Another Trip to Houston

I was up in Houston yesterday. I don’t go up there any more than I have to. I usually plan to do everything I need to in one trip. It’s ‘only’ an hour and a half drive, but with traffic it seems longer.

Yesterday I did a little shopping, stopped by the SIU to see if they had any work coming up, and finished up at the WISTA event.

Turns out, the SIU did have something for me. They called me this morning with good news. They had a ship for me!

Now I have to go back up there and do some paperwork. Hopefully I will ship out about this time next week. 🙂

I don’t really know anything about the job yet (except that I’ll be going as AB maintenance- not watch standing). I’ll find out more this afternoon.

WISTA Sista’s- Santa’s Helpers for Houston’s Seafarers

Tonight was the annual get together of the Houston-Galveston area WISTA Sista’s to ready the Christmas care packages for our local seafarers. The Houston Pilots let us use their facility to organize the assembly of the boxes.

One side of the room had tables filled up with supplies for the shoe boxes: pens, mini-flashlights, pads of paper, snacks, candies, razors, hats, gloves, toothpaste, cards/envelopes, calendars, tissues, etc.

The other sides tables were filled with supplies for the assemblers (us)! 😉

Trays of cheese and crackers, sliced turkey and salami, pickles, olives, fruits and dip, sandwiches, tiny little cheesecakes, sodas, coffee and wine. 🙂

A few of us filled up the boxes, while others wrapped them up and tied ribbons. I’m not sure how many we made up, but we filled up 2 trucks by the end of the night. Half will go to Houston, and half to Galveston.

I’m not that much into Christmas. I usually work over the holidays. In fact, up until the last 2 years of this horrible downturn, I’ve worked every Christmas but 2 over the last 40 years! It’s great to be home with friends and family. To enjoy all the holiday spirit, traditions, good cheer and company.

Out on the ship, it’s hard to deal with the holidays sometimes. You miss all that’s going on at home. You may or may not have communications with your family (some ships still have no internet access for the crew and cell phones usually don’t work unless you’re in port). Most ships try to do something special for Christmas. They’ll set up a tree, put up some decorations and cook a special meal. Santa may even show up at the ship! 😉

You have no idea how much difference these little shoe boxes can make to a ships crew at Christmas. I’ve seen guys break down and cry. It does make you feel good to know that someone out there is thinking about you. Someone who you don’t even know, that wanted to make sure you had something special for Christmas.

I’m hoping I’ll be back at sea by Christmas! I don’t know if I’ll see Santa this year, but I know that there are people around the world who care for the seafarers (not just Houston, I know Freeport’s seaman’s center does and other seaman’s centers do too).

PS- WISTA is an organization of women in shipping and transportation (there are men members too). We had a couple of students from Texas A&M tonight (male and female). We had women who work in insurance, logistics, trading, piloting, training, and sailing. The maritime industry covers a lot of ground, there are all sorts of jobs on shore and on the sea.

Maritime Day 2016

I gave you a preview the other day, now on to the real deal. 🙂 Today, May 22, is actually Maritime Day. We even got a “Presidential Proclamation“. 🙂

This years Maritime Day celebration in Galveston (on the 19th) wasn’t as good as last years, if only because of the weather. We didn’t get to sit outside and watch the traffic in the harbor, or get a salute from a tugboat this year, but thank goodness they planned to move it into the cruise ship terminal a couple of days earlier! It was streaming down rain all day long! Thunder and lightning shook the building, drowned out the speakers and split the sky.

But we persevered and had our little memorial with the few hardy souls who managed to make it out before the storm hit in full force.

Galveston’s celebration started off with music by the ‘Singing Stars’ from the Odyssey Academy.

Captain John Peterlin III from the Port of Galveston welcomed everyone to the event and then led into a program explaining the history of the US Merchant Marine and Maritime Day. There was a moment of silence in appreciation of all mariners past and present.

Tammy Lobaugh from Texas A & M Galveston talked a bit about maritime education and a few of the many maritime organizations that contribute to our maritime heritage. Some of them were represented at the event- WISTA, the maritime unions (SIU, MEBA, AMO), the seamans centers, maritime museums, ports, etc.

Cristina Galego representing the Port of Galveston read John Masefield’s poem Sea Fever

Sea Fever
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied; 
            And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
The wreath was laid*
and Father Stelios Sitaras led the benediction before the closing remarks and a reading of Carl Sandburg’s Young Sea.


THE sea is never still.
It pounds on the shore
Restless as a young heart,

The sea speaks
And only the stormy hearts
Know what it says:
It is the face
of a rough mother speaking.

The sea is young.
One storm cleans all the hoar
And loosens the age of it.
I hear it laughing, reckless.

They love the sea,
Men who ride on it
And know they will die
Under the salt of it

Let only the young come,
Says the sea.

Let them kiss my face
And hear me.
I am the last word
And I tell
Where storms and stars come from.

A fitting closing to the memorial on a stormy day.

*due to the terrible weather, they’ll save the wreath and send it out later from the memorial at Pier 21

Maritime Day 2015

Another Memorial Day weekend has passed. I’m not much for holidays. I did go up to Galveston for the National Maritime Day Commemoration Ceremony last week. It’s pretty sad to say it, but I probably would have forgotten it myself if I hadn’t gotten a couple of reminders from friends.

Galveston Coast Guard keepers of the flags

Galveston Coast Guard keepers of the flags

Since I am a merchant marine and have been almost my whole life, I feel like I should at least remember this day and the reason for it. Everyone else celebrates Memorial Day for the ‘armed’ services and forgets about all the Merchant Marine has done for the country (and still does, EVERY DAY).

Galveston had their celebration on Thursday, even though the official day is on May 22.

I was going to try and get there early enough to help man a ‘water table’ for the kids coming up to see all the ships, but it took longer than I expected to take care of my property tax protest in Angleton. I would have liked to take a tour myself, the General Rudder from Texas A&M was dockside, the Elissa was right next door, there were a couple of other ships/boats around and also the Ocean Star oil rig.

By the time I got there, the actual ceremony was about to start. Continue reading

WorkBoat Show: Day 2-3

I had hopes of getting a little rest after the first day of the Workboat Show, but that didn’t happen.

I went back to my hotel fairly early Wednesday, but made the mistake of stopping in the lobby and ran into an old friend. I wound up staying there with some new friends from the fishing side of the maritime industry (they don’t usually come to this show- it’s more focused on the oilfield). We hung out til they closed down the bar.

In the morning, I got over to the Workboat Show in time to meet my friend who was there especially to check out the “Military to Maritime” job fair. We had some lunch first and then went to see who showed up at the job fair. They had quite a few booths. A good variety of both inland and offshore boat companies (Kirby, HOS, Chouest, etc) and land based support (Stuart & Stevenson, etc).

I was surprised to see that they weren’t all mobbed all afternoon (but then I left by 1345). With all we hear on the news about the levels of unemployment, I would have thought there would be a much larger crowd. I think they need to advertise the job fair better. It really wasn’t promoted like the Show itself is.

My friend actually got a job while we were there so he had to take off. I stuck around to talk to people and try to figure out how much hiring they were doing and get some specifics. The USCG was giving a talk about how to get started in the maritime industry, (specifically for members of the military), in a room off to the side, so I went in to see what they had to say.

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After the presentation, it was just about time for the WISTA tea. I’ve been to a couple of them before as a guest, but I joined WISTA (Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association) as a member this year. I haven’t really done anything with them yet, but they do have some good programs. I love the tea, it’s such a nice atmosphere.

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After the tea, the Show was pretty much over for the day, so I wandered over to the French Quarter to see what was happening over there (there’s ALWAYS something). 😉

It was really nice. The fog was just coming in and it made everything look so atmospheric. You could barely see the ships on the river, but you could hear them coming.

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Now it was time for the party at the old JAX Brewery (sponsored by some of the companies at the WorkBoat Show). I had missed some good ones the night before, but I was going tonight! I met up with friends from C-Mar and Oceanwide (I worked for both of them in the past).

They had a fabulous (free) buffet and a great band for dancing. They rented out the entire place so we had room to spread out and the balconies if we wanted to smoke. Lots of people were dancing with the band.

We closed that place down and then hit Bourbon Street. We had a great time. I know I actually went home earlier than some others did. I guess I just ‘cain’t hang’ anymore. 😉

I drug myself out of bed again Friday morning and made it over to the Convention Center just in time for the seminar on ‘Training for the Mariner’. There was a panel of speakers representing different training providers and other interested parties (but very obviously NONE representing those MOST affected- the mariners).

I was hoping to hear some regards for the mariners who are the ones being forced into taking all this ‘training’, but nope, that didn’t come up. I was disappointed in the panel, it seems the focus is going to continue to be on more and more ‘training’ (most of which is going to be held on shore, at our expense).

I spent the rest of the day wandering around the show. I hung out with my friends from Oceanwide some more. Saw some other friends from Texas A&M. Stopped by a few more booths to say hi and see what they were doing.

I got to try out all the latest DP systems (that is my main interest now a days since I’m working as a SDPO). I also got to play with a tiny little ROV. That is a lot harder than it looks, but I think it would be a pretty cool deal to work with one of those too.

I was about ready to check out and it was a good thing, since they were taking down the show everywhere around me. 🙂


mini ROV by SeaRay

mini ROV by VideoRay

I hope I can go back again next year! There’s always new stuff to see, more interesting people to meet, and old friends to catch up with. 🙂


WISTA Forum Highlights Personal Cost of Piracy

WISTA Forum Highlights Personal Cost of Piracy.

It would be nice if more people cared about the risks mariners take to get them all their goodies daily. In the USA, over 90% of our trade is by sea. The threat of piracy is real and growing and NO, they are NOT like Johnny Depp!