Sacrifice

Today’s prompt for Just Jot It January is: sacrifice.

3. the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.

For the sake of today’s post, I’ll use this definition, and this quote (some versions add “and lose both”).

I feel extremely isolated in that I agree completely with that quote. I seem to be 1 out of many millions. 🙁 Most people today seem totally willing to sacrifice ALL their freedoms (and mine too), in return for a (false) ‘promise’ of safety.

I can barely stand it; waiting in line for the TSA to grant me permission to travel. It’s all I can do to keep my mouth shut so I don’t lose that RIGHT forever. And the worse thing about it is, listening to the people around me in line making comments like “If you don’t have anything to hide, you don’t have anything to worry about”, or “I don’t care what they do as long as they keep me safe”, or “they’re only doing their jobs’.

Yeah, so were the NAZI’s!

We have given up SO many of our freedoms already, I can’t even begin to count! Just for a start, we have all the violations of the TSA, PATRIOT ACT, NSA spy programs, NDAA, etc. Restrictions of our rights to travel, to earn a living, to defend ourselves, what we can eat and drink and smoke, to choose how to take care of our own health, insane threats of fines and/or imprisonment dictating every single thing we do down to what kind of light bulbs and toilets we can have!

And yes, along with every other right listed in the Bill of Rights, even our right to speak freely has been violated (to all those who inform me how I would be imprisoned for what I say in North Korea or Iraq!).

I am NOT a North Korean or Iraqi! I was NOT brought up idolizing their dictators or ayatollahs as having the god-given right to run my life! I was raised as an American, one who believes whole-hearted in the ideals written down in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Those ideals that millions of Americans before me sacrificed everything up to and including their lives for. Things like individual liberty and freedom.

I can’t believe so many here are just forgetting all that, just throwing it all away, just giving it all up without any fight, without even a feeble protest. What the hell has happened to the American people that they put up with this? All I hear is how ‘times have changed’, ‘we have to go with the flow’, ‘the constitution was written 200 years ago’ and best answer yet- ‘you’re a real nut-job’!

All I have to say to that is: our founding fathers were RIGHT and  principles NEVER change, FREEDOM and individual liberty deserve all those sacrifices made in their name, ‘safety’ and ‘security’ do NOT, even if they were possible to achieve (which they’re not).

Book: The Gathering Wind

It’s been a quiet couple of days around here. I’ve been reveling in the fact that I finally found some time to just CHILL!

I wrote yesterday that I didn’t do anything except take my daily walk and cook dinner. Today I got a little bit more done. I did the laundry. 😉

I’ve been reading a good book and thought some of you might like it too. It’s called The Gathering Wind, by Gregory A. Freeman.

It’s all about the tall ship Bounty, (the replica of the one they had the mutiny on). 😉

The Gathering Storm tells the story of the ship, her captain (Robin Walbridge) and crew and how they wound up sinking in the middle of ‘Superstorm Sandy’.

It’s a pretty wild story, especially the heroic attempts by the crew to save their ship and the amazing efforts of the US Coast Guard to save the crew.

It’s a great read, a real page turner. Even tho I knew how it would turn out, it still kept me interested til the end. As a sailor, I kept wondering WHY would they do that? Head out to sea with a hurricane approaching?

The book doesn’t really give a clear answer to that question. It did have a section on the investigation of the sinking, but I would have liked more. I have my own opinion and it mostly has to do with money.

So many of these disasters at sea probably never would have happened if there was a REAL concern for safety, but ‘time is money’ and it gets harder and harder for a seafarer to find employment where the idea of safety is more than just a façade for the insurance companies!

Just a couple of weeks ago, the El Faro went down with all hands, another 33 lives. Lost in another hurricane.

Will the investigation for the El Faro come to the same conclusion? That it was all the captains fault? That only his ‘reckless decision’ was to blame?

Do you really think the captain of the El Faro (or the Bounty) would have taken the risks he did if there were no pressure from the office to ‘make the schedule’? I sure as hell don’t!

With all the new rules and regulations coming out of the IMO and various governmental bodies, I keep wondering when will they get down to the root cause of all this? The people in the OFFICE who run these ships! THEY are the ones who really make the decisions these days, the poor old captain is nothing but a scapegoat for when things go wrong!

There is only so much a captain and crew can do out there! Without the help and support of our employers, we can only do so much! Sailing around a hurricane (or through pirates, or any other extraordinarily dangerous place), is NOT something we should be doing just to save the company a few bucks!

I’m still waiting to see the day when the IMO does something that actually helps the MARINER! Putting at least SOME of the responsibility on those who really make the decisions, and off of the captain who is now only a figurehead would go a long way in fixing a lot of issues out here!

For further discussions of these incidents among the mariners who hang out on Gcaptain, (professional and otherwise), check out these links:

http://www.gcaptain.com/forum/professional-mariner-forum/10134-hms-bounty-hurricane-sandy.html

http://www.gcaptain.com/forum/maritime-news/17656-sea-star-el-faro.html

DP Workshop

I got home late Thursday last week. I haven’t had time to do much but catch up on mail (and a little bit of sleep). I signed up for the DP conference in Houston a few weeks ago and luckily I was able to get off the ship on time to make it this year.

Today I spent all day in a ‘workshop’. About 100 people (mostly from shoreside) were in attendance. We were given the task of reviewing how to do an incident investigation and brainstorming suggestions to improve on DP incident reporting.

It was interesting to hear all the different suggestions, and also how many items were repeated by all the groups in the room. One that stood out to me was the fact that there are so many incidents that never get reported as they should be. So we all lose the chance for the ‘lessons learned’.

I’m convinced that the reason for that is simply fear. Everyone (including even the company you’re working for) is so afraid for their jobs that they just don’t want to do anything that might reflect badly on them. Yes, these reports are supposed to be ‘anonymous’, but I think there’s still the fear that your vessel might lose work if it somehow gets out that there was an ‘incident’ onboard.

That seems to be the norm even when things are booming, when work is as slow as it has been lately, nobody wants to take the chance that an incident report might lose them the contract.

Somehow, the hiring companies (usually the oil majors) have to get across the message that they will not ‘punish’ in the future for an incident reported today. I don’t know how that will ever be accomplished in reality. No one else at my table did either.

Sad to say, I was one of very few DPOs still sailing at todays event. There were lots of people who have moved into auditing and compliance. Lots of people who represent the different DP equipment vendors. Lots of people from the operations side of the offshore industry, but not enough active DPOs.

It’s always great to see old friends and make new ones. So many interesting people to talk to there. I have 2 more days to hang out up here in Houston and see what’s new in the DP world. (Yeah, I can be a geek sometimes). 😉

IMO Blues

We’re working hard trying to get this boat ready to go to work next week. It’s been raining (hard) off and on since I got here yesterday. I’ve been lucky so far to have avoided getting soaked. Instead I’ve been working on paperwork all day.

The vessel I’m working on now has just recently changed owners. So we’re in the process of going through inspections and getting approvals from all the involved agencies. We are mainly dealing with the DNV and the ABS (class societies).

They are doing ISPS, ISM audits at the moment. We will probably have a visit from the Bahamas inspector too while we’re here for a flag state inspection.

For those who are not seafarers, the ISM Code (International Safety Management) and ISPS code (International Ship and Port Security) have been driving us all crazy out here since the IMO came up with the idea! Of course, the bureaucrats and lawyers must have been thrilled with such a humongous generator of useless paperwork.

I suppose some will say it’s done some good. I am not one of those people. I went to sea for the freedom of the job. The ability to just do the work I love and NOT have to deal with all the stuff like the ISM and ISPS (and those 2 are only a small part of what the IMO saddles us sailors with now a days). I really don’t know of ANYONE who went to sea in order to deal with paperwork all day. 🙁

It’s a real shame, what they’ve done to the life of a sailor, and you know what the really sad thing is? They really believe they’re doing all this stuff for our benefit!

Carl Miller – Right to travel without a license plate

I agree with this guy in principle. We should NOT be forced to get a license plate. I have argued against being forced to get a drivers license in order to use the roads I have PAID for, the car I BOUGHT, the gas I PAID for. There is NO justification under constitutional law for the state (or any other government agent) to FORCE me to submit, to BEG their permission to travel freely!
I was BORN with the INALIENABLE RIGHT to TRAVEL. FREELY! That means I can move along a public road or any other public space without interference as long as I am not bothering anyone else. That goes for the airways too! The TSA and all its bullshit security theater is a HUGE violation of my rights and IS totally unconstitutional in every way! Where’s the warrant? Where’s the probable cause? What right do those government thugs in uniforms have to restrict you in ANY way in YOUR RIGHT to travel? The answer is NONE! They have STOLEN your rights from you!

Symbol: Plimsoll Line

I decided to join in on the Daily Posts challenge: Symbol. I thought about the waterline one immediately. I think if you haven’t spent a lot of time around ships, you might not know what this one means, even if you see it around you all the time.

This symbol for the ships waterline is called the Plimsoll line, after Samuel Plimsoll. It’s also called the international load line since its function is to inform as to the maximum level a ship can be loaded safely. To put it simply, if it’s underwater, the ship is overloaded and therefore unsafe to sail!

If you look at a ship, you should see this symbol midships (about halfway between the bow and stern). All commercial ships should have this prominently marked on their hull. The ‘deck line’ marks where the main deck level is located. The ‘A’ and ‘B’ on either side of the circle refers to the ‘class society’. In this case the American Bureau of Shipping. It could say LR (Lloyds Register) or BV (Bureau Veritas) or otherwise classed. These are the people who actually figure out exactly where the marks should be placed.

The markings to the right of the circle refer to the type (fresh, brackish or salt) and temperature of the water the ship is floating in. The density of the water changes according to these variables and so the ship will float higher or lower in the water when she sails in different conditions. And so the ship can be loaded with more or less cargo.

The Plimsoll line has saved thousands of lives since Mr Plimsoll first started working to stop overloaded vessels from heading to sea (with subsequent losses of ships and sailors). Plimsoll fought hard to stop the ‘coffin ships’ from sailing and spent years trying to enact legislation to protect the people who worked at sea. Here’s a bit from A Cheer For Plimsoll written and sung by Fred Albert in 1876

So a cheer for Samuel Plimsoll and let your voices blend
In praise of one who surely has proved the sailors’ friend
Our tars upon the ocean he struggles to defend
Success to Samuel Plimsoll for he’s the sailors’ friend.

 

There was a time when greed and crime did cruelly prevail
and rotten ships were sent on trips to founder in the gale
When worthless cargoes well-insured would to the bottom go.
And sailors’ lives were sacrificed that men might wealthy grow.

 

For many a boat that scarce could float was sent to dar the wave
’til Plimsoll wrote his book of notes our seamen’s lives to save
His enemies then tried to prove that pictures false he drew
but with English pluck to his task he stuck, a task he deemed so true.

It wasn’t until the loss of the SS London in 1866, with the loss of over 200 lives, that Parliament started paying attention to Plimsolls’ simple solution. In 1876, the UK made the load line marking mandatory, but it took until 1930 for any international agreement to come about.

The Plimsoll line has made shipping much safer, at least for the ships that follow its direction. It’s a simple enough thing that anyone can take a look and see if the ship is overloaded or safe to sail. But it looks to me like greed (on the part of shippers) and fear for their jobs (on the part of the mariners) keeps overloaded and unsafe ships sailing the worlds oceans. I think from plenty of news items, (like this, this, and this, etc), that people around the world are still not taking advantage of this hard earned knowledge.

LOVE IT

I get so discouraged working out here sometimes. I used to love coming to work offshore. I actually looked forward to it and was eager and excited to come back to work. I wanted to go places, to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.

I loved working outside on deck, where I could enjoy the weather. I loved the feeling of the wind in my hair and the sun on my skin (even tho I sunburn easily). I loved looking out and seeing nothing but the blue, blue water all the way to the horizon.

I loved to see the beautiful constantly changing seascape. I loved to watch the waves and clouds. I looked for signs of life around me. Birds: pelicans, sea gulls, terns, herons. Fish: mahi-mahi, ling cod, tuna, sharks, and dolphins (mammals, not fish). Even things like seaweed and jellyfish were of interest. I loved to watch the intense colors of the sky when the sun rose or set.

I loved the fact that my job depended only how well I did my job. It didn’t matter what I looked like, how I talked, my level of formal education, how much money I had in the bank, what kind of car I drove, how I dressed. I loved being able to work dressed in an old pair of shorts, t-shirt and a pair of flip-flops.

I loved slow days offshore when we would throw a line over and catch a few fish. We always caught something. Mahi-mahi, ling cod, rainbow runners, sharks, kingfish, snapper, grouper, catfish, etc. Sometimes we kept them to eat, sometimes we threw them back.

I loved standing lookout at night and seeing the stars so blazingly bright at sea when there was nothing around for hundreds of miles to blot out their light. I loved watching the dolphins play in the bow wake when we were underway and seeing them pass by at the rig. Continue reading