Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Goddamned Coffeepot

The wind has finally laid down some, a real favor to this boat -- a "big 135" with a measly 2,800 horses and no thruster. Not that I've ever used a thruster on a crewboat, but still ...

This morning, at our fourth stop of the run, the first captain came storming up the wheelhouse stairs, shoved me out of the way and said: "I'm going to school you ..." I was, he said, making the deckhands uptight.

The indictment read as follows: throttle jockeying, rushing from rig to rig, dumping gears.

Hey, it's his boat and he has the right to insist it is run the way he wants it run. But I'm no throttle jockey. And I sure as hell wasn't throwing the sticks down on the dash with an audible "clack" as he demonstrated; I don't even hold the throttles in a way that would make that possible.

I may not be doing everything exactly the way he wants on this boat yet, but I sure wasn't doing everything wrong, which was his strong implication.

A little later, he rushed up the steps again.

"This is the second morning in a row the coffeepot hasn't been set up. On this boat, you have to set the coffee pot up for the next watch."

"Okay, I got that," I said.

"Well, why wasn't it done? This is the second time. It was set up for you!"

"Probably because I'm still drinking coffee, and it's not even 1100. You come on watch at noon, right? Also, I've been driving the boat for the last five hours."

"It's got to be set up when I wake up," he clarifies. "If I get up before [the engineer], if that coffee is more than 20 minutes old, I dump it out and make a fresh pot for him. We don't drink old coffee."

"Okay, [his name -- rhymes with "Dick"], so what time do you usually get up?"

"It depends, but usually by 8 or 8:30."

"Okay," I say. "I guess I'll stop drinking coffee by 0700, just to be safe, and make sure the pot is set up for you."

"Look," he says, voice rising, "That's just the way it is on this boat, the way it's been for the past 13 years. If you can't get with the program I'll throw the goddamned coffeepot overboard!"

Alrighty then.

Oddly, that's the longest exchange I've had with this guy. The other day, in an effort to make small talk, maybe find a connection, I asked: "So, what kind of bike do you have?"

I got a one-word reply: "Harley." Then he walked away.

I could have guessed that much, given that he was wearing a Harley t-shirt.

Does it matter? <shrug> I dunno. In the end I'm here for a paycheck, and for the sea time. I'm always hoping to learn something new and improve my skills. It would be really nice if my weeks on the boat also were pleasant, interesting, or even (from time to time) fun.

After the goddamned coffeepot conversation, I was ready to go.

"Man," I said to a friend, "this just isn't going to work."

I decided instead to sleep on it, and now I just don't know. We'll see how I feel come Tuesday, I guess.


  1. This is why I don't drink coffee, and never have. There are lots of asses on the water that suffer from this coffee psychosis. My response has always been, I don't drink it, making it isn't in my job description, make your own...Take him up on his offer and let him throw the pot overboard, end of problem.

  2. My last hitch the second captain schooled me saying it was my responsibility to make coffee for him. I said that was one more thing I didn't know and since I'm not drinking any coffee on the boat (they all make it way too strong) I asked how he likes it made. That guy had the syndrome that NO ONE could do anything correctly. He even told me how to close a door. I'm so glad that at 52 years old I've finally been told how to do that ;-)

    You may need to pop over to the company that gave you the other offer.

  3. Jim, the obvious solution -- and I didn't think of it til I was home -- is ... (wait for it!): TWO COFFEEPOTS. Congratulations on learning to close a door. That should help you immensely. I know my life has not been the same since the lead captain on my first crewboat told me how to walk quietly. ;-).