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

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My Tugboat Man is Gone and I’m Blue

And so 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.

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. August 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 Sometimes Dangerous Life of a Mariner

ocean-quoteThe ocean is magical, but can be deadly, too.

Being a professional mariner means ongoing education, whether it’s Dynamic Positioning and other technology, or survival training.

(Read about Dynamic Positioning here: https://enchantedseashells.com/2014/08/29/why-would-a-tugboat-need-to-stop-motion/)

This is the part I don’t like to even think about.

How would you like to be trapped into a helicopter that was submerged upside down? Under water. IN THE DARK.

That’s where my tugboat man was.

He had about ten seconds to unhook his harness, smash open the window, swim out and up, all the while holding his breath.

AND WITH HIS EYES CLOSED.

It’s called “Helicopter Underwater Egress Drills” as part of Tropical Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (T-HUET)

You know what it really is?

A whole bunch of my nightmare scenarios all rolled into one.

When hub told me all about it, I could feel myself freaking out.

I’m not much of a swimmer; I HATE being underwater, and cannot even imagine how panicked I’d get in that situation, even if it was a drill.

The purpose is to “equip delegates with the basic emergency response knowledge and skills required in the event of a helicopter emergency with specific focus on escaping from a helicopter following ditching and
sea survival techniques.”

Yup, he’s leaving soon for one of those potentially dangerous oceangoing assignments  — not exactly tropical as the course title suggests, because he’ll actually be in freezing or below freezing temperatures.

It’s no wonder I require a daily telephone call or email and why, if I don’t hear from him, I start to worry.

Such is the life of a mariner’s wife.

 

My Tugboat Man is Gone and I’m Blue

And so it begins…

Tugboat man withdrawals. Cold turkey.

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

Once again there’s that lonely ride home.

This time he’ll probably be gone for a month or so.

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 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

Why Would a Tugboat Need to STOP Motion?

Yet again, I’m preparing to drive that arduous forty minutes to our airport to pick up an arriving tugboat man.

This is the life of a tugboat captain’s wife. They’re always going or coming.

Here’s a snippet of our conversation last night:

Me: “I had to put gas in the car.” (Imagine that I said it in a reproachful manner, kinda whiny, cos it’s a chore I HATE and tugboat man usually does it for me.)

Him: “Well, I hope you at least filled it, ‘cos I’m sure the only reason why you fueled up is because you were on empty.” (In a slightly know-it-all voice.)

Me: ” You are so funny. NOT. I did NOT fill it up. I only put in about twenty dollars, ‘cos I got bored standing there and plus it’s not my job. It’s stinky and dirty. And yes, Mr. Smarty Pants, it was on empty and I would’ve run out on the way to the airport to pick you up so you can see it’s all your fault.”

Him: “I just don’t get you. If you’re there with the pump in the tank, would it kill you to stand there for an extra couple of minutes? It’s only logical, right? Makes sense, right?”

Me: “Logical? Me? Who do you think you’re talking to?”

Although he was gone the entire week, continually bemoaning the fact that he missed the giant surf, this time he wasn’t out to sea.

Did you know that professional mariners need to attend lots of continuing education classes?

That involves everything from keeping up with USCG (United States Coast Guard) licensing requirements, enhanced security procedures, managing a crew, practicing medical lifesaving techniques (because captains are the medical officers onboard tugboats), fire safety and prevention, and radar.

There’s lots more but I can’t remember it all right now.

This time he was learning and being certified in something called Dynamic Positioning

US Navy 110603-N-EC642-170 The New Breed offsh...

US Navy 110603-N-EC642-170 The New Breed offshore supply vessel HOS Shooting Star uses dynamic positioning to maintain its position while performin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He often trains with simulators; probably this time, too. I forgot to ask, ‘cos our conversations mainly consisted of his whining and moaning about missing out on surfing epic waves.

Here’s a bunch of random words strung together in sentences that makes absolutely NO SENSE to me whatsoever, but is a detailed explanation that I hope y’all comprehend. (‘Cos I surely do not.)

Dynamic positioning (DP) is a computer-controlled system to automatically maintain a vessel’s position and heading by using its own propellers and thrusters.

Position reference sensors, combined with wind sensors, motion sensors and gyro compasses, provide information to the computer pertaining to the vessel’s position and the magnitude and direction of environmental forces affecting its position. 

The computer program contains a mathematical model of the vessel that includes information pertaining to the wind and current drag of the vessel and the location of the thrusters.

This knowledge, combined with the sensor information, allows the computer to calculate the required steering angle and thruster output for each thruster.

This allows operations at sea where mooring or anchoring is not feasible due to deep water, congestion on the sea bottom (pipelines, templates) or other problems.

Dynamic positioning may either be absolute in that the position is locked to a fixed point over the bottom, or relative to a moving object like another ship or an underwater vehicle.

One may also position the ship at a favorable angle towards wind, waves and current, called weathervaning. [Source: Wikipedia]

Confused? So am I…
This is a simpler explanation that even I can understand:
Sometimes when a tug is working on a project rather than simply being underway from point A to point B, it needs to stay in one specific location and not float around. DP is an advanced method to hold a tug stationary.

That was your lesson for today. There will be a quiz at the end of the day. 🙂

Have a lovely Friday!

 

 

 

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

Am I REALLY That Old?

Dear AARP,

My postman just delivered the mail; a few bills, a dental cleaning reminder, hub’s Professional Mariner magazine, my White House Black Market catalogue, and this:

AARP

AARP: American Association of Retired Persons.

I’m one thousand billion percent sure that you have the wrong address.

You must have made a mistake. A belated April Fool’s Day joke, perhaps?

This envelope must belong to someone else. Here. You can have it back.

There is no way this was meant for me. No Way. I’m shaking my head. No. Way.

If you know to whom this was supposed to be delivered, please let me know and I’ll forward it to the proper address.

I’m not that old. Am I? What? I AM?

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Say it ain’t so. Pull-eez.

My MOM belonged to AARP. My mom was OLD. I am not OLD. How did this happen? When did I get old enough to be a card-carrying member of AARP?

And how did you know? I thought it was my own little secret.

Was it my hands that gave me away? They say you can always tell your age by your hands. Was that it? The skin’s very thin there, not so hydrated. Or was it those little brown spots that are popping up everywhere? Now what did my mom call them? Liver spots? LIVER spots? WTF? Remember Carter’s Little Liver Pills? I do, I mean I don’t. No, I don’t remember that at all. Ya wanna know why? I’m not OLD enough.

Is this payback for when I was so smug that I thought I would never ever in a million years have a single hair on my chinny chin chin – and now I have a 10x magnifying glass so that I can hunt and destroy every single rogue hair that shouldn’t be there?

What? I can’t hear you. Did my son put you up to this?

Is this his way of retaliating because I’d never allow him to eat the cereal that all his friends ate? No Cocoa Puffs or Captain Crunch for my little boy. Poor kid. I knew it was going to cause him emotional trauma one day.

Or maybe it was the time I put brussel sprouts and cauliflower in his smoothie. All right, all right, I admit it. Some vegetables can’t be disguised no matter how hard you try. I’m sorry. Bad mommy.  Oh, I bet I know why you did this to me. Is it because I embarrassed you last year at commencement when I screamed “That’s my Angel Boy!” so loud that I was surrounded by security guards? (True story.)

Look, I still wear skinny jeans, OK? I work out at the gym five days a week. Fifty-ahem-eixxxxght is the new twenty-five, right? Damn right it is.

So maybe it’s been a few moons ago since I needed to say, “it’s that time of the month” – THAT ship has sailed, but I still have them in the bathroom cupboard just in case. I mean, stranger things have happened. Whatever. I’m prepared, that’s all. Prepared.

I’m gonna put on my spectacles, my reading glasses, so I can see the fine print.

Hmmm, a free tote bag with membership? Maybe it doesn’t sound so bad after all…

Sincerely yours,

Princess Rosebud

PS. My birthday’s actually the 14th, not the 17th, but thanks for that – — I’m now three days younger!

How to prepare for a cruise: Tips from a professional mariner

Are you planning a cruise vacation?

Some things you should know before you go–from my personal maritime expert.

My captain’s in an isolated location with no TV or newspapers or internet access (other than simple email) so I include in my daily missives to him local and national news updates.

The Cruise Ship Carnival Triumph

I sent lots of reports about the problems of the broken and stranded Carnival ship Triumph last week–that poor ship ultimately endured a less than triumphant arrival into port amidst horrific tales of sewage-soaked carpets and open decks, with food so limited that passengers were reduced to eating candy and ketchup on buns.

2-14-13-Carnival-Triumph_full_600Since I have my own personal encyclopedia of maritime knowledge at my fingertips (ha ha) I thought it’d be interesting to share his thoughts about it.

People think I’ve been on every boat imaginable because of him–but that’s not true. I’ve never taken a cruise for a couple of reasons; I don’t like boats very much (unless they’re named after meand I’m too impatient. I like to get to my destination in a hurry.

A boat ride, whether it’s in a lagoon or a river or an ocean–is inherently rife with danger.

My captain’s been involved in salvage work for maritime accidents where he’s had to dive and search for bodies. As you might image, it’s impossible to erase those images from his memory.

The Titanic and the Costa Concordia are obvious examples of the worst possible outcomes.

Living in close quarters brings out the best and the worst in people–even without a disaster to deal with. Add an engine fire, backed up toilets, unlimited alcohol, and you’ve got a potential explosion. Some people panic, hoard food and water; some drink too much (the Triumph crew wisely shut down the open bar)–while others step up to the challenge with exemplary leadership skills; share, organize, and deal with the situation in a calm and logical manner.

I’ve listed a few of my captain’s recommendations before you embark on a cruise. This is by no means an exhaustive list; just a few tips from my in-house expert.

  • If you don’t already have one, obtain a Passport Card, which is a separate document from a Passport that you might have to surrender to a foreign flagged cruise ship. In the event that your passports are taken, a Passport Card might give you a sense of well-being if you want to get off the ship in a foreign port and go home.
  • Take a small flashlight and carry it with you at all times. Keep it next to your bedside.
  • Pack energy bars; nuts and raisins, and even protein powder if you have luggage space.
  • Take part in the lifeboat drills, know where your life jackets are and how to put them on. Pay attention!
  • Locate your life jacket in your cabin as soon as you arrive; practice putting it on.
  • Don’t wait for the required safety drill to memorize the location of your assigned lifeboat.
  • Make a family plan. Stay together.
  • Practice finding your way from your stateroom to a stairway to the deck bypassing an elevator. Know how to escape.
  • Find a U.S. cruise line in the inner coastal waters or Alaska or on the Rivers instead of a foreign flagged vessel that might not offer a passenger the same rights and legal protections. Norwegian Cruise Line‘s Pride of America is the only large U.S. flagged cruise ship.