Turn Your Clocks Back and Read Another Old Story…

September 1991.

Yes, I kept my promise; no dates and no mistakes. There was the excruciating lure of nubile and suntanned young surfers but I stood firm in my resolve in spite of the half naked, salty-skinned–oh crap. Living in Southern California is sooo like opening up a fresh box of candy. It wasn’t fair, but a deal’s a deal.

If only I could have had just a teensy-weensy bite here, a bite there–oh, SO yummy–that one has a caramel center, or that other one’s coconut-filled, or a tart juicy cherry embraced by dark chocolate, or full of Baileys Irish Creamer–you get what I’m sayin’?  I’ll just bet you do. On my towel, surveying the beach, I wanted to take a little bite out of each one, so to speak.

But….I had to go cold turkey and avoid them all. Not one lick, not one taste.

I had a goal, I had a vision; I had my list–clenched tightly in my hand–WILLPOWER–it’s all about the willpower.

Here’s where serendipity might have had a hand in the convergence of our lifepaths.

In the beginning, I THOUGHT I first laid eyes on the captain when I was hired for the marketing department of a local cruise line.

Aside…because the whole idea of me and boats is a joke. I’m not what you’d consider sea-worthy. I’d only been on a couple of boats previously and became violently seasick on both of those trips.

OK, now read this – could it be the hand of fate that brought us together? Was our eventual connection forged a decade before ?
_________________________________________________

Was it luck or serendipity?

On a romantic evening In front of the fire with a couple snifters of Courvoisier, my tugboat man and I concluded that our paths did cross, not in a prior life, but…

In the 1980s he captained a charter vessel in our local harbor–tours of the bay, dinner cruises; that kind of thing.

In between going out to sea for four to six months, he’d come back to SoCal for a break and to surf-and worked locally.

Around that same time, my mom and I took my then five-year-old son on his first boat ride, a tour of San Diego Bay.

At that time, there was really only one boat company that offered daily excursions.

It wasn’t until we had been married for probably ten years or so– looking through an old photo album–when he saw a pic of my mom and me on “his” boat — that the subject came up.

(

That’s part of me and the Coronado Bridge. Obviously, my mom couldn’t take a decent pic.)

Since there were only two captains, and the time of day we were there was during his (remembered) shift, it’s highly possible that we spoke–or made eye contact. As captain, he always greets and counts the passengers while he collects boarding passes; especially because we had a child with us. Always concerned with safety, my captain.

Our ships DID, most likely, PASS in the night (day).

Did we each hold on to a momentary glance or imprint on our subconscious so that our path to romance was pre-determined? 

Why did I become employed at a cruise line when I don’t know much about boats?

I still have no idea.

That we met in 1991 might be interpreted as luck or serendipity. 

Which do you think it is?
_______________________________________________________________

Back to the story:  Was it merely coincidence–meaninglessly simultaneous occurance–or synchronicity?  We agree that it was meant to be. We’re two peas in a pod, me and him.

We mirror each other.

One of my first marketing duties was to attend a downtown trade show. I vividly recall my ensemble–and before you get all judge-y and everything, let’s take the year into consideration–1991–please be kind.

You know you looked exactly the same.

You KNOW you did.

I wore a short split skirt (dare I say skort) of silky polyester-type material (I know, I know) imprinted with brightly colored parrots (cringe), a turquoise blazer, and four-inch-high red heels. Oh, and they were LARGE parrots.  I’m five-feet-tall with very curly dark brown hair. You can imagine the style when I tell you it added five inches to my height. Nuff said–stop laughing, I have nothing to apologize for; it was the decade of big hair.

The owner of the company walked by our booth and introduced me to his senior captain. I played it cool; I’m good at that–just a quick handshake and then I turned my attention to the marketing materials like I was very, very busy.

I only allowed myself a passing glance his way, committed as I was to making a good impression on my boss. Plus, I was fully dedicated to my promise to celibacy and just because he was ADORABLE was no excuse to give in to temptation. Not even with those green-gray eyes. Not even.

Since I was on a “man diet, I transformed him (in my mind) into a rich chocolaty truffle
and successfully used my powers to resist–at least on that particular day. During the next few weeks, our paths crossed many times; at the office with brief hellos in the hallway, and with overt scrutiny during cruises when I accompanied some of the charters. (When I wasn’t stuck with my head in the toilet. I told you the truth, I’m not a natural seawoman.)

As much as I tried to deny it–I can’t lie–there were those familiar little tingles, goose bumps even, delicious frissons of attraction. On one hand I was fighting it with all I had, yet on the other hand I spent more time in the office than I really needed to.  A little extra makeup, perfume, a few new outfits–you know how it is. OK OK, I admit it! A smile from him did something to my insides, that fluttery butterfly sensation I willed myself to ignore.

I carried The List in my handbag and referred to it in moments of weakness, and for a while I was able to avoid temptation.

Here comes the good part, y’all.

In mid-November, I met with a client at one of the boats to plan a large corporate event. As we walked up the gangway, I discovered the captain was on board in the wheelhouse. I had no idea he would be there, and resolved to ignore him, except that everyone always wants to meet a captain, (too much Love Boat) so I was forced to be polite and make the introductions.

Here’s where it all went wrong-or right-depending on your point of view.

After my meeting ended, I did not immediately leave. I stalled, meandering around the small area of shops located near the harbor. I was so mad at ME; I tried to talk myself into leaving by going over The List and telling myself that I should be writing up the event details.

Just GO, I said to myself! But guess who didn’t listen? I found myself furtively looking around to see if the captain was still there. Since the whole chocolate visualization thing didn’t seem to be working anymore, I turned him into as a gooey, cheesy, spicy pizza and I used all my willpower to stand firm–to stay focused–recounting all the reasons why that delicious piece of heaven is not worth the calories.

I swear to you, I had every good intention of leaving and driving to the corporate office, I really did, but cosmic forces had grabbed hold of my good sense.

I was powerless. The hand of fate had me in her grip–and that chicka had been working out with the heavy weights.

Finally, I could find no further excuse to drag my feet and delay the inevitable departure.

I very reluctantly and slowly walked to my car, parked in front of a coffee shop, and as if by magic, the captain appeared.

I was trying to act all cool and nonchalant in spite of the fact that my heart was racing.

“Where are you going? Why didn’t you say goodbye? “What’s up?” “How about buying a co-worker a cup of coffee?”

I demurred, saying I had to go, I had another appointment (not true); uh, I don’t buy guys coffee, and he kept badgering me,

“C’mon, don’t be stuck up, don’t you have fifty cents for a cup of coffee?”

(That was before six-dollar lattes and Starbucks on every corner.)

“You don’t want me to think you’re a snob, do you?”

[pause]

That did it.

Of course you understand why I wouldn’t want him to think any of those things, right? RIGHT? It was a matter of pride; once he turned on his charm, I was hooked. I unearthed a few quarters from the bottom of my handbag.

Yes, I bought the coffee. It’s something I can’t believe myself.

My other credo had always been, “Princesses don’t pay. Men pay.” But buy the coffee I did.

Honestly, I was borderline pathetic. Not even borderline. I was hanging on to the cliff with my fingertips.

It’s like sparks were flying off his body. I made every excuse in the book to lean over and oops, accidentally brush his arm and cop a sniff. He smelled heavenly.

It’s that damn pheromone thing. I was–still am-hopelessly–magically attracted. He’s irresistible. And he knows it.

We took our coffee outside and sat at a cement patio table. It was one of those perfect SoCal November days–balmy even. For a few moments we said nothing as we sipped from our coffee and enjoyed the warmth of the sun.

Red lights flashed on and off in my head.

DANGER AHEAD! STOP THE MISSION! RUN!

Less than a foot away from me he straddled the half-moon shaped concrete bench. His thighs were encased in soft worn jeans and my thoughts were heading into hazardous waters.

His hair was wet and looked like he just had showered.

“What are you doing here? Did you know I was going to be here?”

“No, I didn’t, I had to update the logs, and I surfed a bit earlier.”

Ah, that’s where the wet hair came from.

“So…you’re a surfer?”

That is most definitely NOT on my list.

“I like to think I am.”

Scintillating conversation, huh? I thought that was a bit arrogant, a bit–AHEM–cocky.

Later I learned that he had spent much of his youth in Kauai and he really was/is a great surfer, but I didn’t know much about him — only what I was feeling.

As the conversation unfolded and we chatted–he told me where he lived and where he had gone to college, and–those thighs, oh wait–no, not that–of course I meant what kind of music he liked and that he loves animals–I found myself listening to his voice but not hearing the words.

This is where it gets weird.

And pinky-swear, it’s all true, it all happened exactly like this. It was REAL.

He looked at me and smiled.

I felt lit from within.

My heart melted. (Even now, his smiles affect me the same way.)

I sighed. He sighed. I sighed again.

That was IT.

Everything became quiet and a calm-before-the-storm sensation enveloped me. I placed my hands on the bench because I was suddenly lightheaded–I needed support because I felt like the ground beneath shifted;  waves that triggered that falling phenomenon just before you completely succumb to sleep–like a hypnagogic myoclonic twitch.

Faintly, I sensed the planets tumble into position, the clickclickclick… of stars aligning in the heavens; the sun, moon, Venus, and Mars at that moment were singing in the universe.

Did we just have an earthquake? I jumped off the bench like it was on fire. I ran to my car, unable to deal with the intensity of the moment. He was right behind me. He was so annoying!

“Where ya  goin’? We  should go out sometime.”

I was having a hard time breathing and fumbled with my keys as I unlocked the car. I leaned against the door for support and turned to him,

“When? Tonight?”

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not known for being subtle.

“I have to work a charter later, I’ll give you a call.”

And with that, I drove off.

Of course, I never went back to work. Who could blame me?

I raced home and power-called all my girlfriends.

I was in panic mode.

I reported every detail to one friend after another. I needed advice, I needed explanations. I needed to be talked down. But no one had experienced anything comparable. No one knew what to do.

I was on this voyage alone; no rules to follow. I was in uncharted waters.

That evening I did what we are warned not to do, what mothers counsel daughters against.

I was nervous and jumping out of my skin, but also determined to be 100% honest (also on my list). How else would I know if he was “the one”? I called and left a message on his voicemail. Remember way back when we used voicemail?

“Hi, can you give me a call when you hear this message? There’s something I need to ask you.”

He called a couple hours later. I was  on my bed, reading a magazine, pretending I was not waiting for the call…dreading the call.

“Hi there, it’s me. I got your message, but I was planning to call you anyway. What’s up?”

I took a deep breath and decided it was now or never–I needed to go for it…take that chance. DO it.

”Uhh, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about what happened at the harbor…I never felt anything like that EVER, and I think… I think…”

I took a deep breath and the words tumbled out,

“IthinkIamfallinginlovewithyouandwonderifyoufeelthesameway–orifitisjustme.”

“I mean, I really need to know.”

[Pause]   [More pause]

Oh boy. In that single, painful, heartstopping moment I wished I could hit delete and erase the last five minutes.

Palms sweaty, heart pounding, OMG, I am a total f-ing idiot–what have I just said–I’m insane, he’ll think I’m a freak or I’m exhibiting psycho pre-stalker tendencies–and then, finally, it seemed like hours of silence had gone by–I was gonna hang up and hide under my bed if he didn’t say something–he said,

“Umm, no, it’s not just you. I’m feeling the same exact way. Something happened to me today too,  and I can’t explain it either.  How about us going on a real date and let’s talk about it?”

I released the breath I hadn’t been aware I was still holding. That last planet locked into position.

I discovered my soul mate, my tugboat man.

There’s lots more to this story; some twists and turns and ups and downs, but the thread that ties it all together is how we found each other and fell in love.

Today: I wait for him to come home. And wait. And wait. And remind myself, “Don’t count the miles, count the I-love-yous”

Christina Perri, “Miles”

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Just a Cup of Coffee – The Love Story of Princess Rosebud and her Tugboat Captain – Part One

PS WordPress is playing games with FONT SIZE. I can’t change it, can’t fix it…

Reposted from a while ago…

Today:
Sometimes he’s here, sometimes he’s not. That’s the life of a tugboat captain’s wife

February 21, 1994

The wedding. Our song, our first dance as husband and wife. “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole

The Beginning…This is the love story of me, Princess Rosebud, and her tugboat captain.

We met when I was a year into my deal with myself to stay celibate until I met someone, uh, worthy

Easter Sunday, April 4, 2010… At 3:40 this afternoon, I was in the threshold of our garage door that leads into the living room where I had dragged in a ladder to help with my latest project–painting the living room walls a divine shade of seafoam green–to stay busy when the captain’s out to sea. I mean, I can’t shop ALL the time. A girl has to take a break now and again, right? I set the ladder down and went back to close the garage door. At that precise moment, the glass vases on the shelves surrounding our fireplace began to vibrate and wobble. Here in SoCal, I’ve endured a handful of quakes, but never such intense shaking.

Through the open garage door I saw the bicycles that hang from the ceiling sway back and forth. As I attempted to process THAT information, the crystal lustres on my grandmother’s antique porcelain candelabras clashed and clinked. Terracotta tile flooring in the foyer seemed to roll back and forth and I had a difficult time standing.

Feeling dizzy and unbalanced, I grasped the doorway for support.  My poor kitty gave me a dirty look like I had interrupted her nap on purpose. So much for the concept that animals can sense an earthquake–not this spoiled little brat.

I ran up our oak-planked steps into the family room and through the patio doors onto the deck and shouted out to the neighbors.

“Look at your pool!”

“I know, this is crazy! Are you OK? Any damage?”

“I don’t think so. A couple seashells fell off the shelf in the family room, but I was so freaked, I didn’t want to stay inside, so I ran out back. I don’t know if we should stay in the house or what we should do!”

“Us either! Let’s see what’s on the news.”

This quake was so violent that it caused the water in their pool to slosh over the sides like a mini-tsunami. We each went back in our respective homes and turned on CNN. We discovered that there had been a 7.2 earthquake in Mexico. The first reports that came in revealed a lot of damage near the epicenter in Mexicali, but no major problems in San Diego; only broken glass and falling cans at grocery stores, which seemed pretty miraculous considering the earthquake’s size.

Still spooked by the shaking and some pretty strong aftershocks, I surveyed the house, removing anything unsecured and potentially dangerous.

This is as good a time as any to confess something. I’m a shell-aholic.

seashell mirror

I’ve got shelves and shelves of seashells in every room–including the bathroom. Everyone collects seashells, right? One here, one there, as a memory of a great beach or a fun vacation, right? Well…I’m a seashellhoarder. I want ALL seashells–there are never enough seashells to collect or buy. I make things out of some of them–picture frames, mirrors, boxes–they line the walls in our two bathrooms and even our front door, but mostly they just hang out–in bowls, on shelves, anywhere and everywhere. There is no empty space in our house, and if there is, it’s quickly filled with a shell–or a rock.

After a couple decades, we have come to an understanding, the captain and I. He thinks I’m crazy and obsessed with shells and rocks and driftwood, and I don’t destroy his surfboards if he doesn’t give me a hard time about it.

I anxiously emailed the captain who’s half a world away in the middle of an ocean. I figured that if anything would cause him to cut his four month assignment short, this might be it. The way that emailing works in deep ocean situations is through a pretty inefficient satellite; sometimes it takes hours to complete the process. If there’s a real emergency, I have a phone number to call, but this didn’t really fit the definition. I wasn’t hurt and the house wasn’t damaged or anything. When he finally read the email and wrote back, he told me to “standby” at the house phone because he would try to make a call from the boat’s sat phone. When he called, I used all my powers of persuasion to convince him to come home, but to no avail. He simply wasn’t going to call the United States Coast Guardto fly a rescue mission a thousand miles from land to bring  him home because the kitty and I were scared.

Well, I know where I stand in his list of priorities. Hmmm, I wonder if this is when I hatched my plot to get that Chanel. Hmmm, I wonder.

After that stressful event, and many aftershocks later, some pampering was definitely well deserved. That evening, I drew a bath in the upstairs bathroom we call the spa because it’s decorated in earthy tones with seashells and beach glass surrounding the mirrors and along the walls.

(I know what you’re thinking, and I don’t care.)

I lit a fragrant and calming lavender candle, eased my body into the almost too-hot-to-stand-it water, and trickled in ginger and lemongrass aromatherapy oils. Sipping from a glass of merlot, I leaned back, closed my eyes, and my thoughts wandered.

Experiencing an earthquake; the dizziness, the weightless feeling in a tub of warm water; it all reminded me of falling in love. It all felt the same… and it all started with a fifty cent cup of coffee.

Newly divorced in 1990, I speed dated a few guys, including one totally boring and slightly scary man who immediately wanted me to meet his parents after the first (and last) date, along with a couple of total idiots whose combined IQs prolly didn’t equal my Border Collie‘s. Those unsavory experiences became flashing red lights–STOP! NO! THINK!–impossible to ignore–that I seriously needed to take some time off the dating circuit.

It was the perfect time for a list.

I’m an inveterate list maker; I prioritize my errands and even list groceries in the order of where they’re located in the store– like my own custom board game–where I start at the entrance and finish at the cash register.

I wrote this particular list with the hope that if I documented the qualities desired in a significant other, the universe would deliver the right one when all the planets were aligned. Or so I dreamed.

At midnight on August 7th, 1990, with a bottle of wine to seal the deal, I made a promise to myself–I would not date (or do anything else) for a very long time, and the next one would be “the one”.

The List
1. Must call when he says he will. This is non-negotiable.
2. Must show up on time for dates.
3. Must love pets. Also non-negotiable.
4. No cigarettes. No smoking, and of course, no drugs.
5. Likes to exercise, work out, eat healthy, etc.
6. Must have gainful employment.
7. Must be nice and polite and honest and trustworthy.
8. Fidelity is of paramount importance.
9. When the time is right and he meets my son, my son has to like him. Also non-negotiable.

Next: Part Two

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Burying the Lede. Again.

Picture this: last evening at 5pm…I’m still sick with the flu (but recovering) on the sofa in my flannel jammies, the ones with happy little owls sprinkled all over a turquoise background, drinking ginger tea (I’m always drinking ginger tea lol) and hub calls.

He casually chitchats for a few minutes about how I’m feeling and about the rain we had and then asks me if I’ve checked his email today (I check his email when he’s gone cos he doesn’t have access to it AND because we have no secrets) and I said no, but hold on, I’ll look right now.

I tell him there’s nothing there and he said, oh, I guess they didn’t cc me.

I said, WHO didn’t cc you WHAT?

No response.

Silence.

I start feeling a little apprehensive.

Not for any other reason than after twenty-two years, I think I’ve finally figured out that hub’s silences speak volumes.

Tugboat man-a man of few words-enjoys observing my mind make quantum leaps.

Oh, don’t even tell me, I said. SILENCE. Absolute silence.

AREYOUFLYINGHOMETOMORROWANDYOU’RETELLINGMENOWWW?

His response? Laughing. That’s it. He laughs.

So…boys and girls, after waiting and waiting and waiting, and thinking for sure he’s coming home on Tuesday,  it’s official.

Tugboat man will be home TODAY.

I’ve never met anybody in my entire life that could bury the lede like he does.

Now is the season for miracles and it’s gonna take a miracle to get me ready and to get some food and freshly baked goodies in this house.

Wish me luck, ‘cos I’m gonna need it.


 

BURYLEAD

FYI, if you’re a writer, you know this is how things are supposed to go!

Read about another time he buried the lede (or lead)

 

 

 

Featured image via Google Images by https://talesfromtaughlumny.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/pbear-coming-home1.jpg

my part-time marriage

You know what I hate more than my tugboat man’s delays that prevent him from coming home?

I really hate all the people who don’t stop asking me when he’s coming home and give me a sort of a snarkly schadenfreude look when I tell them I don’t know or you’ll see him when I see him–they invariably ask me why I stay married to a guy like that–why I put up with it.

That’s just so f***ing rude.

Or they make dumbass comments about how much fun I must have being single for 50% of the time and do I go out and party a lot and how he must cramp my style when he’s home.

Or the one that really gets me boiling…they wish THEIR men were gone most of the time like my guy, cos their hub is annoying, stupid, lazy, boring–or a combination of a few or all of those traits.

Since I don’t normally unleash my UBER-BEEYOTCHY side on the people I see on a regular basis, I’m doing it here.

Let me clarify…

We have a twenty-two year marriage that’s built on trust, love, commitment, strength, and respect.

WE ARE A TEAM.

We’re in this marriage together–TOGETHER–whatever it is, we deal with things TOGETHER– not as adversaries blaming each other, but we work on issues and problems as a TEAM.

Whether his career now takes him out to sea and offshore and away from home for six weeks or two months or even four months–it’s a blip on the radar of the love we share.

Oh, and for those who wonder if I’ve ever been unfaithful or if he has relationships in every port–let me tell you that I can be 1000% certain that has never and will never happen because our marriage motto is FULL DISCLOSURE.

We never keep secrets; there is no reason to–we’re each others besties.

And there’s no one in the world that could ever replace him.

And yes, even all the shopping I do (and the Chanels, whether it’s a necklace or a handbag)–it’s MOSTLY always discussed and is agreed to before it happens hee hee.

Physical distance is only one aspect of a relationship-it can blossom and grow no matter how many oceans separate us.

REALLY.


And here’s a little song from the one and only Frank Sinatra

 

(Featured image from http://www.newlovetimes.com/)

 

This is the life of a tugboat captain’s wife…

My tugboat man departed mid-September for what was supposed to be a six-week assignment.

In the world of the merchant mariner, that’s easy; a piece of cake.

He’s still not home and what’s today’s date?

November 22.

Will he be home for Thanksgiving?

Nope.

Will he be home the week after?

Hopefully, but no guarantees.

Am I complaining?

Only kinda, sorta, cos I’m pretty much used to this by now.

During the first fifteen years or so of our marriage, he worked in our local harbor as a tug captain and also as port captain of a tug company, and then with the downturn in the economy in 2008, he was offered an opportunity to return to his roots of long distance towing.

Not only is he a maritime academy (won’t tell which one) graduate and a high ticket tug captain, he’s a tow master.

Being a Master Towboatman is highly specialized and a difficult and often dangerous job.

Which is why if I don’t hear from him every day, I get a little (OK, a LOT) crazy.

Even though we do have limited satellite email, I haven’t actually SPOKEN to him in a few weeks, but tomorrow he’s going to bring one 800-foot-long barge into a port and exchange it for another one to take offshore and do whatever it is that he does (can’t tell you) and the highlight of my day is a PHONE CALL.

A TELEPHONE CALL.

Which makes me very, very happy!

So, in spite of my bestie not being here on this Sunday where Princess Rosebud (me) can make him his fave buckwheat pancakes, I am very thankful that I’ll be able to hear his voice tomorrow.

Gratitude…Take it wherEVER you can find it.

gratitudetexlagoon

 

Remember the Merchant Mariner on Veteran’s Day

And this year let’s not forget the thirty-three lives that were lost on El Faro.
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.

Being a Mariner’s Wife is a Constant State of Worry

Woke up to this terse email from my tugboat man:

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P.S. What he means by “go in” is sailing into a safe port, but now the weather is swirling all around him, and best practices dictate staying offshore. Oh, and “shitty” is a mariner term too haha.

I’m pretty sure I can speak for most mariner spouses when I say that we’re not completely calm unless our guys are on land — terra firma — and in our sightline.

There are just so many variables out there on the water; like that routine voyage from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico, which my hub has done a zillion times—can be fraught with danger.

IF everything goes wrong. Not just one or two things, but as in the case of El Faro, EVERYthing went wrong. Loss of engine power, taking on water, steering directly into the eye of the hurricane. Like that.

I checked the National Weather Service offshore waters forecast for the area he’s in and it’s not great: high seas and strong to GALE FORCE winds with a late hurricane season disturbance.

In mariner terms, winds are categorized on the Beaufort Scale. Here’s a graphic:beaufortscale

Even though I know he’s the BEST captain in the world-

Even though I know he’s the SAFEST captain in the world-

Even though I know he’s been through dozens of bad storms all over the world-

Even though I know all of that, the El Faro tragedy is so fresh in our minds that it causes more worry.

I keep the boat phone handy—just in case.

I monitor the weather—just in case.

I put the company phone number on speed dial—just in case.

The worry is a constant thread that runs right along with all my other thoughts.

Like keeping a tab open on the computer and refreshing it every couple of seconds.

The worry is there at the gym during an (amazing) kickboxing class.

The worry is there grocery shopping.

Watching television can’t drown it out, nor does reading a book. (Poor choice of words.)

It’s very stressful, and when retail therapy doesn’t work its magic, you KNOW I’m super worried.

Tugs are very sturdy vessels; I’m sure he will be FINE.

After all, we have to decorate the nursery, right?

b4435b75e99e6e0b77e1eef60e97db78To all the mariners out on the high seas, be extra careful.

And a little merchant mariner humor…

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When a Ship Goes Missing — The Other Side of Being a Mariner’s Wife

It’s not ALL about shopping ’til I drop while my tugboat man is out to sea.

From ABC News:

“A stricken cargo ship with 28 Americans on board that vanished during Hurricane Joaquin remained missing early Saturday.

Officials said there was still no sign of the El Faro, which was last heard from around 7:20 a.m. Thursday when a distress call indicated it had lost power and was taking on water.

The 735-foot vessel was bound for San Juan in Puerto Rico from Jacksonville, Florida, at the time. It was carrying 28 Americans and five Polish nationals.

Image: Cargo ship El Faro missing in Hurricane Joaquin
The container ship El Faro. TOTE MARITIME via EPA

Around 850 square nautical miles were searched on Friday and the effort resumed at dawn Saturday.

When the El Faro left Jacksonville on Tuesday Joaquin was just a tropical storm. It quickly grew in intensity and was declared a Category 4 storm Thursday as it approached the Bahamas carrying winds of 130 mph.”


It could be 1815 or 1915, but in 2015, ships still go missing and are at the mercy of the elements.

Even with advanced communications technology and state-of-the-art equipment, Mother Nature reigns supreme.

The terror of being lost at sea is all too real and always somewhere in the back of our minds.

That’s why I need to hear from my tugboat man every day or I start to worry.

It doesn’t matter that he’s one of the best captains in the industry; in a heartbeat, things can happen that are outside his control, and all it takes is a minute—for a disaster.

This is our nightmare.

Our hearts go out to the crew and their families.

P.S. My own tugboat man is sorta in the area, and he’s safe but I wish he was here; home, on terra firma.

My Tugboat Man is Gone and I’m Blue

It seems like I can just copy and paste the same posts because the same things happen over and over again.

It begins…

Tugboat man withdrawals. Cold turkey.

I took him to the airport at 4:30 a.m.

Once again there’s that lonely ride home.

This time he’ll probably be gone for six weeks or so.

Hopefully, but that’s what was supposed to happen last time, and it turned into FOUR months!

And because I try to find silvery and sparkly linings in most difficult situations, I came up with these…

blueskywrds

I pointed my camera straight up because the sky was so blue, more blue than I’ve seen in a long time. Not a cloud in the sky.

And so hot. Record-breaking hot. Drinking ice water all day.

And nope, I can’t go with him, in case you were gonna ask. 

Sky blue, SO BLUE — can you believe this is an un-retouched pic I snapped in our backyard? Kind of heart shaped, can you see it? If you tilt your head just a teensy bit to the left, can you see it now?

blueskythursday2

My old friend, Willie Nelson, singing “Blue Skies” by Irving Berlin

The Life of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife

This is so me when I heard he’s going to be helicoptered in to a remote offshore location…

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When he’s home, like he’s been for about a month, I can totally erase from my mind the fact that he’ll have to leave –a little amnesia — and when “the call” comes in, I get all cranky and whiny, because it’s time for the fun to end and my other life as a single woman starts all over again.

It’s another critical situation and so far away only a helicopter will be able to approach — and then what? Land on a boat? In the water? Will he be dropped down a rope? Loaded in a basket?

He isn’t here right now as he’s a a United States Coast Guard class for licensing maintenance (at least it’s local) but when he comes home, I will definitely get the answers to my questions, not that any of them will make me feel great, but at least I’ll know what to expect.

All I know for sure is that whatever it is,  it’s dangerous.

And I’d rather have him here, at home, with me.

But he has to go, and like he says, the sooner he goes, the sooner he’ll be home.

Or something like that.