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.

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Shopaholic Crisis Averted—Thanks to Kate Spade

I’ve already unburdened myself and confessed my total lack of interest in my passion—shopping, that is, and I’ve been putting myself in all kinds of situations to heal this PROBLEM of mine.

And that means I’ve been forcing myself to overcome this debilitating disorder by NOT buying baby things, but to purchase something for MYSELF.

So I did.

Crisis over.

Check out these sparkly Kate Spade earrings.katespadeearrings

Totes perf, right? LOVE LOVE LOVE

But as is the case lately, I was inextricably drawn to the other side of the store and look what I found!

How could I resist these tugboat themed babeeee things?

Obvs I could NOT.

tugboatbaby1 Can’t you just picture Grandpa Tugboat Man and AB 2.0 in the rocking chair? ADORBS.tugboatbaby2

Women Are From Venus, Men Are From Stupid

SOME men.

All right, MOST men.

Why am I throwing down the gauntlet with such a broad and inflammatory statement?

Because I am REALLY REALLY tired of tugboat man being gone more than 120 days, that’s why.

ONE HUNDRED TWENTY DAYS PLUS.

I flew up to San Fran to spend the weekend with Angel Boy and DIL which consisted of making breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for three days — and hiking until my knees hurt and I had shin splints in both legs.

Oh, and scrub the toilet, wash the floors, and take a toothbrush to some pretty gnarly tile grout.

Just another day in the life of a mom.

As you can expect, I’m exhausted; and now that I’m home again, I planned to take it easy for a few days and leisurely prepare for the arrival of tugboat man, who was tentatively (again) scheduled to return next weekend.

That is, until late last night when I received an email along with flight arrangements.

FOR TONIGHT.

TONIGHT.

No food in the house, I mean none, except for hummus and coffee. And wine, of course.

First thing this morning, I ran off to the grocery store.

I’m taking a five-minute break before baking oatmeal cookies, granola (his faves), and banana bread…putting up the welcome home signs, managing a bit of personal ‘scaping and scraping, and chilling the champs.

This is pretty much the longest he’s ever been away and I’m not gonna lie, it was becoming a bit unpleasant, so that’s why I think women are from Venus, men are from Stupid.

No real reason, just a feeling.

(Until he walks in the door, that is!)

No Rain But Maybe a Tugboat Man Sighting?

I’m STILL trying to finish up the EMPOWERING series about my recent camping trip and what it’s like to go on a road trip with an adult son and daughter-in-law (funny),  but got news late last night that my erstwhile tugboat man MIGHT be flying home TOMORROW — what’s up with not giving any warning??? — and that changes everything in my world.

I don’t have flight information yet, but all signals point to a positive outcome.

Sheesh, he better not get called back again while we’re driving home from the airport. THAT wasn’t any fun at all. I know that’s the life of a merchant mariner, but it still sucks.

He says he misses me, and I’m sure he DOES, but there’s a HUGE south swell coming this weekend from Hurricane Blanca– we all know what he really misses is SURF.

Ha ha.

No, REALLY.

Now that we’re down to watering only two days a week and no rain, the grass is already brown and all the other plants look stressed and thirsty.

SoCal gardens might not be as lush as those of yours who have enough rain, but there’s a bit of color to be found if you search for it.

Mandevilla

Mandevilla mandevilla2

Artichokesartichokemay2015 Purple Sagepurplesage1 PurpleSage2015 White Sage

whitesageflower2 WhiteSageFlowers1

Lily of the Nile

lilyofthenile1 lilyofthenile2 lilyofthenile3

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.

 

Remember the Merchant Mariner on Veteran’s Day

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

He’s 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 helping him update his resume. The merchant ship he was on supported the war efforts; it was unarmed, and he maintains that he saw no combat.

He’s humble and full of admiration for the true heroes who make the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

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.

Burning Down the House–The Story of My Tugboat Man and Fire Drills

pier-1-scented-seashell-candlesI love candles. I have candles covering virtually every surface in every room of our home.

I don’t light candles while my tugboat man is gone.

Not anymore.

There’s a very good reason for this.

I almost burned our house down and my husband’s firefighting training was the only impediment to potential disaster.

One very tranquil evening last spring after dinner, I lit every candle in the bathroom adjoining our bedroom and proceeded to take a leisurely shower. There were candles on the countertop, candles on the bamboo shelf above the toilet, and candles on another floor shelf unit.

Normally I extinguish them when I’m finished, but this time I didn’t because the room looked and smelled so lovely.

Wearing a black silk kimono and feeling quite frisky (if you know what I mean) I went out to the family room and snuggled up on the sofa to watch the Daily Show with a glass of merlot and hubs.

After a bit, he took the remote and muted the sound.

He cocked his head like he was listening for something (he looked very puppy-like and cute LOL) and said,

“Do you hear that?”

Me: “Hear what?”

Him: “I think I hear something in the bedroom, or wait, did you leave the water on?”

Me: “No, I didn’t. What do you hear?”

Him: “You’re not making popcorn, are you? Do you smell anything?”

Me: “Nooo….no popcorn, I can’t really smell –wait, I do kinda hear something, I wonder what… ”

Suddenly, he takes off running toward the bathroom and I stand up but I swear, I’m totally paralyzed, I can’t move a muscle to follow him or anything.  (I’m not a real take charge kind of girl in any emergency. I’m the one whose limbs turn to stone. I don’t react. Don’t count on me.)

So…the next thing I hear is a lot of “Oh sh***t” and “F**k F***K F***K F***K!!” and things crashing, and for a split second I think someone broke in and they’re fighting.

It was soooo crazy.

I’m still standing two rooms away and my feet are like in cement; I mean I know I should DO something, but I just can’t. I can’t even move to the phone to call 911 or anything.

Then I heard the sound of the shower being turned on and sizzling sounds. I was finally able to triumph over my fears and pry my feet loose, and tiptoed toward the bathroom.

OH -EM-GEE.

What I saw was a disaster. The bathroom was filled with smoke; smoke was beginning to fill the house (later we figured out that the smoke alarm’s battery had died.)

My personal fireman hero was soaking wet — apparently the noise I heard were his huge biceps ripping the engulfed in flames bamboo shelf off the wall and tossed in the shower. What a hero! He had the presence of mind, not to mention the strength, to prevent a major tragedy.

As you might imagine, fires on boats are a potential catastrophe, and professional mariners constantly train and drill in the event of a fire in the engine room or anywhere else on board. I know that my mariner takes it very seriously, and I am SO glad.

Watching him in action was very reassuring (and VERY sexy).

Here’s what happened…

One of the candles was on the bottom shelf of the bamboo unit above the toilet and next to the shower. The heat from the flame ignited the shelf right above it, which also had a candle going, and that in turn ignited the shelf above that and finally the whole thing was ablaze with foot-high flames, searing the ceiling, coating it in a horrible black smoky sooty mess. The ceiling stayed too hot to touch for hours, and it was just plain luck that the attic didn’t explode in flames; it was that hot.

The burning bamboo set off little flaming arrows of fire all over the bathroom, burning the floor, the rug, and everything it touched. Cleaning the bathroom was a nightmare. There was congealed candle wax covering every surface, including the shower and the countertop, the sink, the mirror, and even the ceiling. It took forever to scrape it off.

The burnt bamboo shelf

burned shelf

This wasn’t my first brush with a candle-related disaster, however.

We have an entertainment unit in the family room that has beautiful glass shelves.

entertainment unit

I lit a candle on the bottom shelf (déjà vu, right?) and left the room (déjà vu again, right?) and we heard a sound like an explosion, ran in, and found shattered glass everywhere. The shelf must have heated up and cracked. Wow.  Everything on the shelf crashed and broke, too.

The replacement shelf had to be custom-made, and the expensive lesson learned that time was not to light any candles under glass shelves.

But I guess I didn’t learn the ENTIRE lesson or I surely wouldn’t have walked away from a roomful of candles!

I am ever so grateful that hubs did not bring up the previous incident as I felt bad enough without being reminded of my carelessness.

So…it’s no surprise that I avoid any candle lighting until my personal fireman is here.

Before he leaves to go out to sea, he forces me to perform –fire drills. (Head OUT of the gutter, people!) I think it’s more to make him feel better about leaving and hoping that I have the tools and knowledge to act appropriately  in an emergency.

Well, that’s probably not going to happen.

The fire extinguisher is in the garage, and I know he’s shown me a zillion times how to make it work, but I don’t remember a single thing he says. Considering that my response time isn’t so good, the darn thing is heavy and unwieldy and it’ll be next to impossible to react at all when my feet are pinned to the floor, unable to move — I guess I’ll have to be content with a picture of a candle until he comes home.

candle

Call Him Master! What It’s Like Being Married to a Tugboat Captain

Here in real time, our real life.

Short and sweet, here’s our emails from about an hour ago.

It reveals all you need to know about how we deal with this long distance marriage thing.

You will notice that he is referred to as MASTER. Isn’t that just the funniest thing ever?

That’s what they call the captain of the vessel….Master.

Sometimes I’ll call him “Master” in public just to freak people out.

Email captain

Oh, and he was thanking me for sending him a current weather report. Don’t ask me why he likes whatever forecasting model I use instead of the options he has, but I send him one every day.

And you can tell who talks the most, huh?  This is exactly what we’re like when we’re inches apart as opposed to being separated by thousands of miles.

His word count is four.

Nuff said.

Have a lovely Friday evening, y’all!

POETRY: Ebb and Flow

serene-ocean-and-vast-horizon-under-cloudy-skyWith my tugboat man so far away somewhere in the vast, vast ocean, I’ve been reading a publication my son sent to the tugboat man as a birthday gift.

Lapham’s Quarterly / Volume VI / Number 3 / Summer 2013

Title: Sea Change
“Standing on shore, we struggle to understand its fury; Lewis Lapham explores the mystery and power of the sea.”

It’s a lovely publication; a compilation of sea stories, excerpts, and poems from Homer to Melville to Marquez to Conrad.

I discovered the beauty of this poem and yeah, I’m missing that big tugboat guy just a bit.

Ebb and Flow

 

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.