This whole thing with my blog started a long time ago, out of my growing desire to move away from the US. Why? That’s an issue for another post. πŸ˜‰

Because of my desire (need) to move out of the States I’ve been a subscriber and reader of International Living magazine for decades. They’ve given me inspiration and lots of good information.

So why am I still here? Good question! I’ll move as soon as I can figure out SOME way to support myself outside of the USA.

I’m too young to retire and I don’t believe social security will be there for me anyway. I can’t leave the US til I find another country to accept me and no other country will allow me to move there and take a job away from one of their native citizens.

That’s where the travel writing and photography comes in. πŸ™‚

I’ve been trying for YEARS to find SOME way to earn an income where I don’t have to be physically present on a boat in the Gulf of Mexico. I have been trying to find a way to earn an income where I can really enjoy life instead of always being at work at a job I no longer enjoy.

So far I’ve tried vending machines, rental property, stocks and now travel writing/photography/blogging. I’ve been working on all of them off and on since at least 1995. STILL working on most of them, tho I did pretty much give up on the vending machines. 😦

IL Editor Jennifer Stevens came out with a travel writing course through the magazine that I did on my own at home years ago. I never followed through to send anything in to any magazines. 😦

Later IL worked together with AWAI (American Writers & Artists Inc) to start offering workshops.

They have workshops on travel writing and photography (and other things like copy-writing, etc). I’ve gone to a few workshops and enjoyed them all.

I have tried to get my photos accepted twice now on a couple of the stock photography sites. I’ve been pretty discouraged. I’m told I don’t have a good enough lens in my camera for my pictures to come out with a high enough quality to be accepted. 😦

I don’t have the patience to spend hours on the computer trying to eliminate every speck of dust that somehow makes its way into my camera lens (even on my favorite Sony camera)!

I can’t bring a big fancy camera with me to work since I’m limited on luggage. I travel a lot on my way to/from work. So….

I heard there was a way to earn money from blogging. So I decided to start a blog as a way to get my writing and photography out to the general public without having to go through any approval process.

I wouldn’t need to get an editors OK for my writing. I wouldn’t need a big fancy camera for my pictures. πŸ™‚

When AWAI (now GEP- Great Escapes Publishing) offered a blog add-on to their travel writing workshop in Boston last year, I signed up for it. I got this blog started in order to have something I could get feedback on.

I’ve been having a lot of fun with it. I enjoy interacting with people from all over the world. I sometimes wonder how people are finding me and what caught their interest. Especially when I see people from really out of the way places.

I still have no idea of how to ‘monetize’ my blog. The recent Blogging 201 challenge had one assignment about that. I’ve been working through that challenge but I’ve been late and tho I’ve read through the Day 13 challenge on monetizing, I haven’t actually DONE it yet.

I don’t really see how I can make any of what they suggested work yet. I just don’t have enough views or followers yet. It seems I’m building my numbers, but VERY slowly. 😦

I did just get some very encouraging news on my other attempts to get my work out there. πŸ™‚

I was recently published (twice!!) in the Maritime Executive magazine! The first time, they used my photos in an article about ECDIS. The last time they actually used my entire article just as I wrote it and my pictures too!!

I had just returned from my latest GEP travel writing/photography workshop in Seoul, Korea. I had been thinking about this article for a while. When I got home and had a bit of spare time, I finally put it all down on paper (computer) and sent it in.

I was SO excited to hear it was published! I guess the workshops have been helping me after all. πŸ™‚

I think the biggest challenge is just to ASK!

Check out this video from GEP. I met most of these people in Boston (or Chicago the year before). They’re all doing great. They’re very inspiring to me. I see that they’re living their dreams and making it work so hopefully I’ll be making more progress soon too. πŸ™‚


Preview: Back to Boston

Just a quickie here, that’s all I can manage til I get off this trip. It’ll only be a couple more days and I’ll be home again. πŸ™‚

I was looking at the pictures I already had uploaded here (since the internet is too slow for me to get any more on and I can’t spend much time on it here).

I thought I might go back to Boston where this blog really got started. πŸ™‚

I had been thinking about it for a while. I really had no idea of how to do it. How to get started. How to make everything work.

I had been interested in the idea of travel writing and photography for a while already. I figured since I LOVE to travel and take pictures of everything, it would be a perfect fit!

Yeah, I guess it would be if I could manage to find the time to actually WRITE.

I DO manage to take pictures, tons and tons of pictures. But I learned while taking a workshop on how to be a travel writer/photographer that I was not taking good enough pictures. They had to be PERFECT. 😦

At least I learned what I was doing wrong and why my photos were rejected (mostly to do with the quality of my camera lens).

I also learned that you could do a lot with a computer to improve your pictures. I still haven’t learned how to do that very well. I’m better than I was, but I still have a lot to learn. I also still don’t have the time to spend editing all my pictures. Even getting them uploaded onto my computer is hard sometimes.

I am still working on my photography and I still toss around story ideas and put together a little thing every once in a while, but I’ve only actually tried to get my pictures accepted twice (so far) at stock agencies.

I’ve never tried to send in an article (yet).

It seems I’d just rather spend any spare time off on another adventure. When I’m forced to stick around the house, I spend it taking care of business I can’t put off any longer. Like working on my taxes (ugh) and other fun stuff like that.

I had heard that blogging was a way to make money online while doing something you enjoy. I was all into that!

When I found out there was going to be an additional blogging session as part of the travel writing/photography workshop I was interested in , I was sold on taking time off for another learning vacation!

I just barely managed to get this blog started before I left for Boston. I had such a hard time figuring out how to do things like upload a photo, make a ‘gallery’, add a link, etc. Things that I do all the time now and seem so simple. πŸ™‚

The workshop was great. Paula Pant, who has a blog called Afford Anything, was our instructor for the blogging session. She was really inspirational and a lot of help.

I met incredibly interesting people every day there and the instructors sent us out and around town on some helpful assignments. Then we had our work critiqued. I learned a lot there but was still hungry for more. I still feel like I could use more help.

Especially with the part about how to make some kind of an income from this internet stuff! I’m really enjoying the whole process of blogging and meeting people from all over and interacting, but I’m spending a lot more time on it all then I ever thought I would.

Remember I started out this post saying “just a quickie here”? That’s what I mean…

Here’s a ‘taste’ of Boston, I’ll be back with more later. πŸ˜‰

PS-I’m going to another workshop in Korea in a couple of weeks, can;t wait to get over there and see/do/try everything!! Maybe I’ll even run into some of my old tuna boat crew. πŸ˜‰

Capt Jills Christmas Card

DC AWAI workshop


I took this photo at the AWAI photography workshop in Washington DC a couple of years ago. I had just got my new camera and was really going crazy taking pictures of EVERYTHING. The people at the hotel must have thought they had a bunch of real weirdos hanging out there. I got a lot of strange looks every time I pulled out my camera and started taking pictures of all my food during breakfast, lunch and dinner. πŸ˜‰

Catching Up With Capt Jill

Well, it’s been a little while now since I finished up the November Post-A-Day Challenge (National Blog Posting Month). I needed the break. I actually got home from work the day after Thanksgiving (and missed the big feast). 😦

As usual it took me a few days to catch up on everything.

First couple of days wasted just trying to catch up on SLEEP. I hate switching over from 6-6 nights! It’s SO hard this time of year, both mentally and physically. Never see the sun, no one is awake at home, never get your body in tune with your meals and sleep schedule, etc.

Since I’m home and finally have a chance to get caught up, I thought it might be a good time to write a little about who I am, what I do and what I’m hoping to do with this blog.

OK, so, here goes… I work as a merchant mariner (Merchant Navy for the Brits). For those of you who don’t really know what that means, it’s simply someone who works on a commercial vessel. Anything from small ferries, fishing vessels, to the largest VLCC or drillships. Usually work is in one of 3 departments: deck, engine, or stewards.

I grew up on the water and started working for my father when I was very young. He had an old sailboat that he used as a commercial fishing vessel for a while and he used to make me go out with him. I HATED it!!!

As soon as I could, I got a job down the street on one of the party boats (head boats). I would go out with them on the weekends. I had a great time on those boats. I worked mainly in the galley (kitchen). I sold the passengers sandwiches and drinks.

Sometimes I helped the deckhands with the passengers. I would help them bait hooks, untangle lines, get the fish off their lines, string them up and put them on ice. When we got to the dock at the end of the day, I would help clean up the boat and get everything ready for the next trip. Maybe clean and fillet some fish for tips. I was doing pretty good for a kid and plenty to live on but I wanted to do more.

Way back then (sarcasm), the commercial fishing fleet was where it was at! The fishermen could go out for a week and come back fully loaded. Flush with cash, they were living the good life.It was wild! I wanted some of that too! But, of course, I was a girl. Not possible, or so they said. 😦

I tried to get a job on some of the better boats. The ones who consistently brought in a good catch and treated their crews well. I got nowhere with that. I tried and tried and couldn’t find much of anything.

I finally did go out with a friend. It was a horrible trip for a lot of reasons. We did manage to catch fish but that was the only good part of it. I might go into all that at some later point, but for now, just say that was the turning point for me. I was fed up with everything going on around that place and sick of my life. Everything I wanted to do, I was told was impossible, cause “girls can’t do that”. 😦

To cut this short, I was getting into a lot of things I probably shouldn’t have. What finally happened was that I was very lucky (tho I didn’t know that at the time) and was offered the chance to completely change my life.

I went off to school with the Oceanics and never really looked back. I may not have known at the time, but I was hooked from the minute I got off the plane in Athens and was smuggled from the airport to the hostel we stayed at in the back of a bread truck.

We spent a few months sailing around the world on traditional sailing ships. Studying things like seamanship, navigation, celestial navigation, oceanography, cultural studies, Greek, Russian, Spanish, etc. Part of our day was always spent working on the ship while we were aboard.

I learned to LOVE it! I decided before I came home that I wanted to be a ship captain and sail around the world (and get paid for it). πŸ™‚

My grandmother was really upset! Before I went away to school, I had planned to be a doctor. She never forgave me for changing my plans. I’m sure I made the right choice, even if she never thought so. πŸ˜‰

The woman who ran the school was such a great help to me (and many others). She set me up in a school in Texas where I could get started toward my goal. A small Jr College in a small town, you would never expect to find such a great deal here.

I moved to Texas to join the Ocean Marine Technology program at Brazosport College in 1978. I managed to complete the 2 year program in only 5 years! I switched from fishing to working in the oil field and now work in all kinds of different areas offshore. Lately as a DPO (dynamic positioning operator).

In school, I learned to work in both the deck and engine departments (and could work stewards dept if I wanted). In the Gulf of Mexico it gets really HOT in the summer! I was working on small boats: crew boats, production boats, standby boats. Their engine rooms were small, smelled strongly of diesel fuel, and HOT all the time! I regret it now, but I never stuck with the engine department. I never even tested for my QMED. 😦

I still had my sights set on becoming a ship captain one day. I fought hard for a long time to get the sea time I needed to work my way up. I’ll get into that some other time. I finally managed, just a couple of years ago, to get my unlimited masters license (whoo hoo!!).

Now, I work freelance. I work mostly for a couple of temp agencies. I like it since it gives me a chance to ‘try before I buy’. It’s also nice to see how different companies run things, to see the different vessels and meet different people.

One of the best things about working freelance is that I can pretty much make my own schedule. One of the bad things is, if there is no work, I’m stuck at home with no money. Too bad I never know beforehand. 😦

When I went back to freelancing a couple of years ago, I took the opportunity to catch up and do a lot of things I’d been wanting to do but never could (since I was always offshore when they happened). I went to a few classes and conferences, I took a couple of nice long vacations. It was great! Til the work slowed down and I wasn’t able to get right back to work when I was ready to. 😦

Now, I’m having a big debate in my mind. Should I stick with freelance? Or, should I go back and get a regular, permanent job again? It’s SO nice to be able to take the time off when I need it, but things are changing a lot with new rules and regulations and the temp agencies are not really keeping up with all that.

I have so many things I’d like to be doing when I’m NOT working. I’ve been trying for a long time to work less and spend more time doing what I like. I’d retire now if I could afford it and I’m working hard towards being able to do that. I have a couple of side businesses.

One is vending machines. I thought that was a great idea. A way for me to slowly work up to having enough income to be able to stop sailing all the time. That didn’t work out for me. I still think it’s a good plan IF I had the time to go find good placements for my machines.

One is real estate. I’m a slumlord like my father was. πŸ˜‰ No, just kidding. I buy old, run down properties (cheap) and fix them up to rent them out. I started out just buying a place on the water to put a boat (that’s another story). I bought a nice beach house but then wound up renting it out. I’m actually in the process at the moment of fixing it all up again. Hoping to find some new tenants soon. πŸ™‚

I met a really great Realtor while in the process of getting that house and she’s been helping me ever since. I’ve got a few properties now and they do keep me busy while I’m home.

I love to read, I’ve always got a book in my hand! I’ve just finished ‘Half the Sky’, a very good book but kind-of depressing. It’ll stir you up, but then has suggestions for what YOU can do to work off that anger you felt while reading. Right now I’m reading something different, Β ‘Choose Yourself’ by James Altucher (who has a blog I also follow).

I like to go to local events like the beach cleanup I wrote about earlierΒ or the JaGa Fest for the great reggae music. That’s where I took those fireworks photos (…ight-celebrate), or the Biker and Blues Fest I plan on doing a post on (soon).

I love to go sailing. I joined a local club called Sail-La-Vie and go out with them when I can. It’s always a lot of fun. I also started my own meetup group, called Mariners Meetup. It’s a way for us old salts to get out and about, do something other then just hang around the house watching TV.

I try to keep up with politics, I’m into FREEDOM and trying my best to keep from losing any more of it here. If I’m home I go to the Campaign for Liberty meetings every Tuesday night. We have a bunch of projects we’re working on like our community garden (on hold for winter) and movie night. Last week we were talking about alternative energy and how to get off the grid.

I LOVE to travel (yes, eventually I will get around to posting some travel posts- I promise!). I like to write and take pictures, and enjoy going to workshops about that kind of thing. In fact, that’s how I started this blog.

I went to the AWAI travel writing/photography workshop in Boston back in August and they had a little bit about blogging. I started this blog right before I went up there so I could ask lots of questions and hopefully learn how to make a good blog. Actually, I heard that you could earn money from blogging and I wanted to learn how to do THAT!

So far, I haven’t learned how to do that. 😦 I’m still trying to figure that part out. If you noticed, I put a link to Amazon down towards the bottom right. I haven’t figured out how to make that work properly tho. It’s supposed to be an Amazon blog and show the posts, but all it shows is the link to 4-5 different links on Amazon. Maybe some of you know what I’m doing wrong and can help me? πŸ˜‰

I am trying to improve all the time. On here and in real life. πŸ™‚ Now you know what I do when I’m working and when I’m home. Now you know why sometimes I don’t feel like posting for a little while. I do really enjoy it, but sometimes I just get run down. I don’t want this to wind up feeling like a chore, like something else I HAVE to do.

I hope I can keep this interesting and entertaining for all of us for a long time. Thanks for visiting me. πŸ™‚

Catching up

Wow! I’ve been busy the last couple of days… I did manage to get off the rig on Tuesday morning. Confusion with crew change up to the very last minute. The original plan was to change out at Fourchon and fly from New Orleans to Houston. Plans changed Monday noon time. Now we were going to have to fly out of Lake Charles. So, scrambling to change my reliefs flights so he could get to Lake Charles by 0530 to catch the helicopter. Flying from there added about an hour onto the flights since we had to stop in Fourchon to get more fuel. They made it to the rig and we all got off, had some interesting weather on the way in. Lots of squalls, lightning in some of them. I was glad when we landed.

So, from Lake Charles, they picked me up and we drove straight to the airport in Houston. I had some time there to relax a little bit before my flight to Boston. I got in after midnight and didn’t get to sleep until about 0200.

The blogging workshop was great. I got a lot out of it. We did some critiques of the blogs some of the others had started already. I met a bunch of really fantastic, interesting people. We continued our fun and conversations over drinks and dinner at the hotel. So, another late night for me πŸ™‚

Today we started the actual travel writing workshop. We learned some tips to help us catch the editors attention and some rules for great photos. There was about 100 people there. Again, I met some of the most interesting people. From all over the world, Australia, Italy, France, South Africa, Canada, Ireland, and all over the US. Happy hour tonight (with free drinks and snacks) helped us get to know each other a bit better.

I’ll try to catch up and get a few more things on here tonight but will have to stop soon, another early wakeup tomorrow πŸ˜‰

I’ll try to get some photos on here in the next couple of days, I’ve got a great view of the river from my window. The moon has been full and I managed to get some decent shots from the window on arrival. Last night I went back downstairs (outside) to get some better ones πŸ™‚

What’s going on with me today

OK, this blog has been fun so far πŸ™‚ I’ve been learning so much. Still have a lot to go. I’ve just been putting some of the interesting stuff I come across during the day on here. Tomorrow morning I’ll be leaving the rig and heading to Boston for a class on writing/photography/blogging (by AWAI). I’m REALLY cutting it close. I didn’t plan on being on the move on the rig for crew change. I just have to hope things don’t get too screwed up in the morning and I can make it to the airport in Houston on time. The way things are supposed to work is: my relief will arrive at the heliport in Lake Charles, LA by 0530. They will leave around daylight as long as the weather looks good (no rain). They will have to stop in Fourchon for fuel so they should get out here by 0800? They will fuel again here. We should leave here by 0900, stop to fuel up in Fourchon and hopefully arrive in Lake Charles by 1100. I have a driver waiting for me there and IF all goes well, we should make it to IAH (Bush Intercontinental) by 1500. Nothing usually works out as scheduled in the oilfield! If I make it to IAH on time, I’ll hang out in the lounge and might be able to get on here to say a few things. My flight leaves at 1900, I arrive in Boston at midnight. So, straight to the hotel and BED! Up at 0600 to get ready for class at 0800! WOW! I am really excited about it. I hope I can absorb everything they’re going to be teaching us πŸ˜‰