Sunday, April 29, 2012

Flash fox

It has been decided.  I am writing a movie about the boat.  In this case-rather than those movie ideas I've had previously-I am going to write a script.  This is an investment I can make in myself independent of external factors.   This is kind of a big deal, at least internally it is.  By making this commitment to myself, I am ensuring that a necessary step for success will be completed.  Whereas before I could claim that under the right conditions my idea was brilliant enough for success, but the condition for 'right' circumstances never were met, I am now deciding ahead of time to create-whatever the circumstance.  And after this creation I can pursue the idea's merits in earnest.

Which brings me to the title of this post. 'Flash Fox' is a newly contrived term.  It means I'm foxing out unexpectedly.  The old sleep schedule hasn't quite righted itself yet and last night I didn't sleep.  During the day today, I got my hands on a new lap top.  A sweet lap top.  A MacBook Pro laptop.  So, I've been bent on writing a post of some sort(because I now have the equipment to do so) for the last three or so hours.  That's right, the two incoherent paragraphs are the result of two plus hours of effort.  Just napping and writing and writing and napping.  If I proofread this, I'm sure I'll find some typos and a few of the rambling phrases that are generally reserved for the first thirty seconds of a phone call that wakes one up from a deep sleep.  But proofreading isn't how I rill on the Portrait.  I might wast to start, however, if I'm going to be writing movie scripts.  But now now.

On the whole I'd say I'm satisfied with the performance of this laptop.  It's only job so far, has been to be comfortable to type on and pleasing to look at.  Check and check.  So ya, next time I decide to write something I'll run a self diagnostic for lucidity.  As it sits right now, I'm thrilled with my purchase.  eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggrnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

Monday, April 16, 2012

On deck

I was on deck today.  We mopped the deck, which is navy for floor.  We mopped it then we mopped it some more.  I have some mixed feelings about the boat, but on the whole I like it.  I've wondered what kind of job I'd want if I were to stick around.  Might be somewhere on deck.  The bottom line is that you see the sun out there.  And the water.  The water is worth looking at.  The sea is worth experiencing.

But cleaning is cleaning.  It wasn't great fun to clean.  It was just a far less miserable cleaning experience.  There were some moments of clarity mixed in too.  I liked it.  That's that.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Nap time

Ya.  So my room mate 'Nap time', also known as Dawit something or other just made my life.   Something truly extraordinary happened.  I don't even know where to begin.  Let's just tell it like it is.  We are heading back to Seattle now.  The party is over.  We are coming home.  But before we started the steam, we did an off-load.  And Nap time was in the freezer. 

Ok, so he was taking a long time to get ready.  I had my little privacy screen up so I couldn't see, but I could feel him thinking about something.  And not turning off the light so I could get my extra hour of sleep.  Finally he left, but not before slamming the door.  A couple minutes later, Robbie came into my room with the news, "hey, uh, Corey?  Nap time is out there wearing one of your freezer boots."  "What do you mean?  One of them?"  Robbie left.

The scene when I came out to the break room was an expectant one.  Everyone was likely curious about what kind of rant I'd have for Nap time.  I was unprepared for what I saw.  Nap time had a size 8 right boot on his right foot and my size 13 right boot on his left foot.  Are you fucking kidding me?  He spent ten minutes figuring out his off-load attire and this is what he came up with?  I don't remember what I said.  And it's a shame.  This was a blue ribbon rant.  Not too subtle, but far less inflammatory than it could have been.  Nearly everyone in the room was suppressing a laugh.  A few people murmured things to the effect of 'we tried to tell him'.  Priceless.

While I'm on the subject of steaming home, I'll mention that we are doing the final cleanup for the end of the season.  Shit.  It's as little fun as you can have not getting anally probed.  And if you can help it, don't ever hire an Ethiopian housekeeper.  I hate to profile, but we're 0 fer 4 on Ethiopians.  Nap time is Ethiopian too.  In fact, the fellas from Mali aren't too good either.  Wherever Baba is from, they clean ok.  But Baba got pressure washed in the eye so he's now out.  Bummer.

The big one, Midnight, would come by every now and then and say 'cleanup is ok'.  Ya.  Sure.  I saw him literally napping in the breakroom while everyone was cleaning.  Ya, Midnight, it looks like cleanup is going ok for you.  The friggin all-stars clean with a zeal usually reserved for the geriatric.  Our foreman, Mamdou turned the pressure hoses off because everyone was just hosing stuff instead of scrubbing.  I caught Ayani squirting stuff with the pressure hose that was turned off while sitting down.  The hose at that point had the stream of an 8 year old peeing.  This is to say that as far as pee goes, it was a pretty strong stream.  For a pressure washer it was decidedly not.  He wasn't even hosing stuff down like they normally do with the pressure washer from like 4 feet away-a distance that mitigates the pressure washing effect.  He was just getting stuff that was already wet wetter.  I literally unhooked the line from the fitting.  He put it down after a minute.  Embarrassing.

Sadly, there are a bunch of red necks on the boat.  And every negative sterotype that exists has been reinforced vigorously during cleanup. Bummer.  I sang 'Living on a Prayer' for a good hour.  And it's not like I know the whole song.  I sang the chorus, full force, for an hour.  And I did British soccer commentary for a while too.  It's a good thing we're heading back.  It's getting a bit dodgy indeed.  Nap time.  He rules.  Oh, and he quit again because he wanted to sleep.  Then was back to work the next day.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


'GDI' means gall dang it.  It's looking like Yellow Fin.  No one has been able to catch Yellow Fin because they're hiding under the ice.  So what are we gonna do?  Go look around the ice.  Every time I here a "thunk!" on the hull, I hear Celine Dion and that Titanic song.  It's a bit nerve racking.  If we don't catch Yellow Fin, maybe we'll come home.  Or maybe we'll cruise around till we run out of food.  It's hard to say at this point.

Oh, and after my fifth three hour nap in the last two days I came to the galley.  There was an encouraging note on the white board.  Rain gear at 0900 in the factory.  There will be no fish.  We will be cleaning.  Yay.  There is no lower form of labor on the seas than cleaning the factory.  And it will stink like rotten fish.  And it will suck.  Shares are like 200 hundred dollars right now and the freezer hold is nearly empty.  It's about time for a return voyage.  It's about time to get crackin on that script.  It's about time to hit southern Cali for some Corona with Deej.  It's about time for a piano.  It's about time.  I'll hang in there for a bit and not lose my mind.  If there is shipyard work when we get back to Seattle, I may have to partake just to pad the account a bit.  Shipyard will probably pay better than fishing at this point.  The commodore has a couch ready for me.  Oh, and there's always the boat.  Maybe some new wenches too.  But for sure a piano.  Gotta happen.  GDI.  Yellow fin.  My nemesis.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter

Happy Easter.  Easter on the Katie Ann is spent on stand by.  Waiting for fish.  I'm sure it's normal, but my optimism is waning.  If we are working, I wish we'd go on standby.  If we are on stand by, I wish we were working.  I think it boils down to this:  Most of the time I wish I were somewhere else.  And there is a new observer on this trip.  It's a young woman.  That's all I'm gonna say about that.  Almost.  Remember the movie Major League?  When Cerrano has his voodoo doll out with the rum and Harris is like "I wouldn't leave that rum laying around with this group."?  Ya, well it's a similar situation here.  Stay in the Key crew galley.  For safety.  Just like drinking the rum, it would be 'very bad' to drink of this cup.

But that's just an incidental little detail.  More importantly, many are getting restless.  I snapped on one of the QCs yesterday.  That's quality control for those who don't know.  We don't have to get into it.  Probably wasn't the best thing to say.  Many are away from their families on this Easter.  I feel for them.  I don't have a family anymore.  That's equally upsetting, if not more so.  I have some buddies who I can't wait to see.  I can't wait to get behind the wheel of the Elco.  I can't wait for some California weather.  I can't wait for nothing to do but have a beer or six.  And I don't even drink much.  Happy Easter.  He is risen.  How can we not be optimistic when we are redeemed?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sleep optional

The rough seas were rough.  I didn't sleep at all during the roller coaster ride.  And that was the first night after off-load.  So I was tired.  But sleep didn't come.  I don't generally sleep very well to begin with, but when bone weary I can usually crash.  The point is that after not sleeping two nights ago, I worked a steady sixteen hours in the freezer hold.  I only had 4 breaks all day.  Three of them were scheduled breaks.  One of which was lunch.  The freezers were synched well.  Bummer.

So after 36 hours of no sleep and 16 in the hold, I got a chance to hit the rack.  I hit it like George Foreman.  No shower.  No ceremony.  I don't remember if I brushed my teeth and I think I opened my book.  It was the perfect storm of sleep.  Fortunately, it was the only perfect storm in the vicinity.  I had a monumental caffeine crash, sleep deprivation, and a long day of work all working together to vorm sleep Voltron.  There were no dreams.  There wasn't even really a sensation of time passing.  I can tell, in most cases, within an hour or so how long I've been out.  This was like going into surgery.  I layed down and woke up wondering if we were done yet.

I woke up had to re-boot.  It was like one of those old computers with the dos prompt?  When you went through a bunch of check ups and things just to get it going and it took a couple minutes?  Or maybe like in Terminator 2 when Arnold got taken out and came back but had to restart and was all jumbled.  Whatever it was like, I was a blubbering idiot for a full fifteen minutes, trying to be quick witted but just spitting out nonsense.  So I'm sure it was funny in it's own way, but we weren't laughing at the same time.  If we stay with the computer analogies, I wasn't in sleep mode.  I was shut down and the battery was drained fully.

I also tried to describe my sleep as being like you read about.  "Damn, I slept like you read about last night."  Well, I've never heard about sleep being editorialized the way I did it.  So hear we are.  Someone can read about it.  Michael Jackson slept like I did on his drip.  And I probably wasn't far from the final shutdown.  I have never been out like that before.  And they woke me up after only six hours so it wasn't a gentle and natural wakeup-that in this case would have happened 12 hours later-but a cessation of rest period.  And back to the freezer.  I haven't showered yet.  I used my finger to brush my teeth this morning so maybe I did try to brush my teeth last night and lost the brush.  It's a mystery.  In many cases sleep is optional.  Last night it was not.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Rough seas

When I make my movie, there will be a scene depicting the impossibility of sleep on the boat in rough seas.  And with a few choice new room mates.  First, the seas.  Rough.  We offloaded this turkey and beat feet to a couple catcher boats that were waiting for us with fish all ready.  It was looking like a Murphy moment for a second.  We couldn't find a fish for two weeks and as soon as we are stuck on a dock everyone is catching fish like colds.  But here we are and among the things that woke me-or I should say would have woke me up if I were sleeping- was the winch.  The winch means fish.  So yay.  After a few go rounds of these little fishing trips I'm beginning to see the correlation between work and money.  Yay fish.

Apparently we were full steam ahead in what I would approximate as the worse sea since the paleozoic era.  The plum line in the galley was a full forty five degrees off during some of the more exciting rolls.  All you heard was stuff clanging everywhere, people spilling, and the slight groan of a stressed hull.  I took a peak out the port hole and...I didn't look for long.  Fortunately, even at eleven PM it was still light out so I could see the swells rise above the boat entirely.  My little port hole was kissing or under water half the time I spent looking out of it.  Stools that were previously bolted down found themselves strewn about the breakroom and the drinking fountain had some sewage-like sludge thrown up out of the drain.  Yay storms.

But if that wasn't enough, we got a new batch of fresh meat that isn't looking too fresh.  One of the girls, who was a borderline re-case bailed before we left.  Another guy should have.  This other guy is my room mate.  I would post the song but there is none of that on the internet here.  So I walked into my room the other day and it felt like I was rooming at a freaking hostel in Beirut.  Or at a bus station in San Francisco.  This guy is in there taking a nap.  Little did I know how strongly this would foreshadow what was to come.

I tried talking to him a couple times.  "Hey bud.  How are you?"  Nothing.  A little later, "What shift are you?"  Nothing.  I saw him in the bathroom later and asked if he spoke English.  He said "Yep."  I mentioned that I tried to say hi a few times and got the same blank stare.  No biggie.  So apparently this guy took himself out of the offload like he was playing fullback for the Niners or something.  Just told someone random in the freezer that he needed a half hour nap.  And away he went.  Hey buddy, this isn't a football game.  It's like a baseball game where once you get pinch hit for-you're out till next time.  Guess he didn't get the memo.  He did the same thing yesterday when C shift was cleaning the factory for all the fishies we are going to be getting today.  He told the foreman this time, "Hey, I wanna go back to Seattle."  Ya, ok buddy.  We'll just drop you off real quick.  He's acting like a 5 day steam is a fucking liquor store run.  Sweet.

Reminds me of when we were doing conditioning at CRC and my man Deej held up his finger to the coach like, "gimme a minute coach".  Coach looked at him like he was literally insane.  You don't get to do that.  At all.  Nor do you get to tell the foreman you need fucking graham crackers and a nap.  Smooth move buddy.  You're gonna get milked for any labor you can perform and chewed and spat out with no bonus and a charge for your days of obsolescence.  Hope I spelled that right.  Gotta go.  Time to stack some bags soon.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Shit show II return of the boxolator

I've said it before, that I don't like to cuss on here.  But you gotta call it how it is.  It's also been described as a 'monkey trying to fuck a football' by Robbie, the aforementioned Hawaiin redneck.  Our former factory manager described an offload scene as a 'fuck show' and we generally agree that it's a cluster fuck.  Hopefully the disclaimer about language satisfies any frustrations with my crudeness.  Sometimes you gotta call it how it is.

When it comes to offload, the only silver lining (apart from the the fact that we only get paid when the fish are safely in the warehouse) is that one shift of sixteen hours usually covers it.   What I mean is that if one starts the offload, they can count on it being finished-or nearly finished-by the time they come back.  This monkey eff started with the dreaded boxolator getting broken for two plus hours.  We put one of the freezer guys at the top to deal with the rock hard, frozen solid, and nearly fifty pound bags of fish that are catapaulted up the chute.  I suspect that he couldn't handle it and let a few bags come back down the other side and wedge themselves in pretty snug.  The boxolator broke.  Then, later in the day it happened again.  For an hour plus.  Shit show commence.

Strangely, we got ahead of schedule when my shift started this morning.  Understand, this is probably because the schedule was dictated by our paltry day one performance.  Nevertheless, we were ahead.  The fun happened when we were a mere hundred tons or so away from completing the task.  The all-stars on our shift decided it was half time or something.  Just stopped working.  Again, I've described their collective pace as inert.  And that about covers it.  So I got off the boxolator and started unloading the hold myself.  Then the factory tech and the foreman came to help because we were going so slow.  Embarrassing.  They had no pride in getting the job done.  It's actually laughable to mention the concept of pride in getting the job done.  It never entered their consciousness.

Another note about offloads.  There should be a disabled list.  We should carry a couple spares around just incase the inevitable happens.  The inevitable being casualties.  There were three today that I know of.  And the usual attrition of people quitting ensued.  It was like a friggin merry go round or game of musical crew around here.  One of the guys broke and lacerated his finger to the tune of 23 stitches.  Another gentleman who we'll call Ray-because that's his name-suffered a similar injury with less catastrophic results.  Damian apparently got appendicitis or something and everyone is just wore out.  Back in the baseball days, there were a couple roster spots for the guys who were hurt.  They'd go down for a bit and when they were ship shape, so to speak, they would come back.  Gotta have a few spares.  It's not a question of if someone will get hurt or quit.  Only when.

And my old pal the boxolator was in his usual form today.  Deadly.  They have been saying they are gonna put an emergency stop on that thing forever.  Fucking thing may as well be on the dark side of the moon.  There is literally no way a person could even see the button, let alone press it.  You'd be better off keeping a pry bar in a holster to hopefully jam the thing before it used your body for the same purposes.  What I'm saying is this:  There is no way to stop the machine other than to disable it with something hard enough to break it.  A limb may or may not meet this threshhold. 

This doesn't even begin to do justice to how screwy offload is.  The funny thing about it is that no one in charge seems to all that interested in making it run more smoothly.  Sure, they complain when it gets effed up.  And placing blame is not unheard of either.  But an authoritative presence is spotty at best.  Except Mario.  He was in the freezer for a good portion.  The ese from the SD.  And the factory manager would come and reign things in from time to time.  He even helped move some bags today.  I liked the spirit.  Otto, one of our foremen also jumped in.  Like the spirit.  I guess I'm just frustrated that people weren't carrying their weight.

Friggin disaster.  All around.  But we got it done.  And there is way more that I'm missing and my fifteen minute limit on the computer are inhibiting full disclosure.  Sorry bout that.  Truly, words don't do justice to the picture of chaos that is the Katie Ann.  Still, I'm loving it all the same.  Thanks Rich.  Seriously.  And that's a wrap.