It had been about six weeks since I left Maine. I was thinking of all the wonderful experiences I had had and the interesting people I had met, and though I wouldn’t trade it for the world, I missed my family and friends. I talked with them on the phone quite frequently but it wasn’t the same. I wanted to see their faces, give them a hug. I knew the crew felt the same way. Each morning while preparing breakfast, I would hear them making their calls home. Some of them had young families. They would call and speak with their kids, laughing and offering words of encouragement about something at school or a sporting event they were involved in. By the end of the conversation, when the I love you,s and the good byes were said, my heart would break for them. It was clear that it was very tough for the guys as well as their families. I had never been away from my children for months at a time. I couldn’t imagine missing a birthday or not attending a school event. But these guys were dedicated. They were up each day and did whatever it took to get each job done. They were willing to sacrifice so they could provide a better life for their families. The one thing that made it a bit easier for me to to accept, was knowing that they loved what they were doing.
During a morning meeting in early April, Greg gave us the news we had been waiting to hear. We would be steaming back to Maine within the week. Everything that could be done in Louisiana was done. The rest we would be able to finish while in Maine. The smiles broke out and the hooting and hollering began! There wasn’t anything better he could of said that would of brought that kind of reaction. We were ecstatic! Our minds were racing. Not only were we going home to our families but we would take our first voyage aboard the M/V Sea Hunter. All the hard work, the tedious jobs, the disagreements were finally going to pay off. That day, everyone worked with a smile on their faces and an extra pep in their step.
Here was another first for me. The amount of planning that was involved when you prepare for a long journey aboard a ship. It wasn’t like you could pull over and run to the store if something was forgotten. Everyone, including me were making lists and checking them twice. My responsibility was to make sure there were enough provisions aboard. I didn’t want to let Greg or the crew down by running out of something, so I gave this my full attention. I had grocery shopped numerous times throughout my six weeks aboard, but this was going to be different. My plan of attack was to first figure out what the menu would be for each day for an entire week. I had to think not only about food items but everything else from condiments, toilet paper to cleaning supplies. With paper and pen in hand I thoroughly went through the freezer, the cooler and the pantry. I would check off how much of something we had and what we didn’t have. Food was extremely important to the crew, and not just for the nutritional value. I could tell they loved and looked forward to meal time. It also wasn’t because I was a great cook (I was a decent cook), it’s that there wasn’t much to do outside of work, so mealtime broke up the long hot days. The list grew, and after a couple of days I was confident that it was complete and I had it all under control. I planned on shopping the next morning, (which was a job unto itself) bring it aboard, divide it according to meals and store it safely away.
After breakfast I announced my plans for shopping. There was a rule amongst the crew that whenever you left the shipyard, you had to let a few people know your whereabouts. As I grabbed the keys for the company van, Greg and a couple of the guys asked to see my list. I handed it over with confidence that I hadn’t forgotten a thing. It didn’t take long for them to look it over and start rattling off a number of items that were not on the list. Are you kidding, I thought. A couple of the items (I must admit) were fairly crucial. Boy, did I have a lot to learn. So I stuck my hand out towards Greg, “more money please”. Oh well, it’s back to the drawing board, or should I say, the shopping list.