BAFFIN ISLAND

BAFFIN ISLAND

Monday, March 15, 2010

MEXICO ON AN OIL TANKER - Part 1

I think my past life is more interesting ....for now anyway...so this is the story of my trip on a Canadian Oil Tanker to Mexico to work for a few months in 1987.
At the time my boyfriend was the Chief Mate of the Seaway Trader, an oil tanker owned by a NB company. She was a 75 year old 375 foot rust bucket suffering I know,  from metal fatigue
.
I joined her on the Great Lakes winter of 86 , much to the consternation of dear Captain Bunker, a curmudgeon of an elderly English sea Captain ! ' Women do not belong on ships ' ! he said .......of course the first thing I realized was that the Cap LOVED food, so being brilliant of mind, I asked the Chief Mate to give the Chef the weekend off and let me cook...  the Chef was estatic and drank the whole weekend ! ( biggest mistake he ever made) but that took care of the "women don't belong on ships "crap !!
Captain Bunker and I became good friends, I eventually had a very special place for that ole chap in my heart.
We spent many an afternoon passing up and down through the locks , bouncing off the walls on occasion as Cap, though a sweetie, sometimes screwed up on his maneuvers : ) all the while chatting about world affairs and the like. He seemed surprized that a woman knew stuff he knew, he was also surprized that I knew as much as I did about weather. Once I explained to him that I had helped the Chief Mate boyfriend with his captains exams , he understood.
We came down from the lakes in January, got stuck in the ice and had to be broke out, then proceeded on to Halifax. Once there,  we had a few days grace, hit all the bars then got the call for a refit and contract to Mexico ..Wooo hooo...
Shelburne would be our refit port so off we go,  me ...totally sea sick, as we were now out in the ocean sailing : ) . Finally  ! good old Shelburne...for a few weeks. We had to be in Mexico by the 19th of March and the Company figured it would take us 21 days ...ha...
Back to the Chef...the poor dear made a huge mistake by taking that weekend off...HUGE...the Captain decided he would rather have "the woman" as his cook : ) so I ended up not only with a trip to Mexico but a job to boot !!
Off we go, transderm behind the ear ,and enough stores for 21 days ( cheap company cut her to the wire : )
doing fine till we hit a storm off Cape Hatteras, and I found out what it meant for a ship to corkscrew !
What fun , the galley was aft, officers quaters forward. Now...in order to get to quarters with 15 ' seas breaking over the decks, the mates had to tie a large rope from aft to forward so we could get back and forth. Not a problem ! we would just time the last wave and run like hell !
The real fun was feeding my crew...yup...so it was sandwiches for a couple of days and in order to feed the boys I  had to get a couple of the crew in the galley to brace me so I could make them. We had everything tied down so nothing came snaking through the air to decapitate anyone.
Finally we make out of the storm just past the coast of North Carolina...and immediately we break down ! Apparently all that jigging around  really stressed some of out machinery. Its a wonder the ship hadn't broken apart from metal fatique !!
So the Chief mate and chief engineer take a lifeboat and head to shore to get a part machined.
Captain Bunker ; not being one to have his crew stay idle, decided to have a life boat drill....
The Captain and I positioned ourselves on the bridge deck to watch over the precise maneuvers of the second engineer and the deck crew as they prepared for the drill.
Everything in order ; the second mate winches the lifeboat out over the side where it immediately lets go its chains and falls into shark invested water : )
If you ever wanted to see an excited Captain and some freaked out deck hands ...this was the opportunity...over goes the life savers and up comes the boys, sputtering and cursing like banshees...I had to go below to the cabin so I could crack up in quiet : )

We lost 3 days messing around off the coast of Carolina getting our part machined and put back together before we can carry on to Mexico.
The weather is now warm and I am able to catch some rays, we have birds travelling with us, they stay on board as we are so far from land. Then the porpoises join us and ride the wave our bulbous nose pushes forward, playing , jumping around , they are so beautiful and stay with us for hours.
The Bermuda triangle was something we had talked about and wondered if we would get through unscathed , we did , nothing happened : )
3 days from our port of Coatzacoalcos, Mexico , we run out of food. I had been telling Cap we were getting low and now I'm down to a bucket of salt herring. Not good !!
But low and behold , the good Lord provideth ! and along came the flying fish !! Every morning the decks were full of these lovely fish who just flew in right off the tips of the waves. I told the crew...boys you bring me as many as you can and I'll cook them up as best I can. Well , I can tell you,....I could easily have written a book after that trip on " 101 Ways To Cook Flying Fish " !! but my crew survived and were happy ; ) to a point.
to be continued....

Monday, March 1, 2010

Growing up stuff and grown up stuff...

Was never a morning  kid ....get out of a warm bed on a winter school morning, ran down stair, stuck my feet in the oven of the kitchen wood stove and went back to sleep. Now I am a morning person.

Killing bats with a broom in the attic on rainy days, skinning rabbits with brother Sandy, putting on our swim suits and running around in a summer rain storm. Having him beat the blood suckers off the back of my legs when we swam in the cove at Welchtown Lake. Walking with Sandy back and forth to school listening to him sing.

Sitting in the hay loft on boring Saturdays with a twenty-two , shooting rats when they stuck their heads out..It made me one heck of a good shot, now I don't like guns.

Cutting snakes in half to free the hop toads.

Hauling a team of oxen during Shelburne exhibition in the girls haul and later in the Ladies haul and once using Sandy's oxen, and beating his percentage !, the teamsters really ribbed him about that one .

After school, in the warm spring afternoons,sleeping under a pine tree half way across the Welchtown road until dad picked me up on his way by with the log truck, scaling logs on Welchtown Lake and running the logs ( log rolling ) to stay on .

Going to bed fully dressed In order not to miss out on going with dad back to camp on the weekends with the oxen.

I was usually always in charge of the game “Cowboys and Indians” in the neighborhood and was really pissed when my brother Sandy ,got the beautiful double holster guns for Christmas and I got the single gun with a canteen. !!

I bet 10 bucks with my Uncle Charlie who owned a pig house that I could save a runt pigs life, one winter night I took one home under my jacket because Charlie said it was going to die. ( I did save its life but never got paid ) I loved that Porky pig, even cried when they castrated him.... I learned about injustice when I sold that big hog for 50 bucks believing that they were keeping him for a pet too.... kids will believe anything.

I got to see a hurricane rip huge 15 foot sheets of tin off Uncle Charlie's barn roof; and another time watch five sets of lights (alien space ships ) pass over Uncle Harry's house. : )

I remember how shocked I was when Grampy Howard died, (I didn't know people died till then.) It took years before I understood that some day I would die.

My brother Sandy let me drive dads new Massey Ferguson tractor , which I ran into Charlie's pig house roof, Sandy got the blame for letting me drive it ......damage to tractor ......about a grand....roof was fine.

I wanted to be a vet for the longest time but we couldn't afford college..... I used to keep snakes in shoe boxes in the shop loft until one bit me, then I threw them all out.

I thank my father, bless his heart , for instilling in me that I was a tough little girl, and I could do anything.....!

I thank my mother , bless her heart , for having such tenacity in anything she did and for being such a darn good cook !

Uncle Charlies kids had a piebald horse, who was crazy. I was riding him down the lane, full gallop when he stopped dead in his tracks, threw me over his head and me landing on the dirt road, stunned. I heard the kids saying “is she dead” as I was coming around. I got my wind and got back on that miserable nag.

Charlies oldest boy was practiceing with the shotgun one day, pointed towards out house, good thing it was a distance because as I opened the porch door the pellets were hitting the screen.

My girlfriends pierced my ears by numbing them with ice...I was 13 and remember the needle going through.........sounded like a knife through cardboard.

We used to cut each other's  hair with razor blades in the bathroom at school.

It wasn't until I had a rare cancer in 1991 and survived , that I realized that material things don't mean a dam thing, they really don't .

I lost one of my sons in 2001 and with that ....a terrible hidden feeling of emptiness pervades my whole body on a daily basis and will until the day I die. This I know to be true.

With age comes the willingness to accept people for who they are (though at times its hard and you just want to kick some in the butt ! ) and of course me understanding me, and knowing there are times when some people want to kick my butt ! That's just too bad : ) .

I love to laugh more than anything, cook up a storm, go off on adventures, hang out with true friends and sometimes just spend time alone (keeps me centered)

I love small towns to live in and big cities to visit.

I love being over 50 years old, there is a freedom and understanding that comes with this age.

If there is ever an underground group formed to shoot convicted pedophiles I will probably be on the board and have the best and biggest hand gun.

My feelings about legalizing grass ? Why not ? just about everyone I have known in my life has smoked it , and thats a lot of people ....yet I know none who are addicted and most; including myself who just don't bother with it anymore or occasionally take a puff if offered.. Actually I know more people with drinking problems ! so there you go !!

I don't know what I would do without my very best non human friends , Maddy and Jackson, and my human friends , Kimmie, Monk,  Char,  and the rest of the "bush women" of Ohio.

I believe the worst thing that could happen to you ,(other than losing a child), is dying regretting that you didn't do something. .....so whatever your thinking and whatever the dream “ just get it done " !

I am totally of the belief that the human race should become extinct in order to save every other life form on this planet. And that thought greatly saddens me.