Working the holidays can pay — in more ways than one

We had just cleared the Panama Canal’s Miraflores Locks westbound on the Pacific side. I was the second mate on a tug pulling a loaded 450-foot petroleum barge from Lake Charles, La., and Beaumont, Texas, to Long Beach, Calif. It had just turned midnight, the start of Christmas Day.  Jerry, the able seaman on my watch, came up to the…
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Pursuing your passions outside of the job

I was looking forward to getting married in a few weeks. My fiancée and I decided on a backyard ceremony at her Long Beach, Calif., home. Everything was going according to plan except for one thing — we had not had any luck arranging music for the wedding.  I was complaining about that to Dana, a cook on the tug…
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Tips for a trouble-free travel day

My wife and I pulled up at the ferry terminal passenger drop off area and parked our truck. I grabbed my bags and the lunch she made me for the trip, and after a short hug and kiss, headed down to board the 0440 ferry. A few minutes later the ship got underway, and the island faded in our wake.…
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Offshore wind ushering in new era of opportunity for US mariners

My wife and I were at a late summer dinner party hosted by Martin, a retired civil engineer friend of ours. At our table enjoying the barbecued salmon, we were seated next to a well-dressed middle-aged guy and his wife. Seeing us, Martin came over and said, “This is my son Michael and his wife Helen. Michael’s an engineer too.”…
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Drunks? Troublemakers? Time for mariners to set record straight

Following in the footsteps of my dad, who sailed as an able seaman and boatswain, I had made the decision to become a merchant mariner. One spring Sunday afternoon during a family dinner in Spokane, Wash., I announced my decision to attend a four-year maritime school, where after graduation I would come out with an unlimited third mate license and…
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Russia flexing its muscles, outflanking US as Arctic heats up

In 2020, temperatures in parts of the Arctic were an unbelievable 14 to 18 degrees above normal, with the region recording its second-highest yearly average since 1900. Readings were so extreme that a Siberian heat wave caused wildfires on the tundra, a biome that is normally too wet or too frozen to burn. Extraordinarily high temperatures and melting ice in…
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Cheap rain gear? Penny wise is pound foolish when going to sea

From painful rashes due to skin rubbed raw to life-threatening hypothermia, mariners have long been plagued by having to work in clothes wet from rain, snow, fog and ocean spray. In the days of sailing ships, sailors smeared tar on their clothes to make them water-repellent, an unsatisfactory solution that overheated the body and made the garments stiff and hard…
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