Category Archives: GULF OF MEXICO

6 Humbling Highlights on Gilavar; a Moment of Contentment

Gilavar Blended with Clouds; Gulf of Mexico: Gilavar 05.2008
FRC Lifted out of Water; Gulf of Mexico: Gilavar 05.2008

Instantly the Gilavar was in sight; the blue, red, and white exterior seemed to sparkle against the sun’s rays as we approached closer.  When we drove alongside the ship a large hook was lowered towards the FRC. One of the gentlemen grabbed this hook and attached it to the latch. The next thing I knew the water was beneath us and we were lifted onto the Gilavar. I was happily greeted by the Filipino abs; they took my bags to my room almost immediately after my arrival.
Gilavar Front View; Gulf of Mexico: Gilavar 05.2008
I introduced myself to the Norwegian Captain Gunther who enthusiastically talked to me about his new found love for Brazil. I also met the bridge officers or mates; both of their names were Khaled – one was a Chief Officer from Tunisia, while the other was a 3rd Officer originally from Syria, but now lived in New Zealand. I never heard of the Captain’s or the mate’s names, but I memorized their names pretty easy since I always had the ability to catch on pretty quickly remembering names. I worked at my grandfather’s’ restaurant as a hostess and bartender for many years; I tend to be really good at recalling the names of the locals and even first time visitors, in fact, they were surprised that I had that good of memory. Which leaves us until now, I was notorious for committing names to memory; if you remember a crew member’s name, it is a form of respect (regardless of his position) – sometimes you meet 10-15 people daily and a lot of names are thrown at you. I have a few helpful techniques on how to remember names better – “Excellent First Impressions; a Guide on How to Give Great, Not Just Good Impressions.” I tend to meet several individuals who express that their highest weakness is not remembering names. It is astonishing how a few tricks can make a difference.

On Top of the World; Alaska: Gilavar 07.2007
My best moment that morning was when I pulled out my Norwegian skills that I was taught – “Embracing Norwegian Culture; Hyggelig å møte deg.” I had a full fledge 20 minute conversation with the Captain and was quite pleased with myself, as he was too. While onboard the Geco Snapper I had made it a priority to keep teaching myself more Norwegian phrases and words.  Though I only had 2 weeks onboard the Gilavar I had an amazing time during my short time there.
Captain Gunther; Gulf of Mexico: Gilavar 05.2008
6 Humbling Highlights on Gilavar
1.  Being part of the crew:

I engaged in daily morning Norwegian conversations with the Captain. He educated me in the pronunciations of the harder words in the Norwegian language. He also taught me the basics for the marine life that we viewed in the early mornings. While we were conversing in Norwegian outside the Chief Officer Khaled was inside navigating the ship. After the Captain left to work on paperwork in the late morning, I would talk to Khaled a few times before lunch. Khaled discussed his previous international projects and the countries that he had recently visited, which forced the travel bug to bit me; this time it was excruciating. It so intense that it encouraged me to start making travel arrangements with Jess from the Viking Vision“5 Most Fabulous Recollections of Viking Vision; those would be the Best Memories.” Alas, my third out of the country experience was born (more on this in future post). I enjoyed talking to 3rd Officer Khaled in the afternoons and listening to his stories that he excitedly emphasized. One of the great things about Khaled was that he stayed positive even though he was going through some difficult personal issues at home. It was nice to have the mates to talk to each day – both of their lives were equally interesting.
Chief Officer Khaled – One of My Favorite Pictures; Gulf of Mexico: Gilavar 07.2007
The coolest girl that I met on the ship was Marilu. This beautiful Venezuelan worked in the seismic department and was so full of life; I remember many fabulous “girl talks” with her. After the Geco Snapper I craved this! Overall she was really fun, outgoing, and had a charismatic personality. Between the bridge officers (including the Captain) and Marilu I felt really comfortable onboard. My two weeks on the new ship were excellent. I remember thinking, “I hope that the project will extend so that I could have a few more weeks onboard.” Even though I was secretly missing Adrian, I would have loved to stay if it meant that I could spend just another day with this crew. It is funny how close you can become with a few colleagues after only knowing them for a few days – “Excellent First Impressions; a Guide on How to Give Great, Not Just Good Impressions.” My time onboard was great, even if that meant that I had to leave the Geco Snapper crew. I realized that in order to make new friends and have incredible experiences, it took spontaneity to push me in that direction.
Marliu and the Posse of Boys; Gulf of Mexico: Gilavar 05.2008
2.  Listening to a friend:

One of the mates that I became super close with was Khaled. He was your typical “Syrian” gentleman; he was good-looking, charming, goal-driven, and in general a nice guy. When we had first met he instantly keep smiling, of course smiles are contagious! I recall thinking how genuinely kind-hearted he was. Once Khaled and I started daily chatting, he had begun to quickly trust me and tell me things that he said he normally did not tell anyone. On the second day onboard I discovered that had just got married before he came onboard and now he resided in New Zealand with his wife. Unfortunately, his circumstances were a little different from mine and yours – he had an arranged marriage forced by his parents.
Gilavar Crew Working Hard with Black n White Effect; Gulf of Mexico: Gilavar 05.2008
A few days after conversing with Khaled several times a day, he pulled me aside and told me that he was not having a really good day. My friends will tell you that I have a very caring personality and sometimes place friend’s needs in front of own. In this particular situation, Khaled desired someone to talk – I happened to be chosen as that candidate. I have read about arranged marriages, but I never knew anyone personally going through this or being forced into this way of life. I could not seem to grasp the idea that he did not marry for love, which made me realize how lucky I was to have the ability to “choose” who I wanted to marry. In various cultures this is not a considerable option, and unfortunately Khaled was faced with this decision to remain married to a woman who he had only met once before his marriage was arranged.
Golden Sunset; Gulf of Mexico: Gilavar 05.2008
I was really interested in what arranged marriages were so I had gathered some information on this particular ritual. The concept of arranged marriage may sound impractical to the Western world, but in India, it is a usual norm. No matter how westernized India may have become, arranged marriages are still viewed as the most preferred choice in the Indian families. I have recently watched a movie, “Eat, Pray, Love” and I honestly can say that the movie was phenomenal. I absolutely loved the story line – yes, I cried and laughed throughout the entire film. I noticed in this movie starring Julia Roberts and Billy Crudup that they portrayed a young Indian girl having her marriage arranged by the hands of her parents. In reality, the little girl wanted nothing more than to marry for love, but she abided by her parent’s wishes and went through with her destiny. Regarding the research that I discovered while talking to Khaled, I discovered that this specific marriage has its roots laid to the time, when the ritual of child marriage prevailed in the country. Child marriage was essentially performed, so as to restrict the children from marrying outside their community and social status. The practice was essentially a way of uniting and maintaining the difference between the rich upper class society and the poor lower class society. This practice of caste system gave rise to the concept of arranged marriages.
Now since we have an idea where arranged marriages evolved from let us dive into the positive and negative aspects of this tradition. One of the positive aspects about arranged marriages is that it gives the parents utmost control over family matters and members. Since they are the ones who would decide on the prospective bride and groom, they would get someone, who is the best for their beloved son/daughter. On the other side, arranged marriages are seen as a medium to promote racism and class system. Also, they have proved to be the best medium to take dowry. Over the years, arranged marriages have posed to be more like a trade than a social custom. People find it an easy medium to make money.
While the above negative aspects can still be dealt with, one of the most crucial drawbacks of arranged marriage is that the boy and the girl do not know each other. Two unknown people get married without knowing and understanding each other, as according to the concept, it is not important to know your partner before marriage. As such, chances of not gelling well with the partner are very high. If either of them thinks absolutely contradictorily to what the other believes in, there would hardly be a mutual level of understanding between the two and life would be merely a compromise for the two. The only way an arranged marriage can succeed is through acceptance. One has to accept the other the way he/she is and look for striking a mutual level of understanding.
Idamina Always Grinning; Gulf of Mexico: Gilavar 05.2008
Once I was able to comprehend the idea of an arranged marriage, I felt that I was able to understand his views more. Khaled had many restless nights onboard and he was pretty upset about the circumstances that he faced at home. This was his first taste of an arranged marriage and he would tell you that he was not fully happy by any means. I recall a few nights that he would want to talk – not necessarily about anything special, but just to have someone listen to him. I became the perfect candidate for the job. Khaled was able to sort his thoughts out by stating them out loud, while I had developed how to have better effective listening skills. Mainly the most important to the conversations that we were having was that I showed my support and that I truthfully cared about his current situation. In the end, we had become really good friends and a minor high-school crush on his end was formed. Looking back if I could have said one thing to his new wife that would have been, “Even if you do not know each other well, always make sure that both of you listen to one another.” Like communication, I felt that listening was one of the best attributes that you can have in any relationship.

Cool Shot of a Crew Member Working; Gulf of Mexico: Gilavar 05.2008

3.  Refreshing Norwegian:

I have to admit after working with an American crew it was nice to have had the opportunity to refresh my Norwegian that I had learned. As my love for the Norwegian language grew I was able to understand the culture a little better as well. The Captain would tell me stories about where he grew up, the difficulties that he faced, and his undying love for Norway. Again, his endless conversations about Norway had developed this passionate craving inside of me to travel. As he spoke longer phrases in Norwegian, I had asked him to teach me a motivational phrase before my departure. I had practiced this phrase regularly – I thought that if I said it enough times in a different language besides English, then it would eventually come true! The phrase was continually stuck in my head and still is to this day: Mitt ultimate mål er å bli anerkjent som en vellykket og respektabel marinbiolog.” Simple translation, “My ultimate goal is to be recognized as a successful and respectable Marine Biologist.” Whether you want to learn Norwegian or another language, I would encourage you to do so – the reward is far greater than you expected.

Captain Sunbathing while Teaching More Norwegian Phrases; Gulf of Mexico: Gilavar 05.2008

4.  Experimenting with new foods:
Learning a new language comes with experimenting new foods. Precisely in this case, on the Gilavar we had a Norwegian mixed with Polish galley crew and they loved to fix oxtail. What is oxtail you may ask? An oxtail is exactly what it sounds like: the tail of an ox. Oxtails are officially classified as offal, along with an assortment of organ meats, and like other offal, the oxtail has a long and illustrious culinary history. You can find oxtails at boutique butchers and sometimes at a butcher’s counter in a large market, depending on the regional taste for oxtail. Once purchased, it may be used immediately or frozen for future use. Oxtail was served once a week while I was onboard – everyone seemed to have a unique craving for it. 
I on the other hand, had never seen it let alone tried it! I was feeling extremely adventurous one fine sunny afternoon. Since it was suggested an excessive amount of times to try this “delicious” source of iron-rich bone marrow, I finally took that plunge! It was not your typical taste like “chicken” – did you ever notice that new foods we sample, we tend to say “it tastes like chicken?” Once I heard a good friend tell me that trying snake tasted like chicken – very interesting indeed! This was exceptionally different from anything I had ever savored. As I took another bite of oxtail, I had a few of the crew, including the Captain explain to me what exactly I was eating. I realized that the terminology surrounding the oxtail was a bit complex. It was explained to me that, “Traditionally, oxtail came from oxen, neutered adult cattle used as dray animals. Over time, however, oxtails had been harvested from any sort of cattle, including steers and veal cows. Some people felt that traditional oxtail had the most flavors, because the longer a cow lives, the more muscle developed in the oxtail, and as a result the flavor in a true oxtail tended to be stronger and more complex.” A braised beef rib with twice the original flavor is my best description of what oxtail tasted like. 
After I finished eating the last few bites of oxtail I had spoke with the galley about this delicacy they had just served. I was intrigued to learn that in order to prepare oxtails, butchers removed the tail of a cow while it was butchered and skinned. The oxtail was typically cut into segments, making it easier to handle – this was how the oxtails came in the provisions that were sent onboard. Within the selection of meats, oxtail was included as part of the meats that were originally ordered. The galley crew emphasized that the oxtail was extremely bony and also was very muscular. One of the girls zealously described to me that the best way to use oxtail was as the base for a stew, soup, or beef stock, because it benefited from long gentle braising. I later learned that oxtail also made a great soup, which tasted a bit gelatinous, as it released a great deal of collagen during the cooking process.
Chief Officer Khaled and Marilu on Christmas Day; Gulf of Mexico: Gilavar 12.2007
That night while I was reviewing my Norwegian lessons, I made the decision to look up more information on the culture of eating oxtail. I was fascinated to uncover that as with other offal, the taste for oxtail probably arose from necessity. Many cultures have had a long tradition of trying to use every part of every animal butchered, with the offal typically ending up in the pots of the lower classes, since they could not afford the more prized cuts of meat from the animal. Innovative cooks developed all sorts of interesting ways to use offal, and while it was once a lower class food, offal was now included on the recipes of many gourmet restaurants, especially those which offer traditional European cuisine. Who said trying new foods could not be fun? Not only did I introduce a new regional food to my taste buds, but I also educated myself on the culture behind this well-liked dish.
According to Life 123, the best recipe for oxtail stew is demonstrated in “Tender Oxtail Stew Recipes.”


5.  Barbecuing on weekends: 

If you were a vegetarian you would miss out one of the greatest events onboard – a traditional BBQ. There were few vegetables to choose from, but the main portions consisted of an assortment of meats – filet mignons, porterhouses, ribs, hamburgers, chicken, and even your “American” hot dogs.  On the Gilavar, barbecues were a time when most of the crew would mingle, have a non-alcoholic (sometimes 5% alcohol) beverage, relax, take in some sun’s rays, and enjoy a smorgasbord of grilled foods, complete with cold dishes. My preferred cold dishes were macaroni salad, red-skinned potato salad, and coleslaw. This makes my mouth-water just thinking about the foods that we indulged in! Honestly, I was given the opportunity during this mealtime to really get to know the other crew that I did not get to see on a daily basis. Since everyone had a different shift onboard, it was rare for me to see everyone during the day when I worked. For instance, a few of my friends/colleagues would work 18:00 (6pm) to 6:00 (6am) – rarely did I see them twice a week!
Fire Fighter to the Rescue; Gulf of Mexico: Gilavar 05.2008
Gilavar’s barbecues were definitely the topic on the boat and all of us could not wait till this fabulous weekend event! Even though I was not able to be at home with Adrian and friends in Cape Canaveral during the weekend, I still had 2 incredible weekends onboard. Truthfully, barbecuing was the highlight of my week, along with everyone else’s! I cannot wait for the next barbecue offshore!
Gilavar Combined with Clouds; Gulf of Mexico: Gilavar 05.2008



6.  Fixating over Heroes:



During my downtime as we made our way into Mobile, Alabama to crew change off the boat, a “Heroes marathon” was introduced into my routine onboard. We were not conducting watches or researching cetaceans because our transit was mostly in darkness in the late night. Therefore, we had exactly 1.5 days to do whatever we pleased in the last few hours onboard. Since Khaled and I had become really close, we determined that we would start a Heroes marathon. I had never heard of “Heroes” and certainly had never seen an episode. I recall watching the very first episode and like “Dexter” – “5 Most Fabulous Recollections of Viking Vision; those would be the Best Memories,” I was hooked! What is Heroes you may ask?  “Heroes” is similar to Marvel’s “X-Men,” in that its characters discover they have latent extraordinary powers. But where “X-Men” is driven more by action and plot, “Heroes” is more character-driven. Khaled was infatuated with “X-Men” and other action movies; I think this is why he had become fond of this TV show. 

Speaking of the TV show, it focused on an ensemble of eight characters, each of whom had a different power. Claire Bennett was a high school cheerleader with the power of spontaneous regeneration, DL Hawkins had the power to phase through matter, Isaac Mendez was a brilliant artist who can paint the future, Hiro Nakamura was the office worker who can bend and travel through space-time, LAPD Officer Matt Parkman had the power of telepathy, Nathan Petrelli was the ambitious politician who could fly, his brother Peter was an in-home nurse with the ability to absorb others’ powers when he was near them, and Niki Sanders had super strength. Quite the collection of super powers to have! If I had a super power it would be to instantly “fix” a bad situation. Whether that would be used in the cleaning up of an oil spill while magically flying over the affected area, undo a horrible car accident by seeing the future and preventing the incident, or wiping away bruises from a domestic violence battered woman by a simple touch, etc – all of these would be a selfless act in helping others in a very positive way.  

Oddly enough “Heroes” with its unique flaws in each character still managed to be one of the greatest shows that I watched – you really start to feel a connection to each character, while looking into their remarkable abilities to live in this world with “average” humans. My favorite character was Claire, because she could never physically get hurt – she reminded me of a younger version of myself with her quirky attitude, “Nothing can get in my way!” I felt this way growing up in a small-town, with my goal-driven outlook on becoming a Marine Biologist.

The Incredible Claire Bennett

  

What was the objective in the show you may ask? Well as ordinary people had begun discovering their extraordinary superhuman powers and abilities they were drawn together to save the world from destruction. This comic book-style adventure with plotting and characters as rich and layered any graphic novel or drama series. Why I really liked the show? Add to this mix a terrific handsome villain – Zachary Quinto’s Sylar, who hunts and kills people with extraordinary powers like our heroes – and viewers have a riveting series that exhibits an almost-perfect balance of cliffhanger thrills (the action and special effects are truly impressive for a network program) and genuine drama that sets the show apart from most speculative fiction.



**
You never know what types of people you will meet or the life circumstances that they face. Everyone has a unique story to tell – no two people are the same. When embracing other cultures, you tend to come across people that help shape your lives. I never dreamt that I would have been subjected to listen and understand about arranged marriages. I never expected to make really “good” friends with a cool Syrian, Tunisian gentleman, and a sweet Venezuelan girl. I certainly never thought that I would have had the opportunity to try oxtail for the first time. In reality, I did all of these things and because of these experiences I have projected a deeper appreciation for not only cultures, but for the people that live within this society. 
I have always told my friends in high school and even expressed this during my high school graduation speech: “Whether we notice this or not the people that we meet throughout our lives, either negatively or positively affects us; sometimes both. It is those positive influences that we need in our daily lives and should look for in our friendships. These are the individuals who will help mold us into the person that we want to become.” Having the ability to interact with various cultures has given me the gift to see the world in a different light, welcome an assortment of nationalities as my friends, and have the desire to create additional goals for myself. One of the newest goals added to my plans are to travel the world, while visiting each of my friends, and embracing a society different from my own.
A Really Sweet Shot of the Gilavar at Shipyard during Night; 07.2007

First FRC Adventure; Departure to the Gilavar

FRC in Calm Waters; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 05.2008
Suddenly my bags were all packed and I was about to be welcomed with a new venture. With my most recent time on the Geco Snapper“5 Best Flashbacks on the Geco Snapper; a Dedication to a Late Friend;” one thing was evident I was not quite ready to leave yet. Instead of a personnel basket transfer and a chaseboat – “Thanks for the Memories; My Recollections of the Boston, Massachusetts Project,” I was transported by a Fast Rescue Craft (FRC). What is a FRC you may ask? FRC’s are designed for life-saving and working purposes within the shipping and offshore industries. Modern concepts combined with the basic ideas of traditional boat-building principles have given these rescue boats the stability, strength, and excellent seagoing qualities required under maritime conditions.

FRC Being Lowered; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 05.2008
The rule is that a Marine Biologist, like me for example, may never drive this watercraft without proper training (shocking news in international future post). The FRC was a bright orange coloration and had remnants of saltwater all over the exterior. I was overly excited before my departure to the Gilavar, because this was my first time on a FRC. As we proceeded away from the vessel I glanced back one more time to say my final goodbye. It was then I realized that this particular crew I have grown to deeply care about and treat in a way like my own family. I have younger brothers who I absolutely adore and have a lot of respect for (I know they will do great in life and pursue their dreams like I have), but I have to admit it was refreshing to have a group of older guys to talk “grown up” topics with for a change. I saw the same group of guys for a solid month and I was rather used to waking up to their smiling faces and talking about their families and personal lives. Needless to say, we became really close. 
Crew in FRC; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 05.2008
As great memories filled my head, I remember thinking, “How fortunate was I in this situation to not only have worked on this project, but to have had the remarkable opportunity to work on the ocean?” My first Rough-toothed dolphin sighting was awesomely unexpected “The Unexpected Surprise; First Encounter with Rough-toothed Dolphins.” The laughter that was all shared on a daily basis, complete with our endless supply of inside jokes – “Swept to the Geco Snapper; A Spark of Insanity” and  “How to Cope with Steamy Situations; Helpful Hints to Improve Your Breathing,” all remained close to my heart. Not to mention the amazing oceanscapes that were viewed, some of which no one else in the world was able to see at that particular moment – “5 Best Flashbacks on the Geco Snapper; a Dedication to a Late Friend.” What are oceanscapes you may ask? My definition, complete with unbelievable breath-taking photographs was one of my highlights of working offshore – “A Compilation of Cool Oceanscapes on the Water; a Glimpse into an Effervescent World.”
My Final Sunset Viewed onboard the Geco Snapper; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 05.2008

 
The wind violently pressed up against my yellow helmet slightly bobbing it back and forth, the saltwater filled the bottom of my blue jeans, and a strong smell of diesel fuel overwhelmed my senses were all clear representations that in this second I was one step closer to achieving my ultimate goal: To be recognized as a successful and respectable Marine Biologist“Last Destination Florida; the Road Trip down the Chosen Path.” I could not wait to get off the FRC and see what adventures greeted me next.
Birthday Photograph on the Geco Snapperin; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 05.2008

5 Best Flashbacks on the Geco Snapper; a Dedication to a Late Friend

Roosevelt (bottom) and Manny with Infamous Poses; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 05.2008

Roosevelt’s Favorite Seas – Calm and Tranquil; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 05.2008

I want to dedicate this post to a great friend, awesome colleague, and an amazing father – Roosevelt.  I can never thank him enough for the great memories that we had onboard. He really was an inspiration to me. I thoroughly enjoyed the time that we had spent together and he made every moment precious. He was an incredibly sweet guy and he will always be missed. His smile always warmed my heart and his memory will forever remain in each of the crew on the Geco Snapper. May he rest in peace and live on in each of our hearts. 

Jim, Roosevelt, Brian, Tall (Nickname), and Smiley (Nickname); Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 05.2008

After spending 8 lovely weeks onboard the Geco Snapper it was time to go home – or so I thought. The boat was headed into Galveston, Texas for some minor repairs; I thought that I was riding in with them. Instead, I was requested to go on the Gilavar (more about this ship in next post). Honestly, it did not hit me until the day that I was getting off the Geco Snapper on how close I became not only to the boat, but also to the crew itself. I had worked with two separate crews during my time onboard. Each crew brought a unique character to the boat and made the Geco Snapper really come alive. Sure, I was locked in the shower on the very first day that I arrived onboard – “How to Cope with Steamy Situations; Helpful Hints to Improve Your Breathing,” but even with its tattered floors, small restrooms, and strangely odd odor it was still home to me. After all, nobody’s perfect and this includes boats! Looking back I can still see the crew’s smiling faces every morning, smell breakfast that was being cooked in the galley at dawn, taste the freshness in the bread that was recently made, hear the crew laughing as they joked with each other, and feel the softness of my comforter as I wrapped myself inside it at night. I really had felt welcomed here and it was very hard for me to leave. Without further ado, I present to you my top 5 best flashbacks on the Geco Snapper

Phenomenal Sunset with Oil Rig on Horizon; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 04.2008
Cotton Candy Sunset with a Taste of Orange; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 05.2008
5 Best Flashbacks on Geco Snapper

Powerful Clouds; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 05.2008
Drillship Entering Clouds; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 04.2008
Bright Clouds Align the Sky; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 04.2008
1.  Eating a smorgasbord of American food:

I love various cultural foods; since my time on the Viking Vision I had an assortment of Norwegian dishes (including rice pudding) to choose from – “Embracing Norwegian Culture; Hyggelig å møte deg.” I enjoyed trying different foods, but nothing beats a good ole American hamburger with lettuce, tomato, and cheese. Since I was working onboard with an American crew and on an American boat I had my fill of plenty dishes of American food. Most of the guys lived in the South and they added their own flavor of Cajun to the mix. I had the best gumbo onboard; I never had gumbo until then. The guys were really serious about their cooking and it definitely showed in the preparations of their meals. The taste was wonderful; I do not recall ever a bad dish! One of the ultimate meals that I thoroughly enjoyed were the “once a month” King crab legs! I was that girl in elementary school that would get excited if my mom decided to take me to “Red Lobster” for my birthday dinner. Maybe it was the “small town mentality,” but I absolutely loved this tradition. Of course, most individuals will tell you this is imitation lobster or not really your “typical” seafood restaurant. I never really knew what I missing until I started working offshore. Working offshore definitely has many perks, but the best one in relation to food is that it is, in fact, the freshest that you have ever tasted. The boats and ships are able to have fresh produce or provisions as sailors call them, come onboard. If I am really lucky I will have the chance to fish for our dinner that night (seems to only happen in international waters; more on this later). At that moment as I was excitedly eating my King crab legs and dipping them slightly in butter, I knew that I could totally get used to this lifestyle! Kudos to them for making the best American dishes that I have ever tasted; it simply was a great experience onboard. For this reason alone, they will always be remembered as, “the Awesome American Boat.”

Golden Sunset with Supply Vessel Pegasus; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 04.2008

Pink Sunset; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 05.2008
2.  Having the best birthday surprise:

As luck had it I was getting off the Geco Snapper in the early morning to transfer to the Gilavar. That particular morning happened to also be my 25th birthday. The first week that I was onboard the galley guys, Dave and Keith, had asked me to try the dessert that they created before dinnertime. I remember that it was vanilla cake with colored icing and sprinkles on the top. I do not favor the original “birthday cake,” but I did sample a small piece in the common courteously that I was asked to. It was okay, probably would have better if I actually liked cake (exception Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake). Afterwards, the guys asked me what I thought of their dessert. Without hurting their feelings, I told them that it was good, but that I preferred apple cobbler any day of the week. I did not think much of this conversation until we fast forward to the morning of my birthday. It was like any regular morning, but then I noticed the date and instantly did a “happy dance!” It was my birthday and I was able to view an incredible sunrise to welcome the joyous day. Like every morning I walked downstairs and greeted the galley as I filled my mouth with a couple of Cheerios. The guys were grinning from ear to ear, more so than usual. They told me to wait right there for a second as they had to go check on something. As I stood there waiting a delicious aroma of cobbler tickled my nose. All of a sudden a cobbler in a pie dish was presented right in front of me. I knew exactly what it was at first sight and I was tempted to take a piece. The guys enthusiastically expressed that they were not able to get me a “gift,” but thought that I would settle for apple cobbler instead. Of course, I quickly agreed that this was a far better choice. The guys asked me for me to take the entire apple cobbler with me on my voyage to the other ship if I could not eat it this morning. Long story short, I had a several pieces, offered the rest to the crew (which they willing took), and saved one piece for my trip to the Gilavar. Material objects like presents do not matter when your friends are there to accompany you. I would have been just as happy with or without the apple cobbler made for my special day. My stomach definitely thanks them.

Calm Seas with Vast White Clouds; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 05.2008

Absolute Bliss; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 04.2008

3.  Being part of the crew:

There is nothing better like the feeling that you fit in somewhere. In this case, I was part of the crew. I could tell you a funny story about every single one of the guys onboard. Earlier I had mentioned Roosevelt. I would love to share his funny story with you. Roosevelt grew up with 3 older sisters and in a small town in Louisiana. He was the only boy and his sisters reminded him of that every day. He was a tough kid who looked up to his sisters and fought off the boyfriends that tried to steal his sister’s hearts. He was really protective and cared about their decisions in life. He tried to be a good role model, like they were to him. He and his sisters always played outdoors, even in the middle of winter. Roosevelt’s favorite drink was apple juice. His sisters decided to play a little prank on him. One day while he was walking home from school he was exhausted and wanted something to drink as soon as he got home. His sisters knew that he would be really thirsty once he arrived home (this was his normal routine). His sisters told him that they had fixed a glass of apple juice for him as he approached the steps to his front door. Excitedly he asked for it and they handed it to him. As his sisters sat there loudly laughing, he was slightly oblivious to what was going on. As he was about to take a huge chug of the apple juice, his sisters screamed, “Ewww that’s our pee!” He quickly dropped the glass as it shattered onto his hard concrete porch. To me this shows how great of a guy he really was, his response to his sisters – “You girls were going to make me drink your urine, yuck! I guess I have to figure out some way to get you all back! Thanks for telling me before I drank the “apple juice;” I maybe would have told you if you were in my shoes!” I absolutely loved Roosevelt’s witty sarcasm and his contagious laughter. I was happy to have shared his last few memories together. I was lucky to have had the chance to meet him in my life. He became one of my best friends on that boat. Every time I reflect of the memories on the Geco Snapper, I think of him.
Ryan and I at Sunset; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 05.2008
Hot Abercrombie Model (My Personal Nickname) Winking at Me (He Always Did This!); Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 04.2008
Dustin, Ryan, and Captain John (from Maine); Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 04.2008

Roosevelt was a great asset to the crew and so were all of the other guys onboard. Manny and Roosevelt were inseparable; both of the guys were equally awesome. Manny was on the path to become a record producer, while Roosevelt wanted to eventually get his sea time in and become a mate or officer to work on a boat similar to the Geco Snapper. Both of the guys loved the boat, the crew, and the general atmosphere. Quite frankly, I grew to love it too; maybe not as much as them though! Captain John from Maine was amused at my small hand-writing and decided to call my notes “the Benford Chronicles.” He had a great sense of humor and a refreshing perspective towards life. He would tell me stories about his travels, which, in return, would entice my desire to travel more. The galley crew was always in good spirits and as you read earlier, were amazing cooks onboard. Another Captain John (he was from Arkansas) was really cool; he joked around with me quite a bit. He loved to read and would tell me about his current books that he was reading onboard. He had a drive to work on the sea, like I did as well, which is why we got along so well. The seismic department was really laid back. I enjoyed having nightly conversations with the guys, especially Dave and Shaun. These guys would make me laugh for hours; it was nice to have great charisma on the Geco Snapper. We even watched Jeff Dunham’s comedic session of “A Spark of Insanity” several times; which made us uncontrollably laugh – “Swept to the Geco Snapper; A Spark of Insanity.” I met a really awesome medic named Nikki, who would love to tell me about her nomadic international adventures. She and I became really good friends at the time; we still remain in touch to this day. There were a lot of other crew members to mention, but these were my favorite memories with these individuals. I thoroughly adored my time with the crew and thanks to facebook we still remain in contact. 

Juvenile Brown Pelican Rested on Fence; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 05.2008

The Boys Waving Goodbye; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 05.2008

4.  Watching a juvenile Brown pelican on helideck:

For exactly a week, there was a friendly encounter by my definition of “the coolest bird!” I have never viewed a pelican in close quarters, as I did when he rested on the fence located on the helideck. He was quite a photogenic species and seemed to love our attention. He was pretty far away from land, which made me think that he flew hundreds of miles to say “hello” to us on the Geco Snapper. He did hunt at night briefly, which guaranteed that he would survive without our assistance. We were tempted to feed him bread, but we did not want to have him rely on us for his prime food source. Within nature, it is a good rule of thumb to not feed the animals (I am sure we have all seen these signs at the local zoo); however, if you are rescuing a bird from oil or exhaustion then it is okay to provide some nourishment for the avian species. In this particular case, it was best to leave this juvenile Brown pelican alone and let him rest. Consequently, this did not prevent us from taking loads of pictures of him. He was a beautiful bird – after all I had to add this species to my avian collection.  

Juvenile Brown Pelican with Streamer in Background; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 05.2008
Golden Sunset with Almighty Oil Rig; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 04.2008

A few cool facts I learned about Brown pelicans: A) Brown pelicans can live for 15-25 years; B) It can hold approximately 3 gallons of water mixed with fish in its pouch. The air sacks beneath their skin and in their bones helps makes them buoyant; C) Unlike most birds, which warms their eggs with their breasts, pelicans incubate their eggs with their feet. They hold the eggs under the webs that stretch from the front toes to the hind toe, essentially standing on the eggs to warm them. This practice was detrimental to the species when the pesticide DDT was in common use. This pesticide caused thinning of the eggshells resulting in so many broken eggs that the species became endangered; D) A group of pelicans have many collective nouns, including a “brief”, “pod”, “pouch”, “scoop”, and “squadron” of pelicans; E) While the Brown pelican is draining the water from its bill after a dive, gulls often try to steal the fish right out of its pouch. They sometimes even perch on the pelican’s head or back and reach in; and F) Nevertheless, pelicans are often victims of fishing hooks and lines, oil spills, pesticides, guns, arrows, cars, boats, and power lines.

Rough-toothed Dolphin Breaching out of Water; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 04.2008

The Beautiful Creation of a Mixture of Dark and Light Clouds at Sunset; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 04.2008
5.  Sighting a Rough-toothed Dolphin for the first time:

Before each project I research which cetaceans I will be encountering during my time offshore. All of my preparations could not have warned me that I would see a Rough-toothed dolphin for the very first time – “The Unexpected Surprise; First Encounter with Rough-toothed Dolphins.” These creatures are definitely unique, but it was because of this specific project that I was able to view numerous pods. After I witnessed my first sighting of this specimen, I gathered some online material and started examining details about this marine mammal. I will never forget the crew’s reaction as I was explaining about the sighting – they were so intrigued to learn more as I was too. I self-taught myself everything there was to know about Rough-toothed dolphins on the Geco Snapper. After the first approach of the Rough-toothed dolphins, I was prepared for the quick identification of the second sighting and so forth.
Violent Clouds Encompassing Oil Rig; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 04.2008

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I will never forget the friendships that I made on this project and the memories that I had with Roosevelt. It is caring individuals like Roosevelt who remind me on a daily basis why I love my fabulous, but unique lifestyle.

The Unexpected Surprise; First Encounter with Rough-toothed Dolphins

Rough-toothed Dolphins Quickly Swimming; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 04.2008
After whales continually greeted me on my adventures offshore, I was rather used to seeing these magnificent creatures randomly pop up everywhere- “My Favorite Bostonian Cetaceans; Dive into a World Different from Our Own” and “The Pursuit for the Sperm Whale; the Great Legend of Moby Dick.” Not to mention on the fabulous projects the Texas Horizon and the Viking Vision, I kept spotting numerously large pods of whales. I had seen several sightings of dolphins, but the whales seemed to outnumber them. At this time, I was ready for a change – maybe a large pod of dolphins will excitedly approach my boat? I wanted a few whales to drop by at the Geco Snapper, but strangely during the full 8 weeks offshore I had none! I grew rather fond of the Sperm whales and kind of scratched my head in confusion where the whales were headed, definitely not in my general direction! Instead I sighted a few sightings of dolphins, which comprised of two specimens: 1) Bottlenose dolphins; and 2) Rough-toothed dolphins. 
You have seen Flipper, right? This delightful creature that had captured our hearts was actually a Bottlenose dolphin. I learned recently that in front of the Dolphin Research Center (DRC) in Grassy Key, Florida (which is just south of Miami) stands a 30-foot concrete statue of a mother and baby dolphin. This was the final location where Mitzi aka Flipper spent her last few days. What did she die from you may ask? A heart attack – I had no idea how similar dolphins really are to humans; they are such incredible beings. Unfortunately, on this project I was not able to photograph any close-ups of Bottlenose dolphins, but lucky for you I have some great shots of these adorable subjects for a later post.
On the other hand, I had several close encounters with Rough-toothed dolphins. My favorite memory of sighting this particular specimen was when I standing on the bow of the boat (the front half of the boat) and was in the mist of examining some Portuguese man of wars drifting with the current. Suddenly, I heard a rather large splash behind me, as I glanced over my shoulder I saw what appeared to be a dolphin breaching out of the water! I quickly sighted 6 more individuals staying in close proximity of the larger adult that had just breached. As I carefully watched this pod of dolphins I was perplexed about what this specimen was. I grabbed my trusty marine mammal book and started skimming through the pages to identify this specimen with the provided pictures. Instantaneously, I noticed the lack of long beak or at least a poorly defined beak, which when I glanced at the book it highlighted that these were Rough-toothed dolphins. I have never laid eyes on Rough-tooth dolphins, not even on Discovery Channel! Excitedly I yelled up to the bridge wings and caught Dustin’s attention. He ran down to where I was standing and helped me document their behavior as they breached a few more times, and then quickly swum towards the horizon. I was happy that they dropped by! The final outcome was that I learned of a new species of dolphin that I have never seen before and I enthusiastically welcome the next encounter!



Educational Background on Dolphins:
Dolphins are carnivorous small, toothed whales.  Dolphins are found in many parts of the world and within various oceans and even in freshwater rivers of Asia, Africa, and South America. Did you know that an Orca or Killer whale is actually a dolphin? Dolphins also belong to the order Cetacea, which means that they are mammals fully adapted to aquatic life. Dolphins are part of the Delphinidae family, which in this particular family consists of highly intelligent aquatic mammals. A common assumption is that dolphins are fish – dolphins are not fish; they are, in fact, mammals. The dolphin refers to the species that have a slender beak-like snout and streamlined body, which have in return developed during the Miocene, nearly 10 million years ago through evolution to enable their ability to swim extremely fast at great speeds.
How many different kinds of dolphins are there you may ask? Surprisingly, there are over 33 different species of dolphins, over 5 distinct species of river dolphins, and over 6 separate species of porpoise. One intriguing fact that I learned in high school while researching information on dolphins were that they can reach speeds of 35mph. 
As we discussed the theories of echolocation – “The Pursuit for the Sperm Whale; the Great Legend of Moby Dick;” we learned a greater understanding of how dolphins actively communicate. To summarize this past segment, echolocations or sonar is the method that a dolphin exercises to locate and distinguish between objects underwater. Cleverly, the dolphin emits a sound and listens to the echo – in response, the powerful clicking noises comes from the melon which subsequently travels through the water, and then bounces off the objects and returns back to the dolphin. What is the importance of the melon you may ask? The melon along with the lower jaw is filled with a jelly-like substance used to amplify sound waves. As a dolphin swims, it moves its head back and forth to scan its surroundings – the echoes it sends out bounce off objects and hit the lower jawbone, which conducts the returning sound waves to the inner ear. By the pitch of the returning echo and the time it takes to get there, the dolphin can determine the shape, size, speed, texture, and density of the object. Shockingly, a dolphin can even view the inside of an object, almost like an x-ray, except it substitutes vision by sound. In addition, echolocation helps the dolphin navigate through the water avoiding predators and other dangerous situations.  
Another form of communication that is utilized by dolphins is recognized as vocalizations. What are vocalizations you may ask? Just like a human has the ability to communicate with noises that are formed into words, dolphins have the same benefits. For instance, vocalizations are representations of various noises that come from their blowholes. On the other hand, signature whistles or squeals that are also practiced by dolphins for communication purposes are a great indication of them expressing their emotional status.
Shocking Facts: Like the whales, the most dangerous predators for dolphins are humans. In fact, all river dolphins are in serious danger of extinction due to pollution and man-made dams. The Whitefin or Baiji dolphin is the world’s rarest cetacean. The current estimation of the population is a staggering 100. With this being said, there is no definite time on how long these creatures will thrive. I have read several articles about the Lipotes vexillier’s survival and sadly enough it does not look promising. 

Rough-toothed Dolphin Breaching; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 04.2008


A Detailed Description of a Rough-toothed Dolphin:

The Rough-toothed dolphin (Steno bredanensis) is commonly mistaken for the Bottlenose, Spinner, and Spotted species, but upon closer inspection observers note unique physical characteristics specific to this animal. When I originally had sighted the pod of dolphins my automatic assumption was that these were Bottlenose dolphins. 

Throughout my sightings of the Rough-toothed dolphins I noticed a number of unique characteristics which defined this marine mammal. Rough-toothed dolphins appear to wear a mask, hood, and cape which range from dark grey to black in color. The markings begin at the tip of the nose and extend back past the dorsal fin. The lips, throat and underbelly are in stark contrast with hues of white to pink. The belly surface is further marked with irregular grey or black splotches. The nose or beak is long, round and gently curves to form a small head. The body is stocky in appearance having dorsal and pectoral fins located further back on the body compared to other dolphins. Additionally, the fins are much larger in size. This playful sea mammal was aptly named for the wrinkled ridges on the crowns of the 22 to 27 large teeth within its mouth

Rough-toothed dolphins prefer deep tropical waters around the world. They are very social creatures not only amongst their own kind, but with other dolphin species, some whales and fish. In fact, the Rough-toothed dolphins have been known to produce hybrid offspring with other dolphin species while in captivity. The Rough-toothed dolphin is known to travel in groups as small as 8 and in communities numbering in the hundreds. Researchers estimate the total worldwide population to be over 150,000 and this dolphin species is not currently considered endangered.


Rough-toothed Dolphins Slowly Swimming; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 05.2008


5 Fun Facts about Rough-toothed Dolphins:

Did you know?
Do they stay within their own species or do they travel with other pods as well? Rough-toothed dolphins have been known to associate with the Bottlenose, Spinner, and Spotted species. A matter of fact, on the Geco Snapper, I observed 2 Rough-toothed dolphins swimming with a pod of Bottlenose dolphins.
Do they attack each other? Like other marine species, Rough-toothed dolphins may show scars resulting from encounters with other marine life such as sharks, squid, and other Rough-toothed dolphins.
Do they sleep? Traveling as much as they do, Rough-toothed dolphins must rest some time. They do not sleep, though. They merely take cat naps at the ocean’s surface for two or three minutes at a time. At night, those naps increase to seven or eight minutes.
Do they bow ride? Frequently Rough-toothed dolphins will accompany boats, riding the bow waves. They are also famous for their willingness to occasionally approach humans and interact with them in the water. In return, in some cultures like in Ancient Greece they were treated with welcome; a ship spotting dolphins riding in their wake was considered a good omen for a smooth voyage.

What do they eat? The Rough-toothed dolphin feeds on fish and squid as well as mollusks and cephalopods.
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Conservation Status:

Rough-toothed dolphins are world widely affected. For instance, Rough-toothed dolphins are hunted for food in some regions. They are harpooned in Japan and West Africa. Entanglement in fishing gear poses a threat, and Rough-toothed dolphins have been reported caught in purse seines in the eastern tropical Pacific. Others have been reported caught in gillnet and driftnet fisheries in Sri Lanka and Brazil. Pollutants have been detected in blubber analysis of Rough-toothed dolphins in Hawaii.

How to Cope with Steamy Situations; Helpful Hints to Improve Your Breathing

Ryan and I; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 04.2008
After a short flight, two nights at the hotel, and a long hot bus ride I had finally set foot on the Geco Snapper “Swept to the Geco Snapper; a Spark of Insanity.”  The boat was still at dock until we set sail the second day. I was officially onboard and after a long few days, I was mentally and physically exhausted. Needless to say, I slept the entire morning and a portion of the afternoon. After lunch I had decided to get a quick “hot” shower. One thing I should mention is that if you do not want to get athlete’s foot, the best solution for this is to wear shower shoes (even on brand new ships). Those trusty shoes have become my sidekick when I depart for any project – a much needed item on the toiletry list. 
Nevertheless, here is where the story gets really interesting and my “blondeness” is revealed a little bit more. So there I was wrapped in my towel, toiletry bag in hand, shower shoes on my feet, and a mini adventure waiting for me to find the shower onboard. I arrived what I thought was the shower door – this was something that I have never seen before. It was just a white door that blended into the wall, with a door knob sticking out of the side. On the Texas Horizon and Viking Vision I had a private shower in my own room – not having a shower in my room was slightly an inconvenience, but I suppose I cannot always get what I want. Anyways, as I opened the door I realized that there was a small changing room, and then the actual shower was hidden in the back. I noticed a puddle on the floor when I first started walking on the concrete floor, learning a lesson from my past experience working on the Texas Horizon, I was going to carefully step over the water. A few days before I was leaving the Texas Horizon, I had a horrible spill that resulted on slipping on a puddle on water and my elbow smashing into the side corner of the toilet – the black and blue mark remained on my arm for 3 weeks! As I stepped over the puddle, I locked the door behind me. I always have locked the restroom door, why should this time be any different? Finally I was able to have my hot steaming shower and had begun to dry off. I looked up at the ceiling and noticed that the steam was still circulating in the small room; it was not venting properly, which caused the hot steam to remain in the closed quarters with me.
All of the sudden, the room started reaching a higher temperature that I would classify as abnormally hot. During this time I felt like I was in a sauna – sweat had begun dripping off the side of my face and I felt my heart beating slightly faster than normal. I was so ready to get out of this “sauna!” As I unlocked and wiggled the door knob, it would not open! It would not even budge! The latch was stuck, how could this be? All I could think of at that moment was, “Here I am covered in a towel, sweating profusely, and locked in such fine quarters. All my goodness, I am locked in the restroom! Help someone get me out of here!” 
Have you ever had the reoccurring dream where you are being chased in a dark alley; you try to scream for help to the person down the street, but nothing comes out? Then as luck would have it, the creep catches you because you could not project your voice or utter a word for help? Does this sound familiar? I have this “nightmare” frequently onboard every ship and boat that I have been on. I am terrified that this nightmare may eventually become a reality; you have heard of Freddy Krueger, right? Maybe I should analyze this more with a dream psychiatrist? Regardless, I was in this situation that I dreaded for so long. I perceived a distant sound through the thick door, but I could not understand what I was eavesdropping on. I tried to articulate a phrase, but nothing came out.  I would have settled for a single vowel to come flowing out of my mouth, but still I could not verbalize a single syllable. It felt like a scene out of the “Little Mermaid” where the evil octopus Ursula stole Ariel’s voice box. Though I was not in a Disney movie and I did not foresee the reason that an “octopus” would need my precious voice box, I still felt that someone took my voice! Again, I attempted to speak, but like before nothing – I could not even get a single yelp out! 
In the mist of defeat, I sat down, placed my head in my hands, and had begun to think “What would MacGyver do in this situation?” In strange circumstances like this a bobby pin would have worked wonders! My handy yoga skills that I learned a few months ago while working with Whitney on the Texas Horizon definitely came in good use – “New Friendships Created; Reuniting Old Ones!” Once I controlled my breathing techniques, I was able to assemble my thoughts together and I thought of better solutions on how to get out of this ridiculous, yet crazy situation. I wiped the sweat off my eyebrow and put all my strength to unlock the door and regrettably still no luck! I paid attention to someone’s footprints outside the door walking down the hall. Thankfully I managed to utter a form of mumble jumbled words to get his attention. I noticed a small vent underneath the door that I opened to get some of the steam to elevate out of the restroom; I was tempted to kick the vent out with my shower shoe to help me get out of this claustrophobic room. All of a sudden the door knob started turning on its own! I overheard someone on the other side grunting to open up the door – hey genius, the door is locked not stuck! I remembered that I yelled through the door and asked the guy what I should do? Noises seemed to bounce back at me, but I could not make out what was being said. Can you believe 20 minutes had passed and I was still in this ridiculously uncomfortable room? 
After realizing that I was in this mess way past the time that I had anticipated, I grasped my razor to assess the situation. I utilized the end hard part of the razor to smash it into the jammed lock. I must have hit it pretty hard, because immediately I heard a “click!” Quickly I struggled with the lock a few more times before pushing the lock counterclockwise with all of my power. After what seemed like a lifetime, it opened! I threw myself out the door and all the stream followed me like it was happy to be released! The American ab, Ryan, stood directly in front of me with a crooked grin and knew better not to ask what presently took place. He chuckled, “Oh yes, I forgot to mention that we do not lock the door leading into the shower mainly because we do not want to get stuck!” Really, he told me this now! Grrrr! 
As I strolled back to my room relieved to see the outside world, I promptly changed to head to the bridge to introduce myself to the Captain. Due to the ability that I can drink numerous glasses of water, I wanted to use the restroom fast – I was not ready for another adventure just yet! I progressed to the restrooms that were located next to the evil shower and walked into the one positioned on the right side of the boat. Suddenly, as I closed the door I contemplated to lock it. Bottom line, I did not want to encounter any awkward situations with a gentleman walking in on me – this blonde decided to lock the door (you know you would too!). The restroom was preposterously tiny and if I was claustrophobic I would have had major breathing problems! 
As I leaned over to unlock the restroom door, the bugger was stuck! I thought to myself, “You have to be kidding me! Not AGAIN!” I recognized a large stick sitting next to the door and instantaneously grabbed it to resolve this uncanny circumstance. At that moment, I seized the stick and took my Louisville slugger swing to smash straight into the lock! Honestly, I think I broke the lock after that, but it released and I was able to open the door! I scurried out the door and raced down the hall – déjà vu! Ironically in the mist of running down the hall, Ryan positioned himself in front of me as I was hurrying up the bridge steps and asked me what just had happened. His crooked smile was a dead giveaway; he totally knew what just had occurred! This time before he could utter a word, I expressed frustrated, “There is no way on this boat that I am ever locking another door! If you see the door is closed, knock before you come in!” Satisfied with my statement I marched up the steps and on my next quest to find the Captain. I met Captain John and would you believe the first thing he emphasized before he introduced himself was, “Do not lock any doors on this boat for obvious reasons!” Seriously, you wait to tell me now! From that moment on I did not lock any doors on the boat and sometimes when I am on other projects I debate to lock those doors. I still remember this incident like it was yesterday! Least, it made a good story! ;)
Yoga breathing techniques:

The first rule for correct breathing is that we should breathe through the nose. Breath is life – it is one of our most vital functions. Yogis recognize this importance through the Pranayama or Breathing Exercises which is one of the Five Principles of Yoga. They have formulated different Beginner and Advanced Breathing Techniques to help you breathe easier and enjoy a healthier and purer life.
The word Pranayama consists of two parts: Prana and Ayama. Ayama means stretch, extension, expansion, length, breath, regulation, prolongation, restraint and control, describing the action of Pranayama. Prana is energy, the self-energizing force that embraces the body. Pranayama is when this self-energizing force embraces the body with extension, expansion and control. It is the science of breath control, which consist a series of exercises intended to meet these needs and to keep the body in vibrant health. Proper Breathing in a Yogic point of view is to bring more oxygen to the blood and to the brain, and to control prana or the vital life energy.
My Favorite Stage of Breathing Yoga:

Rechaka (Exhalation) – The third stage, Exhalation, is called Rechaka. Like inhalation, it too should be smooth and continuous, though often the speed of exhaling is different from that of inhaling. Normally, muscular energy is used for inhaling whereas exhaling consists merely of relaxing the tensed muscles. Such relaxing forces air from the lungs as they return to a relaxed condition. Muscular effort may also be used for both inhalation and exhalation. You can force air out with muscular effort like when you sit or stand erect with your abdominal muscles under constant control. When you deliberately smooth the course of your breathing and hold the cycle in regular or definitely irregular patterns, you are also likely to use muscular energy at each stage, including the pauses. However, in a condition of complete relaxation, you should expect to exert some effort for inhalation.