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Teikbo7 karma

Boring personal fact - I was a deckhand and then first mate on the Annabel Lee on the James River in Richmond, VA in the late 90's. The company (and vessel) was sold to Spirit Marine in 1998 and subsequently moved to Washington DC in 1999 or 2000, I think. I lost track of it after that.

Teikbo4 karma

It was! It got better when Spirit Marine bought it because they were more safety focused.

Every Tuesday we did a cruise down to Berkely Plantation that left at 9:00 am. The servers and galley staff would get there at 8:00 to prep, but I had to be there at 6:00 to prep the boat. So between 6:00 and 8:00 I was down there by myself on the river when it was very quiet and peaceful. I would see bald eagles overhead sometimes, herons upstream on the rocks, and would have to deal with the spiders who had built their webs overnight; I'd slowly remove their webs starting from the opposite side of the direction I wanted them to move so that they could hide out until everyone was gone and they could rebuild their webs.

On normal cruises we would turn around at Chaffin's Bluff, about 8 miles downstream from Richmond. We would announce it over the VHF marine radio to make sure there was no barge traffic coming around the bend. Jimmy Dean (the sausage king) and his wife, Donna, would often start talking to us from their house on the bluff. He loved talking to us and always wanted to say something to our passengers, so the entertainer would come up to the wheelhouse with his microphone so he could have a conversation with Jimmy piped through the boat's PA system.

Chaffin's Bluff is a major bend in the river, so any large commercial traffic would announce over the VHF when they were going to come around the bend since the tugs pushing barges can't maneuver quickly. We would do so because turning a 110', 3 deck vessel can be tricky with the currents, so you need to coordinate with other traffic. He knew all the tug captains and would chat them all up. As a side note, if you've never seen tug boats maneuvering wirhout barges tied to them, it's really cool. They are really powerful and maneuverable.

Anyway, it was a fun job in a lot of ways and throughout my career it's been the one job unrelated to my career that I've looked back on with great fondness. There were times that were really annoying (drunk people trying to get the anchor overboard while we were underway at night, which would have been a disaster and could have resulted in injuries and deaths), but overall it was fun.