Wednesday, January 20, 2016

One Really Bad Thing.....

I realize every job has its good and bad points. In my 11 years as a Merchant Mariner wife, I've gotten used to being alone half the year, scheduling everything around my man's leaving and coming home.... doing dinner parties and holidays and birthday celebrations as near to the actual day as the hitches allow.  I've gotten used to being Mom AND Dad and my very FAVORITE thing of all is convincing people that my husband is real...thathe doesn't only exist in my mind.

There is, however, one thing I will never grow accustomed to, and that is sleeping alone. I have my routine, my favorite TV shows on the DVR, and my tiny pill that helps me sleep. I have learned to arrange the pillows in the shape of a "U" so I feel like my husband is in the bed beside me. I learned to turn the heating blanket on before my shower because crawling into a cold bed only makes the empiness seem more intense. I figured out that starting a load of laundry right before I go to bed keeps me from hearing all the little noises that freak me out.

The worst part of sleeping alone though is when I have a bad dream. Last night I had an absolutely horrible nightmare! It involved a restaurant and a party that turned into me trying to leave in Donald Trump's limousine. Then I was with a few other people I didn't know, trying to hide from a group of murderers and/or terrorists. Next I was escaping by climbing down a rock wall with one of our church band members  by holding onto the ivy. Next I had lost my shirt and I was riding around on a lawn tractor trying to buy parts to fix my car. I ended up stopping for gas and the cashier wouldn't let me use my loyalty card to save on gas for my lawnmower. I ran sobbing to the bathroom, which was covered in blood. Turns out before I escaped with the church band member I killed all the bad guys. I ran and ran, but I couldn't get anywhere.... Finally I woke up, sweating and scared to move or even open my eyes! I was lying diagonally in my bed, and the sun was just coming up. It took me a few minutes to get myself oriented to what was really going on and where I really was.

I texted my man, and he had already been working several hours by 6:00am. I told him I had a bad dream and I wished he was here. He replied he wished he was too. When he is home and I have a bad dream, I wake him up (usually before I wake up) and he talks to me to get me awake and aware of my surroundings. Then he pulls me close and I lay my head on his chest. He kind of rocks me back and forth and whispers "'re ok.....everything's ok.....shhhhhhh.....I got you". He pushes my hair back out of my face and kisses the top of my head. When I get calmed down, I fall back asleep, knowing he's "got me". And I sleep....

Saturday, November 7, 2015

High Tides!

The past couple of weeks the coast of Southeastern United States has seen some unusually high tides. We are right on the water, obviously, and the Supermoon combined with the high tides made for some pretty unusual sites around here.
This picture was posted on social media from one of our local TV stations, WSAV. This is Tybee Road, the Southern most section of US Highway 80. Tybee Road is the only way onto and off of Tybee Island. In unusually high tides, water can creep onto the road. I have lived here most of my life and I have traveled this road hundreds of times but I have never seen it look like this! Obviously, the road was closed until the tide receeded.

So how does this effect little yellow tugboats, you may ask?
Let's just say they don't NORMALLY sit this high. The guys had to CLIMB DOWN to get off the tugs instead of climbing down a ladder to get ON the tugs.

Now that's a LOT of water y'all!!!

(photos of tugs from Chris Sikes and Stephen Roberts of Crescent Towing)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

A different turn...

Usually I blog only about tugboat stuff and how our life revolves around this crazy life as a tugboat family. This post, however, is taking another turn.

Image result for curvy road sign
River life is weird...and tug life is even weirder. It's a constant ebb and flow... up and down...back and and out. We are constantly trying to plan events and get-togethers around this schedule of coming home and leaving again. Even holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving get moved around...and celebrated when we can be together.

This past weekend was no exception. For the last few years, Butch/DeckBoss's family has been organizing an informal reunion/family get together. Last year in January, we all went to a gigantic house in Blue Ridge GA. It was cold but a lot of fun! The house was in the Blue Ridge mountains and we had a lot of fun playing board games, talking, eating, and catching up on each other's lives. This year we went to Lake Wedowee in Alabama. We had 2 lake houses side by side. The lake and views were gorgeous and the weather was perfect!

We arrived late Friday night. Let me just say that calling the week before this "difficult and emotionally draining" would qualify as the understatement of the year.  Friday night on the way to the lake house, I had an asthma attack while I was driving on these mountain roads. Scariest. Thing. Ever. Luckily, it was minor and I was able to pull over into one of the 18,000,000 church parking lots around here and Butch took over driving. A few rescue inhaler puffs and I was ok. Terrified.....but ok. When we got to the beautiful lakefront home, it was about midnight. We went to our room, took a hot shower and crawled into bed.

Oh my.

Hello heaven.

What is this wonderfulness???

The bed had a memory foam topper over the mattress. The memory foam topper had a pillow top mattress topper. There was a fluffy down alternative duvet to cover with.
I swear....I slept on a cloud that night. A giant, soft, puffy, fluffy cloud from Heaven. For the first night in a really long time, I slept through the night in incredible peace and comfort. When Butch woke me for breakfast....I REALLY didn't want to move. I was cradled in comfort and peaceful warmth. But......bacon called me 😃.

After breakfast all the guys and some of the girls went to some private property owned by one of the cousins to shoot guns and blow stuff up. The rest of the girls went to Dollar General. (Hey, it's the South. It's what we do.) I stayed behind to cook chili and cornbread for dinner.

As the chili simmered, I went out on the deck. I sat in the sun and breathed. I breathed in the beauty of the blue sky and the glistening lake. I breathed in fresh mountain air. I breathed in the sound of the acorns dropping on the wood deck and the leaves blowing in the cool October breeze. And I breathed in.....the quiet.

A friend of mine posted on Facebook the other day a quote that said "The quieter you are, the more you hear" At the time, I took that to mean that if you are spending time with a person, you hear them more if you listen and don't dominate the conversation (a skill I need to practice). However, as I reflect, I think it means something else. 

Life is too loud. There are  ringtones and Facebook "dings"and TVs blaring with 1356 channels. Car doors slamming, horns  blowing, incessant chatter...Pandora and Itunes in our ear buds. Microwaves humming, smoothie makers whirring and timers beeping in the kitchen. Washers swishing and dryers tumbling...dishes clanking. It overloads and overwhelms me.

But on the deck....I HEARD for the first time in a long while. I heard water lapping, a child laughing from the other side of the lake, birds chirping, squirrels chattering, acorns falling, and the sound of my own breathing. I leaned back in the chair to absorb it all and then I heard the still, gentle voice of God within me saying " still." I sat for the longest time in ages. I let the warm October sun shine on my face. I let my constant ADD-driven inner feeling of "I need to be doing something productive" go. I let my muscles relax and propped my feet up. I let myself "be still" and I felt His peace. 

The quieter you are, the more you can hear. I hear you God, and I'm really listening. 

" still."

Friday, October 9, 2015

Mixed Emotions

For the past week or so I have been watching news stories and searching for updates on the Tote Maritime ship, the SS El Faro. The ship was a roll on/roll off ship that was traveling from Jacksonville FL to Puerto Rico. She departed from Jacksonville early on the morning of Sept. 30, 2015. The Captain knew there was a storm ahead, known as Tropical Storm Joaquin. In less than 2 days, the storm had become a dangerous category 4 hurricane. On the morning of October 2, the ship reported it was taking on water and listing at 15 degrees. That was the last communication. The ship was considered missing, with 33 crew members aboard. There were 28 American men and women on the crew and 5 Polish crewmen.

When the search began, there were hopes of recovering the ship and crew. After a few days of intense searching, the ship was deemed lost at sea, resting approximately 15,000 miles deep in the Caribbean Sea. The US Coast Guard called an official halt to the search for the ship and began an intense rescue operation for survivors.

Although my Merchant Mariner was at home during all this, I had a really rough time dealing with this. Let me clarify that he works a 24 mile stretch of the Savannah River and goes out as far as the sea buoy in his regular work,  and he is seldom out in open seas unless he's taking a tug to the shipyard for repairs. He was, however, in the US Navy aboard the USS Holland and the USS Essex LHD-2 and served in the Persian Gulf enforcing no-fly zones. He's been through typhoons and isn't an easy life. man was home. He was home when the ship went missing. He was home when the search changed to a rescue operation. And he was home the night of October 7, when the Coast Guard called an official end to the search for survivors.  He took it all in stride.

That's an entirely different story.

I was a wreck. I prayed....I hoped. I read articles and prayed some more. I prayed for the crew, the rescue teams, the families of those missing....and mariners around the world. But somehow, it just didn't seem to be enough.  My heart was heavy. My brain was spinning. My emotions were flip flopping from thankful (that my man was home) to feeling guilty (that my man was home) . The logical side of me knew that as time went on, the chances of finding survivors lessened. But my heart...oh my said that miracles happen! These were experienced mariners, with training in water survival and lifeboat use. I know they were trained in this because my husband was as well. I hoped. I prayed. I pleaded with God.

I had a hard time falling asleep. Every night as I closed my eyes I saw dark waves and tumultuous seas. I rolled over and touched my sleeping husband, grateful that he was home and safe but riddled with guilt for the wives and husbands of the El Faro crew who I knew were yearning to do the same with their spouse but were reaching out to an empty side of the bed.

I called several places in Jacksonville, trying to find a way to help by volunteering. We live just 2 hours away....couldn't I help in some way? I'm not a trained counselor or a therapist but couldn't I pour some coffee or  clean something for those working so hard? Couldn't I pick up food or supplies for the families flying in? Couldn't I rock a crying baby while a worried mother paced and prayed? I finally reached someone at Tote Maritime who told me they had plenty of volunteers and didn't need my help.

What is it inside of me that realizes the prayers on my lips are extremely important but keeps my hands wanting to DO something? I want to put boots on the ground. I want to be active. Instead, I pray. And I sing. And I hope.

At sundown on October 7, 2015, the US Coast Guard called off it's search for survivors. I think a little part of me died that day too.

Rest in peace, crew of the SS El Faro. You will not be forgotten.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

This Is No Desk Job!

What does your husband's desk look like? Well, this isn't MY husband's desk, but it is another lady's husband's desk....welcome to the wheelhouse of a tug boat.

All of those levers and knobs and pully-downy-thingies confused me, so my sweet Hubs decided he would break it down for me, using little words. :)

 See those little numbers I inserted in the picture? That's going to make it easier for me to explain what each of these doohickeys and thingamabobs and pully-downy-things are. Now before you get excited and begin to think I know something about this, let me assure you my sweet man is right beside me as I type....making sure I don't royally screw this up.

1. The two numbers ones next to the red lights are RPM gauges.
These instruments measure the rotation speed of the shaft that is turning the propeller and displays the information as how many revolutions are made per minute. Basically, they show how fast the shaft is turning. The shaft is about a foot in diameter and make over 500 rotations per minute. 

2. The number two is one I might could have figured out on my own. It's a navigation screen. The program they use is called Coastal Explorer.  It shows the location of other ships, buoy markers, docks and other stuff in the river. The river can be a dark place at night and visibility can be really bad during fog and rain. This way we don't have head on collisions :)

3. These are the big brother cameras. JUST JOKING!!! These cameras show the Captain the deck, galley, etc. This way he can keep an eye on everything that is happening while he is navigating. One camera shows the starboard side of the tug. When hubs is working a trip line, which is a line that is used to hold the tug against the current,  the Captain can see if the deckhand gets accidentally caught up in the line. The other camera shows the stern of the ship. It is used to watch out when a Hawser, a 12 strand rope, is used. This entails pulling 300 ft of this heavy rope up onto the stern of the tugboat. If hubby were to fall during this, he would be sucked up under the tug or get trapped between the tug and the ship...either of which could be deadly.  The third camera is aimed into the engine room. This helps the Captain monitor any alarms and other situations.

4, OOOOO! OOOO! I know! *waves hand frantically in the air* This green looking thing is the side of a huge container ship. Yep. All up close and personal.

5. This is a compass. Once again, navigation is complicated.

6. There are two of these little guys....they control the wench. What is a wench you ask? It's a deckhand's best friend.This is a mechanical wheel of sorts that pulls the line in mechanically, thus saving a LOT of work.

7. There are two of these bad boys too.  These are throttles. In my mind, they are the revving up thingies. The throttle controls how much power the engine gets...kind of like the gas pedal in a car.

8. Again, good things come in pairs. There are two of these guys too. Meet our friends, The Rudder Brothers. They steer the boat.

9. These are twin air controls. These control which set of throttles is being used.

10. This is the radar, which is another means of seeing where things are. You can see where the river banks are and other objects in the river.

11. This is the steering wheel. HA HA HA HA HA!!!! Did you fall for that? If you did, then go back and read point #8. This is called a "clearview". It is the tugboat's answer for windshield wipers. It spins to clear the window of fog and rain.

12.I put these in by accident....ignore them :)

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Close To Home

I have to admit it, I get discouraged blogging sometimes. It seems that no one reads my posts, because no one comments .I know it seems silly and shallow but I feel validated with comments on my blog. I often wonder if anyone out there even reads what I write. But then I look at my stats and I see that PEOPLE ARE READING WHAT I WRITE!!!!!!

Imagine my joy the other day when I saw emails indicating I had comments on my blog! Not just one comment, but several!!!!

Closer inspection revealed that the commenter was not just another woman, but another tugboat wife....AT THE SAME COMPANY AS MY HUBBY!!!!!

We have since connected on Facebook.

Small world, huh????

P.S. Hi Dawn! :)

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Maybe I should say the biggest news in history?

At least....the biggest ship in the history of the Savannah River....

My man sent me these pictures of the ZIM vessel Tianjin as she made her way up the river yesterday. Here she is, in all her glory!

Our amazing dispatcher Frankie shared these photos:


This beauty carries 10,062 twenty-foot equivalent container units.The ship measures 1,145 feet long by 150 feet wide. Stood on end, it would stand nearly as tall as the Empire State Building (1,454 feet, including its antenna).

 You can watch videos, see more photos and get more info here: