A Sailors Story

I just got home from my Tuesday night political meeting. Since I’ve been gone, they’ve moved it back to Fuddruckers. 🙂

I’m still doing the Just Jot It January challenge (the prompt today is: coffee), but I’ve decided to go off on another tangent and stir the pot again today…

I haven’t been going to those meetings for a while. Not only because I’ve been in and out on a couple of jobs recently, but also because I just get so frustrated, angry and depressed over the state of things.

We talk about all kinds of things at those meetings. Everything from healthy, fresh (non-GMO) foods, organic gardening and raw milk to chemtrails, fluoridation, cryptocurrencies, UN agenda 21, property rights, human rights, civil liberties, abuse of power, corporatism, corrupt politicians, the banksters running everything, and all kinds of other things.

Tonight, I met the guy who called me last night. He told us all the story he told me over the phone last night.

Personally, I was angered and disgusted with the extent that people completely refuse to just mind their own business. Of course, many people think that everything is their business. That’s a big problem everywhere. Maybe especially in small towns like this one.

This is his story: His family lives on a sailboat. They leased a mooring from a man and they’ve been living aboard their sailboat down there near the beach. The man (I’ll call him Dave), his wife (I’ll call her Maria) and their kids.

They’re a nice, quiet couple. Normal kids (I haven’t met the kids yet). Not making trouble or bothering anybody. Minding their own business.

Christmas Eve, the cops showed up and gave them 2 hours to get out! OK, it’s damn near impossible to do that on short notice. If you have a boat, you know what I’m talking about.They didn’t want to anyway (and I don’t blame them). They asked why? What was the problem?

Long story short, the cops have been harassing them every day since. Dave finally told the cops to give him a ticket or leave him alone. So, they made up some line of BS, told Dave that living aboard his boat violated some ordinance (turns out there is no such ordinance) and when Dave investigated and challenged the cops on it was told (oops!) he didn’t really violate that ordinance, it was a different one!

So. Here’s a nice normal family, being harassed and run out of town because they made the choice to live aboard a boat instead of a ‘normal’ house. I ask why is that anybody else’s business?

I’ve been involved in arguments about ‘boat trash’ for years. I own a house very close to where this is happening today. I bought it specifically to dock my boat there. I fought the homeowners association about their ridiculous opinions about boat owners (“boat trash”) back then. I still think they’re full of uninformed prejudice and they really need to just shut up and mind their own business.

IMHO, If I buy property, I ought to be able to USE it! Why buy anything if you’re not going to use it? “Use” is inherent in the definition of ownership and is common sense part and parcel of buying something.

If you want to dictate how I can use “my” property, then I don’t really own it- YOU DO! And if you’re not paying me for that, then you’re stealing from me and you are completely unjustified to even think you ought to be able to do that!

This family of sailors is not hurting anyone in the neighborhood in any way, shape or form! They pay their rent (part of which goes to the property taxes), they don’t look for trouble, they use shoreside facilities (water, sewer, trash) so there is no “trash” involved! They’re normal people except that they’ve decided to try and escape the rat race and live their dreams.

They ought to be able to do that! And nobody should be able to harass them about their choices!

Aaaand, not only is that family being unjustly attacked, but their landlord’s property rights are being violated too. HE is the one who made the deal to rent this family space. HE bought and paid for that property. HE ought to be able to USE it the way HE wants to.

It’s NOT up to the neighbors, it’s NOT up to the city! If he is not harming anyone else by his use of his property, then it is his absolute right to do so!

Neither the property owner nor the sailors are bothering anybody in any real way. They are not harming anyone! Someone decides they don’t like looking at ‘boat trash’, well that’s just tough tiddly-winks! Grow up! The world does not run itself to satisfy your every desire!

You want a pristine view, then either buy up all the property as far as you can see around you so that YOU have a legitimate right to say something about your view, or shut the hell up!

You live in a community, you need to understand that other people also have rights. As long as no one is harming another, everyone has the exact same equal rights under the law! YOU cannot run someone off because you don’t like their appearance!

We can’t (and should stop trying to) make laws based on such subjective ideals. Everyone has a different opinion. A different viewpoint. Laws need to be based on objective FACTS. NOT opinions, not feelings, not looks!

You shouldn’t be allowed to force me to paint my house YOUR favorite color! I should be allowed to paint it MY favorite color regardless of how much you hate it!

Hopefully, we can come to an agreement where we each paint our houses some color we can at least tolerate. The point is, there should not be a LAW about it!

This is supposed to be a “free country”. As Americans, we’re supposed to value “freedom” and “liberty”. “A man’s home is his castle”.

WTF happened? Do we really need laws to dictate what color you can paint your house? Because you might ‘offend’ someone? REALLY? Offending someone is NOT harming them!

This trend towards protecting everyone’s ‘feelings’ and trying to be inoffensive is getting past the point of ridiculousness. It has now become actively harmful.

This sailors story is just one example. I don’t know how you feel about it (but I hope you’ll comment). I hope you’ll think about what I’m trying to get across here. I’m curious to hear your objections (and yeah, I’m pretty sure there will be plenty- at least there would be in person so hoping being online won’t stop everyone).

I plan to help this family fight the city. I’m not sure what I can do, but I’m starting by sharing their story and looking for suggestions.

Maritime Monday for September 26th 2016: Encore Performance

This weeks Maritime Monday is a good one. I do love art of all kinds, and especially maritime art (of course). This week there’s a very nice showcase of artists who liked to work on maritime subjects down through history. There’s also a mention of a new group, the “Sea Sisters”. I’ll definitely be checking them out. A neat article about the elevators on the Three Gorges Dam (I was excited to be able to cruise through there before the dam was finished), what an impressive project! Thanks to Monkey Fist and gCaptain for sharing all this great stuff!

The World’s Largest Elevator Can Lift 6.7 Million Pounds of Ship sploid.gizmodo …

Source: Maritime Monday for September 26th, 2016: Encore Performance – gCaptain

Buzcador Goes to Sea

We finally made it to sea!

It only took us about a day extra to meander our way out through the Louisiana bayous. Instead of heading straight out down the Atchafalaya River like we planned, we had to backtrack to find a way out where we wouldn’t keep running aground.

#AHTS #Buzcador underway in #Atchafalaya River

We headed back up the Atchafalaya, passed through Bayou Chene, took the ICW to the Houma Navigation Canal and made it to the sea buoy at Cat Island Pass around 2200 our second day of the voyage.

We scrambled back aboard the Buzcador at the buoy and thanked our trusty tugs Ms Edmay and Mr Nicolas. We finally got underway under our own power for the first time. It was a beautiful night as we made our way through the offshore oilfields, heading almost due South. The stars were bright, the seas were calm and we were making decent time. Nights like that are why I’m always ready to go sailing again. 🙂

The night sky is so awesome far out to sea! There’s really nothing to compare.

I don’t know why I was expecting to see more traffic. Shipping has been dead– at least in the Gulf of Mexico- where so much shipping is related to oil. Since the price of oil dropped like a rock- from over $100 to mid $20’s- a year ago. Hundreds of Gulf boats have been stacked. It happened too quickly for any reaction but huge layoffs. I’ve heard there’ve been more than a half million people laid off in the oil fields already (and still nothing but bad news).

Even passing through the Yucatan Channel and further South, we saw very few ships. With the opening of the new Panama Canal, I expected to see lots of big container ships passing by. I thought we’d see tons of local freighters and fishing boats once we got past Cuba and into the Caribbean Sea. But I never saw much of anything till the approach to Cartagena. Even then, traffic was very light compared to normal.

#chart showing progress of the #AHTS #Buzcador

We spent a full 10 days underway- more than twice as long as expected. We had some problems with the ship. Nothing really unexpected. The Buzcador had been cold stacked for years before we were brought aboard. Mechanics had been working frantically for weeks to get everything done so we could deliver her to her new owners.

Nothing was done that didn’t ‘need’ to be done. IMHO we were cutting it close, but after 9+ months without a real job, I was ready to take a few chances in order to earn a decent paycheck. Sure, I was happy as hell to get an AB job! A captains license doesn’t mean shit when you can’t find a boat!

Our engines worked fine for the first day or so. After that, we had to baby them a bit. The port shaft bearing was overheating and the starboard generator had problems with the oil pressure. We cut our RPMs down and made about 6 knots (close to half speed). The weather didn’t help much either.

It started kicking up before we reached Cuba and never let up. The mainmast shook so bad when we hit a heavy sea, we wondered when it was going to come crashing through the wheelhouse on us. Part of it had already fallen off when the other AB went up to change the masthead light before we left.

#mainmast of the #AHTS #Buzcador

mainmast with #backscratcher hanging off

We sprung a couple of leaks around the ship and occasionally more pieces would fall off. Most of the outside lights around the house were falling off and full of water. Good thing we didn’t need to turn them on. 😉

The AC system for the house leaked. It got so bad that I would scoop up the water with a dust pan every time I went by. A couple of days like that and it got worse all the sudden. The whole room was awash. We were dumping 4-5 5 gallon buckets every couple of hours! Marvin the OS (ordinary seaman) finally got a chance to take a look at it and sent the water somewhere other than inside the AC room.

The pictures don’t look so bad, but we had over 8′ seas for most of the trip, over 10′ for a day or 2. We were bouncing around like a cork (which didn’t help our speed either). The weather was squally most of the way and pretty much overcast after the first couple of days. I never really got to see the stars again once the moon grew full.

sun breaking out behind the clouds on a rough day at sea

It was getting to the point where we were starting to worry about our food, fuel, water supplies. This entire trip was only supposed to take about 6 days (I wound up spending 21 days aboard). We were also worried about catching our flights home.

‘Starvin’ Marvin’ and Noel the mate, had a fishing line out. Marvin cooked us up a couple of nice fish dinners. We had a dorado (dolphin/mahi-mahi) one night, a tuna the next, and a barracuda one day that no one would eat but him.

We actually did just fine. We didn’t run out of much of anything (just laundry soap and jelly -for the PBJ’s). We had plenty of beans and rice every day thanks to Marvin. I helped cook a couple of times and so did the Chief Engineer ‘Middle Aged Mutant Ninja Turtle’. (Captain Todd gave us all nicknames within a couple of days- I was ‘Jilligan’- like from Gilligans Island). 🙂

#ships crew, #engineers

Sing-Sing, Chief Middle Aged Mutant Ninja Turtle & Starvin’ Marvin

We were able to increase our speed after a couple of days. The engine crew was sure busy that trip! Chief Engineer (Ninja Turtle), client rep (Colombia) and oiler (Sing-Sing) spent most of their time down in the super hot and noisy engine room, trying to keep us going.

Kudos to them for working so hard! It seems there was always something going on down there. I’d make my rounds at night, go down there to check up on them and they were always in the engine room, checking the bilges, checking the bearings, checking the temperatures and pressures. Always having to fix something.

#night sky at #sea, #full moon

I spent most of my time up at night, as lookout. I was night AB (able body seaman). I worked from 1800-0600 every night once we got underway. Sid the Sloth was the day AB, he relieved me in the mornings (below right).

 

It was actually a nice change. Capt Todd (above left) was on from 1000-2200 and Noel the mate was on from 2200-1000 (tho it seemed he never slept and was always on the bridge). Between rounds I would talk to them about previous ships, ports and people we’d worked with. Telling sea stories is another favorite activity of mine. 😉

Since this was just a delivery job, we weren’t really concerned with all the usual things we’d be doing to take care of the ship. For instance, as AB, normally I’d be spending all day chipping and painting, cleaning and greasing, etc. This time, I spent almost all of my time as lookout on the bridge. I tried to help in the galley when I got a chance, cooked a couple of times, and cleaned up the house when it got too bad.

Still, we were glad to reach Colombia. I went to bed before we got the pilot, when I woke up, we were all fast in Cartagena.

More later.

 

I’m Back. Sorta.

Hey! I made it!! The trip only took about 3 times longer than expected. I didn’t think I’d be out of touch for nearly so long. I’m so glad to see so many of you stuck around and didn’t jump ship on me.

We brought the ship into Cartagena (Columbia) this morning. It took us a couple of hours to get cleared by customs & immigration and to turn the ship over to it’s new owners.

Then it was off to find a hotel for the night (thanks to the personal generosity of the captain). Since we had no internet onboard, we had no way to look for anything beforehand. We had a recommendation for one from our Columbian client and we went there.

We wound up going to another place. It’s actually an apartment and close to the beach. We were all just happy to be off the ship. First order of duty was dinner and drinks! The captain treated us to a nice dinner at the place across the street. Everybody came back to the apt and crashed afterward. I went for a walk.

I’ll tell you more of the story over the next few days. It’s after midnight and I’ll be up at 0630 in the morning. We leave here at 0730 for the airport. My flight leaves around 1030 (I still don’t know the exact details).

I heard my flight(s) will arrive into New Orleans around 2300. Then I still have to get back to the dock where I left my truck. It’s about a 6 hour drive from there to get home. I’m not sure I’ll be able to make that drive after being up all day. I’m not so good at staying up past 24 hours anymore.

So I won’t actually be home for another day or two. Look for me to catch up after that. 🙂

 

Good News!

I thought I had some really great news today. I got a call about a DPO job! Only for a month, but hey- I’ll do just about anything right now. A month as DPO would help a LOT!

I was actually in Houston for an interview for a different job when I got the call about the DPO. I think the interview went pretty well, but will have to wait and see what happens next week. I’m still not sure exactly what that job is all about.

When I got out of the interview (I had my phone turned off), I had another call about a job. This one was leaving immediately. Only for AB, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers! I still remember how to chip and paint. 🙂

The DPO job is not a sure thing, they don’t even know for sure when they’d need me, or IF they’d need me at all. I figure a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush (learned that lesson). I’m leaving early in the morning.

I’ll drive to Louisiana, get on the boat, deliver the boat to Columbia, fly back home. Should take less than 10 days if everything goes as planned (it never does).

I’m looking forward to the adventure. 🙂

I’ll be SO glad to be back at sea again. Only problem is- I’ll be incommunicado. They have no internet or phone. I swore I’d never take a job again where I couldn’t stay in touch, but it’s been so long since I’ve had ANY work. I’m just going to have to suck it up and keep hoping things get better offshore soon.

It’s hard to believe how people treat you when they know you’re desperate for work. Hard to believe anyone thinks it’s OK to send people to work totally cut off from the world for weeks at a time. Yes, we were all used to that, back in the day. Back when no one had internet or cel phones, it was bearable. We waited to get snail mail when we reached port. That was decades ago! Hard to believe employers still get away with treating their people like that. We’re not talking 3rd world employers either, these are Americans. 🙁

Anybody out there from Columbia? I would love to learn more about it. I was there for a short time during high school, not nearly enough time.

Maritime Monday: July 18th 2016

I’ve always enjoyed this Maritime Monday series from Monkey Fist and so glad they’re back again. Thanks to Monkey Fist and to gCaptain for promoting them. There’s so much interesting history, science, art, music, movies, culture and just all around maritime fun. 🙂

I hope you enjoy this weeks collection of maritime stuff in Maritime Monday…

Scientists call for better plastics design to protect marine life Improved materials would encourage recycling and prevent single-use containers from entering the oceans  “[It comes from] 60 years of being a throwaway society,” Thompson said. Most of the plastic litter comes from single-use items, which have been inadequately disposed of and not recycled. “They have […]

Source: Maritime Monday for July 18th, 2016 – gCaptain

PS- My first job as third officer was on a sister ship to the Okeanos Explorer. Another T-AGOS ship, the USNS Invincible.

300px-USNS_Invincible_(T-AGM_24)

Want to Go Sailing But Don’t Have a Boat?

Check out this great post from Astrolabe Sailing for some great tips on how to be a great guest so you’ll be invited back. Yes, it is just as much fun and MUCH cheaper to go with friends!

So you’ve been invited to go and stay on someone’s boat? Awesome! The next best thing to having a boat of your own is having friends who have boats. It is much cheaper and just about as much fun. So to increase your chances of having a fantastic time – and being invited to come […]

via Being a good boat guest — Astrolabe Sailing