Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Sign of the Times

I knew it was only a matter of time before a wrench got thrown into my "plan".The company I work for is,for lack of a better word,downsizing.The oil and grain industries as you know have taken a huge hit from the current economic downfall.The company that employs me has been kind enough to keep me on as long as they could I suppose.I'm not exactly a high priority on their list of people.I have yet to receive word of being let go,however the signs are everywhere.Currently in the company shipyard we have four boats at the dock with no work.The crews,over the last few months,have been taken down to "skeleton" crews.This means only essential personnel are kept on board.This has turned into people being sent home early,kept home after they are due back and now getting the letter in the mail that says thanks for your hard work now kick rocks.I have yet to be screwed with.My schedule has stayed the same,I have gotten to know many of the office workers and the owners over the last month.I don't want to go home because I don't know when they will bring me back that's the bottom line.I'm due off next Wednesday and unfortunately my Grandmother passed a few days ago.I had to make the horrible decision to stay on the boat rather than leave early to go to the funeral.This,in my eyes,is a ticket to hell.Unfortunately giving the office a reason to lay me off is a direct ticket back to being jobless and eating corn every night for dinner.Yes I did that for a few weeks,it's possible but not fun.So I can only hope that my family will understand that I'm not proud of this decision however I think my Grandmother would understand.With no job I'm worthless and not a happy person.There is a good chance that even though I'm fulfilling my obligation to work that I will still be kept home.Only time will tell if I get to come back to work and if I have made the right choice.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I'm Still Here

Yeah I know,it's a big surprise isn't it.First let me apologize for the lack of posts I have been writing,or haven't been writing.Second I want to apologize for what my blog has become.I started this blog as a way for me to communicate with family,friends and strangers what it is I do at work.It hasn't worked in the least bit.My friends apparently don't much care,which is fine because I suppose I don't much care about the 20 A/C units they put in at a condo complex.My family I think already gets the idea and well my writing skills flat out stink.I simply can't convey what I do at work in words.It is literally impossible.The few videos I have made ended up being five minute explanations that confused even me.The pictures require entirely to many nautical terms that I don't even understand sometimes.All that coupled with the fact that over the last few months my boat hasn't moved a single barge.People are dropping like flies and I work my butt off just to try and seem important enough to receive my paycheck and not be sent home.While I'm apologizing/explaining,sorry that the "tugboatdude" blog has turned into half tugboats and half outdoor stories.Clearly I enjoy writing about my outdoor adventures more than tugboats,but I do honestly love them both.So all that being said there will be a few minor changes to this blog.It will be written the same,however what I intend to accomplish with this blog will change.I have only one goal,to write about what I know about.Does that make sense?So,again,sorry the tugboat posts have been slow but I simply have had enough of shipyard grunt work and don't want to write about it.I'm actually looking forward to making these changes as I won't feel pressured to write about something I may not feel like writing about.Whenever we do get another contract the tugboat posts will return with a full vengeance and in my off time there will be plenty of outdoor adventure posts.thanks for your understanding to the five people that read this.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Down the Same Road

Around this time last year I had my first experience with my employers

Shipyard.It was actually the first time I met anyone who worked in the office or home base as we call it.I got hired a few months before that when they were in a pinch for someone and my resume happened to be in front of them.I remember coming into the yard last Summer and wondering if everyone in the office was as evil as was portrayed to me.The answer was simple,no.So what if the first few times I met the owners they didn't even say hello or who the hell is that.I'm the kind of guy that does his job well and stays under the radar.So when we left the yard after a week or so last Summer my feelings weren't hurt at all.However we have been back to the shipyard four times in the last year for general maintenance and supplies.The funny thing is now every person in that office knows my name.Normally that would worry me,it always did in High school.How did this happen,I don't really know.I know this though,last hitch,in the Shipyard with all three owners drilling me with questions about the boat,I answered everything well enough that I was asked to stay on the boat when they sent everyone else home.It was a mixed blessing because it's hard,long hours in the shipyard but it's money.

Whitetail Deer seen during the walk back

So we left that shipyard a few days ago and headed back to "home base" in Maryland.Last Summer when we first came here,a few of the crew and I walked the property.Behind the shipyard is a few hundred acres of fields,creeks,barns and yes a pond.It's a long walk to the pond but it's a nice quiet country walk.After we returned from our walk last year one of the owners suggested we take a fishing pole with us next time as there could possibly be a few fish in the pond.We had no fishing pole on board and I was new to the company so I let it rest.Fast forward one year and with my ability to borrow a van to get into town I did this past weekend.My goal,to buy a fishing pole.I accomplished this at the lovely Wal-Mart.Apparently Wal-Marts in the "country" actually have decent fishing gear.So with my twenty dollar rod and reel combo and my two beetle spins and a few rooster tails I went back to the boat.The next day,Sunday,I awoke knowing this was to be the day I make the walk.Unfortunately after working all day the crew wasn't having the same idea as me.To bad for them because I took the walk.

Sunset in Chesapeake City,Maryland

Just like I had remembered it,beautiful.I honestly wouldn't want the maintenance involved with a ranch this size,but I do admire.Furthermore,I will enjoy it if someone tells me I have permission and I do.So I took my time walking through the cut corn fields and over the small creeks and I finally made it.I sat down and just took a deep breath.On any side of me I was easily a twenty minute walk away from any human beings,priceless.No sound but the wind blowing through the pine trees.I rigged up my Wal-Mart special with a small rooster tail or my indicator lure.I learned this from my brother Swamp Thing,try a small lure to see what's biting then go after the big ones with bigger gear.First cast and you guessed it,fish on.It was a decent sized Crappie and thinking it was merely beginners luck I took a picture.Usually when things start off that good then end quite poorly in my life,this was to be a different couple of hours.

First fish of the day/small Crappie caught on rooster tail

So it went on this way for about an hour,I cast and every few retrieves fish on.Everything from one pound Crappie to small Bass and Sunfish.My brother Swamp Thing happened to call me in the middle of this awesome experience and I relayed what was going on.We talked for a few minutes and I told him of my current dilemma.I wanted to put a beetle spin on to try for a bigger bass but if I was catching fish why bother just enjoy it.Well I didn't get greedy and after hanging up the phone I put my gear down and simply went for a walk.I knew I had around an hour of daylight left and I wanted to just check out the woods and other surroundings.I found a few old wooden private property signs and a place I like to call Bluegill Gap.There's a creek or two that zig-zag through the property and I followed one that seemed to be leading me somewhere.I ended up at a small natural waterfall and I couldn't believe how awesome it was.After snapping a few pictures I returned to the lake and continued fishing.

Bluegill Gap,Chesapeake City,Maryland

I fished the same bank of the pond where I left off and was rewarded with a few overweight Crappie.Upon returning to the exact spot where I started fishing I took one last cast and I landed a nice two pound largemouth bass.I was so excited I couldn't believe I caught this fish on a rooster tail with a Wal-Mart special.After I calmed down I decided a few more casts before I returned to the boat.Exactly two casts later I landed the biggest largemouth bass I have landed since I was a kid.It took everything I had to get that fish to the shore line.I forgot how much I missed that feeling of oh please,oh please don't break the line.So all and all I guess I learned a few things this past Sunday.Number one,you don't need expensive gear to have fun.Number two,just because you're tired doesn't mean you can't do something you enjoy.In the words of Captain Johny,screw it you can sleep when you're dead!

two pound bass caught on private pond in Chesapeake City,Maryland

Three poun-plus bass caught on private pond in Chesapeake City,Maryland

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Find the Time

Tug Calusa Coast

It has been extremely difficult to find the time to sit down and write down anything.I can't even really find time to myself as of late.I came back to the boat last Thursday and it was right where I had left it.The shipyard wasn't where I necessarily wanted to go back to work,however with layoffs starting to hit the maritime industry,I'm glad to have a job.So last Thursday we completed putting the tow machine back together,fortunately I missed the hard part which happened last Tuesday.Don't worry I did my "hard" part when I took the thing apart before I went home a few weeks ago.The tow machine back together and the boat is ready to go back to work.Unfortunately there is no contract for us.This can only mean one thing,more shipyard fun!So here we sit,twenty minutes from my house in downtown Norfolk.It could be worse,I could be unemployed I suppose.The last few days have been routine.Wake up 7,on deck at 7;30,work until 11.Work can and does consist of busting your hump until you don't want to play anymore.Then back to work at noon,work until 5,eat dinner,shower,sleep and repeat.Oh yes my life has become a routine,not cool.

Tow machine/Tug East Coast