A new round of Scuttlebutt.

Having run out of school work and having taken a couple distinct breaks from this blog. I have decided to take a slightly new tack with my posts.

I would like to talk about some of the games that I am playing and how they incorporate the natural world and generally why I am playing them. And I will also be talking about the seasonal changes in my backyard conservation area.

My first post in this new vein is all about Kisima Innitchuna or “Never Alone”. 2015-01-14_00019

Never Alone is a side-scrolling, arcade/puzzle game with an interesting twist published by E-Line Games. They’ve taken input from more than 30 Iñupiat people including elders, storytellers and others, to tell a traditional story in a very new format. Continue reading

Skills and maintenance lists

Here is an ambitious list of projects I had compiled to be completed as able, I left a copy on the boat in case they wanted to use it in my absence.

My list of projects at the end of the summer.

My list of projects at the end of the summer.

We had completed a number of projects equal to as much as, but probably less than a quarter of this list, over the summer. Mostly painting, varnishing and some other small cosmetic projects. Most of our time was spent cleaning and stocking the boat after/before sailing and prepping for charters. In addition to PR, sailing, B&B, etc. But I will attempt a list of the major projects we completed: Continue reading

Communication Leadership and Stress: Part 3- What I can take away

In my last post I discussed how myself and the crew was affected by many of the conditions imposed by the Liberty Fleet itself… Generally leaving out environmental or specific public relations interactions. In this post I intend to review what I learned from the communication and leadership we did and did not receive this summer, as well as some of the feedback I got and what I can take away from it into the future.

But first lets look at a snippet of a short article I read yesterday on Toxic Masters (aka, toxic captains):

IMO’s model course on leadership and teamwork says: “(toxic leaders) abuse the leader-follower relationship.

“Common traits of toxic leadership are:

  • Glibness/superficial charm
  • Grandiose sense of self-worth
  • Pathological lying
  • Cunning/manipulative
  • Lack of remorse or guilt
  • Callous/lack of empathy
  • Shallow emotional affect (genuine emotion is short-lived and egocentric)
  • Failure to accept responsibility for own actions.
  • Many are authoritarian (control freaks) tending to use micro-management, over-management and management by fear.
  • Micromanagers usually dislike a subordinate making decisions without consulting them, regardless of the level of authority or factual correctness.

“A toxic leader can be hypercritical of others in trying to hide their own faults. They can also be both frightening and psychologically stressful to work with.”

Toxic masters bully and brag while demolishing team coherence and initiave.

The rest of the article can be found here. It’s an interesting, relatively short read, and it reflects about how numerous marine accidents can be traced back to toxic leadership where “team coherence and initiative” are stunted from fear of those same toxic leaders. (And at the same time, this aspect of maritime accidents is generally ignored when it comes to accident reports/investigations)

Thankfully there were no major life threatening emergencies that occurred this summer. But the fact that we came very close to sailing out during a tornado warning, and did on occasion sail during severe thunderstorm warnings, I think directly relates to this kind of leadership.

I wish I had read that article before writing my last post, it would be easy, I think, to connect the dots. Of all those bullet points, we maybe did not experience one or two of those traits.


But where to apply this in my life: Continue reading

Leadership, Communication and Stress: Part 2- How to Prevent a Strike

The importance of reflecting and debriefing at close and appropriate times to the events you are reflecting on and debriefing about, becomes more and more evident as you get farther from those same events. In this case, the events of this summer that transpired after my last post on the subject. Which I have managed to remember in some detail. But of course some of it is hazy.

To refresh your memory, dear reader, here are the last couple paragraphs from my last post on this subject:

“I was written in as Mate for the two days that the other had off every week (the deckhands and myself having 1 day off a week and the captains getting 3 days off a week).

Then it felt like my job just became that much harder. The Clipper really isn’t big enough for there to be 2 mates on board at once (during day sails, long voyages with watches is another story), especially without clearly defined roles that each one would be filling. So I stepped back and let the new mate make mistakes and let the captain correct them (Often mistakes I had already made and been corrected on, or reminded of, it had been a long long time since I’d worked on a schooner). And I stepped back again when it came to chastising deckhands and encouraging work, again the province of the Mate on such a small vessel.

Only when it came around to my turn to be Mate of the hour, I had just as many expectations put on me as I had before. Only I was no longer in the groove, I wasn’t in the habit of keeping track of projects or people or the schedule in my head, but I was still expected to be on top of, well, everything.”

The rest of that entry can be found here: https://bilgewaterblog.wordpress.com/2014/08/17/leadership-and-stress/

I was not alone in my frustration.

Now I need to backtrack a bit and do some explaining. I’ve only really talked about Captain1 so far. But there were in fact many more than that- I worked with seven in total by the end of the summer. And perhaps I can talk more about the rest of them later. But there was one other captain I need to mention in particular.

severe weathe generic

Let’s call him Captain2. I had in fact worked with Captain2 before (back in 2006), but whereas I stopped sailing and went to college, he hadn’t stopped sailing on Tall Ships (This is something he had in common with a couple of the other Liberty Fleet captains, but I digress) so he has quite a bit of experience in one form or another. Captain2 came into the Liberty Fleet after we’d been in Boston for a while and the crew was delighted by him. He is a boisterous, funny, guy and helped the crew make better tips and managed to keep a positive spin on most situations. Really pretty inspiring. But after a few weeks, and a few times when the office wanted to make us sail during severe thunderstorm and/or tornado warnings. He quit. And I can’t say I blame him. (We did go sailing a couple times with severe weather warnings, but thankfully the Captains refused once or twice).

But for even more different reasons, aside from the weather and my personal grievances, the crew was quite dissatisfied with conditions of the summer. Continue reading

The Whaling Process

Whaling, that dangerous and difficult mission, was quite the process. First, (for most of the history of commercial whaling- because the whales in the north atlantic were killed so quickly) you would have to embark on a journey to the far side of the world, lasting years at a time, on a ship like this:

Photo from the Mystic Seaport website. Charles W. Morgan under sail.

Photo from the Mystic Seaport website.
Charles W. Morgan under sail.

With approximately these possessions:

Sea Chest at the NBWM

Sea Chest at the NBWM (Crafted by Manuel De Mendonca, ca 1859)

To live in a space like this (I think the drawing makes it look big):

Continue reading

Moby Dick: A short reflection

Oh! ye three unsurrendered spires of mine; thou uncracked keel; and only god-bullied hull; thou firm deck, and haughty helm, and Pole-pointed prow,—death-glorious ship! must ye then perish, and without me? Am I cut off from the last fond pride of meanest shipwrecked captains? Oh, lonely death on lonely life! Oh, now I feel my topmost greatness lies in my topmost grief. Ho, ho! from all your furthest bounds, pour ye now in, ye bold billows of my whole foregone life, and top this one piled comber of my death! Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee. Sink all coffins and all hearses to one common pool! and since neither can be mine, let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee, though tied to thee, thou damned whale! THUS, I give up the spear!’

(Melville, 857)

NBWM banner, sperm whale counter attack.

NBWM banner,  featuring a sperm whale counter attack.

Having just finished Moby Dick for the first time yesterday. I do not think my first impression has changed very much.  Continue reading


As part of my independent study in leadership I was aiming to receive feedback and in the end, references for the work I had done. Though I asked my shipmates for constructive criticism, and got it. I think I needed to be a little more assertive when it came to the passengers (I’m sure they could have thought of things I could do better). Regardless, here are a couple references I received from passengers from early in the season.


Kathleen T.

— ——— ——

——- ——-, ——

August 18, 2014

Re: Adam ——- – Maritime Leadership Studies

In May 2014, my husband Thom and I joined the Liberty Clipper in Charleston, South Carolina as passengers on its repositioning trip from the Carribean to Boston. We were on board about a week. Adam ——- was the Clipper’s Boatswain and Watchleader. I am pleased to provide some feedback in support of his studies in Maritime Leadership.

Continue reading

Tattoo Survey


Billy B.

How many tattoos/nautical tattoos do you have?:

I have 3 nautical tattoos and a few others

How long have you worked on boats?

Five to six years all together.

What do your nautical tattoos mean to you?

The anchors are a boatswain’s tattoo, that I got the first time I held a boatswain’s mate position on a ship. I’d been hired as the boatswain, but there ended up being some confusion when I arrived.

tattoo1 Continue reading

The Balaenidae and Whaling

“You stand and wait, a-tingle with enthusiasm. You are in your glory now. You would not for the whole world be any other thing but a whaleman. You are glad that your boyhood anticipated this splendid life of adventure, and aspired after its high responsibilities. To its toils and perils you willingly devote your youth and best manhood. You will be proud, in long years to come to recount the history of your daring sea-battles.”

(“The Voyage of the F.H. Moore” and Other 19th Century Whaling Accounts, By Samuel Grant Williams, J. Ross Browne, Capt. Charles H. Robbins, Francis Allyn Olmsted)

Whale Party

Photo taken at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, Whales celebrating the finding of oil in Pennsylvania.

Whaling is at the very least a tricky topic these days, I spoke with a man on the Liberty Clipper for about an hour about a variety of things, one of them being joining the Sea Shepard and disrupting whaling in the South sea. He had planned, before getting a cushy job at an investment firm, to join them for a year and a half. He had filled out paper work and hopped through a few hoops before changing his plans to work way up in Massachusetts moving around other people’s money. He didn’t care about research or tradition, and had no sympathy for the Japanese who cannot whale in their country’s coastal waters for lack of prey.

I got yelled at walking through South Station one time because I stopped to talk with a person at a booth for an anti-whaling campaign, but would not donate any money.

And then there’s movies like The Cove:


And Blackfish:


On top of that, scientists and the media actively acknowledge dolphins as some of the most ‘intelligent’ animals on the planet. But whaling has been a part of many cultures worldwide for a long, long, long time, and I don’t think that that is necessarily a bad thing. The biggest differences that I see are in the methods, the scale, the beliefs and the goals (You might say, “So pretty much everything”, you wouldn’t be wrong).

Continue reading

Bowhead Whale Species Account

Bowhead Whale

Balaena mysticetus

(aka: Greenland right whale, Arctic whale, steeple-top, polar whale, or Russian whale)

Bowhead Whale and Calf (Balaena mysticetus)

Bowhead Whale and Calf (Balaena mysticetus)

 “Of all the Arctic cetaceans, the bowhead or Balaena mysticetus is the most mysterious.” (Hoare, 274)


 A close relative of the Right Whale(s), the Bowhead whale is dark grey to black and is distinguished from Right Whales mainly by it’s lack of callosities. They often have a white chin and sometimes a white patch on the back end of their bellies. Following the same dimorphic pattern as the Right Whales, Bowheads measure from about 53 feet for males and about 59 feet for females, but there are reports of Bowheads measuring up to 70 feet in length. They have a long, slender, upper jaw and their lower jaws are large and are greatly bowed. Though I believe they get their name because their head resembles more the shape of the bow of a ship, than a bow for shooting arrows. Their flippers are less knobby than a Right Whales, and the shape of their flukes is more exaggerated, having a greater curve to them and coming to a finer point. They may weigh in from 75 tons to 100 tons.

Continue reading