Five Days in New Orleans

I decided to make one last big effort to find a decent job. I flew up to New Orleans to attend the Workboat Show and search for work. I picked up my rental car and made my way down the bayou. First stop was at GOL in Raceland.

I was able to talk to the hiring manager there (he was an old friend), but they had no work since most of their boats were still laid up, so I said my goodbyes and continued on down Bayou Lafourche.

I stopped in at every boat company I could find: Alliance, Cheramie, C&G, GIS, L&M Botruc, Odyssea, Jambon, Chouest, Candies, and more. They all told me pretty much the same thing (except for one old boy who still insisted they ‘don’t have facilities for women’). They had so many of their boats stacked up and good people laid off. They had long lists of people they were hoping to get back when things picked up.

I picked up more applications and moved on.

By the time I got back to New Orleans and turned in my car, it was already dark and I was ready to check into my apartment. Yes, I rented an apartment (through hotels.com). It was really nice. It had a separate bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen/living room. It even had a washer/dryer in a closet!

I had a full kitchen with a full sized stove, oven and refrigerator, all the glasses, dishes, etc. Coffee maker and coffee, a blender, spices, etc. All I needed to cook a nice meal. Too bad I couldn’t find a decent grocery near by.

I spent the rest of the evening working on applications, emails and enjoying the view from the rooftop over the skyline. It was cool to watch the fog roll over the lights from the skyscrapers.

In the morning, I headed over to the Convention Center for the Workboat Show. I picked up my badge and a list of the vendors and sorted out my priorities. I tend to concentrate on electronics (DP systems, radios, ECDIS, charts, etc), crewing/employment agencies, and training/education providers.

I always make a point to go by and visit people I know who are there with booths too. This year, a lot of them were missing. The show seemed smaller to me this year. I suppose because of the long lasting downturn in the industry. It’s already been more than 3 years now. 😦

I did get to meet Captain Edgar Hansen from the TV show the Deadliest Catch, and I attended an interesting “Dock Talk” about women in the maritime industry: why aren’t there more women out here, what can we do about it, and why should we? Wish it was better attended, but at least someone is thinking about it.

I met up with an old friend for a couple of hours and we caught up on things as we wandered around the isles. We had a quick lunch at the food court (I do not recommend the BBQ! $3.50 for a bottle of water was a huge rip-off IMHO). I continued on visiting the vendors after my friend had to get on the road and head back home.

During the day, I was invited to a couple of parties. That’s where the best networking goes on. I’m not into partying nearly as much as I used to be, but I still hate to pass one up. I went to the LOC party at the World of Beer. It was pretty nice. Not too crowded. They had drinks and snacks we could order. Their tacos were pretty good. Plenty of beer. 🙂

I ran into a few friends there and met some new ones. It was nice to hear what everyone has been up to. The party ended fairly early, so I wound up going with a friend to the Texas A&M party at the Fulton Alley. That’s a cool place. It’s a bowling alley, with a bar. Drinks, snacks, music, etc.

Funny, but I ran into another old friend. Another captain I used to work with was there with his wife. They were in New Orleans for business and happened to be at the party. They live in the next town from me here in Texas. 🙂

I didn’t stay late, but I did meet a couple of guys who were telling me about a ‘sure thing’ job. I had already applied there, but considering what everyone was telling me; ‘go in person and you’ll get hired’, I started re-thinking my plans for the next couple of days.

Thursday I slept in a little bit later and then had breakfast across the street at the Ruby Slipper. It was really good and I was stuffed by the time I finished. I walked down to the Convention Center and then spent the rest of the day wandering around and talking to all kinds of people there. I ran into some more old friends, met some guys from Oceaneering (where I used to work) who hollered at me about my shirt, spent some time talking to the crew at Oceanwide (where I still work when they have any).

By 1700 my feet were getting sore and I was getting tired. There were more parties to go to, but I really wasn’t feeling up to it. I took a detour through the Riverwalk next door and wound up eating Chinese food from the food court while watching all the traffic on the river pass by.

I walked down the river to the Hilton and then cut across to Harrah’s casino. I figured I’d play a few games of video poker and head home. I didn’t win, but I didn’t lose much and was home by 2200 and to bed not long after.

Friday morning, I picked up another rental car and headed over to Covington to see if they were right about going in person. I was lucky to get to talk to someone in person and we had a nice talk. Of course, they had a lot of their boats tied up too, but they do have at least some work and I’m still hoping they’ll be able to find something for me there.

It was a gorgeous day and I decided to stop for a picnic before heading back over the bridge into New Orleans. I picked up supplies and headed over to Fontainebleau State Park. It was such a nice day, sunny and cool, light breeze. I had the whole place practically to myself. The lake was calm and sparkling in the sun. The beach was inviting, but I wasn’t dressed for playing in the water. 😦

I walked around the pond, looking for alligators (didn’t see any), and then drove over to check out the old sugar mill. Interesting history to read about. It got me interested to visit the nearby town of Mandeville, but it was getting late and I decided that would have to wait for another time.

I made it back to New Orleans in time to meet another friend for dinner. We had a nice time catching up over dinner by the river and then hit the casino for a couple of games. He had to get back home and I was ready to quit, so I headed home for the night.

I wanted to hit the Ruby Slipper again for breakfast Saturday, but the lines were halfway down the block on both sides! Instead, I went for beignets at the Cafe du Monde at the Riverwalk (much closer and much less crowded than the main one at Jackson Square). After my beignets and cafe au lait, I walked over to the Roosevelt Hotel to check out their famous Christmas decorations.

I had thought about having a drink at the bar, but the place was packed so I didn’t stick around. I took a walk over to Bourbon Street since I hadn’t even seen it yet this whole trip.

Glad I hadn’t tried! They’re doing construction all the way down Bourbon Street. The entire street is blocked off and you have to stay on the fenced in sidewalks. I can only imagine how that would be, packed full of rowdy loud drunks with nowhere to puke! Yuk! I’ll skip Bourbon Street til they finish up the construction!

I did finally get to try out my membership in the Bourbon of the Month Club. I sat at the bar at Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House and watched the oyster shuckers at work. I don’t like oysters, but it was pretty entertaining to watch anyway.

 

After I finished my taste, I got to see the fresh shrimp being delivered, straight from the boats to the cooks. Nice, big, fresh shrimp. I really ought to try getting into seafood again. Seeing all that in New Orleans makes me think I’m really missing out.

By now, it was just about time for the Christmas Parade. I always try to see that when I’m in town. The Krewe of Jingle really puts on a great parade. They have some really cute costumes and dance troupes. The marching bands and miscellaneous characters all add up to make a fantastic show.

I always enjoy my time in New Orleans. There’s always something going on that’s fun and interesting. But I always wind up coming home to chill out for a while too. That’s what I’ve been doing since I got home Saturday night. 🙂

 

Advertisements

Ruby Slipper

I had a delicious filling breakfast at the Ruby Slipper yesterday. Not because it was voted “Best Breakfast/Brunch Spot” 3 years in a row, but because it’s located right across the street from where I’m staying. 😉

I had the ‘Eggs Blackstone’, consisting of “applewood-smoked bacon, grilled tomato served over a buttermilk biscuit, topped with 2 poached eggs, finished with hollandaise”. I asked them to skip the tomato (which they did- lots of places still leave it and the juices ruin my meal- I love catsup but can’t stand tomatoes!).

It was hard to make up my mind. Their menu offered lots of choices that all sounded delicious. I was headed to the Workboat Show so skipped the ‘award winning bloody mary’s’ too (tho I don’t like tomato juice either, the mimosas looked just as good).

 I sat at the bar, since even tho it was pouring rain, the outside tables were all taken. The place was packed. I still got served quickly tho. My breakfast was nice and hot, coffee too. They skimped a little on the hollandaise sauce, but the biscuits were very large (and fresh home made).

I’m running late this morning, I’ve got to pick up a car and head over to HOS. I’m hoping to get a job interview. So will probably skip breakfast today, but I think I will stop in again tomorrow for another specialty and try a mimosa. 🙂

PS- these photos are all from my iPod, it’s so bad compared to my regular cameras. 😦

Bourbon Street

Maybe tomorrow. I’m too tired after 3 days of getting up early and 2 straight days of constant walking at the Workboat Show. I’ve been on my feet from 1000-2200 for the last 2 days. Stayed up late last night for the usual company sponsored parties. I’m not used to that anymore. 😦

I should have more stories tomorrow. Stay tuned. 😉

Knocking on Doors

I flew into New Orleans Tuesday morning and picked up my car. I got on the road around 1030 and headed for Bayou Lafourche. It took about an hour to get there.

I spent all day knocking on doors at every boat company I could find (about 20 of them). First stop was Gulf Offshore Logistics right as you turn off the highway to head down the bayou. I filled out an application and waited to speak to someone about the job situation.

Turns out, it was a friend of mine who I needed to speak to. I forgot that he had changed jobs and went to work at GOL. We talked for quite a while and tho they weren’t hiring right now, he did at least offer me a little bit of hope.

I went on down through Raceland, Cut Off, Galliano, Golden Meadows, and back up to Houma. I got the same story everywhere I went. They had 20 boats total and 15 were stacked (just making up the numbers of boats but the ratio is what matters). No one was hiring at this time.

One company even showed me their (long) list of previous employees they would be calling first when things did start to improve. A couple of places said they thought they might start doing a little bit of hiring after the first of the year.

I didn’t get to see every company I wanted to. I missed Harvey Gulf and Hornbeck. Those were two of the most important ones I wanted to see. I have heard they are actually hiring. I just ran out of time. It was 1630 by the time I got through and too late to get back to New Orleans and over to Covington.

I met a couple of people yesterday who gave me some encouragement about that. One recently got hired at Hornbeck. He basically told me I had to go in person. If I did that, he was pretty sure I would get in. So… I am thinking I should blow off the last day of the Workboat Show and go over there Friday morning.

I spend all day yesterday at the Show. I met up with my old friend Captain Bill who was also looking for work. We met up with some old friends and former shipmates who were working the Show. We had a quick lunch at the food court (BBQ which was awful!). Bill had to leave early so we said goodbye and I continued wandering around the amazing amounts of boat stuff on display. 🙂

During the day, I talked to quite a few people about the situation offshore. Everyone agreed 2017 was done for. Most were hopeful that 2018 would be better. Some were more pessimistic and thought it would be 2019 or later (or even never).

I’m not sure I can manage to hold out for another year. I think most mariners are in the same boat. It has just become too hard to keep our credentials current. The IMO, USCG and the companies have decided it is imperative to continually load us down with super expensive, shore based “training”.

Renewal started out fairly easy to comply with. We just needed to do a couple of things like take a physical and renew RADAR every 5 years. Now, we still have to take a physical (but every 2 years-minimum), we still have to renew RADAR every 5 years, but we also have a slew of other requirements to renew our mariners credentials. Without those we can not work anywhere on the water!

That’s not even to mention all the ‘training’ the companies require. They all want different versions of the same course and refuse to accept the same training from anyone other than their approved providers! All of those courses are required to be renewed every 3-4 years too!

I can state for a fact that unless you are working on the water, there are very few jobs (I can’t think of a single one) that would both pay you enough and give you the time off you need to take all those courses. So…. how is anyone going to be able to go back to work in 2018, 2019, 2020 if they are not already working now?

Job Call

I hate to be so gloomy all the time. I do have to admit I’m one of those people who sees the glass as half empty. Lately it’s been harder than normal to keep my spirits up. I’m not used to being unemployed and broke. I don’t like it. I really, really don’t like it.

This morning I got a call from one of the temp agencies I work with. When I got the message I thought “oh great, I finally got some real work”. When I called them back I found out they needed me to be there tomorrow! I could’ve cancelled out the last part of my trip without losing too much. I could’ve been there late Friday, but they had to have someone tomorrow.

Of course! I am leaving tomorrow for the Workboat Show in New Orleans. I’m heading over a day early so I can head down the bayou and visit a few boat companies in person (since the online applications don’t seem to be doing any good). The job wouldn’t pay enough to cover the expenses I’ve already paid for (and can’t get back). I’ve worked there before and already know the drill. Sadly, I had to turn it down.

So few jobs around, and I’m so broke I’m hardly ever doing much. What are the odds that an actual job comes around at the exact same time I can’t take it due to previous engagements?

End of a Long Weekend

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving holiday. I did OK. It’s not like I’ve been working so hard all this time and needed a break. Still, it was nice to have some time off where I knew no one would be calling me for work, nothing to do with work would be open (so useless to call), and I could take the time to catch up on other things.

I spent Thanksgiving with friends. They cooked a big turkey (in a greaseless fryer- it turned out nice and moist). They had ham too, and roast vegetables, mashed potatoes, mani-mahi, broccoli rice casserole, hot rolls, and a half dozen desserts. I’m still eating leftovers.

After pigging out and needing a nap Thursday, I’ve spent the last couple of days just piddling around the house. I went through a big pile of t-shirts to sort. I finally packed some away and put others in the yard sale pile. I put a bunch of stuff away that got messed up while I was gone last week (I still can’t find half of it). I’ve caught up with the mail, bills and phone calls.

Now I’m getting ready for a trip to New Orleans for this years Workboat Show. I’m so frustrated and depressed about the situation with work. I think this is going to be my last hope. I filled out a few online applications (again) for nearby boat companies. They say they are hiring.

I’ve rented a car and will drive down the bayou and try to find someone to talk to. It’s become almost impossible to talk to a real person when you’re looking for work these days. Everyone gives you a computer to talk to: “leave a message” and someone will get back to you. Except they never do.

I hear through the grapevine (and also their own ads) that Hornbeck (HOS) and Harvey Gulf are hiring. I plan to hit up both of them. I’ve got plenty of resumes printed out and will be trying to talk to anyone I can who might have some work going on.

If this doesn’t work out, the only thing left for me to do is go back to the SIU as an AB. Wasting the 40 years I’ve spent working my way up and earning my license. What a shame!

I feel like one of the old horse and buggy drivers when Henry Ford came out with the model T. I can see the complete destruction of my livelihood on the horizon. Like them, I am not at all happy about it!

I have been trying my best ever since I got laid off (Sept 2015) to find work. I’ve been trying all kinds of things to bring in extra income. I’ve been teaching at San Jacinto Maritime. I’ve been working as a role player at Maersk Training. I’ve been trying to sell my art (writing/photography/painting) anywhere I can.

I’ve been applying to jobs in every sector of the maritime industry. I’ve tried to find work as a math tutor. I’ve tried to find work in the safety industry since that is a huge part of what I do every day anyway (but learned I would have to sell myself- body and soul- for a $14/hour job). Sorry, no way! I might be down, but I will NEVER be that self destructive as to submit to that level of control.

Hair follicle tests?! What kind of idiots do they think we are? These tests can have NO possible connection to anything going on at the job. I’ve asked over and over- PLEASE tell me how something I might’ve done last YEAR could possibly have anything to do with the job I’m doing TODAY? Of course, they have no answer. They’re wrong and they know it. Those people have NO right to strip our constitutional rights from us. In the name of safety or any other reason.

I am getting pretty desperate. I was one of the lucky ones. I was halfway prepared for this downturn. I’ve been through 3 big ones before. I’d saved as much as I could and paid down my debts as much as possible. I had a pretty good stash in my savings account. Of course, after 2 years with no real work, that savings account has been seriously depleted.

It sucks not even being able to get unemployment. Especially after being forced to pay into it for over 40 years! It would be nice to be able to get some help when I need it. But noooooo, ONE job out of all those years was with a foreign company, so I get zero return on all that money I’ve paid in.

Even so. I did my best while I was working to save and invest. I bought rental property and paid off as much as I could. I’m lucky. That has been my only income for the last 2 years. It’s not much, since the expenses on the property is actually still more than the income I get from it, but it still helps a lot.

I’m thankful I have even that little bit of income. With the little bit of work I get from Maersk and San Jacinto, and a week offshore every now and then, I’ve been able to survive. Barely. I can understand how people get so desperate they will sell their soul to get a miserable paycheck, but I thank god I don’t have to do that. I swear I will die before I EVER submit to their insanely stupid, unconstitutional, illegal, useless hair follicle tests!

I wish more people were able to stand up for themselves. Maybe we could stop this abuse if they were. But, then again, the powers that be are ALL about control. That is ALL they care about and they will do whatever we allow them to get away with.

I hope by going to New Orleans I’ll be able to find something. It’s getting really, really hard to keep trying when it’s been so long and nothing’s happening.

SoCS: March

For Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday, the theme today is: March. Click the link for the rules and join in. 🙂

“March”. It brings to mind music, like the kind you hear in a marching band. John Phillip Sousa, etc. Also, the marchers, marching.

It reminded me of the parade I always try to see in New Orleans. The Krewe of Kringle puts on a great parade every year for Christmas. I’m usually in New Orleans around that time to attend the Workboat Show if I’m not offshore.

New Orleans is always fun. I love going up there to visit. I always see old friends and meet new ones. I always find something new and interesting to do. Last time, I finally got to ride the Steamboat Natchez and go to the WWII Museum.

I’d love to go up there again. This weekend is the New Orleans Bourbon Festival. I would really love to go to that! It sounds like a blast. Not as crazy as Mardi Gras, but I bet it’s still a lot of fun.

I don’t think I’ll be going anywhere for a while tho. I’m still not working. 😦

Good News

I finally got some good news today. The mail came with my new, corrected, USCG license! I sent it in to the Coast Guard on September 29. So, it only (major sarcasm) took them a little less than 3 months to process a simple renewal.

My license expired December 16, so I figured I had plenty of time. Even with the end of the year rush due to new STCW ‘gap-closing’ requirements.

Every time I checked, for over 2 months, my license status was listed as PQEB. Waiting for an evaluator. Strange, cause they sent my medical certificate back within a week. I had no idea why it was taking so long until I got some help from the Coast Guard’s National Mariner Center booth at the Workboat Show in early December. They got things moving immediately and helped a lot.

I did actually apply for one extra endorsement. Maybe that was the reason for the holdup? I asked for the OIM (offshore installation manager). Reading the rules, I figured I was eligible. I had already taken stability for my Chief Mates license. I already had a few rig moves, under supervision and while in charge.

Since I am already a Master Mariner, that should have covered me for the OIM endorsement. The rules are different if you’re not already holding that license.

But, the USCG has decided that the much more intense stability course I took is not applicable for this endorsement. I need to take a much simpler course which is only specific to certain vessels (mostly MODU’s– mobile offshore drilling units). I learned all this after finally being assigned to an evaluator after the Workboat Show.

The rules also say that at least one of the rig moves must be within the last year.

So, since I was laid off by Ocean Rig in September of 2015, I have not worked since then, I’m shit out of luck until I can go back to work again. I can’t afford to take the necessary course until I find work again anyway, so the whole thing is moot.

The whole point of asking for the endorsement was in hopes it would help me find a job so I could go back to work again.

After a couple of emails back and forth about all this (the GC rep was very helpful and fast to respond), I decided to just drop the request for the endorsement and just renew everything I already had.

I got an email the next day that my MMD (merchant mariner document) was in the mail! The process moved along pretty quick once assigned an evaluator.  I was feeling pretty good until I got my document a few days later and looked it over.

For some reason they restricted me to only vessels without ECDIS. I had taken that course as well for my Chief Mate license. I couldn’t have qualified to sit for the test without it. The CG rep told me that the class I took couldn’t have been approved back then.

Well, why would I have taken it then? The USCG gives us a listing of all the approved courses and all the approved schools where we can take them. Of course I checked the list and would never have gone anywhere to take any class that wasn’t on the list. It would have been a total waste of time and money since the certificate earned would not be valid!

After a few days of arguing and sending documents to the USCG, all the while freaking out about having to re-take another expensive week long course and not being allowed to work after December 31, 2016, the CG allowed that the course I took was actually OK.

Whew!

So, today I finally got my MMD, one that has everything I need to show in order to go back to work. Now I just need a job!

Son of a Sea Cook: 2

I’m still trying to post twice so I don’t lose all my old followers who somehow didn’t get automatically transferred to my new site (www.captainjillsjourneys.com). Please follow me over there. I’m not sure how long this situation or this blog will last. 

I was at the Workboat Show in New Orleans last week. I spent most of my time this year talking to recruiters, crewing agencies and training providers. One of the more interesting ones was the Son of a Sea Cook workboat cooking school. It’s a new program of the Sea School based in St. Petersburg, FL.

If things weren’t so totally dead offshore right now, I would heartily recommend it for anyone who wants an ‘in’ to get started working offshore. As things are, I would still say it’s a good idea. It helps if you like to cook, but most small boats require everyone to cook sometimes. It really doesn’t matter if you like it or not.

It’ll be dead offshore til the price of oil goes back up, but there were still plenty of inland companies hiring at the show. It’s still an advantage when you’re looking for work to have a skill like cooking to add to your application. Companies know that a good cook will help keep a happy crew and that’s always good for business.

Knowing how to cook is a good skill to have even for your OWN benefit. It’s sure nice to know how to cook up a good meal instead of living on TV dinners and baloney sandwiches. I know, when I got my 1st apartment, I lived on Campbells cream of tomato soup and baloney sandwiches.

I never learned how to cook til I HAD to, when they took our cooks away the last time the oil price took a dive back in the 80’s. We lived on TV dinners and sandwiches for months. Thank goodness my crew was willing to let me learn to cook! I made them a deal, I would (try) to cook, they could clean up. It took me a while, but I did eventually learn. Now I can cook pretty good, and I even enjoy it.

The Son of a Sea Cook school is a 28 day course, includes free room and board in Bayou La Batre, AL, and will get you set up to find a job as a boat cook. They’ll help you get your US Coast Guard documents if you need them. They have companies that look for graduates of their training programs to hire on. They even have tuition assistance and job placement help.

“Important elements of this training include soup stock, sauce, starch, sauces, roux, salads, menu planning, nutrition, basic food purchasing & production, costing, regional cuisine, cajun cooking, safe meat cutting & poultry handling, galley management, food-service sanitation, storeroom operations and introduction to baking.”

If I had to start all over again, I would seriously consider signing up myself. I’m SURE it would have been much easier for me to get on board as a cook then as any other position (as a female). Once you’re on board, it’s MUCH easier to work your way into another position if you decide you don’t like the galley.

If you’re looking for something fun and interesting to do, give them a call (1-800-237-8663) to find out prices, the website doesn’t list them. You can also check out their other courses if you’re interested in working on a boat (but not as a cook).

Busy Week: 2

Once again, I’m having to post twice since I still haven’t been able to fix the issues with my blog. The original (better- with PICTURES) post is on my new blog www.captainjillsjourneys.com. Please, go and follow me there! I hate it that all my followers got left behind in the move, but I can’t move you myself, you have to go to the new site and sign up again.

I was in New Orleans last week for the Workboat Show. I got there Wednesday morning, had enough time to check out the show and then walked over to the WISTA tea at the Windsor Court Hotel.

Some friends invited me to a party held jointly by the Massachusetts and Maine Maritime academies. It was high up on the 23rd floor at the W Hotel with a fantastic view of the Mississippi River. There were more parties to attend afterwards, but I was pooping out. I didn’t think I could stay up partying too much longer so I headed back to my hotel.

On the way I stopped in at Harrah’s casino. I played the nickel video poker machines. I only put in $20, but it was after midnight by the time I thought to make a move. I still had over $10 left.

After breakfast at the hotel (not worth getting up early for), I wandered back over to the show. I talked to friends at all the recruiters (C-Mar, Oceanwide, CLS). I stopped by my old shipmate’s booth to say hi and catch up on news.

I checked out some of the more interesting booths like the one promoting tall ship sailing for everyone. I’ve always loved the tall ships, that’s what made me decide to become a professional mariner. I’ve been trying since my high school sailing trip to recreate that experience.

I was hoping to find someone hiring at the job fair, but no such luck. There were no offshore companies attending this year and so no work available. There were a few inland companies there and they were hiring. Marquette, Kirby, Canal Barge). There were a couple of engineering companies (Downey Engineering, Schottel). The hiring companies were completely outnumbered by the hopefuls looking for a job.

The Show closed down pretty soon after I finished with the job fair. I headed through the Riverwalk Shopping Center and had lunch overlooking the river. It was getting dark and cooling off when I finished so I stopped in again at the Casino and wound up spending another couple of hours there.

I wandered over to the French Quarter and did some window shopping down Royal Street. Lots of interesting art and good music even on the street. I walked back to my hotel down Bourbon Street and wondered at my lack of desire to join in the party.

I was in bed by 11 PM. Up in the morning in time to pick up the rental car I needed to run down to Fourchon to pick up some paperwork from the Mystic Viking. I spent the day driving back and forth and got back too late to return the car.

I got up early enough to return the car. I wanted to go to the WWII museum nearby, but I found out there was a parade starting soon so I changed plans. I went to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art instead. They had a lot of really interesting stuff. Anything from the usual classical paintings you’d imagine belong in a museum, to ‘art’ I bet any monkey could do. I’m always amazed how those sorts of things wind up in a museum or why anyone would pay anything for it.

I left the museum in time to find a good spot to view the parade. It was fun to watch the kids lunge for the candies and beads. The costumes were fun and of course in New Orleans they weren’t what you would expect. Not just the usual cheerleaders and marching bands, but roving bands of Elvi’s and ice cream girls in pink stripes. I’ll write more on the parade later.

PS- I don’t think the pictures are going to stay here. I just copied and pasted them from my new blog. I don’t have enough storage space here to upload the photos twice. Please go to www.captainjillsjourneys.com and follow me. Thanks for sticking with me while I try to work out all these bugs!

 

Workboat Show 2015:B

I’ve got to get up early again tomorrow. I’m heading to New Orleans for the Workboat Show in the morning.

I’ll tell you about it tomorrow night, after I see what’s up and get settled in. In the meantime, you can get a preview here, or here to see what was going on last year. Or just search for ‘Workboat Show’ on the blog here.

 

PS: I add the B to my post titles because these posts are going to my BACKUP blog (my OLD blog)! If you like my blog, please check out my NEW blog. It’s at www.captainjillsjourneys.com. Everything was supposed to automatically be transferred over there, but apparently that is not happening. 😦

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. 😉

WorkBoat Show: Day 2-3

I had hopes of getting a little rest after the first day of the Workboat Show, but that didn’t happen.

I went back to my hotel fairly early Wednesday, but made the mistake of stopping in the lobby and ran into an old friend. I wound up staying there with some new friends from the fishing side of the maritime industry (they don’t usually come to this show- it’s more focused on the oilfield). We hung out til they closed down the bar.

In the morning, I got over to the Workboat Show in time to meet my friend who was there especially to check out the “Military to Maritime” job fair. We had some lunch first and then went to see who showed up at the job fair. They had quite a few booths. A good variety of both inland and offshore boat companies (Kirby, HOS, Chouest, etc) and land based support (Stuart & Stevenson, etc).

I was surprised to see that they weren’t all mobbed all afternoon (but then I left by 1345). With all we hear on the news about the levels of unemployment, I would have thought there would be a much larger crowd. I think they need to advertise the job fair better. It really wasn’t promoted like the Show itself is.

My friend actually got a job while we were there so he had to take off. I stuck around to talk to people and try to figure out how much hiring they were doing and get some specifics. The USCG was giving a talk about how to get started in the maritime industry, (specifically for members of the military), in a room off to the side, so I went in to see what they had to say.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After the presentation, it was just about time for the WISTA tea. I’ve been to a couple of them before as a guest, but I joined WISTA (Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association) as a member this year. I haven’t really done anything with them yet, but they do have some good programs. I love the tea, it’s such a nice atmosphere.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After the tea, the Show was pretty much over for the day, so I wandered over to the French Quarter to see what was happening over there (there’s ALWAYS something). 😉

It was really nice. The fog was just coming in and it made everything look so atmospheric. You could barely see the ships on the river, but you could hear them coming.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Now it was time for the party at the old JAX Brewery (sponsored by some of the companies at the WorkBoat Show). I had missed some good ones the night before, but I was going tonight! I met up with friends from C-Mar and Oceanwide (I worked for both of them in the past).

They had a fabulous (free) buffet and a great band for dancing. They rented out the entire place so we had room to spread out and the balconies if we wanted to smoke. Lots of people were dancing with the band.

We closed that place down and then hit Bourbon Street. We had a great time. I know I actually went home earlier than some others did. I guess I just ‘cain’t hang’ anymore. 😉

I drug myself out of bed again Friday morning and made it over to the Convention Center just in time for the seminar on ‘Training for the Mariner’. There was a panel of speakers representing different training providers and other interested parties (but very obviously NONE representing those MOST affected- the mariners).

I was hoping to hear some regards for the mariners who are the ones being forced into taking all this ‘training’, but nope, that didn’t come up. I was disappointed in the panel, it seems the focus is going to continue to be on more and more ‘training’ (most of which is going to be held on shore, at our expense).

I spent the rest of the day wandering around the show. I hung out with my friends from Oceanwide some more. Saw some other friends from Texas A&M. Stopped by a few more booths to say hi and see what they were doing.

I got to try out all the latest DP systems (that is my main interest now a days since I’m working as a SDPO). I also got to play with a tiny little ROV. That is a lot harder than it looks, but I think it would be a pretty cool deal to work with one of those too.

I was about ready to check out and it was a good thing, since they were taking down the show everywhere around me. 🙂

 

mini ROV by SeaRay

mini ROV by VideoRay

I hope I can go back again next year! There’s always new stuff to see, more interesting people to meet, and old friends to catch up with. 🙂

 

WorkBoat Show: Day 1

After a VERY late night, I drug myself out of bed to check out the WorkBoat Show.

I didn’t really plan on staying up half the night, but I saw on Facebook that a friend and travel writer was going to be in town for a ‘comp trip’. I had met her at a travel writing workshop in Boston a couple of years ago. After messaging back and forth on Facebook before leaving home, we agreed to meet up here in New Orleans after she finished up her work.

Turns out, when I went to meet her, she was in the middle of dinner with the whole group of writers involved on the comp trip. It was an interesting evening, for true! 🙂

I got back to my hotel about 0200 in the morning, but for some reason I just couldn’t sleep. So it was pretty hard to get up and out. Once I did, I walked over to the Convention center for the WorkBoat Show.

In the same Facebook conversation, I learned there was another writer (and fellow blogger who I met at the same workshop)  coming to town for the show. We planned to meet up too. The first thing we wanted to do was to hear Capt Phillips. He was the Keynote speaker.

Remember the Maersk Alabama, the American flagged ship that got attacked by pirates a couple of years ago? Tom Hanks played him in the movie? Yep, that Capt Phillips. He gave a good presentation and we got to ask questions and afterwards have pictures taken with him (I skipped that but my friend got hers done).

As the presentation was ending, I spotted another friend of mine from Kirby Towing. We stopped to say hi on the way out. That’s what I love about these events. I always wind up meeting so many of my old friends. It’s great to catch up and hear what everybody’s been doing. 🙂

I had a couple of hours before the next presentation. My writer friend was doing an interview with a guy from the Deadliest Catch, so I went to wander around a little bit and ran into some other old friends.

Father Sinclair and Doreen from the Apostleship of the Sea. They always have so many good projects going on to help the sailors and the maritime community. Sinclair still sails, but he somehow finds the time to get involved with all kinds of important stuff.

I went to the presentation on mariner health issues. I picked that one since I have a lot of concerns of my own about how the medical standards are getting harder and harder to meet and are being used to throw a lot of us sailors out of our jobs. It seems a lot of the companies want 50 years of experience in a 20 year old body. 😦

Spent the rest of the afternoon wandering through the convention center and checking out  some of the things there that I’m especially interested in. The latest DP systems from Kongsberg, MT, L3, etc.

I met a few more old friends. Hope to spend some more time with them tomorrow in between all the other events. 🙂

New Orleans

I’m off to New Orleans this afternoon. I’ll be there for a few days. I’m going to the WorkBoat Show. I try to go every year if I’m not offshore at work.

This year they’re having a job fair. I mentioned it to some people last year. I’m really glad to see they listened (I’m sure I’m not the only one). I think it’s a perfect place to have one. So many of these offshore companies say they can’t find the people they need to go to work. So many good people out of work. I hope it’s a success. 🙂

It’s being marketed towards military people, but I think it would be open to others too. Might take some talking? I’m not sure. This is the first one I’m going to where they’ve done it this way. The actual show is open to all and is FREE if you register online before it opens tomorrow. You can do it from the link (above).

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime- New Orleans

I love to take pictures at night. They almost never turn out very good but I keep trying. I was glad to see the Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime.

Here are a few I took the last time I was in New Orleans. I always try to go to the Workboat Show if I’m home. It’s usually in December. Last year someone forgot to reserve the convention center (duh). So they had the show in October.

It was nice to see New Orleans dressed up for Halloween instead of Christmas. 🙂

New Orleans (Workboat Show 2012)

House of Blues

House of Blues

OK, so sorry to all my faithful followers 😉 I’ve been SO busy! Since I got off work I’ve been going non-stop. I made it to the beach clean up (fantastic turnout there)! I managed to get some work of one of my rental houses done . I FINALLY got my taxes for 2012 turned in to my accountants (still was not really finished but there was no way to get all the information to them before time was up so I just had to drop off what I had). And now, I’m in New Orleans for the Workboat Show!

Yeah, its way early this year. Its usually the first week of December. That’s nice since the weather is cool and everything is all decorated for Christmas. It’s different this year, I didn’t think about it, but they’re already decorating for Halloween, so that’s pretty cool too.

I’m staying over a couple extra days to do some tourist stuff. I’m going on a plantation tour tomorrow and a 3-in-1 combo ‘witches brew’ tour Sunday night. I have not managed to get any pictures on the computer yet since I’ve been home, but just to whet your whistle, here are a few from last years show here.

Pat O'Brians, New Orleans

Hurricanes at Pat O’Brians, New Orleans

Preservation Hall, New Orleans P1010914 P1010923 P1010950

Voodoo Bar Bourbon Street New Orleans

Voodoo Bar Bourbon Street New Orleans

Street musician, Bourbon Street New Orleans

Street musician, Bourbon Street New Orleans