How To Stay Healthy if You Work On a Tugboat

(Previously posted, but I continue to be questioned about what my tugboat man does on his long assignments.)

Have you given any thought to the daily life of a mariner working aboard a tug at sea?  

wheelhouse

Wheelhouse or bridge on a tug

Imagine being stuck for a couple of months 24/7 on a tugboat approximately 120 ft. x 35 ft. with several others; Captain, Chief Mate, Engineer, other mates and deckhands, and a cook.

It’s a fairly sedentary life with bursts of physical labor, but mostly there’s a lot of sitting and standing, as in “standing watch”.

Standing watch or watchstanding refers to the division of qualified personnel necessary to operate a ship continuously.

What is Standing Watch?
On a typical sea-faring vessel like an oceangoing tugboat, specific crewmembers keep watch on the bridge (also known as the wheelhouse) and the engine room. It’s a twenty-four hour, seven days a week job. Time is divided up as “watches” so that every one is on a rotation.

Someone has to be there all time, or else it’d be like a car rolling down the road with no driver!

On a tugboat, there is usually a team of two bridge partners, a lookout and an officer or mate who is responsible for the safe navigation of the ship. Safe navigation means keeping the vessel on course and away from dangers as well as collision avoidance from other vessels. The engineer ensures that the tug will continue to operate around the clock.

A secondary function of watchkeeping is to respond to emergencies on the tug or involving other ships.

When they’re not standing watch or working, the crew sleeps and eats.

They watch videos, play video games, and read books.  Most tugboats aren’t large enough to hold exercise equipment like a treadmill or an elliptical; consequently, there are few opportunities to exercise and maintain good health habits.

My tugboat man developed his own workout routine when he’s unable to go to the gym and he’s stuck on a tug for days – weeks – sometimes even months.

Neither one of us are licensed trainers but we both share a lifelong love of being physically fit and healthy.

My tugboat man used to be a goalie on a semi-professional soccer team, and has always worked out, lifted weights, martial arts, surfs, skis, and swims.

I’ve taken ballet most of my life, taught aerobics, and work out almost every day. We hike and bike and ski as our activities together.

Not my hubs abs, sigh...

Not my hubs abs, sigh…

This is a basic but comprehensive cardio and strength training routine. Unless there are dumbbells or weights on board, he doesn’t travel with them, so this routine doesn’t use them.

Because of the steel decks, there isn’t a lot of jumping around because that surface is too stressful for knees and other joints. If he can’t do jumping jacks safely; for instance if the tug is bouncing up and down in a storm, he’ll do high knees, high steps, or kicks. He brings a jump rope but can’t always use it.

Actually, this is a good routine to follow if you need a workout while you’re in a hotel that doesn’t have a gym, or even if you’re not a member of a gym.

Add a 5 lb. or 8 lb. (or more) weight for a set of curls, triceps extensions, and shoulder presses, and that’s all you need to be on your way to good health and strong bones.

A Tugboat Captain’s Basic Guide to Exercise
Performed as a circuit; depending on fitness level: two to five times. Starting with one circuit is 100% OK. It’s important to move around and be active at any level.

Start with three to five minute stretch.

  • 25 jumping jacks
  • 25 squats
  • 25 burpees
  • 20 lunges (alternate legs after 10 lunges)
  • 25 jumping jacks
  • 50 sit-ups
  • 25 jumping jacks
  • 25 squats
  • 25 jumping jacks
  • 20 lunges (alternate legs after 10 lunges)
  • 25 burpees
  • 50 push-ups (5 sets of 10)
  • 50 sit-ups
  • 25 jumping jacks
  • 50 push-ups (5 sets of 10) Alternate regular push-ups with triceps push-ups.
  • 50 sit-ups
  • If he can use his jump rope, he’ll end the session with a three-minute jump, or a count to 500.

Don’t forget to always end with a series of stretches.

Check out this video for some great chest exercises:

Beachy December Festival of Light and Color: Photos

Even though it’s the beginning of December and was the fifth night of Hannukah, here in Southern California we enjoyed a brief summery Sunday before a massive winter storm barrels down the coast from Alaska.

A late afternoon beach walk in Carlsbad with my tugboat man…magnificent sunset, boats, seagulls flying home. Not such big waves though, or he’d be surfing and not walking!

Maybe that’s why I get so excited for the WordPress snow to appear.

It’s the only snow I see unless we go skiing!

These photos have not been retouched. This is exactly what it looked like. AMAZING, right?

Decsunset6

Decsunset1 Decsunset2 Decsunset3 Decsunset4 Decsunset5 Decsunset7Decbirds

Remember the Merchant Mariner on Veteran’s Day

Merchant Marine recruitingposterMy tugboat man is a proud member of the United States Merchant Marine.

He is a merchant mariner.

He also served in Desert Storm.

From the little he’s shared with me, it was a dangerous mission. I met him right after he returned, but I didn’t hear about his involvement until a couple years later when I was updating and re-typing his resume. (On a typewriter!)

Most Americans honor those who’ve served in the military, and we can name the branches of the armed services — Army, Air Force, Navy, and the Marines.

Here on the Pacific Ocean, we always remember to include the United States Coast Guard.fightingMerchant Marine

Hardly anyone would think to include the Merchant Marine, which has long been referred to as the forgotten branch of the military, according to Jack Beritzhoff, former merchant seaman and author of Sail Away: Journeys of a Merchant Seaman. 

“People don’t remember that the Merchant Marine was around before the Navy —  during the Revolutionary War, the Colonies hired merchantmen to protect our shores and cargoes.

At the height of the Second World War, when I served, there were over 250,000 merchant sailors bringing supplies to American forces and our allies, getting torpedoed by U-boats in the Atlantic and strafed by Japanese planes in the Pacific.

There are a lot of historians who say that it was our merchant fleet that won the war as much as anything.”

Please take a minute to learn a little more about the maritime industry and don’t forget the importance of our mariners.

nowfor7seasThe American Maritime Partnership has given me permission to reprint some of their excellent articles.

OVERVIEW OF THE DOMESTIC MARITIME INDUSTRY

With more than 40,000 vessels engaged in domestic waterborne commerce, it is clear that this commercial armada is as diverse as the nation it serves. These vessels represent an investment of nearly thirty billion dollars.

Here are some more facts and figures that illustrate the size and scope of the domestic maritime industry:

  • A billion-plus tons of cargo annually, with a market value of $400 billion.
  • 100 million passengers annually ride ferries and excursion boats.
  • 74,000 jobs on vessels and at shipyards.
  • 500,000 jobs in total.
  • $100 billion in annual economic output.
  • $29 billion in annual wages spent in virtually every community in the United States.
  • $11 billion in taxes per annum.
  • $46 billion added to the value of U.S. economic output each year.

MAJOR CARGOS:

  • Grain, coal, and other dry-bulk cargos and crude and petroleum via inland rivers.
  • Iron ore, limestone and coal across the Great Lakes.
  • Refined petroleum products along the East and Gulf coasts.
  • Supplies for Gulf offshore operations.
  • Merchandise and construction materials to and from Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Guam.

The domestic trades serve more than forty states and ninety percent of the population.

America’s domestic trades have been the birthplace of innovations that transformed waterborne commerce worldwide:

  • Containerships
  • Self-unloading vessels
  • Articulated tug-barges
  • Trailer barges
  • Chemical parcel tankers
  • Railroad-on-barge carfloats
  • River flotilla towing systems

Click here to see a gallery of photos of vessels in the domestic trades.

Safety is another benefit that flows from U.S. laws regulating domestic waterborne commerce. U.S.-flag vessels are built and operated to the world’s highest safety standards. And no other nation sets a higher standard for mariner credential

Why We Need the Jones Act

AMERICA IS MORE SECURE BECAUSE OF ITS STRONG DOMESTIC MARITIME INDUSTRY

Under U.S. domestic maritime laws, commonly known as the Jones Act, cargo shipped between two U.S. ports must move on American vessels. These laws are critical for American economic, national, and homeland security, which is why they have enjoyed the support of the U.S. Navy, Members of Congress of both parties, and every President in modern history.

THE DOMESTIC MARITIME INDUSTRY IS KEY TO AMERICA’S ECONOMIC STRENGTH AND SECURITY.

From the earliest days of our nation, shipping has been the grease for America’s economic engine. Today, the maritime industry is by far the most economical form of domestic transportation, moving more than 1 billion tons of cargo annually at a fraction of the cost of other modes. Remarkably, the domestic maritime industry transports about one-quarter of America’s domestic cargo for just 2% of the national freight bill. Fundamental U.S. industries depend on the efficiencies and economies of domestic maritime transportation to move raw materials and other critical commodities.

America’s domestic shipping industry is responsible for nearly 500,000 jobs and more than one hundred billion dollars in annual economic output, according to a recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the Transportation Institute. Labor compensation associated with the domestic fleet exceeds twenty-nine billion dollars annually with those wages spent in virtually every corner of the United States. The American domestic fleet, with more than 40,000 vessels, is the envy of the world. Every job in a domestic shipyard results in four additional jobs elsewhere in the U.S. economy.

A small number of individuals and organizations support repeal of the Jones Act, which would allow foreign-built, foreign-operated, foreign-manned, and foreign-owned vessels to operate on American waters. The result would be to take a core American industry like shipbuilding and transfer it overseas to nations like China and South Korea, which heavily subsidize their shipyards and play by their own set of rules. Additional losses would occur from the outsourcing of American shipping jobs to foreign nations. Particularly at a time of severe economic dislocation in the U.S., it makes little if any sense to send American jobs overseas and undermine an essential American industry.

THE U.S. NAVY SAYS THE JONES ACT IS CRITICAL TO NATIONAL SECURITY.

The U.S. Navy’s position is clear – repeal of the Jones Act would “hamper [America's] ability to meet strategic sealift requirements and Navy shipbuilding.” Over the past several decades the Navy has consistently opposed efforts to repeal or modify key U.S. maritime laws.

America’s domestic fleet is an important part of the national maritime infrastructure that helps ensure there will be ample U.S. sealift capacity to defend our nation. American ships, crews to man them, ship construction and repair yards, intermodal equipment, terminals, cargo tracking systems, and other infrastructure can be made available to the U.S. military at a moment’s notice in times of war, national emergency, or even in peacetime. In addition, during a major mobilization, American domestic vessels move defense cargoes to coastal ports for overseas shipments.

During Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom (2002 – 2010), U.S.-flag commercial vessels, including ships drawn from the domestic trades, transported 90% of all military cargoes moved to Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Defense Department (“DoD”) has consistently emphasized the military importance of maintaining a strong domestic shipbuilding industry, stating “[W]e believe that the ability of the nation to build and maintain a U.S. flagged fleet is in the national interest, [and] we also believe it is in the interest of the DoD for U.S. shipbuilders to maintain a construction capability for commercial vessels.” A study by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Export Administration, reached a similar conclusion:

The U.S. shipbuilding and repair industry is a strategic asset analogous to the aerospace, computer, and electronic industries. Frontline warships and support vessels are vital for maintaining America’s national security and for protecting interests abroad. In emergency situations, America’s cargo carrying capacity is indispensable for moving troops and supplies to areas of conflict overseas. A domestic capability to produce and repair warships, support vessels, and commercial vessels is not only a strategic asset but also fundamental to national security.

AMERICA’S DOMESTIC MARITIME INDUSTRY MAKES OUR HOMELAND MORE SECURE.

As America works to secure its borders, it must also secure its waterways. Homeland security is enhanced by the requirement for American vessels that operate in full accordance with U.S. laws and with the consistent oversight of the U.S. government. In that respect, the Jones Act is as effective a homeland security measure as any federal agency could ever write and enforce.

Today, it takes a small army of Customs agents, Immigration Services officials, homeland security staff, and others to regulate foreign ships that enter and exit the U.S. in international trade, even within the carefully controlled structure of U.S. ports. However, there is no precedent for allowing foreign-controlled ships operated by foreign crews to move freely throughout the tens of thousands of miles of America’s navigational “bloodstream.” Inland lakes, rivers and waterways go to virtually every corner of the nation.

There is considerable uncertainty about what laws would apply to a foreign shipping company operating in U.S. domestic commerce if the Jones Act were repealed. However, it is certain that the task of monitoring, regulating, and overseeing potentially tens of thousands of foreign-controlled, foreign-crewed vessels in internal U.S. commerce would be difficult at best and fruitless at worst. Repeal or modification of the key domestic maritime laws would make America more vulnerable and less secure.

U.S. MARITIME LAWS ENSURE A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD FOR AMERICAN BUSINESSES.

American domestic maritime laws ensure a level playing field by requiring that all shipping and shipbuilding companies that operate in U.S. domestic commerce play by the same set of rules. Allowing foreign companies to operate in the U.S. outside of our immigration, employment, safety, environmental, tax, labor, and others laws would be unfair. American laws are often stricter than the laws that govern shipping and shipbuilding in international trades. No other industry operates exclusively in American domestic commerce yet outside of our laws (e.g., paying third world wages to its employees). No country in the world would – or does – permit businesses to operate domestically without complying with its national and local laws. Companies that do business here must fully obey American laws, regulations and other rules.

CONCLUSION: IT’S ABOUT SECURITY

You don’t need to be an expert in the maritime industry to know that repeal or modification of the key domestic maritime laws would make America less secure economically and militarily. Repeal of those laws would provide little benefit while making America more vulnerable.

KRISTALLNACHT. Never Forget.

19381011_NYT_frontpage_Kristallnacht

My grandfather was a rabbi; although he had already emigrated from Hungary at the the turn of the century, my mom assured me that it most definitely COULD happen again and we should never forget

From The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

On November 9–10, 1938, the Nazis staged vicious pogroms—state sanctioned, anti-Jewish riots—against the Jewish community of Germany.

These came to be known as Kristallnacht (now commonly translated as “Night of Broken Glass”), a reference to the untold numbers of broken windows of synagogues, Jewish-owned stores, community centers, and homes plundered and destroyed during the pogroms.

Encouraged by the Nazi regime, the rioters burned or destroyed 267 synagogues, vandalized or looted 7,500 Jewish businesses, and killed at least 91 Jewish people.

They also damaged many Jewish cemeteries, hospitals, schools, and homes as police and fire brigades stood aside. Kristallnacht was a turning point in history. The pogroms marked an intensification of Nazi anti-Jewish policy that would culminate in the Holocaust—the systematic, state-sponsored murder of Jews.

My brother sent me an email and I got his permission to reprint it as a post. It’s brief but powerful and reminded me that we must always be vigilant against hatred.

This week my wife and I went to the Oregon Holocaust Memorial. We had an intense and unsettling experience.  The memorial is in a hilly wooded park near downtown. We started off in a European town square setting, a cozy stone bench. Everything was covered in leaves from the trees around it. We noticed a doll (sculpture) had been left behind on the bench. As we walked down the cobblestone path other items had been left. The cobblestones gradually turned into railroad ties. The path ends at a large curved stone structure with the story of the Holocaust. It has powerful quotes from some of Oregon‘s Holocaust survivors. The structure rests on a huge boulder that covers dirt from each of the death camps. On the back of the structure are names of some Jews who died in the Holocaust and their Oregon relatives. The names are engraved on shiny black stone. As I walked along reading the names I could see my own image reflected in the stone. We’ve been wanting to visit this memorial for years, but kept putting it off. For me, part of being a Jew is finding the courage to walk around while carrying a heavy load of vulnerability and grief inside.  State sponsored anti-Semitism “could” happen here. It probably won’t. But if it does, I won’t go passively to the camps. We all have developed ways of coping that work for us.

Laughing and crying
You know it’s the same release
-Joni Mitchell

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
-Dylan Thomas

I Said “Seaman”, NOT “Semen”. SHEESH. Grow Up, Would Ya?

With regard to the recently released film, “Captain Phillips” about the ship that was boarded by pirates, I am boycotting it. I forced my very handsome tugboat man to audition, and he went through two videotaped auditions (including sides, which is part of the script) and he was NOT hired for a major role. I believe it’s because he’s so blindingly beautiful that he would have grabbed the spotlight from Tom Hanks, who MUST have felt threatened.  My hub’s audition tape was AWESOME. So. There you have it.
______________________________________________________________________

Not this!sperm from etsy But THIS4780_CruiseShip+Captain

I thought it’d be fun and informative to conduct an interview of my seaMAN, my merchant mariner, my tugboat captain, my sometimes-he’s-here-sometimes-he’s not husband of nineteen years. What kind of man is the husband of Princess Rosebud? What’s it like being a merchant seaman? He didn’t always go out to sea for months at a time. We met in 1991 at a local boat company where he was the master captain of several vessels and I was in the marketing department, and he worked around our harbor for many years.

It was “annoy” at first sight…

I’ve written about our love story in “Just a cup of coffee” and “Just a cup of coffee, part two”  with many more chapters in draft form as the story unfolds.

As you’ll see, he’s pretty serious when discussing his career; otherwise he has a very dry sense of humor, not too snarky. He’s really a very good natured, even tempered guy. Like I always say, he’s the turtle to my rabbit.

On an enchanting side note, as I walked out of Trader Joe’s this morning, a homeless man told me I had a beautiful smile. Life is good, y’all. A compliment is a compliment. It was appreciated!

Let’s Play!

Twenty Questions for a Merchant Seaman

The interview of this mariner took place while he was home between assignments. He’s a professional mariner, an academy graduate, and has been in the tug and tow industry for a quarter of a century. He’s also captained 700 passenger vessels and worked in just about every aspect of the maritime industry (except fishing).

Thank you to TheFurFiles, tonettejoycefoodfriendsfamily, ibdesignsusa and  Yvonne La Brecque Deane for playing along and submitting questions.

WORK-RELATED QUESTIONS:

Not his tug, just an example of the type of work he does.

Not his tug, just an example of the type of work he does.

What types of boats do you work on?
Mostly I work on vessels of limited tonnage-under 3000 tons. I’ve worked on numerous unlimited tonnage ships but currently am assigned to work boats and tugs.

Do you think it’s a good career for young people to pursue?
I think it’s is a good career, but it’s not for everyone. You have to be able to live for long periods of time in close quarters with others, and it’s difficult to be away from home.  It hasn’t been dramatically effected by the downturn in the economy.

Can you talk a little about the adjustment period from being home to being stuck on a boat 24/7 in cramped quarters.
The worst is right when you report aboard find your room, bed, etc. it takes a couple of days for the pain of being away dulls then you get into a routine of standing watch and life aboard ship and your new shipmates then things settle down and its not that bad.

What do you eat while you’re out to sea?
I’m a vegetarian which makes it a bit challenging. I eat a lot of brown rice and lentils and vegetables; sometimes seafood. We stock up on high quality foods unless we’re away from port for extended periods of time, then most of the food has to come out of the freezer.

Does everyone cook his/her own food?
Most boats I’m on have a cook on board. Every once in a while I’ll bake for the crew and email Rosebud for a recipe and a coaching session–I’ve made apple pies and brownies and banana bread. She’s a great instructor.

What do you do out to sea when you’re not working?
I work out, do my knot tying, read, watch videos, listen to music, and play my ukelele.

I know that you were involved in Desert Storm. Can you talk about what role you played?
Yes, it wasn’t much but the ship I was on was prepared to support the war effort. We were loaded up with military equipment some of the exploding type but were redirected when the bombing stopped and did not reach the Gulf.

What do you do nowadays in times of conflict?
Even if we are not directly involved with the support effort, our service is important. Keeping our credentials current gives the US a support force that can be called during times of war. This has happened throughout US history.

What do you do with a dead body?
We follow the orders of the medical adviser.

What do you do if you need to restrain a crew member because of a mental break or a crime?
Restrict them to their room, or lock them in if necessary. Otherwise restrain them somehow. ZipTies work without hand cuffs until the next port of call.

How far is too far for the United States Coast Guard to make a medical rescue?
I think about 1000 miles.

Have you encountered pirates?
Not directly,  but I ‘ve been in dangerous waters where there was an elevated risk.

What’s the smallest craft you’ve encountered on the high seas?
An ocean going row boat.

What is the biggest drama that’s taken place while on duty?
Usually it has to do with unruly crew members causing trouble with other crew members or while ashore; getting into fights etc.

Have you ever been near a tsunami?
I haven’t experienced a tsunami, but have been offshore enough times during tsunami warnings. It’s n eerie feeling when you are offshore when that happens–actually being far offshore is safe because you rarely feel the effect of a tsunami in deep water.

What is the Jones Act?
Jones Act laws are what’s left of US job protectionism. We should protect the laws that protect US jobs. Without laws like these, we would lose our jobs to cheaper foreign labor. This doesn’t necessarily mean that foreigners are less safe. There are very professional foreign flag merchant mariners world wide, but most countries have the same protectionism which would prevent me from taking their work. The anti Jones Act drive predominantly rides along the lines of cruise ships which are just about all foreign flagged vessels. It is a complicated thing that gets distorted. It’s all about profit. Proponents of Jones Act laws are claim that in order to remain competitive…blah blah blah, we need to rescind these laws. They claim that since most of our products imported and exported are done so by ship, the cost of transporting these goods by US standards are hindered by the high cost of US labor. Relatively speaking, US seaman rates are higher than internationally, but in the big scheme of things our labor merely cuts into the higher profit margins that big companies would gain and do gain when they re-flag their fleets. APL (American President Lines) a company that benefited from Jones Act laws during WWI and WWII by giving them priority in carrying US goods to and from war zones have now shifted most of their assets into the foreign market. Most APL ships you see today fly foreign flags and carry foreign crews. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the end of the Jones Act in my lifetime. In the world of Costco and Walmart, its all about the cheapest goods. My job is expendable if a pair of jeans can be purchased for ten bucks.

How important is it to the economy to have a vibrant merchant fleet?
It is important to the economy to import and export goods. This has to be done by ship or barge. It is nice to buy “Made in the US”, but there is nothing wrong with buying foreign either as long as US manufacturers can compete fairly in the international market. US is restricted by environmental and labor laws that most foreign companies are not, making it very unfair for US manufactures to compete both in the domestic and overseas market. The US jobs that our merchant fleet create are in the hundreds of thousands I’m sure, but is a relatively small job creator in the big realm of things. Keeping a strong US merchant fleet provides good paying jobs to a whole bunch of people all around the country.

PERSONAL QUESTIONS; HE’S A MAN OF FEW WORDS, NOT LIKE ME!

At the time you met Princess Rosebud, did you ever think she was going to be your future wife?
Probably not at the time, I was a bit lost then, and now I’m not lost.

When will the next ChaCha purchase take place?
2028.

What do you love most about your lovely wife?
I love how she makes the most awesome homecomings that last for weeks on end and that she loves the simple things I bring home for her, like rocks and shells and stuff that washes ashore. She loves the other stuff too, but it’s not all about the nice things that I can’t always afford.

What’s your favorite movie?
Apollo 13,  Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan.

What’s your favorite food?
I love my wife’s cooking, her homemade granola, tuna melts, all of her desserts, that chocolate swirl bread, and buckwheat pancakes. I really like to eat.

What do you like to do when you come home?
It takes a while to catch up on sleep and adjust to a different schedule. I take a lot of naps for the first few days. I try to get back to the gym immediately. Of course, I’m sure you’ve read about all the surfing I do and now that I have a standup paddleboard–like Rosebud said, “no wave’s too small”, and that’s pretty much the truth. We like to hike and camp, too. What I really like to do is drive my princess around on her many daily errands from the grocery store to shopping excursions. It helps to bring me back to a normal life, as does the list of chores and projects around the house and yard.

boat_captain_fisherman_t_shirt-r3d30f65e60844ccda55bfb7dcd4b615a_804gs_512

SAILOR MERRY: Gay seaman won’t be charged for having ‘unnatural’ sex in cheating case (vancouverdesi.com)

The Roller Coaster Life of a Professional Mariner’s Wife

The sea is calling

We’re in the parking lot at Trader Joe’s – collect the re-usable bags from the back seat — to replenish the empty pantry after our vacation.

A cell phone rings.

“Is that your phone or mine?”

“It’s mine. [He looks at the screen] It’s work.”

“What is it, do they have ESP? How did they know you were back home?”

“I’ll meet you in the store when I’m finished with the call.”

[A few minutes later in the yogurt section]

“They want to know if I’m available to pick up a newly built tug from a shipyard and take it through the Panama Canal.”

“Uh oh. Are you SERIOUS? When?”

“Day after tomorrow.”

“WHAT?? Crap. For how long?”

“Altogether, about two months.”

“But we just got home!  You’re not supposed to leave for two more weeks. That’s not fair.”

“I know, it sucks.”

[He doesn't look too sad.]

“Hey, you’re not fooling me. Don’t act like you’re not excited to drive a brand new boat. It’s like a new car, all shiny and clean, right?”

“Well, I have to admit it does sound exciting, but I’m not happy to go. I’m never happy to leave.”

“Fine. I guess we better start getting you ready. We only have one more day together.”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Only fish in the seaSIGH…the plan is to keep busy by downloading and organizing pics and video of our trip — we shot video of the most intense thunderstorm either of us have ever experienced — and trying to read my journal’s scribbles. Home before Thanksgiving, fingers crossed…

Anchor Heart

Remember the Merchant Mariner on Veteran’s Day

Merchant Marine recruitingposterMy tugboat man is a proud member of the United States Merchant Marine.

He is a merchant mariner.

He also served in Desert Storm.

From the little he’s shared with me, it was a dangerous mission. I met him right after he returned, but I didn’t hear about his involvement until a couple years later when I was updating and re-typing his resume. (On a typewriter!)

Most Americans honor those who’ve served in the military, and we can name the branches of the armed services — Army, Air Force, Navy, and the Marines.

Here on the Pacific Ocean, we always remember to include the United States Coast Guard.fightingMerchant Marine

Hardly anyone would think to include the Merchant Marine, which has long been referred to as the forgotten branch of the military, according to Jack Beritzhoff, former merchant seaman and author of Sail Away: Journeys of a Merchant Seaman. 

“People don’t remember that the Merchant Marine was around before the Navy —  during the Revolutionary War, the Colonies hired merchantmen to protect our shores and cargoes.

At the height of the Second World War, when I served, there were over 250,000 merchant sailors bringing supplies to American forces and our allies, getting torpedoed by U-boats in the Atlantic and strafed by Japanese planes in the Pacific.

There are a lot of historians who say that it was our merchant fleet that won the war as much as anything.”

Please take a minute to learn a little more about the maritime industry and don’t forget the importance of our mariners.

nowfor7seasThe American Maritime Partnership has given me permission to reprint some of their excellent articles.

OVERVIEW OF THE DOMESTIC MARITIME INDUSTRY

With more than 40,000 vessels engaged in domestic waterborne commerce, it is clear that this commercial armada is as diverse as the nation it serves. These vessels represent an investment of nearly thirty billion dollars.

Here are some more facts and figures that illustrate the size and scope of the domestic maritime industry:

  • A billion-plus tons of cargo annually, with a market value of $400 billion.
  • 100 million passengers annually ride ferries and excursion boats.
  • 74,000 jobs on vessels and at shipyards.
  • 500,000 jobs in total.
  • $100 billion in annual economic output.
  • $29 billion in annual wages spent in virtually every community in the United States.
  • $11 billion in taxes per annum.
  • $46 billion added to the value of U.S. economic output each year.

MAJOR CARGOS:

  • Grain, coal, and other dry-bulk cargos and crude and petroleum via inland rivers.
  • Iron ore, limestone and coal across the Great Lakes.
  • Refined petroleum products along the East and Gulf coasts.
  • Supplies for Gulf offshore operations.
  • Merchandise and construction materials to and from Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Guam.

The domestic trades serve more than forty states and ninety percent of the population.

America’s domestic trades have been the birthplace of innovations that transformed waterborne commerce worldwide:

  • Containerships
  • Self-unloading vessels
  • Articulated tug-barges
  • Trailer barges
  • Chemical parcel tankers
  • Railroad-on-barge carfloats
  • River flotilla towing systems

Click here to see a gallery of photos of vessels in the domestic trades.

Safety is another benefit that flows from U.S. laws regulating domestic waterborne commerce. U.S.-flag vessels are built and operated to the world’s highest safety standards. And no other nation sets a higher standard for mariner credential

Why We Need the Jones Act

AMERICA IS MORE SECURE BECAUSE OF ITS STRONG DOMESTIC MARITIME INDUSTRY

Under U.S. domestic maritime laws, commonly known as the Jones Act, cargo shipped between two U.S. ports must move on American vessels. These laws are critical for American economic, national, and homeland security, which is why they have enjoyed the support of the U.S. Navy, Members of Congress of both parties, and every President in modern history.

THE DOMESTIC MARITIME INDUSTRY IS KEY TO AMERICA’S ECONOMIC STRENGTH AND SECURITY.

From the earliest days of our nation, shipping has been the grease for America’s economic engine. Today, the maritime industry is by far the most economical form of domestic transportation, moving more than 1 billion tons of cargo annually at a fraction of the cost of other modes. Remarkably, the domestic maritime industry transports about one-quarter of America’s domestic cargo for just 2% of the national freight bill. Fundamental U.S. industries depend on the efficiencies and economies of domestic maritime transportation to move raw materials and other critical commodities.

America’s domestic shipping industry is responsible for nearly 500,000 jobs and more than one hundred billion dollars in annual economic output, according to a recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the Transportation Institute. Labor compensation associated with the domestic fleet exceeds twenty-nine billion dollars annually with those wages spent in virtually every corner of the United States. The American domestic fleet, with more than 40,000 vessels, is the envy of the world. Every job in a domestic shipyard results in four additional jobs elsewhere in the U.S. economy.

A small number of individuals and organizations support repeal of the Jones Act, which would allow foreign-built, foreign-operated, foreign-manned, and foreign-owned vessels to operate on American waters. The result would be to take a core American industry like shipbuilding and transfer it overseas to nations like China and South Korea, which heavily subsidize their shipyards and play by their own set of rules. Additional losses would occur from the outsourcing of American shipping jobs to foreign nations. Particularly at a time of severe economic dislocation in the U.S., it makes little if any sense to send American jobs overseas and undermine an essential American industry.

THE U.S. NAVY SAYS THE JONES ACT IS CRITICAL TO NATIONAL SECURITY.

The U.S. Navy’s position is clear – repeal of the Jones Act would “hamper [America's] ability to meet strategic sealift requirements and Navy shipbuilding.” Over the past several decades the Navy has consistently opposed efforts to repeal or modify key U.S. maritime laws.

America’s domestic fleet is an important part of the national maritime infrastructure that helps ensure there will be ample U.S. sealift capacity to defend our nation. American ships, crews to man them, ship construction and repair yards, intermodal equipment, terminals, cargo tracking systems, and other infrastructure can be made available to the U.S. military at a moment’s notice in times of war, national emergency, or even in peacetime. In addition, during a major mobilization, American domestic vessels move defense cargoes to coastal ports for overseas shipments.

During Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom (2002 – 2010), U.S.-flag commercial vessels, including ships drawn from the domestic trades, transported 90% of all military cargoes moved to Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Defense Department (“DoD”) has consistently emphasized the military importance of maintaining a strong domestic shipbuilding industry, stating “[W]e believe that the ability of the nation to build and maintain a U.S. flagged fleet is in the national interest, [and] we also believe it is in the interest of the DoD for U.S. shipbuilders to maintain a construction capability for commercial vessels.” A study by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Export Administration, reached a similar conclusion:

The U.S. shipbuilding and repair industry is a strategic asset analogous to the aerospace, computer, and electronic industries. Frontline warships and support vessels are vital for maintaining America’s national security and for protecting interests abroad. In emergency situations, America’s cargo carrying capacity is indispensable for moving troops and supplies to areas of conflict overseas. A domestic capability to produce and repair warships, support vessels, and commercial vessels is not only a strategic asset but also fundamental to national security.

AMERICA’S DOMESTIC MARITIME INDUSTRY MAKES OUR HOMELAND MORE SECURE.

As America works to secure its borders, it must also secure its waterways. Homeland security is enhanced by the requirement for American vessels that operate in full accordance with U.S. laws and with the consistent oversight of the U.S. government. In that respect, the Jones Act is as effective a homeland security measure as any federal agency could ever write and enforce.

Today, it takes a small army of Customs agents, Immigration Services officials, homeland security staff, and others to regulate foreign ships that enter and exit the U.S. in international trade, even within the carefully controlled structure of U.S. ports. However, there is no precedent for allowing foreign-controlled ships operated by foreign crews to move freely throughout the tens of thousands of miles of America’s navigational “bloodstream.” Inland lakes, rivers and waterways go to virtually every corner of the nation.

There is considerable uncertainty about what laws would apply to a foreign shipping company operating in U.S. domestic commerce if the Jones Act were repealed. However, it is certain that the task of monitoring, regulating, and overseeing potentially tens of thousands of foreign-controlled, foreign-crewed vessels in internal U.S. commerce would be difficult at best and fruitless at worst. Repeal or modification of the key domestic maritime laws would make America more vulnerable and less secure.

U.S. MARITIME LAWS ENSURE A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD FOR AMERICAN BUSINESSES.

American domestic maritime laws ensure a level playing field by requiring that all shipping and shipbuilding companies that operate in U.S. domestic commerce play by the same set of rules. Allowing foreign companies to operate in the U.S. outside of our immigration, employment, safety, environmental, tax, labor, and others laws would be unfair. American laws are often stricter than the laws that govern shipping and shipbuilding in international trades. No other industry operates exclusively in American domestic commerce yet outside of our laws (e.g., paying third world wages to its employees). No country in the world would – or does – permit businesses to operate domestically without complying with its national and local laws. Companies that do business here must fully obey American laws, regulations and other rules.

CONCLUSION: IT’S ABOUT SECURITY

You don’t need to be an expert in the maritime industry to know that repeal or modification of the key domestic maritime laws would make America less secure economically and militarily. Repeal of those laws would provide little benefit while making America more vulnerable.

How To Stay in Shape if You Work On a Tugboat

Have you given any thought to the daily life of a mariner working aboard a tug at sea?

wheelhouse

Wheelhouse or bridge on a tug

It’s a fairly sedentary life with bursts of physical labor, but mostly there’s a lot of sitting and standing, as in “standing watch”. Standing watch or watchstanding refers to the division of qualified personnel necessary to operate a ship continuously.

What is Standing Watch?
On a typical sea-faring vessel like an oceangoing tugboat, specific crewmembers keep watch on the bridge (also known as the wheelhouse) and the engine room. It’s a twenty-four hour, seven days a week job. Time is divided up as “watches” so that every one is on a rotation.

Someone has to be there all time, or else it’d be like a car rolling down the road with no driver!

On a tugboat, there is usually a team of two bridge partners, a lookout and an officer or mate who is responsible for the safe navigation of the ship. Safe navigation means keeping the vessel on course and away from dangers as well as collision avoidance from other vessels. The engineer ensures that the tug will continue to operate around the clock. A secondary function of watchkeeping is to respond to emergencies on the tug or involving other ships.

When they’re not standing watch or working, the crew sleeps and eats. They watch videos, play video games, and read books.  Most tugboats aren’t large enough to hold exercise equipment like a treadmill or an elliptical; consequently, there are few opportunities to exercise and maintain good health habits.

My tugboat man developed his own workout routine when he’s unable to go to the gym and he’s stuck on a tug for days – weeks – sometimes even months.

Neither one of us are licensed trainers but we both share a lifelong love of being physically fit and healthy. He used to be on a semi-professional soccer team, and has always worked out, lifted weights, martial arts, surfs, skis, and swims. I’ve taken ballet most of my life, taught aerobics, and work out almost every day. We hike and bike and ski as our activities together.

Not my hubs abs, sigh...

Not my hubs abs, sigh…

This is a basic but comprehensive cardio and strength training routine. Unless there are dumbbells or weights on board, he doesn’t travel with them, so this routine doesn’t use them. Because of the steel decks, there isn’t a lot of jumping around because that surface is too stressful for knees and other joints. If he can’t do jumping jacks safely; for instance if the tug is bouncing up and down in a storm, he’ll do high knees, high steps, or kicks. He brings a jump rope but can’t always use it.

Actually, this is a good routine to follow if you need a workout while you’re in a hotel that doesn’t have a gym, or even if you’re not a member of a gym. Add a five or eight (or more  – pound weight and a set of curls, triceps extensions, and shoulder presses, and that’s all you need to be on your way to good health and strong bones.

A Tugboat Captain’s Basic Guide to Exercise
Performed as a circuit; depending on fitness level: two to five times. Starting with one circuit is 100% OK. It’s important to move around and be active at any level.

Start with three to five minute stretch.

  • 25 jumping jacks
  • 25 squats
  • 25 burpees
  • 20 lunges (alternate legs after 10 lunges)
  • 25 jumping jacks
  • 50 sit-ups
  • 25 jumping jacks
  • 25 squats
  • 25 jumping jacks
  • 20 lunges (alternate legs after 10 lunges)
  • 25 burpees
  • 50 push-ups (5 sets of 10)
  • 50 sit-ups
  • 25 jumping jacks
  • 50 push-ups (5 sets of 10) Alternate regular push-ups with triceps push-ups.
  • 50 sit-ups
  • If he can use his jump rope, he’ll end the session with a three-minute jump, or a count to 500.

Don’t forget to always end with a series of stretches.

Check out this video for some great chest exercises:

I Said “Seaman”, NOT “Semen”. SHEESH. Grow Up, Would Ya?

Not this!sperm from etsy But THIS4780_CruiseShip+Captain

I thought it’d be fun and informative to conduct an interview of my seaMAN, my merchant mariner, my tugboat captain, my sometimes-he’s-here-sometimes-he’s not husband of nineteen years. What kind of man is the husband of Princess Rosebud? What’s it like being a merchant seaman? He didn’t always go out to sea for months at a time. We met in 1991 at a local boat company where he was the master captain of several vessels and I was in the marketing department, and he worked around our harbor for many years.

It was “annoy” at first sight…

I’ve written about our love story in “Just a cup of coffee” and “Just a cup of coffee, part two”  with many more chapters in draft form as the story unfolds.

As you’ll see, he’s pretty serious when discussing his career; otherwise he has a very dry sense of humor, not too snarky. He’s really a very good natured, even tempered guy. Like I always say, he’s the turtle to my rabbit.

On an enchanting side note, as I walked out of Trader Joe’s this morning, a homeless man told me I had a beautiful smile. Life is good, y’all. A compliment is a compliment. It was appreciated!

Let’s Play!
Twenty Questions for a Merchant Seaman

The interview of this mariner took place while he was home between assignments. He’s a professional mariner, an academy graduate, and has been in the tug and tow industry for a quarter of a century. He’s also captained 700 passenger vessels and worked in just about every aspect of the maritime industry (except fishing).

Thank you to TheFurFiles, tonettejoycefoodfriendsfamily, ibdesignsusa and  Yvonne La Brecque Deane for playing along and submitting questions.

Work-related questions:

Not his tug, just an example of the type of work he does.

Not his tug, just an example of the type of work he does.

What types of boats do you work on?
Mostly I work on vessels of limited tonnage-under 3000 tons. I’ve worked on numerous unlimited tonnage ships but currently am assigned to work boats and tugs.

Do you think it’s a good career for young people to pursue?
I think it’s is a good career, but it’s not for everyone. You have to be able to live for long periods of time in close quarters with others, and it’s difficult to be away from home.  It hasn’t been dramatically effected by the downturn in the economy.

Can you talk a little about the adjustment period from being home to being stuck on a boat 24/7 in cramped quarters.
The worst is right when you report aboard find your room, bed, etc. it takes a couple of days for the pain of being away dulls then you get into a routine of standing watch and life aboard ship and your new shipmates then things settle down and its not that bad.

What do you eat while you’re out to sea?
I’m a vegetarian which makes it a bit challenging. I eat a lot of brown rice and lentils and vegetables; sometimes seafood. We stock up on high quality foods unless we’re away from port for extended periods of time, then most of the food has to come out of the freezer.

Does everyone cook his/her own food?
Most boats I’m on have a cook on board. Every once in a while I’ll bake for the crew and email Rosebud for a recipe and a coaching session–I’ve made apple pies and brownies and banana bread. She’s a great instructor.

What do you do out to sea when you’re not working?
I work out, do my knot tying, read, watch videos, listen to music, and play my ukelele.

I know that you were involved in Desert Storm. Can you talk about what role you played?
Yes, it wasn’t much but the ship I was on was prepared to support the war effort. We were loaded up with military equipment some of the exploding type but were redirected when the bombing stopped and did not reach the Gulf.

What do you do nowadays in times of conflict?
Even if we are not directly involved with the support effort, our service is important. Keeping our credentials current gives the US a support force that can be called during times of war. This has happened throughout US history.

What do you do with a dead body?
We follow the orders of the medical adviser.

What do you do if you need to restrain a crew member because of a mental break or a crime?
Restrict them to their room, or lock them in if necessary. Otherwise restrain them somehow. ZipTies work without hand cuffs until the next port of call.

How far is too far for the United States Coast Guard to make a medical rescue?
I think about 1000 miles.

Have you encountered pirates?
Not directly,  but I ‘ve been in dangerous waters where there was an elevated risk.

What’s the smallest craft you’ve encountered on the high seas?
An ocean going row boat.

What is the biggest drama that’s taken place while on duty?
Usually it has to do with unruly crew members causing trouble with other crew members or while ashore; getting into fights etc.

Have you ever been near a tsunami?
I haven’t experienced a tsunami, but have been offshore enough times during tsunami warnings. It’s n eerie feeling when you are offshore when that happens–actually being far offshore is safe because you rarely feel the effect of a tsunami in deep water.

What is the Jones Act?
Jones Act laws are what’s left of US job protectionism. We should protect the laws that protect US jobs. Without laws like these, we would lose our jobs to cheaper foreign labor. This doesn’t necessarily mean that foreigners are less safe. There are very professional foreign flag merchant mariners world wide, but most countries have the same protectionism which would prevent me from taking their work. The anti Jones Act drive predominantly rides along the lines of cruise ships which are just about all foreign flagged vessels. It is a complicated thing that gets distorted. It’s all about profit. Proponents of Jones Act laws are claim that in order to remain competitive…blah blah blah, we need to rescind these laws. They claim that since most of our products imported and exported are done so by ship, the cost of transporting these goods by US standards are hindered by the high cost of US labor. Relatively speaking, US seaman rates are higher than internationally, but in the big scheme of things our labor merely cuts into the higher profit margins that big companies would gain and do gain when they re-flag their fleets. APL (American President Lines) a company that benefited from Jones Act laws during WWI and WWII by giving them priority in carrying US goods to and from war zones have now shifted most of their assets into the foreign market. Most APL ships you see today fly foreign flags and carry foreign crews. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the end of the Jones Act in my lifetime. In the world of Costco and Walmart, its all about the cheapest goods. My job is expendable if a pair of jeans can be purchased for ten bucks.

How important is it to the economy to have a vibrant merchant fleet?
It is important to the economy to import and export goods. This has to be done by ship or barge. It is nice to buy “Made in the US”, but there is nothing wrong with buying foreign either as long as US manufacturers can compete fairly in the international market. US is restricted by environmental and labor laws that most foreign companies are not, making it very unfair for US manufactures to compete both in the domestic and overseas market. The US jobs that our merchant fleet create are in the hundreds of thousands I’m sure, but is a relatively small job creator in the big realm of things. Keeping a strong US merchant fleet provides good paying jobs to a whole bunch of people all around the country.

Personal questions; he’s a man of few words, not like me!

At the time you met Princess Rosebud, did you ever think she was going to be your future wife?
Probably not at the time, I was a bit lost then, and now I’m not lost.

When will the next ChaCha purchase take place?
2028.

What do you love most about your lovely wife?
I love how she makes the most awesome homecomings that last for weeks on end and that she loves the simple things I bring home for her, like rocks and shells and stuff that washes ashore. She loves the other stuff too, but it’s not all about the nice things that I can’t always afford.

What’s your favorite movie?
Apollo 13,  Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan.

What’s your favorite food?
I love my wife’s cooking, her homemade granola, tuna melts, all of her desserts, that chocolate swirl bread, and buckwheat pancakes. I really like to eat.

What do you like to do when you come home?
It takes a while to catch up on sleep and adjust to a different schedule. I take a lot of naps for the first few days. I try to get back to the gym immediately. Of course, I’m sure you’ve read about all the surfing I do and now that I have a standup paddleboard–like Rosebud said, “no wave’s too small”, and that’s pretty much the truth. We like to hike and camp, too. What I really like to do is drive my princess around on her many daily errands from the grocery store to shopping excursions. It helps to bring me back to a normal life, as does the list of chores and projects around the house and yard.

boat_captain_fisherman_t_shirt-r3d30f65e60844ccda55bfb7dcd4b615a_804gs_512

SAILOR MERRY: Gay seaman won’t be charged for having ‘unnatural’ sex in cheating case (vancouverdesi.com)

Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain's Wife:

While I’m doing a zillion loads of laundry from our camping trip (why so much??), downloading photos, and organizing my thoughts to post “The Princess Guide to Camping”, I thought I’d tempt you with a little old post from a few months ago. Seashells is my name, seashells are my game…just a reminder that it’s not always all about Chanel!

Originally posted on Enchanted Seashells...Confessions of a Tugboat Captain's Wife:

Today is super hot and humid but I went to Pilates anyway, and saw a friend of mine who’s a nurse and she always has a handful of non-latex gloves or figs from her tree for me and I trade her tomatoes and cucumbers and clary sage seedlings, so it’s a win-win for both of us.

I’m really excited about all my clary sage seedlings; I have about 100 of ‘em that look very healthy but will have to wait for the weather to cool down to put them in the ground. Here in So Cal, October is our spring, and that’s the best time I have found to plant natives.

So I have all these seashells, right?  Prolly thousands of them, collected by me or presented as gifts, and I’m not super creative like everyone on Etsy and Pinterest, but I do like to embellish almost everything with…

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