I've been in a bit of a funk. I decided I needed a bit of a creative project so, I started taking a picture every day highlighting some of the colors I see. It's similar to what I did previously with a daily photo of my morning, evening and afternoon. 

Once I got started, a gauntlet was thrown down.  Don't use the same color twice. This means I'm naming my colors. It's all Benjamin Moore - Behr Paint names around here!  Ha! 

I didn't really consider how monochromatic the Arctic can be when I started. Lots of green, grey, blues.....with lots of rust on the boats!  I'm on Day 8 and it's already proven to be more challenging than I expected!

Challenging but fun.  


Here's a little sample of what I've got so far! 

If you wanna follow along you can find them on Instagram / Twitter - @nautiemermate - they go to FB too - Megan the Nautie Mermate.  

I'll try to post some here as I go along too.  

Arctic Happenings

Up in the Arctic...there aren't too many happenings.  Here's a little peak at what amounts to happenings these days. 


Big into the matcha these days. It's like sipping green goodness. I'm calling it tugboat hygge.  I also just officially made sipping tea a 'happening' so, now you know what we're dealing with here.  


Who knew that mosquitos were such a thing in the Arctic. I grew up in the tropics and I have never....I mean never ever ever....seen swarms of mosquitos like these. Look at this spider web!  


Clouds. They're gorgeous. So is that long low ground swell that really packed a punch. 


We had a little 'incident'. A 'smell' was detected in the freezer. Turns out the air was unable to circulate around the boxes of meat and we had a bunch of chicken....and sadly some sirloin steaks....thaw and begin to rot.  I had to individually cut open each piece of vacuum sealed meat and throw it over the side. Totally gross.  The seagulls strangely didn't touch the sirloin but went to town on the chicken. I shared it in my Instagram stories. If you don't go there you should. I share tons on Instagram. #justsayin


There's been tons of dirt moving. Because that's what we do up here. There's been tons of sunshine. Because it's the Arctic, yo. 

Thats a wrap. Maybe there will be more of this to come. Also, fair warning. There might be some feelings getting shared. I've been saving them up. :)

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! 

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 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'...