My Wish

Sharing wishes with strangers makes a powerful emotional statement.

I agree. So for my contribution to the Daily Post’s photo challenge and discussion of the week, here is my photo and wish…

So many people argue that freedom is unworkable, impossible- but I think it’s really the thing that works best. It has been proven to be the best system for increasing the quality of life for the most people in every society that has tried it- (USA before we gave it away, Hong Kong, Singapore are just a couple of recent examples).

Like John Lennon sang, Imagine!

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace, you
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need
PS- I took that gorgeous photo on a recent trip to Zanzibar, the scuba diving was fantastic!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Relax

Here’s my choice for the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Relax.

I took it my last night on Zanzibar, before I began the hectic process of returning to America and back to ‘real life’. Stress of airports and TSA BS pretty much negated the beautiful peaceful month I spent traveling overseas.

Dance: Bali

Here’s another post for the Daily Post’s Weekly Photography Challenge (Dance).

I took this photo a couple of years ago in Ubud. I was on vacation in Bali (Indonesia) and spent a couple of weeks checking out the beautiful island. The people are so friendly and the island itself is gorgeous. It’s small, so easy to get around. There are volcanoes to hike, whitewater rivers to raft, perfect waves for surfing, great wrecks for SCUBA diving, and the art scene is fantastic!

I was told that it’s part of their religion there on Bali to make something more beautiful every day. I saw that they really took that to heart. Their temples are amazing, and the people practice music and dance to perform in the temple ceremonies. They have entire villages where the people just make one type of art: stone cutters, woodcarvers, painters, silversmiths, batik, etc. You could spend months there finding something new every day. 🙂

Dance- New Orleans

Here’s a photo I took in New Orleans. I think it’s a good one for this challenge (Dance) from the Daily Post. I loved watching this couple dance and listen to the band play in the street. New Orleans is really great for this kind of thing. 🙂

The couple was really dancing up a storm (swing, jitterbug, etc.), the musicians were all tapping their toes and swaying to the music and everyone was having a great time.

Dance

Here’s a photo for the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Dance. 

I took this photo one Friday night at the Fiesta Mexicana in Old Puerto Vallarta.

I was down there for a month getting certified to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL). Every Friday night there were dance shows downtown by the beach. I never got there early enough to get a good seat, it was always packed at least a half hour before the show started. It was a real challenge to get any decent pictures.

This is one of my favorites. The show started with Spanish dances. 🙂

Gathering: Bikes and Blues 2

This week the Daily Post is doing a challenge on ‘gathering’. They seem to be looking for something more along the lines of a holiday gathering of family and friends. The typical Christmas kind of thing. I don’t really get into that kind of thing much.

Here’s a gathering of a gathering of bikers last year at the Summertime Bikes and Blues festival they have in Freeport every year. I have a lot more fun at these kinds of ‘gatherings’ then I do at Christmas!

I like to go to this event when when I can. It’s local, it’s not too crowded, it’s cheap. I love the music, the foods good, there are lots of cool bikes to check out and I always have a good time. 🙂

Gathering: The Daily Post 2

I haven’t been up to doing many of these challenges lately, but this week the Daily Post is doing a challenge on ‘gathering’. They seem to be looking for something more along the lines of a holiday gathering of family and friends. The typical Christmas kind of thing. Maybe I’ll find something like that later.

For now, I’m thinking more along the lines of gathering in the catch. Like this photo from the tuna boat. I took it a couple of years ago, when I was sailing as captain on the Pacific Breeze, hunting around the South Pacific.

I actually miss that job. 😦

Please check out my new blog: www.captainjillsjourneys.com

Transitions:2

My response to the Daily Posts weekly photography challenge.

I took these at the Houston Museum of Natural Science a couple of weeks ago. A butterfly was just coming out of its cocoon. They have a beautiful butterfly center there. I thought it would fit this weeks theme of ‘transition’. 🙂

 

PS. Until I can figure out why this blog didn’t carry over to my new blog like it was SUPPOSED to, I’ll try to post here too (but it’s hard a lot of times even to post on the one site, so if you can- if you like this blog- please go to my new blog, it’s at http://www.captainjillsjourneys.com). THANKS!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: My Home- Afloat

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

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

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

Weekly Photo Challenge: Afloat

Here’s my entry for the Daily Posts Weekly Photo Challenge: Afloat. I have LOTs of good pictures for this one. Here are some pictures of the kinds of ships I see daily while I’m at work.

Yeah, they’re all afloat, tho I sure don’t know how a couple of them manage it. 😉

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Afloat

Here’s my entry for the Daily Posts Weekly Photo Challenge: Afloat. I have LOTs of good pictures for this one. Here are a few sea creatures to start off with. 😉

 

 

Shadowed: Bird Market

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

Shadowed

Here’s my entry for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Shadowed. These pictures show the shadows in different ways: shadows on the ground, a person in the shadows, a shadowy place (graveyard). I took these pictures in the famous Recoleta cemetery in Buenos Aires. I really loved it there. I’d go back any day!

I mean Buenos Aires, not specifically the graveyard. 😉

Colorful Creatures: Yellow

Here’s my entry for the Daily Posts Weekly Photo Challenge: Yellow. I had some decent photos of the brightly colored fish that they keep at the Houston Zoo. I love to watch the fish swim around and interact with each other.

I really love to watch the jellyfish, but they’re not yellow.

I go SCUBA diving every chance I get (which isn’t near often enough). I can see lots of fish like these when I go. I still can’t name a dozen of them, but there is so much life around a healthy coral reef it’s unbelievable.

 

Yellow: Submarine

Here’s another entry for the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge:Yellow. This one is more about things I see at work.

I took the first photo at the Maritime Museum in Aberdeen when I was there in July for the freefall lifeboat course (click the link for more on that). The museum is really great and well worth a visit. They had some great exhibits on the offshore oilfields, the fishing fleet and the square-rigged sailing ships they used to build so many of nearby.

Here’s picture of a ‘NEWT suit’ they use for deep water diving.

I took the next one at the Workboat Show last time I was home. They have it every year in New Orleans and I try to go if I’m not working. The show is a great place to meet old friends and make new ones. The big companies always sponsor happy hours to meet and greet, they’re a lot of fun and probably where most of the real business takes place.

mini ROV by SeaRay

mini ROV by SeaRay

I got to play with the little ROV (remotely operated vehicle) this time. Usually there are so many people trying it out I never get the chance. I worked for Oceaneering for years where we used their big ROVs to do all sorts of interesting projects. Similar to the one in the background of the top photo.

The ROVs were used when the work was too deep or otherwise not available for the divers (even with the NEWT suits).

I think if I ever lose my mariners license, I’d like to try ROV. It was a real challenge to get the buoyancy right, but I think I was starting to get the hang of it. 🙂

Yellow: Birds and Blooms

Here’s my entry for the Daily Posts Weekly Photo Challenge: Yellow. I really liked playing with the big, bright, sometimes blaring yellow flowers and the birds with just that subtle touch of bright yellow to set off the rest of their plumage.

2 bugs in a blossom

2 bugs in a blossom

What do you think? Do you like the big, bright blooms better? Or the birds in the background? 🙂

WPC: Twinkle

Here are a couple of shots of the twinkling stars and the last eclipse of the moon for the Daily Posts Weekly Photo Challenge: Twinkle.

I love trying to take pictures at night. So far, I have not been very lucky with getting my photos of the night sky to come out very well. I just got a telescope to play with. Hopefully that will help. 🙂

 

Twinkle

I just got back from a trip to New Orleans. I was there for the WorkBoat Show. I always try to spend some extra time there if I can. It’s such a great city to just hang out in. There’s so much to see and do and it’s such a creative place.

I saw lots of really beautiful Christmas decorations. Here are a couple of the Christmas trees for the Daily Posts Weekly Photo Challenge: Twinkle.

Photography 101 Challenge: Edge

Here’s my post for Day 18: Edge of the Photography 101 challenge. I think it’s pretty edgy in a couple of ways. 😉

Since I just saw the email from the Daily Post re:Converge, I’m going to use this post and photo for that challenge too. 🙂

I took this picture (and about 1000 more) at the Houston art museum. Problem is somehow I lost a huge amount of them. I have no idea what happened. I was glad I still had some left.

I like that museum. Actually, there are 2 of them. There’s the Museum of Fine Arts (FREE Thursdays) and the Contemporary Arts Museum (FREE always!) right across the street.

This picture is from the tunnel between them. They always have some good stuff to see and they have new exhibits pretty much every month. It’s worth checking out if you’re in Houston.

Achievement: Master Any Gross Tons

Here’s my entry for the Daily Posts’ Weekly Photo Challenge: Achievement challenge.

Master Unlimited license from the US Coast Guard

Master Unlimited license from the US Coast Guard

It might not seem like such a big deal just from looking at it (the old style was much more impressive), but it took me over 30 years of steadily working towards my goal to get one. I admit, it’s not usually THAT hard to get. It doesn’t take most people that long to get one (if it did, they wouldn’t be able to run all the ships we have running around the world).

This license shows the world that I am capable of running ANY ship, anywhere in the world (or at least that’s what it did mean before they started up with the new rules, there are some few restrictions now).

I know the usual path is for a person to go to one of our maritime universities. You can go to one of those schools and come out in 4 years with a bachelors degree AND a maritime license.

If you have the means to go to a 4 year university like that, you will come out with a 3rd mate license (or 3rd assistant engineer) and then you only need a year of sea time to get a 2nd mates license. One more year of sea time and you can get your Chief Mates license (along with a test). One year sailing as Chief Mate and you can get your Unlimited Masters license. So, you can become an Unlimited Master in only about 10 years, or even less if you’re lucky with finding the right kind of work.

That is the way MOST people get their license. I was not able to do it that way. First of all, I couldn’t afford to go to school for 4 years. I had to work. You can’t work offshore AND go to school. It’s really hard to be in 2 places at the same time!

Some people are able to go to Kings Point, the US Merchant Marine Academy. If you can get into that school, its FREE! I did try, but I was too fat to pass their physical. Then I tried to get in the Navy. Same problem- too fat.

So, I went to a 2 year program instead. I moved to Texas to go to the Ocean Marine Technology program at Brazosport College. It was a 2 year program that when you finished you would get an Associates Degree in Ocean Marine Technology AND both an AB (able body seaman) and a QMED (qualified member of the engine department).

It took me 5 years to finish, (and to my regret I never tested for the QMED so I can’t work in the engine department any more).

When I got out, I started working in the offshore oil field. I worked my way up from ordinary seaman, to able body seaman, to 1000 ton mate, to 1600 ton captain.

I started the OMT program in 1978. I was able to work my way up to 1600 ton master by 1986. It was NOT easy. I had a couple of strikes against me from the start. One, I was female and things were VERY hard for women trying to work offshore in those days. Two, I was fat. The job description is ABLE BODY seaman. Most people did (and some still do) discriminate against me for both of those reasons.

When I got my 1600 ton masters license from the Coast Guard, they gave me an unlimited 2nd mates license along with it. Like an IDIOT I gave it back to them! I had not asked for that license, simply because I didn’t feel completely confident in my ability to do that job. I didn’t want to be thrown into a situation where I might screw up and hurt somebody.

The Coast Guard officer who had just given me my license was shocked at my decision. Apparently no one else had ever given back their license they had earned before. But I was told that I could come back and get it at any time, whenever I wanted it.

BIG MISTAKE! The USCG changed the rules re: licensing without telling me (or anybody else). That was against their own rules, they are required to publicize it any time they want to change the rules, to prevent just exactly what happened to me!

When I did feel confident of my skills to run the bridge of a large ship, I went back to the USCG to ask for the 2nd mates license I should have already had. They informed me then that they had changed the rules and I could not have it. I would have to stop sailing as master/mate and go back down the ladder to sailing as AB in order to get a THIRD mates license!

WTF??!! I would have to go 2 steps down the ladder to earn again what I was already owed! I would have to work for a minimum of 3 years as AB to get that license back! So, I sucked it up and went and found a job as an AB on a ship large enough that it would count towards getting back that 2nd mates license I had already earned.

I was lucky to get a job with SeaRiver on their tankers. I spent a few years running up the West Coast to Alaska. I really enjoyed the job and they helped me get my third mates license. The only problem with them was, they told me they would NEVER promote me to third mate due to the fact that I was an “alcoholic”.

WTF??!! Yeah, I had a DWI, way back in 1982. When I asked for a promotion it was 1998 or so. Yeah, they consider you PERMANENTLY an alcoholic if you’ve EVER had any problem with it. WOW!

Considering their experience with the Exxon Valdez and the fact that they threw Captain Hazlewood under the bus to get the focus off of their company POLICY (which REALLY caused the accident), I can totally understand their reasoning. So I just quit. People told me I should have sued them over that, but it really wasn’t worth arguing with them about it to me (and I would have had to win millions since for sure I would have been black-balled).

For some reason, I decided to listen to my grandmother and go back to school. I had a bunch of money saved up. It was gone in 2 years. I had to go back to work. I took a job with Coastal Tankships as 3rd mate. I asked them in the interview if they had any problems with me being ‘an alcoholic” due to my long ago arrest for DWI. They laughed and basically welcomed me on board. 🙂

I had a great time working for Coastal as 3rd mate. I had some really great ABs that helped me learn how to be a good Third mate. I would have stayed there forever. But Coastal sold out to El Paso and they scrapped all their ships. 😦

I had seen the writing on the wall since the buy-out and had already applied to Oceaneering. It took them over 6 months to actually hire me. It worked out well, since it gave me the time I needed to study and pass my Second mate exam. Talk about STRESS!

I passed the tests and got my Second mates license in January 2002. On February 1, 2002 the STCW 95 amendments went into effect. Whew! In by the skin of my teeth!! I had been hearing rumors of this huge change in the rules, but nobody had any real knowledge of what was going on. Even the USCG, who would be in charge of enforcing these new rules had NO idea when I asked them about it in November 2001 when I was applying to take the Second mates exam.

The problem (again) was that they didn’t notify anyone of what the rules were or how they would affect us. It is a rule that they HAVE to do that. They didn’t. So, I got ROYALLY SCREWED (again)!

I should have been able to simply get my 1 years sea time as second mate and then sit for my Chief Mates license. Since they changed the rules (again), I would now be forced to (re)take a dozen classes (each of which cost a minimum of $1000).

So, yes, I TRIED to protest. I wrote to everyone from the local USCG office to the President. No one was willing to consider my arguments (the fact that they did not follow their own rules, the fact that I had ALREADY taken each and every one of the required classes). All I got from any of them was that the USCG thought the rules were the rules and had to be followed (never mind the fact that THEY broke the rules)!

In the meantime, while I was trying to protest, I started taking the courses whenever I had both the time and the money together. It took me over 7 years and $50,000 (not counting the lost income I should have already been earning) to complete the courses so that I could apply to test for my Chief mates license!

I FINALLY got it and then had to get a minimum of 6 months sea time sailing AS CHIEF MATE. It was really hard to find a position as chief mate and so I did just get the bare minimum. I was able to use a full year sea time as Second mate to fulfill the requirements for Master.

I got my Masters unlimited license in December 2011. I was SO happy. I could hardly wait to get outside the building and shout YEAH! FINALLY GOT IT!!

If you click on the link, you can see what these license USED to look like.

printcert.pdf