Wednesday, March 15, 2023

2 days to St. Patrick's Day.

 I'm trying to remember when the last day was where it wasn't gray, sleeting and the fucking wind wasn't blowing over 30.  It's sure been a minute.  My raingear has mildew stains on the inside, and smells like a frigging bible story.  3 days at this point? 4?    Lord. 

 So it's been a bit of a long march these past few days. It happens. The ruck hump aches are here for sure, where after a few days of spending 12+ hours a day head down with 10-12lbs of raingear riding on your shoulders and neck where you carry their weight, headaches and soreness are constant. The antifungal kits were broken open yesterday to dust the boots and feet so we don't have an athlete's foot outbreak. 

 Situation normal. We're fine, just a bit short-tempered and demoralized. God has forsaken us, or at least has punished us for what are probably an unusual amount of sins. I mean, we're sailors. We're not saints.  God watches out for us, obviously, childhood friends of his kid and all. 

 BUT, it's only 2 more days' until St. Patrick's Day. 

    Growing up in Boston's Irish Riviera, St. Patrick's day was probably the most fun day of the year. For adults. For kids, it's still a school day, and at least in my childhood, that meant we had spent the last 3 weeks in school learning 1-2 new songs along with the standard 5-6 old standby classics to sing en masse at an evening assembly with everyone's parents watching.  Oh, this wasn't on St. Patrick's Day, of course, it was the Friday before... St. Patrick's day was for adults to drive to watch the parade and day drink all day in South Boston on the one day when the Irish mafia wouldn't make trouble, and catch up with childhood friends.  If you weren't in school but were under legal drinking age, there were certain bars where you could put $20 in the hat for gun money for the IRA and drink anyhow. 

      As an unmarried adult, and this was after the blessed Good Friday Accords, I was home from sea or fishing on many occasions for Irish Christmas. We never got into trouble, just woke up early for  blood pudding and bangers with Jamison or Bushmills and coffee, then proceeded to drink and eat too much, go see live music at a pub, sing until we were hoarse, curse the English forever and go sleep if off. 

 Not gonna lie, I really miss Irish Christmas.  I haven't been able to properly celebrate in years and years. 10-15 I at least. 

 I mean, it's not the same. The South Boston parade was organized and funded by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, a  Catholic organization.  Since half of Boston's union tradesmen, city workers and EMS were both Irish and Catholic, the city of Boston was heavily involved, too. When a group of non-Catholic gay men were refused welcome to join the parade, as being neither Catholic, an Irish organization nor members of the EMS or trade unions, the Mayflower descendants in the state house, who also were not Catholic, and not overfond of the people of South Boston for their ancestry, ruined everything for everyone forever. As leftists often do these days, but this was a new thing back then. 

     Anyhow, I'm old and don't live in New England anymore, God be praised. But for some reason, I can't ever properly be home and free of obligation enough to properly celebrate a wonderful feast day. Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife is amused by the whole thing, but to a Brazilian lady, a bunch of gringos acting silly doesn't have cultural connotations and just looks like a fuss, but I have a brother and sister who both live close by, and one of these years I'm going to put a fun day together for us. 

 Sadly, this is not my year for that. But some day. 

Saturday, March 11, 2023

catching up

 Well, it's been steady and productive here at the floating bulk gas n' go.  

    When last I wrote, my flight back to work had been cancelled. I made it in the next day, and in the end only an hour late for crew change, so there was effectively no disruption to the schedule. At least none that I caused, anyhow. BUT, behind the scnenes, other interests broke my precious routine. Big E, my partner here on the HQ, was ganked and placed elsewhere for a week. I got a green kid as a replacement. BUT, I knew him slightly from before, back when he was a deckhand, and I know his father, who is someone I've enjoyed working with in the past, and like father like son, the kid was pleasant to work with. Green, oh so green like a fine lawn, but good company and it kept the workplace somewhere I'd want to work, which is important to me. It wasn't all tea and roses, we had some headaches, but as sometimes happened, all the key events happened during regular business hours, which happened to be when I was up and about anyhow. So there wasn't much of me getting out of bed at oh-dark-thirty, except for a few times here and there for me to peck away at the computer or hold an anxious office worker's hand over the phone. So overall? Decent. 

          Big E volunteered to get double ganked a few days ago, and got sent to a floating shit bucket a barge with substandard quarters and a shaky maintenance history (for what I hope was additional compensation), and my partner B came back to work a week early.  This is I think 13 years we've been partnered up now, so obviously we get along great, and know each other well.  I spend more time with B than I do with my own family. So once B came in, routine quickly returned to normal.  Except for the first job. 

       So there's this one ship, a super-size container ship, that we never, ever bunker. Not that it's verboten,  just the oil supplier who regularly fills her tanks has a few of our vessels on charter so it's not normally necessary.  But the HQ here works the spot market- which is to say... we's a 'ho. A harbor whore. A 'habah hooah', as I pronounce it with my articulate and classy command of the king's fuckin' english. 

   So, yeah, we got a weird ass double load- oil for two ships, two VERY different grades of oil, in weird volumes. certain  grades of fuel have to be segregated from each other, in pre-designated tanks- that is to say, I have tanks aboard the HQ that are ONLY designated for particular grades of fuel- this is done to prevent contamination, as a .003% change in the sulfur content of a particular fuel type is more than enough to make it illegal to use in many areas. Oil companies don't believe in allowing a lot of room for erring on the side of caution in fuel blending, when it costs money to err on the side of caution. 

 So, I get handed weird orders, and a 'sorry' because my shoreside connection knows he just served up a hot steaming poop sandwich for me to eat.  I made it work. The first ship... it's big. It's a big fuckin ship. We're just teeny next to this thing.  We're loaded  deep for us. My deck is only about 7 feet above the  water. 

     This particular ULCV (Ultra Large Container Vessel) isn't the largest container ship I've ever bunkered. BUT... their fuel manifold is a deck higher than any other ULCV, for some reason, higher on the superstructure of the house than I'm used to seeing, and this ship has more freeboard (the part of the ship above the water) than most ULCV's, AND they weren't loaded deep. At all.  The fuel manifold was in the neighborhood of 100 feet in the air.  And in talking to the crew, the manifold connection was 4 meters from the deck edge. So... 13 feet or so. 113 feet of travel between my manifold and his.  And my cargo hose is only 80 feet. My cranes are only 60 foot cranes. 

         I know what I have to do. I consider first if this life is worth living because what I have to do is neither complex or dangerous. It's just hard work and really, really messy.  I have to cannibalize the hose setups on one side of the HQ- disconnect a 60-foot length of cargo hose out of the array, blank off the now open length of hose left behind, clean up the mess of congealed black oil that will be dumped out everywhere, shift this hose using one of my two deck cranes, drag and position one end of  the now-free hose length where I can work on it, take my too-short 80-foot length of hose that was too short, position it close to the end of the unconnected hose, unbolt the end of the 80-foot hose's flange, position it near the disconnected hose's open end with the 2nd deck crane, drag the open ends of the two lengths of hoses close enough, and connect it to the disconnected hose length by bolting the two flanges together.  

 Black oil being what it is, it is oozing like ketchup this whole time. And the hoses weigh a couple thousand pounds, btb. Each.  Also, I'm by myself. And the two deck cranes I'm using, I can't let the heads of the cranes clang off each other. 

 Like I said, not complicated, not really, and not dangerous. Just really messy and really tiring. There's a lot of labor involved, and swinging wrenches is the easy part. I guess there was what? 24  1 1/4" bolts to mess with?  BUT, I now have 140 feet of cargo hose connected and ready to use. Whole shebang took about 2 hours because I wasn't going to wake B up. Dude had been awake for about 30 hours when he showed up on board, and he needed his sleep. I would have allowed him 2 1/2 hours sleep if I'd woken him up.   So, no big deal, except that my middle-aged fat ass got a workout. 

   At this point, I am talking via handheld VHF to the engineering staff on the ship, a bunch of polite Indian gentlemen. There were 4-5 of them staring down at me working, in their white hard hats and immaculate white coveralls.  The ship lowered their bunkering crane ( a stubby 10' boom they use to hold bunkering hoses while they connect to their own manifold way up high), which thankfully had enough cable and ass behind it to lift my cargo hose up to their manifold. From there the job proceeded normally.

 With the extra hose and high height, my cargo pump had a shit-ton extra head pressure to overcome to pump into their tanks, so even with the big Cummins diesel that powers my pump, we only got 300 tons an hour maximum rate. I can't exceed 100psi pressure in my pumping system, legally. With this fuel that was like 2000 barrels per hour, or 84,000 gallons per hour I think. Slow by our standard. We were there all day. 

 And when it was all done? We had to put the hoses back together the way they were. By then B was up, though. It goes a lot easier with 2 men, especially being able to operate the deck cranes simultaneously and being able to swing 2 sets of wrenches, not just one.  In the end, although I didn't say it to B, the last time I had to do all this BS was before B and I worked together, so probably 14 years. I was younger then, obviously, but it was good to do, in its' own way, as it allowed me appreciate that this is not a regular occurrence in my work routine.

 The second job went off far easier. and we had a break in between ships to remove all traces of residual oil on deck from all the hoses. It was a French container ship, a more 'normal' size ULCV too. Only... the cook was French too. And we were there at lunchtime. the smells coming from the house down to the HQ were just  divine. And my fat ass had just a salad for lunch. I could smell tomatoes, garlic, onion, and I think basil, whatever it was.  My salad fixin's are 10 days old at this point, which is to say there is no crunch to my salad, either. Altogether, it made me want to cry, except that when we finished the job, long after my watch had ended, we headed to anchor, where we sit at the present moment. AND, it's pouring rain, and I don't have to spend the day back and forth out on deck, and I appreciate that too, even more, for the twinge in my shoulders from the other day. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Sorta kinda bonus day

 So, crew change tomorrow. I was supposed to be in the air right now. Apparently New York finally got snow, and of course, it's on the day I fly in. Or was supposed to fly in. My flight was cancelled then rebooked for tomorrow 6am. So I get a bonus day today at home. Add to that, today is the first hot day here in Florida, and so I get to experience that, and then tomorrow I can go freeze my balls off. 

      So today is a nice bonus day. My wife is working, sadly, which means I won't see much of her today, but tonight we'll have a surprise quiet night at home, God willing. 

     So, my original plan was to fly in to JFK airport, which is quite a hike from the office in Brooklyn, but has a BJ's on the way into the city, which would have been nice. From there I would have dropped off my groceries at the office warehouse (it being cold, no need for a fridge), and headed to the new, nicer hotel we now use for crew change eve.  Tomorrow I would have been up early and gone right to the office and on to the HQ wherever that may be.  Instead, I will fly into Newark, get stuck in traffic in Manhattan and then go to the local bodega to get half-wilted greenstuff and sundries at twice the price of BJ's.   So it goes. 

 Still, the sun's out and it's already 85 degrees here in America. Time enough to be unhappy tomorrow, so I am off to enjoy the day. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Dad moment

 Gotta stand on the fencepost and crow today. 

          The US Coast Guard's merchant marine licensing and documentation work has been mostly farmed out to federal contractors, and specifically to Morpho Trust, from what I understand, who is McDonnell-Douglas IIRC,  who already handles ID programs for the Homeland Security dinguses, and whose early incompetence once earned me a phone call from a Morpho Trust executive who read my blog (poor soul) in which I invited each and every employee to dine upon the most choice cuts of a penis. "Eat a dick" was how I put it in my poetic parlance at the time. Getting a phone call over that, and the fact that they were able to identify me and call my goddamn cell was a pretty powerful message. Morpho Trust don't take no shit. 

 Anyhow, I would appreciate not being stalked this time, but it seems Morpho Trust, or maybe just the Miami Regional Exam Center of the US Post Toasties, once again managed to serve up a year's worth of soup sandwiches.  BUT, my kid was undeterred. Despite losing his application 3 times, asking for things that aren't required, and then just going radio silent... until my kid showed up at the REC with a half a ream's worth of papers and a refusal to leave until his application was filed... which then took 2 months to process, which is pretty good for the .gov. 

 Anyhow, long story short, it was far more of an ordeal than I've ever seen, but my kid received his Merchant Marine Credential yesterday.  Rather than going straight to college, he's going to sea for a time, and see what there is to see before decides whether or not a career at sea is for him. 

      I can't tell you how proud I am. I couldn't tell him how proud I was, as I don't want him to be doing this for me, or for the family legacy, we B men having been sending someone to sea for multiple generations now. But he knows now. And whether or not he stays, or even likes it, he'll always have been able to say that he worked as a merchant mariner, which is a nice feather in the cap. 

Friday, February 17, 2023

Sweet vacation

 I had planned on working a week of overtime. Instead, a scheduling snafu gave me the opportunity to go home. There is nothing quite like the feeling of a surprise vacation- Instead of living out of a seabag for a week and trying to fit in in a strange place, I am sitting in my house, waiting (of course) for my wife to finish getting ready so we can go out for the day. 

Sunday, February 5, 2023

A near-run thing and a minty fresh booty

 Dear Diary, 

   Today I  We dodged a bullet here on the HQ. 

    Yesterday's cargo had sat in our unheated tanks a little too long after a ship dragged their feet and lingered in port for 2 days longer than expected .This coincided with a VERY nasty cold snap that saw our mild winter temps from from the 30's and 40's to 5 damn degrees, along with hard gales that gave a -40 windchill supposedly. 

 Whatever it was, it sucked hard. 

 So I was all bundled up, and miserable; hell we all were. But the oil in the tanks was losing heat much faster than normal- the volume was split between two tanks, and since the volume in each tank was very low, the oil was exposed to cold across a wide area. It took me 20 minutes to catch prime in the cargo pump, because the fuel in the pipelines had gelled into a molasses-like consistency. Churning the semi-solid oil in the pump heated it up through friction, and so after about 10 mintues the pressure built on the 150-foot Tootsie Roll in the pipeline, and I let the pump run up to 100psi before the gelled oil started moving. Even so, once I had gotten the liquid fuel moving, it was only slightly above the pour point (the temp at which it turns solid), so what should have been a 1-hour pumpoff took 6. Once the heavy old was done, I had a large batch of diesel oil to transfer, but since the pour point of that particular diesel is well below -30, that went off well. 

 Naturally we had no running water during all this. The HQ, for all her qualities, does not have working insulation around her potable water system. There is a bunch of cladding and old insulation, but it is so supersaturated with water from over the years, it turns into a block of ice, and acts to chill our water down. And also the heating coil in the tank died a month ago and the parts haven't arrived apparently. 

 So, yeah, no running water for me. We were camping out for about 36 hours. Luckily, this cold snap, intense as it was, was incredibly short lived. 

 The whole thing was intense and short. When we got to the ship where we had that cold oil, it was blowing 40 steady, gusting higher as we got the first lines over. By the time we got the last line on, just 15 minutes later, the wind had dropped to almost nothing and the sun was peeking out. I've never seen the weather change so fast outside of a thundersquall. 20 minutes after I was miserable and suffering, I had my winter hat and coat off and was in a heavy sweatshirt out on deck. 

 We got the water running today. It was really nice to have a hot shower. I smell much better. 


Friday, February 3, 2023

Not as good a day

 It's been a bit downhill since Monday. Work has been characterized by things not going as smoothly as they ought, and there's a cold snap with a northerly wind coming that is sure to mean we lose the water pumps here on board the HQ again. So I get to look forward to being the proud possessor of an unwashed ass for a day or two. 

     BUT, could be worse. Nobody's been ganked off of here this week. That is a relief. We were starting to feel picked upon. 

Monday, January 30, 2023

It was a good day

 Yesterday was a good day. 

Things have been stressful on the HQ for the past few months, not gonna lie. We've got a deep talent pool aboard, and my company is  short of what they need in terms of good tankermen, so unfortunately, we've been Shanghaied a lot lately, and it's got all of us stressed. Getting ganked and put on an unfamiliar barge where we know the job but don't have the vessel or the souls aboard truly integrated in our minds elevates the risk profile to one degree or another in every job we do, of course. Given the nature of the job, that risk can be minimal. Or not. I realize that right around at my age, mental flexibility becomes less easy to achieve. The concepts we drill green tankermen on,  situational awareness, positive control, stop work authority, and the negatives too- analysis paralysis, tunnel vision, stress-induced insomnia, all those things... it becomes more difficult. As does the job itself. We have some of the largest bunker barges in the US.  Shit starts to hurt at a certain point as you fossilize, and after a number of years on the water, nobody escapes anno domoni without some permanent aches and pains.  The important thing becomes maintaining the 'it's a marathon, not a sprint' mentality, which is critical when you were sprinting for 10-15 years.  

          Years ago, I brought one of my very good friends out lobstering with me. We were going to do the usual workload for 2 men despite having 3 aboard- haul 400 pots over about 10-11 hours. The weather was fine, and we had good bait that day for the bait bags- salmon heads and herring, very fast to stuff in between 25 pot strings. 

   So, we fished shorter 3-foot pots, not the 4-foot 'coffins' that ruin the back but fish a little better. BUT, the Notorious BOB and I built the 3-footers heavy, with extra heavy gauge wire, extra reinforcement, and an extra 5lb brick, 4 bricks per pot, so each of the 400 pots weighed somewhere around 50-60 lbs. We'd sling the pots FAST aboard- with 15 fathoms (90 feet) between pots, we usually pulled each 25 pot string in 15 minutes before setting it back out. Setting out the half mile string took 5+ minutes, when we'd be rebaiting bait bags and sorting and banding lobsters. And then the steam to the next buoy, anywhere from 1-15 minutes, but usually somewhere around 5.   Every other string we'd take a minute to take a drink and get situated. It's VERY fast paced most of the time. 

     My friend was in great shape- lean, athletic, and a daily exerciser. Me, I was fishing. I'm overweight, don't jog or do cardio.  I've got the ruck hump back shape from working bent over 5-6 days a week as a teen and adult, and I knew how to balance the pots on their center of gravity to more easily pivot and sling them using momentum and my legs rather than my back, but I also had the hard pad on my upper quads from the motion of sliding the pot on edge down the gunwale of the boat, then lifting the pot and quickly pivoting, taking enough steps to get to where I could toss the pot in the stack properly, and then shifting the pot's weight onto one thigh and bounce the pot using my thigh like a springboard. 400 times a day every 45 seconds or so at a jogging pace. 

   My healthy in-shape friend was dead on his feet 200 pots in, when we have a snack and are in the zone.  Before the end of the day I had him sit on a water barrel and resting. He was done. He did well. Very well, for someone new.  

    Thing is, my friend knew about my job, in good detail. We talked about it, and had years and stories so he knows quite a bit about a job he didn't regularly practice. But the doing of the job, no. He learned, though. He respected me a fair bit more after.  The things he didn't get, the fatigue, the repetitive motion, the discomfort, the mental game that gets you through discomfort and mind-numbing repetition... he didn't get that, until he did. And even then, of course he'd never understand the mental game from a day with me, not for a job I'd been doing more or less since I was 8. But what was so positive for me is that he now knew he didn't know, and couldn't. It made me feel that he appreciated the challenges of my unimpressive little job at that point in my life. 

 I miss that feeling. 

 BUT, yesterday. It was a good day. I had a good day. Mental Health Day. I cooked, I did things I enjoyed, and I didn't do too much that I didn't enjoy.  Provided I don't get pulled off of the HQ to go elsewhere, I feel like we got our batteries recharged. 

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Sunday at sea

 We're at anchor today here at HAWSEPIPER's Afloat Global HQ/Center for Culinary Experimentation.

      Today is Sunday. Next cargo is fixed for lunchtime tomorrow. In theory, there's free time today. 

    Yesterday was a productive day for me. We anchored the night before, and yesterday I spent about 3 hours at my desk hammering out paperwork and getting caught up on the logbooks and recordkeeping, ran through some scheduled maintenance checklists and the safety inspection and walkaround for the tour, pulled out the tools to cut and resplice a worn out eye on one of the mooring lines, and pulled up a bunch of consumables from the storage area to replenish assorted filters, bottles, notions and potions. I also mixed together a quart bag full of rub for making pulled pork. By then it was afternoon, and I got a ride ashore and bought grub- meat, chicken, a big ass pork shoulder and a shit ton of greenstuff.  By the time I got back aboard and got the pork shoulder rubbed down and set in the fridge to dry brine overnight. it was dark and I was ready for a shower and bed. 

  So, Sundays at Sea are a sailor's delight when all works out well.  It's a day where, needs permitting, free time is allowed to the crew.  20 years ago, for me as an able seaman on a tanker, it meant getting up for breakfast, having the morning meeting with the bosun and the mate, and then loading up buckets of soapy water and the brooms, and sweeping and mopping all the passageways and common areas of the house, except for the bridge (which was swept and mopped by the 4-to-8 watch every single day except when we were in port, since oil tankers don't keep a bridge watch when pumping cargo). Point being, if nothing pressing was happening, Sundays at sea meant we were finished with daywork by 10am, and could read, loaf, critique the steward, watch movies, exercise, whatever. Have fun, basically. 

 I'm on days for a few weeks, so I rolled out of the bunk at 0445, relieved a sleepy but grateful B, and once he was out of the scene, I got the pork in the slow cooker, swept and mopped the HQ, which is a one man job, the HQ being very modest in scale, and sat down, done in an hour.  My plan today? Cook my pork, play a video game, finish my current book, go walk in circles for an hour around the perimeter of the deck, and at some point get out of the sweatpants I'm wearing and put actual pants on. Eventually. 

 Some days are good days. I'm optimistic for today. 

Thursday, January 26, 2023

"Spik Ingleesh, yis yis"

I liked these little foreign fuckers. 

     We bunkered a bulk carrier this morning, and initially I was feeling a bit soggy and hard to light about the whole op. 

        Our tugboat had a damaged pulley on the push cables, so they towed us on the hip, basically lashed to one side. That's fine, except that bulk carriers have their bunker port (the fuel connection) usually on the side of the wheelhouse, which on bulk ships is located far astern compared to tankers or container ships, and the side where the tugboat was forced us to tie up heads-to-tails with the ship- facing opposite directions, which means half my hull was out in the stream. Only way I could make it work, so I lashed down the hell out of where I could and cranked down so hard on our winches that the hawsers were wrung like sponges. 

        After we were all fast, I quickly realized that nobody I could talk to had any sort of comprehension of English. I asked for an English speaker, and they got me some little fella out of the galley, I think, and he had a bit of English. Now, I have the right to refuse to work if we can't find a common tongue, and as I'm pretty much stuck with English, bad Portagee, sort of,  some song lyrics and curses regarding the British in gaelic,  and just curse words in a dozen other languages, that's not good. But these guys were earnest AF. They were trying. 

      I'm really trying not to fly off the handle and cuss out people. Ever since last week when I cursed a man so loudly that I lost my voice, I've been thinking about how there's no way anyone can respect a man who is absolutely out of his frigging mind with anger. Sure, you can get a fear reaction, or possibly break through a hard head with volume, but it's self-defeating, I have come to see. So, having already had that conversation with myself in the recent past, I was unable to be upset about the language barrier that was an issue today, although to be fair, the ship is informed ahead of time that an English speaker is required on their end for safety reasons. But these little fellas just didn't have anyone. 

     So, the thing that impressed me so favorably was just how efficient these guys were. I mean, they connected our cargo hose FAST, and as a team, passing down their hose blank for me to size up and send up an adaptor flange, using actual REAL crane hand signals (95% of the dildos out there do it wrong. There's an international agreement, dicks!), and getting the hose connected in just a few minutes, compared to the 1-hour plus it takes a pair of white suited engineers all standing around with their thumbs up their asses screaming at 2 overworked Filipinos with one wrong-sized wrench between them, and giving them contrary information, which is usually how hose connections are made.  But yeah, these bros did it in about 5 minutes, like a top-notch tanker crew might. They then hammered through my paperwork, without complaint, sent down theirs with instructions and everything I really needed marked with a highlighter (!), and then hung out at the rail, looking down at me, and everything came to a screeching halt because of the language barrier. 

      There just wasn't a reason to yell. They couldn't understand me at my best, most simple communicatin' English. They didn't understand me when I said that I had to have one guy up there with a radio in case of trouble. Eventually, they did break out the little cooks' helper, with his 'spik Inglish, yis yis!"  but he couldn't progress beyond Yes/No Start Stop, Faster Slower.  Eventually, I just pointed at the rail and said "You! Please! Stay! There! For Help Me!"  and he did. 

       Look, when I met my wife, she barely spoke English and we learned each other's language, sort of, over the next 20 years, figuring it out as we do. The first 6 months we were dating, conversation was pretty basic. I kind of miss that, lol. It was quiet. Point is,  I can speak and understand Bad English at a professional level. 

     Honestly, if these guys had been dicks, the usual sort of inattentive sailors or less on the ball, I would have called my company and bailed. But they just wanted to do what they could do, and I became confident that if the fit hit the shan they could let me know, so I basically just would have to hang out on deck at the hose connection and watch them carefully. 

 They did well. Hand signals for my pump throttles, proper crane directions, teamwork,  safe, careful. Pantomimes and Pidgin. Honestly it was the fastest, least stressful and most pleasant transfer I've done in months. Those little boogers had their shit locked down. At the end, when we passed papers and they diconnected my cargo hoses, while I was swinging the hoses down on deck with the crane, the little cook waved down and said "bye bye, I cook now" and I realized that he was an unhealthy bluish color under the tanned nondescript asian coloring. Dude was freezing his little nuts off, but I hope he got recognized for being The Man today. 


Monday, January 23, 2023

The joy of being less sick.

 Man, I'm so happy I feel a little better compared to the other day. 

    I just have a cold and now a cough. The way I was whining you'd think I had a tumor. 

    Still, after 3 days of being unable to breathe well, unable to sleep well and having all the energy of a slug, just feeling less sick felt great.    Plus, the 2 days of heavy rains and working night watch, and being almost exclusively outside wasn't the tits either.  

 I'm feeling much better. The gallon or so of snot in my sinuses is still there like a glacier, but I think ice-out is coming. If lung clams were selling at the price of cherrystones I'd be raking in the cash. 

 Did you ever notice that when your sinuses finally clear out all at once after a cold, they always do so at a place and time where you have neither enough tissue nor privacy to quietly expel the pint of so of snot that comers out? Always, you end up with a postage-stamp piece of tissue, and you're in public, and out comes a bucket of boogers. Always. I mean, it never happens when you're in the head, or your bedroom... always it's in public, and that snot stampede isn't the sort that can be handled via ye olde snot rockets, either. No, it's always got to be a crisis. 

   Still, I'm at work. Maybe it will finally break my way this time. 

Thursday, January 19, 2023


 Well, now, some dickbag gave me a cold. 

      Every time I get a cold, I remember that I rarely get colds. I used to commute to college in my undergrad days- a 30 minute walk, then a 30 minute bus ride, then a 30 minute subway ride, each way.  This was in Boston, where the "T," the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, is the public transportation system. 

    The T is patronized by dirty, dirty people. I averaged 3-4 colds a year, one flu with fever, and one case of bronchitis (which I am prone to, for some reason. My lungs are scarred enough that it freaks out X-ray techs, who all scream tuberculosis, every time).  

 After college? I've had bronchitis once, and a cold maybe every 3-4 years, if that. 

 So, yeah, while I'm grateful I don't have the Chinese Disease, I feel like crap. Welcome back to work, asshole. 

   We started off the first watch with confusion and cargo, and while I definitely have that slow thinking slow reacting dullness that comes with being under the weather, we unfucked the job on hand, and, gratefully, after my first watch was so busy, my second, tonight, is quiet. I can sit in my chair and complain to myself to my heart's content. 

Thursday, January 12, 2023

The view from home.

I think every mariner, especially brown-water mariners like me who generally only work for a month at a time, spends half their time home doing chores. I guess it's inevitable. Work-life balance and all. 

Once the chores are under control, though, work-life balance shifts to the Life part, which is a good thing. 

Boss lady undressing me with her eyes. I should file a complaint. 


 Under normal circumstances, getting me to go to anywhere urban on a volunteer basis is unlikely to happen without resistance. The suburb I live in is as developed a place as I'm able to enjoy for the most part and I only live in a suburb because Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife is not a country girl and is much to social a being to enjoy isolation. And I actually like the little gated community I live in. Never thought I'd say that, but it's so. 

    In any event I'm home having a nice time with my wife, and she even got me to spend the night in Fort Lauderdale, which is a city, but a city with beaches and miles of canals. Naturally I ended up herding her down to the waterfront. We're in a cold snap here in South FL, which means it's 65 at night. 

Anyhowsomever, I still have a week home, so I'm going to enjoy it. Don't wait up. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

It's here!

 Last watch of the tour tonight. 

 Well, this was a Tony-award willing drama for sure.   Thrills, chills, you name it. Laughter, anger, etc. 

 Tomorrow is crew change day. If God is kind, I will be home tomorrow night. 

 This page will be unmanned for much of my time home. Should you find yourself in trouble, please follow the directions shown below.