Friday, May 31, 2013

The Ricotta Saga

Traveling sucks. Sometimes. Most of the time. 
Between having to deal with TSA, other travelers who have never seen the inside of an airplane before, and the inevitable weather delays it can get pretty tedious.
As mentioned before, we have a bit of a warped sense of humor out here on the water. So how do we make travel more fun (at least for some of us)? We try to get our shipmates arrested. Sort of.

Last hitch, we had a completely insane number of cartons of Ricotta cheese in the galley (maritime speak for kitchen. Although, technically, it was in the refrigerator [reefer], which is in the galley, so we’re good). There was no way we were ever going to use it all before it expired.
Although we tried.
The deckhand, who doubles as our chef extraordinaire, made enough stuffed manicotti to feed ¾ of the population of Europe. It was good. We finished it all. Suck it Europe. You can starve.
Alas, we still had some Ricotta cheese left over.
But, on crew change day, all of the cheese was miraculously gone.
Somehow, one of the leftover cartons of cheese made it into the Redneck’s bag. 

Anyone who has flown lately knows what a pain it is to fly. TSA has more rules than they know what to do with. For example, TSA has recently decided to allow people to carry pocket knives with blades less than 2.36-inches long on board airplanes (2.37” and you’re screwed). Now, take into consideration that it is still illegal to carry a bottle of Poland Spring water onto a plane. It completely boggles the mind and shows you how ridiculous airport security has become.
Now if bottled water is still out, imagine how a container of Ricotta cheese will go over?
I also submit into evidence a recording at Houston’s airport.
And I quote, “any inappropriate remarks or jokes concerning security may result in your arrest.”
I wish I was kidding. But that is a 100% truthful statement. I even have it recorded on my phone.
And so, there it is folks. If I am ever to be arrested, this is what it will be for.
It won’t be for running cocaine out of Columbia, robbing a 7-11, or stealing a Bugatti Veyron. It will be for making fun of the people at TSA. Honestly, they make it too easy NOT to make fun of them. Annoying blueberries.

When we arrived at the airport the Redneck (and his Ricotta cheese) went his separate way and we went ours.  At any moment we fully expected to hear over the Public Address system, “Security, report to checkpoint Bravo for a suspicious person”

Apparently, this is how it went down…
My Precious?
“Sir, do you have something in your bag you want to declare?”
“Did you forget to take something out?”
“Do you have a container in your bag that contains some type of liquid?”
“How did this container of Ricotta cheese get into your bag, sir?”
“I don’t know.”
“Weren’t you in control of your bag at all times before arriving at the airport?”
“Well then how did this container get into your bag without your knowledge?”
“Because I work with six assholes!”
“You work on a tugboat?”
I made that part up. But only because it’s true.

Because after explaining that he worked on a tugboat, and that his shipmates are a bunch of five year-olds, he was allowed to continue on his journey home. Sans Ricotta cheese, of course.
So, if you ever get stopped by TSA for having a container of Ricotta cheese (expired or not) in your carry-on bag, working on a tugboat is a perfectly acceptable excuse.

I wonder what would happen if it were Mozzarella or Parmesan cheese?

Maybe next time.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Hello, boys and girls.
Can you say, “Flocculation”?
I knew you could.

I know what you are thinking, “What the hell is Flockyou…whatever?” and “Why are you swearing at me?” And just as important, “What does this have to do with the maritime world?”
Well, hang on to your hats boys and girls; we’re going to learn something today. 
At least I did.

As we were approaching Southwest Pass, the entrance to the Mississippi River, we heard an inbound ship talking to the pilot boat saying they were having trouble making any speed due to being in the “Slush”. They were loaded to 42-feet of draft and only making a knot and a half (1.7 miles per hour for the not so nautically inclined). Not very fast. 

Both the Captain and I had never heard the term “slush” before. We deduced, that with the ship’s deep draft, it was probably “sniffing bottom”. In essence, the ship wasn’t aground, but with the loose silt in the lower Mississippi River, it was basically dredging its own channel through the mud.
We were wrong. Surprising, I know.

Someone blows their nose and you want to keep it?
When our pilot boarded we asked him about the phenomenon called “slush”.

If you look in the U.S. Coast Pilot, Volume #5, this is what you will find:
Flocculation, locally known as Slush, is a living
mass of jellied material, or muck, deposited in the lower
part of the Mississippi, during low stages of the river. It
consists of the suspended material which, after being
carried downstream by the current, comes into contact
with the relatively still salt water which backs into the
passes. This muck has been observed to be as much as
10 to 15 feet deep. It remains where deposited until
flushed out during high-water stages of the river. Although
slowed down by this muck, deep-draft vessels
are able to pass through it. Accordingly, and because it
will be flushed out during high-water stages, the Corps
of Engineers does not consider it necessary to remove
the material during low stages.

Exciting reading.

I feel like the floor of a taxi cab.
Our pilot confirmed that “slush”, or as he called it “Burrwood Bayou Boogers”, is like sailing through, well, for lack of a better term, snot. It is the interaction of all of the silt, debris, rain water run-off, and various chemicals and fertilizers that enter the river system and then interact with the salt water at the entrance to the river. Its effects are most noticeable on deeper draft vessels. However, our speed easily dropped by 50% as we transited through the area. Fortunately, the area where the snot resides is centralized to the extreme lower portion of the Mississippi River, so its effects are short lived. Unless your speed is only a knot and a half, then it takes forever and a day to get through it. 

So, if you are ever in the lower Mississippi River area, and it feels like your boat is sailing through the World’s largest bowl of Jell-o Pudding, you might be experiencing “Flocculation”.
I think I’m going to stick with either “Burrwood Bayou Boogers” or “snot”.
It seems to fit a more maritime-like narrative better.
The more you know…

One last Ghostbusters quote (because it's nautical): "We've been going about this all wrong. This Mr. Stay Puft's okay! He's a sailor, he's in New York; we get this guy laid, we won't have any trouble!
I could do Ghostbuster quotes all day.
It's like JAWS. I love the Classics.