Monday, August 13, 2018

For Ports Known and Unknown

Once there was this company.  I hated it very much.  I said I'd never work for it, again... but then my union rep played me for a sucker.  Not really, but yeah... kinda.

So here I am, on a 209 meter ICB (Integrated Tug & Barge) loading wheat in Portland, Oregon.  I am the boatswain with a crew of 3 other sailors- two too few.  Her last bosun... well... just wasn't.  She's in sad, sad shape- neglected and full of self loathing.  The officers and shoreside officials have flat-out begged me to stay on and I've reassured them that I know I am up for an impossible project with too little pay and no personal reward, other than some bittersweet satisfaction down the line that I've maintained yet another ship to the point of rebar and razorblades a mere voyage or two after my painstaking ministrations. 

Their relief at that has been palpable.  They are like sports fishermen with a prize sucker-fish on the hook, fighting just enough to make it entertaining but not enough to be real work, and all they have to do is keep me on the line until we sail... once that happens there is no escape.  Meat for the meal.

She's a shit-heap.  She's neglected and the scorn of the industry.  She has no future.  But somehow... she feels good.  And weirdly, everyone who's been on her recalls their time fondly, often waxing near to poetry... except my buddy in San Francisco who reviled his time aboard and froths a bit at the mouth when he talks about it.  It'll be good, or it'll be really bad... I don't think there much room in between.

We'll soon find out... we depart the wheat silo docks for a lay-berth in an hour.

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