Saturday, June 25, 2016

Old Home Week

In the hall of my company's Corpus Christi office there is a photo of the USS City of Corpus Christi, which made her first port visit to her namesake in 1986.

I skipped school with a friend that day to tour the Los Angeles-class attack sub.

I sailed a ship last week from the same cargo dock at which I visited my grandfather aboard his Lykes Lines freighter in the 1970s, and across the channel from the company dock I can see the Coast Guard station that was home to the USCG Reliance, first of her class, from 1964-1975.

My father was a crew member from '66 to '68.

Other connections abound -- from captains who graduated from high school with aunts and uncles to memories of standing on the breakwater to welcome the replica Columbus fleet -- I steam past that same spot to meet inbound ships now.

The very sky and shoreline and shape of the bay are old friends, as are some of the people working on its waters.

If the pace of operations in Houston is frenetic, Corpus is more measured.

Three slow days at the beginning of the hitch morphed into two non-stop days at the end of the week, but in-between there was time to get to know shipmates and others in the fleet.

A live oak shades carpet grass between our office and the dock and mesquite trees overhang a creek teeming with redfish, trout and snook.

The company has thoughtfully placed a lighted fish-cleaning table next to the BBQ pit and picnic area.

The boat is a 96-ft. powerhouse, nearly as old as me.

Her twin locomotive engines put out 3900hp and spin 9-ft. propellers for a bollard pull of 60 tonnes ahead -- not much shy of the company's newest z-drives.

More importantly, she'll slide sideways at least half a knot faster than many of our twin-screw, flanking rudder boats.

A close reading of nearly five years of blogging about working on boats suggests I may be overly optimistic at the beginning of any new chapter, happy to give anyone and anything the benefit of the doubt.

So I'm not saying I've landed in tugboat heaven.

But it sure seems like a possibility after the first week.

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