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!

Buzcador Breaks Free!

We finally made it to sea!

It only took us about a day extra to meander our way out through the Louisiana bayous. Instead of heading straight out down the Atchafalaya River like we planned, we had to backtrack to find a way out where we wouldn’t keep running aground.

#AHTS #Buzcador underway in #Atchafalaya River

We headed back up the Atchafalaya, passed through Bayou Chene, took the ICW to the Houma Navigation Canal and made it to the sea buoy at Cat Island Pass around 2200 our second day of the voyage.

We scrambled back aboard the Buzcador at the buoy and thanked our trusty tugs Ms Edmay and Mr Nicolas. We finally got underway under our own power for the first time. It was a beautiful night as we made our way through the offshore oilfields, heading almost due South. The stars were bright, the seas were calm and we were making decent time. Nights like that are why I’m always ready to go sailing again. 🙂

The night sky is so awesome far out to sea! There’s really nothing to compare.

I don’t know why I was expecting to see more traffic. Shipping has been dead– at least in the Gulf of Mexico- where so much shipping is related to oil. Since the price of oil dropped like a rock- from over $100 to mid $20’s- a year ago. Hundreds of Gulf boats have been stacked. It happened too quickly for any reaction but huge layoffs. I’ve heard there’ve been more than a half million people laid off in the oil fields already (and still nothing but bad news).

Even passing through the Yucatan Channel and further South, we saw very few ships. With the opening of the new Panama Canal, I expected to see lots of big container ships passing by. I thought we’d see tons of local freighters and fishing boats once we got past Cuba and into the Caribbean Sea. But I never saw much of anything till the approach to Cartagena. Even then, traffic was very light compared to normal.

#chart showing progress of the #AHTS #Buzcador

We spent a full 10 days underway- more than twice as long as expected. We had some problems with the ship. Nothing really unexpected. The Buzcador had been cold stacked for years before we were brought aboard. Mechanics had been working frantically for weeks to get everything done so we could deliver her to her new owners.

Nothing was done that didn’t ‘need’ to be done. IMHO we were cutting it close, but after 9+ months without a real job, I was ready to take a few chances in order to earn a decent paycheck. Sure, I was happy as hell to get an AB job! A captains license doesn’t mean shit when you can’t find a boat!

Our engines worked fine for the first day or so. After that, we had to baby them a bit. The port shaft bearing was overheating and the starboard generator had problems with the oil pressure. We cut our RPMs down and made about 6 knots (close to half speed). The weather didn’t help much either.

It started kicking up before we reached Cuba and never let up. The mainmast shook so bad when we hit a heavy sea, we wondered when it was going to come crashing through the wheelhouse on us. Part of it had already fallen off when the other AB went up to change the masthead light before we left.

#mainmast of the #AHTS #Buzcador

mainmast with #backscratcher hanging off

We sprung a couple of leaks around the ship and occasionally more pieces would fall off. Most of the outside lights around the house were falling off and full of water. Good thing we didn’t need to turn them on. 😉

The AC system for the house leaked. It got so bad that I would scoop up the water with a dust pan every time I went by. A couple of days like that and it got worse all the sudden. The whole room was awash. We were dumping 4-5 5 gallon buckets every couple of hours! Marvin the OS (ordinary seaman) finally got a chance to take a look at it and sent the water somewhere other than inside the AC room.

The pictures don’t look so bad, but we had over 8′ seas for most of the trip, over 10′ for a day or 2. We were bouncing around like a cork (which didn’t help our speed either). The weather was squally most of the way and pretty much overcast after the first couple of days. I never really got to see the stars again once the moon grew full.

sun breaking out behind the clouds on a rough day at sea

It was getting to the point where we were starting to worry about our food, fuel, water supplies. This entire trip was only supposed to take about 6 days (I wound up spending 21 days aboard). We were also worried about catching our flights home.

‘Starvin’ Marvin’ and Noel the mate, had a fishing line out. Marvin cooked us up a couple of nice fish dinners. We had a dorado (dolphin/mahi-mahi) one night, a tuna the next, and a barracuda one day that no one would eat but him.

We actually did just fine. We didn’t run out of much of anything (just laundry soap and jelly -for the PBJ’s). We had plenty of beans and rice every day thanks to Marvin. I helped cook a couple of times and so did the Chief Engineer ‘Middle Aged Mutant Ninja Turtle’. (Captain Todd gave us all nicknames within a couple of days- I was ‘Jilligan’- like from Gilligans Island). 🙂

#ships crew, #engineers

Sing-Sing, Chief Middle Aged Mutant Ninja Turtle & Starvin’ Marvin

We were able to increase our speed after a couple of days. The engine crew was sure busy that trip! Chief Engineer (Ninja Turtle), client rep (Colombia) and oiler (Sing-Sing) spent most of their time down in the super hot and noisy engine room, trying to keep us going.

Kudos to them for working so hard! It seems there was always something going on down there. I’d make my rounds at night, go down there to check up on them and they were always in the engine room, checking the bilges, checking the bearings, checking the temperatures and pressures. Always having to fix something.

#night sky at #sea, #full moon

I spent most of my time up at night, as lookout. I was night AB (able body seaman). I worked from 1800-0600 every night once we got underway. Sid the Sloth was the day AB, he relieved me in the mornings (below right).

It was actually a nice change. Capt Todd (above left) was on from 1000-2200 and Noel the mate was on from 2200-1000 (tho it seemed he never slept and was always on the bridge). Between rounds I would talk to them about previous ships, ports and people we’d worked with. Telling sea stories is another favorite activity of mine. 😉

Since this was just a delivery job, we weren’t really concerned with all the usual things we’d be doing to take care of the ship. For instance, as AB, normally I’d be spending all day chipping and painting, cleaning and greasing, etc. This time, I spent almost all of my time as lookout on the bridge. I tried to help in the galley when I got a chance, cooked a couple of times, and cleaned up the house when it got too bad.

Still, we were glad to reach Colombia. I went to bed before we got the pilot, when I woke up, we were all fast in Cartagena.

More later.

Want to Go Sailing But Don’t Have a Boat?

Check out this great post from Astrolabe Sailing for some great tips on how to be a great guest so you’ll be invited back. Yes, it is just as much fun and MUCH cheaper to go with friends!

So you’ve been invited to go and stay on someone’s boat? Awesome! The next best thing to having a boat of your own is having friends who have boats. It is much cheaper and just about as much fun. So to increase your chances of having a fantastic time – and being invited to come […]

via Being a good boat guest — Astrolabe Sailing

Songs of the Sea: I’m Your Captain

Here’s another post for my Songs of the Sea series. I’ve always loved this song by Grand Funk Railroad. I heard it a lot when I was growing up. Now, since I am a captain- it resonates even more.

This is actually the short version of this song. I really liked the video that goes with this version. The ships are gorgeous, the scenes at sea, there’s even a picture of the same lighthouse I’ve been working on painting for the last few weeks! (Can you recognize it?)

“I’m Your Captain”

Everybody, listen to me
And return me my ship
I’m your captain, I’m your captain
Though I’m feeling mighty sick

I’ve been lost now, days uncounted
And it’s months since I’ve seen home
Can you hear me, can you hear me
Or am I all alone

If you return me to my home port
I will kiss you, Mother Earth
Take me back now, take me back now
To the port of my birth

Am I in my cabin dreaming
Or are you really scheming
To take my ship away from me?
You’d better think about it
I just can’t live without it
So, please don’t take my ship from me, yeah, yeah, yeah

I can feel the hand of a stranger
And it’s tightening around my throat
Heaven help me, Heaven help me
Take this stranger from my boat

I’m your captain, I’m your captain
Though I’m feeling mighty sick
Everybody, listen to me
And return me my ship

I’m your captain, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
I’m your captain, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
I’m your captain, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
I’m your captain, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

I’m getting closer to my home
I’m getting closer to my home
I’m getting closer to my home
I’m getting closer to my home, oh

I’m getting closer to my home
I’m getting closer to my home

I’m getting closer to my home
I’m getting closer to my home

Maritime Monday: Spanish, Maine

Another post for Maritime Monday thanks to Monkey Fist and gCaptain. I always enjoy all the interesting little tidbits put together for these posts, but I really love this one today.

I’ve always loved art, pretty much all kinds (except the abstracts I sometimes see in museums where I can’t help wondering why someone would actually pay for that- white painted canvas and that sort of thing).

I always thought, “I could do better than that!”. I’ve actually started trying to learn how to paint. I’ve been trying to learn how to paint seascapes (of course). 😉

I am especially fond of maritime art. I can’t think of any I’ve seen that I haven’t liked. A Facebook friend “Baristo Uno” likes to post this stuff occasionally and it’s always a joy to see. It helps educate people and open our eyes to the wider world…

Past and present, worldwide locations- the sea is the same, but how we deal with it may change. It’s always the same, yet always changing. It keeps us on our toes.

I do love it out there, and these paintings remind me of how much there is to love! 🙂

  John ‘Jack’ Travers Cornwell, who was just 16, remained at his post on the HMS Chester awaiting orders despite having suffered mortal shrapnel injuries. Initially, Jack was buried in a common grave but the British press took up his story and he was eventually laid to rest with full military honours and posthumously awarded […]

Source: Maritime Monday for June 5th, 2016: Spanish, Maine – gCaptain

Maritime Monday- May 23rd, 2016: Money For Old Rope

Another great post from Monkeyfist for Maritime Monday, full of all kinds of interesting tidbits from the maritime world throughout history up til today.

Enjoy…To Put You In The Mood: video: Giant Octopus kite; Singapore Smithsonian: Recreational divers discover a Roman shipwreck full of bronze statues, coins and other artifacts off Israel Divers find 1,600-year-old Roman shipwreck, treasure, off Israel Archaeologists are calling it “the biggest find in 30 years.” Ran Feinstein and Ofer Ra’anan were diving in the […]

Source: Maritime Monday for May 23rd, 2016: Money For Old Rope – gCaptain

A to Z: Zubenelgenubi

My last post for the A to Z Challenge is on Zubenelgenubi.

Have you heard of it before?

I have, actually. I’m not just making this up for the challenge. 😉

Zubenelgenubi is one of the navigational stars. Stars we traditionally use to navigate by. It’s one of the stars in the constellation Virgo (next to Scorpius).

I remember when I really first started learning about all that stuff. When I was a cadet on the Ariadne, sailing across the Atlantic Ocean. The skies were wide open and the stars were so bright. Our sail training master has us out practicing with the sextant, calculating our position. We were challenged to beat the actual ships crew. We got pretty good at it by the end of the crossing. 🙂

That was way before everybody had GPS. 😉

A to Z: Water

Today’s post for the A to Z challenge is: water.

It seems an appropriate subject. I’ve spent almost my entire life in, on and around the water.

Of course I understand (in a back of the mind sort of way) how vitally important water is in so many ways. All life on earth (and maybe space too) depends on water. Without it nothing living can survive for long. But I don’t think of it that way most of the time.

I usually think of it as a necessary ingredient for me to work (and sometimes play). As a merchant marine, I spend my life at sea. I started out working on local fishing boats when I was very young, moved up to the party boats, back to commercial fishing. I moved to Texas to go to school and earn my AB and QMED certificates from the USCG since it was so hard for women to find work offshore back then.

Since then, I’ve worked my way up over the years on crew boats, production boats, standby boats, supply boats, tankers, trawlers, ROV support vessels, dive boats, construction boats, pipe layers, semi submersibles and drillships. Whew!

Thats a lot of years at sea! I only count the 39 years since starting as a cadet in 1977. I still love it and can’t wait for a chance to get back out there. 🙂

How do you think of water? Do you work on/with it? Play on/with it?

A to Z: Sailing

Today’s post for the A to Z Challenge is on sailing.

I’ve been a sailor since I was a kid. How about you?

I grew up on the beach in Florida. At my dads house, the backyard ended at the bay. He kept his big old schooner at the dock right there. I had my own little Sea Snark sailing dingy.

I had so much fun with that boat growing up! I would go out by myself, just puttering around. I might take a friend or two. It was always a great way to spend a couple of hours.

I went to school on a couple of large, traditional sailing ships. I went to a high school that also included a sail training program along with cultural studies, languages and international travel.

I decided while I was there that I wanted to be a ship captain! I wanted to sail around the world and get paid for it! I’m still trying to do that.

Over the years, I’ve managed to find work at sea until being laid off recently when the price of oil hit the skids. It hasn’t been on sailboats very often.

I still go out on those for fun tho. 😉

A to Z: Oceanics

I should have saved this post for today’s A to Z challenge, but instead I’ll tell you about my high school- the Oceanics. That was such a fantastic experience! I’m so thankful I had that opportunity at such a young age. It really did change my life.

The Oceanics was a really special school. It was run by Chick and Stephanie Gallagher out of their apartment in New York City. They somehow managed to round up small groups of students and a few teachers and send them off on round the world adventures aboard various chartered square-rigged sailing ships.

I see a few organizations today trying to do something similar. Not the same tho, not gone long enough, not the right kind of ships, not the same atmosphere. I’m sure they’re still great experiences for anyone who is able to attend. I don’t think there’s any better way to create a confident, competent, creative, cooperative human being than the way they did it at the Oceanics.

Spending months at sea working together to sail the ship from point A to point B. Learning every aspect of how to do the job properly, we earned a sense of a job well done and self esteem. It takes a lot of teamwork and trust in each other to sail a square-rigged ship. Running up the ratlines to furl the sails in a squall with the wind howling and the ship rolling needs to be an immediate response with all hands on deck. Ask the worlds navies why they still use sailing ships as training vessels, they understand.

The ship was just one aspect of the Oceanics. Captain Jespersen was our sail training master. We spent time with him every day learning the names and functions of all the rigging and sails aboard. We sailed the ship from Pireaus, Greece across the Atlantic to Martinique. We spent our time aboard in school, taking regular classes in math, science (oceanology), world history, cultural studies, local languages (Greek, Spanish, Russian), literature, etc. We also learned seamanship, navigation, and how to take care of the ship.

We all stood watch when we weren’t in class. The traditional 4 hours on, 8 hours off. Standing lookout and tending the helm. In between, we kept busy sanding, varnishing, washing the decks, painting, tending to the rigging, splicing line, even helping the cook peel potatoes.

My favorite time aboard was standing lookout on the bow. Watching the dolphins play in the bow waves on a bright sunny day. Seeing flying fish popping out of a wave, to spread their ‘wings’ to fly across the waves before dropping back into the water. Picking out the constellations in a starry, starry night sky. 🙂

I can’t express how truly awesome it was.

And then, when we got to port we could go ashore once we were off watch. Or we might all go ashore together for an adventure. We spent a few days on the Greek island of Agistri hunting octopus for dinner and playing soccer on the beach. I spent a few days with a family in La Gomera (Canary Islands) improving my Spanish and learning more about the locals.

We sailed the schooner Ariadne across the Atlantic to Martinique. On arrival we had a well deserved break on the beach. A few of us hitched our way up the island to hike up Mt Pele. I still remember the deliciously sweet pineapples we had to snack on.

Ariadne

Ariadne

We left the Ariadne in Martinique to fly into Caracas and our South American adventure began. We had been studying Spanish since we left Italy. Now was the time to put it to use. Our plan was to travel from Venezuela to Bolivia, we would figure out the details along the way. We got into some really cool, out of the way places. 🙂

Plenty of the places we wound up had never seen anyone like us before. My red hair stood out like a torch, the locals would surround me and ask to feel it. Young Joe with his bright blond hair was extremely popular with the ladies. People didn’t know what to make of us.

We might show up in a group of 6-10 students (ages 14-21) and 1-2 teachers trying to keep us focused on our studies but also allowing us to get out on our own. We had lots of independent projects. I did one on comparing fairy tales in different cultures and another one identifying plankton I caught in a net on the way over to the Caribbean while we were still on the ship.

We made our way from Caracas through Venezuela to Cucuta, Columbia. From Bogata we headed to Ecuador. Quito, Otavalos, and Guyaquil. We took a boat out to the Galapagos to check out the wildlife and swim with the sea lions and iguanas. We made our way to the jungle and the rivers feeding the Amazon. We traveled down the Rio Napo to visit the indigenous shamans and learn about the plants and animals, (I had to try the ayuhuasca).

In Peru we made our way from Lima to Cuzco (fantastic) and took the train to Macchu Picchu. That was back before it was overrun by tourists. We stayed at the Banos (hot springs) alongside the river and soaked in the hot springs at night after hiking back down the mountain. Another experience I’ll never forget. That place was magical, I could feel it.

We made our way across Lake Titicaca to La Paz, Bolivia to finish up the semester. We were all sad to leave. I didn’t want to go home.

I returned to meet the Ariadne in Martinique a month later. I had another semester to finish high school. Our graduation ceremony was on the pier side in Copenhagen.  Another semester of overseas adventures at sea and ashore. It got in my blood and I’m sure I’ll never get over it.

I sure wish I had a better camera back then. Take a look here for some photos collected by Brian who was along for the trip with me and T. (who met me in Nicaragua). You can see me in a couple of the photos (in the yellow foul weather jacket by the cannon). 😉

UKOG Passed!

I made it home yesterday, didn’t get much done. I was sooooo tired! I passed out about 3 PM and slept until 11. I woke up in the middle of the night and fiddled around with the huge stack of mail til I got a little sleepy again. I had to try and go back to bed since I had a long day planned.

First thing I had to do was to get my cell phone working again. I don’t know why, but every time I turn it off for a while it only lets me make emergency calls when I come home and turn it back on. It’s very frustrating.

I had to return the rental car I had to drive home yesterday, then headed back up to Houston for the UKOG (UK Oil & Gas) physical. It’s a company requirement for the temp job I’m hoping to get later this week. I tried to get that done while I was in Mexico, but apparently there is not a single doctor in all of Mexico qualified to do that physical. WTF??!!

Why not?

What the hell is so hard about a general physical that no doctor in Mexico is qualified to perform it? I’ve been to a few doctors down there and I’ve been pretty impressed. I don’t think they’re any worse than doctors I’ve been to in the US (or Thailand, or Korea, or Singapore).

It’s really aggravating that I have to have a US Coast Guard physical every year. It is STCW approved and according to international law (treaty) is SUPPOSED to be accepted for every mariner everywhere worldwide. Now, I have to take them for every temp job I go to? Why? Why does the UK not accept the US Coast Guard physical?

So, I spent all afternoon up there, mostly sitting around waiting. It was worse than usual since they told me I needed to get a piss test, so I was holding it. When I got there, I asked if they could go ahead and take my urine sample if the wait was going to be a while. Nope. Grrrrrr!

So I sat there for about 3 hours before they called my name, trying not to pee myself. It was no fun!

I did pass the physical, it was actually less intensive than the USCG physical.

Seems to me the officials who force all these BS laws (treaties) on us sailors in order to have us all be considered equal, had better get on the companies to stop forcing us to keep wasting OUR time and money on these extra BS ‘requirements’. Why don’t these officials who are SUPPOSED to be there to protect the seaman ever protect the seamen instead of only the employers of seamen?

If we’re all equal enough so that a company can hire an Indian or Ukrainian sailor for pennies on the dollar, only to benefit the company (so they can save on crew costs)- then we SHOULD all be equal enough when it actually helps US instead of the companies!

Los Arcos to Las Animas

Sunday the whole group of us from our school went out sailing Bay of Banderas on a friends boat (thanks again Memo!). We had a great time.

We left around 1030 and came back in around 1930. We cruised from the Puerto Vallarta marina down to Los Arcos. We set out a couple of fishing rods and trolled along as we made our way. We passed schools of fish and a few dolphins along the way. It was so nice.

We stopped for a swim at Los Arcos, a big bunch of rocks just offshore. The water was a clear blue-green. There were hundreds of fish swimming around. There were a few other boats there before us and people were busy feeding the fish, swimming, kayaking, and just generally having a good time.

It was so nice to dive in and luxuriate in the cool, clean, clear water. I swam around and took pictures of the fish. I wasn’t brave enough to try swimming through the arches and caves, but some people did.

We headed back out to sail some more after our nice swim, we were on our way to Las Animas Beach. Raul kept watch on the boat as the water taxi ferried us in to the beach. We had lunch over a couple of big margaritas at Los Conos.

The beach was actually pretty busy. Los Conos is right up on the beach. The view of the boats swaying on the bay and the kids making sandcastles on the beach was so relaxing. The few peddlers who wandered by were mostly entertaining, especially this one guy with his pet iguana. He was hilarious. 🙂

The restaurant was busy and the staff was a little overwhelmed, but they brought us our drinks quickly and the food was good. I had cheese quesadillas. I’m not big on seafood and that’s more their specialty. Everyone’s fish and shrimp looked very well prepared and no one complained about the food. 🙂

The water ferry took us back out to the boat and we clambered back aboard the Bella Maria. As we were getting underway, friends pulled up to say hi. They were in a little speedboat (the Calypso) and just out having a good time on the water.

We challenged each other with beer and raicilla, whistling and dancing to loud Mexican music. We rode together for about an hour before they got tired of poking around so slow with us and took off for home, leaving us in their wake. Who cared? We still had plenty of beer. They did make off with the last of the raicilla tho. 😦

We sailed back towards the marina as the sun set to port and the full moon rose to starboard. It was a magical time. Everyone was in good spirits and happy to have spent the day together.

Final Week

Class will finish up this week, so things will be busy around here for a couple of days. Actually, I’ve been fairly busy all along. I haven’t been posting much (and probably won’t be) because the internet has been really bad the last couple of days and I can’t stand sitting here trying to work (and not able to get anything done) while I should be out enjoying Puerto Vallarta.

Saturday I spent the morning taking it easy. I had breakfast at the little cantina downstairs, picked up my laundry, picked up a few things at the store. I took the bus down to the marina after it started cooling off a little bit.

I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t bigger. Other than that, it was about what I expected. Lots of expensive shops and plenty of tourists. A few big yachts but most looked like they were actually used and not just show boats like a lot of them you see in Miami or Houston.

As expected, the gates to the docks were locked. I couldn’t get down to the boats to talk to any crew members. I figured there wasn’t much hope, but still worth a try. I wouldn’t mind working on a private vessel again. It might even be fun for a change.

I wandered around for a while, hoping to find a good sailors bar where I could hang out for a while and get the scoop over a few drinks. Sorry to say, I didn’t find any place that looked likely for real sailors to hang out.

I rode the elevator up to the top of the lighthouse (El Faro). I thought I might have a snack and watch the sunset. It was a gorgeous view. They only had chicken wings and I just wasn’t in the mood for those, so I took a few pictures and headed back down to wander some more.

I met a nice guy from Tennessee. He was a former USCG mariner so we had a pretty good conversation. It was nice talking to someone who ‘gets it’. I really miss being on the water. Most people just don’t understand. It gets in your blood.

I had a nice steak dinner at a place called the Rincon de Buenos Aires (Argentinian Steak House). They had a special offering of green salad, baked potato and skirt steak for 195 pesos. I paid about $15 for dinner and a drink.

The steak was great, cooked perfectly and plenty big. I could hardly finish it. The baked potato was big, but they didn’t put anything on it but butter. I asked for sour cream and they brought some, but it was not the same thing we get at home. The salad was big, but they only had Italian dressing and it wasn’t really very flavorful. They brought out a bread basket with chimichurra sauce, but I didn’t want to fill up on bread.

I did really enjoy my steak, but I wasn’t real impressed with the restaurant other than that. First of all, it was very hot. I was dripping. The hostess tried to help me by pulling my table (which was up against the wall in a dark corner) out so that it was under a ceiling fan. I appreciated the effort, but it didn’t help much.

The waiters were all polite and helpful, but it was very busy so they were slow to come by. A man at the next table flagged them down for me once after I had been waving at them for about 10 minutes.

It was definitely a very popular place. I would go back for the food, but only if I made sure beforehand it was a slow time.

Sunday morning we got to go out sailing with Erica and her friend Memo. He has a beautiful sailboat and kindly offered to take our whole class out sailing for the day. I’ll have more on that later.

Today was Monday. Back to school. I got my last 2 teaching assignments this morning, and so spent some time working on my lesson plans this afternoon. I’ve got early classes tomorrow and Wednesday, and we have another essay due Wednesday too, so I’ll be busy for the next couple of days with school work.

It’s already 2300. I need to get off here and get some sleep. I need to get up EARLY tomorrow! 😦

Frozen: Just Jot It January

I’ve joined in Linda’s blog challenge of Just Jot It January. I’ve been posting every day so far but today is the first time I’m using one of the prompts. Today’s prompt is: frozen.

I can’t help thinking about yesterdays Icicle Race out on Galveston Bay. One of the guys who was out on the boat with us was just about literally frozen the whole time! Unlike myself, he’s a skinny little guy and has no natural insulation. 😉

He’s usually the most enthusiastic sailor of all of us. He’s constantly checking the sails and tweaking the trim for every last bit of speed he can get out of the boat.  But yesterday he stayed holed up down below through most of the race. Even the standard sailors cure (a shot of rum) didn’t do much to help. 😉

We joked about the ‘wind chill factor’ the rest of the afternoon, how it was so much colder on deck with the wind (since there really was not much wind). We finally gave up on the race when the wind died down to only 2-3 kts, and motored the rest of the way in to the dock. We got there in good time for the crew party at the clubhouse. The hot chili and a few more shots of rum finally did the trick. 🙂

Icicles

Today was the first in the series of Icicle races here on Galveston Bay. I pried my eyes open early and ran up to Kemah to join Capt Vic and his crew. We got underway in time to get the crew warmed up and make a couple of practice runs at the starting line.

It was cold and damp, cloudy and drizzling rain, but we were in good spirits. We had some decent wind (N 10-15 kts), to start the race. We had a great start. Crossed the line right on time and were making about 7 kts all the way to the first mark.

From that point on, it was all down hill. The wind started shifting and dropping off. We had to tack a couple of times to make the next mark. That cost us a lot of time.

By the time we rounded the 2nd mark, the wind had died down to under 5 kts. Not enough to do much for a heavier boat like ours. We tried to sail wing and wing downwind, but it really wasn’t working well. We didn’t have a spinniker and weren’t classed for it anyway so couldn’t have used it if we did have one on board.

We tried for about a half hour, pretty much every other boat had already passed us so we decided to just throw in the towel and head for the dock. At least we would get there before the rum was gone (Cruzan Rum is one of the major sponsors of the Icicle Races). 🙂

There are 4 more races to go. I hope the weather is better for the next one. It’s not a lot of fun to sail when there’s no wind. Even so, I was happy to be out on the water today. 🙂

The pictures are from last years races, I haven’t had time to download the new ones yet.

PS- I’ve joined in the Just Jot it January challenge, you can see what it’s all about here.

Just Do It! 2

Again, this is a copy of a post from my new blog (www.captainjillsjourneys.com). Please go check me out there, I’m not sure how long this blog will be here. 

I talked to a couple of old friends today. Both of them have made the move and encouraged me to ‘just do it’ too.

One friend I used to work with on the ships has made the move to Thailand. He’s still working for the same company we were at together, but he has been working in Korea for a few years now. He spends his time off in Thailand. He’s married a Thai lady and is VERY happy there.

My other friend went to high school with me on the sailing ships. He’s got the same adventurous spirit that I have, but he’s actually DONE something with his. Soon after high school, he spent 10 years living in Venezuela. He moved back to the states to raise his family, but now they’re grown and he’s looking for a change. He’s just finished his TEFL course and is now teaching in Mexico.

I’ve been trying to find something to do with myself for years now. Decades really. I’m so tied up in trying to find a way to get out of here, but I want to do it safely. I don’t really love the idea of trying to sell everything I own, cut all ties, and give up everything I’ve ever worked for in order to support myself overseas. Is that possible? I know I’ve been trying for a LONG time and still haven’t really come any closer to finding an answer.

I’ve been lucky to have had a good job (until a couple of months ago). One that paid me enough to pay the bills and put a little aside every month. In trying to find some way to support myself, so I could leave the US, I’ve started a vending machine business (total failure), bought rental properties (which I am going to have to sell since I can’t afford them if I’m not working), working on stock photography, blogging, writing.

None of those projects has yet brought me anywhere near the amount of income I need to start the process to emigrate somewhere else. Only the rental property will bring in enough money so that I can apply for residency (not citizenship) in a few places.

I’ve been hoping to get at least a couple of weeks of regular work over the holidays. That would help a LOT. At this point, that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. So, now what?

I’m thinking my best alternative would be to take the TEFL course myself. At least that would give me the option to live someplace cheaper and get away from some major expenses here. Also, find a much less stressful lifestyle somewhere.

I’m still worried about so many things, pretty much all of them to do with finances. How will I pay my bills? How will I be able to keep up my ‘training’? How will I be able to keep my LICENSE? I need that license in order to work offshore and I can’t imagine giving it up after working so hard for 34+ years to earn it.

I need to renew it by December 2016. If I want to keep it after that, I HAVE TO find work at sea! So, I have about 9 months to find something else to do before I need to be back here to start the renewal process.

So, does anyone have any helpful ideas for me? Something other than “just DO it!” Some ‘it” to do?? I’m open to suggestions. Send ’em over here. 😉

Songs of the Sea: Sail On Sailor 2

Here’s a classic. The Beach Boys singing “Sail On Sailor”. Read the lyrics for a not so nice version of time spent at sea. Good or bad out there, I still love it! 🙂

“Sail On Sailor”

I sailed an ocean, unsettled ocean
Through restful waters and deep commotion
Often frightened, unenlightened
Sail on, sail on sailorI wrest the waters, fight Neptune’s waters
Sail through the sorrows of life’s marauders
Unrepenting, often empty
Sail on, sail on sailorCaught like a sewer rat alone but I sail
Bought like a crust of bread, but oh do I wail

Seldom stumble, never crumble
Try to tumble, life’s a rumble
Feel the stinging I’ve been given
Never ending, unrelenting
Heartbreak searing, always fearing
Never caring, persevering
Sail on, sail on, sailor

I work the seaways, the gale-swept seaways
Past shipwrecked daughters of wicked waters
Uninspired, drenched and tired
Wail on, wail on, sailor

Always needing, even bleeding
Never feeding all my feelings
Damn the thunder, must I blunder
There’s no wonder all I’m under
Stop the crying and the lying
And the sighing and my dying

Sail on, sail on sailor
Sail on, sail on sailor
Sail on, sail on sailor
Sail on, sail on sailor
Sail on, sail on sailor
Sail on, sail on sailor
Sail on, sail on sailor

Daily Prompt: Toy Story- Sea Snark

Daily Prompt:Toy Story– What was your favorite plaything as a child? Do you see any connection between your life now, and your favorite childhood toy?

I’m not sure if my sea snark qualifies as a toy but playing with it (sailing) was my favorite thing to do while I was growing up (other than reading).

I used to take my little sailboat our almost every day, usually after school. Sometimes, I would even sail it TO school 🙂

Made out of Styrofoam, it was indestructible. Unlike the Titanic, it was actually unsinkable 🙂 We DID test that quite regularly 😉

I had SO much fun with that little boat. 🙂 I would go by myself. I would take out my friends. My brother would run circles around me with his outboard powered dingy, but I didn’t care. I always loved just sailing. Letting the wind drive me where I wanted to go. It was so engaging, so peaceful, so enjoyable. I STILL love sailing and go out every chance I can.

As a kid, I never would have imagined that I would wind up ‘sailing’ for a living (that’s what we call shipping out- ‘sailing’). I was on track to be a doctor back then. My grandparents were both pharmacists. My fathers mother was one of the first female pharmacists in the state of NY 🙂 (I definitely take after her) 😉 I made straight A’s in school and I did love studying all my subjects in class, especially math and science.

What happened was: I got sick and tired of taking the same classes over and over again in school. For example, I had been taking algebra since at least 5th grade. I always made straight A’s. I just couldn’t see the point of taking it AGAIN in 9th grade.

So, I started skipping those classes that I’d already taken. I was still making good grades. I could still keep up with the work. After all, I HAD already taken those classes (more than once). I’ll never understand why parents put up with the school systems dumbing down their kids so much!

Eventually, my family got tired of hearing about my transgressions from the school district. My grandmother decided I needed to go to a boarding school, to keep me from skipping 😉 Well, I give her credit. She tried. She really did.

Along with my Aunt Helen, my grandmother and I went on a road trip from Freeport NY, up through Niagara Falls (loved the Maid of the Mist) into Canada. We came back down through the Detroit area (went to a concert there- grandma wore earplugs 🙂 ). Visited family friends near Chicago. Stopped at a dozen fancy schools before we made it back to NY.

I have to admit, I was a total BITCH the entire trip. I didn’t want to go to any fancy-schmantzy rich kid boarding school! I would never fit in. I liked my life the way it was. I loved my town where I grew up and I could spend my days hanging out with my friends on the beach. Sailing, swimming, fishing, even sometimes jumping off the bridge to let the current carry me out to the Gulf so I could swim back in 😉

Yeah, I was also hanging out at the amusement parlor and the pool halls, sometimes the bars 😉 I was drinking and other things I wasn’t supposed to be doing.

It was really a lucky stroke of fate what happened when my grandmother got me back to her place in Freeport. She was so fed up with me after that search for an acceptable school for both me and her, she took me to the library and threw the book at me. Literally! She told me that it was a book listing ALL the accredited schools in the country and if I could find one in there that I liked, I could go there.

The book landed on a table in front of me. Opened to a page with a picture of a square-rigged ship in full sail. I was hooked! I grabbed that book and started reading that thing like my life depended on it (turned out it really did in a way).

The book gave details: the Oceanics School (http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1310&dat=19720827&id=nN1VAAAAIBAJ&sjid=5eADAAAAIBAJ&pg=6581,6541976). Based in New York City, the school would charter these large traditional sailing ships for months long cruises with their students aboard. The ship sailed around the world and the students learned to operate the ship. They held classes on navigation, seamanship, oceanography, cultural studies and languages of all the countries the ship visited.

I was so excited. I told my grandmother “that’s it!”. That’s the one I want to go to!! She was aghast!! She told me “no way”. “No way are you going to ruin your life with those damn boats like your father did!!” Up til he bought his dream boat, the “Island Girl”, my father was an engineer. A ‘respectable’ professional career man. My grandmother would never forgive the Island Girl for my fathers decision to quit the corporate world.

When I got home and told my dad about the Oceanics school, he was almost as happy about it as I was. He said “you’re going”, and “while we’re at it, we’ll send your brother too”! “You can’t skip school when you’re on a boat in the middle of the ocean” 😉 So, soon enough my brother and I were off to sail around the world. We had some absolutely fantastic adventures sailing the 3- masted schooner Ariadne from Athens to Martinique!

That trip changed my life. I returned without my brother to sail the Ariadne again from Martinique back across the Atlantic. I had some incredible experiences with some wonderful people. It DID change my life.

I will be forever grateful to the Gallaghers (especially Stephanie) who took a chance on me and then helped me SO much. Even after I graduated from the Oceanics, Stephanie was instrumental in getting me set up in the Ocean Marine Technology program in Texas that got me started on the way to earning my license.

Because of the chance to go to the Oceanics, I am STILL sailing. Almost 35 years later.  🙂 I recently upgraded to Master Any Gross Tons and can sail pretty much any ship on the ocean. I still love the traditional sailing ships best but there just aren’t enough of them around to make a living on. Too bad 😦

So, yeah, you could say my favorite plaything when I was young is still my favorite plaything now. 🙂

Here are a couple of great links. The first one is by Tim Harris of the ship Statsraad Lehmkuhl which he sailed on as a cadet with the Oceanics in the early 70s. The next one is of the same ship in a storm. The last is a link to the ship itself, in case you’re interested in sailing her 😉

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=iokDVlHybtE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_YWgRBmVtY

www.lehmkuhl.no

PS- the featured photo is one I took at the Maritime Day celebration in Galveston last month. The ship in the background is one of the ones I sailed as captain on (Ensco 8500 series). I started with the sea snarks and worked my way up to those!

PPS- I forgot to add that I posted this to Terri Webster Schrandt’s Leisure Link the other day. She has a cool blog, this is the first time I’ve seen the leisure link. I’ve seen these blog ‘parties’ before but still not sure I’ve got the hang of it. Check it out over there and join in. 🙂

All About Me

Todays prompt from the Daily Post is to write a post explaining “why you chose your blog’s title and what it means to you”.

I chose to call my blog “Captain Jills Journeys” for a couple of reasons.

I wanted to write a travel blog, since I love to travel and I’ve gone to a lot of interesting places (and hope to go to a lot more). So I tried to come up with words relating to that. I picked the work ‘journey’ because it sounded good with my name (Jill). I was also remembering how I used to write in my journal every day for years as I sailed around on the school ships. Journey- journal… which one? I wanted it to be about more than writing, so- ‘journey’ it is! 😉

So why call it Captain Jills Journeys (rather than just Jills Journeys)? I’ve spent most of my life on the water and worked my way up the hawsepipe to earn a captains license (finally managed an unlimited masters license a few years ago). I figured I would wind up blogging about boats and working on the water along with the travel. After all, one of the main reasons I started working at sea was the opportunity to see the world (and get paid for it!).

I also liked the alliteration and the sounds of the J’s together. It makes a short sentence and sounds cool. 🙂

I added on the tag line “she sails the seven seas in search of FREEDOM” to explain more fully what my blog (and me) are all about. My passions flow together in that sentence. I love to sail. I love to travel. And I am very intensely concerned with the issue of freedom.

Liberty and justice for all. Human rights. Individual liberty. However you want to say it. I very fervently believe that every person deserves to live the best life possible, that they should be able to chose to live the way they think is best for themselves. I do not think people should have to bow down to ANYONE.

We should all be equal under the law and any and all governments should obey the principles the US government was founded on (and no longer has any respect for). To PROTECT the “god-given” (or NATURAL) rights of the people. I just do not understand why so many people seem to feel that others have some sort of right to rule over them. I just don’t get it.

I am looking for some place in this world I can live free. I hope one day to find a place to settle down with other like minded people. A place where everyone is content to just “live and let live”. Most people think that’s some kind of fantasy, that it could never happen. So they won’t even TRY. I will at least keep on trying.

Ships Rigs

I got some feedback that my recent posts on square riggers have been appreciated. 🙂 I think some people would like to learn more about the different types of sailing ships, so I’ll go ahead and try to explain at least a few of the more common types around. I’ll start out with the ‘ship’ rig and if you like it I’ll continue on with some of the others. 🙂

There aren’t many of ANY type of sailing ships any more. It’s hard for them to compete when everyone wants immediate gratification now a days. There are still a few around, they’re mostly being used for educational purposes (which they are fantastic for), or for cruise vacations. I do know of a couple that are trying to make a go of sail cargo operations again, but they’re in a tough spot and trying to find a niche market. Here’s a link to a post I wrote a while ago, and here’s another link to a more recent list by Sailing Dog.

The main way to categorize sailing vessels is whether they’re rigged fore-and-aft (the sail is rigged along the centerline of the vessel) or square rigged (the sail is rigged to lie across the centerline of the vessel). A sailing “ship” is one with at least 3 masts, and all masts are rigged with square sails. They will probably also have fore-and-aft sails set between the masts and on the bow.

A full rigged ship is a beautiful sight to see. They were the largest and some of the fastest ships around during the age of sail. Check out this video for a little history of some of the ships of the Flying P Line. The Peking is still afloat and is lying at the South Street Seaport in New York City. I spent a few hours exploring there a while back. Too bad she’s no longer sailing. 😦

The Sorlandet is an example of one of these ships that is still sailing about. She’s used as a sail training vessel and it’s possible to get aboard if you want to spend the time (and money) to learn. 🙂

The Royal Clipper is one of a few newbuilt vessels. She was built in modern times as a cruise vessel for Star Clippers. You can sign on and take a cruise any time you want. I’m planning to do it myself soon.

So, that should give you a pretty good idea of what a sailing “ship” is. If you like this kind of thing, please check out the links and some of the other websites they lead to. Let me know what you think. 🙂