Maritime Monday for March 27th 2017

Another week’s flown by! Here’s to more interesting maritime news from Monkey Fist. I really liked reading about the Irish this week…

ORP Piorun (G65) was an N-class destroyer used by the Polish Navy during the …

Source: Maritime Monday for March 27th, 2017 – gCaptain

TAMUG

I went to a job fair this morning up at TAMUG (Texas A&M University at Galveston). They’ve been making a lot of changes since I was there last time. First thing I noticed is that they’ve started charging for parking. It cost me $6 for a couple of hours. 😦

Next was the construction. They’re building a huge new “Academic Complex” right in front as you drive onto campus. There was already a big 3-4 story building that looked pretty complete, but they were still drilling holes behind it. The machine they used looked like a giant vertical corkscrew running up and down through the mud.

The job fair was held in the gym, so I had to walk across most of the campus. I never do see many students. TAMUG always seems deserted to me, especially compared to UT Austin or UST where I went to school. They were always bustling with crowds of students filling the walkways going to classes.

The gym was fairly busy. It was filled with tables of the various employers. There must have been about 25-30 different ‘companies’ represented. Sad to say, not many of them were offering anything for someone like me (older, with a license, who still wants to work at sea).

The Ports were well represented: Ports America, Diversified Port Holdings, Metro Ports all had tables. The shore side support companies were there too: Lone Star Maritime, Dan-Bunkering and Watco Companies are a couple of examples, as well as Kiewit (shipyard, construction, etc). I’ve considered taking a shore side job, but I would have to move and I just can’t justify moving (unless it’s overseas to somewhere cheaper).

The Houston Police Department, the Marines, the Customs & Border Patrol, the Army Corps of Engineers all had tables. I didn’t even bother talking to any of them, I already know I would not be a good fit. 😉

NOAA and MSC both had booths, but neither was actually hiring. For the first time in ages MSC is actually trying to get rid of people (tho they still have 4 month long minimum tours).

Artist Boat, Schlitterbahn, and Moody Gardens looked more interesting. But they were all in Galveston (hour and half drive each way) and really more for summer fill in type jobs. The Peace Corps may actually have something interesting to do, but it’s normally a 2 year commitment and I don’t think I’m up to that at this point. They did mention they have some shorter term programs, I’ll have to look into those. Maybe there’s something there I can do?

A few towing companies were represented (but I don’t have a towing endorsement). I would have to start over as a deckhand. I really don’t want to do that at this point in my life and career. Especially on an inland tow boat! That is some hard, back-breaking work! I am actually getting close to the age at which I’d like to be able to retire and I don’t want to take the chance of a serious injury (old bones don’t heal so fast). 😦

Shell was actually hiring, but they only wanted cadets (so not really hiring). Trident Seafoods was looking for people. But again, they only wanted deckhands. I talked to them for a while and figured it just wasn’t worth even bothering to apply there. I have fishing experience, and on the same type of vessels. But where I worked, we had fish masters. I was never responsible for finding and catching the fish. Trident doesn’t work that way. They want deckhands that they can train (taking years to do so). I don’t figure I have 5-10 years to spend back on deck at this point in my life. 😦

A couple of the maritime officers unions had tables, but none of them were actually hiring either. I talked to the MMP, AMO and MEBA representatives. They were happy to talk about the benefits of their unions, but admitted that things were tight and they really didn’t know how long it might take for an ‘applicant’ to find a job. All except the AMO still only hire out of the union hall too, so you can’t even work part time while you’re waiting to ship out.

I signed up as an applicant at AMO a couple of months ago. So far I’ve had 1 email re: possible job. By the time I responded a couple of hours later, the job was gone. 😦

All in all, the only companies that were actually looking for marine crew to ship out was SeaRiver (who I had worked for in the past and already applied for), HOS (who had a table with some swag, but didn’t even send a rep to talk to), Intermarine (who only hires through Crowley- which only does online applications), and HMS Global Maritime.

So, out of 25-30 companies represented at this particular career fair, there were really only 4 who had anything even remotely resembling the kind of work I’m looking for. Out of those 4, only 2 had representatives at the fair who could talk about the employment prospects at their company. Only 1 had much to say other than “go online and fill out an application”. 😦

That shows how really sad a state our maritime sector is right now. No longer much opportunity at all. I can only hope it comes back to ‘normal’ soon.

This Is Where I Work

When I work.

This is the kind of ship I’ve been working on most recently. This video was taken on the DS-4. I used to work on the DS-3 and DS-5 and a couple of other sister ships. Sisters, meaning they’re all built to the same basic plan.

These drill ships are technological wonders. They’re very capable and fairly comfortable ships to work on. I would go back in a NY second! I keep hoping the price of oil will go back up. There will be no work for me or anybody else out there until it does. According to reports, there are around a half million people out of work due to the low price of oil.

I read the news every day to see the price of a barrel and how many rigs are working. So far, the price has recovered from around $26/bbl to around $50/bbl (just dropped back down to $47 last few days). The ON SHORE drillers have been taking advantage of the situation and are drilling like crazy!

They have already returned a couple hundred rigs to work. Every time they do, they put downward pressure on the price of a barrel of oil. That only delays offshore drilling from starting up again.

At this point, I’m wondering if we’ll EVER be able to go back to work. it is not cheap to drill for oil offshore. They’re not going to do it at a price of only $50/bbl. The companies that work offshore can’t work without making a profit. That means oil must be over $60/bbl and it has to stabilize there before any of us see steady work again. (IMHO).

I know, most people are happy to get cheap gas, I would be too if I was actually getting it as cheap as it should be with price/bbl so low. And if so many people weren’t out of work because of it.

If I could find some other type of work that was in any way comparable, I would be doing it. There’s nothing like offshore. There’s nothing I’d rather do than be a mariner. I’ll just keep hoping things get better before I’m forced out for good.

Already

Yeah, it’s over. Already! My first real job since I was laid off back in September of 2015 lasted exactly 5 days!

I was hoping it would go for at least a week, every day of work I get now is like a godsend.

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to go back offshore for a few days, even tho I had to give up the 4 days I was scheduled to work in Houston. Wish I could have done both, but have to take offshore whenever it comes up. There’s just no comparison.

I hope this short job will be a foot in the door for future opportunities there. I know not many people are taking time off for any reason, not if they can help it. But sometimes, like this time, they have to. Maybe I can at least start filling in again when that happens.

Work

Finally! I’m going to work tomorrow! 🙂

It’s only a temp job. Maybe not even a week. But it’s the first real job I’ve had since I went as AB on that delivery job down to Colombia last August.

I’ll be going out as 3rd mate/JDPO (junior dynamic positioning officer) just to relieve someone who had to leave unexpectedly.

I hope, really really hope this is the start of something good!

More Shud

This past Saturday Night Live was the best I’ve seen in quite a while. SNL is actually one of the very few shows I’ll turn on the TV to watch, but it’s been disappointing lately.

This week it was really pretty funny. I liked the opener (about Trump and an alien invasion), the Olive Garden commercial was pretty good, and the mermaid sketch featuring Kate McKinnon as ‘Shud’ (who is part blobfish) and Scarlett Johansson as her best friend the anglerfish was hilarious.

I hope they keep going with this skit. Maybe they can even add Leslie Jones in there somewhere. I think she might add even more to it. 🙂

Maritime Monday for March 6th 2017: Oil of Gladness

Another weeks worth of nautical knowledge courtesy of Monkey Fist and gCaptain. There’s an interesting article about Sadie Horton, one of the women mariners of WWII (who have never really been recognized). Beautiful photos of some ugly stuff. Sounds of the seascape to relax to. And pretty little jellyfish to watch…

10 Hours of Ambient Arctic Sounds Will Help You Relax, Meditate, Study & Sleep &nbsp …

Source: Maritime Monday for March 6th, 2017: Oil of Gladness – gCaptain

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!

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

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. 🙂

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

Color Your World: 31 Shadow

Today’s color for Jennifer’s Color Your World challenge is: shadow. Another one I had no idea what it looks like. Here’s a reference in case you want to join the fun. 😉

Here’s my best match.

Got a great match to the river water! I took this photo a few years ago. I was traveling in Thailand and had spent a couple of weeks in Chiang Mai and visiting the ‘Hill Tribes’ around there. I decided to take the ‘slow boats‘ down the Mekong River, at least to Luang Prabang.

I really would have loved to stay there longer. It was a nice little town, lots to do, friendly people, and so relaxed and peaceful. I would have loved to take the boat all the way down the Mekong to the delta, with stops in Vientiane and along the way. I ran out of time and had to fly back to Bangkok.

This picture of the river was from up the hill at Pak-Beng where we stopped for the night. I enjoyed the slow pace of the ride, watching the scenery pass by and the daily activities of the local people. It was interesting to see the turnout at stops we made, to transfer passengers or cargo.

There was an amazing variety of people on the boat. People from all over the world and all walks of life. It made for interesting conversations and a fun trip. I highly recommend it if you have the time. If not, try the long-tail boats. They’re much faster! Just as much an adventure (maybe even more), but maybe not so dry either! 😉

Maritime Monday for January 31st 2017: Death in the Gulf Stream

Another weeks worth of fascinating maritime matters from Monkey Fist and gCaptain. This weeks especially interesting articles were about the SS St Louis. In honor of January 27th Holocaust Remembrance Day, there are a couple of great articles (also check it out on Twitter).

It’s especially relevant now because of the ongoing situation in the Middle East and the fleeing ‘refugees’. I have to admit, I am not whole heartedly going to welcome anyone who comes from over there. It’s a matter of their professed religion.

Yeah, I know. People will call me all kinds of nasty names (to my face or behind  my back). I know I really shouldn’t say these kinds of things online. No, they never go away. But I think this all needs to come out in open discussion. No, not just smearing anyone who says this kind of thing as ‘racist’, ‘homophobe’, ‘antisemite’, etc. that just shuts down all attempts at communication. No, not just assuming you’re so much better, so much more enlightened, than someone who would say these kinds of things.

You know, I think one of the main reasons Trump got elected (regardless of how scared people were about his nuttiness, arrogance, temper, etc) was because he spoke his mind and didn’t play around with the mealy-mouthed politically correct crap everybody else has been saddled with for the last couple of decades. I didn’t vote for him, but I sure as hell enjoyed hearing him tell it like he thinks it. We all ought to have freedom of speech, without having to self-censor!

Personally I really don’t like any religion, but I especially don’t like the ones where their greatest objective (according to their holy book) is to kill people like me (unbelievers)! If anyone knows of a fool-proof method to tell who is a devout muslim who wants to follow the koran, and an ordinary person who really doesn’t give a damn about religion but just plays along to get along, please let me know. I’ll pass it on to Trump and maybe we can figure out how to solve the refugee problem.

In the meantime, check out this weeks Maritime Monday, there’s a lot more in there!

more: A Tribute to the “Picasso of Sailing” – Mike Peyton on yachtsandyachting.com Haunting Twitter …

Source: Maritime Monday for January 31st, 2017: Death in the Gulf Stream – gCaptain

Color Your World: 28 Almond

Today’s color for Jennifer’s Color Your World challenge is: almond. Here’s a reference…

A lot of these colors look alike to me- almond, apricot, peach, desert sand- mango tango and burnt orange- copper and antique brass. Can you tell them apart? I sure have a hard time! Why do they need crayon colors so close together nobody can tell them apart unless they’re studied under a microscope?

I always thought part of the fun of drawing/painting/being creative was learning to blend the colors you had to make the ones you wanted. I’ve been trying to learn to paint lately. I sure as hell don’t want to go buy every color I might need to make a painting come out. That would cost a fortune! I’m learning the color wheel and how the different colors relate to each other.

It’s a challenge to make just the right color to make your painting ‘pop’. It’s fun too. Here’s an example of what I mean. I painted this a few years ago, when I was working as an AB on the tankships running up the West Coast to Alaska. Of course, I didn’t bring any paint with me. I scrounged around in the paint locker til I found what I needed.

I made that whole colorful undersea scene with only a few colors of deck paint. I know I had black, white, signal red, yellow, international orange, green and blue. That was pretty much it.

I must sound like an old geezer, ‘well sonny, back in myyyyy day, we used to color with only 8 colors in the box!’ I actually got the 64 crayon box later when I was growing up, but did I ever use all of those colors- nope. Does anyone use all of the 120 colors this challenge is based on? I think I would have a hard time using up a whole box of crayons myself. 😉

Anyway, here’s my entry for the challenge color of ‘almond’…

I took this photo in November while I was traveling around Turkey. I had a great time wandering all over Istanbul and Cappadocia where I took this photo of one of the many ancient rock churches at Goreme. It was a lot of fun scrambling around amid all this history, seeing how the people lived and worshipped all those years ago. I only regret that they didn’t allow any photography inside (even without flash). I really would have liked to have got a few shots of the beautiful frescos inside. I’ll just have to be satisfied with the internet. 😦

So Cool!

I’ve always loved dolphins and whales. I always wanted to be able to swim freely in the ocean with them. So far, I’ve never been this close to any out in the wild. I’m pretty sure it’s against ‘the rules’ to get so close to them or to touch them like these people were doing. Tho I have to admit, I would have a hard time holding back myself if they came so close. I think they’re beautiful and intelligent creatures. I hate to see how much we’ve destroyed their world, and yet they’re still mostly OK with us. 🙂

Mother Whale and Calf with people on whale watching trip. Very cool to see the Momma raising her Baby to show it the funny looking humans! Like a revers Zoo, were the people out to see the Whales, or was the Momma Whale teaching her baby about humans? The big momma Whale held her baby […]

via Mother Whale Lifting Her Baby to See Humans on Boat — 2012 The Awakening

Maritime Monday for January 23rd 2017

More fascinating maritime history from Monkey Fist by way of gCaptain. This week there’s some interesting stories about the Vikings, some Irish monks, and the true story of how Gambia (the country) came to be. There’s another story about an underwater ‘art museum’, a new one- not the one off Cancun.

There’s a story about yet another #$%^##$% ship owner/operator who treats their crews like shit and than abandons them without pay. These poor guys have spent 7 months onboard without pay. Would you work for that long without a paycheck? Me neither! But these guys (and so many others) really had no choice. They can’t just say to hell with this shit and leave. Where can they go? Jump overboard? And then forfeit all their hard earned wages for the months they’ve already worked? And then, how to get home? India is a long way from the North Sea!

This type of work is not easy. Besides the fact of being away from home for months on end, there is the weather to deal with (the North Sea in winter is no fun!), the job they’re hired to do is dangerous. They earned their pay and they deserve to be paid on time, not sluffed off with lame excuses! Not abandoned and left to fend for themselves with no food, water, money, fuel in some foreign country where they might not even know the language!

This is just one more example of the all too common situation in the shipping industry today. The race to the bottom. ‘Globalization’. Americans are used to being replaced by cheap labor by now. Looks like the Brits are getting used to it too. 😦 This ship is crewed by Indians! I guess it’s their turn now. They are now getting replaced by even cheaper labor!

How does this race to the bottom, becoming standard now- to treat your seamen like so many tools to be used up and then thrown away- how does this really help anyone? Americans losing out to Filipinos, who are losing out to Indians, who are losing out to Ukrainians, who are losing out to Indonesians, who are losing out to Malaysians. Where does it end? With ‘crew less’ ships (they are coming). Shipping rates are so low now it’s cheaper to send something across the ocean and back then to truck it across the state! The added cost to anything you’re going to buy is a very small part of its price.

This particular ship actually has it good. Apparently they still have food, water and power aboard. It’s stuck in Britain and the crew is allowed ashore. The people of the town are able to visit, they help as they can- they bring coffee and biscuits. It’s better than they would get in most places. Here- for instance- where they would most definitely NOT be allowed off the ship. Nor would anyone be allowed to visit (except maybe the port chaplain, ships agent, etc- all on ships business). Thanks TSA, PATRIOT ACT, etc. 😦

This sort of thing is all too common. The MLC (maritime labor convention) has some new rules that just came into force Jan 18. Hopefully it will put some teeth into the rules regarding treatment of seafarers. It’s long past due.

The Lyford House being saved from demolition, 1957 Built in 1876, the house is listed …

Source: Maritime Monday for January 23rd, 2017 – gCaptain

Song of the Sea: Dream of the Drowned Submariner

I found this video when I  was looking around last time. It’s another one by Mark Knopfler. I’m definitely going to have to buy some of his albums. 🙂 I really like this song. The music is quiet and peaceful, the lyrics are slow and wistful. I never really think of submariners too much. I guess it’s a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. I’ve always worked on top of the water, and it’s our main objective to stay up there. 😉

I have to give them their due. Their time at sea and under the water must be even harder than for those of us who sail above the water. The darkness, the pressure, the cramped quarters must really be rough.

I’m reading a book right now. “Dead Wake” about the last voyage of the Lusitania. Basically, a submarine sunk the ship and brought the USA into World War I. I’m not even halfway through it yet, but so far it’s pretty good. It’s given me a whole new appreciation for the submariners.

I hope you like the video as much as I do.

“Dream Of The Drowned Submariner”

We run along easy at periscope depth
Sun dappling through clear water
So went the dream of the drowned submariner
Far away from the slaughterYour hair is a strawflower that sings in the sun
My darling, my beautiful daughter
So went the dream of the drowned submariner
Cast away on the water

From down in the vault, down in the grave
Reaching up to the light on the waves

So she did run to him over the grass
She fell in his arms and he caught her
So went the dream of the drowned submariner
Far away on the water
Far away on the water