Poop Tanks Before Sunrises

A while back the office asked for some of my photos.  They wanted to use them in their newsletter - and then they wanted me to write a little article to accompany them.  They specifically requested photos from my sunrise series.  I did write a little article...but it was pretty boring...and someone called me out on it before I sent it in.  They recommended that I tell a story instead.  In the meantime, while I was re-writing the article I started to get pissed.  

The whole thing just felt ridiculous.  Like no, you can't just have some pretty sunrise photos.  We do more than that out here.  I wanted them to have to tell the whole story.  You can't just get the good parts.  Those parts are for us.  We earn the good parts.  The good parts get us through the other parts.  The best parts are the people that we share the good parts with after we get through the other parts.

I sent in the following article...needless to say it was not approved for publication...



Sometimes, when you get on a boat for the first time it takes awhile to find your footing.  There are new people to develop a working relationship with, new systems to learn, and new vessel-specific idiosyncrasies to identify.  It’s been my experience that when you truly bond with a shipmate or a vessel it’s because you’ve just come out on the other side of a ‘situation’ unscathed.

Which is exactly how Donny and I bonded: we had a ‘situation’ and spent an afternoon elbow deep in the MSD a.k.a ‘poop tank’.

After flushing the head I noticed that a lot of air bubbles came up in the head across the passage way.  I say to Donny (the Chief Engineer), ‘ummm…just an fyi…I think something bad might be happening with the heads…’.  Twenty hours later we realize that due to sitting in the yard for several months waiting to head to Red Dog the poop tank wasn’t ready to *ahem* be used so heavily.

We popped the top off the tank and rigged up our de-watering pump to clear it out.  It ’s an all hands on deck evolution - with crew monitoring each critical point of the operation.

The jokes were endless.  The smell was eye watering.  We laughed and laughed and laughed.  

A crew might enjoy a gorgeous sunrise together but, that’s not where you bond.  You bond in heavy seas, gale force winds, and twenty hour days: when the going gets tough and you laugh your way through it.

Here’s to pumping out poop tanks so you can enjoy a sunrise with your friends.


*I was going to title this post shit tanks an sunrises but well, I decided I couldn't swear in the post title...so here's to poopy sunrises!

Back at it.

I'm back at work. The time home flew by and now I'm hoping the end of our season flies by too. 


It's cold but not as cold as I thought it would be. I'm sure I'll be on a barge hating life in the cold before I know it.  

We had a little reprieve - those of us who relieved others - we're down for weather so we slipped into anchor watches and are coming up to speed slowly. 

I got a new float coat!  I figured once I was bundled up I wouldn't want to wear a work vest. It's bright orange and ummm...puffy. I've been told I look like an Oompa Loompa.  I knew I should have packed my green and white striped tights! 

Here's to being back at it! 


I just spent the last month at home - and I literally did nothing.

I've got this room at my house that I don't really know what to do with.  Instead of figuring out what to do with it sometimes I just drag stuff in there and shut the door.  Don't know what to do with the papasan chair?  Drag it in there.  Don't want to space bag the comforters?  Throw them in there.  

Instead of figuring out what to do with this room I went to the beach, drank beer and mixed cocktails, walked around town, met up with friends, drove to Kona and hung out with my cousin.

'Taking care of the front room' was one of the top items on my to do list.  

While I was at work on the last go around my Grandma passed away (gear switch but I promise this will come full circle).  Sad of course, the end of an era for sure but, I didn't feel the need to fly home.  It was time and the family was prepared.

This time home I spent a lot of time with a Cousin up at my Grandma's house.  There is a macadamia nut orchard - and we picked the nuts, husked the nuts, roasted the nuts, cracked the nuts and sorted the nuts.  We made a little packets so that all the family coming for her funeral would have some nuts to take home with them.

Preparing the nuts was incredibly time consuming but, it was so great to be there at my Grandmas.  Be in the orchards.  Be with my cousin.  Talk about the family.  Talk about our lives.

On my last night home I had a plan that I'd stay up late and 'knock out the front room'.

Instead, I went up to my Grandma's for one last dinner.  We busted out the fine china (my Grandma rarely did this) and made a white trash pasta bake.  We drank cheap wine out of her fancy glasses.  

We laughed and talked and told stories about being in that house growing up.  

Then, like total rebels we let the dog lick the plates on the floor.  

Priorities.  You have to make them as a sailor.  Was the month home 'wasted'?  Maybe.  Was it fun?  Yep.  Is the front room going to be there waiting for me when I get back?  Yep.  

Autumnal Equinox

Today the sun will rise nearly due east and set due west as it crosses the celestial equator.  Day and night will be equal.  

I always wonder when, as a collective society, we stopped looking up and marking movement across the sky.  Sun, moon, stars.  We use our phones, our watches, our computers to mark the passing of time and end up missing the magic and the meaning.  

A time of harvest, and thanksgiving and gratitude.  It's a time of preparation for colder and harder months to come.  Although the day and night is in perfect balance change is in the air.  It's a time to consider your place in nature.  Equinox marks the second harvest - the final being at the end of October.  It's a time to look at what you've worked towards, acknowledge what you've accomplished and, remember that there is still work to be done.  It's a time to make a plan.

I went down to my favorite morning coffee sipping location.  During the summer months the sun comes up almost dead center of those palm trees and by winter it'll be casting long shadows into the water.  I tried to remind myself that there is still work to be done.  

Happy Fall Friends!  Get outside today!  Make a plan for some hygge come winter!  Give thanks!  Acknowledge your accomplishments!

p.s. Here's a great article if you'd like to know what else is going on in the sky these nights.

p.p.s.  A previous equinox post if you'd like more.  

One Hundred Nautie Mornings

Back in April, I was just starting to outfit a tugboat.  I was maybe a little bit out of my element but, ultimately, super excited to be part of a project from the ground up.  I happened upon the 100 Day Project - I had read Elle Luna's book The Crossroads of Should and Must and followed her on Instagram.

I don't necessarily make things but, I do try to stretch myself creatively.  I think ultimately, it's good for our mind as human beings.  I love the morning.  It's definitely my favorite time of day so, I decided to document one hundred of them.  One Hundred Nautie Mornings was created - #100nautiemornings (many of you followed along on Instagram).  It ended up being a really fun project!

First of all, these mornings tell a story.  I could not have picked a better three month period of time to document.  I really dove head first into tugboats.  Documenting my mornings was incredibly satisfying.  

Without further ado, here is what I ended up with!

100 nautie mornings 1


Finding the best laundromat in Portland while I was working at the shipyard and living in a run down hotel.  

getting new pens for my bullet journal - that thing kept me grounded in the yard.  The details!  Yikes!

100 nautie mornings 2


The stacks got installed on the tug - it made her look like a real tug boat :)

I installed shelving in my container and organized all my 'gear' for the boat.  It was so much easier to get around and I started feeling like I might be able to pull it off...maybe.

It was my birthday!  I turned 33!  I took the train up to Vancouver, B.C. for the weekend and sipped coffee on Rhiannon's lanai - always a favorite past time.

100 nautie mornings 3


Sea Trials were completed!  We took this beauty North and christened her.  Proud Mama Moment.

100 nautie mornings 4


One of my Besties came down to the boat to visit me.  

Then my Dad came down to the boat to visit me.

I hopped on a different tug!  Built in the 70's this little tug has some major character.  

The Inside Pass!  I love this trip.

100 nautie mornings 5


Sea Days Northbound for the Arctic Circle.  Days are getting longer.

100 nautie mornings 6


Getting into a groove up a the mine.  It was fun - and challenging - to learn a new operation.

The looooong days.  The sunrises and sunsets that went on and on and on.

Friends who put podcasts into a Google Drive for you :)

100 nautie mornings 7


Tugboat shenanigans.  They. Are. So. Fun.

Moana The Tugboat Dancer.  I love this lady who resides on the dashboard.

Truly, the ultimate highlight was just the daily practice of finding a bit of joy to document in my mornings.  I love them anyways and so it was fun to capture them.

When my one hundred days ended I was seriously let down.  I wasn't ready for it to be over!  I decided to try to complete a year.  I created #100nautieevenings and have plans for #100nautieafternoons before switching back to #65nautiemornings.  One year?  Once a day?  Kind of fun!

(A confession, the way I got all these photos together was by searching my hashtag on Instagram and taking screen shots.  I apologize for some of the formatting mistakes, some of the doubles and some of the missing ones!)

Lady or Sailor?

"You might meet women who sail, but you sure won't meet no ladies."

light or mess?  lady or sailor?

light or mess?  lady or sailor?


The vessel is inbound for Bahrain.  I'm off watch and sound asleep.  The Captain and Third Mate can't get ahold of Port Control to gain entrance to the buoyed channel.  They've called and called - they've tried every channel they can think of - nothing.  I get a knock on my door.  'Mate, we need you on the bridge!'.  I scurry up to the bridge in my jammies.  The Captain looks at me and says, 'I'm really sorry to wake you up but, we need you to call Port Control...'.  I look at him blankly and grab the Mic.  'Bahrain Port Control, Bahrain Port Control, the is the Good Vessel Lollipop.'  'Ahhh...yesss!!!!!  Good Vessel Lollipop!!!!  Good Morning, Good Morning!'  'Yes, Good Morning Sir, We'd like permission to enter the buoyed channel.'  'Ah yes, no problem, no problem!'.  I had the Mic back to the Captain.  He looks a little miffed and says, 'Thanks Megan.  You can go back to bed.'.  At the end of the trip they had a shirt made for me that said:  you give good radio.


I rarely change my sheets at work.  One time, I ate chocolate chip cookies in bed and smeared chocolate chips into my sheets on accident.  It looked like baaad things had happened.  I still didn't change them.  On this last go around, I just spent three months on the same sheets.


I'm in Fujairah.  We've been anchored for a bit.  Spot market for tankers - Fujairah is popular waiting ground.  I've caught a launch in for some time at the Seaman's Center.  I have had a few too many Diet 7Ups.  It's time to head back towards the launch.  I may have 'escaped' my shipmates watchful eyes.  There may have been things shouted like, 'you're not the boss of me!'.  There is a flotilla of Dhows.  I hop on one and immediately scurry below deck.  I wake up the first sailor I see...and ask him to make me something to eat.  He is looking at me like I am craaaazy (and well....I guess that's fair).  I realize I'm maybe in the wrong place so I try again.  I run back to the main deck level and hop from one Dhow onto the next.  I scurry below deck.  I wake up the sailors who are all laying together around a stove.  'Hi!  Do you guys want to have dinner?!'  They're rubbing sleep out of their eyes.  I must have been the weirdest thing they'd seen in awhile.  'Miss Megan!  Miss Megan!'  I look up the ladder and there is a little Filipino man.  I've never seen him before in my life.  'Miss Megan you must come with me!'  He seemed so sincere that I start my way up the ladder and am on the deck of the Dhow with him.  'Miss Megan, we have to goooo!!!'  He grabs my hand and pulls me from the Second Dhow onto a Third and then we hop back onto a different pier.  'Miss Megan, these men are very, VERY dangerous!'.  I'm nodding like I understand.  'Miss Megan, you have to be VERY careful!'  He walks me back to the launch.  He exchanges rapid fire Tagalog with the launch operator and then the launch operator comes over and grabs my hand.  I look at my new friend and say, 'I have no idea how you know my name is Megan but, thank you Manong.'.


It's my first ship.  I left home knowing that I'd be at sea for Christmas.  I decide I have to take gifts with me.  I go old school and make cinnamon and glue ornaments.  They smell so good I figured people could use them as air fresheners.  I roll out the cinnamon and glue dough and cut out different sized stars and throw them in the oven to harden.  I've pre-poked holes and I string ribbon through them.  I take the time to package them in little gift bags.  I label each one for the specific individual.  I pack them all safely in a shoe box and throw them in my sea bag.  On Christmas Eve I sneak out and hang a gift bag on everyone's door.  Christmas morning I'm sitting at the galley table.  I'm just waiting for someone to say thank you for their present...and nothing.  After a bit I hear one AB say to another, 'Man, I don't know who left those cookies but that shit was fuuuucked uuuup....'.


I'm at the Farmers Market with my Mom and we run into old friends.  She starts catching them up on life and says, '...and who knew Megan would end up a Sailor?!  Doesn't she look like a pre-school teacher?!'.  This wasn't the first time she had said this.  We walk away from the friends and I look at her and say, 'if you ever tell someone I look like a pre-school teacher again I am going to freak.  the.  fuck.  out.'.  


I walk into the cargo control room.  The Bosun is sitting there with the Pumpman and the Chief Mate.  Things look serious.  I'm feeling nervous.  The Bosun says, 'Magpie.  We need to tell you something.'.  Now, I'm freaked.  The Pumpman looks like someone has died.  The Bosun, clearly the designated bearer of bad news says, '...you have the most annoying voice on the radio....now don't worry!  Your voice isn't annoying in real life!  Buuut, on the radio, can you try to lower your voice an octave?'  I don't say a word.  The Pumpman pipes up, 'Seriously, it's like a screech.  One octave.  Pleeeassee...'.  I now have a radio voice.


I'm on my first tugboat.  I'm getting to know a new Captain.  A week into our trip he looks at me and says, 'uuuummm....you're kind of alpha....'.


It's twilight.  I'm on the bridge.  It has been the longest watch ever.  I stood a six hour watch in the Persian Gulf.  Non.  Stop.  Traffic.  I finally call the Captain to assist me with traffic.  I have a traffic situation that's making me nervous  We normally do sanitary prior to daylight however; I have had one AB in hand-steering almost the whole watch - the other has had his face in the windows with binoculars.  I haven't made a fresh pot of coffee.  There was some sugar spilled at the coffee station through the night.  The Captain comes up to the bridge - sees the mess at the coffee station and freezes.  Then he flies forward.  He takes his hand and sweeps everything to the floor.  The coffee.  The creamer.  The sugar packs.  The carafe.  He whips around and yells, 'Megan!  Clean this shit up!' and storms off the bridge.  I turn around and say to my AB, 'hard right'.  I slow the vessel with the turn, let the two ships pass each other, complete my round turn and meet the third ship while getting over taken.  The bridge is silent.  My AB finally says, 'Mate, that was totally fucked up.'.        


I'm at work this past go around.  A dude from another boat says, 'I like your sweater'.  I look down and say, 'Thanks!  It's a good work sweater and pajama sweater.'  I realize that I haven't been differentiating between the two...and that I've been wearing it to bed and work...for three days... I look back up and say, 'I think I've had this sweater on for three days.'.  Dude says, 'You are a tow boater!'.  I felt kind of proud.


Someone sent me this prompt:  You might meet women who sail, but you sure won't meet no ladies.  I thought he wanted me to write about it but, instead he called it a prompt....or a psychopomp for the blog.  A Woman Who Sails or a Lady?  Is there even a difference?