Another Busy Week

And not accomplishing much of anything. 😦

I’ve been working on all the usual stuff around here. Still looking for work. Spending hours filling out online applications for any offshore job I happen to see posted. I’ve been talking to one company for a couple of weeks now, but they don’t seem to have any idea of when they might (or might not) need me. It’s very frustrating, but at least they’re still talking to me. That’s more than I’ve had in over 18 months now!

We finished up working on one apartment and got it ready to rent. I thought we had it rented before we even finished working on it, but that fell through. I think it will go pretty quick (I hope so). I’m still waiting for the roofers to fix a leak and the levelers to honor their warranty (good luck!!).

I have one more apartment over there that needs work, but I need to wait til the rents start coming in before I can afford to start on it. It doesn’t look like it needs as much work as the last one, but I never know what I’ll find once I get started. 😦

I had some good friends come down and visit. We pigged out at the Chinese buffet and had a good time catching up on everything.

Other than that, I finished 2 paintings in class on Tuesday. I took them both to Hobby Lobby to get them framed. One of them was finished in time for me to enter it in the People’s Choice show (I’m always amazed at how many really talented people we have around here in this area). The other won’t be ready for at least another week. I think they both turned out OK, but especially with the lighthouse, not really what I was trying to do with them.

I wasn’t quite finished with the lighthouse when I took this photo. I’ll get another when I get it back with the frame.

I went to my usual political meeting Tuesday night. We’ve decided to re-start our project to get the BWA to remove the fluoride from our drinking water. It really doesn’t do anything for your teeth by drinking it. It only helps if you apply it topically (like with toothpaste). It’s really not at all good for you. Yeah, I know, most people will read that and think I’m just another tin foil conspiracy theorist. I think there’s more than enough evidence to show it’s not really necessary for good teeth (or any other reason).

So, I spent some time researching that. I also got a writing assignment for Great Escape Publishing. Whoo-whoo! Another byline!! I really need to find the time to query more publications. But that takes a HUGE amount of time! I was very hopeful when I applied to Big Grey Horse when they said they were looking for Texas writers. I think they would’ve contacted me by now if they were interested. 😦

I’ve been working on my yard the last few days. In between the rain. I’ve got the front yard about 25% finished now. It makes a big difference when I pull all the clematis vines off and put a little mulch out. All my citrus trees are starting to bloom. The grape vines are starting to leaf out. The strawberries are coming back!

Today I took a break and went to the movies. I go to the matinee when it’s cheaper. I wasn’t sure what to watch, either Logan or Get Out. I decided to watch Logan. It was pretty good. One of the X-Men movies. A pretty good action movie featuring Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine fighting the forces of evil in the shape of another mutant (Boyd Holbrook as Pierce).

I don’t want to spoil it, since it really was pretty good, but it’s not all blood and guts. There was actually a pretty good story. I’m sure there will be more sequels down the road. 🙂

Tomorrow is the biggest day of the year around here. St Patrick’s Day Parade at Surfside Beach! I have to get up early so I can get down to the beach in time to check everything out before the judging. Take a look here. Once the parade starts, I’m done with that! Time to wander off to the various parties. 😉

I hope the weather cooperates. It’s calling for 90% chance of rain tomorrow. 😦

Another Week Flies By

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A to Z: International Living

Today’s post for the A to Z Challenge is International Living (IL). It’s a magazine that I’ve been subscribing to for around 30 years (I love it- it’s so inspiring!).

I’ve always loved to travel. Even as a baby, living in a cabover camper on the back of dad’s pickup truck. When I got the chance to sail around the world on a couple of traditional sailing ships in high school I was hooked.

Schooner Ariadne

Schooner Ariadne

I wanted to sail around the world and get paid for it! Hopefully I could satisfy my wanderlust that way.

I have been able to do some traveling by sea, through my work as a professional mariner over the last 30+ years. But not nearly enough.

I want to move overseas. Permanently.

International Living has dozens of articles every month describing how others (mostly from US and Canada) have been able to make the move. It gives me all kinds of ideas. Sometimes I actually hurt over wanting it so bad.

IL publishes stories about people who’ve moved overseas and retired, bought property, started businesses (all kinds). People write about how much easier it is to do all of those things in places where the cost of living is so much lower and the bureaucracy is less burdensome (usually). They all mention how much less stress there is and how they’re able to really enjoy day to day life for a change.

I’ve just never felt that I could make it work. That I personally had the skills (and/or money) to be able to last for months, years, decades in foreign lands without being able to work (legally). Yes, I’m sure I could probably find some kind of under the table work (I’ve done it before), but I’m much more cautious now than I was at 16. I don’t want to worry about being deported  and shipped back ‘home’. 😦

I don’t feel comfortable with just dropping everything and leaving. With not having any money. Money is freedom in my mind. It allows for options. I’m not sure I want to travel as a backpacker, staying in hostels, etc. (in fact I’m pretty sure I don’t). I want to be sure I can at least be safe. I want to be able to move immediately if things start going wrong.

Then again, things here at home are not going very well, in fact it’s becoming unbearable. The more time I spend at home, not working, the more time I have to think. The more time to watch what’s going on in the news, etc. I don’t think things here are going to get any better. I feel like I need to get out while I still can.

I have been trying to follow some of the suggestions in IL for years. Things like find some source of independent income, multiple income sources, learn useful skills, find portable ‘jobs’, etc.

I’ve gone to some of their events over the years. Retire Overseas conferencesFund Your Life conferences, travel writing and photography courses, etc. I’ve gathered up a lot of great information and met some really cool people, but still haven’t managed to do much to actually make a move. 😦

I have been buying and renovating property for rental income since 2001. At this point, they mostly pay for themselves. There is only one that still needs supplemental income from my job. Since I have not been able to find work for the last 6+ months, I’ve had to put that one up for sale. I just can’t afford it if I’m not able to find work. Once that one is sold, I should be able to live on savings and rental income for at least a couple of years.

NOT the one I’m selling!

I’m thinking this would be the best time for me to move.

I have no job, I have nothing tying me down. I’ll have enough cash to live on for a couple of years when my house is sold. I even have a ‘useful skill’ now, since I just got certified to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL).

The only thing holding me back now is FEAR.

Now how to get rid of that (along with all the stuff I’ll need to pack up and get rid of so I can leave my house to the renters)?

Capt Jills Year In Review

I got that cool ‘Year in Review’ email from WordPress about my blog. I see in my reader that a lot of other people are posting about how their blogs did through the year. I’ll probably make a post like that too. I thought it might be a good idea to post a review about some of the things I did this last year and what I’m hoping to do next year.

I got off the DS-5 Jan 9 and had a couple of weeks at home. As usual, I spent most of my time at home catching up with paperwork and projects around the house. I also had to take care of some medical things.

I had recently signed up as an ‘energy consultant’ with Ambit Energy (I’m always trying to find SOME way to earn a living without having to spend time at work), so I went for some training in Houston with my friend and sponsor. I still haven’t managed to actually sign anybody up myself yet (I don’t know many people who live in Texas that I can talk to about it and I usually forget to bring it up til it’s too late). Contact me if you’re in Texas and want to save on your electric bill! 😉

Ensco DS-5 (ex: Deep Ocean Mendocino)

Ensco DS-5 (ex: Deep Ocean Mendocino)

I got to relax a little bit and visit with some friends but then it was time to get ready to go back to work. I left for the DS-3 on Jan 29. I got off there earlier than planned (more on that in another post later) and got to go home for 1 night. Left the next day to join the Ocean Alliance.

Ocean Alliance

Ocean Alliance

That was nice. I got to see a lot of old friends from when I used to work direct for Oceaneering on the Performer. I wrote a little bit about that hitch earlier. I really loved that job and the people there. I wish they would have kept us all overseas. We really were like one big happy family.

When I got off, I had almost 3 weeks at home. I made good use of it. Besides the usual catching up on paperwork and household issues (restock groceries, pay bills, fix sink, fix toilet, etc.), I got to go to a few interesting events. Other than my usual Tuesday night Campaign for Liberty meetings,  I went to a Sail La Vie meeting and then went out sailing with them the next weekend. I made it to the Houston Rodeo. I found the Houston Maritime Museum the next morning. It’s small, but definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.

We dealt with the rain at Surfsides St Patricks’ Day Parade. Everybody got soaked but we all had a good time anyway. Plenty of green beer and Irish whiskey helped out with that! Texas A & M in Galveston had a WISTA meeting where they had a nice presentation and the cadets were full of questions about working with DP. I stayed in Galveston overnight and went to Moody Gardens before heading home the next day.

I was aboard the Deepwater Pathfinder March 26th- April 7th. Then home a few days to get ready for my trip to Korea for another travel writing and photography workshop (with GEP).

That was a fantastic trip! I met so many wonderful, interesting people. In the workshop and before, when I was wandering around on my own from Incheon to Busan to Geoji to Seoul. The only thing that could have improved the trip was if the Sewol disaster had never happened. It was a very sad time for everyone in Korea.

I got home from Korea May 15th and immediately started getting ready to go to work for Ocean Rig. I really preferred working for the agencies as I had been for the last few years, but with Obamacare fixin’ to screw me royally if I didn’t bow down and buy into that humongous scam, I had to suck it up and take a regular job. I’m still not sure I did the right thing. I just hope I can find a way to move out of the US SOON, so I can escape that trap!

Anyway, I got put on the payroll May 26th and then started running around with more errands for work. I had to do some things before they’d allow me to actually go to work for them. Shots, paperwork, photos, more paperwork, etc.

They sent me to the Basic Safety Training course (again!!- I’ve been certified to teach that course) and wouldn’t listen at all when I told them it was NOT required and they were wasting their money and my time. Since I hadn’t even stepped aboard one of their ships yet, I figured I had better just suck it up and go to the class AGAIN. USELESS! AS ALWAYS!!

A total waste of their money and my time, just as expected. But, I figured I should at least give them a TRY before I quit. So, I had to suffer through one MORE class that I’ve had (more than once) that was totally un-necessary. They sent me all the way to Aberdeen Scotland to take the lifeboat course. I’ve been a lifeboatman since 1979! NO need to re-take that course, but they insist. In fact, I’ve found out that they insist that we all re-take these courses every 2 YEARS!

I’m wondering just when, exactly, are we EVER going to get the time off we are all working offshore to earn?

So I left for Aberdeen on June 28 and went straight to my first Ocean Rig vessel as soon as the course was over. After a couple of days on the plane, I made it to Luanda and then flew right offshore to my ship. They sent me home on my birthday, so that was a nice present. 🙂

I got home July 31 and left again for another ship Aug 12! Not much time to even catch up on sleep, but that’s pretty much all I tried to do that time. I did make Shark Night at Moody Gardens and my Tuesday night political meetings. 🙂

Skyros from Aug 12-Sept 12. Not a bad hitch. Nice ship, nice crew. I was still glad to get off tho. 😉

I got home from the Skros Aug 12 and since I was due to have approx 28 days off, I scheduled a couple of things. I finally got to work on one of my rental houses. We’ve been trying to get the rotten wood and siding changed out for about 2 years now. Termite damage. I’ll have to tell you about the major project that’s become! I spent a week with my maintenance gal and another helper cutting out the damaged wood and replacing it with new. Now there’s only 1 more side of the house to do and it will be finished. At least that part of it. 😉

When that job was done, I left for the Fast Track Your Retirement Overseas conference in Las Vegas. I left a little early so I could have an actual vacation for a couple of days before the conference started. I love to learn all they have to teach us about how to move and live overseas, but it does get a little overwhelming sometimes. I like to have a little time to just chill out, hang out at the pool, play the slots, etc.

I got home Oct 6th and due to dept for the Olympia Oct 7th. I was ready to go (barely) but for once the gods smiled on me and my visa was delayed for days. Yes, I was ‘on call’ and checking my email constantly, but I got to spend a whole extra week at home! 🙂

I left for the Olympia Oct 14 and spent the next month aboard. I got home Nov 7th and spent the next few days arranging appointments I needed to renew my USCG documents. Then I had to go to the fast rescue course required by my company, so I spent a couple of days in Galveston. Hit the eye doctor, dentist and hairdresser before the weekend so I could leave again Sunday for another course.

I spent the week of Nov 16-21 in Baltimore at MITAGS for the Leadership course. It’s newly required by the USCG to keep my license due to STCW 2010 amendments. It wasn’t a bad week, it just gets old spending so much of what is SUPPOSED to be my vacation time taking redundant (VERY expensive) courses that never actually teach anything useful.

I got home again about 0300 Saturday morning but too tired to do anything that entire weekend but hang around the house and catch up on mail and email. I was hoping to be able to go sailing, but just couldn’t motivate myself enough to get out of the house that day. 😦

I heard from work that I was requested again on the Poseidon, so I got a little extra time off. I used it to go to New Orleans for the Workboat Show. I was in New Orleans from Dec 2-7. I got home after midnight Sunday and so had to catch up on sleep again on Monday. I had that whole week to just hang out around the house and rest before leaving on the 15th for the Poseidon. I’ve been here ever since. 🙂

So, now you’ve got a pretty good idea of how I spend my time. At least, the kinds of things I do when I’m not at home. Which is most of the time, as you can see from this post. 😉

Get Rich, Stay Rich: 3 Secrets on How

Get Rich, Stay Rich: 3 Secrets on How.

I like how these guys think. He makes some good points in this article. I read the book a while ago, it was pretty good.I have been trying to build my own wealth through real estate investing. So far, I have been keeping pretty busy with buying old, trashed properties, fixing them up and renting them out.

I’m hoping to move overseas asap. Buying rental property is my way to get there. I hope the income will allow me to move soon to somewhere more friendly to the lifestyle I want to live. Peaceful and free, friendly neighbors, lots of open land to garden and explore. I’ve been looking at Belize, Nicaragua, Chile, Ecuador, Panama, Indonesia, Thailand, and some of the Pacific Islands. I think I’ll start in Central America since it’s close enough that I can get to/from work in the Gulf of Mexico if I can’t manage to find a job overseas soon. I’ve been trying since 2007 and getting tired of it. I need to make a move soon and stop procrastinating!