Contract Airline Services

"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Dave Caroll

Friday's Fabulous Flyer! 

Dave Caroll 

Dave is a retired fighter pilot with a passion for aviation safety. After retirement, he flew for a regional carrier, and was an Upset Prevention and Recovery Training instructor. He is also working on his PhD in Aviation at ERAU, with a Safety and Human Factors focus. With a training background and a passion for safety, Dave is looking into how pilots prefer to receive training: visually, aurally, or kinesthetically.  

Dave needs help with gather data 
from airline pilots!

Dave is planning to use this data to assist in the design of training modules that will be utilized as interventional training for pilots who exhibit poor energy management events that lead to unstable approaches.   

Successful completion of his research may provide air carriers with a way to increase safety by providing necessary training immediately to pilots exhibiting problems in critical areas.

Dave with his Grandson

I took the survey and smiled while taking it because some of the questions described me and exactly how I learn best. There are 54 questions and it took me 10 minutes. Let me tell you about the energy management questions. Those were the only questions I had to think about. The answers will be different based upon what aircraft you're flying and company procedures. However, Dave said to answer them as if you were flying your primary aircraft. He also said that if none of the supplied answers provide a correct solution for your aircraft, he said to feel free to skip the question and move on. 

The survey is completely anonymous. There are basic demographic questions but nothing specific enough to be identifying.

Dave reached out to me because of the incredible support I received from the pilot community to assist in my research. I hope we can all extend the effort to him as well. Training and safety go together, and with your help, we can continue to improve it just a little bit more. 

If you are an Airline Pilot
Would you do me a huge favor 
And take Dave's Survey?

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

National Training Aircraft Symposium

Join me! 

I will be attending, and would love to see you there! This will be a great opportunity to meet, learn about industry issues and the changing role of the pilot. Perhaps open some doors. 

Check out the Keynote Speakers 
This might be a great opportunity
to meet some people who could impact your career. 

For conference registration, agenda, and sponsorship, 

Let me know if you plan to make the event!

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Monday, June 25, 2018

Eastern Flight 66

47th Anniversary... 

"The Boeing 727 continued to deviate further below the glideslope, and at 16:05:06.2, when the aircraft was at 150 feet, the captain said, "runway in sight." Less than a second later, the first officer said, "I got it." The captain replied, "got it?" and a second later, at 16:05:10, an unintelligible exclamation was recorded, and the first officer commanded, "Takeoff thrust." These were the last words recorded in the cockpit of Eastern Flight 66, a Boeing 727 on approach at JFK."

Join the Eastern Airlines 

Kitchen Talk Radio! 

In the 47th Anniversary of 
this tragic flight in EAL history. 

EAL Radio Show Broadcast
Episode 371
June 25, 2018 

Call-in number is 

at 7:00 P. M. EDT 

or listen in by clicking the hyperlink:

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Friday, June 22, 2018

Friday's Fabulous Flyer

L.B. Johnson!

LB Johnson is rescue dog Mom and former airline captain. She has over 10,000 hours of flight time, and in her 40s she got her PhD! This amazing woman wrote a heartwarming story, The Book of Barkley.  While we won't see a photo of L.B., and we won't learn anything about her life. I am sure when we read her books, we'll see the kind and compassionate woman she is. 

LB gives 100% of all sales to animal rescue and Search Dog Foundation.  She tells me there are no specific flight stories in the memoirs but she talks a lot about flying from a philosophical standpoint. I think we will all enjoy that. L.B. sent me a free copy on Kindle. But when I heard she donates all her sales to SDF, I had to buy a paper version! 

LB says...

"One regret I have flying is I never owned a camera until I was almost 40, so most of my career wasn't photographed except for the one shot in the Embraer."

And check out all her books! 

Enjoy the Journey
XOX Karlene 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Life is about perspective

"Life happens and then 
we must put it in perspective."

SeaTac Sunset on  Father's Day.

The reason I have been off the radar this week. 

I have been out of work for a month because my dermatologist found a bit of cancer. This was not a new spot, but this year they biopsied it. Everything happens like it should. Some say they should have noticed last year. But sometimes we get what we need, not what we expect. Therefore I was temporarily grounded. Yet able to work on my research. (More to come on that).

The fun continues. Last Saturday my husband's gut burst open. Literally. Infected gray fluid spewed out on the golf course. He thought it was an old surgery hernia and was trying to keep it hidden from me, to make it through the summer and not lose his golf season. He knows me so well. I would have dragged him into the doctor.  Of course I was furious because we could have found this earlier had it taken care of, scheduled with his doctor, and then we could have recouped at the same time. 

Well, less than 12 hours after I learned he was hiding what he thought to be a hernia, it burst open, and 5 hours later he was in the operating room for 3.5 hours. It was more than a hernia, it was a monster infection in the patches from previous surgeries. His surgeon wasn't on call. At the time I was disappointed. Not to mention, if it wasn't hidden, we could have scheduled it with his surgeon. Thank goodness he didn't tell me. Thank goodness that doctor wasn't on call. Everything works as it should.

Thank goodness I had cancer 
and could be home when this all happened! 

The on call surgeon said, "This was like an archeological dig." He found four different types of mesh, and it was all infected. They are not sure what started it, but even the pig membrane mesh was compromised, and there was an additional infected cyst buried within his intestines. The last time he had a patch was a year ago. The surgeon said this was the oddest thing he's scene because normally these infections begin shortly after surgery, not years later. The doctor also said that thanks to my husband's level of activity, this broke to the surface. Otherwise, he could have become septic, and would not be with us right now. 

This new doctor removed all the patches, cleaned him out, and sutured him up with heavy duty sutures. No patches. Would the other doctor have done that? At this point, I'm not so sure since he now has been proven to leave all that junk in him from before. Timing is everything.

So, five days in the hospital and counting. We were supposed to have gone home yesterday but someone made a clerical error and spelled his name incorrectly, therefore they had to resubmit the paperwork for the required wound vac, which didn't come. He has a rather large and quite gross opening in his gut, and the reason for the wound vac. Something that he will be connected to for the next 8-12 weeks. 

Therefore, paperwork is keeping a patient in the hospital, not health. I'm trying to gain perspective on this. Human error happens, but I cannot help to believe that if a human were involved in ordering the pump, versus incorrectly inputting data into a computer system, that even with an incorrect spelling of a name, a phone call between two humans could not have prevented this delay. The problem is, that a computer system may be designed to use logic, but I don't think they have been programed to use common sense quite yet. Something to remember when they try to remove pilots from aircraft.

Human error happens.
It's what happens after the error 
that counts.

Happy First Day of Summer! 

But this not really
the longest day of the year, 
I personally think last Saturday was.

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Friday, June 15, 2018

Falling in Love with Aviation

"This is what it looks like
the moment someone falls in love 
with aviation."

My friend Jeff sent me the most beautiful photo and message yesterday:

"This was on a flight MDW-BWI last night, and at just shy of three and a half, Catherine is officially now at the point where she really appreciates looking out the plane window. She was so fascinated with the clouds and the movements of the plane that she barely even wanted to look at her iPad! She thought the plane was getting ready to do a barrel roll at one point, but (not being familiar with the 737’s limitations yet) the idea didn’t bother her."

Have a wonderful Weekend
and remember when you 
fell in love with Aviation!

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Happy Flag Day

Fly Your Flag with Pride! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Detour of Life

"A truly happy person is one who can 
enjoy the scenery on a detour."

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Progressive Insurance

Is Not What they CLAIM to be! 

My eldest daughter is one of the hardest working people I know. She started a PTA at her kids school, she works full time. She is the VP of softball for the South Highline American Little League and District 7 VP of softball. Her husband was violently attacked, and had a severe head injury and she became the primary bread winner. Her youngest daughter, my little granddaughter, has life threatening allergies and Asthma, so when she gets sick it's a run to the hospital. My daughter never complains and keeps doing the best she can. 

We never expect emergencies, but if you're responsible you prepare just in case. My daughter is one who understands that sometimes trees fall on your roof and take out your house. That too has happened to her. So, she pays her insurance premiums for life's unforeseen events. You would expect when you pay your insurance through a company like Progressive, that they would take care of the big events. 

Progressive now owes her $37,370.00 and they are refusing to pay. They have strung her along, cost her thousands and she still has no kitchen after 6 months.

The Kitchen Nightmare
that started from a cracked pipe 
Progressive Insurance Company's 
Underwriter: Homesite 
Denied the Claim!

I have seen each bit of documentation that is referenced in this email. Nobody should have to go through a battle like this. Progressive is a million dollar company, they could afford to do the right thing. You decide... would you want an insurance company that behaves this way?

Time to Take a Stand Against
The Injustices of the World...
This is one of them! 

Thanksgiving my daughter noticed a pool of water on her kitchen floor dripping from her kitchen sink and opened up the cabinet and it was flooded. She called Progressive her insurance company and filed a claim. They had a claim open from a month earlier in the basement due to pipes backing up. Old house. Old pipes. 

Her adjuster Mark Dutra visited the property and assessed the cause of damage was due to a leaky faucet. Hmmm... The picture shows water damage in the back wall is a bit more significant and was unlikely a leaky faucet could have caused.

December 8, 2018 Mark sent an estimate of total repairs for $3556.82 and was at the time not going to replace all her cabinets, or the counter tops, or the sink, or the faucet, or the flooring. At the time of the estimate my daughter asked about code upgrades. He said there should be nothing that requires code upgrades but she was covered up to $74k.  Code upgrades was something she paid extra for, in the event a problem like this happens and she has to bring something up to code. 

December 19, 2018 she provided Mark with a copy of her weekly groceries as Homesite (underwriter) was reimbursing her food expenses for anything above $275 per week, for loss of use of her kitchen.  At the time he never mentioned that there was a time limit.

Homesite ordered a mitigation company to come pull the cabinets and the flooring and remove all asbestos found. This was scheduled for December 26, 2018. Christmas day she had to pack up all of Christmas and empty her kitchen. Not the way to celebrate the holiday with little ones. 

The mitigation company "ordered by Homesite" is called Service Masters. They pulled out all the flooring, counters, and cabinets and damaged remaining cabinets that needed to be pulled as a result of the damage. She provided photos to Mark on January 2, 2018. 

He then agreed to replace all cabinets and counters and sink and faucet as service master had demolished everything.

She did not receive an estimate to include cabinets until February 9, 2018—5 weeks AFTER her cabinets were pulled.

February 13, 2018 she forwarded the email communication confirming the actual cause of the water damage to be a cracked pipe behind the sink, verified by a contractor. She asked Mark to address the drywall damage and mold. She received no response from him. 

February 16, 2018, she forwarded the contractor's estimate to Mark and then on February 24th, received an email response from him thanking her. 

She has not received any reimbursement for any contractor paid invoice that she’s have submitted to Homesite... Six months now! 

After demolition, they discovered that there was electrical damage due to the water from the cracked leaky pipe that started this. She engaged Custom Electrical to inspect and it was determined that none of their electrical work was up to code. 


March 5, 2018 the city of Des Moines stopped work on her project because they did not have a building permit. Her adjuster never advised her that she needed one. They just sent the demolition company out to rip everything out. 

March 7, 2018 she received a revised estimate to include cabinets, counters, and flooring--10 weeks AFTER her kitchen was demolished by Service Masters. Electrical was not included.

Time to get management involved when the agent becomes hostile and aggressive on the phone, and was non responsive to emails. Oh... he also stopped paying the grocery supplement per her contract, and she had no idea as to why.  

She provided Conor Hales, Mark Dutra’s manager, a copy of a letter from the Custom Electrical Services indicating the assessment that their current electrical system was not to code and presented a fire hazard. She was later asked for further information from the electrical company to describe the scope of work that was completed, the cost, and what still has to be done. She provided that documentation on May 25, 2018 

Homesite engaged an additional adjuster named Jovan Cruz. She came out to inspect the project site and I sent her all communication and photos to address her questions on March 28, 2018. 

On March 31, 2018, Mark sent her an email saying that there would be no further food reimbursement due to length of the project. At no time was there ever a scope of work timeline established, and it was never communicated that the loss of use was for a specific time period. Especially when the delay was in now way in her control. 

At this time they were still on a stop work order from the city because they didn’t have a building permit (fault of the adjuster’s lack of information) and were in the process of fulfilling the application requirements. He also cited that he hadn’t received documentation that he requested which wasn’t true because she replied with copies of all documentation and correspondence on April 2, 2018. 

She had communicated to both Conor and Mark that she was uncomfortable having phone conversations due to Mark’s aggressive nature. She emailed them both re-iterating this on April 4, 2018, and followed by another email on April 5th. 

She also provided Mark with the receipt for the building permit on April 5, 2018. She did not receive a response until June 11, 2018, at which time he denied coverage of the building permit. However, this was something that was required by the city because Homesite ordered Service Master to demo their floors down to sub boards.

June 5, 2018 she had to re-engage Conor Hales due to Mark's non-responsiveness and point out that she had already supplied him with information that Mark was requesting.

June 6, 2018, she sent an additional email with documentation she had provided Jovan Cruz (the supplementary adjuster they sent out). In the email correspondence, Mark argued about the photos. Her contractor then confirmed the details in photos.  

April 9, 2018, 
she filed a complaint with the 
Washington Insurance Commission

April 9, 2018 she emailed Mark, Conor, Jovan, and the contractor to confirm documentation received and re-iterated that she had an added policy endorsement that allows for up to 25% of the value of her home to be covered for code upgrades. Something that she paid extra for in her coverage. 

April 10, 2018, her contractor sent an email with a picture indicating the purpose of new framing as identified in his estimate and is another item that a building permit necessitated.

April 10, 2018 the contractor, Mark Dutra, Conor Hales, and she had a live conversation to go over the status of the claim. In which they could not explain why they were not able to provide prompt and timely responses, or provide reimbursement on items that were covered, or explain the delay in providing coverage for the building permit and electrical work. Conor sent a recap of the conversation with a list of items they needed from her as well as the report from Jovan Cruz. 

April 11, 2018 Jovan sent an email with all the building permit documents and requirements, as well as shared my communication with the city. 

April 19, 2018 Jovan sent Mark additional permit documentation and the contractor kitchen estimate that he had never responded via email and provided this to Homesite. She then sent Mark an email indicating that she had not received payment on receipts she had sent on April 4, 2018. 

April 20, 2018 Mark sent her a list of things he still needed, which again included some items my daughter had already sent to him. 

April 27, 2018 my daughter sent Mark all the building permit documents again, I think the 4th time in roughly 2 months. 

May 7, 2018, she sent Mark the receipt for the Engineers work that was required by the City of Des Moines in order to get the building permit required for the work in the kitchen, due the water damage from the cracked pipe behind the sink, because they ordered her floors to be removed to the sub-floor. 

May 7, 2018 Mark followed up with a request for more invoices and documentation he needed. 

May 11, 2018, she provided Mark and Conor with a copy of the plumbing invoice that confirmed the cause of the damage was due to a cracked pipe. 

May 25, 2018, she provided Mark and Conor with a copy of the Dumpster invoice for reimbursement and the letter from the electrical company confirming expenses and the scope of work. 

May 29, 2018 Mark confirmed he received the electrical letter but ignored the dumpster invoice. She emailed him asking for confirmation that he received the dumpster invoice and he has yet to respond. 

June 11, 2018, Mark and she had a conversation in which he stated that all the required electrical was not covered, that the building permit and engineer work required for the building permit would not be covered. Only the plumbing and electrical permits were going to be covered. And sent the most recent estimate of work. 

June 11, 2018 she sent Mark an email addressing Homesite not covering the building permit and engineer work required for the building permit. She included attachments she had sent multiple times and a forwarded message from the city indicating that she could not get the plumbing permit without the building permit due to the work in the kitchen to include the floors being removed by Service Masters. 

She has sent her paid contractor invoices to Homesite for a total of $22,116.90 and has not received any reimbursement.

She has not received reimbursement for the building permit, engineer work, or dumpster rental. For a total of $7089.33

Total electrical cost so far is $8164.00... and that may not be over.

$37,370.00 out of pocket!
They are now 6 months without a kitchen.
She has Insurance with Progressive
and they won't reimburse her! 

As my daughter says, 

“This has been a terrible experience. All the delays are due to the insurance company/adjuster’s lack of responsiveness and lack of understanding how permits work. The company has also cut off loss of use reimbursement due to the length of project work but that is the result of them not responding in a timely manner or advising us that we needed a building permit, then arguing that our insurance didn’t cover the building permit. Oh... and the fun part... "

"Progressive doubled 
my annual premium!"

Progressive and Homesite
Shame on you! 

Please Share this post with everyone you know!
If business's are going to treat people this way
then we should warn and protect each other.

Enjoy the Journey...
Speak out! 
XO Karlene 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Pilot Shortage of Another Kind

Memoirs from a seafaring captain

"During the time when events in the “Absentee Training Pilot” narrative occurred (circa 1977), our pilot organization was short of pilots. The opening of the Trans Alaska Pipeline Terminal at Valdez would further accelerate the need for new pilots. As a consequence new members (including me) were being put through what might be described as an expedited and intense training program. Training at that time followed more of a “guild system” than formal training. 

Although we all had considerable prior experience in the maritime industry, maritime pilots in Alaska bore some similarities to Alaska Bush Pilots in that our job experiences and training regimens were often unique from our counterparts in the “Outside”. The attachment relates to that uniqueness. 

For the record, training over subsequent years became more regulated and comprehensive. It is difficult to imagine any circumstance where such an experience as described in the attachment could be repeated today. Although, it should be noted that many highly regarded shiphandlers were the products of that often stressful system."  Captain Jim Wright

Jim Wright

The Absentee Training Pilot

"The following account escaped being recorded in my job log although it remains fresh in my memory. The vessel in question was a “handy bulker” of probably 15K to 20K DWT.

The assigned pilot for this job was quite a bit my senior in both age and experience and was possessed of a rather irascible temperament. He had supervised my handling and docking of a similar vessel on her inbound leg and his response to my question regarding the job was unexpected. Rather than discussing the job as was expected, he simply said, “You did a fine job of bringing in that other ship, the weather tonight is expected to be good, there’s no reason you can’t handle this outbound job by yourself. Click – end of conversation. Having had limited experience with this type of job, my first thought was, “you’ve got to be kidding”, until it dawned on me that he wasn’t. 

Departing the Homer Airport that evening in the well-worn Alaska Aeronautical Industries twin Otter the weather remained calm. This changed markedly during our 30-minute flight to Kenai. Well before final approach the experienced passengers had double reefed their seat belts as the Otter seemed to be enjoying an attempt to conduct unauthorized aerobatic maneuvers. Landing in the gusty winds at Kenai was one of those “anything-you-can-walk-away-from” experiences.

The taxi ride to the terminal confirmed my increasing apprehension that this job was going to fall well outside the parameters of normal. By the time we reached the terminal the wind had increased to a point where the taxi was shaking in the parking lot. 

Conditions worsened upon reaching the berth. The vessel was starboard side to with the increasing wind and swell causing her to surge heavily. The gangway had been removed to avoid damage and the Greek Captain, who had come ashore to confer with the loading supervisor, was glancing in my direction with an anxious look in his eyes while fingering his “worry beads”. 

The loading supervisor briefed me on the situation stating that although loading had not yet been completed he didn’t believe the dock could take much more pounding from the vessel without sustaining damage. Then, apparently uninterested in discovering my experience level, he asked the dreaded question, “Mr. Pilot, can you get her off the berth under these conditions? 

Should my response be direct, or should it be what the supervisor wanted to hear? Suddenly it occurred to me that there is a considerable similarity between a harbor pilot’s duty to inspire confidence and a stage actor’s duty to influence an unfamiliar audience. How would Laurence Olivier or Richard Burton answer the supervisor’s question? Avoiding a direct answer, my response was, “If you can hook a couple of slings on the crane runner and swing us aboard, we’ll see what we can do”. With the vessel now taking seas on deck and the Master and I both swinging in the wind 30 feet above the deck trying to gauge our landing point, we must have looked like a “poor man’s Flying Wallendas Act”. 

Time was now of the essence. The opposing ebb current was nearly exhausted. Once the flood began, it would bring a heavier swell and force us to make a “fair tide” undocking without tug assist with the wind and swell pressing us on the fenders.

The “absentee training pilot” had demonstrated this maneuver to me once before during a previous observer trip although the weather had been much better. In simple terms we had to take in all the lines then use a fairly strong “astern bell” to build up enough sternway into the wind and swell to get the vessel in a position where we could use the engine and rudder to roll her around the knuckle while getting enough angle between the bow and the forward fenders to give her a “Hail Mary bell” and drive her out and clear of the berth.

On my first attempt, all seemed to be going well until the “Hail Mary” part where the courage of my convictions failed to produce a strong enough “ahead bell” and she laid back on the fenders. It should be noted that this miscalculation did nothing to strengthen my confidence. 

Our situation could now be compared to an airline pilot who just aborted a take-off and had to retry without fully appreciating the reason for the first abort. Not a comfortable situation to be in.

Our options were two-fold. Try again with a stronger bell and risk taking out the entire berth or remain alongside and let the vessel’s surge against the fenders take out the entire berth. These unhappy options encouraged me to make another try. 

This time, a “full ahead” bell was ordered followed by judicious rudder orders to keep the vessel rotating off the fenders and the stern just clear of the knuckle. This more aggressive plan produced better results. As we built up speed, we avoided contacting the knuckle with the stern and the bow began to gradually move away from the fenders. Using an aviation analogy, you could say that we were at “V-2+ with a positive rate of climb” except that the LNG berth to the north of us was now closing rapidly. Fortunately, there was sufficient room between the north end of our berth and the south end of the LNG berth to order hard-a-port and make our getaway to more open water. Once clear of the berths, we anchored close enough to remain in radio contact with the terminal. Finally, laying down on the bunk in the pilot room, my sense of distress (bad stress) began changing to eustress (good stress).

The following morning conditions had improved when the terminal called and asked if it was possible for me to bring the vessel back alongside (without a tug) to load some remaining bags of urea. Somehow our conversation afforded me the opportunity to convince them that bringing the bags of urea out on a barge (which had showed up during the night) would be the more efficient solution. Or perhaps they had become aware of my relative inexperience and did not want to risk having me bring a nearly fully loaded vessel back alongside. In any event, we both seemed satisfied with the chosen remedy.

The absentee training pilot reportedly enjoyed his evening at home. He later made some remark about hearing it might have been a bit windy at the terminal. Nothing further was heard."  Jim Wright

Enjoy the Journey...
It's an adventure!
XOX Karlene

Friday, June 8, 2018

Good Judgement

Up To My Waist in Sea Water 
Discharging Forepeak Ballast Tank

Written by Captain Jim Wright:

Winter trips across the Gulf of Alaska were often challenging. We had to keep the forepeak ballast tank pressed up until reaching Cook Inlet so the bow would not pound heavily in the unending head seas and swells. Then, approaching Cook Inlet, it was necessary to pump out the forepeak tank so the water would not freeze while going up the Inlet to Anchorage. 

On this voyage it seemed head seas would persist through the night and into Cook Inlet where the temperatures were well below freezing. Pumping the forepeak during daylight would require going on the foc’sle head to open the eductor valve while the ship continued to pitch heavily. The Captain was resisting a speed reduction and further discussion with him seemed unproductive. 

Rounding up the Bos’n and Day-man, the three of us headed forward where we took cover from the seas under the break of the foc’sle. Now the task was to make a 25-yard sprint across the foc’sle head to the anchor windlass, insert a square-headed valve wrench and make several round turns with the wrench to open the educator valve before a head sea of sufficient size arrived to bury the bow. Going on the theory that you shouldn’t ask someone to do something you’re not prepared to do yourself, the foredeck sprint fell to me. 

At this point the bow was just recovering from a heavy dive and an opportunity for the “sprint” seemed about as good as it was going to get. My estimate of the elapsed time necessary to reach the valve, insert the wrench, make the necessary valve-turns, and return to safety seemed to correspond to the period between the heavier swells. As it turned out, my estimate was optimistic and the procedure took a bit longer than expected. 

Suddenly, while turning the valve-wrench, a sense of zero gravity overtook me together with the roar of compressed air being driven through the hawse pipes as the bow dropped away into what was seeming like a bottomless abyss. My only chance now to avoid being swept overboard with the oncoming swell was to wrap my arms and legs around the windlass brake-wheel shaft and hope for the best. The compressed air had now converted to sea water exiting the hawse pipes like “Old Faithful” and raising the unhappy possibility of putting me completely underwater. Then, as the water was rising toward my waist and hope was fading, came those unmistakable vibrations of buoyancy converting “zero G” to a “multiple G” force and pinning me to the deck as the bow rose rapidly. As water began to recede from the foc’sle head, a return sprint to relative safety was now possible. 

Later, the mate on watch on the bridge during that episode told me the Captain was freaking out when he saw the bow was going under. He had not heard anything from us and thought we all might have gone overboard. 

It might be of interest that noted author, aviator and seafarer, Ernest Gann’s oldest son George was swept overboard from a Chevron Tanker near the entrance to Cook Inlet about the same time (and may have been the same storm). Ernest Gann’s novel and movie, “Twilight for the Gods” was dedicated to the Midshipmen of California Maritime Academy, the school from which his son had graduated in 1958. 

You could say that both George Gann’s and my misadventures could be attributed to a similar problem. Although, George’s tragic outcome clearly eclipsed my experience. 

George was Chief Mate in a new 70,000 DWT Class of Chevron Tanker of considerably greater length (798 feet) than other tankers of that era. After departing KPL Nikiski fully laden, they encountered storm force winds, seas and swells in Kennedy Entrance. Several oil drums managed to come adrift and were rolling around on the poop deck. There are several accounts of what happened next. The most consistent follows:

“The Chief Mate was in the officers dining room and, along with the Bos’n, ran out onto the open deck to secure the drums. Soon after the Master joined them. Somewhere during their efforts, the bow rose to a head sea of substantial height driving the stern completely underwater and carrying the Master and Chief Mate overboard and crushing the Bos’n who soon died. The Master and Chief Mate were never found. Had they been aware of the new vessels tendency to bury her stern in a heavy head sea they most likely would have approached the problem differently.

In both George’s and my situations, you could also say the better solution escaped us although for different reasons. The SW Alaska Pilot who brought Chevron Mississippi back into the anchorage told me the crew was not aware of the tendency of a vessel of that length to bury her stern when steaming into head seas as had happened. 

In my “Sea-Land bow dunking episode”, it later occurred to me that the foc’sle head valve fitting was connected to the eductor valve with a reach-rod which could have been accessed from inside the foc’sle and turned with a pipe wrench. This solution would have eliminated the need for my foc’sle head sprint. My situation was more an example of the adage, 

“good judgement comes from experience 
and experience comes from poor judgement”

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Prologue to Decision Making

Connie co-pilot caper

Email from Captain Wright. 

"This e-mail and its attachment relates to the value of experience in decision making. Some of your readers may find this story to be of interest. You could say that your novels all deal with this theme. 

You may have read Ernest Gann’s autobiographical volume “Fate is the Hunter” describing various episodes from his career in aviation. Ernie was one of those people whose aviation exploits define an era that most likely will never be again. You might be familiar with his “Connie co-pilot caper”. 

Being short of funds and finding a Connie co-pilot job “up for grabs”, he presented himself for the position believing that the fact that he had never been in a Connie before could be overcome. As he and the Captain walked out to the aircraft, a plan formed in his mind. Expecting the Captain to be of an autocratic bent typical of Captains in that era, he figured the Captain would start the engines and conduct the taxi and take-off at which point Ernie would have observed enough to make a credible showing of competence. 

His plan went awry when the Captain turned to him and said, ”You start the engines and handle the taxi and take-off”. His cover being blown, there was nothing for Ernie to do but admit he had never been in a Connie before. The Captain’s unexpected response was, “Neither have I”, so they both deplaned and looked for other employment.

Perhaps lesser known was Ernie’s passion for seafaring which became the basis for several of his other novels and possibly responsible for his son George choosing seafaring as a profession. George graduated from California Maritime Academy the year prior to my arrival there and went to work for Chevron Shipping in their tankers running to Alaska. His final voyage bore some linkage to the excerpt from my memoirs included in the attachment describing an incident occurring 45 years ago while sailing as Chief Mate on the Sea-Land Alaska run."

The story tomorrow... 

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene