Weekly Photo Challenge: Containers ll – Scotch Whisky

Here’s another good example of containers for this weeks challenge. 

I got to take a tour of the Glenfiddich Distillery in Scotland recently. ;-)

I had no idea, but I learned that Scotland earns more money from whisky than it does from the oil industry.  That’s a LOT of whisky! :-)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Containers

Here’s my entry to the Weekly Photo Challenge.


I have no idea what these are meant for. I took this photo at the Houston International Fest. I always try to make it if I happen to be home. They have different themes each year. They had a pretty good representation of African vendors last year.


Love What you Do!

Capt Jill:

So true!
I tried hard to find work I really loved. I used to REALLY love sailing (working at sea).
Now, the lawyers and accountants have taken all the fun out of it. It’s much harder to see the value of this lifestyle now a days.
I still love being out here on the ocean and still can’t think of anything I’d rather do. I hope I can find a place to work again where I can enjoy it like I used to.

Originally posted on The Journal:


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Whale show returns to bay: Moss Landing site of latest feeding event

Capt Jill:

I wish I could have seen that show those whales put on! I am working off of Africa at the moment. I have seen a lot of whales (also dolphins) around, but never this close to the ship. I would love it if they came closer. We are not able to move out of our position to see them better.

Originally posted on 2012 The Awakening:

By Jason Hoppin, Santa Cruz Sentinel

Posted:   07/18/2014 08:34:37 AM PDT0 Comments
Updated:   07/18/2014 08:36:12 AM PDT
Three humpback whales lunge-feed near Moss Landing State Beach on July 16. Humpbacks have been congregating near the mouth of Moss Landing Harbor to feast
Three humpback whales lunge-feed near Moss Landing State Beach on July 16. Humpbacks have been congregating near the mouth of Moss Landing Harbor to feast on anchovies, a replay of spectacular feeding events that occurred in Santa Cruz in 2012 and in Capitola last year. (Mike Sack — Sanctuary Cruises)

MOSS LANDING – It’s one thing to see humpback whales feeding and frolicking just offshore. It’s quite another when they’re so close you can smell their breath.

That’s what’s happening in Moss Landing this week, as a pod of about 15 of the once-endangered creatures have settled in for an anchovy feast within a quarter-mile of shore. One of the majestic whales was even photographed venturing into the mouth of the Moss Landing Harbor.

“We were with a whale that’s…

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Food poisoning scandal: How chicken spreads campylobacter. The dirty secret of the UK’s poultry industry

Capt Jill:

can’t eat fish cause of overcrowded diseased farmed fish, can’t eat beef cause of mad cow disease, can’t eat chicken cause of this, are they doing this purposely to force us all into being vegetarians?

Originally posted on 2012 The Awakening:

• Two-thirds of fresh retail chicken in UK contaminated with campylobacter
• Guardian findings prompt investigations at three major supermarkets
• Government shelves plans to name and shame suppliers

Felicity Lawrence, Andrew Wasley and Radu Ciorniciuc

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Sick chicken: what you need to know and what the government won’t tell you – video

Three of the UK’s leading supermarkets have launched emergency investigations into their chicken supplies after a Guardian investigation uncovered a catalogue of alleged hygiene failings in the poultry industry.

Undercover footage, photographic evidence and information from whistleblowers has revealed how strict industry hygiene standards to prevent the contamination of chicken with the potentially deadly campylobacter bug can be flouted on the factory floor and on farms.

Specific incidents identified in the last month include a factory floor flooded with chickens guts in which the bacteria can flourish, carcasses coming into contact with workers’ boots…

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The Daily Post: Can’t Watch This

When was the last time you watched something so scary, cringe-worthy, or unbelievably tacky — in a movie, on TV, or in real life — you had to cover your eyes?


The question from the Daily Post got me thinking…

I LOVE scary movies! I used to stay up late at night every weekend to watch “Creature Feature”. I still love to read good horror stories and watch scary movies. I like to read disaster stories, I like to hear about how people managed to avoid the worst and survive against all odds.

The thing that scares me more than anything now is what I see happening in real life, every day. The loss of our freedom here in America, more and more every day.

I try not to watch the regular news any more. It’s not really news. It’s just an on going litany of all the horrible SHIT going on in the world every day. Nothing good about it. Nothing helpful about it. Nothing any of us can do about any of it. It’s so depressing.

I can’t STAND to watch that show “COPS”. It almost makes me physically sick. I can’t believe that show is so popular and people actually believe those thugs in uniforms are doing anybody any good. It’s disgusting to watch them strut around. Yes, it’s ‘cringe-worthy’ for sure. :-(

Five Hundred Dollars?

Ever spent the night in a $500/night hotel room?

I recently did. I flew from Aberdeen to Angola to join a ship. I was lucky the company I’m working for got me a room for the night in Luanda. Here’s a picture of it.

What do you think? Worth it? Maybe it’s the view that makes it all worthwhile… 

Maybe it’s the food? I have to admit, the food was pretty good. :-) 

It was extra. :-( The food and drinks were very expensive, just like the hotel room itself was. I could hardly believe it when I took a look at the menu!

The food was good, but not THAT good! I mean, really, $28 for a club sandwich? How can they justify $10 for a cup of (white) coffee? No, NOT in some fancy, hyped- up Starbucks clone, just the hotel restaurant. Maybe it was the milk? No, a cup of tea cost the same $10.

I guess I could save money and drink beer, it was only $7.50. ;-)


Working in a ship

Capt Jill:

I saw this posted as a link in my linkedin email earlier. I saved it so I could go back and read it later. I think he really did a great job of explaining a lot of what it’s like being a sailor.
I signed up to follow his blog. Hoping he’ll do more posts in English since my Spanish is not that good.

Originally posted on TRANSPORTE MARÍTIMO:

Working Take1Again, writing in English.
Why, you may ask.
A tribute, I say. To 250 people.

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One Word Photo Challenge: Rainbow

My entry to the photo challenge (rainbow). Here’s the link. :-)

The first photo was taken while I was working as captain of a tuna purse seiner out of Tarawa, Kiribati. We usually got to port to unload our catch every couple of weeks and I took advantage of the chance to go ashore every time I could.

Tarawa is a small island and it reminds me of what I imagine life would have been like in the 50′s. I had some great times there with some beautiful people.

If you want a better idea of what it’s really like, try reading the book “Sex Lives of Cannibals” by J. Maarten Troost. It made me feel like I was back on the island. It’s hilarious! ;-)


The second one is from a trip I took down to Argentina with a friend in 2010. We went to Iguazu Falls (very impressive) and this picture was from the path around the top of the falls. I do have some much better pictures of the main falls, but they didn’t have any rainbows. :-(

The last one is one I took while I was at work last summer on the semisubmersible Ensco 8506. The supply boat “Chartres” was standing by and in the perfect spot to get these pictures. Too bad my camera was so fogged up from the AC inside, I could have got some even better shots. I had to wait til my lens cleared up but was still able to get a couple of decent shots. :-)


Weekly Photo Challenge: Relic

This is my entry for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Relic. Here’s the story behind the photos I chose for my entry.

I took a trip to Indonesia a couple of years ago to look into having a sailboat built for me. I have been trying to find a way to move out of the USA for years.

The main hold up has been that no other country will give me a work visa (unless I can do something no one else in their country can do). I thought about teaching English (TEFL) and I still think about doing that sometimes (maybe I will one of these days, but I hate to  put myself in a situation where that is my only option. I started writing and blogging as another option to hopefully help me make a living without being stuck in the USA.

I am looking for more freedom. I don’t want to jump from the frying pan of the USA (which is rapidly becoming a police state) into a situation where I don’t really know the rules and have restricted myself by not having the finances (because I had to take a low paying job) to get out of any trouble I don’t know enough to stay out of.

So, maybe I’m trying to have my cake and eat it too, but I really think we all deserve to live a wonderful life. The life WE choose. Free to do the things we enjoy, in the physical location we want to be.

I don’t agree with borders in principle. I don’t agree with the idea of any political authority. “Leaders” are just regular people and governments are just groups of people. None of them are any more special than you or me. I believe we are ALL equal under the law (natural law) and we should ALL have the same opportunity to live our own lives without interference.

I think we ALL have the inherent right to do anything we want as long as we don’t hurt anyone else (who has the same rights as we do). The founding fathers of the USA enshrined that principle in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (Bill of Rights), but the government we have now has corrupted that ideal beyond belief.

We are already FAR beyond the point where the original colonists revolted. I keep wondering WTF has happened to the American people that they submit without question to things like the TSA groping their children in the airports.

We have gone from a country where we had a revolution over a 4% tax on TEA, to a country where the government routinely locks up people for LIFE for mere possession of a harmless plant!?!

OK, enough with the politics (for now). ;-)

I went to Indonesia look into buying a boat. I thought I could build a business with it that would allow me to live in a foreign country. I thought if I had a means to support myself, I could make the move. Too bad the price of the boats had gone up so much since I first heard about them. There was really no way I could afford one.

Unless it was one like the ones in these pictures. :-(


Around Aberdeen: Day 4

Another fine day out practicing in the life boats. :-)

After we got in to the dock, I spent the afternoon wandering around Aberdeen again.

First thing I did was stop in at C-Mar. I had worked for C-Mar (US) off and on since 2007 when Oceaneering brought my boat back to the Gulf of Mexico and the culture shock was just too much.

I had asked C-Mar too many times to count to find me some work outside the Gulf of Mexico but for some strange reason, they never could come up with anything. :-(

While wandering around Aberdeen the past couple of days, I had walked right by C-Mars local office. I figured the least I could do was stop by and introduce myself, and so I did. ;-)

Everyone was very nice to me and offered me tea and coffee, but I could see they were all pretty busy and working hard. I didn’t stay long. They weren’t in the market for any DPOs or deck officers (if I had been a subsea engineer, they would have jumped).

After a quick cup of tea with the subsea dept head, I found my way to the Tolbooth Museum, another one of Aberdeens FREE museums. It’s right on the main (Union) street downtown.

It was in a very old building (built between 1616- 1629) and had a lot of history. It’s also supposed to be one of the most haunted places in town (I didn’t see any ghosts). It used to be the old jail for Aberdeen. It was a little hairy climbing up the worn old, dark, narrow, spiral stairs to the exhibits in the former cells on the upper levels.

They had some models of Aberdeen, past and present. They had some items from the city archives (a very good collection). They had some old manacles, locks and chains they used to use on the prisoners. There were some interesting stories posted up about former prisoners and the way they lived back in the old days.

I thought the museum was interesting, but not really somewhere I wanted to spend a lot of time. Not because it was haunted or creepy feeling, but because I don’t really want to spend any more time in a jail than I have to. ;-)

I found the bus stop and made my way up to Old Aberdeen. I was talking to a lady who sat next to me and she told me where to get off, but I could see the buildings of Kings College (Aberdeen University) as we drove along the street. The bus dropped me off practically right across the street from the main chapel.

It was another gorgeous day and as I was trying to line up my camera to try to take in the whole scene, I started talking to a guy I saw pulling weeds in the yard of a house across the way.

We actually talked for quite a while. He even let me into his garden to take some good shots of the Kings College buildings in his reflecting pool. :-)

Here’s how it looked from the street.

After I spent some time looking around the college (and peeking in the open rooms- too bad the chapel was closed, the stained glass looked very nice), I walked up the street to the Cruickshank Botanic Gardens.

The gardens and zoological building were only a few blocks from where I got off the bus and were part of the university. The gardens were really nice and part of it near the entrance was full of a large group of people having a reception of some sort.

I walked through all the beautiful, differently landscaped gardens and found the Zoological Building. It has a small museum but I got there just a few minutes too late. They were already closed.

I kept walking. I was trying to make my way to Seaton Park and the River Don. I found another interesting looking churchyard. This one was St Machars. It was already closed for the day. I checked this one out online later and was sorry I missed seeing the interior.

I enjoyed wandering around the churchyard and looking at some of the gravestones (am I weird for finding this stuff interesting?) and the views out over the nearby Seaton Park.

I saw some of the formal gardens of the park from the churchyard, so it was easy for me to find my way down there. I walked around the park enjoying the well tended fields, forests and flowers for a while.Then I found the River Don and decided to follow it down to the sea (Aberdeen Bay).

It was a nice walk along the river and through the woods. I passed people walking their dogs and jogging. I followed the path til it came out over one of the oldest bridges in Scotland (Brig ‘o Balgownie) and into a cute neighborhood of traditional cottages covered with beautiful, sweet-smelling flowers. Roses, honeysuckle and other colorful blooms lined the roadway all the way out to the main road back into downtown.

I stopped into a local pub for change and a drink, then caught the bus back into downtown. I had seen a place advertising traditional Irish music (which I LOVE) and I wanted to try to get there in time for a good seat.

I did get there a little late and the place was pretty crowded. It didn’t really matter tho, since the band wasn’t going to be there anyway. I was rather disappointed. :-(

I only had a couple of beers before I managed to find my way back to my hotel for the night. More lifeboat ‘training’ in the morning.

Around Aberdeen: Day 3

Another day spent out playing in the lifeboats off Aberdeen. The weather was still gorgeous and we had a good time practicing man overboard maneuvers, towing and ‘pacing’ (running alongside other boats in order to transfer personnel).

I got out in time to make it to the Aberdeen Maritime Museum before it closed. I had about an hour and a half to check out the exhibits.

I was pretty impressed. It had a lot of really nice stuff. They had a really great concentration on the offshore oilfields around Scotland. They had a scale model of the Murchison oil platform of the North Sea. I was surprised to see they had an example of a DP desk (an older model like one I started on).

They had some great stuff on fishing and whaling and shipbuilding. They had a few nice ship models and lots of paintings and photographs.

I especially liked the old sailing ships. The Thermopylae was built by Walter Hood & Co. for the Aberdeen Line. She was one of the fastest and most famous ships of her time and a really beautiful example of a clipper (IMHO the most beautiful ships of all time).

The museum even had a Newt Suit (rigid diving suit) and an ROV from Oceaneering.

I used to work for Oceaneering and spent a lot of time with the divers and ROV pilots. That was one of my favorite jobs. I never would have quit if they had continued to work my boat overseas. I LOVED that job! We had some great adventures and the crew was like one big family. Those were some good times. :-)

I really liked the museum, but I didn’t have enough time to spend there. They closed at 5:00 pm. At least I didn’t feel like I wasted any money (the museum is FREE). :-)

After the museum closed, I figured I would need to go shopping. I had called the airlines about my luggage after class got out and they told me they still had no idea where it might be. I had already been without any clean clothes since Saturday and so I really needed to break down and buy at least a few things.

I know most women are supposed to be really into shopping, but it’s not really my thing (unless it’s in a bookstore). ;-)

I do love beautiful clothes, but they don’t really make the kinds of things I like in large sizes. It depresses me to go clothes shopping. Nothing I really like fits me right. :-(

One of the guys at the training center had told me about a place to get cheap clothes, so I headed up the street to look for it. On the way, I found the tourist center and stopped in for some information and to ask about a tour on the chance I might have the time.

I found the store and shopped until they ran me out at closing time. I really didn’t buy much, just a pair of pants, a pair of shorts and a couple of shirts. It still cost me about 50 GBP! I wouldn’t really call that cheap. Not for the kind of (really cheap) quality I got. At least now I had SOMETHING clean to wear and I could have my jeans washed while I was in class the next day.

Surprise! When I got back to the hotel, I had good news! My luggage had finally arrived! I was so happy to see it, I didn’t even mind that I had just spent 50 pounds for nothing.

Oh well, I guess I can always use more clothes (not). ;-)

Around Aberdeen: Day 2

We had a good day in class. The weather was gorgeous and we took the conventional boats out in the morning. We had to wait til the afternoon to drop the free fall boat. The water level in the River Dee would not allow us to do it safely until after lunch (because of the large tidal range).

So, we lowered the lifeboats and practiced manuevering and coming alongside the wharf. We all got some good experience coming in alongside, like we would if we were doing drills on the ship.

According to regulations, we are supposed to launch (and recover) our (conventional) boats at minimum once every 3 months (free fall lifeboats will probably only be launched in a real emergency since there is no practical way to get them back aboard once they’ve been dropped).

That is, IF we have the opportunity to do it safely (which turns out to be a nice loophole).

After lunch, we launched the free fall boat. WOW!

It was like being on a roller coaster. Except that it’s a hell of a lot more uncomfortable. The seats are placed one above the other, so you had to get in the bottom one, lie down and strap yourself in. Someone else would lie in the seat above you.

I am not really claustrophobic, but I felt VERY cramped, my knees were almost up against my chest and I’m pretty short. Some of the guys were much taller than I am and I think they were very uncomfortable. We were all glad to get out of the boat!

I can’t imagine what it would be like to have to load up and launch a large (60 man +) free fall boat in a real emergency. It does definitely take longer to get in there and strap yourself in.

We all got to launch the boat at least once as 1st coxswain and again as 2nd coxswain. I was trying to take pictures and get it on film, but I never did get a really good video. If I can ever figure out how to post my own video on here, I’ll do it. ;-)

After class, I wandered down Market Street again. I decided to walk down the waterfront to see where I wound up. It was a pretty day and I enjoyed walking by the water. The boats are all tied up right there along the streets. Right up in the middle of town.

I saw one boat operated by a company I used to work for and wondered if anybody I knew was on there (the Seawell, operated by Helix). Too bad the ports are all so ‘security’ concious now. It’s not like it used to be when you could just stop by and say hello. It’s a real shame and a major loss as far as I’m concerned.

It’s sad, but we don’t see much of the working waterfront in the US anymore. They’ve moved most of the port operations way out of town and away from view. Most people are completely unaware of the maritime industry and what it’s all about. I think we’re losing important parts of our culture and history.

I walked through an area of quiet streets and warehouses. I wound up back on the waterfront at the entrance to the harbor. I found a couple more artfully decorated dolphins waiting for me by the old lighthouse. :-)

I hung out there for a while enjoying the view and the sun. I was looking for some real dolphins, but no luck.

I took off walking towards a ferris wheel I could see in the distance. I don’t know why, but I never really thought about swimming at the beaches of Scotland. It turns out that Aberdeen does have a pretty decent sandy beach. There were only a couple of kids playing in the surf, but plenty of people walking along the ‘boardwalk’.

Right away I found myself in a strange little neighborhood of neat little townhouses. I had wandered into Footdee.

As I was wandering around, taking pictures of all the cute little houses and their fantastic, very creative decorations, I met a couple of friendly local people.

One lady was sitting outside enjoying the beautiful warm sunny weather while reading a book. She told me that the locals didn’t mind at all that the tourists come through to take pictures and ask them questions. I was a little surprised at that since when I was growing up in Florida, we all used to get a little annoyed when the tourists invaded our little town and pestered us constantly with the same silly questions.

I was taking pictures of the cute little houses when a man stopped to ask me if I knew what I was taking pictures of. Did I know what all those cute little houses were all about? No, I didn’t. So we had a really nice conversation about the history of Footdee and the fortunes of the local fishermen and their fellows around the world.

He used to be a fisherman (so did I) and he told me how the government had moved the fishing community from their previous location to Footdee (Fish Town) in the 1800s. The area is made up of the North Square and the South Square. There is a church/community center in the middle and the fishermen live in town houses surrounding the squares.

The cute little houses I loved so much were actually originally for the storage of the fishermens nets. The homes around the outside of the squares were all originally one story, but as a family grew and needed more space (and could afford it), they would add on another level.

I think I kept him there talking for too long. He seemed surprised when he noticed what time it was and had to hurry off to a meeting. :-)

I continued on taking pictures until a tour bus full of excited Italians showed up. I left the fishermen behind and took a walk further down the beach road. It was nice to see the people walking their dogs and picnicing along the beach.

I walked down to the ferris wheel and amusement park I had noticed earlier from the lighthouse. The amusement park was closed, but there was a fairly large collection of bars, cafes and restaurants.

After a cup of hot coffee, I made my way back towards the city center. I came back up through the Market Square and down Union Street til I found the Terrace Gardens and the main library. It was a pretty area and some interesting archetecture and gardens to look at.

I finally wound up back on Union Street and then caught the bus back to my hotel in Altens. In for the night and another early morning.

Around Aberdeen: Day 1

I made it to the rig on Monday. I’m settling in here at my new job. So far everything is going as well as can be expected. I’m learning the ropes here. Nothings really much different on the ship itself or it’s operations.

The big differences are just in the way they do the paperwork. They DO have free fall lifeboats on this vessel. I didn’t notice that from looking it up online. So, I guess there really was a good reason for them to send me to the class last week. :-)

I did have a good time after all. The course was better than expected. I got a chance to look around Aberdeen after the end of class each day.

The first day was spent just wandering around town. I walked down the main road til I saw something interesting. The first thing I saw was the seamans center (it was closed) and the Fishermans Mission.

Yes, of course it was interesting to me, I’m a seafarer! ;-)

I stopped in to chat with the man who was running the Fishermans Mission. We compared notes on the situation in the UK and the US regarding fishermen and fish stocks. Seems things are pretty much the same. Not enough fish, getting harder to catch, much harder to make a living, more and more regulations, less and less people joining the industry.

I found out the seamans center didn’t open til 1800 and planned to stop by on my way back that night.

Further down the road, I found the Maritime Museum. Yes, it looked interesting, but it was closed on Monday. :-(

I hoped to stop by again but would have to hope to get out of school early since they closed at 1700.

I wandered around the downtown area for a while. The city was involved in an art project called “Wild Dolphins“. Different artists were given ‘dolphins’ to decorate as they saw fit. You could pick up a map to follow the trail to find them all. There were quite a few scattered around town.

I found lots of interesting old buildings, pubs, restaurants, shops, the tourist information center, and Castlegate with its Mercat Cross (and Spiderdolphin). :-)

As I was gathering information at the tourist center, the ‘Queens Baton’ and its entourage came running by. Scotland was hosting the Commonwealth Games for the first time in many years so they were running around this ‘Baton’. Kind of like the Olympic torch.

There was a buzz about it at our school, they were looking forward to the attention of the press. Our instructor even got to launch the free fall lifeboat to carry the torch down the River Dee while the BBC filmed the whole thing.

It seemed to be a major event all over the city, everyone I spoke to mentioned it. They seemed very happy and excited about it.

I walked by Marischal College and a statue of Robert the Bruce (King of the Scots). I turned the corner and discovered the St Nicholas Kirkyard. That was a pretty cool place, a quiet old church surrounded by big old trees and gravestones green with moss. I saw plenty from 1600, 1700, 1800 and even earlier. I always thought people back then died much younger, but many of them lived 60+ years (according to their epitaphs).

I found myself on Belmont Street, an area of cobblestone streets and old buildings, re-purposed to bars and restaurants. It was a pretty lively area to hang out, relax and enjoy the day. I wish had more time to spend out and about town. I would have liked to relax over dinner and drinks in a few of these places. ;-)

I was getting tired and my feet were getting sore. Walking for hours in flip flops is not really the most comfortable way to do it, but I wasn’t ready to buy a new wardrobe yet and was told my luggage would arrive by the time I got back to my hotel, soooo… no shopping (yet).

I just made my way back to the hotel, to be ready for another day of exploration in the morning. :-)

Week in Review: Aberdeen to Angola

I made it to Luanda, Angola this morning. I was happy to find out that they were not sending me directly to work after all. They put me up in a nice hotel for the day so I could get some much needed rest.

It´s really a very nice hotel, but I can´t say much for the surroundings. Actually, I pretty much just passed out once I got to my room. I was really tired from the trip.I´m just not up to staying awake for 24 hours at a time any more. ;-)

I was told by the driver this morning that he would be picking me up at 0530 in the morning, but that was not certain. I have been trying to check the email for a message to see if that will be the time for sure or if things will change.

The problem is, the internet does not seem to work very well here. I tried for a while this morning. It was in and out, but I could get a few things done in between the computer dropping offline.

Tonight (so far) it´s been impossible. I had to go down to the business center and work there. I´m trying to get a little work done before dinner and then will go to bed early since it looks like I´ll have to get up at 0330 to get ready for work.

So, it´s been an interesting week so far. I had a nice time in Scotland. The course was better than I expected. I´ve never been down in one of those freefall lifeboats before and yes, it was definitely different.

I hope to hell I never have to get into one of those things for real!

Yes, as Fraser (our instructor) told us, there are advantages to them. The main one is that you can launch and get away from the danger much faster. But OMG, those things are uncomfortable!

interior- freefall lifeboat

interior- freefall lifeboat

Not that the regular lifeboats are at all comfortable themselves. Imagine 60 people stuffed into an 8 x 20 ft (totally enclosed) space. You´re all strapped down in your seatbelts. The boat is rocking and rolling, pitching and heaving. It´s noisy. It´s wet, or at least damp and humid. There´s not a lot of ventilation. It´s either sweltering or freezing, depending on where in the world you´re sailing. If you´re REALLY lucky no one has started puking.

loading up the lifeboat

loading up the lifeboat

Imagine that scenario. The freefall lifeboats are WORSE!

We were riding around in a 9 man boat (Verhoef brand) for the week. There were only 6 of us in the class (plus the instructor), so 7 total in a 9 man boat. The one time we all got in the boat and launched, it was horribly cramped and crowded. I can´t imagine what it would be like on a 100 man boat (UGH). :-(

After we did that one full launch, we launched a few more times with just 3 people in the boat. It made it much better. We all got a chance to be 1st coxswain and then 2nd coxswain.

We practiced driving the boat around the river Dee to get used to its manuevering capabilites (it handles much better than the usual -twinfall- lifeboats).

We spent a couple of days out in the bay. We practiced man overboard drills. We worked with the other (twinfall) lifeboats to practice towing and pacing exercises.

While we were out there, we got to see the dolphins playing all around us. THAT was fantastic! I wish I had better pictures to show you. They were all around us and jumping completley out of the water. I´ve never seen them doing flips on thier own like that. I thought they only did that in the aquariums, but they were having a fine time. It was great to see them every day. :-)

In the river, we were priviledged to watch a couple of big harbor seals that would come and play right next to our dock. I couldn´t get any pictures of them, they were just too fast. Pretty entertaining to see.

The guys who worked at the facility were happy to see the small salmon hanging around the dock. They said they hadn´t seen so many in a long time. That was nice to hear. The river (Dee) looked pretty clean to me, but they said it was really pretty dirty (compared to historically).

It didn´t get dark til after 10:00 PM, so I was able to get out after class every day and wander around the city. I was really impressed by the history and the beautiful location of the city of Aberdeen.

I wandered around the harbor to the lighthouse at the jetties and spent some time exploring down there and then up along the beach. I went to see the Maritime Museum which was very nice. They had exhibits on the old sailing ships and fishing boats this area was famous for. Then they had some nice stuff on the oil and gas industry which is driving the economy now. I even saw an old DP desk!

DP desk

DP desk

I stopped in and talked to people at the Fishermans Mission and the Seafarers Center. I also stopped in at C-Mars office here, just to see if there was anybody there I knew (nope- but they were nice to me anyway). I met a former fisherman who told me the story of Footdie. I learned all about the different kinds of shortbread from a lady in a shop. People were really friendly and helpful.

I wandered around a couple of old churchyards and parks (churches were closed by the time I got there so I couldn´t go inside, but the stained glass looked pretty impressive even from the outside). I went up to Kings College and talked to a nice man who lived accross the street for quite a while. He showed me a great place to take pictures from his garden pond where the steeple from the church reflected in the water.

Kings College reflecting in the pool

Kings College reflecting in the pool

I wandered up into the biological gardens and then down along the River Don. I was lucky to have some gorgeous weather while I was there. The temperature was perfect, in the 70s all day. It got pretty chilly once the sun went down, so I had to head back since I didn´t have a jacket until my luggage finally showed up. It was time to go to bed by then anyway.

All in all, it was a very nice trip. Now I´ve been re-certified as a lifeboat coxswain and that should be good for another 2 years (depending on who I´m working for). I wouldn´t mind going back to Aberdeen for another course. ;-)

Adventures in Angola?

I finished up my lifeboat course(s) and today I’m off to Angola.

I’ll be leaving Aberdeen today and will fly into Luanda, Angola at 0700 tomorrow morning. I can’t wait to go directly to the ship after being up for 24+ hours! I can only HOPE I have better luck with my luggage this trip than I did last time.

My bag did finally arrive late on Wednesday. I had already gone shopping since when I called the airline, they still had no idea where my bag was or when(if) it might arrive. I only bought a couple of shirts and a pair of jeans since I was hoping my bag would still show up. Whew! I’m just glad I finally got it back.

I was able to get out and do a little bit of exploring while I was here. It didn’t get dark til after 10 PM, so I didn’t feel like heading in and going right to bed after class. I’ll write up more about all the interesting things I found in Aberdeen once I get settled in on the ship.

I don’t know what the situation will be on arrival. I don’t expect that I’ll be able to get on the computer for a while. If you don’t hear from me for a few days, hopefully that’s the issue (and not a plane crash or a kidnapping). ;-)

PS- Happy (late) 4th of July!

Luggage In Limbo

I’m still here, but my luggage still isn’t!

I THOUGHT I finally had some good news today on the luggage front. I called the company who was tracking it down and they told me they had it and it would be delivered to my hotel tonight. :-)

When I got to the hotel, the desk clerks told me they had good news for me with big smiles on their faces (they’ve been so nice and helpful to me since I’ve been here). They told me my luggage had arrived and they had already put it in my room.

I went to my room with a spring in my step.


When I opened the door, there was a big black bag sitting there. Too bad it wasn’t mine. It didn’t look anything like mine. It wasn’t even from the same flight or even the same airline!

So, I had to get on the phone to TRY (again) to get this straightened out. Of course, there is no one there to help me at this time of night. They are not there before I have to go to class, they are not there after I get out.

I spent 2 hours on the hotel phone tonight and still got NOWHERE. I finally found an email address to write to (online- nobody I spoke to on the phone would give me that valuable information). I sent them an email explaining the situation and TRYING to hold in my anger and frustration. Hopefully they will respond in the morning so I will be able to answer it before I leave for school (I seriously doubt that will happen).

I only have a US cell phone and so I have been TRYING to avoid having to sit on hold for hours at a time on an overseas call while TRYING to find someone to find out what happened to MY baggage.

Not to mention the poor soul who’s luggage showed up in my room tonight.


Tune in tomorrow for the continuing saga of the lost luggage…

Oh yeah, we did get to launch the free fall lifeboats today! Whooo! What a rush! I got some pictures and videos but too tired tonight to post it. I’ll get to it before too long. :-)

Frantic Flying to Frankfurt

I’ve got a couple of hours layover here in Frankfurt so will write a quick post. ;-)

I’ve already been up for over 24 hours (I can never sleep on a plane, I have to be lying down to get any sleep at all), and I don’t know how much longer it will be before I can get to sleep once I get to Aberdeen (Scotland). I might not have another chance to post for a while. :-(

I had a hell of a time getting to the airport in Houston. I was late leaving the house (as usual), but I got to the airport in just over an hours time (really good time, actually).

When I dropped off the rental car, they had me go to the front desk to get the paperwork taken care of instead of with the little handheld machine they usually have. It took a few minutes longer.

My ticket said “LUFTHANSA”, the signs at the airport said Lufthansa is in terminal D. So, I got off the bus at terminal D. No such thing as Lufthansa there. I asked some airport workers and they said Lufthansa is at terminal E.

So, I rushed over to terminal E. There was no such thing as Lufthansa at terminal E. Only United! I asked at terminal E and they said Lufthansa was at terminal D. So, I rushed back over to terminal D.

I was pretty damn frustrated at that point and freaking out about missing my flight. I hadn’t even checked in yet and it was about an hour before scheduled departure time. I asked for some help at the Qatar Airlines desk and a lady was kind enough to check for me. Yes, it was a CODESHARE flight with United!

Why the hell didn’t it say that on the ticket or the website when I double checked my reservation? I was frantically running back and forth between terminals and all along it was  a United flight and NOT Lufthansa!

I actually made it through security (what a freakin’ joke!) and got to the gate with 3 minutes to spare before the scheduled departure time. I looked at my boarding pass and they had me in boarding group 5.

I was a little bewildered by that. I mean, is EVERYBODY who flies on United an elite member now? I thought there was supposed to be priority boarding for elite members. When I looked again at my boarding pass, I noticed they didn’t put my frequent flyer number on there and I wanted to make sure I got credit for the flight, so I went up to the desk and asked about it.

Turns out, they didn’t have me in the system at all (good thing I had time to check) and when they put my number in, I was moved to group 2. Much better.

I had time to do all that since the flight was delayed. ;-)

It’s a good thing I didn’t have a real tight connection in Frankfurt!