Thursday, September 27, 2012


Well, the fall migration appears to be heating-up. Nearly 100 miles off the Louisiana coast, I'm seeing an increasing number of warblers and other songbirds. Had a Yellow-throated Warbler perch outside the aft helm windows last week, and a hummingbird flitted around our grocery boxes at one platform.

A Ruby-crowned Kinglet hitched a ride on the boat for almost an entire day, week before last.

In the water, I spotted a Box Jellyfish a couple of weeks ago; it's only the second one I've ever seen, and they still freak me out.

Unlike other jellies, box jellies actually have eyes, they can swim against the current, and they actively hunt their prey. They're also quite venomous and can inflict very painful and sometimes even fatal stings.

Let's see, we also briefly sighted a sea turtle, and the dolphins (Atlantic bottlenose) have been playing around the boat a lot lately.

Our standby buoy is back, at the astounding cost of $27,900. With it we're seeing some new fish that like floating objects: dolphin (dorado, mahi-mahi) and  tripletails. The latter, sometimes called "sleeping fish" due to their habit of swimming and floating broad-side up, are terrific table fare.

As a youngster, I was endlessly amused by juvenile tripletails that hung out around the pilings and bulkheads in Rockport Harbor.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Call me Ishmael

My brother just alerted me to a new, free e-book site, and mentioned that he's reading Moby Dick. Because I don't have anything else good to write about today, I'll simply post what is perhaps my favorite passage in any book written by an American -- the first eight lines of Chapter One of Melville's sometimes ponderous tome:

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago- never mind how long precisely- having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.

Which reminds me, of course of a really cool t-shirt I recently bought at Parts & Labour on South Congress in Austin.

It's a sperm whale with "Call Me Ishmael" worked into the outline. I thought it was appropriate.

Groundhog Day. Groundhog Day. Groundhog ....

Groundhog Day

More than halfway to the end of my probationary period, and the “new job” smell has pretty much worn off.

Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy my work. Really, I do.

The days and nights, though, are starting to all run together. Seas are higher this week than the last week I was on the boat, someone got off and someone came back, but other than that … it’s mostly just more of the same.

I finally got to meet our new port captain when we were last at the dock. He said he was bringing supplies, and in fact we did get three new halogen light bulbs. He explained the new supply procedures and it does indeed sound like a significant process improvement.

But only if we start getting the stuff we started asking for three months ago.

Can I run the Atchafalaya at night without a spotlight? Probably. Will I, if I have a choice? No.

Can we pump out our waste oil tank with a suction hose made up of the remnants of three others? Yes – we did, tonight, but it made a hell of a mess in the engine room. That’s just more work for a guy who already has enough to do.

Should we wash down the wheelhouse with freshwater every night? I’d like that. Will I ask the deckhand to do it if we don’t have a nozzle for the end of the hose? Nope.

Will our patch on the turbo cooling line on the number four engine hold a while longer? Maybe. But it would be really nice to have the part we asked for a month ago.

I could go on, but that’s probably enough of a rant. I’m sure most folks in this industry – no matter what company they work for – have similar frustrations.

Things aren’t bad, but they could be better.

Update: Back at the dock Wednesday, and somewhere around here allegedly is a pallet ... a freakin' PALLET of supplies with our boat's name on it. Sweet.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Other Boats

I'm no ship spotter, but I do sometime snap pics of other boats whose paths we cross. Here are a few:
Ms Anna Mae, a C&G crewboat.

Wateree, a crewboat owned by South Carolina-based Starfleet.


American Constitution, a dive boat.

Ricky P. Cavalier, a 148-foot utility boat leased to Gulf Logistics.
Candy Counter, outbound in the Atchafalya (and in the rain).
Spud barge and pushboat westbound below Bayou Boeuf Lock.
 Miss Peggy Ann.
Take a Break, a pretty cool floating camp.
Emily G., out of the  Bayou Bouef Lock.
Luke Thomas, a pretty cool little DP dive boat.
 Blue Bill, a little break bulk freighter that's been on the dock forever.
 Utility boats stacked in the yard in Larose.
 Mr. Colby, a Gulf Logistics utility boat.

Betty G., a 110' utility boat. Typical of the "G Boats" once ubiquitous in the GoM. We're about to stern up to her to pass a package.

Mr. Blake, an Iberia Marine Services crewboat.
Lady Eve, another IMS boat.