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, ' have the most annoying voice on the 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, ''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?



Northern Lights

Toward the end of August the days were really starting to shorten and the nights were getting pretty cool.  We were finally getting some Northern Light weather!

We had a couple good displays - and every time the colors would show up my Captain would yell at me because he knew I'd want to take pictures.

We were usually on the water which mean we were rolling a bit.  Plus, the lights themselves are moving!  The shutter speed had to be so slow and the aperture had to be so large - it was pretty hard not to take blurry photos.  I fully intend to bring a tripod back to work with me to set up on the dock or beach.  

I posted a lot of these on Instagram but figured I'd share them here too.

northern lights

This wasn't the first light show we got but it was definitely our first brighter show.  A streak of very vibrant green right over the camp.  It stayed pretty stationary so we could really take pictures.

The second time I got the big camera out there was a little bit more ambient light which was exciting but, what was really exciting was all the purple!

The colors were swirling around each other and undulating and, you can kind of tell in the photos.  

northern lights

One of my favorite things about the photos is that the stars show through.  I love looking back and noticing that in the green photo over camp pleiades is a little cluster - and stuck into all this purple is the big dipper.  

northern lights

Seeing the Northern Lights has been on my 'at sea wish list' for years.  I seriously can't wait to go back and see more once the Arctic gets a little more wintery.  

If you're curious about the Northern Lights here is a good explanation.  

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.

Apparently, I'm incredibly naive.  You know how I thought the blog was anonymous?  Not so much.  People have known who I was for awhile!

i'm still going to post pictures of my feet....

i'm still going to post pictures of my feet....

Do I want to password protect the blog?  Yes.  Do I also want to share a female perspective with you all?  Yes.  Do I hope some chick reads this blog someday and thinks, 'wow, I'm not the only one having these thoughts...'?  Yes.  

Do I feel incredibly self conscious about some of the content I've posted through the years?  YES.

Do you know what I am?  Fucking stubborn.  Here's a whole slew of posts I wouldn't necessarily want someone digging up in the archives.  I did the hard work for you!  It's hard to embarrass someone on their own terms.  

2010.  First year blogging.  I was 2M on a tanker in the Persian Gulf.  I tried to discuss crying on tankers, getting rid of 'mad-ons' and a female perspective.  I wove it into a post about ballast water exchanges.  Hella Awkward.  Mad On's...  In this same era I post that I hate changing Nav Lights.  Ridiculous.   Remember the time I went psycho about beans?  I had completely forgotten!  I never said anything but this was the time I was on a tanker that went aground.  Good times.  

This was the moment the blog changed for me.  I wrote about my Uncle Rocket.  I shared the post with my Cousin Rhiannon and, it connected us.  Rhiannon has changed my life.  I have the blog to thank for that.

This post was also written in 2010 and like whoa depressing.  What cracks me up is I didn't even know what a shitty rotation was like back then...I just thought I did...

One time I went to see the lava.  It has nothing to do with anything but I love the photos.

There was the time I discovered instagram.  Still love it.  

In 2011 I went on a rant about Pirates.  My friends know they make me mental.  They youtube links are no longer embedded.  You'll have to cut and paste them...

I blogged about spiders at my house.  I joke here buuutttt...this mayyybee made me move out of my house...maybe....

I turned 28.

She believed she could so she did.  I passed my Chief Mate exams.  I also let the universe fill me.  

I used to talk to a semi boyfriend on the single side band.  Glory Days.

The first time I thought I'd have a collision at sea.  I was scared.  This phrase 'attitude the difference between adventure and ordeal' gets searched more and leads more people to my blog than anything else.  It's still 2011.

I reposted a crazy email I wrote about a 'lifeboat incident'.  Historiauntie still mentions it.  So I know it's crazy :)  Here are more lifeboat shenanigans from fairly early on in my career.  

Oh.  My.  Gosh.  I found the post where I explained Nautie Mermate.  I elaborated that I was looking for a Merman.  Hahahahah!  Yaaaaaasssss!!!!!!

I wrote this post about whoring around and guys actually got pissed.  I got blog hate mail.  No lie.

I bitch about cadets.  I still think this is true.  You should be able to roll a cadet up in a gym mat and beat them.  Just saying.   

The time I fucked up big time.  

There was a blue church in the Azores that I loved.  That is all.  

Manarola Italy - Loved it there - also had a shipboard romance.

I shared a bit about my family.  Specifically, my Uncle Bob.

I think this might be my first Mettle Maker - but there were so many more.  

Somewhere in the time period around the Mettle Makers I start to talk more directly about being a woman at sea.  I wrote My Meow is Effin Fierce.  The title still cracks me up...

Then I wrote an open letter to the Dudes of MMA.  This was about the time I realized He for She was a thing.

I became a MerCaptain.  There was very little fanfare.  

I got a job on containerships - and then I got a job on a tanker - and then I got a job on tugboats.  Somewhere in there, I read Brave Enough and decided to write mini essays but never followed through.  (This is something I kind of want to keep doing....)

Ooooh...this is an embarrassing post....I wrote all about Beyoncé.  Ha.  

I got to go North up into the Ice.  I had a blast on a tugboat and knew I had made a good choice to leave the ships.

More recently I wrote about some mistakes.  

Sometimes, I blog drunk.  Truth.  

That brings us to the here and now.  I figured out this week the blog wasn't anonymous.  The idea is growing on me.  

Bottom line?  I've had so much fun blogging here over the years.  The blog isn't going anywhere.

Not so anonymous.

the cells

Something happened today.  It's something I always knew might happen.  In fact, it didn't actually happen today.  It began happening organically for the last few months.  This little blog o' mine lost its anonymity.  It came to a head today when work emailed me asking to use some of my blog content in their newsletter.

I immediately called my Dad to discuss.  As one does.

He said, 'you've been posting pictures of your feet and your coffee mugs for a long time...why don't you want them to know who you are?'.  To which I replied something like, 'Daaaad!!!!  All of the feeeeelllings!!!!'.  

I followed up the call to my Dad with a call to my Cousin, a call to my Bestie, a call to my Mom and, a few texts.  As one does.

In the end, everyone had the same question:  why does it bother you that it's not anonymous?

Most people said, 'just own it'.

The answer feels complicated but, really it's quite simple.  

It's a lot to own because it's just so personal.

Sure, there are things that get thrown into the mix because nothing is ever simple.  Things like, I started blogging at 26.  I wrote about things that I wouldn't write about today.   Some of my views have changed through the years - do I go back in time and delete content?  There are other things like, if some of the guys from work read about my feelings would they judge me harshly?  More importantly, why do I care...isn't that the bigger issue?

I ran across a quote from Steve Jobs that rang true.

That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.
— Steve Jobs

Do you want to know the truth?  Blogging anonymously was a bit of a cop out.  I could write my little heart out - rant and rave - and never be held fully accountable.  

In this case, simple is harder.  Not being anonymous is simpler.  It's also going to be a challenge.  I will have to work harder to get my thinking clean.  

Maybe, just maybe, having to 'own it' will be liberating.  

The Mine

Bridget asked me a question while I was at work and I rudely never responded!  I'm here to rectify this!

So is the tug going really slow to get these calm, quiet looking photos? Pushing/pulling a large barge?
— Bridget

Here is the operation in a nutshell:

I was working at the Port Site of a mine.  The mine is approximately 50-60 miles inland.  The product (ore) is trucked to large buildings that act as holding facilities.  At the Port Site the product is moved from the buildings to 'the cells' on a belt system.  The cells are basically an Offshore Terminal.  This isn't the most correct description because they aren't very far offshore but it will work.  

the cells

the cells

Once the product is loaded onto a barge at the cells it is towed to the anchorage where it is discharged to a ship.  There are normally three to four ships waiting in the anchorage for product.

There are two barges and four tugs.  Each barge has a dedicated tugboat and either end (the anchorage and the cells) has an assist boat.  When things are running smoothly the barges are simultaneously loading at the cells and discharging at the ship. 

tug and barge headed to anchorage

tug and barge headed to anchorage

I was on the assist boat working the cells however; we were also kind of the 'work boat'.  Meaning, we would work the ship too if it freed up the outside boat to make up to the loaded barge faster.  Our primary function was to keep the operation moving as efficiently as possible.  

the anchorage - you can see that both tugs are made up to the barge as they make their ship approach

the anchorage - you can see that both tugs are made up to the barge as they make their ship approach

It takes approximately three hours to load a barge.  This meant that every three hours we would 'pop' a loaded barge off the cells and then meet the empty barge to 'land' them at the cells.  Once the empty barge was landed we'd have three hours until we did it all over again- so we'd tie up to the dock with that barges tug - and this is why it looked so calm in my photos!  We were tied up!

landing alongside the ship - the yokohama fenders were critical

landing alongside the ship - the yokohama fenders were critical

The port site is north of the Arctic Circle which gives it a fairly well defined season.  The tugs and barges headed up in June and will be heading home by the end of October.  Lots of people just work the full season.  I did a pier head jump from one tug to this tug - which means I was ready for a break!  I'm home for a month and then hopefully I'll head back up to finish the season.

There you have it!

**I realize this post was super 'nuts and boltsy' but, well, it was work which is kind of 'nuts and boltsy'...