WPC- Focus

I’m getting a late start, but wanted to get into the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge (Focus). I usually try to take photos with very clear focus.

But sometimes I want to try for a different effect. I like to play with reflections, light trails, water, sun, atmosphere. All those things can make for more interesting photos than a clearly focused one can sometimes.

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Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Purples New Orleans Style

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to join in on any of Cee’s great challenges. I’ll try to make up with a couple for this week. Here’s my take on her Fun Foto Challenge for this week- purples.

These are all from my trip last week to New Orleans…

purple feathered masque

purple feathered masque

purple eggplant

purple eggplant

purple player

purple player

purple donuts

purple donuts

purple hammocks

purple hammocks

Like it? Feel free to join in, just click the link and see what other things Cee is up to.

What’s it Like In Granada

I’ve been here (Granada, Nicaragua) since Tuesday afternoon and I’ve been busy since I got here. Granada has about 125,000 people living here, but it really doesn’t feel at all like a big city.

I’ve been walking back and forth between my homestay and the school a couple of times a day, to and from the Central Park and/or the lake and it just feels like a sleepy little small town in a lot of ways.

Maybe it’s the horses? They still use horses here for a lot of work. I see them all over town, including in the lot next door. I haven’t taken a city tour in a horse cart yet, but I probably will before I leave. People say it’s a nice way to see the city. I see the locals riding around town in them too. Granada is ‘famous’ for its horse carts. They even erected a statue of one at the entrance to the city. 🙂

Maybe its the drummers I hear practicing every night? I followed my ears to the local Red Cross (next to the Iglesia Guadelupe). They’ve been diligently practicing for their ‘fiesta patronal’ coming up August 15 (in honor of the ‘Virgen de la Asuncion’. It looks to be a hell of a party! I watched the band practice their music while the dancing girls accompanied. The guys continued their basketball games undisturbed.

Iglesia de Guadelupe

Iglesia de Guadelupe

Maybe it’s how the pace of life seems so relaxed? The people here seem to take things as they come. I don’t see people rushing around to do anything. I see them sitting outside their doorways relaxing or talking (might be because the AC is too expensive and it’s HOT and humid here). People come out at night to hang out in the parks or play in the streets (there’s not much traffic).

what a nice change! even the cops are just chillin'

what a nice change! even the cops are just chillin’

All in all, it seems like a pretty decent city to spend some time. Maybe I’ll come back. 🙂

Half And Half No. 3

The challenge from the Daily Post was Half and Half. I didn’t know what to post for that subject. Here’s a classic…

Glass half full, or half empty? 😉

Half And Half No. 2

The challenge from the Daily Post was Half and Half. I didn’t know what to post for that subject. I took a look at a few of the other entries and saw a lot of sunsets. That is usually one thing we get a lot of out here! Half sky- half water. 🙂

Sad to say, offshore Angola is sadly lacking in this area. I don’t know why, but it’s almost always grey, gloomy and overcast skies. It’s very rare to see a nice sunset here. It’s kindof depressing. Day after day seeing nothing but grey skies. I’ve been here almost 8 weeks now this hitch and so far, I’ve seen the sun only 2-3 times. 😦

Half And Half

The challenge from the Daily Post was Half and Half. I didn’t know what to post for that subject. I finally came up with these photos. They might not be politically correct, but I’ve never been known for being that!
I took these pictures a couple of years ago in Bangkok, Thailand. I really love Thailand. The people are so nice and friendly and there’s a really laid back atmosphere, even in the big cities. I usually stay a few days in Bangkok and then go off somewhere else. Maybe Phuket, or Chiang Mai.  I’d love to spend more time exploring more of Thailand. I haven’t really seen much of the country. I always do enjoy my time there.  I especially like the way they treat people there. They accept you as you are. There doesn’t seem to be the prejudice that there is in America. At least I don’t notice it as much.

I took these photos at the famous Calypso show. I had a great time. They really put on a great show. The performers (shown above) were all men (or transgender). I chose this for my post on half and half since these people are considered to be half men- half women, he-she’s, lady-boys.

I’ll come back later with a more standard shot. 😉

LOVE IT

I get so discouraged working out here sometimes. I used to love coming to work offshore. I actually looked forward to it and was eager and excited to come back to work. I wanted to go places, to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.

I loved working outside on deck, where I could enjoy the weather. I loved the feeling of the wind in my hair and the sun on my skin (even tho I sunburn easily). I loved looking out and seeing nothing but the blue, blue water all the way to the horizon.

I loved to see the beautiful constantly changing seascape. I loved to watch the waves and clouds. I looked for signs of life around me. Birds: pelicans, sea gulls, terns, herons. Fish: mahi-mahi, ling cod, tuna, sharks, and dolphins (mammals, not fish). Even things like seaweed and jellyfish were of interest. I loved to watch the intense colors of the sky when the sun rose or set.

I loved the fact that my job depended only how well I did my job. It didn’t matter what I looked like, how I talked, my level of formal education, how much money I had in the bank, what kind of car I drove, how I dressed. I loved being able to work dressed in an old pair of shorts, t-shirt and a pair of flip-flops.

I loved slow days offshore when we would throw a line over and catch a few fish. We always caught something. Mahi-mahi, ling cod, rainbow runners, sharks, kingfish, snapper, grouper, catfish, etc. Sometimes we kept them to eat, sometimes we threw them back.

I loved standing lookout at night and seeing the stars so blazingly bright at sea when there was nothing around for hundreds of miles to blot out their light. I loved watching the dolphins play in the bow wake when we were underway and seeing them pass by at the rig. Continue reading

Norms Thursday Doors

Norm does a photo challenge on ‘doors‘ every Thursday. I like to get into these things when I can. Here’s a photo I took while wandering around Seoul Korea with the Travel Writing group last spring. I walked all around town for hours. It’s a very safe and interesting place, the people are friendly and easy to talk to. They’re very  happy to practice their English with you! 🙂

 

Ed’s Sunday Stills: Circles

Here’s an entry I made for Cee’s Sunday Stills: Circles. I just found out I should have made it for Ed’s Sunday Stills. I took these photos at the Maritime Museum in Houston. A couple of old time navigational instruments. Thank goodness we don’t have to fiddle around with this kind of stuff anymore. 😉

 

Sunday Stills: Circles

Here’s an entry for Cee’s Sunday Stills: Circles. I took these photos at the Maritime Museum in Houston. A couple of old time navigational instruments. Thank goodness we don’t have to fiddle around with this kind of stuff anymore. 😉

 

Norms Thursday Doors

Norm does a photo challenge on ‘doors’ every Thursday. I like to get into these things when I can.

Here’s a pretty blue door. I took this picture last year while I was in Aberdeen for the Freefall Lifeboat Course. It was in an area of town called Footdee, where they moved all the fishermen years ago. This picture is of one of the fishermen’s sheds, where they work on their nets, etc.

Weekly Photo Challenge: My Home- Afloat

Here’s my entry for the Daily Posts Weekly Photo Challenge: Afloat. I have LOTs of good pictures for this one. I’ve spent most of my life at sea. I’ve already posted a few photos, here are some of my latest ‘home’ afloat.

These photos are from my latest ship, the Ocean Rig Apollo. I’m actually aboard right now. We’re delivering the ship from the shipyard in Korea to it’s first job offshore Congo. I joined the ship with the rest of the crew onboard right now in Mauritius about 3 weeks ago.

These are some pictures from our voyage. The first one is our departure from Port Louis, Mauritius, the ‘cliffs’ are the coastline of South Africa, after we passed Cape Town (I was asleep for that so missed getting any pictures from there).

Photography 101: Rodeo Moments

I haven’t been able to get out to get many new pictures lately, so I’m looking through some old ones for the Photography 101 Challenge: Moment.

The idea is to ‘”capture a fleeting moment and experiment with blur and movement”.

I did try this last time they ran this challenge, but I found some different pictures this time. I took these at the Brazoria County Fair a couple of years ago. I don’t think these turned out as good as the earlier ones I just posted. It was SO hard to get a good shot of the cowboys once they came out of the gate on those bulls!

I’m thinking of going to the Houston Rodeo tomorrow tho, so maybe I’ll be able to get some better ones this time. I really love going to the rodeo. I’m lucky to be home for this one. I’m in Houston tonight anyway, so might as well do something here in the morning before I go home. It’ll be either the rodeo or the zoo. 🙂

A Typical Day On A Drillship

I decided to join in on Jasons’ challenge over at the Opinionated Mans blog. He’s collecting a pretty cool collection of posts from people all over the world. Everyone is posting about where they’re from and what it’s like there. I’ve really enjoyed hearing from everyone.

I really have 2 totally different places I could call home. I live in a small town in Texas, but I actually spend more time out here at work than I do there. So, this is really more my home, out here (at sea).


For at least half the year, I live onboard something like this ship I’m on right now. It’s about 228m long and 42m wide. We usually have between 165-180 people onboard (almost all men). There’s not a lot of space on these ships for living quarters, so almost everyone shares a room. I am lucky to only share with one other person. We are on opposite watch so we’re never in the room at the same time. Some people have 4 to a room and also share heads (bathrooms). I am also lucky to have a private bathroom in my cabin. 🙂

It’s small, but comfortable enough for only a month at a time. Most people are regular on board here and they can bring things from home to fix things up a little bit. I’m still in the resource pool, so I can’t bring much with me. I’m just happy that they have a catering crew here that keeps the room clean and does the laundry. That saves a lot of time. They also take care of all meals. 🙂

I can really only give a very basic description of what it’s like out here, since every ship is different in some ways and the same in others. I’ve been on this one now a couple of times since July. We’ve been working offshore Angola, about 85 miles W of the Congo River. I’m working here as DPO (Dynamic Positioning Operator). My typical day out here (this hitch) goes like this…

Wake up at 22:30. Take a shower. Get dressed. TRY to get online to check email (internet access is very iffy out here). If that doesn’t work, fiddle with my photos in Lightroom on the computer. Head up to the bridge by 23:30 for watch.

Take the elevator up 2 decks to E deck, walk up another flight to the bridge. Get a cup of coffee and chat with my relief before starting to go over the checklist. Go through the checklist. Call everyone for communication checks (engine room, drill floor, standby boats). Then stand my watch for 12 hours on the bridge with a half hour break for ‘lunch’ at 06:30. Since I work from midnight to noon, this meal is actually breakfast that is being served. We have eggs, bacon, toast, pancakes, ham & cheeses, fruits, and something usually left over from last night so that people who’ve been up all night can have a different choice.

I work until noon on the ships bridge, looking out for traffic and monitoring the DP system while the drillers are doing their thing. We’ve been working in shallow water lately, so things are more stressful than usual. The difference for us is; we don’t have very much time to react if things start going wrong.

When watch is over, I walk down the 3 flights of stairs to my cabin (or 5 down to the galley for lunch). Then I try to check my email and work on the computer for an hour or 2 before bed. If I really get motivated, and the weather’s nice, I might go walk around the helideck for a while.  I TRY to get to sleep by 1500 but I usually run late. I never manage to get enough sleep out here. 😦

There’s not usually much to look at here. We might have a supply boat alongside to watch. We can see the flares of the FPSOs (Floating Production Storage Offloading) a few miles away (they’re very bright at night). That’s about it at this location, but sometimes it can be really awesome at sea. Just to see the wild ocean in all its many moods. Or the night sky in all its’ glory, with no lights for hundreds of miles to interfere with your vision. Or schools of hundreds of dolphins keeping you company as you steam along. Those are some of the reasons I love it out here at sea. 🙂

Maersk Finder, Offshore Supply Vessel (OSV)

 

So, the entire month I’m here, it’s basically: eat, sleep and work. Nothing else to do out here but look forward to getting off and going home. 🙂

I only have 5 more days til I’m due off. Or, as we say out here, 4 more and a wake up! It’s always good when you get to the single digits. 🙂

Sailor’s Valentines

While I was home last time I went to see what the local painting class was all about. I’ve been wanting to try it for a while, but haven’t done it because it lasts for 4 weeks and I’ve never been home to be able to start and finish the whole class in one hitch at home.

Since I was home a little longer than usual (and had to pass up the trip to Panama I was hoping to take due to paperwork issues), I called the lady who runs the class to ask if maybe I could take 1-2 classes each time I’m in town.

She was very nice and told me that would be fine, and invited me to come in to the next class just to see if I thought it would work for me.

I showed up late and just watched for a while. I met everyone there and wandered around to see what they were all working on. Everyone was very friendly and helpful. They all had their own projects to work on. Everything was very informal. The instruction is for either pastels or oil painting. I’m really more interested in watercolor or acrylic, but I figure it will still help me a lot to learn the techniques and most of those should transfer over to whatever medium I choose to work with.

The class meets weekly at the Brazosport Center for Arts & Sciences. After the painting class was over I spent a little time looking around the facilities. I’d been there before, but not for years. There’s a museum, a planetarium and a theatre. They also have a gallery where they feature art by members of the local art league. They had some really nice paintings in there, some beautiful portraits and some seascapes with birds I really liked.

I went through the museum again. They’ve really added a lot since last time I was there. They’ve always had a fantastic shell collection. It’s one of the largest in the country. They have some pretty good fossils. I noticed the megalodon jaws, (they were giant prehistoric sharks!) the minute I walked in the door. They’re hard to miss since they’re about 6 ft accross and at least that tall!

They have a really nice collection of moths and butterflies. I tried to take pictures, but I just couldn’t get any good ones with the way the light reflected off the glass. I did get some good ones of the ‘Sailor’s Valentines’. Since Valentines Day is coming up soon, I thought I’d post about them. Here’s a picture I took of one.

The Sailor’s Valentine is typically a box covered with shells formed into some sort of ‘romantic’ theme. They were supposedly by sailors who would pick up shells in their far off travels and then make these pretty little boxes to present to their loved ones when they got home. It was a pretty big thing back in the 1800’s. They fell out of style but are making a comeback now. The ones I saw at the museum are alll made by locals (not sailors) recently, as hobbies.

They just seem like a lot of work to me. I guess the sailors must have had a hell of a lot more leisure time back in the old days!! Then again, their hitches usually lasted for years rather then the month or so most of us (American) sailors have to stay out for now. The crews from other countries aren’t nearly so fortunate as we are. Some I know of have to stay for a minimum of 2 years(!!) before they’re allowed to go home. 😦

Here’s a picture of my favorite one from the exhibit. It’s not so ‘romantic’ and could be for anything. I really like the flamingo. 🙂

❤ Happy Valentines Day! ❤

 

Offshore- Rainbows

Here’s another entry for the Word a Week Challenge: Rainbow.

I took these at various times while working offshore over the last couple of years. The first one is a double rainbow in the background, with a supply boat in the foreground. The last one has part of the helideck that I wish I could have kept out of the shot, but I couldn’t get to a good spot to take the picture without it in there somewhere.

 

Icicle Races

I went to the Sail La Vie meetup last week hoping to sign up to go sailing on Saturday. I haven’t had the time to go out for quite a while and was really looking forward to taking a leisurely cruise around the bay.

I was really disappointed when I found out that they didn’t have enough people signed up to charter a boat for the group. Luckily, one of the members had a boat entered in the upcoming Icicle Race and offered a spot onboard to me and the 2 others who had been looking to go out on Saturday.

I had never been in a race and was a little apprehensive about it all. I wasn’t really enthused about the idea of rushing around, tweaking the sails for every tiny little advantage we could get out of the boat. I’m MUCH more into just relaxing and enjoying a day on the water. Listening to the soft sound of the waves passing by and the calls of the seagulls following for scraps as we drink some wine and dispose of our uneaten chips. 🙂

I think we must have got lucky. The wind was very light to start, only about 4-6 kts and then for a while it dropped off to nothing. The whole fleet was becalmed. I’ve never been in that situation, a couple of dozen boats all drifting together, so close you could reach across to share a beer.

The wind picked up a little bit just as we were coming up to the first mark. We slid around on the inside of a big bunch of boats and managed to skip ahead of the crowd. It was pretty exciting there for a few minutes. 😉

The crowd thinned out as we made for the next mark, but as we closed in on it, the boats bunched up again. Everyone was trying to cut it as close as possible. We heard a loud bang and CRUNCH ahead of us and watched as a couple of boats tried to get their fenders in place, but it was too late. I’m not sure how much damage was done, but ANY work done on a boat is expensive!

We made that turn on the inside of another big bunch of boats and then made for the finish line. The wind was shifting so we had to tack a few times. It was a challenge to try and figure out how far to go on a tack before coming back to the course for the finish line. I think we made some time up with good estimates on that part of the race too.

As we were coming in to the finish line (between markers 1-2 to Kemah), we were cut off by another boat. They cut right in front of our bow and I don’t know how we managed not to have a collision. I don’t know what they were thinking on that boat, but as we were yelling at them, they called back to us that WE were supposed to stay out of their way. Huh????

Overtaking vessel is ALWAYS the give way vessel!

After that last shot of adrenaline, we took in the jib and headed back in to the marina. We made it home in one piece, without any damage, and I think we did pretty damn good! Capt Vic said we did better then ever before (in this race) and I know we still had a pretty big bunch of boats still out there behind us when we hit the finish line. 🙂

Shadowed: Bird Market

Here’s my entry for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Shadowed. These pictures show the shadowy stalls and the people who work (and live) in the “Bird Market” in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. It was such a fascinating place. There were all kinds of things for sale there. Birds, bats, reptiles, rodents, etc. And pretty much anything else you could imagine. These pictures don’t really do it justice (but I only had a crappy little point and shoot with me).

Poseidons Christmas Dinner

Our catering department stepped up their game and came up with a fantastic Christmas dinner for the crew. The European tradition is for seafood for the holiday. So we had shrimp, mussels, salmon, fresh tuna and lobsters. Appetizers were various cheeses, crackers and homemade pates. We had roast beef, baked chickens, cold meats, even a roast suckling pig. For dessert we had fruits and nuts, cookies and cakes, ice cream and puddings. Our Italian clients even had a  special delivery of enough panettone for everyone to try a taste. Everyone enjoyed the feast. 🙂

We don’t really appreciate the catering crew enough out here on these rigs. I have to give them all a big hand.

New Orleans: Christmas Parade 2014

I went to New Orleans for the WorkBoat Show again this year. I stayed over a couple of days to just chill out and enjoy New Orleans. It’s such a great city to hang out in. 🙂

I did try to check around to see if there was anything especially interesting going on. I checked online and didn’t see anything unusual.  I had thought about going on another walking tour or going to the WWll museum, or the Pharmacy museum. What won out in the end was sleeping late. 😉

I had just got around to wandering out of the hotel and I heard the drums playing. I had to find out what was going on. I’m so glad I did. 🙂

I followed my ears down the street a couple of blocks until I ran into the crowd lined up along St Charles street and the parade marching by.

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It was so neat. I missed out on the beginning of it, but I was still in time to see a few groups of dancers, majorettes, and marching bands. The riding club and their little miniature horses were SO cute! So were the little girls all dressed up in their sparkling outfits, tapping their way down the street.

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Floats carrying bands playing Dixieland jazz and Santa-hatted, bead throwing locals were interspersed among the dance schools and high school marching bands. Santa and his dancing elves brought up the rear.

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And tho I think for some reason the bikers weren’t in the parade (technically), they didn’t let that ruin their fun and they had their own little parade right after the last musical blasting car passed by.

Nowhere like New Orleans for a party! 🙂