kokopellinelli: (Don' Wanna)


I went on a boat trip to Whittier. Now, on the Glacier Spirit, Whittier is about a 5-hour trip, if we just deadhead it. With passengers, of course, we're stopping at Columbia Glacier and Bullhead and Lake Bay and to look at whales and what have you, so it's usually about 7-8 hours.

Yesterday, we had 30 glaciologists on board, and a slightly different itinerary. We left the dock at 7 am, went to Columbia (and got all the way to the face), went to Bullhead to look at sea lions (and then found a couple big humpbacks nearby), went to Lake Bay to look at the hatchery (and some guy zoomed by on a speedboat and mooned us), then we went into a place called Blackstone Bay to look at several glaciers and really lovely waterfalls back there.

Now, according to the weather report, yesterday morning was supposed to be pretty nice on the water -not sunny, but not icky- and then in the afternoon the wind was supposed to pick up, blow 30 knots out of the SE, and pick up some 7-footers from the Gulf as well.

Around here, that is not a fun time.

Anyway, as we were heading out of Blackstone, we were going into the wind, and it was providing some chop. At the mouth of the bay, we made a lefthand turn to keep heading to Whittier, and that put the wind at our back, so it was pretty smooth till we got to Whittier.

That's where it got scary. We were pretty much on time (supposed to be there around 6:30 or 7), but the dock that we normally use was uh...unavailable.

That is to say, it was there, and it was empty, but the waves were going over it. The waves themselves weren't ENORMOUS, like 3-footers, but with the wind blowing however the hell fast it was blowing and the rain literally going sideways, docking there would have been difficult, and then our passengers would have gotten soaked from about the thighs down when they got off the boat.

Cap'n Chris called some people in Whittier while we sat out in the chop and they told him where to go to dock a little easier, so we slipped around the first dock and went to another little finger at the end of a pier. A guy was there waiting for us, so Chris eased the boat into the slip and I tossed him the spring and we got the boat tied up fairly easily.

We offloaded everyone, and they tipped us and said they hoped we had a safe trip back. When we left the dock again, we were all SOAKED. The backs of John's pants were plastered to his skin, and Susan and I weren't much better. I was the only one who'd thought to bring an extra pair of clothing, so I put on my dry jeans and let Susan wear my dry shirt since my other shirt was dry anyway.

Chris said it was a good thing no one had been looking at his hands as he docked, because they were shaking so badly. It was really scary.

Then, we headed back. It was getting dark, and then factor in the wind and sideways rain and it was just kind of freaky. John drove for a while so Chris could nap. I tried to sleep, but kept getting rolled around.

At one point, I was lying under a bench and I felt the boat slow down, and we hit some really big waves. I figured I should get up and look out, because when I start feeling queasy it helps to look outside and fix my eyes on a steady point.

Only problem was there wasn't any steady point to look at. It was pitch black out. We did have a spotlight on the bow, and that illuminated the waves as they crested, so I looked at those. I was getting a little dizzy, but then they turned the boat and we zipped into Glacier Passage and I was able to go back and lay down, because it's calm back there.

We got back to the dock at around midnight-thirty. By 1, I was home and in bed, and it felt so good. Oy.

I was supposed to go out on a 6-hour today (a charter for a group of tax accountants...you know that would have been stimulating), but it's pretty crappy out there. Foggy, nasty, pouring rain...so the trip was cancelled, and I'm glad.

I'll be spending a couple nights at [livejournal.com profile] getting_weary's house while she and her husband are in Anchorage, so I probably won't be online a lot.
kokopellinelli: (Default)
Today was my last regular run on the boat. I do work on Tuesday and Wednesday, but tomorrow is the last official day of the season and I'll be in Anchorage with [livejournal.com profile] getting_weary.

We had...an AWESOME day. The best part was the huge pod of orcas we found. There were probably at least 30 altogether, with three big males in the distance, and like 18 females and calves traveling in a tight group. The group of them came under the boat several times, and when they would come up to blow you could hear them squeal. They were tail-lobbing like crazy, and doing barrel rolls and slapping their pectoral fins on the water, and one did a really pronounced spyhop, and one of them breached twice. Then there was one of the big males who was porpoising COMPLETELY out of the water and flinging a salmon in front of him.

And we got all the way to the face of Columbia Glacier.

So, yeah. AWESOME.
kokopellinelli: (Don' Wanna)
Mom's coming home today, so that's exciting.

But I won't see her till tonight. Between now and then, I have to go work on a boat, on a gray, rainy, depressing day, with wind and snow falling on the mountaintops. I kinda hope we don't have a lot of people today, because I really don't want to have to talk to anyone if I can help it.

It's amazing the difference the weather can make in your mood. If it was a little brighter out, or not raining, or raining but with patches of sky between the clouds, or not windy...if any one of those elements were missing from the equation, I might feel better. But, as it is, I have decided I hate people and don't want to be around them anymore.

Our 6-hour trip on the boats takes us to look at Columbia Glacier. Technically, in our brochure, it says "Look at the icebergs of Columbia Glacier." We can usually see the glacier itself (unless it's really foggy) but we can't get close to it. When people make their reservations, the office staff tells them, EACH AND EVERY ONE, that we cannot usually get close to the glacier. Normally, the absolute closest we can get is up to the terminal moraine, about 9 miles from the face. This is because of the massive icebergs that break of the glacier. They float forward and get stuck on the moraine, and then all the smaller ice gets packed behind it. Usually, the forebay is literally a field of ice. It is impassable.

The ticket office TELLS people that. And it's been that way for 24 years.

So why do people whine when we can't get to the face of the glacier? Why do they ask if there are OTHER boats in town that DO get to the face?

Do they not SEE the packed ice from the face all the way to the moraine? Of course we can't get to the face, unless we wanted to get out and walk. And, y'know, good luck with that, Douchebag.

Yesterday, we had like 4 people leave nasty comments in the guestbook. "Waste of money," "very disappointed," and "?? Miles to glacier??" My brother heard one lady saying, "They should tell you that you can't get close to the glacier!"

THEY DO. Is it our fault if you don't listen?
kokopellinelli: (Default)
Today I was on the 6-hour, which turned out to be more like a 4-hour. We had to turn back right before we reached Freemantle. 6 footers and winds from the southeast, just about the worst forecast you can get. We could feel the start of a roll as we rounded Entrance Point into the Narrows, and had to duck into Sawmill to serve the meal, as we were already bouncing around. The 9-hour got all the way into Columbia Glacier, but then they had to turn back as well.

I managed to serve the meal and pick up the garbage, and I made one round with barf bags and MotionEaze, then I sort of went out of commission for a while. I just kind of braced myself in the doorway and let the wind and rain hit my face. At one point, I looked to my left and saw a little girl braced against the counter, and everytime the boat shook, her eyes got big and then she'd close them, and I could see her breathing, trying to calm down. I hopped over to stand next to her, got a bag for her, and then took her back to the doorway to stand with me, and I just braced my back on the wall and held her around the waist, held the bag in my other hand, told her to look at the tip of Freemantle and take deep breaths. I think helping her out helped keep me from feeling too sickly myself.

I wasn't actually feeling TOO badly, but my legs get like jello in that sort of thing, and I wasn't being any help at all to Collin and MH and Colleen. I felt bad. But at least I could keep one little girl from getting sick.

Her name was Dervela. I have no idea how to spell that--she's from Ireland, and was on the boat with her parents, aunt and uncle, 3 cousins, and 3 sisters. They were all pretty cool.

Anyway, tomorrow's supposed to be even shittier, weather-wise, so whoopee. I have a feeling the 9-hour will be cancelled altogether.
kokopellinelli: (What You Say?)
Today at work, Ryan told myself and Charles an amusing story.

On our 9-hour trip, we serve two meals. The first meal is chicken on rice with alfredo sauce and vegetables. The second is soup, either clam chowder or minestrone.

So, Chip was in the galley, stirring the alfredo sauce in one of the pots we also use to make soup.

Chip: *stir stir*

Random Man: Soup.

Chip: No, sir. It's not soup.

Random Man: SOUP!

Chip: ...No sir. This isn't soup, it's alfredo.

Random Man: *snarls* I DON'T SPEAK FRENCH! *stalks away*
kokopellinelli: (Pink Baby Cthulhu)
I've been meaning to mini-rant about a few things at work that bug me. Yes, it's about customers. Again.

Item 1: In my announcements at the beginning of the trip, I do say that the doors on this particular boat are tricky; some slide open and some push open. I even say, "If you're pulling and pulling on a door, trying to get it to slide, and it doesn't...try pushing on it, because that's been known to work."

So, with that information in mind, when you go to the door by the galley, and you want to get outside, and you are pulling on the door to get it to slide, and it's not sliding...what are your other choices?

A. Pull on it some more.
B. Fiddle with the lock.
C. Stand there and stare at it blankly (straight at the sign above the handle that says "push").
D. Walk away, after deciding you didn't need to get outside to use the head after all.

If you chose any option besides E, I think you've been on the boat before.

Now, sometimes the people who do this are Germans who know no English. That would explain why they didn't understand my announcement and why they couldn't read the sign. I don't know if doors work differently in Germany...maybe they don't have doors that push open. However, as for all the middle-aged Americans who do this, you'd think that by this point in their lives they'd know how to operate a door.

Glacier Cruise? Alaska? Naw, no coat needed. )

Young people. So disrespectful. )



Whew. Okay, think I'm good for now. At least till someone else comes along and pisses me off.
kokopellinelli: (What You Say?)
Seems summer has finally arrived. Yay, sun.

Today went well. Nothing too cool or unusual.

But this morning, after morning announcements, two ladies got on board. When people come on the boat after we've done announcements, we have to stop them and basically run through announcements for them again. Where the PFDs are, how to put them on, and what we serve for lunch are the main things we have to catch them with.

So these ladies get on board (we'll call them Rude and Chuckles). I catch them just as they're heading onto the bow and say, "Hi, ladies. I just have to run through announcements for you real quick since you missed them."

I start getting out a PFD from under the counter to show them how to put them on.

Rude: Actually, I think we know how to put those on.

Me: ...Okay, well this is where they're located...

Rude: Great. Is that all?

Me: *flustered* Um, we serve a meal on board today. It's New England clam chowder with a bagel and cream cheese, or we have a vegetarian minestrone if you don't want the chowder. Would the chowder be okay, or do you want the veggie soup?

Chuckles: Chowder will be fine...but I can't have the bagel, 'cause I'm not Jewish. *smiles expectantly*

Me: *blinks, can't think of anything to say*

Chuckles: I can't have the bagel, though, because I'm not Jewish! *grins and raises her eyebrows*

Chuckles' Brain: Bud-a-bum ching.

Rude: *starts laughing*

Me: ...Okay. If you have any more questions, just ask one of the crew.

I mean, I get that bagels are Jewish in origin, but was what she said really that funny?
kokopellinelli: (Default)
Today was pretty much YAY.

I was on the short trip, so I didn't have to get up till 9.

The weather was loverly today, sunny for the most part, and FLAT in the Sound.

And we saw orcas. Oh yes.

True, we had to go about 8 miles out of our way, then back, so 16 miles we wouldn't have otherwise had to travel, but it was worth it.

It was a big pod, really spread out, so we focused on one big crookedfin male and a cow and calf. They came right under the boat several times.

We DID have 120 people on board, thus making it a little hard to get to the sides to look down, but I did have the opportunity to watch the cow and calf from the lower stern deck, and they started coming toward us, and I could see them under the water as they passed RIGHT UNDERNEATH where I was standing. The cow was swimming upside-down, so I could see her white underbelly glowing just beneath the water. Then they came up next to the boat and the calf started tail-lobbing (flinging his tail around and slapping it on the water) and the cow spyhopped a few times. It was so much fun.

And yesterday, we saw an otter eating an octopus almost twice his size. He was ripping off chunks and swallowing them like he'd never get another meal.

And we have two otters in the harbor, and they're named after two of our crew, who are brothers, Jordan and Ben. But because we think the otters are females, their names are Jordana and Bengina (which is NOT pronounced "Benjeena"). Chip got pretty close to one today, and he told Ben that he'd almost touched it, and Ben said, "I'll kill you if you touch Bengina!" Odd sentence.
kokopellinelli: (Default)
A couple days ago, Colleen came down and told us that a woman who had just booked herself on the 9 hour asked if Stan (president and namesake of the company) was gonna be the captain the day she was going out. She was told that no, Stan would be captaining the 6-hour that day. Her reply was, "Oh, I'm concerned for my safety! Do your other captains have experience?"

Amanda: No.

Ticket Office Girls: YES.

Amanda: *to us, later* Yes, we just hired some bum off the street to drive our boat for the day.

They told Chris that he should say into the microphone, "Hi um...I'm Chris...they just hired me today. I hope I can find everything."

And Julie told me this story.

She was on the bow of one of the boats while they were watching a purse seiner pull in his catch. The seiners here catch salmon (intentionally) and jellyfish (unintentionally). Julie heard this old couple talking:

Feeble Old Man: Oh, look. You can see all those sea urchins there in the net that they're catchin'.

Tottery Old Lady: Oooh. Which ones are the sea urchins, again?

Feeble Old Man: You know, the parachute ones. *makes hand motions*

Tottery Old Lady: *nodding sagely* Ooooh. Starfish.

My aunt, uncle, cousin, cousin's girlfriend, and other cousin are here for a week or so, so I'm not sure when I'll be online or whatever. Talk to y'all later.
kokopellinelli: (Default)
So, for the most part, today was really fine. GORGEOUS weather, first of all. This was like our 5th nice day this entire month, and by "nice," I mean "cloudless and actually able to see the mountains."

This first thing is sort of a "wtf." About half an hour into the trip, Ben asked Katie, "Who is that girl in the red bandanna."

Katie: I don't know. I think she's Russian.

Ben: Why is she wearing a company jacket?

Turns out this girl and one of the guys she was with had taken Katie's and Ryan's coats from where they hung on the coatrack and were just wearing them. Now, on occasion, if someone asks if they can wear our coats, we let them, at least for a while. However, we make them aware that we will probably want to wear them ourselves at some point during the day, seeing as how, yanno, they ARE ours.

But both Katie and Ryan are really too nice for their own good, so they decided to just let these people wear their coats and hope that they would hang them back up when they were done with them.

Long story short, the couple wore the coats for half the day, (and bought a ton of candy bars throughout the day), then sat on them at their table the rest of the day. When we unloaded everyone from the boat, they left the coats at the table.

When Katie checked her coat pockets, she discovered an empty candy bar wrapper, and that her lip gloss and the $7 she had in there were gone.

They had been using her money to buy their candy bars.

When we told Amanda, she was like, "So, they just wore your coats? All day? That is so bizarre. What, did they think that the coats were 'for your convenience because you're too fucking stupid to bring your own damn coat on a glacier cruise' coats?"

Then, after Colleen had taken people back to their RV parks and come back down to the boat while we were cleaning, Amanda came down and said that some lady had called the office (from her cell phone...in the RV PARK that Colleen had just taken her to), and demanded her money back.


Because she didn't see as much wildlife as she thought she should have seen, and what wildlife we DID see, we didn't get close to.

Gee, I wonder what boat she was on.

Did she not see the otters so close you could see their individual whiskers and hear their babies meeping? Did she not see the sea lions on the buoy that we circled at a distance of 15 feet? Did she not SEE the Dall's porpoise that rode our bow for 2 minutes? Did she not see the puffins, the harbor seals, the eagles that the REST of us saw?

Guess not. She must have been sleeping. Or uh...looking the other way.

Anyway, she had left her cell number at the office and Amanda was afraid to call her back (as Amanda is notoriously short-tempered when it comes to stupid people) so Colleen called her. By the time I got up to the office, the rest of the crew members were up there, ostensibly filling out their time sheets, Colleen was on the phone with this woman.

The lady yelled at her for 10 minutes, with Colleen saying that we could never GUARANTEE wildlife, especially whales, because it is WILD. Also, it is illegal to get closer than about a quarter mile of sea lions (while at their haulouts) and whales (unless they come to you) It ended with the lady saying that she was going to call her credit card company and say that the charge for the trip was fraudulent, despite the fact that she signed her receipt.

I told Amanda how impressed I was with how calm Colleen had remained on the phone, and she said, "Yeah, that's why she handles those calls, and I don't. I pro'ly would have said something like 'You wanna see a whale? LOOK IN THE MIRROR, FATASS!' "

Cheezus, people. Stop being freaking assholes.

kokopellinelli: (Default)
We saw orcas again today. Yay! It was a pretty nice day all around.

Ryan and Cap'n John convinced some poor 8-year-old girl that Ryan's given name was "Diva Boy," that I was his mother, and that Charles was his brother. I came into the galley where she was talking to Charles and Susan and she asked me, "Are you Diva Boy's mom?"

Me: ...Yes.

Little Girl: Will you make him dance?

Me: Uh...okay. *follows the little girl upstairs, where "Diva Boy" and John are looking quite smug.

Little Girl: *whispers* I think they're lying.

Me: I think you're a very smart little girl.

Little Girl: *plants herself next to Cap'n John, folds her arms, stares at him* If I was your mother, I'd ground you! For two years!

John: Two years? I'm GLAD you're not my mom! I think you made the right choice when you decided not to have kids.

Little Girl: *whispers to me* Is his name really Diva Boy?

John: *overhears* I've seen his birth certificate. It says "Diva D. Boy."

Me: His name is Ryan.

Little Girl: *glares at Ryan* Well, hello, RYAN.

Ryan: I don't know what you're talking about. That's not my name.

Then it was time to dock the boat, so I went downstairs.

Okay, and one more thing.


If you rent a pair of our (sorta crappy) binoculars, PLEASE don't give them to your 3-year-old for the day and let him run around with them, drag them on the ground, swing them into walls, and bang them on the floor. The reason they suck is because people keep DOING that.

Bite me, and have a nice day.

Your friendly crew chief. (No, I'm not a stewardess. No, I'm not the captain. No, you do NOT have permission to come aboard.)
kokopellinelli: (Default)
We saw orcas today. Twice.

A resident pod.

3 big males with crooked fins, a couple females, and a baby.

They swam right under our bow.


Yes, you may be jealous now.

Also, we had kids on the boat. One little girl, I wanted to throw over the side. Her parents were nowhere in sight, and I had to tell her numerous times to not run, not to lay in the aisle, not to climb the poles, not to stand on the seats. These people stopped me at one point and said, "Miss, you really need to find that girl's parents. She's being a little pain." and I was like, "Oh! I thought she was with you!" because she'd been hanging around them all day. So I took her to her mom and told her she needed to stay with her the rest of the day. Unfortunately, that was like an hour before we got back to port. Oh, well.

But seriously, people. WATCH YOUR FREAKING KIDS.
kokopellinelli: (Default)
I was on the 9 hour today. It was okay, but we had 106 people and I just felt like I was running my ass off all day. Bryan and Jessica came on the boat but I barely got a chance to talk to them at all. I had a headache and there was a portion of the trip (about an hour and a half or so) where it was sort of bumpy. I was walking around making sure everyone felt okay, and almost everyone did, but one lady was retching into a cup. I kept bringing her empty cups and taking away her full ones, and she was very nice and grateful, but COME ON. The second day in row I've had to deal with vomit. Luckily, she wasn't getting it ON anything. And she wasn't crapping her pants. So yay.


Dear creepy teenager:

O___O to you, too.
kokopellinelli: (What You Say?)

Today, I was on a cross-Sound trip to Whittier, on the little boat. We were running full, which means 46 passengers. We left at around 7:30am with an ETA of 2:30 or 3ish.

It wasn't rough on the water, just some long low swells starting around Freemantle. Not bad at all.

So you can imagine my surprise when, about 2 hours into the trip, Susan came up the bridge where I was looking for whales and told Chris, "There's a lady who's sick in the lower head. Really sick."

Cut for the squeamish )

And it would have been a perfectly nice day, too.

kokopellinelli: (LOL)
Today was much better than yesterday. Still foggy and rainy (though less so) and the water was very nice indeed. I hear the short trip even got into the face of Columbia Glacier.

I was on the long trip, we saw 2 humpbacks (which is like the first time in a week I've seen any) and a big piece of ice fell off of Meares. We only had 37 people today, so it was kind of a slow day, but still nice. Some nice people on board.

I did have one sort of odd encounter with an older lady today, though. We were at Meares, and I was outside in my longsleeve shirt and fleece vest, watching for any calving. This lady came out the door behind me, dressed in a sweater and long wool skirt.

Odd Lady: You are an Eskimo! I am a swamp thing and you are an Eskimo! *beams, wanders away*

Me: *le blink*
kokopellinelli: (Don' Wanna)
So, we didn't have a very good day at work today. It was very foggy, rainy, windy, and choppy. We also had 111 people on the boat, and 30 people on the little boat, which was doing the same trip. There were a few people feeling queasy, and one lady feeling downright sick. And we couldn't see the glacier, and we couldn't go to Bullhead to look at the sea lions...and it was all just kind of blah.

And then, to top it all off, some JACKASS came up to me and said, "I just got something to say."

He then proceeded to tell me it was the worst cruise he'd ever been on, and he wouldn't be using the company again, and he'd been on the boats with us before and he had a really good captain that time, but THIS captain was the WORST captain in the history of the world and he sounded bored in his narration and he obviously didn't know what he was doing...then when he realized that this particular captain is the president and owner of the company, he amended that to "He's too old" and said that he needed to hire someone to narrate the trip while he drove.

Okay, so this particular cap'n doesn't banter much, but he knows his facts. He wasn't pointing out EVERY SINGLE otter and sea lion that went by because we'd already seen some earlier and he was concentrating on driving the boat in the rough water we were having.

But I don't know what Jackass thought I was gonna do about it. Fire the Captain? Tell him "Uh...someone downstairs doesn't like you...but we've gotten a lot of comments in the guestbook saying that most of them DO."

Can't please everyone.
kokopellinelli: (Default)
Stan was my cap'n today. He's the owner of the company. He's in his 70's. He's grumbly and growly and looks like Captain Ahab.

Today, after we got in, I was picking up trash on the boat (people are PIGS) and I found a crayon.

Stan was muttering about a kid who had been climbing on benches all day. To cheer him up, I said, "Hey, Stan. Want a crayon? It's red."

Stan: *petulant* No. I only like pink crayons.
kokopellinelli: (Default)
Today I was on the short trip, but after we got in and cleaned, we helped the crew of the long trip clean their boat, and then we all went out into the port on the Glacier Spirit to do some Man Overboard drills.

We were divided into 3 teams, and we did 3 drills. Whichever teams weren't doing that particular drill had to pretend to be passengers and get in the way.

Colleen, our manager, got gussied up in a bright orange survival suit and took the plunge each time. I called her Scuba Steve.

My team went second, when "the passenger" who fell overboard was conscious. The first and third times, she was unconscious. The drills went pretty well, though we all made some mistakes and stuff. But it was kinda fun. I volunteered to be Scuba Steve next time we have a drill.
kokopellinelli: (Default)
Today was much better than yesterday.

We saw 3 baby (TEENY TINY) bears and a loon with loonlets, and 2 humpbacks, and SCADS of porpoise (some of them were swimming with the second whale) and 2 sharks.

And we got everything done on time.

And there was a guy who looked a little like Greg Kinnear on the boat.
kokopellinelli: (Default)
Okay. My day.

Late starting the first meal service.

Interrupted by transient orcas 2 minutes into the meal service.

5 minutes later, lady tells us that there is water pouring out from underneath one of the head doors.

Toilet is spewing water. Turn valve off, lock door.

Captain's microphone stops working. He cannot let everyone know what they're looking at. Therefore, in between all our other duties for the rest of the day, we're also having to walk around and tell people what we see.

Chowder is late getting started.

Bullhead is rolly.

Chowder is 30 degrees below temp. Therefore we have to pour the chowchow into bins and microwave it till it gets to temp.

2 minutes into soup service, a humpback shows up, interrupting us. AGAIN.

One cool thing: while I was out on the bow, the humpy surfaced 4 feet away. Fer real. Scared the bejeezus out of me, though.

And then we were doing dishes the rest of the way into town.

I told Chip that if he EVER AGAIN starts out a day by saying, "This is gonna be a bad day," I will strangle him and throw his body overboard.

I am in full-on Bobby Pin Stage*.

*Bobby Pin Stage: In reference to a time when my mother was young and her family was packing for a vacation or a move or something. Everything was ready to go, and my grandma was wandering around, lost, with a bobby pin in hand, wondering where she should put it. In short, a state of mind where even the smallest, simplest tasks take on Herculean proportions.

October 2011

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