All posts by Old Salty Dog

I am a long time Mariner with over 20 years experience of being on the water. I am a multi species angler, outdoors enthusiast who loves to share my stories and adventures with others.

Our Adventure Begins Now.

Well what can I say. It’s been what seems like an eternity waiting for our brand new family member to make an appearance. But today, was the day our wait became a reality, and our family of 2 became 3.

Our beautiful little baby Boy

Caspian, Kain, Coligan, Mathias arrived on September 6th 2021 at 12:49PM, He weighed in at 6LBS 7OZ, In Kingston General Hospital.

It has been a long journey to say least. But now Momma and baby are doing well.

I want to give a huge thank you to everyone that has been involved in our lives and has given us support in our journey to date.

We have had some ups and downs as to be expected of course, during any relationship, but especially during pregnancy lol. We certainly have appreciated the love most of you have shared through this process.

Momma and I were ecstatic to hear last December, that our Nugget was on his way, and now all of a sudden, he’s here in our arms.

I really wanted to thank some family and friends for their support.

Erin’s Mother Janice, and Rob Berry for their ongoing efforts of love, and support.

Janice and Rob

Many of Erin’s other family members for being there for her, any time she needed their help. Thank you to Erin’s Cousins, Auntie Carla, and Bruce for having Erin up for a visit in Thunder bay so she could have a great vacation away before our baby was here. It was amazing she was able to have a family vacation, and she came home tired but happy. So thank you.

Auntie Carla
Uncle Bruce

Erin’s good friends, Kerry, Kristie, Matt, Jess & Tess, For their help, Love, and support, not to mention the ongoing much needed baby gear.

Kerry &Erin
Kristie

And to my family and friends that have shown True love and support for us throughout this pregnancy. I know Caspians Brothers Joseph, and Dylan are so excited to have you as a part of their lives.

Joseph, Erin, Dylan

And also to many of my Coworkers that have shown us support on a daily basis, you know who you are, thank you.

Co-worker’s Sandy & John
Co-workers, Capt Linda, & Paul

The amount of love, support, and generosity we saw during Erins baby shower was overwhelming and showed us that our bundle of joy will have so many people to show him love during his life.

Baby shower

So we welcome little Caspian, Kain, Coligan, Mathias to this world and we promise to do our best in raising you and helping you to find your way in this world. It is evident that you already have lots of people to love and guide you through life’s journey.

Mom and dad love you with all our hearts.

Caspian
Grandma & Caspian

Becoming A Dad After 40

Pregnancy For Dads After 40

Well some of you may be wondering why write about this, isn’t it the mother that goes through pregnancy?

Well, I’m about to have a new born (again) at the age of 44, I am already a Dad of 2 young adults, a 20 yr old and an 18yr old, both boys, and I’m about to be a father again to my third child.

While many “older dads” to be, or men thinking of becoming dads after the age of 40 may be asking themselves so many questions, one of those questions may be “is 40 to old to be having kids? I can tell you I went through all the same thoughts and concerns most of you (dad’s to be) are likely going through right now.

After getting together with my Partner I came to a realization very quickly, that my partner will be wanting children, and her clock was ticking ( so to speak) & she really wanted to become a mother in her life, (at some point anyway).

My first reaction to this realization, & in-fact, my partner asked me, (before we were actually partners) weather or not I would ever consider having more children again?

My fist thought (and I verbalized this to her) was, HELL NO.

But many thoughts entered my mind following this question of hers, and over a period of many months. (Now take into consideration, that at the time, my partner and I hadn’t actually started a relationship with one another as of yet, and we were only just getting to know one another) after getting to know my partner better, and before we, decided to make our friendship a bit more than just a friendship, I revisited the idea (with myself) about the possibility of having another child.

After several factors taken into consideration I came to the realization that not only would I consider it, but if I were to have another child I would only consider one with, my now partner.

In-fact I grew to love the idea about raising a family with this woman, and eventually even wanted it myself.

Questions an older dad needs to ask himself before concluding, he is in a position to have, or start a family, after the age of 40.

1 financial –

You need to have a decent and secure job. Or have won the lottery, or, you’ll just a decent income of some sort.

Make sure you have a retirement plan, of course benefits help but not a necessity, it’s just a bit of security, which doesn’t hurt to have. In 20 to 25 years you’ll want to be retiring and you don’t want to put yourself in a position where you have no choice but to work for the rest of your life (if you can help it).

Although these questions are always a good idea, and important as a father entering into a family type of life style, especially as an older dad. This should be one of the questions you must answer to yourself, and be confident you will be able to financially support a new family.

2. Being mentally ready.

You must think to yourself, that mentally, are ready to tackle the responsibilities that come as a father, husband,? and can you mentally overcome any obstacles that will arise by being a supportive partner and father?

As a father you are not the one that has to give up your body in order to create another human, that’s true! However you must realize that all your freedoms, and independence you have, right now, prior to children, will come to a standstill.

All your efforts will take a 180 degree turn and all of your efforts will now turn to supporting your partner, her needs and wishes.

Mentally, you must prepare yourself for this.

If you have been in a previous relationship and have other children like I do, you must come to the realization that you are going to have to let your family in on your plans at some point. This includes, parents, siblings, and other children you may have, not to mention your close friends as well.

Be prepared that you may not have the support or reactions you were expecting from every family member, or friend , that you were hoping for. Count yourself lucky if you have the fairytale announcement your mind tells you it will be, but just be mentally ready it may not be all peaches and cream.

You may tell yourself that you don’t care what anyone else thinks, but the reality is, that most likely, you do care, and that others opinions, will actually matter to you, as they should.

Take others opinions to heart, listen closely. I’m not saying you have to do everything other people are telling you to do, or take all of their suggestions, but people that are sincere with you may be telling you things that you don’t necessarily want to hear, because they care about you, and they are probably thinking of the child’s best interests as well.

Before you start asking for people’s opinions tho, try to think of anything negative they might say beforehand, and see if what you come up with yourself, are things you’d be willing to change about yourself first, and even maybe change those things before you try starting a family.

For myself I needed to change many things about myself and my life.

For example, my credit was poor, & I mean piss poor, I was over weight, & I mean, like, crazy fat, I had health problems, like Diabetes, and high blood pressure.

I didn’t even really like myself as a person, Oh, & I had a hernia too.

All I was, was in love, and I wanted a family, (again) with this wonderful woman I was now with.

So with all of my problems, I asked myself “was I willing to change”? Well not only was I willing to, but I was even willing to change other things that my partner didn’t like about me that I never gave any thought to, like my snoring lol.

So, for myself, (and I believe the changes you make need to be for yourself, you cannot make life changes for anyone else, it must solely be for you)

I took it on myself to loose a crazy amount of weight, well over 100lbs, something I should have done years ago. I started getting my credit in order, and to date my credit is considered to be good credit, it’s not the best, but it’s in a good enough state now that I’m not worried about it anymore, and in fact, I actually have gotten a handle on all my finances now too. I unintentionally knocked out Three birds with one stone, by loosing all the weight that I did, I managed to completely cure both my diabetes , and my high blood pressure, Like completely disappeared.

I booked myself in for a hernia operation. It took 6 weeks for recovery, and then, I even got my sleeping disorder fixed

I had done almost all this before we decided to even try for children, or let others in on our plans. These things all take time, time that when your younger may not be too much of a problem to overcome, However as a potential older dad, these kind of things can be critical in your decision to becoming a future father.

By wanting to take care of another child I realized I’d have to be able to take care of myself first.

These are not just physical changes but you must overcome the mental part of the decision process to get yourself prepared.

Having children is a life style change, you need to be ready to do a complete turn around in your own life, and give your family everything you have, because it will take all the energy you can muster up to take care of them.

3. Be absolutely sure this is what you want for yourself.

Make sure that when you are thinking about creating a family with anybody that you are wanting it for the right reasons. Do not have a child just because you love your partner and you know it’s what she wants. Be %100 it’s what you really want as well.

4. Be aware

Having a newborn and creating a family with your partner is one of the best feelings in the world, this I know is true. But as an older dad even if you’ve had children previously. Don’t be a fool and think you know everything. It seems almost every day there are new medications, new do’s, and dont’s to parenting, new laws you may not be familiar with. Make sure to do your research.

There are so many (APPs) out there now and they are all good, but my advice is, to make sure to use them, they will tell you what to expect before things come to fruition. They help you cope with your partners pregnancy, and they will help you and your partner get through the rough patches by keeping you informed. If you are well informed then you will be better prepared.

For example I read prior to almost every stage of our pregnancy, for example,

“The dreaded, first trimester”. A-lot of women get extremely tired, as most of us know, but do you know why? I’ve had 2 children and never knew the reasons behind why my ex got so tired. Well now I do. The blogs in the APPs explained, that alot of women can get heartburn and feel nauseated in the morning and that certain foods will help her cope with this part of her pregnancy symptoms. So personally after work every day, and I would get off work at 1:30am, bed by 2:30am, my partner would need to be up by 5:30am in order to get ready for her job. So I was up at 5am, getting breakfast ready. Foods such as fruits and yogurt which seemed to relieve the nausea were a blessing, and by doing this, it allowed her to get her day started. If I did not do it, then it was a 50/50 chance weather she would make it to work on time, or even at all. This theory was tested ha ha ha,

So I did this for 3 months until the nausea subsided. But beware, this can go on the entire pregnancy so just be prepared.

4. The Apps I used during this pregnancy incase your wondering were the following

1. The Bump

2. Daddy

3. What To Expect

4. Baby kicks

5. Baby tracker

Number 4 & 5 I used only in the last 2 months of the pregnancy. There are some great articles along with tips and tricks that you’ll find in all these apps and I highly suggest using them.

5. being prepared for anything. And support your partner.

Prepare yourself to support your partner through the entire pregnancy, with everything. Even if you do not agree with everything your partner says or does. I’m not saying to lay on your back and let her walk all over you but keeping her calm and as stress free as possible, this allows your unborn child to be stress free as well. So be prepared to do everything you can to make her comfortable and as stress free as possible.

A baby born with less stress, is a happy baby, and happy baby’s will sleep and be less colicky. Believe me when I tell you, this is the best case scenario.

Be prepared that your efforts will go unnoticed. Being the dad in this pregnancy is a thankless job. Do not expect a break. It takes work to make sure the dynamic of your relationship runs smoothly.

Your partner will do and say things that hurt you and you need to shrug it off and continue to do your best.

Example: I worked around the clock to try and make my partner as comfortable as possible. One night, we were watching the tube and I leaned over to her and said how beautiful I thought she was. Her answer to me was this, as she started crying, she said, “she no longer found me attractive” As gut wrenching as that was in the moment, (I really was not expecting that) I had no choice but to laugh it off and I just asked her “if she would like me to make tea”

Remember her hormones take total control of her body and emotions, no matter what she says, remember she really does love you, just maybe not in every moment of every day, ha ha ha. Be ok with that, she will come around. For me I needed to remember that her body was changing drastically and she did not see herself as I do. Men will usually get even more attracted to their partner during pregnancy, as her body changes and grows, but many women (just plainly put), feel fat, and guess who they blame for that? (well you of course).

Be prepared that as you may be getting more excited by the day for your baby’s arrival, that your partner might just becoming more worried about every complication that can arise.

5. Complications.

Be prepared that there very well may be complications during pregnancy and although you may think you have done, or are planning to do, “everything right”, that things just may not work out the way you imagine. Any complication can be devastating to both you and or your partner. You must stay strong during these times and be there for her in every sense of the word. You must be her rock, when all you may want, is hide in a corner. This is the mans roll.

⁃ Be prepared, (during Covid times), with doctors ,

that during your pregnancy, and although you feel you should have every part the same rights as the mother to be, that as the father you will be looked at as nothing more than someone the doctors will use as a consoling pillow. You may not be allowed into the hospitals or midwife appointments, although the rules change daily, this will suck big time when you know your partner is going in for that first ultrasound, and gets to see your soon to be baby before you. Unless there is something wrong, you won’t know that everything is OK, until your partner comes out of the building, or, you get a call saying they will allow you into the room to see her. They only do that if they need you to console your partner , (during Covid anyway)

⁃ Be prepared for expenses getting ready for baby. Make no mistake about it, as much as you may believe that all baby needs is mom and dad when they are born, think again. There are many things a baby and you as new parents are going to need, and want. Try to remember there are big differences between needs and wants and you’ll need to figure out what these are between you and your partner.

Read up on these items. There are so many articles out there describing the differences, also because each family’s financial situations are so drastically different, I will not go into what ours were. But be prepared to spend some money.

6. Fitness

Are you physically fit?

I don’t think you have to be as fit as a professional runner, hockey player, or any pro athlete by any means. But do you think in the next 8 to 10 years you’ll be able to be in well enough health to be able to keep up with a few young children. Yes I said a few. Think In 5 years time, your bundle of joy wants to have a birthday party, he/she invites a few friends. Well of course that sounds great right? Well imagine 6 or 7 parents drive to your house and drop off their kids at your place, then leave. You are aware those other parents leave to have a nice day away from their children, or to have a spa day, or date day with their partner. Now you’ll have 8 rug rats for the day screaming and running all over the house, and guess who has to keep up to make sure they are not climbing on chairs, tables, laundry machines, grabbing a kitchen knife, or run out the back door, and down the street. All of this at once? That’s right. It won’t be mom lol. And then all the little rug rats want to go to the nearest park to play a game of TAG, and of course, “your it”. You’re the one running after 8 kids all day. Then when they are all picked up by mom’s and dad’s, time to rest right? Nope Wrong, you’ll be cleaning the house and probably have to make dinner for the family, do the dishes and get junior ready for school tomorrow, all before you have to leave for work at 4am , did I mention your sweet little bundle trips and needs a stitch just as your putting him/her to bed, yup off to the hospital for 4 hours back at 2am, no time to go to bed now it’s almost time to go to work, Think you can keep up? Lol.

Take into consideration, your partners physical condition as well, you do not want everything to fall onto your hands and responsibility, it is a team effort and your partner needs to physically be able to help.

7. Timeline

So for me I thought it was a good Idea with my partner to give myself a timeline for getting pregnant. I had a plan that I wanted a family with my partner after weighing in on all my musts.

Once I decided that it was a good idea then I said to myself and my partner that we need to have our child conceived before my 45th birthday. I thought that this would be “my” cut off date (45) I believed (for me), and everyone will of course have their own cut off dates that make sense to them, that I am in good enough shape to be able to keep up with a child during my 40’s and 50’s and then when our child reaches teen years I would be slowing down just as he or she doesn’t need me to be as active anymore. I only knew this because I already have 2 kids with my previous marriage and have the experience to know what to expect.

This gave us 3 years to try and conceive our child. Get mentally and physically prepared, Remember that just because you want to have a child and you think it’s what you both want more than anything in the world, doesn’t mean it will just happen when you want it to.

For us we got pregnant last year and it ended up not being a viable pregnancy, that’s right, we lost our first child. Be prepared for this, it’s a reality. Be prepared for a miscarriage. This will take time to heal, both physically, and mentally for both of you. This could add additional time to your timeline. I hope for everyone’s sake this never happens but it is a reality. It can damage the most strong of relationships. I find that this is a topic that has not been openly discussed in past years, it’s not until recent years that miscarriages have been more openly talked about. Did you know 1 in 5 first time pregnancies end up in a miscarriage? That’s a %25 chance of a miscarriage in your first attempt.

As a dad you are expected to be your partners rock through it all. Remember I said being a dad is a thankless job. I wasn’t lying. I was only allowed into the hospital to be told our child was not viable and had died. I was brought into the hospital to console my partner just before they gave us the news.

Afterwards, everyone is so upset for your partner and not one person ever says to the dad to be, that they are sorry for your loss. They only console the mother to be.

Yet you (the dad) are the one that is there for your partner, mentally preparing yourselves for months, sometimes years, you get excited to be having a child, and starting a family together, you are the one beside your partner through it all, then you have to be beside her witnessing her excruciating pain both mentally and while the meds kick in to do their job.

In our case neither of us were actually told what to expect after my partner was given a few pills to take to make sure she had extracted our unborn child. I apologize for the detail here but as an older dad this was something that happened and was absolutely shocking to say the least. This is something that I personally did not prepare for. However, if you happen to be in this situation, please be prepared.

My partner took what was prescribed by the doctors and sent home to do it there. You need to be prepared to watch your partner in excruciating pain on all fours extracting your unviable pregnancy all over the floors. The medications made her vomit as well. We were never told this may be the case nor that there were meds like Tylenol or Advil that help with symptoms, especially if taken prior to taking those pills. There were other options such as an operation my partner could have done instead, however the doctors told us that by going that route there is a small chance we might never be able to conceive afterwards.

Then You (dad) are the one that needs to clean up the mess on the floor and the one that has to make sure your partner is ok through it all. No one is there for the dad that has to be there through it all. But after all of this, her family and friends say to her they are there for her how ever she needs them to be, as if you, “the dad” are invisible. It’s ok tho, she will need support from everyone she loves and are close to. But silently you know, you are her rock.

Being a dad, and partner, is not an easy job in any way shape or form. My only advice is to do your research and get yourself ready in every aspect you can. There will always be things that come up you did not research but if you learn as much as you can, then you will be ahead of the game.

My partner and I also went through extensive health testing with (our now, soon to be here) baby during this pregnancy to make sure our child will be healthy as well. We did this because I did not feel I was in good enough mental state to take on a child with special needs as they need even more active parents and I felt I was not in that good a mind set or physical shape, to support a child of this nature. However I am also prepared that if for some reason all the testing is wrong that I am in a position and prepared to take care of our child regardless of his/her mental, or physical state, and financially as well.

Preparing to be a dad is a tireless job it never ends. And the funny thing is, you won’t want it to. You will want to do all the research you can because you have this uncontrollable urge to be the best partner and dad you can be for you, your partner and your soon to be child. You find your not doing all this work for recognition but because you love your partner and your family as it grows. That is your thanks. And it’s quite satisfying to be honest. It really gives purpose in ones life. Not that you didn’t have purpose before but this is quite an unbelievable feeling. Indescribable really.

Creating a family is also maybe the most rewarding feeling one can ever experience. The excitement is incredible, and the bond between you and your partner will become so much stronger than you ever thought possible.

These are just some of the questions a dad to be must ask himself before the decision to bring a life into this world becomes a reality.

If you think you are ready then I wish you the best of luck and I would absolutely recommend becoming a dad after 40. Lol

James Mathias. (DAD)

Life’s Adventures, & Working ON A Ferry. (update)

I know it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post. The past couple years has been… well full of adventures, exciting, exhausting, chaotic, and down right life changing to say the least.

Since my last post back in May of 2019 my life has basically been turned upside down.

My life started to change when I had done some serious self evaluations and realized in March of 2019 that I had to make some serious changes. The fact was I simply, was not happy in my life, and I was spiralling into a deep depression.

I had made the very hard decision to leave my wife of nearly 20 years. Now my ex wife was and is an amazing individual it’s just we seemed to have grown apart. I guess this happens sometimes. And as unfortunate as the circumstances were at the time I feel that this was the best decision I could have made, not only for me, but also for my children and my ex wife.

Today my kids are doing very well, we have a much better relationship, I feel they don’t walk on eggshells around me and when I’m over visiting they are engaged in conversation, well most of the time anyway, lol, and spend their time with me, instead of locked up in their rooms playing video games. I’m not saying that never happens of course but at least they are paying attention to their father and vise versa more often than when I lived there. And we are doing things together more too.

My ex has a great guy she has been seeing for over a year and seems to have a bit of pep in her step lol. In other words she seems to be loving life again for the most part. I think the only stresses she has in her life still has to do with some loose ends she and I had yet to sort out lol.

And I have moved on with a relationship as well with the love Of my life Erin. Since I started dating Erin in September of 2019, I have discovered new hobbies and interests in my life that have kept me/us very busy, These are common interests both Erin and I share together which has been such wonderful experience to share with a partner.

Erin and I both have a love of being on the water, infact both our careers involve being on the water. We both work for the MTO working on separate passenger Ferry vessels in the KFL&A region.

In our spare time during the summer we spend the majority of our time on our sailing boat exploring Lake Ontario, The Bay of Quint, and the St Lawrence River throughout the 1000 islands .

During the past year, trying to work through and deal with the challenging times of Covid, Life still proves to be active and very interesting.

Of course because of Covid most of us have been unable to spend time with many of our loved ones like family, for me I have not been able to spend time with my parents, or sister and her family as well, I have now missed out on seeing them for 2 Christmas years and my nephew and niece are growing up and I miss them dearly, this type of thing has been hard on so many of us I know. I hope things get back to some normality soon so we can all get together again.

At work both Erin and I have realized that We have been very lucky to have the jobs that we do. Despite the everyday challenges of the working environment, if I sit back and think about life on the boat, it really is very interesting and I know I am super lucky to have a position in a company and in the industry I have come to love and have a passion for.

It’s funny when I chat to many of our passengers and just people I know in general, about my specific job, I get similar interpretations of what people think life on the ferry is like, in other words I get asked regularly if my job is boring?, they say it can’t possibly be to stimulating to run the same half mile stretch day in, and day out? Well, I say to most people, although they are not wrong about sometimes it can get a bit monotonous just running the same stretch everyday, what many people don’t see is what makes the job interesting.

What could that be you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked? Lol. You see, the fact is, that this job isn’t just running back and forth the same half mile everyday parking cars. This job requires that everyone is certified in some respect. From a deckhand to Captain we all require certification that enables us to work on the vessel, and at different positions, such as Marine first aid requirements, firefighting, operator certification, marine radio licenses, we all must have medical updates to maintain a specific level of health, ok sure so we need to be certified, but there’s much more to it than that.

You see we are a customer service type of service, answering people’s inquiries about the area, we give recommendations for local restaurants and sites to visit, wineries to try, we are a human version of Google maps for the area giving passengers directions, I personally on several occasions have helped law enforcement or ambulances do emergency runs across the bay, in other words, we are public servants. We have been front line worker’s throughout the covid pandemic with little to no recognition really a thankless job. So what makes a job like this so great?

Well other than the obvious about being a government job, with so many benefits to that alone. There is the fact that we work outdoors, YES, the winter can be a bit Harsh at times with extreme cold, or heat waves in the summer of course, but for the most part the winters aren’t too bad as long as you dress for it, and really I am Canadian so what are we gonna do, complain ? Ha ha ha. But there are some really great things about working in the winter too. For one, when all the bodies of water are frozen in the area, the ferry creates an open track (as pictured above), the local fire department sometimes does open water ice rescue training right in our path which was really great to witness.

This track we keep open during the winter also allows wildlife to congregate so they have fresh water to drink, it provides a hunting ground for birds, so we get a vast array of bird life to watch during the winter months from ducks, and swans, to owls and Bald eagles.

Owl watching me from a near by building
A bald eagle waiting for the propellers of the ferry to churn the water and send up a meal to the surface of the water

The sun rises are absolutely stunning. You can never get tired of watching the sun rise or set over the bay when it’s covered in a blanket of ice and snow.

Sunset over Picton cement plant
Sun rise on the Adolphus side of the river

During the Spring all the way to end of Fall, watching the magnificent boats of all sizes and classes pass by our position is fascinating. From fishing boats, yaughts & sail boats to big Lakers. They all pass by and I think about where they are all going and where they came from.

The scenery on the water is constantly changing and it’s absolutely mesmerizing. The Bay is my office and it a view that is constantly changing. Even if it is only a 1 half mile stretch of water.

Every day is just a little different, sure sometimes things go wrong, but tell me a job where nothing has ever gone wrong, it’s all about what’s going right that one should focus on. So for me it’s obviously the scenery and atmosphere, the people I get to work with, and the people you meet. I met my future wife at this job, so that should tell you it’s a pretty awesome place to be lol.

So that is just a few of the good points of how life working on a ferry boat is for me lol. There have been so many other changes in my life over the past 2 years but I’ll leave that for another blog (soon to come)

New blog site

Hi folks I wanted to let my followers know that most of my ne content can be seen on my new blog site. Follow the link to see it and press the follow link to get updates on my newest blogs. Any fishing related future blogs will continue on this site.

LINK :        https://oldsaltydog.blog

Cheers everyone

 

This Old Salty Dog (OFFICIALLY A MATE).

Hello everyone. I have been off writing lately since the fiasco that happened with my charter vessel in 2017.

Last year had an interesting start for my family and I. As most of you that follow my blog posts may remember, my family and I had a crazy season in 2017. I was away from them for most of the year while I guided up in Northern Ontario at a fly-in fishing resort called Slippery Winds. I then embarked on a cross country adventure fishing from province to province to help raise money for a great charity called, Feed My Starving Children. Once that was done in late August to early September I headed home to help on the build site of our new home as our family was chosen to partner up with Habitat for Humanity earlier on in the year.

Then, in the Fall of 2017, I started chatting with the CEO of St Lawrence cruise lines about working on the ship I worked on back in 2016, ( The Canadian Empress) As some of you may recall the blogs I had written about working on the Canadian Empress back in 2016, I wrote a short 5 part series. If you would like to recap about my adventures? Then before reading any further then please go ahead and read the series again and come back to this blog for the continuation LOL. they start at the following link.

Part 1- https://fishingquinte.com/2016/10/12/part-1-of-cruising-the-st-lawrence/

Part 2- https://fishingquinte.com/2016/10/13/part-2-of-cruising-the-st-lawrence/

Part 3- https://fishingquinte.com/2016/10/14/part-3-cruising-the-st-lawrence/

Part 4 – https://fishingquinte.com/2016/10/15/part-4-cruising-the-st-lawrence/

Part 5- https://fishingquinte.com/2016/10/16/part-5-cruising-the-st-lawrence/

in January of (2018) I had been in contact with St Lawrence Cruise Lines about a possible job position and returning to the company for that up coming season. After respectfully declining a position offered to me to come back to the ship as a deckhand I was presented an offer I felt was hard to refuse. Mr Clark had offered me the position of First Mate/1st Officer putting the stripes on my arm I had hoped for when I left the ship in 2016. under a few conditions, 1st I must complete the courses required over the winter months in a timely manner. these courses were as follows,

1- Marine First Aid , SEN-1 or Simulated Electronic Navigation, MED-A2, 2 written tests from Transport Canada, A Collisions regulations Exam, and a Seamanship Exam. after that I had to Take a Medical by a physician where I had to perform the dreaded “COUGH” test LOL, now once I completed all this I was still 3 months short on my local sea-time so I was forced to find the captain I had worked for, (over 20 years ago) out of Aberdeen Scotland, and get him to sign proper documentation called, a testimony of Sea service. This is required by Transport Canada in order to have enough sea time required to be able to take the position in the first place. NO PROBLEM LOL.

Let me back up a bit as per the regulations in order to run a commercial charter fishing business, in Ontario, I needed several courses in order to become the captain of a small vessel and be able to take paying clientele out on water for excursions. I was under the assumption that some of the courses I already had would have sufficed for the position I was now looking to fill, however I was very wrong, I needed upgrades to my MED certificate, an upgrade to my First Aid certificate, and other than my marine radio license I did not have 1 correct certificate for the position. Nor did the 6 years of experience running a commercial fishing charter business on Lake Ontario and the Bay Of Quinte go towards any of my documented and registered sea-time that Transport Canada would consider to be good enough for the position I was now faced with.

Transport Canada would only take sea-time if the vessel I worked on was over a specific size and or weight. I had received testimonials from several separate commercial fishing boat captains within Canadian waters however Transport Canada would not recognize them as registered sea-time because the vessels were just shy of the minimum tonnage required. This left only 1 more option for me to be able to get my registered time required, in order to accept the position for the 2018 season on the Canadian Empress. I needed the testimonial of a captain I worked for over 20 years ago in Aberdeen Scotland. when I was approx 20 years of age.

In March 1997 I found myself travelling around Europe, I was in Aberdeen Scotland at the time, and was on the last of the money I had to my name, I was down on my luck, broke, and homeless. I decided to spend the last of my funds on a half decent hotel, then as I passed a street kid on my way into town to get a bite to eat, I thought to my self, should I give this pan handler the rest of my cash for what would I do with 20 quid ($35 Canadian dollars) anyway? Then It hit me, I’d offer the guy a meal instead.

I remember taking the stranger to get a Burger-King meal and then to a pub to share a couple pints with him. After that I would not even have enough for a meal the following day. I remember telling the man that I would be seeing him the next day on the streets and asked him if he had any tips for me on how to beg for money, remember I was going to be a newbe LOL.

I remember the bewildered look on the mans face as he couldn’t help but to ask, why had I spent the last of my funds on him? I remember telling him that I truly believe in this saying, “what goes around, comes around”, meaning if I helped him ( a man down on his luck) that someone may do the same for me as I was surly going to need a miracle soon if I were to get out of my current situation, LOL.

As it turns out, the next morning I woke up , it was my 18th birthday, and it was early, around 4am (ish). To this day I wonder why I spent the last of my cash on a hotel if I was just going to wake up so early and leave the hotel anyway’s. I remember a good friend Of mine that told me when he was desparate for cash he would go to the fishing boats and look for work. he told me it was such a crummy job that they were usually short handed and would take new guys all the time.

I decided to head down to the local wharf to see if anyone was willing to take an “inexperienced” young man to sea with them? That morning I had no luck getting a job, however, the last boat I had asked also said they were not looking for help either, so I asked him if I could just come aboard for the experience? The Captain said “sure why not”, and on the ship I got with my nap sack full of all my belongings and an ever slowly growing hunger.

the day was a fast wake up call, the sea was angry, the boat tossed like a kids toy in a bath tub. the catch was small, not too many boxes in the hold. I could feel the tension and the stress of the Captain. he was not willing to chat too much and gave very short answers to any questions I had, if I was lucky enough to even get an answer, most of the time it was a short grunt under his breath. I decided to try and give a hand in gutting and sorting fish throughout the day on deck as the captains helper seemed much more willing to chat.

On the way home to port we were listening to vessels over the radio being asked to anchor outside the harbor as the seas were too rough for them to enter. I was getting excited that we might have to spend the night on the water as I had no place to go to anyway, and it might be an opportunity to lay my head down for the night. Well no such luck, My captain was too experienced, the harbor master gave the OK for Captain Gordon Penny of the BOY GORDON, to make his way through the seas into the harbor. all I remember is looking out the windows holding on to whatever wouldn’t move and seeing nothing but Sky, then nothing but SEA, as we rode each wave up and down getting closer to the entrance to the harbor. Now for the most exciting part, and really this is where the rest of my memory gets a bit hazy, but as we were abreast of the Lighthouse just entering the harbor walls to either side of us, a Gigantic swell picked up the 30 plus tonne vessel as if it was as light as a feather and we rode that wave in like a surfboard until we were several hundred meters into the harbor and back in protected waters. I looked at the Captain and asked if that was a normal day on the water? I got another grunt and we went to his slip, tied off the ship and we were done for the day.

realizing all of a sudden that I was in the same situation I had been in that morning with no money, food, or a place to sleep, a miracle did happen.

As the day was coming to a close and I was helping the deckhand (a 45 year old gentleman), clean the remainder of the days catch. I told him my story and what I was doing in Scotland and that this had been a perfect way to spend my 18th birthday. The deckhand read between the lines of my story and then he offered me a place to stay for the night, at his flat, that he shared with 2 other roommates. Of course I took him up on his offer and went home with the guy LOL.

Over the night the deckhand, myself and the one of his roommates sat down, shared some stories, and drank some suds. By morning I got woken up by the deckhand of the Boy Gordon He asked me if I wanted his job. A bit confused, and still half tipsy from the night before, he told me if I wanted it then I’d have to get my rear end to the boat ASAP, he had a bicycle for me to use and after the day’s work I could come back to the flat and could continue to use the room they had empty until HIS other roommate comes back from working on an off shore drilling rig in a week or so.

It was too good to be true, or at least it seemed. I hopped on the guys bike and rode to the Boat to let the Captain know that his deckhand would not be joining him that day, and if he wanted a hand that I would be more than happy to give it to him. The Captain stuck for help told me to get in and we quickly untied the vessel and headed out to sea once again.

Now I stayed with this captain for the next 9 months before I decided it was time for me to get back to Canada and start my next adventure in life, Of course I have many a story to tell about the days on a fishing trawler in Scotland however that is for another blog. (LOL)

Any way the point to this story is this, Now this past spring it took everything I had to try and find this captain I had once worked for all those years ago. The Captain responsible for my first introduction not only to commercial fishing, but my first introduction to a life at sea.

I started by calling the port authority’s in Aberdeen, they gave me the name of the captain I was looking for however they gave me no other information. I started looking at all the Gordon Penny’s I could find on line and called every one of them until I eventually got a hit and found the right individual I had worked for on the old Boy Gordon over 22 years ago.

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now after explaining my situation to my old Skipper he agreed to sign the document I desperately needed for my new position for the 2018 season aboard the Canadian Empress. now I’m not going to pretend there wern’t any problems with this plan, like trying to get an old fishing captain to give a s_it about a deckhand he had over 20 years prior, or the fact that the Captain was a busy individual still fishing and really wasn’t too into modern technology to figure out how to fax a document to me, that’s right we did this the old fashioned way, Air-mail. I sent him the document, and he signed it (eventually ) and then took a picture of it and sent it to me through messenger. LOL. I actually took the photo to the ministry and told them the original was on its way, they said when they got the original that I would finally get the registered time I needed. all sounds great right? well I did not take into count that my old captain thought the picture was good enough and did not actually send the original backto me.

A few weeks went by I called the ex captain again and asked where the original Document was? and without hesitation he said quite happily ” it was somewhere on his desk”. might I mention that our season was to start in a week from this time.

anyway long story short(end), the document arrived approx 1 week after the start to our season here in Ontario and lucky for me that The St Lawrence Cruise Lines had enough faith in me that they held my position open for me until I had all my papers in order, but until then I would not have my stripes.

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After the papers were in order and a thorough walk around and practical examination on board the Empress performed by Transport Canada, I received my Mates Limited over 60 Tonne Licence and was ready to accept my stripes as a new 1st Mate aboard the Canadian Empress. Just in time too for the 3rd trip of the season was commencing and it was my scheduled time to be on board.

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So the year has been an eye opener to say the least. As a deckhand I was not aware of the management side of the opperation so this season has been a bit of a shocker LOL, nothing I can’t seem to handle mind you but a wake up call for sure. Now I have been a manager of a large organization in the past and had over 30 employees under my watch. I have run my own landscaping company in a busy city environment with over 8 people to oversee at one time, so I did not think that Managing 2 deckhands of a vessel would pose much of a problem if I were to be completely honest. Well it took its toll on me to say the least lol.

Working on the water is much different than being on land and being on a vessel away from home for a week at a time isn’t for everyone, thats for sure. so to go over some of the challenges at sea on a small cruise line just to paint a picture for you.

1st even though most of the individuals hired (not only on this cruise line but on most I’m sure), have some great experience in their respected fields, it can be a much different experience when you go to sea. What people don’t take into account when applying for and accepting these types of jobs are as follows.

1st you basically live at work for the period of time that your trip is designated for, in our case it is usually 1 week at a time before you get a week off. this means at the start of the season you are essentially living with strangers in a very confined space with nowhere to escape to. secondly – time off, or off duty time, means you are still at work with no personal space to unwind before the start of your next shift, 3rd – basically if your eyes are open, and you are on the boat, then you are effectively – ON DUTY. Off duty time only happens if there are no real apparent problems happening and is a shceduled time off for the individual, or you are sleeping.

Now there are many other Items I could list to take into account before you take a job position on a cruise ship but It would be a very long list lol.

Now moving forward into 2019. Although I had plans of returning to the Canadian Empress this year, it seems once again I have made a move and changed jobs once again. At least this time I believe I have made a lateral change and started a position on the Glenora Ferry out of Picton Ontario as a 1st mate once again.

This is a government position and the vessel runs year round and is not just a seasonal boat.

Stay tuned for more story telling adventures as I move forward as a mariner in southeastern Ontario.