STCW Training – Fighting Fires, Climbing in Liferafts and Struggling to Adapt to Life in the ‘Real World’

To clear any confusion: we are back in the USA, Ellie is in Fiji, we flew to Sydney, Australia for a week and then flew back to California for some training and to attend my Mothers wedding in Idaho. If you are confused, that makes two of us. Definitely too much traveling lately. Turns out nothing goes to windward like a 747. After crossing oceans for two years, a 14 hour flight is like taking a nap on a long watch. 

We have spent the past week in San Diego attending the Maritime Training Institute to obtain our STCW Basic Safety Training qualifications. These qualifications are required as a prerequisite to be eligible for employment on superyachts. Now that we are pretty much broke as a joke and Ellie needs some expensive maintenance parts, it has come to our attention that the money tree we have been shaking for the past couple years is apparently limited in its bounty. Such is life in the 21st century, especially if you live on a yacht that has a tendency of requiring expensive marine parts. So after racking our brains trying to find the best path to make money while continuing to enjoy every day and continue traveling, we have arrived at our current plan of working on large private yachts. We have already obtained the minimum qualifications and I plan to obtain my Master of Yachts 200T Offshore Unlimited ticket at a facility in Florida this December.

The STCW class was a mix of brief fun intertwined with incredible boredom. The pace of the class was painfully slow – the material could have been covered in 1/5 the time that was spent. That said, we did learn quite a bit about safety that we didn’t already know. We were able to fight actual fires at a U.S. Navy surface warfare and fire fighting facility; although they required that I shave off my beard! We also donned survival suits and learned how to right a liferaft, which was cool. Our friends Chris and Monica joined the class with us which made it a lot more fun. We finished the class today and are both glad we don’t have to sit through another long day of lecture and multiple choice questions.

The transition back to the real world and regular society has been a very tough one for me. Alyssa on the other hand is ecstatic to be back in modern society with all the amenities and comforts. I on the other hand was flirting with depression, anxiety and stress. I found myself appalled at the chaos of it all; the noise, the rude people, the bustle, the homeless, the expensive price of everything. I couldn’t help but compare almost everything here to Fiji; where the people are happy, their smiles genuine, where people aren’t caught up in status and material excess, the pace of life slower, and the prices much more affordable. I also forgot a very important step required to transition back to life in the real world: I forgot to make a conscious effort to cease living in the moment and to once again look forward to a goal instead. In Fiji or while cruising we live every day to the fullest, live in the moment and barely think beyond the next day. I love it. If you do that while living an 8-5 in the real world it can get pretty overwhelming and downright depressing. It finally clicked toward the end of the week when my wonderful better half reminded me why we were sitting in chairs taking multiple choice tests. The next day I found myself smiling a lot more because the mentality had transitioned from “this is so boring” to “working on a yacht will be awesome.”

We are at the airport once again headed to Idaho to attend my Mothers wedding – the primary reason we are back in the states. We wouldn’t miss it for the world and are both looking forward to seeing family. Next week we fly back to San Diego for another visit with Alyssa’s family and then Lyss heads to Northern California to start an accounting job at a small family business. I have a few weeks to study ahead of my classes in Florida that start at the end of November. 

Well that’s the latest goings on in our life. This may be the last post we have for a bit. I’ll update the blog with any weather systems that head towards Fiji. I may even upload some videos from the past season.

Here are some pics from the STCW class we took this week. 

Cheers from San Diego, CA, USA  (aka The supposed Real World)

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Culture Shock – We’re in Sydney!?!

We are in the concrete jungle for the week. Skyscrapers, trains, buses, cars, horns and heaps of humans everywhere. It is all very overwhelming and on day three we are just starting to adjust a bit. It’s a gorgeous harbor with innumerable inlets and bays. A local said to me that they got the better harbor, I am forced to agree.

We flew in on Tuesday, did a small provisioning run, and hit the sack. Day two was spent wandering around the city and attending a marine medical appointment to get our ENG1 medical card, a requirement to gain employment on large yachts….more on that later. The afternoon was spent at the National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbor. We climbed aboard a fully-functional replica of Captain James Cooks HMS Endeavor, the ship he sailed to make the first European landfall on the eastern coast of Australia. It was really neat seeing the rigging and climbing into one of the hammocks that his crew slept in. There were some old Aussie salts who filled us in on the details of life aboard. Interestingly Captain Cook allotted each member of the crew one gallon of beer each day. I was doing the math in my head and that is a hell of a lot of beer. They must have been brewing aboard – a tradition that we proudly carry on today aboard Ellie ;-)

Yesterday we got the Princess a makeover at the Bondi Junction mall. I was informed that her hair was not up to par and wearing torn-up sperry topsiders was just not going to fly. So we got her a haircut and a nice pair of country cowgirl trendy boots. A renewed smiling Princess walked out of that mall a different woman and ready to hit the town. So we jumped on a bus bound for the famous Bondi Beach for some outstanding people watching. It’s a gorgeous beach and the aforementioned people watching was world class. We ended the day at a live music spot deep in Kings Cross, not far from where we are staying in Potts Point. A day in Sydney well spent.

Today we are jumping on the ferry bound for Manly Beach. Pine trees line the golden sand beach with towering cliffs on the point. We’ll rent bikes and tour the coast. Then tomorrow we head to the airport for a 14 hour flight to San Diego via LAX. 

Sure is crazy that we will be covering in 14 hours the same stretch of ocean we spent two years sailing across. But it just isn’t the same thing now is it….

Cheers from Sydney, Australia!

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