About Me

A slightly over-educated sailor sharing the wet and dry sides of his life.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

More Catching Up: Norfolk, Virginia

Thursday, June 11, 2009
12:47 AM
Going Ashore in Norfolk
We expect to receive the Norfolk pilot around 1000. From there, it will be close to three hours before we're finished with docking and lines. Considering that we are schedule to leave at midnight, and that there will be lots of Engine and Steward Department stores, I may find myself unable to go ashore. That will be a drag! I still have some toiletry items that I need, pit-stop being high on the list. The other issue is my being able to post another entry for this blog at Fair Grounds coffee shop, just off of Colley Avenue. They offer free WiFi, so I highly recommend their generosity and good coffee. FG is kitty corner and half-a-block away from a Starbucks. The only thing 'Bucks has over SG is that they sell The New York Times.

I also hope to buy a cheap guitar to leave on the ship. The last time I was in Norfolk, I recalled seeing an inexpensive Yamaha at a music shop in the Ghent neighborhood. If that doesn't pan-out, I'll have to find one in Singapore. Though I've been there several times, the one place I saw guitars for sale is no longer in business. The search starts all over again?

I'm uncertain whether to ask for a reimbursement out of the ship's recreation fund for the guitar. I know there are other sailors who play guitar and would enjoy having an instrument to keep up their chops on. Then again, to bring a guitar aboard is ultimately self-serving. At the same time, I have been asked to play for the crew (as if I enjoyed being obliged to play for people by a captain I didn't particularly like. I did it, though, only because it was for a Chief Mate that I did like).

8:58 AM
One more hour before we pick up the pilot. After that, it will be steering in hand, instead of relying on the auto pilot. We've already started the hour-for-hour rotation on the wheel. That's why I'm able to write right now, my being on "standby."

Getting up this morning was a little rough. I stayed up a bit too late last night. As a watch stander, I have only eight hours from the end of on watch to the start of my next (each bridge watch lasts four hours). I also work four hours of overtime in the four hours between lunch and dinner. Because of this schedule, it's important to get into bed as soon as possible after work. It would seem that keeping up this blog is not going to be that easy. Once we get out to sea, I hope to spread out the time I spend writing. Besides, everything falls back into the daily routine once we get out to sea for the passage across the Atlantic and through the Mediterranean.

Saturday, June 13, 2009
12:27 AM
Not Enough Sleep
Too tired to add to the log over the last 24 hours. We left the dock at Norfolk at Midnight. It was three hours more when we dropped off the Chesapeake Bay harbor pilot. Since the Bosun, Norm Christiansen, and I were on the 8 to 12 watch, we were the so-called "Back-up watch" for the mid-watch and, therefore, had to take care of the bow lookout and assist the standby helmsman with rigging and securing the pilot ladder. It was a little after 0300 when we were done with work and off to bed.

This is a prime example of why sleep is always at such a premium. Since I'm the 8 to 12 watch stander, I get up for breakfast and my 0800 watch. Though I get a wake-up call at 0720, I try to get up a half-hour before that, in order to give myself enough time to clear my head and grind some coffee beans for my French press. Coffee is my friend. Even without the interruption of docking and undocking, I normally get only six hours of sleep between midnight and 0700, it being my habit of needing an hour to wind-down enough to get to sleep. After dinner, I try to take a nap before my 2000 watch, which actually starts at 1945. That early start time allows for passing-on the ship's true course, course steered, and the magnetic compass heading, as well as word on any vessels within visual and radar range, to the relieving helmsman. In reality, it is a rare thing to find myself getting a full eight hours of sleep when I'm a watch stander.

On that note, I'm heading to bed. It's a quarter-to-one, and I'm now looking at that precious six hours of snooze. I'll be doing my best to keep this blog alive.

By the way, by now it must be obvious that I failed to make it to Fair Grounds coffee shop (That's why this entry is getting posted on the blog weeks after the writing). I lucked into a free ride into town, but the wait and dinner with the people I was with used up more time than I thought I had (a little more of that in a bit...). Now I'll end up having to wait until Singapore or Jebel Ali (if I'm lucky to find a connection) for the next opportunity to cut and paste my writings into this blog. There has to be a better way. We shall see.

I did score a cheap guitar, though. It's an all-black, six-string acoustic Ibanez with a cut-away body and pick up system (as if that has any use out here). I found it at Russell's Music World, a tiny shop located at 504 Washington Park, in Norfolk, Virginia. The owner, Russell Scarborough, is a nice guy and had two acoustic guitars I was able to try out. I chose this one, because it was the cheaper of the two, and I liked the overall sound better. Since no one else brought an instrument, I have to go it alone. I did bring four harmonicas and a neck rack with me, so I can now musically rub my stomach and pat my head in the privacy of my own stateroom.

You Cocksucker!!!
At some point, I hope to write more about Mark Nemergut. He was the generous soul that gave me and 3rd Mate, Wes Wilson, a ride to town in Norfolk--and then some. Mark is the Chief Mate aboard the APL ship, President Jackson. He is now the reason I've penciled-in the Jackson as a ship worth sailing on. What a character! He wants to write a book titled: "I Told the Cocksucker..." Or: My Life in the Merchant Marine.

I think the name says it all. Yes, we actually do say such things as "Motherless cocksucker!" or address a despised individual as "You focking cunt!!!" It's not like we have anything against gays or women, it's more like, the harsher the epithet or more extreme the phrase, the better. "The Taboo" is useful. Actually, we do enjoy it when a gay or transvestite sailor arrives aboard. They often shake things up a bit and rock many an ultra-conservative homophobe's boat. It's always good sport when someone shows up to the Captain's office at the end of a voyage in drag ("Yo, Franky, we loves ya!" But that's another sea story...).


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