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?

 

 

Currently :: The Getting Underway Edition

We've been sitting idle for a week while we waited out some nasty weather in the Gulf of Alaska.

Hoonah, Alaska

Hoonah, Alaska

 

It's hard to describe how sitting and taking it easy on a boat is much harder than being underway.  

Here's what I've been up to currently... 

 I've been coloring. I'm so glad I brought my 'adult coloring book' with me. I know it's a fad. I know it screams look at me I'm a yuppy hipster but, I've been grateful for it. I even walked to the hardware store and bought a 64 pack crayola crayon box (because how can you turn down the built in sharpener?!). Apparently, the hardware store is where you go for everything in remote Alaskan villages. 

I've been binge watching Game of Thrones. I was on season 1.5 and now I'm on season 4. Need I say more?  Maybe I need to say that the Red Wedding did shock me, I was sad, I now understand why my FB feed was flooded with Red Wedding gasps about two years ago... 

I've been Instagramming.  I find it perks me up a bit. Makes me look for the good and beautiful in my day. It allows me to share that with friends. Sure, sure we all pretty up our lives for the insta-love but, I know for myself it's not always a bad thing. 

I've been sitting here thinking about what else I'm up to currently and am having a hard time. How's that for mopey boat syndrome?

The bottom line is I'll be headed into the Gulf of Alaska on the final leg of this '8 day trip' *ahem* 'one month trip' and I'll be without Internet. I figured I'd stop by and let you know I'd be away! 

Here's to Fair Winds and Following Seas! 

Packing Light

When I headed out on this trip I knew I had to pack light. My room was going to be tiny. I might be flying to remote locations. I also just wanted to see if I could rise to the challenge. For the past three years I've been able to join my ships at the dock - which means I can pack heavy and then hump that stuff up the gangway. That method was absolutely not going to work this time.  

Kind of a joke....Sadly true... 

Kind of a joke....Sadly true... 

I've always treated my luggage like home away from home.  How can I ensure I have a delicious coffee?  Pack an orange zester.  How can I make sure I get a good nights sleep?  Pack flannel sheets + duvet cover. How can I stay mentally active?  Bring an iPad, Kindle, Laptop, iPod + portable speaker...and all required cables and chargers. 

This time out I was cutthroat.  I made lists and slashed, slashed, slashed. 

Then I headed to work with a precise list of what exactly was packed.  

Now that week two is almost complete I have a modified list of what I've used, what I've worn and what I miss. I have to be honest and say the 'what I miss' list has surprised me.  

The good news is packing light wa a good idea because my room is tiny and I might end up having to bunk up with someone.  

What's up with the umbrella?  No clue.  

What's up with the umbrella?  No clue.  

My room is so small that my bunk actually folds down from the bulkhead! 

In the meantime I'm off to revise my packing lists! 

What are the things you love to pack to bring a little home with you? 

Nautie Tugs Have Nicer Sterns

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Sometimes things just unfold.  One second you're going one way and the next thing you know you're going another way. A path that you didn't even consider becomes a viable option and that friends, is exactly why I'm currently sitting on a tugboat headed to ports unknown.  

When I was in school I took Tug & Barge and it was hands down one of the best experiences I had. It was incredibly hands on - we spent all day on the tug - much of the day was spent moving around the barge. It was fabulous.  

Getting out of school I went deep sea. I worked on ships and I moved up my license. I didn't really consider tugs because the tonnage wouldn't have moved up my license.  

Now here I am. I've maxed out my license, I've hopped around the industry (and let's be honest I've struggled to find a home since my favorite ship was reflagged), I've moved back home to Hilo and I've had to do some soul searching. 

What it boils down to is that it's been harder and harder for me to get excited to go to sea. I've just slowly been losing steam. It's been longer than I care to admit that I enjoyed a watch, had fun with my shipmates or really felt like I was excited to learn something new.  All of this is out of character for me. I'm excitable. I enjoy the sea. I love to learn.  

When a friend said, 'why don't you try tugs. You might be surprised!'  I thought, what the heck...I've got nothing to lose.  

One week later I flew out to meet a tug in Japan. Destination to be determined.  

As I stagger around the tug (because ummmm....these tugs really move around...more on this to follow...) it feels new. Right now, new feels good.  

a sailbot. some sunglasses. swollen eyes.

Let me tell you a little story.  Circa 2005 I was kicking around Castine, ME for the summer.  I had just graduated and was a brand new Third Mate who had no clue how to find a job.  I decided I better stick around and sail on the Bowdoin for the summer because really when you're a new graduate why the heck not.  I had a few days before I had to show up for the Bowdoin and there were these two guys that I kinda sorta knew.  They were delivering a sailboat from Maine to Rhode Island and asked if anyone wanted to go with them.  I raised my hand because I was bound and determined to be an adventurer.

sunrise on day one.  sun & sail.

sunrise on day one.  sun & sail.

A couple wool sweaters, foul weather gear and long undies later my bag was packed.  I don't even know what we took for food and honestly I don't even remember eating.

Here's what I remember in perfect order...

We were pulling away from the dock.  I leaned over to take the line off the cleat.  In slo-mo my sunglasses slipped off the top of my head and sunk before my eyes.  I was bummed but we were off and I was excited.

It was a gorgeous day.  I laid on the deck in the sun.  With my wool sweater and pants on because it may have been sunny but it was definitely not warm.  I think I dosed a bit.

i couldn't get enough of the sun through the sail.

i couldn't get enough of the sun through the sail.

Then I took my turn at the tiller.  It was a nice day but not much wind so we mostly motored.

Night hit quickly and it was 'effin freezing.  So.  So.  So cold.

We woke up in the morning huddled in the cockpit together.  I think we kinda sorta all roused at the same time...

it's actually freezing.  spinnaker & cockpit.

it's actually freezing.  spinnaker & cockpit.

There was a very, very large LNG tanker just a couple hundred meters in front of us.  Honestly, I was so naive that I'm not even sure I knew it was an LNG - I just knew there was a big ship in front of us - and now that I'm sailing that is pretty much my worst nightmare....they probably had no idea we were there.

love the caption. 

love the caption. 

By midday my eyes were swollen shut.  

Remember that little nap I took in the sun with no sunglasses?  I burned my eyeballs.

I was officially freezing cold on a sailboat with my eyes swollen shut.  It was awesome.

There was no wind and we spent the rest of the trip motoring at an incredibly slow speed.

smooth sailing.

smooth sailing.

I spent the last 24 hours huddled in the cockpit trying not to move.  I'm sure the dudes I was with thought I was a total head case.

 

I ran across this photo album while settling into my home...it definitely brought back some memories!

#westcoastbestcoast

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Sometimes when I use the hashtag #westcoastbestcoast I actually feel a little guilty. Mostly I feel guilty because I love Maine and I'm technically not from the West Coast. That being said the majority of my family lives on the West Coast... More importantly I just spent about ten days in port on the West Coast and it didn't rain at all.  Therefore it earned my undying gratitude and the hashtag #westcoastbestcoast. That's fair, right?