I decided I wanted to work outside as part of my career. 

 There's not much fetch to my northeast from our anchorage here- not much open water for the wind to catch traction on the sea's surface and stir up waves, so we're getting a chop that is making us vibrate up and down a few inches, bouncing lightly, and it is not unpleasant. The occasional 'bong' noise of a wave slapping the stern causes a different vibration, and the two occasionally resonate, making metal objects in the house buzz a bit. There's also a waddling motion as we yaw from the odd reflective wave bouncing off the far side of the harbor- the chop here is confused. 

     So the past two weeks has been that time of year where every day is a fashion show requiring multiple changes of outfits as the temperatures swing widely.  Really, it's that time of year when I'm wearing jorts and a hooded sweatshirt, as being the most comfortable for the longest part of the day. Unless I'm wearing coveralls like a company man, I dress rather shabby on board. Sort of a far cry from when I'm home, where I don't like leaving the house without a collared shirt on. 

 Yes I said jorts. Jean shorts. Nothing fits and feels so comfortably in warmer weather, and my wife will throw them out if I had them at home. Apparently they're a fashion faux pas to even joke about, let alone wear, but until they rot away to the point where my parts are peeking out, I'm down to just one pair, and I plan to enjoy them. 


 We've all seen Hurricane Ian and what it did to the western part of south Florida. It's horrific. I hate saying "I dodged a bullet" because the hurricane missed me, and in so doing, it hurt a bunch of other people instead. So I'll just say that I'm grateful my area was spared but mindful that a lot of people are  in a bad way just on the other side of the swamp from my hometown. Looking over my own supplies, I can see where I need to make a few changes to be able to weather such events at home should we suffer a direct hit. I'll be addressing that in the coming days. I feel like I was a bit lax this year, with the last two years having been relatively peaceful during hurricane season in my area.