Smooth sailing? Not always.

The Continuing Saga of Princess Rosebud and her Tugboat Man

Day 30…thirty days and thirty long nights since my tugboat man has been away.

He’s on the move–closer to land–and his cell works! He called last night. Other than the five minute satellite telephone call on our anniversary a couple weeks ago, this was the only time we’ve spoken. It was so unexpected. What a surprise to see his name pop up on my screen!

I always ask the same thing, “When are you coming home?” The answer this time was the answer he usually gives me; he doesn’t know, it could be now or in a month. “…you’ll be the first to know.” Dry humor.

The unpredictable life of a mariner

Some mariners have a regular schedule: three weeks on, three weeks off or two weeks on and two weeks off or even a month on and a month off. In the world of ocean-going tugs, there is no such certainty. One of my captain’s recent assignments was estimated to last  two months and it dragged on for a full four months due to several factors–including weather related issues.


There’s always weather. Right now, the project he’s on has had a lot of weather delays. If there are storms, high winds, and high seas, it’s neither prudent nor safe for a tug to proceed, and that entails a wait or what they call “on standby” until it clears.

What do you think about that? Do you think that uncertainty is a relationship hardship?

Things weren’t always so idyllic for us.

Did you think it was?

Before we met (at the company where we both worked), the captain had plotted a career move to Hawaii. His goal; good surf and work, probably in that order. Our company was setting up operations in Hawaii and he was tapped to head up that division.

Guess what? A year later, he left. He did. He really did.

I do kinda still hate him for that sometimes…wouldn’t you?

I took him to the dock and had to say goodbye. I mean a real goodbye, maybe a forever goodbye; he had packed up all his belongings and they were on the boat with him.

It was horrible at the time and it makes me sad now thinking about how I felt that day…so alone and bereft.

Us–we–it didn’t end. Over the course of several months, we visited back and forth a half dozen times. I was unhappy with the whole situation–I had done my work, made my list, and he was IT. Hawaii’s awesome, don’t get me wrong, who doesn’t love paradise–but that wasn’t part of MY plan.

Oh yes, he was IT for me but I couldn’t figure out how to persuade him to move back and allow our relationship to blossom. I was running out of options.

What if he met someone else?

One day I had just had enough. I was sick and tired of having a sometimes he’s here, sometimes he’s not boyfriend. It wasn’t what I wanted. And do you know what I did?

I changed my telephone number.

That’s just the way I roll. My home number was a landline and I called the telephone company and changed it. I figured that when he called, he’d get the recorded voice saying, “The number has been disconnected and there is no forwarding number” and he’d become so distraught when he couldn’t reach me that it would be the catalyst he needed to come running back to me!


I didn’t have a cell phone. I had a beeper, a pager–remember those things? Now I think only drug dealers use them LOL. He had one, too.

I waited for him to beep me. I waited all day. I was DYING to know if he had TRIED to call. This was 1992-ish; email was in its infancy–I don’t believe we even had a home computer, and the computers at work didn’t have internet access.

This is the funny part.

I started power paging him; over and over again. I mean, like twenty times, thirty times.


I went to so much trouble to change my phone number and I couldn’t wait twenty-four hours. When he called, I asked him if he had tried to call the old number and he said he had (still not sure of that) and asked why I did something crazy like that. I can’t remember my response–I WAS crazy at that point.

[The quick end to that story is that I flew to Hawaii the following weekend and from there we went to Kauai and he said that I had wasted my time changing my number because he had already come to the conclusion that he couldn’t live without me and he didn’t want to live without me and he proposed and came home for good two months later and we were married nine months after that.]

Fast forward to yesterday’s phone call.

After we said our initial hellos and all that, I asked him,  “Do you ever get worried that I”ll change the number again and you won’t be able to reach me? Like when you’ve been gone a really long time and I’m getting tired of it? Like NOW?”

Him: (Laughing) “Not really, or if you did, you’d just call me right away to give me the new number like you did before.”


Now he’s turned into a sometimes he’s here, sometimes he’s not HUSBAND. The difference is that he always comes home–to me. Oh, and his paychecks come here even when he’s not. Hee Hee.

Final Words

It cracks me up when I hear “Somebody That I Used to Know“.  Gotye sings, “No you didn’t have to stoop so low. Have your friends collect your records and then change your number“…


28 thoughts on “Smooth sailing? Not always.

  1. I like the bit about you still getting his paycheck even when he isn’t around… I need to work out a deal like that!

    I’m not sure how you do what you do. My wife’s work schedule is bizarre, and I never really know when is going to make it home each night… and on the really late nights as the minutes tick by my mind starts to play out every bad scenario it can think of, until she walks through the door. And that’s just one night.

    A testament to commitment and dare I say (I do, I do): love. 😀


    • All I can say is that you need to NOT obsess about what could happen with the bad scenarios, although I have to say that when i don’t get an email from him for a whole day, my mind immediately starts to think he’s had an accident or the boat sank. Really, I go there so fast. Sometimes he’ll give me a warning the day before that he’s going to be unable to write or the satellite will be down. I know my last resort is to always call the company, but I’ve never done that. I just keep telling myself he’s careful, he’s safe. But yes, I understand your worry. Esp now.

      You work on that check thing 🙂

      On Fri, Mar 1, 2013 at 10:32 PM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


  2. Funny how our lives have some things alike but are a bit off…It was ME who ran away…I moved from DC to Idaho , away from He -Who-Would-Be-the-Husband and we both made other plans, but when he got a chance to be out West, he came to visit and we knew we were not supposed to be apart…I tell ya, when it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be!


    • My only advice for any would be telephone number changers is to wait a while…last night when he called, I told him what I wrote about and after all these years he was still laughing at the dozens of pages he got really even before he had a chance to miss me! (although he swore that he really did try to call the old number) Oh well, alls well that ends well.

      On Fri, Mar 1, 2013 at 10:40 PM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


  3. A year after we moved to NW Ont hubby lost his job through no fault of his own. Just a few days later his former accountant called to let him know his former business partner had died & the accountant was going to try taking over the company to save something for his widow & children. Hubby & N (his former business partner) had fallen out over a salesman N had hired. Hubby had found him stealing leads & was suspicious of some of his behavior. In the end, N bought hubby out of the business & kept the salesman. Said salesman went on to rob the company blind & falsify the books while N was dying of cancer. The accountant wanted hubby to help put the company back in shape so the heirs could decide whether to sell the company or keep it running. Even though it was an 8 hour drive, hubby agreed to go back to Wpg. & help out for a few months maximum. For about 3 weeks out of every month he would be in Wpg. & I would be in NW Ont. He would come home for about a week & then go back to Wpg. This carried on for 9 months. I found I liked the alone time & then enjoyed the time hubby was home. It’s still the same today, if he goes away I enjoy my alone time but I’m glad when he comes back too.


  4. I love that you can get angry with him, and later on both of you laugh it off.
    And I love that both you and him seem committed to each other even with the extended separations.


  5. What a wonderful story! I just love that you couldn’t even stand it for 24 hours. Great!!! And that Goyte song, I had always heard it on the radio, but never REALLY listened. Now, seeing the video with the two lead singers, (and looking up the lyrics at the same time, and reading along as they sang)m oh wow, it is so powerful. Thanks for sharing that story and the song.


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