Archive for October, 2015

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Lessoned Learned

October 24, 2015

The Chief made a comment about sailing into rough weather. As I was leaving a job today, weather images of tropical storms and a hurricane were on the lobby TV. “Well I didn’t need to see that.” I checked Marine Traffic and Find Ship but both confirmed what I already knew: he was out of range and would be for some time.

Then I saw astronaut Scott Kelly’s eerily beautiful image of Hurricane Patricia from the International Space Station posted on Instagram. I direct messaged the Chief the image with “Are you in this?!”

Hurricane Patricia by Astronaut Scott Kelly

Hurricane Patricia by Astronaut Scott Kelly

Eventually his reply came through. He was 300+ miles south. I breathe a little easier. He later sent me an image of their course & location.

I never used to worry. I never used to stalk his ship on a regular basis. I want to go back to being blissfully ignorant. Maybe this little jump the gun is to remind me that no amount of worry will change outcomes. Worry will only make me miserable these last years of his career.

I need to trust my mariner’s skills and judgement and more to the point have trust and faith in God.

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Well, That’s That

October 15, 2015

Well the Chief has shipped out. It was a strange occurrence. I told someone that day that I had never been the one to leave first. In other words, the Chief almost always got the first flight of the day and therefore left at o-dark-thirty, leaving me in bed. But he had a mid-day flight and I had to go to work (my last day of a 21-day assignment). Surely when I was working full-time prior to children this had occurred before but I honestly don’t have a memory of it.

Because the school I was subbing at was only a mile down the road, the Chief texted me about swinging by to do his documents check. When I used to drop him off at the airport, this was always the last thing we did at the trunk of the car–to open up his back pack and his documents folder to verify his TWIC, passport, license, and credentials were all packed and all valid and current. Even when he was leaving at o-dark-thirty I would wake up to check his documents before sending him out the door. I was on a 45 minute break so I went out into the gorgeous sunshine to check his documents one last time.

Callie’s Mariner posted a beautiful piece expressing what many of us are going through this time around called “be safe”. She talks about the routines, the talismans if you will, of the things she always says to her mariner while he is at sea. I guess the document check is sort of our talisman. As I was walking away and he was getting into his rental car, I called back, “Be safe, fly safe. And no hurricanes!” I hadn’t read Callie’s article till later that night.

The Chief texted me from the airport that he almost had a heart attack moment–when he went to pull out his TWIC for his ID he couldn’t find it! He had put it back in his wallet in a different spot! Maybe the change in our routine caused the deviation. We will have to be more careful next time!

Neither T1 nor T2 seems to have any extra anxiety about the Chief going back to sea. We haven’t shielded them from the El Faro incident but I did have to ask at one point, “You do know a ship sank in the hurricane, right?” On the wives FB page “what and when should I tell my children” was a topic of discussion. I have very mixed feelings about it. 1. With the exception of like only two who’s husbands lost classmates, no one on the board had a significant connection to the crew of the El Faro. 2. Many of these spouses were talking about telling toddlers and primary school-aged children of the horrors of being lost at sea. No. Just no.

Too many of the spouses were (are?) so deeply personalizing this tragedy. The fear mongering, the blame casting, the misinformation, the continuous grief expressions are just all really unhealthy and to pass that along to children who for the most part cannot grasp why their parent goes away for stretches at a time is just so unhealthy. And sadly quite a few on the board do not wish to hear any other viewpoints or logic. To me it has ceased to be a supportive outlet and has become quite toxic. Very unfortunate. Through a link on Callie’s Mariner I am going to be checking out a British MM spouse group to see if they are not more supportive and less “dramatic.” I’ll report back on my findings later.

I am pleased to report that T1 seems to have found support from a few of her friends. I don’t know the details of the conversation, if the El Faro came up or not, but when they found out she had gone to school rather than stay home a few final hours with the Chief, they told her she should have stayed home–it was more important than a few hours at school. Okay, most things to a teen are more important than school but the sentiment was appreciated at least by me. I think if they had been a bit younger I would have thought to have them stay home with him for a few hours–of course he had errands to run so it might not have been as beneficial as one would hope.

I’ve had two days off–I had hoped that he would have been here but what can you do? I have a one-day assignment tomorrow. It has been a busy week adjusting to his absence but I know December will be here before we know it. Life move on. But hearing his voice tonight just seems a little more precious and I’ll hold on to that.

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My Breath Catches

October 4, 2015

The tweets and posts do not look good. I cannot bring myself to watch the live press conference (if it even aired on my local stations… But that is a rant for another post). It hits too close to home. A large debris field has been identified but they still have not located the American cargo vessel El Faro.

The Chief calls out details… One of the mates is a woman… The 3rd engineer is probably on his first or second trip since graduating this spring. Someone left toddlers at home…

“I know those thoughts. To leave the girls. To be in bad weather.”

My breath catches. I want to put fingers in my ears.

“I don’t have good feelings about this.”

It is so hard to hear him express what I know is very hard for him to do.

This is one of the top three scenarios I worry about. With the Chief sailing most of his career on the west coast I have often said that I am grateful we do not get reports of every hurricane or typhoon over there. But I do remember the reports of the super typhoon that covered over a third of the Pacific (he was on the east coast) and the satellite images of the storm featured on Deadliest Catch (not to mention footage of Jake’s near miss and even Sig’s cry Uncle in the dangerous weather) chilled me.

During the course of writing this the Chief sent me a link to NOAA.gov’s marine weather log for December 2007. He sailed through that…

I ask the Chief about EPIRB… And I almost wish I hadn’t. The reasons for why it only signaled once are numerous and the implications are horrifying. His knowledge is not as comforting as I would hope.

“I’ve lost propulsion twice.”

I actually remember the phone calls after those events. But I think we spouses do not realize the gravity of statements like that. Perhaps that is merciful.

Until a tragedy like this. My thoughts and prayers are with the 28 American families and five Polish families.

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Missing American Cargo Ship

October 2, 2015

‘El Faro’, an American cargo ship was reported missing today in hurricane conditions by the U.S. Coast Guard. Search was suspended at sundown and will resume first light. My thoughts and prayers are with the crew and their families. GCaptain has been posting updates as they come in.

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