End of a Long Weekend

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving holiday. I did OK. It’s not like I’ve been working so hard all this time and needed a break. Still, it was nice to have some time off where I knew no one would be calling me for work, nothing to do with work would be open (so useless to call), and I could take the time to catch up on other things.

I spent Thanksgiving with friends. They cooked a big turkey (in a greaseless fryer- it turned out nice and moist). They had ham too, and roast vegetables, mashed potatoes, mani-mahi, broccoli rice casserole, hot rolls, and a half dozen desserts. I’m still eating leftovers.

After pigging out and needing a nap Thursday, I’ve spent the last couple of days just piddling around the house. I went through a big pile of t-shirts to sort. I finally packed some away and put others in the yard sale pile. I put a bunch of stuff away that got messed up while I was gone last week (I still can’t find half of it). I’ve caught up with the mail, bills and phone calls.

Now I’m getting ready for a trip to New Orleans for this years Workboat Show. I’m so frustrated and depressed about the situation with work. I think this is going to be my last hope. I filled out a few online applications (again) for nearby boat companies. They say they are hiring.

I’ve rented a car and will drive down the bayou and try to find someone to talk to. It’s become almost impossible to talk to a real person when you’re looking for work these days. Everyone gives you a computer to talk to: “leave a message” and someone will get back to you. Except they never do.

I hear through the grapevine (and also their own ads) that Hornbeck (HOS) and Harvey Gulf are hiring. I plan to hit up both of them. I’ve got plenty of resumes printed out and will be trying to talk to anyone I can who might have some work going on.

If this doesn’t work out, the only thing left for me to do is go back to the SIU as an AB. Wasting the 40 years I’ve spent working my way up and earning my license. What a shame!

I feel like one of the old horse and buggy drivers when Henry Ford came out with the model T. I can see the complete destruction of my livelihood on the horizon. Like them, I am not at all happy about it!

I have been trying my best ever since I got laid off (Sept 2015) to find work. I’ve been trying all kinds of things to bring in extra income. I’ve been teaching at San Jacinto Maritime. I’ve been working as a role player at Maersk Training. I’ve been trying to sell my art (writing/photography/painting) anywhere I can.

I’ve been applying to jobs in every sector of the maritime industry. I’ve tried to find work as a math tutor. I’ve tried to find work in the safety industry since that is a huge part of what I do every day anyway (but learned I would have to sell myself- body and soul- for a $14/hour job). Sorry, no way! I might be down, but I will NEVER be that self destructive as to submit to that level of control.

Hair follicle tests?! What kind of idiots do they think we are? These tests can have NO possible connection to anything going on at the job. I’ve asked over and over- PLEASE tell me how something I might’ve done last YEAR could possibly have anything to do with the job I’m doing TODAY? Of course, they have no answer. They’re wrong and they know it. Those people have NO right to strip our constitutional rights from us. In the name of safety or any other reason.

I am getting pretty desperate. I was one of the lucky ones. I was halfway prepared for this downturn. I’ve been through 3 big ones before. I’d saved as much as I could and paid down my debts as much as possible. I had a pretty good stash in my savings account. Of course, after 2 years with no real work, that savings account has been seriously depleted.

It sucks not even being able to get unemployment. Especially after being forced to pay into it for over 40 years! It would be nice to be able to get some help when I need it. But noooooo, ONE job out of all those years was with a foreign company, so I get zero return on all that money I’ve paid in.

Even so. I did my best while I was working to save and invest. I bought rental property and paid off as much as I could. I’m lucky. That has been my only income for the last 2 years. It’s not much, since the expenses on the property is actually still more than the income I get from it, but it still helps a lot.

I’m thankful I have even that little bit of income. With the little bit of work I get from Maersk and San Jacinto, and a week offshore every now and then, I’ve been able to survive. Barely. I can understand how people get so desperate they will sell their soul to get a miserable paycheck, but I thank god I don’t have to do that. I swear I will die before I EVER submit to their insanely stupid, unconstitutional, illegal, useless hair follicle tests!

I wish more people were able to stand up for themselves. Maybe we could stop this abuse if they were. But, then again, the powers that be are ALL about control. That is ALL they care about and they will do whatever we allow them to get away with.

I hope by going to New Orleans I’ll be able to find something. It’s getting really, really hard to keep trying when it’s been so long and nothing’s happening.

Catching Up on Paperwork

It’s been a slow day today. I’ve been catching up on all kinds of things I’ve been putting off. One big one was filling out the forms for a ‘qualified assessor’ for the US Coast Guard. My boss at San Jacinto Maritime sent the request out a couple of days ago. I was too tired after work at Maersk to get into it. So, completed and sent now. At least I hope it’s finished to their satisfaction.

This qualified assessor thing is just one more example of how the USCG is making it harder every day for people to work in the maritime industry. I swear, if I had any idea that this industry would wind up so strangled with rules and regulations I would’ve listened to my grandmother and been a doctor!

When I first started working on the water, it was so nice. It was perfect for me. I could go to work, anywhere in the world, with decent pay and benefits (including health care as long as I was working at sea). I could dress comfortably, not have to dress in any kind of uniform. I could look like anything I wanted (dress in shorts, flip-flops, and t-shirts). I could talk like I wanted (no such thing as PC back then). I could just do my job and everyone was OK with that.

No more. Those days are long gone.

When I started, you went to the Coast Guard and got a Z-Card. It was good for life. As an ordinary seaman (deck, engine or steward), you didn’t have to do anything to get one. Just fill out the application, pay a few bucks and that was it.

Oh god, I long for those good old days! Now, you can’t even consider going to work on a boat unless you’re willing and able to spend a shitload of money and weeks/months of time! Just take a look at those checklists on the National Maritime Centers website! Not that there’s any real reason for any of this so- called ‘training’. It’s only all about the money!

Yes, that’s it! The USCG, the schools (of course) and the politicians will all insist it’s about ‘safety’, but I’ve yet to see some real proof that any of these extra expenses (all on the backs of the seafarers) has done anything to improve safety. Instead, I believe it has actually caused a decrease in safety, due to driving out more experienced sailors from the industry.

Another reason: since everyone now has to attend “basic safety training’, the employers feel like their new hires have been ‘trained’ in basic safety. They send them out to the ships imagining that they’re prepared to do their jobs with no incidents. They imagine those new hires have learned enough in a week long class to keep them from ever having any accidents at sea. Yeah, riiiiight.

They’ve cut crew sizes down to ridiculously low levels so the old timers don’t have the time to teach the newbies what they really need to know. The basic safety class is a joke! We were all much safer before that class was forced upon us and people became so complacent because of it!

Who in their right minds wants to spend thousands of dollars and weeks of their vacation time taking classes that don’t even teach you anything new? I can’t imagine anyone who would. Yet, that is what we are all saddled with in this industry these days.

Yeah, the schools love it. it’s wonderful for them. They have plenty of money to lobby the politicians to force us all to attend ever increasing training requirements. Meanwhile, us poor sailors have no representation. And how can we argue against ‘safety’?

Do you think I’m the only mariner who feels this way? I can guarantee you that there are a hell of a lot of us out there who are thinking the same way. Just not a lot who are willing to say it online where the companies will see your ‘bad attitude’.

Too bad. I’m going to keep on saying what I think, here on my blog. Online, and whenever the subject comes up. I am not politically correct, I think the whole PC thing is a big reason the country is going to hell and I’m not going to shut up. I’d love to see a real, honest discussion on some of this stuff.

Who in the maritime industry is going to come out and admit that this whole STCW required ‘training’ scheme is nothing but a devious plan to force ‘highly paid’ American sailors out of the work force?

I’ve said so from the very first time I heard of it decades ago. Intended or not, that is the result. McCain and his flunkies calling for the end of the Jones Act will simply put the last nail in the coffin. I’d like to see Trump say to hell with the IMO and the STCW along with all the other things he says he’s getting rid of.

Maritime Monday for August 7th 2017: Chips Ahoy

Another weeks worth of maritime matters, courtesy of Monkey Fist and gCaptain. The story of the North Sea Sat divers was really interesting. I thought so, maybe because I work fairly often with those guys (sat divers). I just got off a job a couple of weeks ago with a bunch of them.

Interesting thoughts on snacking. I’m not a fan of oysters (too ‘slimy’ for me). I don’t think I would like the jellyfish chips either (tho I bet my Korean crews from the tuna boat would love them). 😉

I’d be more in favor of the bags of Doritos, beer and whiskey. That’s much more my style.

And I really wish I had known about this (Denizler Kitabevi Bookshop in Istanbul) bookstore when I would’ve been able to check it out! I probably walked right by it. 🙁

Hope you enjoy this weeks collection…

Pioneer North Sea Divers: In the 1970s, deep sea divers were at the sharp end of the North Sea oil boom. Alex Last has been speaking to the former diver David Beckett, who wrote The Loonliness of a Deep Sea Diver, about his dangerous life working under the waves.  More on BBC World Service Brewing […]

Source: Maritime Monday for August 7th, 2017: Chips Ahoy – gCaptain

Maritime Monday for July 24th 2017: Slippery Sailors

Looks like another week of interesting maritime news courtesy of Monkey Fist and gCaptain. I haven’t been able to read it all due to lack of decent internet access out here on the boat this week. I can’t complain. I’m SO happy to have work- finally! Even if it’s only for a week or 2.

I hope you enjoy the news. Please comment with your favorites. Let me know what you liked and why. It should make for some good discussions later on. 🙂

Viking longboats on the Thames Oscar Adolf Wisting (6 June 1871 – 5 December 1936) was a Norwegian Naval officer and polar explorer. Together with Roald Amundsen he was the first person to reach both the North and South Poles. In later years Oscar Wisting was an active force behind the preparations and building of […]

Source: Maritime Monday for July 24th, 2017: Slippery Sailors – gCaptain

Maritime Monday for July 3rd 2017: Y is for Yachting

Time for another weeks maritime musings courtesy of Monkey Fist and gCaptain. I especially liked the articles about the Kursk, the German invasion and the Mariners Revenge song this week. Enjoy…

Lizzie Borden & The Old Fall River Line Everyone from presidents to swindlers sailed the Sound on “Mammoth Palace Steamers” in the heyday of the side wheelers and night boats. The Fall River Line was a combination steamboat and railroad connection between New York City and Boston that operated between 1847 and 1937. For many […]

Source: Maritime Monday for July 3rd, 2017: Y is for Yachting – gCaptain

Maritime Monday for June 19th 2017: Defense for Country- Tobacco for Society

Here comes the weekly blast of maritime news from Ms Monkey Fist via gCaptain. As always, there is plenty of good stuff in there. I especially liked the stories about the “Unsinkable Molly Brown” and the movie about Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton (to be played by English actor Tom Hardy). This post is the first I’ve heard about this upcoming movie, now I can’t wait to go see it. Be sure to check out the popsicles too. 🙂

Just off River Street, behind the New Heritage Diner, it looms like something out of the Battle of Midway: the U.S.S. Ling, a World War II-era submarine, squatting in a shallow stretch in the upper reaches of the Hackensack River. This 312-foot hulk of gray steel has been berthed along the river’s shoreline since the […]

Source: Maritime Monday for June 19th, 2017: Defense for Country, Tobacco for Society – gCaptain

Maritime Monday for June 12th 2017: Synalpheus pinkfloydi

Another interesting week of maritime matters courtesy of Monkey Fist and gCaptain. My favorites this week are the gorgeous photos of the whales, the octopus video and the story on the USS Liberty. I went to a presentation given by one of the last survivors of that attack a couple of months ago. A friend bought me the book but I haven’t had the chance to read it yet. I’m no fan of the NSA (to put it mildly), nor do I support our involvement in most wars we’ve inserted ourselves into, but it’s an amazing (and eye-opening) story…

Fifty Years Later, NSA Keeps Details of Israel’s USS Liberty Attack Secret On June 8, 1967, an Israeli torpedo tore through the side of the unarmed American naval vessel USS Liberty, approximately a dozen miles off the Sinai coast. The ship, whose crew was under command of the National Security Agency, was intercepting communications at […]

Source: Maritime Monday for June 12th, 2017: Synalpheus pinkfloydi – gCaptain