Flower of the Day: Camellia

Join in with Cee, to share some beautiful photos of camellia flowers in her ‘Flower of the Day: Camellia‘ post.

Here’s mine.

Maritime Monday for February 27th 2017: Spy Vs Spy

Another weeks worth of interesting nautical history from Monkey Fist via gCaptain. This week there seems to be a concentration on Russia. There’s also some cool info about tattooing, sea monsters, sailing school ships and salty old restaurants. Enjoy. 🙂

With only the clothes on their backs, 881 Aleuts from nine different island villages were …

Source: Maritime Monday for February 27th, 2017: Spy Vs Spy – gCaptain

Watch: 10 Reasons Why Maritime SUCKS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdMYEKwxTyo Here’s a new upload from maritime Youtuber …

He really makes a lot of good points. I have to agree with him on pretty much everything he says. Yes, things are much, much better for sailors than in the days of Richard Henry Dana’s “Two Years Before the Mast“, but they’ve sure as hell been going downhill since the 1960’s!

Yes, the ships are built with all the latest technology, but the crews have been cut in half and more! Our workload has been constantly increasing, with less and less personnel to do it all!

Yes, our pay has gone up- but not nearly as much as it would take to keep up with inflation. Considering all the expenses we now have added on in order to be allowed to work offshore, we’re actually earning much less than we were in the past.

Yes, communications have improved- for the ship. Not necessarily for the crew. There are still so many ship owners/operators who think of their crews as nothing more than another tool to use and abuse, not human beings like themselves. People who also have a life off the ship (if they have people who choose to stick around and wait for the sailor who may not be able to contact them for months at a time- which is not very likely now a days when everyone expects instant gratification).

I said I would never again work for someone who treated me like that, but I never in my life thought things would get this bad out there! Even with the advent of the STCW, which I immediately saw for what it was (an easy way for shipowners to rid themselves of ‘expensive’ first world crews), I still never imagined how small the box I’ve been shoved into has become!

I always figured that when it got slow offshore, I could ship out on a tugboat, or a tanker, or some other kind of vessel. Well, due to the US Coast Guard constantly changing the rules (and not always putting out the notifications they are required to by law), it is no longer possible to switch sectors like we could before.

Now, if you work on a tanker, you must stay on a tanker or you will lose your ability to ever go back to that kind of work without paying enormous fees to be ‘trained’, (ex: $1,100 for course, $500+ for lodging, $300+ for transport, $300+ for food). To do the same thing you’ve been doing for 5, 10, 15 years in the past ! Same goes for almost every type of vessel now. Passenger vessels only want people with that specific type of experience and paperwork. Towing vessels can only take people with towing endorsements. DP vessels will only take people with DP certificates. Etc.

I’m lucky I’m not a sailor from the Philippines, or China, or any of the other ‘third world’ (meaning low wage) countries where the overwhelming majority of seafarers come from now a days. For an American, working for MSC (Military Sealift Command) is probably the longest hitch out there. It’s supposedly 4 months long. I hear from friends it’s more like 6. Those poor crews from the Philippines are working for 2 years at a time before they can go home!

Most American ships are in pretty decent shape. They’re in great condition compared to a lot of the crap I’ve seen sailing around the world from other countries. Ships with ‘flags of convenience‘. Owners flag their ships outside of their own countries for financial reasons. They can get cheaper crews, bother with less rules and regulations, pay less taxes and fees, etc. Some of them are decent, but many of them are not. Check out this report by the ITF, they do a pretty good job of keeping track of this stuff. Or this, which makes the ITF report look tame.

Watch the video for a pretty good run down of what to expect shipping out. He doesn’t really get into the good parts. But then again, there aren’t too many good parts left anymore. 😦

Any of you sailors out there, I’d be very interested to get your take on both the video and my comments on it.

Source: Watch: 10 Reasons Why Maritime SUCKS (Things To Consider Before Joining Merchant Marine) – JeffHK – gCaptain

Songs of the Sea: I Hate Boats

They say the 2 best days in the life of any boat owner are the day he buys it and the day he sells it. Here’s a song for those who are getting to that 2nd best day!

Organic Gardening

I’m re-blogging this post (click the link below)-these guys have some cool ideas about organic gardening. I’ve never had much of a green thumb, tho I used to try pretty hard to keep a jungle of plants around. My idea of organic gardening is just to plant it and leave it alone (no fertilizer, no pesticides, etc). I’ve learned not to count on anything but trees! My lime tree sprouted up like a weed and is extremely productive. Same with the lemon tree. Oranges are coming along. Grapes are doing so-so.

Last year I tried cucumbers for the first time in ages. Something got to it. One day it was gorgeous, next day it was dead as a doornail. Same thing got to my grapes, raspberries and mint. 😦

I’m going to try the cucumbers again and probably try the pomegranates and blueberries again (tho I just found out they don’t like our dirt around here so maybe not). I have one struggling bush left, I didn’t know they needed 2 to produce.

I’ve been working in my yard when the weather’s nice and I’m not busy with something else (like work, or photography, or blogging, etc). I have most of the front yard ready and about a 5th of the back yard done. I need to get it all done soon, before it starts getting hot. I won’t go outside in the summertime here if I can help it. 😉

If I ever get the yard cleaned up, I’ll pick a few plants to try out this year. Anybody have any suggestions for plants that grow well on the north Texas Gulf Coast? They’ll need to be extremely self-sufficient, since if I ever do get a real job again I won’t be around to tend to them for months on end.

Here’s hoping for that! 🙂

Photo: Via Pinterest Keyhole Gardening was introduced in Africa by the Consortium for Southern Africa Food Security Emergency (C-SAFE) to help ailing and frail Africans grow their own produce with minimum effort by means of a specialized raised bed. The bed, which is waist high and in the shape of a keyhole, allows for standing […]

via Five Notable Organic Gardening Methods — Garden Variety

Maritime Monday for February 20th 2017: Philosophenschiff

I imagine there must’ve been some very interesting conversations on that ship. And what a shame for the people of the USSR. They threw out so many beautiful minds. 😦

Here’s this weeks Maritime Monday from Monkey Fist via gCaptain…

The Ships That Helped Silence the Early USSR’s Intellectuals Russia exiled hundreds of academics …

Source: Maritime Monday for February 20th, 2017: Philosophenschiff – gCaptain

Ships Crew

Pretty good breakdown of crewing on merchant ships.

The field of merchant navy involves a certain order of hierarchy with the seafarers holding different ranks on ships. This ranking system ensures smooth coordination of on board operations and promotes proper management strategies. The nomenclature of merchant navy ranking system is universally accepted by shipping companies and commercial vessels around the world. However, there […]

via A Guide to Merchant Navy Officer Ranks — ‘Expression’ Of A Thoughtful Sailor

Travel Theme: Turquoise

I found a new photography challenge. This week I’m joining in with Ailsa on her Where’s My Backpack Blog. Everyone’s free to join in, click the link here for the details. This week’s travel theme is: turquoise. One of my favorite colors, especially when I see it on the water.

Here are a few of my recent photos with turquoise…

This first batch is from Turkey. I spent a couple of weeks between Istanbul and Cappadocia. They make beautiful pottery (and carpets).

This next batch is from Zanzibar. After Istanbul, I flew to Tanzania for a photography safari and then on to Zanzibar to relax. It was so beautiful there, I could have stayed there forever. 🙂

But, I had to come home. These last few are from closer to home. If you click on the snapshot, you can see more about it.

Do you like turquoise too? See any on your travels? Check out the challenge. 🙂

Another Week Flies By

And here I am still here, still looking for work, still not finding anything. 😦

I did get 3 days of work in Houston last week and I’ll have one more day up there this week. Every little bit helps. It’s just a hard let down, I’m working for 1/10th the day rate I used to get and only working about 1/10th the amount of time too. 😦

Thank goodness I have my real estate investments to fall back on! I’ve gone through almost all of my savings now. The rent I get from those properties is pretty much the only income I’ve had for the past 17 months. I haven’t been able to use much of that money myself either, most of it goes to pay expenses. I’m just thankful they’re not still costing me money.

I did go to a real estate investment seminar last Friday. I had hopes it would be a way I could work my way out of this mess. A way I could earn a living without having to wait for the price of oil to go back up high enough to where they’ll start drilling offshore again.

Sad to say, the program was not at all like what they sold us on at the seminar! Not even close! I was tempted to buy the ‘tax lien investor’ program. I was already buying properties and could have ‘flipped’ them if I wanted to, but I prefer keeping them for rentals. So I wasn’t really interested in their property flipping program.

I thought the tax lien program might work for me. I was already familiar with how they work. Basically, you pay the taxes owed to the county in return for a lien on the property. The property owner has a certain amount of time to pay up. When the time runs out and they don’t, you can claim the property. In the meantime, you collect a high interest rate from the time you pay the county for the lien. Whatever happens, you make money- IF you’ve done your due diligence and bid on a good property!

I’ve gone to a couple of auctions locally. A friend has invested in a few of them and he explained it all to me a few years ago. The thing that convinced me to buy their program was that they said they would do all the research. They would take care of the ‘due diligence’.

Nope. Turns out that’s not at all what they do.

Turns out, they only deal with properties in Florida (even after I- and others- asked them specifically where the properties were located and was told “all over the US, Canada, the Caribbean and the US Pacific Islands including Guam). I suppose only investing in Florida is fine, IF you only want to invest for the interest. Even so, I would still be concerned about the necessary research. That all takes quite a bit of time, especially if it’s not local.

Yes, you can make a lot of money just investing for the interest (never for the property itself), IF you have a lot to invest already. I mean, how much is it really going to help to make 20% interest if you only have $100 to invest? You CAN make a lot of money if you actually get that property behind the lien. That is what I was interested in doing, but turns out they had nothing at all to offer for help on that.

So, I called and asked for a refund. They said they would cancel the credit card charges and I would have to return their books. I haven’t made it to the post office yet but figure i’ll be out at least $20 on postage. Lesson learned- no matter what you do it’s going to cost you money!

Maritime Monday for February 14th 2017: Portishead Radio

I didn’t know Claude Monet painted maritime art. I like this better than his water lilies. 🙂

Take a look at Monkey Fist’s weekly blast of interesting maritime news.

Portishead – Portishead (Full Album) on YouTube Tug and Barge Solutions  – “If you’re going …

Source: Maritime Monday for February 14th, 2017: Portishead Radio – gCaptain

Catching Up

I’ve been busy for the last week or so. I was lucky and got to work for 3 whole days last week. I’m scheduled for 3 more days this week and one more day the week after that! That’s the most work I’ve had since I went on that delivery job as AB down to Colombia (in August)! I hope it keeps picking up, but right now it looks like this little spurt will be it for a while.

Offshore things still look pretty grim. I did hear of one company hiring, which is great news, but even tho I’ve sent them my resume, I don’t think they’ll even look at it this time around. Looks like they’ve hired a crewing agency to fill their positions and since I’ve already ‘contacted’ them, I won’t be one of the people considered.  Continue reading

Busy Week

Wow! I’m sorry I haven’t been around here for so long. I’ve been occupied with other things all week and just haven’t had time to do much blogging. I’ve been lucky and had a couple days work this week. Tomorrow too. I’ll catch up this weekend.

I promise!