Saturday, October 25, 2014

Let Brass be Brass

It might just be me, but I'm a strong believer that certainly metals should be left to age and patina naturally.  It may also just be a little of my "particular-ness" that can't let things like this go...  So, today I decided to undo some wrong-doing.  I grew up on a boat, and thanks to my parents, have a high degree of respect for brass, stainless steel and even aluminum and don't think (although there are exceptions) that these metals should be painted.
This poor light cover has 2-3 layers of epoxy paint on it, which will always end up chipping over time and looking like crap.  I think a nicely tarnished brass has a certain amount of nautical sexiness that shouldn't be mesed with.
I took it upon my self to go around the boat and give brass back its sexiness. Not  because I like polished brass, but because naturally tarnished brass is "the way it should be.
Let it be, let it be...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Packing up.

          Each time I head out for a trip, I like to layout all my stuff and make sure I have everything.  Sometimes I take something out of my bag for use at home and forget to put it back.  If you get out on the boat and realize that you left a vital piece of gear, you're just going to have to do without until the next port.
          At any rate, I prefer to go through and check stuff off my list while packing up and since I've had a few folks email me through my blog, asking questions about "what to pack", I thought I'd get a little more organized and throw it out there for new folks that are starting the Workboat Program, or just new mariners in general.  This is not a comprehensive list, but it might shed some light on what to bring.   I work on towboats and we work cargo in port, so I bring things specific to that environment.  Some folks don't do cargo, but they work on tanker barges and their needs might vary slightly. Almost all of the boats have washer/dryer, but sometimes they break..  plan accordingly.  I sometimes do runs to Hawaii, so I scale back on the winter gear and obviously throw in some extra warm weather clothes/shorts for those trips.

For packing purposes, I like to have 2 bags. A seabag with shoulder straps and one with wheels for trucking through airports.  The seabag is my Navy seabag and I use it for core work gear plus it has backpack straps and easy to carry. The other rolling duffle is for general clothes/toiletries/etc.  I also bring my laptop bag with my Mac, cords, iPad (mostly for reading and games), hard drives, etc, credentials, etc.  I like these bags because they fold down pretty small and can stow away in my quarters pretty easy.  When I come home, these bags pretty much stay packed and ready to go with the exception of a few items.

Bag #1; (I use a military/Navy Seabag)
-Foul Weather Gear (waterproof parka and bibs).  I have an extra parka that I bring for cargo because it's a bit more breathable than my Grundens Rain Parka.
-Slip-on workboots. I prefer steel toe, (specifically Keens)
-Extratuf boots.  I prefer the steel toe/insulated because I sometimes wear them on the barge for cargo ops and they are warm in the winter months in Alaska
-Work pants: 3 pair.  I prefer Carhartt double knee and I insert the kneepads. (cargo/painting/etc)
-Knee Pads (optional, yet nice when you're painting low all day)
-Heavy Carhartt Jacket: mostly for heading into town when in port.
-Heavy pullover hoodie
-Coveralls for dirty work/painting/etc.
-Workout Mat and resistance bands   nice for working out on deck/stretching
-Workgloves (I use the blue Atlas and white thermal Atlas, plus a pair of latex Atlas for wet conditions)

Bag #2: (Rolling Duffle.  Eagle Creek makes a nice one that folds up)
-T-shirts (a week's worth)  I throw in some extra in case I trash a few
-Lounging/offwatch/workout clothes (shorts, sweatpants, etc.)
-Shoes for off-watch
-Underlayers top and bottoms for winter
-Socks (a week's worth)
-Underwear (a week's worth)
-Toiletries (make sure you have enough for the trip). Toothbrush/shampoo/shaving cream/Meds/etc.
-Shower sandals
-Cords/chargers/extension cord or strip.
-Flashlight and headlamp
-Knives (I bring an extra, and keep one on me at all times)
-Sunglasses (plus one extra)
-Headphones (I recommend noise canceling because tugs are noisy)
-Books/Coast Guard study stuff if you're trying to move up in the world like me
-Laundry Bag  the mesh type works well.
-Misc:   I throw in a bungie cord, cordage, straps for use my room. Hanging up stuff/etc.

Laptop Bag
-Credentials (passport, TWIC, MMC)
-Study guides/TOAR/TRB/Etc
-GoPro and access.   I just recently picked one up and it's great fun.  Gives me something to do in the off time.

Here's everything packed and ready to go:

Sometimes, I'll have a little extra room and I might throw in an extra pair of shoes or an extra sweatshirt/extra hat/etc for use in port or in case I completely trash some clothes. There might be something that I'm forgetting to put in the list, but it usually makes it's way into my bag at the last minute.

A good habit to get into is to keep your packing list on your phone/laptop/etc. and every time you think of something you forgot, write it down.  I'm constantly making tweaks to my list underway.

I depart on Friday for a trip up north and then next month I'll be heading to Hawaii on another boat.  Might have to swap some clothes out for that one.

Happy sailing!

Workboat Academy

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Post-Med Pause: Almost Done!

        My wife flew up to Seattle the evening before our last class and we had dinner in West Seattle and a few beers with friends.  The next day I finished up a week of Med Pro (Medical Care Provider).  This was a great class and we had plenty of hands-on practice with First Aid and CPR.  We did the usual stuff as with any first aid/cpr class, but then took it to another level with regards to the type of emergencies that we would encounter out at sea. Stroke, burns, heart attacks, compound fractures etc. and how to deal with them when your closest medical help is hours or even days away.  We had great paramedic instructors who kept the week lively and entertaining, which felt great after 2 weeks of tough celestial thought process.   The best feeling, was the realization that we are essentially done with all of our big classes.  We have about 8 days of mild classes left in January and thats it!  The end is in sight!
The Med Pro room, blown up with first aid supplies

Multiple trauma injury patient


After class on Friday and after we had all passed our exams, we had our traditional (and celebratory) "end of the session" lunch/beers with classmates and then my wife and I headed south... she drove.  ;-)   We spent the weekend in Portland with our good friends and so that she and our friend Joe could run the Portland Marathon. Monday morning we headed south again for the warm and dry climate of California.

My wife and our good friend Joe

       I'm home now and trying to relax for a few days before heading back north for work.  I'll be crewing up on the 17th and heading to Anchorage for a 3-4 week trip.  I'm still awaiting word on whether or not I'll have any other trips after this one.  The winter slows down quite a bit for our company, so trips become few and far between after October.  I still need 150 days of sea time before I can submit my packet and test with the Coast Guard next year.  It's going to be a push, but the sooner I get through all the requirements, the sooner I can get that license and move up the ladder to officer status.

      It will go by quick, but I'm dreading the fact that I'll be potential gone a lot over the next 6 months. I think it's safe to say that in a year from now, I'll be working as a Mate, and that is all the motivation I need to get me through the next 6-12 months.  We have a few weeks of test prep after our packets are submitted to the CG in the spring, and then it's test time!  Testing will take all week at the Coast Guard Regional Exam Center and it will be hell... but if all goes well, I'll walk out of there as a Merchant Marine Deck Officer!

I'd better get back to my relaxation, because I may not get much after next week.

Workboat Academy