Friday, March 24, 2017

Broken Record

As a General Rule, I like to try and keep this blog relatively upbeat and light hearted. Funny little stories intertwined with doses of moments of sheer terror. Essentially, a carbon copy of life aboard a tugboat.

Alas, on occasion over the last few years I have had to pen my thoughts regarding the loss of friends, mentors, and coworkers. An unfortunate reality of life.

Featured in some of those "funny little stories" was my deckhand, who the crew had nicknamed "Mongo".
Mongo fish!
Mongo came over to my company a few years ago from another tugboat company. He had just gone through a condensed, accelerated school to get his steering license and was striving to get a Mate's position. While he was training to fine tune his boat handling skills, he was also my deckhand.

During the time we worked together, Mongo was always the center of attention. If he wasn't, he was trying to be. Mongo was a big dude. But it wasn't always his physical stature that was the focal point. Case in point, at some time during his wheelhouse training with us, a stuffed, fluffy unicorn that lit up and played music appeared in the wheelhouse. Mongo was definitely a little kid, trapped in a big body.
Mongo about to give an improvised beating to keep morale up.

His personality is of course highlighted by this story from around Christmas time a few years ago. If you haven't read it, please take the time in order to get just a little bit of insight into who Mongo was.

Mongo was also a motorcyclist through and through. Crew changes were always an interesting sight. Whenever he wasn't dressed like this...
You could definitely find him dressed in a leather motorcycle jacket, his wallet on a chain, and more skull rings and jewelry than any one person should be allowed to wear at any one time.

He was a perfectionist. A hard worker. He was a bit quirky at times. But also one to lend a hand and try something that he had never attempted before. As was the case when we rebuilt the galley on the boat with some rudimentary tools and a lot of cursing. So became the beginnings of...

Mongo and Me Woodworking Company
Recently, I was in the office doing office type things, when Mongo's name came into the conversation. He had just been signed off as a Training Mate on the boat we had worked together on. It was the first crucial step in getting that coveted job as a Mate he had been striving for. Mongo and his unicorn were going places. A mere month later from that innocent conversation in the office, we received another message from the office regarding Mongo.

Mongo was on his time off. Undoubtedly enjoying a must needed break from moving to a new boat and starting his training with a new Captain and crew. Mongo was at home in Florida riding his motorcycle, something which he absolutely loved to do. He had an accident and was killed.

Another friend gone too soon. Another Brother mariner taken from the maritime family way too early. Working on tugs is a dangerous business, but one doesn't have to be on the boat to be taken from us.

I'm not the best when it comes to saying goodbye to friends I've lost. This one is no different. We always just assume people will be there and not taken from us. I looked forward to seeing Mongo around the harbor. I wanted him to give us an assist into the dock on his new boat. I wanted to see how he had progressed as a boatman from the last time I had worked with him. I wanted him to keep working hard and get that Mate's spot. Instead, I get to pen another blog post lamenting the loss of a friend. Struggling with how to end a heartfelt miss-mash of words trying to describe a man who cannot be described with words alone.

We'll miss you, Mongo.

That is about the best I can do.

Anthony Giuliano
October 5, 1970 – March 22 , 2017

We'll miss our Mongo!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Super Bowl of Calories

The Super Bowl is tomorrow. Once again, my beloved New England Patriots are making an appearance in the NFL's season finale. Roger Goodell has no choice but to watch Tom Brady and Bill Belichick once again go for the Lombardi trophy. I can't wait.

Problem is, I'm on the boat. I would much rather be at home terrorizing my family, screaming at the television, and throwing pillows around the living room in excitement as I did the last time the Patriots were victorious in Super Bowl 49. I never did find that pillow I threw.

Alas, there are bills to be paid, so here I am at work. I tried to get one of my friends to bring me a New England Patriots flag down to the boat so I could fly it from the mast tomorrow to show my support. After some promising sounding messages from a couple of local friends, the end result of a Patriots flag flying high from the yardarm ended in futility. Schedules didn't match up and no flag was able to be procured for the BIG game. To be fair, my parents were willing to drive 3 hours to deliver a flag to me but that sounded a bit extreme.

Damn you, Amazon for not delivering to vessels while underway!
So I won't have a flag on the boat, but we are still preparing for the game one way or the other. One way we are getting ready is through a well thought out, highly organized list of menu items for tomorrow. We purchased a deep fryer for the galley this hitch. We thoroughly tested it last weekend by dialing in just the perfect amount of seasoning and fine tuning the cooking time for the most delectable chicken wings this side of Hudson Canyon. Also on the menu is meatballs in a fine reduction sauce slowly simmered in a crock pot for hours. Currently, the Chief Engineer is researching the perfect recipe for batter to be used for deep frying Oreo cookies, brownies, candy bars, and whatever other sort of food item that seem like it would be delicious if it happened to be slathered in batter and deep fried to a golden-brown, crispy perfection. The list could literally be endless. While we were making up our grub list earlier this week I was both absolutely horrified by some of the items that were being written down, and yet somewhat intrigued by the same items as to what sort of concoction that we would be able to come up with. A healthy diet this list would not make.
Arugula. Still fun to say.

Which brings me to my latest Million Dollar Idea. Similar in scope to my last couple of Million Dollar ideas. Namely, purchasing a tank and selling rides in said tank for a minimal fee. Or my long time dream of opening up a Bacon Restaurant where everything on the menu contains bacon of a varying degree.

The latest idea- The Tugboat Cook Book.

Now I'm pretty sure that someone out there has already come up with such a thing. Similarly, I know that there are already Bacon Restaurants, and places to drive tanks. However, as with most things that come out of my head, this Tugboat Cookbook will have it's own kind of flair. My own personal touch to it.

Page 1.  Nothing in this cookbook shall be construed to be considered healthy in any way, shape, or form.

Page 2. CPR instructions. Links to the National Red Cross, the American Heart Association, and directions for First Aid, including the Heimlich Maneuver and use of an AED.

Pages 3 thru... whatever. Recipes that are delectable in every way, yet horrendous for you in every way.
You know, tugboat food.

In the last few years, great strides have been taken to improve the lives of mariners through proper rest schedules and healthy eating. As a crew, we try to eat healthy and exercise. It's a work in progress. But with all diet and exercise, you have to allow yourself a "cheat day". Tomorrow just happens to be one of those days.

And yes, the "cheat day" irony is not lost on me. I get it. New England Patriots, cheat day. Funny.
Go Pats!
But let me end with this.

Here is a list of all players that have played in seven Super Bowls:

If you need me tomorrow, I'll be watching the Patriots in the Super Bowl while deep frying a cookie and serving it on ice cream. Should be on page 17 in the Tugboat Cookbook.