I guess you’ve all probably figured this out by now, but I’m generally not an optimistic type. It seems I just always automatically see the downside of everything. The “what if”. That serves me well in my job, but I think not the best for my sanity when I’m home.
Since I got back from my last trip to Chile/Antarctica, I’ve been in a pretty lousy mood. I had expected to be able to pick up some work over the holidays. That’s almost always the best time of year for me to pick up a temp job.
Usually, everyone wants to spend Christmas at home with their families. Since I don’t have any family left, I’ve always been happy to fill in. Problem is, for the last 5 years, no one has taken any time off. Everyone’s afraid their job won’t be there when they come back.
I spend time every day looking for work. I call all my agencies at least once a week. Not even a hint of any work on the horizon (when all the news is about how this is -finally- the year the industry will come back. I’ve been having a real hard time getting motivated to do anything else. I hate being broke and without options!
But yesterday, while I was taking my daily walk around the neighborhood, I ran into an old friend. I hadn’t seen her in a couple of years and it was good to catch up. Sadly, her news was not good.
She was visiting a friend of hers who lives on my street, but was staying at the Salvation Army. Her boyfriend broke up with her and threw her out the day after Christmas. Her car broke down. She lost her job.
Like me and quite a few other friends, she’s been applying everywhere with no luck. It doesn’t help that we’re all over 55 now (and age discrimination is definitely a thing).
Without a car, she’s going to have a hell of a time finding a job. At least we have a bus now, so maybe that will help. It’s not at all convenient, but it goes to the main commercial/government areas. Before I got my truck (’97 F-150), I spent more money paying off the local cops for ‘hitchhiking’ arrests trying to get to work than I made working!
I’ve been thinking about how lucky I really am. I have a lot more options than my friend does (or those billions of people around the world living on $1/day). I have a house, a car, food in the fridge, can still pay the electric bill to keep me warm/cold, I’m still fairly healthy, and even manage to travel every so often. I should stop worrying about “what if” (I never get back to work, I can’t pay the bills, I get hurt, etc). I should be grateful more often than I am.
Happy New Year everybody! I hope you all had a good time last night celebrating New Years Eve. I just stayed in with a couple of cups of hot chocolate and listened to the neighborhood firecrackers. I tried going outside to watch for a while, but it was overcast and all I could see was a couple of reflections.
What did you do?
So, I did stay up past midnight and I did sleep late this morning, but I woke up without a hangover. 😉
As usual this time of year, I’ve been thinking about the last year and my hopes for the next. This year even more since it’s also the end/start of another decade. I’ve been starting to notice the time creeping up on me more and more and trying to figure out “now what“?
All I can say is I really, really hope this year turns out better than last year (and the previous 3 before that)! I’m still basically unemployed. I’m still trying to find work, but I’ve decided I’m just not willing to work just to “survive”. I have skills. Skills that’ve taken me a lifetime to earn. Valuableskills for the right employer. I’m not going to throw all that away to work bagging groceries.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I’ve decided that after spending 50 years working on the water and spending a fortune in time and money to earn my license it just does not make sense to throw all that away to do something totally unrelated.
People tell me online (Facebook) that “everyone’s hiring” or “there’s plenty of work”. Yes, I agree, they’re right. I see ads all the time for unlimited captain/DPO jobs paying somewhere around $120/day. Wonderful for some of the Ukrainians or Filipinos, but no US captain would take that job. Or yeah, plenty of jobs for deckhands. I can’t afford to work like that!
They can’t understand how I can sit at home, not earning anything, rather than out making $120/day out on a boat working 12+ hours/day (andputting my life and license at risk to boot). Then spending at least a day or two on both ends of the hitch catching up on business at home. Well, here’s the explanation. While I’m home, I can be online looking for a job that actually pays the bills and uses the license I’ve earned. I can be working on my writing or my art that hopefully I can sell somewhere to earn a few bucks.
The only issue is, after 6 months of not having even a whisper of a decent job, I start to get anxious, depressed and completely unmotivated to do anything. So, not getting anything done at home either. I don’t want to go out trying to get a local job. It’s really not my lifelong ambition to work at Walmart. It’s hard trying to put on the act that I really want the job and will stick around (knowing that I’m going to quit as soon as anything offshore comes up).
The few companies hiring offshore already know simply by looking at my resume that I’m not going to stick around. They know anyone with the license I have would jump at the first opportunity to use it. So they don’t bother replying to me either.
I’ve decided to keep on looking for work in my field, but try harder not to stress about it (that is not going to be easy). I still have other things I plan to do this year. I have an art show coming up in our local gallery in July and I haveto be there for the reception July 10. I’ve also signed up for another cruise (foodies tour of France), it’s supposed to be in May but I need to move it back to November. And… I’m still trying to make the move to Mexico, so I need to get back down there!
Now, if I can just get a couple of hitches in before July, I’ll be OK. I actually got 3 last year and all 3 were as mate/DPO, so better than the year before when 1 of the 2 was as AB. They keep saying ‘it’ll be better next year’. I really, really hope they’re right this time!
I actually think I’m being forced into retirement (since I want to continue in my field). I had plannedto work until now and if I had been able to, I would’ve been able to retire the way I wanted to by now. All my bills would’ve been paid off and I could live nicely off my rentals.
But… now that I haven’t been working, my savings are greatly depleted, and if I don’t keep getting at least that little bit of work every year I won’t be ABLE to keep working after 2021 since I can’t afford to keep paying for the required “training” and my licenses won’t be renewable (lack of sea time), so no matter what, I won’t be working after that unless things improve.
SO, I’m trying to figure out: how in the hell can I make the rest of my savings last me for another 20+ years (hopefully)?
1- move out of the USA! I’m trying hard to get to Mexico.
2- start house sitting. That will allow me to keep traveling (which is just about my favorite thing to do). I’ve been trying to do that already, but seems about impossible when I don’t have any sort of schedule. That is such an issue on so many things. I suppose if/when I just give up on ever trying to get work that problem will go away. 😉
3-? any suggestions?
What are you all doing? Still working? Retired? What are your goals for 2020?
I’ve been taking a break from blogging. I didn’t really intend to, but I’ve been so preoccupied with other things I just didn’t feel up to it. Now, I’m finally getting back some motivation and should have something interesting to post about as well. 🙂
I somehow managed to find a super good deal on a cruise to Antarctica. I’ve been wanting to do this for decades. I remember thinking when they stopped the big cruise ships from doing anything there that it would soon be impossible for regular people like me to go.
Yep, the prices shot up sky high. You’d spend a fortune for a week long cruise- not counting flights to get to/from the ship. And as a single person? Forget it.
But this super deal showed up in my email and I just couldn’t pass it up. No matter that I really should be trying to be working (not that there was any work to be had). Yes, I’m still in the same situation there. Oil prices still have not reached even $60/bbl. My last job was in July and no signs of anything since than.
So. I flew into Santiago Chile early Sunday morning. I suppose I should’ve done some research beforehand, but I was too busy and exhausted at night. Turns out, the Chilean people have had about enough from their government and have been protesting since mid-October.
They’ve been marching all over Santiago and some other cites. There have been some riots and fires. There have been some gassings by police.
I didn’t know any of this, so I checked into my hotel (in the old part of the city- beautiful central neighborhood) and went for a walk. It was Sunday morning so I didn’t wonder too much about why everything was closed, but the churches? I didn’t see a way to get inside until Monday morning.
There were people around, nothing seemed dangerous, but the lady who checked me in at the hotel warned me not to wear my favorite necklace outside in the streets. As I walked around I tried to decipher the graffiti splashed across the walls of the buildings.
My Spanish was not good enough to understand much of it, but I did get the general idea that they were against the police, military and president (assassins, murderers, etc). Knowing a little (a very little) of their history I actually thought all of that was a long time ago. I haven’t had the chance to look into it, but at this point I assume I’m wrong.
After I found something to eat I was done for the night. Those long night flights where I can’t sleep do me in.
In the morning I headed out again to explore. I needed to find a travel adapter (since I forgot to pack mine). I stopped in a phone store and tried to buy one with dollars since I hadn’t been able to change any money yet. The manager insisted on giving me two of them! So nice of him, really shows how good people can be, even when things around them are so bad.
I was wandering around, wondering why the street was so quiet on a Monday morning (it was barricaded off), when I started noticing groups of protesters passing by. Some of them just had flags and placards. Some of them had drums, whistles and horns. More and more of them were passing by.
Soon I saw groups of police (in body armor) forming up, their military style vehicles called “guanacos” (because their water cannons spit like the animals) splattered with paint parked along the street. As I kept walking along (I was looking for a bank that had an international ATM), I started paying more attention to the crowds that were forming on the other side of the street.
They kept coming, and coming, and soon there were hundreds then thousands, then hundreds of thousands. All chanting, drumming, clanging on pots and pans, blowing whistles and air horns. All kinds of ordinary people. Some of the younger ones were jumping up and down. The police stood by calmly (thank god) and it all seemed pretty peaceful. I did not see any gassing, beating, arrests or anything like that.
There were more protesters outside the justice building, the parliament building and I assume a lot more places around the city. Later I heard the protesters had been rioting, smashing windows, lighting fires, trashing the streets, etc. and the police had been gassing and arresting them.
I felt very proud of the people for at least TRYING to do something to fix the situation. For trying to tell their government “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”! It was inspiring. At least they care enough to try. I wish we Americans would turn off the boob tube and do the same.
Too bad they’re doing the same thing we always do the few times we do manage to get together to stand up. They trash their own instead of going after their real enemies. There’s no point in smashing windows, trashing the streets and stealing TVs. What’s the point of that?
The people behind the things they’re protesting about don’t really care about any of that- it doesn’t affect them. Go after the banks, the stock markets, the big corporations, the government institutions- those are the things those people in power care about.
It’s ALWAYS the people against the state (the deep state). Conspiracy theory? No, just the truth. Easy enough to see if you just do a little bit of research, read a little bit of history, pay attention to who gets what
Too bad the protesting has stopped a meeting of the Apec trade summit and the COP25 UN climate change conference as well as some big football (soccer) games. Those events would have brought in a lot of people and business to Chile and that would have benefited a lot of the people who are protesting.
Now, a lot of the poor and middle class are suffering even more, with the loss of business. Stores shut, businesses closed, etc and no way to get to work even if there was still a job to go to since the public transportation system has been just about completely shut down. How is this helping the poor and middle class (the protesters)?
Hey, I think they’re right to protest. I agree 100% with them on a lot of their issues (fairness, justice, accountability). I just wish they would figure out a more effective way to go about things, and especially figure out how not to hurt the people they’re trying to help.
Since I made it to the ship last week, I’ve been watching the ship in front of us. They’ve had divers in the water and lots of activity going on. It happens to be the Discoverer India- the same ship I was on last Spring.
She was getting ready for a job in Africa- Ivory Coast. I got to ride as far as Trinidad. It was a good hitch. She did that job and now is getting some upgrades before heading out to another job.
I wish I could say the same for the rest of the rigs I see here. I can see at least 8 at the dock here. I know of at least 5 more that will be arriving here soon. That’s not counting another couple (at least) over at Tenerife.
While I was on the Ocean Evolutionlast hitch, steaming through the ‘graveyard’ just offshore Port Fourchon, I could only see 3 ships left. The year before there were at least 10, I think probably closer to 15. All of them fairly new, just sitting there, waiting and hoping for work. It was really sad to see.
We’ve all been hoping that this would be the year when we could finally go back to work. From what I see here, that doesn’t look very likely. The price of oil is still not even up to $60/bbl. Today it was only $57 and change. There won’t be much work until it gets up over $60 and stays there for a while.
I guess everyone but those of us working in the maritime industry are happy about those low prices, but I’m getting more and more stressed out. I don’t have many more years left to build up my retirement funds and my savings has already been demolished over the last 4+ years of not nearly enough work.
I’ve been stuck at home since my last job got cut short (again). I get antsy when I’m not working for months at a time. I start freaking out about money and bills, then start feeling trapped and depressed and don’t feel like doing much of anything at all. Since October, I’ve only had 5 weeks of work and it’s looking pretty slim for the next few weeks as well. 😦
I’ve been trying to keep busy. I go see a movie to cheer up if there’s anything decent playing. I’ve stopped going to my usual (entertaining and interesting) Tuesday night political meetingssince they’re just so frustrating now. I go to art class on Tuesdays (this morning was the last one for a while- the teacher is taking a break). I may start going to ‘open studio’ instead. It’s on Wednesdays, or Monday nights.
I’m getting around to doing things I’ve been putting off: I was working in the yard til it got too hot, working on my taxes, re-reading books I’ve been saving before deciding if I can now bear to get rid of them, uploading some photos to the stock agencies.
Here are a few examples…
Stock photography- like the blogging, was supposed to be a side gig. A way to earn some income when I wasn’t able to get offshore. I hate to say it, but neither one has worked out that way. Both take a hell of a lot of work to keep up with. So far, I’ve earned a grand total of $7.83 on Bigstock and $6.46 on Dreamstime. A big, fat $0.00 from the blogs.
My thought was to sidestep the editors. To get my work out in front of the public where I figured at least somepeople would like it enough to buy something. I know it’s possible to earn an income from both blogging and from photography. I know people personally who are doing both.
I wish I knew their secrets. It seems the main issue is how to attract attention? How to be found among the 81 million on Bigstock alone? Or the 500 million ++ blogs in the world?
Just curious, does anyone you know earn anything from either stock photography or blogging? If so, do you know how?
I’ve been expecting to join this ship since I agreed to take the job in late March. I was originally supposed to start on April 4th for 3 weeks. A week later it got cut to 10 days and a week later to nothing.
A week after that, they called again and asked me to come out for 3 weeks again. I agreed since nobody else had anything at that point. A few days later it was cut to only one week. In the meantime I turned down 4-5 good jobs (all of them for a month or more) only because I had already obligated myself to take this particular job.
Well, I finally got my plane ticket so I am hoping they won’t cancel me at this point. I’m at the airport and should be on the plane already, but it’s been delayed. Only an hour and a half late at this point (I hope). The screen above my head is giving conflicting information. One minute it saying the plane will be departing at 8:00, the next it is saying it will arrive at 9:10 PM.
I wouldn’t really care so much if I didn’t have to be on the bus at 3:00 in the morning! And then a helicopter at some time after daylight (6:11 AM). I really hate going to work and starting my first day already up for more than 24 hours. And then more usual than not, having to go straight to work for at least 12 more hours. 😦
At this point, I’m so thankful to have the work. Even with all the BS involved.
I keep hearing in the news how our unemployment levels are so low. How we have the best numbers we’ve seen in 50 years. How companies can’t find workers. Is the maritime sector the only one that’s still hurting?
How can those numbers reflect any sort of reality when there are still hundreds of boats stacked all over the bayous, dozens of drillships stacked all over the world? And all over the world, the crews of all those vessels have been out of work for 4-5 years now and are fighting each other for the chance to earn the lowest wages ever!
Please, let me have just one more year of steady work! Let me pay off my bills so I can leave off all this constant stress and BS involved with the merchant marine these days. It used to be such a great life. How did we let it come to this?
In accordance with the idea of ‘if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say it’, I haven’t been saying anything here. I’ve been sharing a few interesting posts on Facebook and Twitter, but that’s about it.
I’ve been at home since I got back from the DS-6 March 19. I’ve been home almost 6 weeks already. I accepted a job right after I got home that was supposed to start Apr 4 ending Apr 25. The start date got changed to Apr 11, then to Apr 16, then cancelled altogether. It looks like the promised upturn in the industry is still a long ways off. 😦
Because I had accepted that job (and was on call to go offshore from the time I said OK), I turned down 2 other ones that would’ve conflicted with it.
I’m supposed to go out now starting May 8 and just hope to hell they don’t do the same thing again! I’ve already turned down 2 very good (better) jobs because of it.
With all the uncertainty (and major stress) I haven’t been doing much of interest: cleaning house, laundry, pulling weeds, working on taxes, doctor appointment, dentist appointment, look for work (including 2 job fairs), traffic court (fighting parking ticket I got while unloading my paintings at the art gallery- I lost), etc. So, nothing worth blogging about. 😦
I’m home. I’ve been back in town since the 19th. It’s been almost 2 weeks already. It doesn’t seem like it. I’ve spent most of that time just catching up on sleep (jet lag) and doing all the things I can’t do from work: mail, bills, doctors appointment, dentists appointment, phone calls, meetings, etc.
I have made some progress. I’ve been able to go to my painting class and I’m working on 2 new paintings and 1 old one. I took my latest finished painting to the From the Heart gallery in Galveston. Too bad I got a parking ticket while I was inside hanging it. 😦
I thought you were supposed to be allowed to park in front long enough to load/unload stuff. The people who run the place assured me you are. I’m still debating wether or not to fight the ticket. I have no reason to go all the way up to Galveston other than that. I have another few days to decide.
I haven’t been keeping up with this blog much lately. At work I just don’t have the time or access to the internet and at home it’s been hard to find the motivation. I’ve been putting it off for a while now. It’s not that I don’t have anything to blog about. It’s more that I don’t want to bore people and I just haven’t been doing anything very interesting lately.
I did go to a WISTA meeting at the Houston Maritime Museum last Tuesday. That was pretty cool. They’ve moved to their new (temporary) location. It’s much larger than their old place (with plenty of parking). We had a tour by one of the docents who was a real wealth of information. I would’ve liked to talk to him some more, but the presentation was starting (and a full house to see it). Captain Michael A. Morris of the Houston Pilots put on an interesting presentation about the port of Houston and the pilots- past, present and future.
I could write about work, or travel- those things are usually interesting- but I haven’t done much of either lately. I did finally get a job that didn’t get cancelled. I spent a month on the DS-6 in Las Palmas. I even got to get off the ship a couple of times while I was there. It was a nice change. I’m hoping they’ll call me back.
In the meantime, I got a call to go to work on April 4. Then it was moved back to April 11. Now it is supposed to start April 16 and I’m only hoping it doesn’t get completely cancelled at this point. Since it’s only for 10 days, it’ll help me get by but it’s not enough for me to actually be able to do anything with my time off (other than keep on looking for more work).
I am SO ready for this downturn to pick up! It’s been 5 years already! I can’t wait for things to turn around so we can all get back to work again. Real work, where there’s some kind of schedule and we’ve got some kind of benefits. Or else the day rates go back up again to where they should be to make up for the lack of those things.
I’m SO tired of spending so much time looking for work. Filling out applications that never get seen. Putting off doing much of anything in case I get called for a job. I should just shut up and quit whining. I’m one of the lucky ones. I still have my license and my ability to go to work. I could just quit and I would probably be able to survive…
But no. I will keep on trying. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life hanging around the house bored shitless. Keeping myself occupied is not a problem. I can do all sorts of things: pull weeds, work on my houses, clean my house, write, paint, work on my book(s), promote my writing (that’s the hard part- trying to find someone who will publish it). I would just much rather be traveling. I’m just bored here. I never, ever thought I’d still be here almost 40 years later.
It looks like I’ll be able to stay here a little longer. Yeah! I need all the work I can get after the last 3 years of having so little of it. It’s been rough, tho I managed to survive. Many of my friends have not. People who’ve been working in the maritime industry for decades and who’ve worked their way up to the highest levels have lost their licenses and so their livelihoods. It’s such a waste!
Same as the ships they’ve been scrapping lately (and for the last few decades). There’s really nothing at all wrong with them. In the case of the tankers, the IMO ruled that they must be double hulled. Perfecly good ships, thrown out like yesterdays’ garbage. Driven up on the beach in Alang to be torn apart by miserably low paid peons who have no better options and are happy to have the work.
Lately, they’ve started scrapping the semisubmersibles and drillships. Yes, some of them are (a little bit) outdated- but still perfectly capable of doing the job they were designed for. Even some of the latest 6th generation drillships, barely out of the yard are being scrapped. We’re talking multiple hundreds of millions of dollars for each vessel- wasted!
I’m docked here in Las Palmas looking over at least 11 of them right now. I’m pretty sure there are at least that many parked over on Tenerife. I know there are more in Trinidad, and sitting in the Graveyard off Southwest Pass.
How many billions of dollars are going to be wasted before this downturn is over and we can go back to work? How many thousands of highly skilled people will be kicked to the curb with no other job prospects but a possible managers’ job at McDonalds?
I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I’ve been through these downturns before, so I knew what was coming. I survived the early ‘80’s, the early 2000’s. I even managed to work through the Macondo moratorium. I saved everything I could. I constantly put as much as I could into my savings account. I bought rental property and spent any spare time and money fixing them up so I could get them rented out and paying for themselves ASAP.
Thank goodness I did that. Those rental properties have been my saving grace. The rents have been practically my only income for the last 3 ½ years. I’ve managed to find a boat job every few months which allowed me to stock up my savings a little bit and take the edge off, but not nearly enough work to keep from sucking up my savings and stressing me out.
I put my best (and most expensive) property up for sale when it became clear I wasn’t going to get any kind of regular work for a while. It still hasn’t sold. I still can’t afford it.
Still, I’m one of the lucky ones. I had enough DP time to renew my DP certificate. I had enough sea time to renew my US Coast Guard license. I had enough money in the bank to (re) take the required classes we have to take in order to go to work. I know so many people who were not able to do those things. They’re not going to be able to go back to work even when things do eventually pick up.
It’s hard to go from a lifestyle of earning over $100,000/year for only 6 months of work. I went from close to double that as a SDPO (senior dynamic positioning operator) to only earning $3000/month MAX from my rentals. I usually had expenses to pay out of the rents, so my take was less than $1000/month. Sometimes I didn’t have anything left and had to live off my savings. It was hard, really hard, to adjust…
Well, it’s over- 2018 is done! Hard to believe isn’t it? To start 2019, I’d like to say thank you for sticking with me- I know I haven’t been very consistent on here lately. Some days I just don’t feel like doing anything. Writers block or just plain laziness? Both, I think. Last year seemed to drag on forever, but now it seems to have gone by so fast.
I have to say, I’m very thankful that 2018 was better than 2017. My computer wasn’t giving me near as much trouble (until just recently- I wonder if the bats have returned). I was able to get a little bit more work. Not enough, not nearly enough to satisfy me and get me to the point of being comfortable, but enough to survive on. I was even able to dig myself slightly out of the hole the last couple of years of basically no work had put me in.
I actually had work every month last year (except Nov-Dec when I decided to take my long planned trip instead of hope for work). It wasn’t all offshore, well paid work. Some months, the only job I had was my role player gig at Maersk Training. But even that little bit kept me from having to use up the last of my savings.
I also sold a couple of articles (with photos) and paintings. That was a real boost to my confidence (tho not so much to my bank account).
I was able to take that 2 month long trip and still come out a couple thousand dollars ahead of where I was on New Years Day 2018. 🙂
I may be ‘greedy’, but I’m really really really hoping that 2019 turns out to be even better than 2018. I sure as hell don’t want a repeat of 2016-2017 which just sucked! I hate being broke and watching everything I’ve worked so hard for just slowly disappear.
I hope things will pick up offshore so there is more work this year and the agencies actually have more than a single job to fight over! It feels great to get 3 calls in a day from 3 different recruiters, but it really sucks once you talk to them and realize they’re all pitching the exact same job.
I don’t know what to think now. I had a job lined up before Christmas. It was supposed to start on the 3rd. Friday I asked about details and was told the job was cancelled. 😦
I got another call yesterday. It sounded like a good job, but I felt I had to turn it down. I just don’t feel confident that I could handle the particular position on offer. I’m hoping tomorrow will bring some business. There have been some hopeful signs in the news lately.
I haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions this year. I never seem able to follow through on them. They’re always the same: lose weight, clear out the house, write more. I never make any lasting progress.
Instead, I think about the things I would like to do. Top of the list this year: get residency visa for Mexico and make that first move, find a decent room-mate (which will make that move to Mexico SO much easier), take my bicycle in to get it repaired and adjusted so no more excuses not to ride, have at least one garage sale and get rid of unused stuff cluttering up my living room!
If I manage to cross those things off my list, and if I manage to find enough work to strengthen my finances a little more, I’d love to do some more traveling. Next big trip I’d like to take is a cruise to Antarctica. 🙂
How about you? Do you have any New Years resolutions? Any trips planned? Where would you most like to go and why?
It’s not that I don’t have anything to say. That’s never been a problem for me. It’s if I have anything I think will be interesting to say (to you- my readers).
Since my last post, I went back out to sea on the same ship. It was still quite chaotic on there and I didn’t have much time or internet access. I was wiped out at the end of the day and just not up to trying to get online.
I was out for 2 weeks (working nights), home for a week and then out for another 2 weeks (on a different ship- back to working nights). While I was home, I was busy with trying to catch up on the usual: mail, bills, car, paperwork, housework, yard work, etc. I also had to take a physical for the job I was up for. I wasn’t positive I would get that job, so I signed up to work at Maersk again as a role player.
Turns out I did get the job, so I had to leave Maersk after only 2 days. I went straight to the airport from work the second day. Flew over to New Orleans and joined the ship the next day.
I was supposed to spend 3 weeks onboard. We finished the job early. The client was in a huge rush to sign off on completion. We wound up back at the anchorage (otherwise known as the “drillship graveyard”) off SW Pass a week earlier than expected.
Once the ship was anchored, they didn’t need 2 officers on the bridge anymore. They sent me home a week early. I think things may finally be improving a little bit offshore. I’ve had more work since April than I’ve had (total) for the last 3 years. It’s nowhere near normal tho.
They’ve cut costs everywhere possible. Small crew sizes are unsustainable, but the clients (oil companies) are pushing everything to the limits. I hate to think about the problems they are bringing on themselves by being so short sighted. As usual, I’m sure it will take a major accident before they consider doing what they should’ve been doing all along.
I’ve been home a few days now. I’m still trying to recover from switching my schedule back and forth from nights to days again. I need to just spend a couple of days sleeping in, not doing anything else!
I haven’t been able to do that yet. I still have too many things on my “to do” list. 😉
PS- check my Instagram feed for a few photos. I’ll try to get a few more up here in the next few days.
I got a job for 3 weeks on a ship with very limited internet access. It was really a pretty interesting trip, but I’ll have to tell you about it later cause I’m heading back there tonight. I’ll be gone for another 2 weeks. Hope to be able to get online during this hitch, but don’t be disappointed if you don’t hear from me for another 2-3 weeks.
I’m SO glad to finally have some real work again! Not to be greedy, but now it would be really nice to have some sort of schedule. Three years of being on call and ready to jump on any offer is getting old.
I spent the afternoon in Houston yesterday- researching. We don’t have a bookstore anymore since Hastings went out of business (after they caused every other store to shut down). Sad, but the closest bookstore to me is all the way in Houston. Over an hours drive away.
I went to Barnes and Noble for their magazine rack. I don’t recommend it for anything else. It was not very comfortable. I tried the one on Westheimer since I was nearby. It had very few chairs, the few they had were hard wooden ones like in school. They didn’t have a coffee shop or anywhere to get a drink, tho they did have a section with little tables, like maybe they used to have one. They did have a large selection of games and toys tho.
After attending Roy Stevenson’s Travel Writing and Marketing Workshop in Washington last month, I’ve been meaning to follow up and make a list of publications to pitch my stories to.
I spent a few hours in the store, going through all kinds of magazines. Woman’s magazines, mens magazines, fishing magazines, sailing magazines, health magazines, and of course the travel magazines.
I photographed the cover, contents and masthead pages of many and bought a few. I have a few story ideas in mind and need to figure out the right magazines to pitch them to.
Since I haven’t been able to find much work offshore lately, I figure I best get busy with writing (and photography). I finished the first draft of my book. It’s about how to sail around the world and get paid for it. I finished a couple of paintings- but the art gallery I’ve been counting on to get them sold has been in the process of moving since before Christmas. I’ve just been too lazy to upload any photos to the stock sites.
Since yesterdays ‘rant’ I’m feeling a little bit better but still not in the best of moods. I went to the doctor this morning and at least she seems to understand where I’m coming from. Apparently the doctors are getting blackmailed by the Feds just as bad as the mariners are.
Forced to go to the doctor every 3 months now instead of yearly, or it’s ‘malpractice’? I really don’t see the need to go any more than yearly, but I certainly do understand her need to protect her license. Just like I need to protect mine. We’ve both spent WAY too much time, effort and money to take losing it lightly.
So, my choice now is to be forced to spend $1000’s of extra $$ per year (for nothing), get my medical care in Mexico or retire. Wow, some ‘choice’.
I’ll never understand why so many people think it’s necessary to have someone else force us to live the way ‘they’ want instead of living the life we choose. Does everyone truly believe that every single person other than themselves is just out to rape, rob and kill? That we, along with our friends and neighbors can’t figure out some way to solve our problems without the use of force. That the world will go to hell if we don’t have some other idiot up there running our lives, making all kinds of decisions for us that we should be doing ourselves? That the world would really be worse off it we got rid of the sociopaths we allow to run it now? Continue reading →
It’s a long story. I’m going to start this out by joining in on Linda G Hill’s SoCS. Her theme for this week is “reservation”.
It’s hard to acknowledge that I haven’t posted on here since early February, when I got off work on the Epic Explorer. I hadn’t realized its been that long. I really thought I had been posting more often than that. I’ve been so busy, it just got too easy to let the blogging slip out of mind.
I’ve even had reservations about starting back up again. It’s been so long, I’ve gotten out of the habit of trying to write something fairly frequently (at least weekly) and keep up with what my favorite bloggers were up to. It’s so easy to let it go when I have so many other things going on, and even when I don’t- I just don’t feel like doing anything.
I don’t like to be so negative all the time, but it’s been really hard to try to come up with something positive to say. I’ve always been one of those to see the ‘glass as half empty”. At this point I’m probably ‘clinically depressed’. Here I go again, running off into the so easy to fall into trap of thinking of all the negatives. I’m still out of work, still broke, still trapped here with no money to do anything. There’s still really not much hope of finding work, so no hope of escaping the trap. What am I going to be able to do with myself?
I really don’t think there’s any point to life, other than to live it the way YOU want to. Why bother if all you’re going to do all day every day is what someone else forces on you? I’ve tried my whole life to find ways to live my life according to my values. I work hard, and save what I can so that I can enjoy my time off. Since I’ve been laid off (without any help from unemployment after paying into it for 40+ years), I’ve tried to find other ways to make some kind of income still doing something that I didn’t consider pure torture. I’ve always liked the arts, so I’ve been trying to transition into working in some way with that sort of thing.
I’ve been writing, painting, photographing. I’ve tried to find ways to earn an income from all of those things. So far, I have had a few successes. I’ve won prizes for my photos and for my paintings. I’ve sold a few articles. Few and far between and not nearly enough to pay the bills. It’s hard to concentrate enough to work on this sort of thing when I’m spending so much time and energy looking for a ‘real job’. One that will pay the bills.
won “Honorable Mention”
I tried last night to think of what I have to be thankful for. Mostly in the past. I came up with a few things I can still be thankful for right now. I still have a roof over my head and enough money to keep it for at least another couple of months. I still have my health (in general, tho not good enough to be able to keep working for much longer). I have a few good friends I can always count on. I have rental properties that will bring in enough income to survive on for at least another month. I have internet access again (tho it is still screwed up, just not as bad as it has been). My truck still runs, even at 21+ years old. Without it I wouldn’t be able to get to the few and far between jobs I have been able to get over the last 3 years.
I spent so much time and effort, my whole life, to be able to just live and enjoy life. I did all the things we’re told we have to do. I studied hard, got good grades, went to college, got a good job, a great career. I even went back to college to get a BA degree (in math- which has proved totally useless). I saved as much as I could. I invested what I could spare. I worked hard at every job.
And after all that, what happened? Like hundreds of thousands of others, I was thrown in the trash heap when my company felt it had to satisfy their stockholders.When the price of oil dropped like a rock, the oilfield dried up. When that happened all the shipping jobs were immediately taken. Seafarers around the world are hanging on to any job they can find.
People around the world are clamoring to take captains jobs for $150/day! The STCW has given owner/operators the ability to go for the lowest common denominator- they’re all hiring the cheapest crews they can find. Apparently you can live like a king on $150/day in the Philippines, or India, or Ukraine. Who in America can survive on that? You spend decades and tens of thousands of dollars for your license (and the enormous amounts of responsibility you get with it) and then throw it away for that kind of wage? It’s been almost 3 years now with no hope of getting a ‘real’ job again.
I hate to think that I have wasted my entire life, working my way up the hawsepipe, doing everything ‘right’ and still to end up in the exact same place as I would have if I had never made any effort at all to improve my life. It sucks! But it seems to be reality.
Yes, I’ve had reservations on posting like this and depressing you all. I’ll hope that even this kind of post is (somewhat) welcome after being out of touch for so long.
I’ve been participating in Linda’s Just Jot It January challenge. I know I’ve been offline for a few days. It couldn’t be helped. I haven’t had enough internet access to get to my blog to post anything. I finally managed to get my computer hooked up (had to pay $32 for 750 mb) and have a little time to use it. I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to get on ’til I get back home.
I have still been ‘jotting’ various things every day, even if not online. Things like log book entries, positions, JSEAs, safety observation cards, etc. Does that count? 😉
I joined the vessel in Cameron, LA at about 2300 Thursday. We headed offshore the next morning and we’ve been busy working since then. Early this morning a cold front came through and the weather offshore kicked up pretty quickly. The divers can’t work in rough seas and so the decision was made to return to the dock and wait on better weather.
We arrived back in Cameron this afternoon. We had to shift ship a couple of times due to other boats at the dock. Now we are hunkered down for the night. It’s been freezing cold (literally) and we’ve even had snow! Right now I’m looking at a snow covered white parking lot (instead of the usual grey mud).
One of the reasons I’ve always enjoyed working at sea was the time we get for contemplation. It’s just natural when you’re standing watch at night, looking out at nothing but the black waters and amazing star filled sky.
You wind up thinking about all kinds of things. Deep thoughts. Having really involved discussions with your watch mates. Thinking over all the things you want to do with your life. Thinking about all kinds of ways to solve the worlds problems. 😉
You might be surprised at how many famous people are former seamen, other than Mark Twain : Peter Falk (Colombo), Jack Lord (Hawaii Five-O), Woody Guthrie, Oliver Stone (and many more). A seaman’s life gives you lots of time to think. Unlike so many other jobs today, most of which run you ragged without a minute to yourself.
I love working out here. I miss it when I’m home. I only wish it was still the way it was when I first started out. They’ve taken all the fun out of it. So many BS rules and regulations. I don’t think I’m going to be allowed to continue to work out here much longer. It’s just getting too hard to put up with the BS.
It’s been a balancing act for a while now. Ever since I had to come back to work in the Gulf of Mexico from overseas, I’ve been chafing at the bits. I just want to be able to do my job. Now, it costs me a fortune to keep all the various ‘training’ certificates up to date.
Another thing, I don’t do (illegal) drugs, but it violates every principle I believe in to submit to a piss test in order to go to work and yet even that is now becoming obsolete. Companies now are starting to require a hair follicle test! That is just completely unacceptable!
Here’s something to ‘contemplate’… How can such a minute amount of any substance (9 nanograms) possibly have any effect on your job performance? How can the test results with such a low level of any substance have any possible effect on your job performance a month after you’ve used that substance? How about 3 months later (piss test can detect)? How about 12 months (which a hair follicle test can detect)?
Simple answer: it can’t!
I want to know why any company should be allowed to tell you what you can and can’t do 3+ months before the day you’re working for them. Why can they dictate what you do on your time off? On weekends, your vacation? I want to know why so many people seem to believe these piss tests/hair follicle tests have anything to do with safety. I want to know why people are insisting since they have to take a drug test, everybody else ought to have to take one too. Just because you’re getting screwed, lets make sure everybody else is getting screwed too? Wow! Why isn’t everyone insisting that all drug tests have nothing to do with job performance, safety or anything else except CONTROL?
I want to know why Americans, who supposedly appreciate freedom are so accepting of this ‘slavery’.
It’s not, you say?
What else would you call it when a company refuses to honor your RIGHT to do what you want on YOUR time? Are they paying you 24/7? No, they’re not! Are they going to backdate your paycheck for the last 12 months before they hired you when you pass their tests since you have given up your RIGHT to live your life the way YOU choose and instead are following their rules? No, they are not.
I tell it like it IS. They want to OWN you, body and soul!
I just wanted to let everyone know about this upcoming event. It’s at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. It sounds really interesting and if I was going to be in town I would definitely go. I’m leaving tonight to head offshore for a couple of weeks. Yeah!
Today’s prompt for Just Jot It January is: humiliate. I’m not sure I’ll get a chance for another post today or not, so enjoy this one. Maybe it’ll interest you enough to check out some history. The story of the Glomar Challenger (photo below) is really pretty cool, but even more interesting is the saga of the companies other ships, the Glomar Explorer. 😉
Lecture – Can Do! A History of Texas Leading the Way in Energy by Paul Mattingly
Tuesday, January 16, 2018 – 6:30 PM
Running Time: 2 hours
An innovative cast of characters have lead the way in the energy industry–Harry Wiess, Herman Brown, Howard Hughes, Herbert Hunt–and established Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast as the epicenter of the international energy industry. Author and historian Paul Mattingly will tell the fascinating, little-known stories behind the biggest projects of their time and explain the numerous interconnections including the Glomar Challenger, Apollo program robots, Texas Instruments and the proving of theory of plate tectonics.
Mattingly will conclude with how Texas continues to lead the way in new sources of energy for the future. A book signing of “From Orange To Singapore: A Shipyard Builds a Legacy” will follow the presentation.
Starting out the new year without all the usual drama. Why? Mostly because I’ve been staying home, sticking to myself, too paranoid and depressed to go out to celebrate the holidays with everyone else.
I decided to join in on Linda’s Just Jot It January challenge again this year. The idea is just to write something (anything) every day during January. Hopefully it will be enough to start a good habit that will continue.
I’ve been trying to transition from working on the water to a more sedate lifestyle. Not by choice, but only because there has been approximately ZERO work for the last 2+ years! I’ve been trying to make a living with a more creative focus. I’ve been doing a lot of writing, photography, painting, etc.
I’d love to be able to just relax, chill out and stop worrying about all the ‘drama’ going on around me. Crazy issues always coming up with tenants, roommates, family, work (or lack of work/finances) and just the normal everyday shit going on in the world.
I wish I could just focus on one thing. Writing, for example. I’ve started a book, I’m on the last chapter, but haven’t worked on it in a couple of months now. I just can’t get motivated to write when I’m trying to deal with all the rest: how to pay the bills, crazy woman in my house (she’s gone now), finding a job, city sending me threatening letters about my properties/tenants, getting income taxes sent in, brakes gone out on my truck in the middle of Houston traffic!
Oh yeah, I’ve been having a wonderful life these last few months. But you know what? I think I would get so bored if I didn’t have all this shit going on around me. I do bring a lot of it on myself.
I grew up in a crazy house, two of them. I’m sure I would’ve been taken into protective custody if any of that had happened today. Both my parents houses were pretty wild. Constant drama at both places. My brother was lucky, he could pick and choose. He could stay at Dads where he was treated like a king, until he wasn’t. Then he would go home to Mom’s where he could do whatever he wanted.
I was stuck at my Dad’s most of the time. He was really strict on a lot of things, but very open about a lot of others. He ran a pretty strange household for back then. First of all, he didn’t work anymore. He retired in his early 30’s. Bought a bunch of property and a sailboat and got out of the rat race. I’ve always admired him for that.
He worked on his boat and rented apartments to all the ‘poor’ people in town. Our apartments were full of the local fishermen, bartenders and drunks. We had parties on the shuffleboard courts every weekend and big pig roasts in our empty lot every couple of months. Dad would have me play the piano upstairs for his drinking buddies.
Moms house was a whole different adventure. We were allowed to keep pets over there and have friends come over. We had cats, dogs, fish, gerbils, hamsters, rabbits, turtles, parakeets, even a kinkajou once (that only lasted til it bit my mom real bad one night). My stepfather would hang out drinking beer and making crude comments all day while we tried our best to ignore him and stay out of his way.
Between the two of them, there was always some drama going on. I think in a way I miss all that. I try to keep my life interesting and not boring. I’m not bored often, but that’s because I always have something I should be doing. Most of those things are only because I say so.
I don’t have to write, work on my photos, paint, blog, etc. But I like to do those things and even tho they’re a lot more work than I ever imagined, they keep my busy and I still enjoy messing around with it all.
I’ve actually cut down a lot. I hardly even go out anymore. That eliminates a lot. I miss out on all of my friends, but I can’t take the chance of going out to see them any more. It’s sad, but this place is not the same anymore.
They’ve taken all the fun out of life here. All in the name of ‘safety’. Screw safety! I’d rather have a LIFE back! Stop shoving us all into tiny little perfectly ‘safe’ boxes and let us enjoy our lives. So what if we screw up occasionally? So what if we have a little accident every once in a while, that’s how we learn! That’s all part of LIFE!
Stop pretending life is about being safe, or secure. It’s NOT! Life is about taking chances, experimenting, seeing the world and everything in it, meeting new people and learning new things. None of that is about being ‘safe’!
I could do without all the drama around the issue of safety! The theatre they put on at the airports with the TSA. Geez, how long are they going to keep that up? How long is it going to take for people to wake up to the fact that none of that is anything BUT a SHOW?
I’m so tired of other people trying to control me! Aren’t you?
Here it is, the end of another year. I can hardly believe it’s another one gone by so fast. Like everyone else, I’ve been thinking a lot about what happened last year and how to make things better next year. Here’s a quick rehash of CaptainJillsJourneys from 2017.
Here’s a month by month of my most popular posts (not counting the moonshine recipes which are by far the most hit on!)…
Seems funny that I’ve had so many popular posts about work this year, when I’ve really hardly worked at all. 😦
I wish I had more interesting travel stories to tell, but hard to come up with those when I haven’t been able to go anywhere (due to lack of funds/work). It’s hard to believe a whole year has gone by and I’ve done so little with my life.
Yeah, I keep myself plenty busy every day. I have to-do lists every day that I never even manage to finish. But they’re full of all the normal little everyday things you need to do around the house. Plus, spending lots of time online, looking for work and still filling out those damn online applications!
I’ve made forays into writing, painting and photography. Unbelievable how much time those things can take up! So far, nothing has come out of any of them, but I’m still hopeful. I have made a few contacts at least.
I just feel like a chicken with it’s head cut off. Running around like crazy and never going anywhere. My goals in life have all been tied to work and without any work for so long I’m just stuck in a rut and don’t know what to do with myself.
Today I feel like just saying ‘to hell with it all!’, ‘I quit!’. But then I come to my senses and wonder HOW??? Should I just give up and throw away everything I’ve worked for my whole life? My license (my ability to work), my property, my house, all my stuff? Everything but what I can easily carry with me?
So far, I can not make myself give up everything, but I also know if I don’t get work soon I am going to lose it all anyway. It takes money- lots of money!- to keep all of those things! Those few short jobs I’ve managed to find over the last couple of years have allowed me to still have a few thousand dollars left (out of $75,000 when I lost my job).
Most of that will get spent this month on fixing one of my properties. It needs to be leveled again and previous contractors refuse to honor their guarantee. So, I’m stuck having to pay another $15,000 to fix it. Otherwise, I will continue to lose $800/month on that property.
I also screwed up and mailed the check for property taxes 1 day late and now I owe another $5500 by the end of January!
If anyone wonders why I took that last job, this is why. It’s very hard to make good decisions on finances when you’re under so much financial stress.
Some people have told me I should just give up and go take a job at McDonalds or Walmart. Why? Jobs like that won’t come close to paying the bills. If I’m working like that I won’t even be able to keep looking for a real job (or on my other projects that might someday earn me a few bucks).
All I can think to do at this point is to keep on hoping that things will get better in 2018. A lot of the ‘experts’ are saying so, but they’ve been saying that for the last 2 years. I’ve got enough to be OK through February and then???
Not just the title of a pretty good book! I’m back home, rested up and back on the job of looking for a job.
I’ve already called all my usual agencies (C-Mar, Oceanwide, CLS, Northstar, Spencer-Ogden) and no one has any work now or for the foreseeable future.
Some linkedin contacts have mentioned a couple of places overseas. I’ve been trying to contact them, but so far no response. Looks like the situation is still the same. Thousands of us out of work, resumes stacked til filing cabinets overflowing and still no hope of work any time soon.
The price of oil has been flirting with $60/bbl over the last week, but it’s still not enough to get anyone moving. We keep hearing ‘next year it will be better”. It’s 3 days away from ‘next year” and I’m hoping like hell it really will be better!
I don’t know how others are managing to survive. Well, yes I do, most of them have families to help them out. They’re lucky. The younger ones have mostly left the industry and found something else to do. They’ve let their documents lapse and won’t be able to come back. Of course, they didn’t have all that much invested in this industry yet anyway. There’s a huge difference between an AB and an unlimited master as far as costs (and everything else).
I’m heading up to Galveston today to move my art. The gallery where it’s been showing is moving (they’re having their own problems) and all artists are being asked to help move. Looks like it won’t be on display again til late January, maybe February. Just another way to try to survive!
To participate in the Ragtag Daily Prompt, create a Pingback to your post, or copy and paste the link to your post into the comments. And while you’re there, why not check out some of the other posts too!
To participate in the Ragtag Daily Prompt, create a Pingback to your post, or copy and paste the link to your post into the comments. And while you’re there, why not check out some of the other posts too!