About Me

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

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Back In the Orient Again: Banana Port Control, Jamming on the Uk e, Jack Tar Guilty and Fined, and Seafarers Club WiFi Bandwidth

Sorry for the lack of updates. I've been kind of distracted lately. Yes, "The Blue Screen of Death" and the task of rebuilding my hard-drive. Of course, that only takes up so much time, but it's more about finding out
what no longer can be done, due to lost codecs and other items installed through 6 years of updates to resident software. 

Another distraction that has kept me away from blogging is that I've been trying to learn the folk song, "Wayfaring Stranger" on the ukulele. The chords aren't that difficult to learn and get right. What is hard is memorizing all the lyrics. There isn't really that much when it comes to the number of words and verses. The problem is with the regional turns of phrase. As a speaker of the West Coast dialect of American Standard English, my language habits make me want to resort to words not in the song to say the same thing. This is a big No-No when you have end-rhymes. I actually have a photo copy of the lyrics in my pocket as I type. If I wasn't so tired all the time, I probably would have had this task completed by now.  At least the song sounds like it was meant to be played on the uke. Since the song is about someone looking forward to dying and minor chords sound brittle when played on a ukulele, it really works. 

The ship is currently heading for Singapore, having finished with Jebel Ali this morning. The passage through the Med and the Suez Canal all went well.  The passage through the Straits of Hormuz (between Iran to the north and Oman and U.A.E. to the south) gave the night watches a heavy dose of Banana Radio. The Filipinos, Pakistanis, Indians, and others were out in full force insulting each other over Channel 16 ("I can't see you, but I can smell you."). There will be more of that, as the ship exits the Persian Gulf. Fujairah, U.A.E. has an incredible number of ships sitting at anchor there. Basically, at night is when the stars of "Banana Port Control" come out. I just wish these clowns didn't jam-up the frequency reserved for ship-to-ship hailing.

Jebel Ali went as well as one can hope for. I went to the Seafarer's club again and finally managed to get online with my laptop. The WiFi system was easy enough to connect through with; however, with all the people there with laptops being online, the speed of the broadband connection was reduced significantly. This was very apparent when loading web pages and attempting to navigate through my Hotmail account. Often images failed to load. When I visited Boing Boing, download time was long and many image boxes remained blank after the Internet browser indicated it was finished loading. One other thing I discovered was that the videos I uploaded to my blog are presently missing. I don't know if the fault was with my computer's browser of if it's with my blog. Either way, I have no way of knowing at this point. I am bummed.

Another killer to the online experience was that my computer's processing power was distracted by its need for updating. Imagine all those seafarers' laptops doing the same thing, because we've all been at sea and away from an Internet connection for the past month or so. Now imagine the drain to bandwidth. Flashback to dial-up, anyone?

One more thing about the Club: The band was back again. The big difference was that there was a new girl on stage. I should have spent some time taking them in, but the Internet took priority and two of my shipmates wanted to go back to the ship as soon as they were done online. Geez, what's with this new generation? What ever happened to sitting around in a bar and knocking back a few cold ones and BS'ing until closing? Umm... How about the amount of cig smoke in the room and the need for sleep? There you go.

The latest word on the sailor who was taken into custody four months ago, is that he was declared guilty of whatever it was they charged him for (Bad-mouthing the country?) and fined $2700.00. Since there are still more formalities that need to move forward, he's still in custody. Fortunately, he has been staying in an extended-stay hotel suite somewhere--instead of jail. At this point, no one knows how much long it will be. For some reason, something tells me that I'll make it home before he does.  Since the ship finished cargo way ahead of schedule, we were called out at 0345. Unfortunately, that turned out to be premature. More trucks with containers kept appearing at the last minute, prolonging our stay by more than an hour. An then, the pilot took forever to arrive at the ship. In the end, we didn't get underway until after 0600. Unbelievable! So I now have to go to bed to make up for that loss of sleep. No, it's more like I NEED to. 

So that's it. Good night for now. By the way: Less than a month to go before I'm home!!!

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