Sunday, November 25, 2012

Stir Crazy

We have been sitting at anchor for 5 days waiting on a berth to become available. You know what you do while sitting at anchor for 5 days waiting for a berth to become available? You go stir crazy. And not stir crazy in the sense of "funny, ha-ha" kind of Stir Crazy, starring Richard Pryor.
The weird kind.

You end up with a lot of time to think. Reflect on life. Count your blessings. Ponder the vastness of the universe. Of course, that would be what normal people would do.
Me? Not so much.
I contemplate the financing options of a Russian T-55 main battle tank.
I dream of the items that will go onto the menu of my "Bacon Restaurant".
I think to myself, "Just how close to an active volcano can a person get before bursting into flames?"
It's not good.

Basically, I'm just trying to keep my mind off the fact that even though we have been sitting at anchor for 5 days waiting on a berth to become available, I know crew change is going to get screwed up.

That is, of course, the impetus of this blog after-all.

So tonight, my focus happened to drift towards beer. Now I'm not a huge beer drinker. In fact, there are a few bottles of Samuel Adams Octoberfest still in my fridge. From last year.

However, the synapses in my brain just happened to electronically fire off and send my imagination wandering in the direction of beer.
Specifically, a new micro-brew that I think someone should come up with. (I have neither the time, nor the talent to start my own micro-brew.)

It shall be of the Ale type.

Something in an Irish red type of blend.

And it should be called.....

wait for it......

Soulless Ginger Ale!

I know!!! Genius, right?!

The logo may need some more work
See what happens when you sit at anchor for 5 days waiting on a berth?

In other news, the Powerball Jackpot is going to be +$425 million on Wednesday. If I hit the jackpot we can all have tanks, open up bacon restaurants, and start our own micro-brews that we want to. I just need someone to hook me up with the winning ticket. Not too many 7-11's out here. I'll split it with you.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy ...Day!

Tugboat food does NOT look like this

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you are a mariner, and at work, Happy Thursday!

Or is it Monday?

The problem with working out to sea is that you sometimes lose track of the days. A typical 9 to 5er’s schedule goes from Monday to Friday, with the two all glorious days of the weekend remaining in order to cut loose a little.

A mariner’s schedule goes- Monday, Monday, Monday, Monday, Monday…etc. for two weeks straight (or however long a hitch they happen to be working). It then proceeds to go… Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday…etc. for however long they have off. There are no weekends, weekdays, Holidays, whatever. You are on. Or you are off. Simple.

Except it’s not.  

The rest of the world is still slave to the calendar.

This summer, I was on my time off, and my wife and I decided to meet up with some friends to have lunch. With the kids in tow, we meet up at the local burger joint fully expecting a similar family unit to meet us there. Except, they were missing one member of their party.
“Where is Jon?”
“He’s working.”
“Why is he working today?”
“It’s Wednesday.”

Which is funny, if it were just a one-time occurrence. 

Another time this summer, my wife and I were out grocery shopping. We both were surprised that the construction workers were working on a Sunday building the new development across from the store.
“They must really be under the gun to finish that project up soon if they are all working on the weekend.”
Or it was a Thursday. We weren’t even close. 

At least it’s a little better when the kids are in school. At least they have to conform to the M to F / 9 to 5er’s schedule. But once summer vacation happens, it’s a free-for-all. Every day is a Saturday. Or a holiday. As shown, it’s pretty easy to lose track. 

So a Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Or a Happy Monday, as the case may be.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Internet is a Dangerous Place

I’m not talking about the Craigslist Killer or being infected with a computer virus. It also has nothing to do with stolen credit cards or identity theft.  I’m talking about a bigger, more serious problem…internet shopping. Buying stuff on the internet is way too easy.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE shopping on the internet. It is a rare moment when I have to go to the store to buy something I need. And the UPS guy is very familiar with our address in the weeks preceding Christmas time. The big problem is that you can buy ANYTHING on the internet.

Case in point… I want a tank. Not a water tank, compressed-air tank, or an oil tank. I want a military surplus main battle tank. Who doesn’t?
Freeze, gopher!

It’s a bit of an obsession. On par with my bacon obsession. 

I want to buy 100+ acres of land and drive my main battle tank around the yard. Park it in the driveway. Keep the riff-raff away. That kind of thing.

The problem is, the internet. Of course, they have main battle tanks for sale. 

Need a quote for delivery for a German tank from Dusselberg? Yeah, they can do that.
How about a Russian T-55? Sure. It's located in California.
You got a World War II U.S. surplus Sherman tank? You betcha.  Head on up to Massachusetts, just outside of Boston, to take a look at one. Or two.
It’s too damn easy. 

Just last week, I decided it would be a good idea to look on the internet to see how much a main battle would actually cost. It wasn’t a good idea.

I found a surplus Russian T-55 main battle tank for sale for $85K.

$85,000!!! That’s totally reasonable!

I’ll sell my car. Who needs a car anymore with a tank in the garage? However, I may have to skip going through the drive through at McDonalds. Then again, maybe not. Who is going to turn away a tank? 

“Sorry, sir. You can’t bring a tank through the drive through.”
“Colin (my kid and self-appointed gunner/tank commander), load an armor piercing round. Aim for the fry-o-lator.”
“On second thought. Thank you for your order, sir.  Please drive through.”

The only real issue I might have with buying a main battle tank is trying to convince the bank that I need financing for it. Can you imagine the phone conversation for that?

“First Goliath National Bank (not a real bank). How can I help you today?”
“I’d like $85K in order to buy a tank. Can you help me with that?”

Thankfully, my friends are just as bad as I am.

My friend Mark suggested, “Just show up with the tank at their front door and make them an offer they can’t refuse.”

With friends like that, who needs enemies?

He may just get the first ride.

Now where did I put my credit card?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

As predicted, crew change got screwed up. 

We got off a day late. Which is not bad considering the effect “Superstorm Sandy” had on the Northeast (I’m not really sure when or why they decided to change the name from “Hurricane” Sandy). For the most part, everyone on our crew and all of our reliefs, escaped relatively unscathed. 

Things for our crew could have been a lot worse.  Three weeks ago, when we got on the boat, no one ever would have thought to themselves, “Hey, I better leave my keys with my car just on the off chance that the worst storm to hit the Northeast in recorded history happens to impact the area while we are 1800 miles away working in the Gulf so that someone can move my car so that it doesn’t get destroyed.” If you had said that to yourself, you may want to talk to a psychologist. Either way, that is exactly what happened. 

Fortunately, the two guys on our crew who did park their cars in our yard, actually did leave their keys with their cars. A few frantic phone calls to and from the other tug crews in NY and their cars were spared from the massive coastal flooding. A local Home Depot parking lot, just high enough above sea level and just far enough away from the high water, proved to make the difference between driving home crew change day, and calling their insurance company to file a claim.

Not everyone in our company was so lucky.

A certain co-worker posted on social media, “Sea water should not be in the cup holders of your truck but its in mine:-( “

Not a good day.

As bad as that is, another one of my co-workers did not fare nearly as well. One of the nicest Captains in our company lives on the New Jersey coastline. Right on the New Jersey coastline. His house did not fare well at all. The only thing I have heard so far is that he has not returned back to work because his house is flooded out. Chances are very good that the damage is so bad that his house may have to be razed and built again from the ground up. 

In addition to that, our home office is located in Staten Island, NY. They did not escape unscathed either. Reports are coming in slowly, but anytime your office is located less than 100 feet from NY harbor and you get record high storm surge, chances are it’s not going to be dry inside come the next day. It wasn’t.

It’s going to be a long time before things in the Northeast get back to normal. Our thoughts go out to all of those people who were affected by Sandy. 

Mother Nature is a bitch.

It may not have made the “Top Ten Nine Rules ofTugboating” but it is a well-known saying in the maritime industry:  Mother Nature will win. Every time.