11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 JANUARY 2018 - SHIPS LOG

WEATHER: More of the same, 50 degree days, 40 degree nights, sun and clouds... no rain, occaisional mist, or light rain
WIND:8-12 Knot, one day of 25 knot surgingSEAS: chop, wind waves of 6-12" EVENTS: noneSCUTTLEBUTT: rain is on its way ! and the sun will come up again tomorrow
NOTES: Last week, I was rudely chastised by a dock walker, regarding something he heard about my attitude, and why I don't attend these public meetings, he said "He does not appreciate that I come to Florence as a "Know-it-all", when I know "nothing" about this place, or marinas at all", to which I responded by stopping, printing out and handing  him a copy of an ancient (1980’s) whazammo.com blog post titled "How I know this" . . .   before I rudely went below.

“Somewhere between Ships Master/Captain and the Port Captain/Manager lies a lot of expanse, these two job titles are extremely & absolutely junxtaposed as opposites.

Captains certainly are not familiar with ashore-shoreside civic antics and process, and the Manager (usually being a “comfort” appointee) is oblivious to the sea, ships, the mariner life and language. In between these two is the supposed glue that ties it all together, the Harbor Master and/or a Dock Master.

I personally, have never worked in a Captain, Port Manager or Harbor Master billet,  but, as a Port Engineer and Fleet person I straddled their rails, played their politic, cajoled-begged and threaded my “needs” through their 3 way maze of Harbor conflict-games in many Ports and Harbors around this planet.

This three-way Port Management collusion is fraught with three very different world experiences and three attitudes that frequently conflict:  a Harbor Master is usually a fisherman/seaman/shipyard person “in respite”, who has also learned the shore-side life-style, and can therefore usually can act as a go-between.

The variables changed with each Harbor, and, in “MOST" cases, the ship’s Captain, the Port Manager, and the Harbor Master were all permanent long-time (arrogant) fixtures in their familiar little Harbor . . . while “I”, was a newcomer, foreigner, outsider who had never set foot or rudder here before.

Almost always, I did not speak the native language, and, I “was” an American to boot (did I mention usually representing a Fishery Development company that could be scorned or in competition in this Port ?), but, I was there to spend money, complete a project , hire local labor and leave . . what’s not to like?

The scenarios for my being there were many, from a “sunken or grounded” boat, a towed-in machinery-hull failure, to a crew mutiny, a new-purchase boat outfitting and manning, or even a new boat startup/outfitting/commissioning assignment; sometimes I had an Agent or Corporate office in Port, but usually not, we did this for 35 plus years.

I really cannot say that I have seen it all… (when it comes to Port & Harbor Management), but, I have seen variables and twists aplenty, some Ports were exemplary, others were . . . “not”,  fortunately, I was consistantly very successful in "reading" and manipulating Harbors . . .  but, I am over-simplifying.

As a visiting Port Engineer, you must tie together all that a “unknown” Harbor has to offer (quickly), and learn “who” the power players are, and what the corruption base is all about - and who runs it, what the gratuity (pizzo) level is, then, find out who has the marine and boat expertise, and way-lay (even Shanghai) them into your team (or, give up, buy a house here, never call the office again, and simply retire here).

This was not rocket science, within a VERY short time (usually a looong day), by reading the phone book, dock talking and boarding boats you learn who-is-who, and complete the familiarity tour, but, the insecure and back biting, infighting, talking heads that control most Harbors are devious locals with long established personal/business/family/money (hidden) agendas and usually shallow (or none) marine skill levels (that you are now disrupting, or in a position to expose or challenge).

World-wide, every Port-Harbor situation is run by a corrupt syndicate, oligarchy or cabal of some sort . . .  (corporate, union, familia or ethnic), big Sea Ports, Destination Harbors, and Fish Harbors on down to small isolated six boat wooden docks, are all the same, we traveled mostly to clearance entry/exit ports requiring Q flag military protocol, and zarpes paperwork (which is TRULY not just a customs form !), but, you are a threat to their "coterie or cartel operation" and their continued existence, so, buy a gun and bring aboard the best 24 hour in-port goon squad you can muster, be aware, know your own power position in this maze or you can end up dead, banished or vanished, sunk at the dock, or forcibly exited from the Port on a whim.”

Entering a Port as a tourist is usually routine and without incident, and most cruisers are unaware of the network at play, their naivete’ protects them, entering for commercial business or work is on a different plane, and the zarpe (with vetting attachments) preloads all the local players to be ‘ready’ for your arrival. Your surname and “references” (sic) will work for, or against you.