Saturday, October 20, 2012

"Ready In All Respects..."

Newport News
Bags packed and set out on the porch, passport securely tucked in jacket pocket, taxi en route; in a few minutes I'll start out on yet another voyage in yet another ship.  It's been over two months since I've felt felt the roll of a hull and heard the whine of engines beneath my feet, and it's time to return to that world.  I'm ready.

And even now, with over two decades' time cruising in a dozen types of vessel behind me, I can feel the old tension building within me.  It is a familiar sensation, composed in part of curiosity about my new ship and my future duties within her and in part of anticipation--the pleasurable mixture of expectation, the tingle of worry that every new employee in a strange company, every new suitor on the first date is has known.

Will I measure up to my new command and Captain's standards?  Will this be a good "fit" of mariner and vessel or a "square peg" situation?  Will I be happy as a member of Supply's crew or will I count down the weeks and months until, disappointed and disillusioned, I can carry my gear down her gangway?

In other words, will this nautical Blind Date be the successful beginning to a new chapter in my seagoing career?  I certainly hope so, but I've sailed enough to know that sometimes it doesn't happen that way.  I can only do my best, whatever position I find myself in, and wear my "game face"..

My cab is here, and it's time to go.

Mare Est Vita Mea!

Monday, October 15, 2012


Newport News
For the past few weeks, as I've applied my limited handyman-skills to our little house in Virginia, I've fought various battles against ants, bees, and the American Cockroach.  In all of these engagements against household invaders I've felt that I occupied a kind of moral high ground, harboring a sense that, unlike my insect opponents I belonged there, and had the right to use force (often deadly force) to unseat them from their accustomed habitats.

Not so with this particular denizen of the Epps manse...
This beautiful spider set up shop just a few days after I arrived from New York, spinning her web immediately outside my den window.  Day after day as I dealt with paperwork or un-tangled the interesting tale of our former tenants (since evicted as they felt dis-inclined to pay their agreed--and quite reasonable--monthly rent), I'd glance up and out from my desk to watch her getting her house in order, snaring her next meal, or resting with legs curled tightly about 1/2-inch carapace, resembling an orange diamond when she did so. 

Perhaps it is reflective of the loneliness of my "geo-bachelor" existence (Lucy has remained in New York as we prepare to move south whilst I returned to duty) that I developed something of a friendly relationship with this arachnid--friendly on my part, anyway.  I was careful not to disturb her web when cleaning outside the den or mowing the grass, and cheered in her favor whenever a wandering Anopheles or beetle flew too close to her sticky snare.

I have always been fascinated by spiders--the larger and hairier the better.  Considering my history with eight-legged critters (I was bitten by a Brown Recluse about ten years ago--it's necrotic venom dissolved a sugar-cube-sized portion of my chest.  A disgusting experience, and quite painful as well!) one might expect that I'd be trying to squash "Charlotte" rather than photographing her.  Despite this past , I find myself examining webs and following Wolf Spiders through the grass, enraptured by the quick movements, the acrobatics, the various habits of these creatures.

Unfortunately, all good things must end.  Yesterday I noticed that my "roomie"s web hung empty and un-kept, and a careful search of the side of the house revealed no clue as to her whereabouts.  The nights grow cooler, and insects less numerous than only a few days ago; she might already be wintering-over, waiting for spring's warmth to return.

Maybe I'll see her next year.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Supply Run...

Norfolk, Virginia
Well, here I am, back on duty!  Checked-in to the "Pool" of mariners available for assignment on Tuesday morning, updated my medical and training status--and was almost immediately called to the Admin side of the shop to accept orders! (I suppose I should be flattered...and I am!)

I'll be flying out next week to meet my new ship in the Persian Gulf region...USNS Supply (T-AOE 6).  She's the slightly elder sister of my old friend Arctic, and so ought to be quite similar to T-AOE 8 in layout.  She certainly LOOKS a lot like my old "mistress"...
Sisters in HY-100: Supply seen from Arctic's bridge-wing
I'm looking forward to getting aboard and learning what similarities--and differences--there are between these ships--no matter how cookie-cutter they may look on the outside there are always unique features, and of course a different Captain and crew to get to know and learn to work with.  Just as with Arctic back in 2005 and Joshua Humphreys earlier this year, a great part of the fun of this life @ sea lies in experiencing the endless diversity of  ships and shipmates, and in learning how best to contribute to that synergy of steel and humanity that makes up the community of a vessel on business upon great waters.

But before I can come to know and find my niche in Supply I first must meet the ship in a distant port.  The journey begins in one weeks' time...

Stay tuned--this ought to be good!