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skylab

My "fascinating" career -

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In one of Mike's Blogs he wrote: "Would you open a thread in your blog giving the highlights of your career, and then we can do another interview."

At first I said I would not, but, what the hey? What follows is a brief synopsis of what Mike calls my..."fascinating career".

Born at an early age in the 30s.
Educated in a semi-public grade school through the 7th Grade.
Boarding schools 8 through 12.
College year.
Army 3 years, with tour in Korea.
Back to college.....no luck.
Scared to death of airplanes (I'd been on two commercial flights and five military flights) until a friend took me for a ride in a light twin.
Decided then I wanted to be an airline pilot.
Took lessons.
Got all the ratings except FE & ATR (they came later).
Got hired by Eastern.
Flew Connies for six months on their Shuttle Operation.
Became psychic; left Eastern for United. (Eastern went under later)
Flew DC-6s/7s, B-737s, and DC-8s.
While with UAL, became a railroad engineer for a shortline railroad.
Retired from flying.
Continued as engineer until moving to Florida.
Survived three hurricanes.
Moved back North.
Here I am.

Naturally, along with all of the above were many other activities such as numerous train trips on AMTRAK (in the cab and in back) and in Private Rail Cars; a 75-day trip aboard a containership across the Pacific and back, as well as a couple of trips aboard Great Lakes Freighters and on my own boats. Guess I prefer the water to anything else.

Don't know how "fascinating" that is, but I've had a good time.

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  1. xxmikexx's Avatar
    sky (if I may get familiar ),

    You and I will certainly cover the aviation stuff, but we've been there before. What I would really like to hear about today is your long trip on the containership.

    After all, once you had counted the containers a few times, what was there to do other than to take your beloved sunset pictures?

    What was the port of origin? The destination? Were you aboard when they loaded? Unloaded? Did you make any intermediate stops?

    Did they let you take the helm?

    Did you encounter any storms?

    Did you get to know any of the crew really well? (What were their life stories like?)

    Did you get down to the engine room?

    Where was the ship registered?

    Did the crew speak English?

    Etc etc etc. If you provide some answers we'll branch the conversation out from there.
    Updated 08-23-2008 at 03:30 PM by xxmikexx
  2. skylab's Avatar
    >>>sky (if I may get familiar ),

    I guess that's alright.


    >>>...like to hear about ..... your long trip in the containership.

    >>>Did they let you take the helm?

    Oh yes. I've wheeled a couple of ships in the past.


    >>>Did you encounter any storms?

    Nothing too bad. Maybe twenty-foot seas at worst. No real weather. Rain in a couple of ports.


    >>>Did you get to know any of the crew really well? (What were their life stories like?)

    With very few exceptions, I had the same crew for the whole trip. The Captain and Chief Engineer were British and the rest of the crew were from the Philippines. Most were quite young and good sailors. Had some good parites too.


    >>>Did you get down to the engine room?

    Oh ya.....covered the whole boat.


    >>>Where was the ship registered?

    London (England)


    >>>Did the crew speak English?

    Well the Captain and Chief did (obviously!), and the rest of the crew, quite well actually. Had no trouble conversing with any of them. Great bunch of guys.

    As to what did I DO for 75 days? Well, I "helped" them find all the places we went to. I boarded in Savannah, Georgia. From there we sailed to Houston, Manzanillo, through the Panama Canal, Pitcairn Island (of Bounty fame), Auckland, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Wellington, Auckland (2nd call), Pitcairn Island (2nd call), through the Panama Canal again, Kingston, Philadelphia, Norfolk, and back to Savannah.

    I had a GPS system with me that had marine info on it along with charts for the Pacific and other areas that we would be sailing in. The Captain was so impressed with my GPS that he said he was going to get one when he got back to London. I along with the other passengers (never more than nine at any one time) had the run of the ship. So, I spent most of my time in the Pilot House. After all that's where the best view is!

    There was a computer for the crew to use in an office that had MS Flite Sim 2000 on it. So I fiddled with that a little. The Captain after finding out I was a retired airline pilot asked me to teach him how to fly. He was already doing a fair job of it but wanted more info on the nav stuff. So we had "sessions" every now and then and I eventually gave him a "Check Ride". He passed and I printed up a "Certificate" and gave it to him at dinner that night.

    The Captain's wife joined the ship on our 2nd call in Auckland and left with the Captain in Philadelphia where he got off to go on his scheduled leave. We became good friends and both the Captain and his wife visited us in Florida for a few days and we took them to Disney, etc.

    Enough for now.
  3. xxmikexx's Avatar
    Did you get seasick? (Serious question.)
  4. skylab's Avatar
    >>>Did you get seasick? (Serious question.)

    Never been seasick in my life. Remember, I was born in water!! I've spent countless hours on the water in my life.

    The one time we had "serious" waves on our way North from New Zealand, I became a little "apprehensive" when we didn't slow down some in the heavy (seemed to me anyway) seas. I was having trouble staying in my bunk. So, I just went up to the Pilot House and spent most of the night up there. Would I have gotten sick had I not gone up there? Who knows. All I could think of for some dumb reason was the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald (I owned part of THAT boat). Anyway, the heavy seas didn't last much into the next day and all was calm once again.
  5. xxmikexx's Avatar
    Gordon Lightfoot's "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" is one of my favorite recordings.

    You say you owned a piece of the ship. You were an investor?
  6. skylab's Avatar
    >>>Gordon Lightfoot's "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" is one of my favorite recordings.

    Mine too. Brings tears to my eyes ever time I hear it.



    >>You say you owned a piece of the ship. You were an investor?

    Yes, albeit a small one. Nevertheless, I owned part of that boat if only a few rivets!!
  7. xxmikexx's Avatar
    It brings tears to my eyes too. Lightfoot penned perhaps the two most powerful lyrics lines I have ever heard ...

    Does anyone know where the love of God goes
    When the waves turn the minutes to hours.

    How did you come to be an investor? Was it like an oil and gas partnership?
  8. skylab's Avatar
    Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company owned the Edmund Fitzgerald. Take it from there.
  9. xxmikexx's Avatar
    People dive on that wreck. Isn't there a law now forbidding people from going inside the hull?
  10. skylab's Avatar
    >>>"People dive on that wreck. Isn't there a law now forbidding people from going inside the hull?


    NO ONE dives on that wreck. It's in 525 feet of water! There's been a couple of submersables down to take fotos and one removed/replaced the ships bell. The bell is now on display at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum on Whitefish Point; A MUST stop for anyone interested who is anywhere near the area. I couldn't leave there without shedding a tear.
  11. xxmikexx's Avatar
    I did a little research. There was at least one dive to the Edmund Fitzgeral twenty years ago by some people who were using early versions of what is apparently called "technical diving" gear specifically designed for extreme SCUBA depths.

    Here's a link to a writeup of that incident ...

    http://www-catalog.cpl.org/CLENIX/ACH-6444

    I came across other links that hinted at additional dives but found nothing explicit.

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    Have you seen the movie "The Abyss"? What do you think about the realism of deep diving equipment of that kind of design? Frankly, it sounds plausible to me, though maybe not for the kind of depths they were showing in the movie.
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