Scenes From Underway – 3

Okay, so usually I have around 8-10 pictures to post.

This time, it’s only two.

We were sailing home and came upon some fairly heavy seas. I had the midwatch so I was already tired. ¬†However, we were taking some heavy rolls and as most of my friends and family know, I get VERY seasick. So much in fact that a few minutes in 2′-4′ rollers I start to get nauseated.

Well, for the first part of the watch, I was hunched over a trash can. The second part, the seas calmed and I had the chance to snap a picture. This is the ships inclinometer. It tells us how heavy the ship is rolling. In this case, the seas had calmed to FLAT. However, this device is still one of the many pieces of gear on board that taunts me.

What you are seeing here is a Cuttermans pin. It is worn on various uniforms and in various different capacities as a uniform item. In this case, it is attached to a Dress Blue Jacket with ribbons. I honestly never though I would wear one of these pins, but today I received my temporary cutterman designation. I’m VERY excited.

It was placed on my jacket and now sits there as another piece of bling that I’m allowed to wear while on board.

Woo! Go me.


I’ll snap a few more photos next time we get underway.



Constant Bearing, Decreasing Range

Okay, so I have been in to the blogging thing as of late. But seriously, who doesn’t enjoy a good blog?
So, because of that I’m giving you a heads up on a few things that my next handful of posts will be relating to.
1. The thirty day challenge.
This will be 30 days worth of posts that fall along a set schedule of awesomely creative questions. It gives you a good insight to your author.

2. This, That, and Such.
This is my wife’s blog. I’ll be referencing it from time to time. There will be a post discussing her. Just an FYI.

3. More scenes from underway
Having just pulled back in to home port but with more underway time coming soon, I am planning to post more scenes from life on the ship. As soon as I transfer off this bucket, the series will end so enjoy it while it lasts.

4. Tribes
Since I’ve been playing it a bit lately, I figure I might post some screenshots or discuss the games I’ve considered picking up. Maybe, sorta, probably not. We’ll see on this one.

So, consider yourself informed.

Scenes from Underway – 2

Again, we know that life underway is different than anything else that can be experienced, so I bring you the following.
A few pictures depicting scenes from underway.

Here we have two of my shipmates standing outside the skin of the ship. We were departing from St. Ignace. If you were to judge by the light you would think it was twilight, when in reality it was only 10:00am. While outside, they were enjoying a quick smoke break. The opportunity to get a few minutes to ones self is valuable on a ship.

The flag as it is draped from the flagstaff on the fan tail. There was no wind that morning. A light dusting of snow had already made itself known since colors were posted that morning. Nothing overly fancy, I just thought it was a nice picture.
Quiet moments are worth noticing when you realize that you hear the diesel engines 24/7 on board.

Here we have an Electronics Technician pulling some cable. I believe he was installing some new CCTV cameras, but I’m not positive. The work that each person on board does is very specific to their training and abilities. Being an ET, this shipmate is good with cameras, radios, radars, and other fancy mechanical gizmos.
Work carries on regardless of the time of day. In this case, it was late afternoon and he was rushing to finish before heading off to watch.

In preperation for an Admirals visit, it was all hands on deck commencing a Field Day. For those not in the know, a field day is where we clean every last surface on the ship. Considering all of the wires in those overheads, that’s a LOT of surfaces. PO Poppink is diligently operating a swab in this great photo. Due to the small crew size on Mackinaw, everyone from the lowest grunt up to the senior enlisted guys will be involved in shipwide cleaning.

This is another photo from the field day that was going on before Admiral Parks came to visit. Two of our cooks were working on the messdeck to make sure it was ready. There was horeseplay involved for sure, but they were still working. From cleaning stainless steel, to making sure the china was ready, to even going as far as to clean under the soda syrup boxes inside a cabinet, they were making sure their spaces were ready. Any time we have a flag officer coming aboard, there will be an all hands evolution to get the ship ready.

After a few days underway, hiding from some weather, a day or so anchored out somewhere, and plenty of steaming south, we finally arrived in Cleveland. It was actually really nice while we were there. 43 degrees in the middle of January is unheard of. I can’t complain about the good weather really. We had moored at the Port Authority in Cleveland just next to the Browns stadium. We were close enough to hit it with a rock if we really tried.

Recors (Pronounced Recourse) power plant. During the winter, this is one of our homes away from home. Half way down the St. Claire river from Port Huron, this place had a deep enough moorage that we will pull in at night and prep to be underway the next morning for additional ice breaking. Considering how mild this winter has been so far, we don’t have any ice to be breaking right now. I’m not complaining mind you, but it’s mildly frustrating when our purpose for being out here is stalled by a lack of ice.

The majority of the work we’re doing is weather based so we can’t really predict what we’re going to be doing. Either way, we are still out here. We’re still doing the patrols. We’re still ensuring public safety.
I love what I do, and while being on a ship is hard, it’s rewarding.
As usual, I hope these simple photos give a glimpse into life underway.


Scenes from Underway – 1

Life underway creates some interesting experiences.

You see some things that just can’t really be captured unless you are there.

Let’s see if we can try though.


While working in the warehouse prior to getting underway, we found the rolling bottom to a garbage can.

We weren’t quite sure what we wanted to do with it, so being the awesomely immature people that we are, my shipmate and I decided that the best use for such a thing would be to roll around on the floor like a skateboard with it. Marks in saftey? Threes!


I was standing watch in Main Control during some drills a few weeks back. I was monitoring some equipment on the CCTV system and I had noticed the the majority of the crew had mustered on the pier. I figured I’d get a snapshot of the ordeal.

Usually both screens look like the one on the right, but in this case I wanted to see a better view of the crew. That’s a lot of screens to monitor at any given time.


I had just walked back in to the ship from the fantail recently. It was cold. It was windy. I was getting a little seasick (read VERY seasick!) and I was looking forward to going down to the messdeck for some crackers. After closing the door behind me and taking off my hat I turned around to see this. It’s a closed hatch with a closed scuttle. For the record, I hate¬†scuttles. I sighed quite heavily, turned around and went back outside to find a different door into the ship that didn’t require me to open a scuttle. FWIW…Totally worth going back into the cold.


We were underway near Mackinaw Island the other day. It was cold (20 degrees), there was a strong 25kt wind, and it was cloudy as hell. While we were out there the deck was starting to accumulate some lake effect snow. The Island was visible in the distance. I was out there a few months back during the summer while it was green and covered in trees and grass. But now, it’s just snow, cold, grey, and hibernating waiting for the spring to come back.



I came in one morning getting ready for a duty day and this was the scene that I found. The Cutter Alder was tied up next to the Mackinaw. They had been there overnight and were getting ready to get underway. We are bigger than the Alder by a good 15 feet (Doesn’t seem like much on the outside) and we have been tied up with them once or twice in the past. It never ceases to amaze me though to see two ships of this size tied up together. You don’t get to see it very often though so I guess that makes sense.


Frigid weather, high winds, and a mooring evolution. This shot shows a few members of the crew putting heaving lines over to the pier and being involved in the mooring of the ship. Considering the weather and conditions involved in that particular evolution, this was a hairy one. They are highly skilled though so it went flawlessly, just like it always does.



So, that’s it for this entry. These are a few scenes from underway on the Mackinaw.

Scenes from underway ( A precursor)

Underway life on a Coast Guard Cutter is interesting.

There are so many aspects of life that each person experiences on a ship that the regular world never even knows exist. From schedules, to work routines, to the simple types of every day humor that the world at large just doesn’t get. The whole thing is laced with little jokes, actions that produce snickers and laughter, and general innuendo that some people might raise an eyebrow at but those of us on board see as signs of affection and comraderie. We have names for people that just don’t make sense anywhere else. Life underway is an almost etherial experience. There is nothing else like it anywhere I have ever worked. When you cram 60 people into a steel box for months on end and tell them to go complete some vague task under the flag of military direction, you get some weird stuff.

Since I already know that I want to take pictures of this kind of thing, and try to give people a glimpse of what it is we’re doing out there, I figured I’ve give you a precursor and let you know that I am going to blog about those Scenes from Underway and see what you think.

Comments are always good.

Here we go. The posts will follow soon.