Home and Gone

Hey everybody! I made it home! Here’s a picture of the sweet little supply boat that brought me in to the dock.

I wasn’t home long. Wednesday- Saturday and then gone again.

Sorry I haven’t been able to keep up with the blog. I worked over for a week on the Epic Explorer. The same little dive boat I worked on last summer. This hitch I was there for 2 weeks as mate and then another week as galley hand. Once I started working in the galley, I really didn’t have the internet access to be able to blog.

I got home late Tuesday night, too tired to do anything but go right to bed. Wednesday I was still super tired. I was completely out of it from being up all night to being up in the daytime like a normal person. All I got done on Wednesday was sorting through the mail and paying the bills. I was pretty much a zombie all day. Thursday I went up to Houston for a meeting of the Nautical Institute.

I like to keep up with what’s going on in the industry and I go to those sort of meetings if I can. The NI has a couple of interesting projects coming up. One is a course to train navigation assessors which I would really be interested in (except that I’m still broke and can’t afford the fees).

I saw a bunch of people I knew there. One of them was the director of the maritime program I am teaching for this week at Lamar State College in Orange, TX. He scared me for a while, not sure if the class would be held, but they came through Friday morning.

So Friday afternoon I drove up to Orange to meet everyone and go over some things, pick up the course materials so I can get ready to teach the class. I’m a little surprised at how different it is from the same class I’ve been teaching at San Jacinto. All these courses are US Coast Guard approved and so have to cover the same basic material. I’m having to study just as much or more as my students will!

That kept me busy most of the day yesterday. I also got a hair cut, did laundry and had to run to the store for a few groceries since I ran out of milk. I’m still trying to get used to my change of schedule. I’m still tired and falling asleep by dinner time, but still too much to do!

Now I’m back up here in Orange. I’ll be staying here until class is over on Friday. Tomorrow morning I’ll be up at 6 am, they have breakfast here at the hotel (for free), so I’ll have a chance to have some coffee and eat before I run over to the school. I want to try to be there by 0730 and start class by 0800.

I’m not sure how many students I have yet. I think it’ll only be 1-2. That makes it harder to stick to the schedule since they plan for lots of students with lots of questions. I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes with this new program.

Back In New Orleans

Whew! It’s been a hectic couple of days. I actually got to work Monday-Tuesday this week. Was supposed to have Wednesday too, but the students finished up early and so no role players were needed. Sucks!! I really could’ve used that extra day of pay.

But, I put the extra time to good use. I’ve been trying hard to get my taxes to the accountant before leaving for this weeklong trip. I managed to get a few things sorted out and dropped off a package for her on the way to Houston this morning.

I made it just in time for the seminar the Nautical Institute was putting on at the WGMA facility (near the ship channel). They had a pretty good turnout. I was happy to see a few old friends there and had a chance to catch up a little bit. Might even turn into a bit more work for me.

They had 5 different presentations. Everything from how the new DP scheme worked to how the new regulations for low sulfur fuel affected ship handling, to a historical perspective re: shipping and refugees, a very interesting slideshow on the newly opened Panama Canal expansion, to testing life saving equipment in the Arctic (I certainly would NOT want to have to try using any of it up there)! It was really very interesting. Especially the part about polar bears and walrus. ūüėČ

I left the seminar at 5:00 and of course got stuck in traffic. It wasn’t too bad yet and I made it to Hobby in plenty of time for my flight. Actually, I tried to get an earlier flight. I had plenty of time for it, but they would have charged me 3 times what I already paid to get the earlier flight. WOW!

I did not take the earlier flight. What the hell!? Why in the world do they do that sort of thing? It doesn’t cost them a single damn cent to put somebody on a different flight, but they all want to make like it’s some huge big deal and just gouge the hell out of you! All it does is ruin their customer satisfaction. Anybody out there work for the airlines have another reason for this other than that they do it because they can get away with it?

I just checked into my hotel. It was a pretty quick ride from the airport. It only took about a half hour. I took the shuttle ($36 round trip). Usually it takes much longer, it seems I’m always the last one they drop off.

I’m too tired to do much tonight. I arrived here after midnight so all I did was check out the room and go out for a cigarette (no smoking hotel). I was hoping for a room with a view, but no such luck. I’m right next to the elevators, convenient but noisy, and I’m looking at a wall about 20 ft away and down into a garage ($42 for parking- wow- gouging again). ūüôĀ

Looks like I got real lucky to get a room at all. Even in the short time I was down in the lobby, I heard 2 people that had reservations but the hotel had no more rooms. They were pissed (and I don’t blame them one bit)!

I’m so excited to finally be here! Looking forward to starting the travel writing workshop in the morning. It’s going to be a very full weekend. We’ll be in the workshop from 8-5 every day and then (of course) going out to explore at night.

I’ve already missed tonights bourbon tasting set up by a few people on the group Facebook page. That’s probably not something I really needed to do anyway. I’ve got plenty of plans for later, once I get a little sleep. ūüôā

Busy in Houston

I came up to Houston yesterday for a meeting of the Nautical Institute about DP (Dynamic Positioning). I figured since I am a DP operator (DPO), I ought to go and see what they were talking about.

It was actually pretty interesting. I saw quite a few old friends and also got to ask a few questions of the panel. I brought up some of my concerns about the new scheme the NI has brought out on certification of DPOs. I hope the discussion there will cause some serious thinking about some of the problems with this new scheme (more on this later).

I got out of the meeting about 1630 and met up with some friends for dinner. We went to the “Grand Lux Caf√©” over by the Galleria. We sat outside so we could smoke, but they STILL had to complain! I thought that’s why they had outdoor areas now. The food was good, but overpriced. I had no idea til I saw the¬†bill, but it was over $100 for 3 of us (and only 1 drink each)!¬†Next time I’ll stick to the Cheesecake Factory.

I stayed overnight so I could get up early to go get my visa for Angola, I’m supposed to be going back to the ship over there on Monday. They want me to be there by 0800 and I really didn’t feel like dealing with horrible Houston traffic for 2 hours first thing in the morning. Especially when I’ll be dealing with government officials! Better to spend the money for a good nights sleep.

So, I’m hoping it won’t take all day, waiting around the embassy. I’d like to check out some other things while I’m up here in Houston. Maybe go to the zoo later. Or a museum?

Nautical Institute- The Navigator

A ‚Äėreal‚Äô way of life: enjoying the rewards¬†and challenges of a career at sea

In this series, The Navigator speaks to current navigational personnel about their motivations, careers to date and thoughts for the future. Under the spotlight this issue is Officer Cadet Thomas Chitseko, who is currently undergoing final preparations for his orals examinations.

What interested you in a career at sea?

Seafaring is a way of life: a vocation rather than a job. This appealed to me as, having tried a couple of 9-5 jobs, I realized that I wanted my work to be an integral part of my life, not something that I did in order to pay for my ‚Äėreal‚Äô life at the weekends.The opportunities to travel and to spend¬†my youth doing something other than¬†looking at a computer screen were also strong motivators.

What career path has led to your current position?

I studied International Relations at the London School of Economics in the UK and worked in e-commerce and for a corporate communications consultancy for a while before coming to sea.

Where do you see your career going from here?

I hope to complete my training and take up an appointment as a Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) deck officer over the next twelve months. The unique role of the RFA provides developmental opportunities that tally closely with what I want to get out of my career at this stage.

What’s the most important aspect of being a watch-keeping officer?

It’s crucial that watch-keeping officers are instilled with a sense of professionalism corresponding with the responsibilities that they hold. The mission of The Navigator to develop and promote the professional identity of the modern OOW, is a vital one.

What are the greatest rewards of your life at sea?

I have enjoyed the opportunity to get ashore in some exotic places and to develop my understanding of the world. I’ve also met some interesting and entertaining old (and younger) salts at college and aboard the ships on which I have sailed. This said, it is the expectation of taking responsibility for driving ships, and the motivation that this provides to become a capable OOW, with all that this entails which, has been the greatest reward of my time at sea so far.

What do you think are the greatest challenges for future navigators?

Getting heard ashore. We are living at a time where technological advancement should be making navigation more safe and effective than it has ever been. However, partly due to the fragmentation of the maritime sector and substantially due to the distance imposed by working at sea itself, the feedback mechanisms for getting lessons from the coal-face of seafaring integrated into the regulations, training and technology that will shape the future of the industry are not, in my opinion, all that they could be.

PS-I didn’t write this post (above). I tried to link this to the website since they say feel free to share and I thought this was a good article in their publication “The Navigator”. I couldn’t get it to work or the photo to transfer. Sorry. The link to the Nautical Institute is www.nautinst.org you can find the Navigator there along with lots of other great information for seafarers and all the latest DP news

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