Francis Meyrick

Moggy’s Tunaboat Helicopter Manual Ch.5-4 “Packing your Bags “

Posted on February 6, 2015

Moggy’s Tunaboat Helicopter Manual

Ch.5-4 2/2/2015

“Packing your bags for the Tuna Fields”

A cheerful morning ramble to include some simple thoughts on “Packing your bags for the Tuna Fields”

1) Moggy’s Muddlings
2) Human Relations
3) Mindset, and middle digits
4) “instant walls”

1) Moggy’s Muddlings

It’s a quiet early morning here on the lake shores of Toledo Bend, Texas.
Yummy. Yawn. Another awesome day. A chance to cause chaos and confusion, chin-wag with interesting total strangers, tick off the Haughty Ones, especially the many self-elevated Sky Gods, scribble more outrageous Moggy Bloggings, and pollute Polite Society. Stir the… brain porridge.
Poor old Cyberspace. Wide open, sunlit fields. Unlimited potential for Light. Littered. With trash.
As I look out the window over the distant waters, soft music plays quietly in the background. The sun is still a good half hour away, and I see just the first few playful rays, probing the silent, dark, terminally confused world of Moggy.
Errr… The confused world of MAN, I meant. I shiver, sipping a hot coffee. Nonetheless, I am eager to get going.

Another Moggy on the roll…?

I have recently enjoyed another bunch of interesting emails from some MTM and ‘Chopperstories’ readers, and that’s always fun. I really enjoy you guys enjoying the mad ramblings. ‘Cos I enjoy rambling on. And on. Keep the emails coming. It’s a good stimulus. Writers get lazy sometimes. As for low-life bloggers like me, the head-shaking scum of the earth… if they’re not scraping foot rests on big old motorcycles, they’re off somewhere yapping away enjoyably with total strangers. Those bums definitely need a kick up the derriere to return to the tortured coffee-stained keyboard…
I have this funky thought funkey-ing and composting in my mind, you see. It’s like an itch. A cerebral rash, that won’t go away until the laptop is opened, the lights glow on, the two fingers start excitedly tapping, the coffee starts working, and a theme starts roughly taking shape in my well abused brain cortex. Frontal lobe. Anterior scribble area. Heck, I don’t know where it all starts. Just an urge to blog something out of my head. A hunger to wander the hills of Ireland. And watch the sun come up. And listen to the silence. Savor it.

You can do that as a blogger, you see. You can go everywhere and anywhere you like, in your (tiny) little mind. You can float back, in almost a meditative trance, to a rocky cliff top on the West coast of Old Ireland, and see the ferns blowing in the Atlantic breeze, the rain dumping incessantly on the distant Blasket Islands. You can feel the gale force wind tugging at your wet anorak. You can hear the seagulls, and the dark, deep, thundering roar of waves obliterating themselves against the headland. You can still see that little bird, that brave little heart, that you described in one of your favorite stories, struggling against overwhelming odds, across storm tossed waters, to come ashore. Or, if the fancy takes you, you can go back to the Tuna Fields, and still see the far distant horizon. You can still fly a slow circle, at two thousand feet, in your beloved Hughes 500 ‘C’ model, and realize you are alone. Totally… alone. Not a boat, island, oil platform, or a soul in sight. Only Ocean. And Sun. Light. Adventure. Searching. Ah! For what…?
And you can also reflect back on the personalities you met. Some are dead now. Long dead. You can still hear, and see, kindness mixing it with harshness. Respect duking it out with contempt. Arrogance and condescension. Futile exercises in outreach, where the effort to establish a human bond was -hopelessly- stillborn. A waste of time. Contempt. Only contempt. You know you are wasting your time. Pity. Another failure in the matrix of human compassion. A stitch gone wrong in the fabric of kindness. Go back nine, Moggy.
Oh, well…
I enjoy, in a very simple way, the fact that some people enjoy my scribbles. I don’t think it’s vanity. I just have these two regular readers, (Lucy joined a Convent – pity) (I’m on the blacklist in the nuns’ library) (that debauched love session on the Sugarloaf, I believe) and I just get a big reward from their enjoyment. I get some super nice emails, and even (hard to believe) requests for more of the Moggy Musings. Editor Lyn Burk (of ‘Just Helicopters’ and ‘Rotorcraft Pro’ fame) recently asked me to write for his website. If you go to the ‘Just Helicopters’ opening page, and look top right, you will see “Blog”, and if you venture there, you’ll see more of what Lyn and Lynette decided would be called…

“Moggy’s Musings”.

Not my idea. But I admit I laughed out loud when I saw it. My first mischievous thought was that, perhaps…

“Moggy’s Muddlings”

…would have been a better title, myself. Anyway, so far there are six stories up there, which is kinda cool, and I found myself staring in amazement at a Just Helicopters check for $500 the other day. Must have been a mistake. Maybe it’s a contribution towards Psychiatric Remedial Therapy. A gentle hint I should go see a white coated Quack, and quit barking at black cats in public, or sumthin’. Well, heck, piffle and blarney, I spent it on motorcycle tires, so there! Tough titty. I’d scrubbed the last pair to hell and back (Honda VTX1300R) (Black, baby, black…) (Vance and Hines exhausts… yummy!) and I was urgently due for a new pair of rubbers. No, tires. (Not those rubbers, dammit.) (you have a scruffy mind…) Oh, maybe the next check he sends could buy new footrests. I’ve scraped them to hell and back, as well. Taking 45 mph curves at 95 tends to do that.

2) Human Relations

I sip more coffee, and I find I’m grinning. Must be a sign of incipient senile decay, but I derive quiet amusement from all sorts of things. People, the world, politicians, myself. Oh, and Hillary-come-worship-at-my-feet-Clinton. Not to mention Barack-I’m-so-full-of-it-Oh-BAAAAHHH-MA. Constant entertainment. How serious people can take themselves. The pathological need for applause. Adulation. Same-same from noisy ‘Tuna Head’ bars in the back streets of Honiara, to the hallowed (maybe) corridors of Power in Washington. Big Ego needs mucho stroking. When a mite of humility might just be a blessing. The admission that maybe, just maybe, we DON’T, as the Scots say, “ken it all”. We may in fact, “ken” very little.
Incoming emails. Some super nice emails. This time from some young guys in New Zealand. One from Panama. For some reason, I have a lot of derelict, psychopathically unstable, readers in New Zealand. Well, they read my stuff, don’t they? What does that say about their I.Q.? (Tisk, tisk.) But I enjoy it. That’s the reward, you see. People enjoying the scribbles. The Moggy Muddlings. That’s the bit I like. Make people smile. Chuckle. That’s the real reward. Being published one day… nice maybe, but peripheral. Getting a check for $500… nice, but not motivational. Then again, a Harley Road King would be… now, now. That would be extravagant. Dream on. Not gonna happen. Not even a white one. With a Mustang seat. And Air Horns. Unless Harley Davidson would lend me one, in return for Bloggings? And fund me a ride to Peru? Go visit the Incas? Eh?
Seriously, Mogster. You’re wandering. Playing. Get with it. There IS a theme here.
I know…

A Timeless Expression of…?

Okay, seriously now. (kind of…)

3) Mindset

People have often asked me this question:
“what should I take with me on my first Tuna Helicopter flying job?”
I have had that question asked dozens of times. I’ve never properly addressed it. Recently I had two super nice emails from two young Kiwis, days apart, and it seemed time to try and deal with that question. So let me try and give that recurrent question my best shot.
*** Long life milk (you can store outside a fridge). Lots of.
*** Cereals. (hard to buy in many ports)
*** Books. Lotsa books. Buddhist poetry. Moggy’s Muddlings. (Oh, maybe not…)
***Helmet. Definitely. I wore one. Loved it. Expensive. Employers should provide, (my current one does, flying EMS here in Texas) but the Tuna Cotton Mill Operatives worship only the buck, not your safety. So they don’t. And remember, don’t read “Moggy’s Tuna Manual”. Or admit to it. It’s frowned upon. Makes some of ’em spit blood. Hits too close to the bone, maybe?
Just remember one thing: A buddy of mine will tell you from experience (he crashed and rolled over) that the helmet can kill you. If you try and egress, and your forget your headset, chances are it will fall/slide off. If you try an emergency underwater egress, and you FORGET to unplug your HELMET CABLE, I guarantee you will discover Religion very quickly. That attached helmet cable damn near drowned him. Until he figured out what was going on. I am one hundred and ten per cent positive that forgotten helmet cables HAVE caused pilot drownings. Another reason for a “Spare Air” scuba bottle. Sure, “they” can call you a cissy. Yo! I’d rather be a live cissy, than a dead hero. A live chicken, than a dead duck. I can tell you about lots and lots of dead heroes. Including ones who had previously mocked me in backstreet ‘Tuna Head’ bars for trying to tell ’em they were gonna get hurt.
“Ah, Moggy, you’re getting too old for this shit. You need to retire, man!” (loud, drunken laughter in the bar, from his noisy cohorts) (tough men) (bullet proof) (shark proof) (stupid).
Moggy shrugged…
(circular mental ‘middle digit’ wafts in the air… upwards motion…)
(Guess what? Uh-huh. Twenty plus years later, Moggy el Chicken Cissy rides on. Flies on. Still breathing…) (and talking) (and scraping foot rests). Lock up your daughters!
***Life jacket. I would play it safe. Take my own. New, serviced, good shape. I’ve seen “life jackets” provided that I wouldn’t trust a Pot Bellied Pig to be safe in, sleeping, riding a flat bottomed canoe. On my local pond. With the ducks.
***Scuba Spare Air bottle. Provided: you do at least a basic Open water Scuba certification, so you KNOW in a panic even, you WILL use the blessed thing. You can get yourself hurt bad trying to use a scuba bottle without training. Mess up your lungs if you don’t know how to exhale during the ascent.
***personal ELT, as cheap as they are today, I think should be provided by the employer. They don’t. In true, cynical fashion, one of my readers (who took one) was treated like he was an idiot, when he asked for his ship’s telephone number. (so an ELT alert would be communicated to his ship, including Lat and Long of downed pilot & crew) They wouldn’t give it to him. They said, haughtily and condescendingly: “What’s your problem? Nobody wears an ELT!! The boat knows where you are!!”
“You must have been reading Moggy’s Bullshit!”
No, they often don’t. They don’t have a clue. Even if they have (in theory) the technology on the bridge, in theory, in practice it might be the junior-junior guy on duty, who hardly speaks English and who is petrified to touch too many buttons. El Capitano is sleeping in his cabin. And Junior sure as hell doesn’t want to make the Monster up! You can MAYDAY-MAYDAY-MAYDAY all you like, he’s gonna think you’re singing an Aussie beer drinking ditty. And if you are 50 to 60 miles away, the boat is at least five hours plus hard running away. In rough seas, a lot more. If you are in the water, in that time you will have drifted for miles and miles. And miles. No worries, the sharks will keep you in company.
Get my “drift”???
(I know, terrible joke)
But in true tradition of worshiping the Mighty Buck, and to hell with these expendable sub-contractor pilots, some employers basically don’t give a rat’s. (“Next!!”) They might be all charming on the outside, until you sign up, but underneath… it’s all about the Mighty Dollar.
(“You must have been reading Moggy’s Bullshit!”)
All the above is good stuff to pack in your bags, and, understandably, that’s the sort of stuff newbie sprat Anchovy Heads tend to focus on.
But, Amigo. But. Most importantly… You know what I would pack? Seriously? In gallons, pounds, and Hecto-Pascals?
*** Mindset.
And, definitely…
Yep, “mindset.”
What do I mean by that?
What you take in terms of equipment is something you will pick up as you go along. Not a huge biggie. I would be thrilled if you told me you had taken the trouble to read Moggy’s Tunaboat Helicopter Manual” (MTM), and maybe “Blip on the Radar”, and even more happy if I knew you thought it interesting. It can’t all be wrong, and there might even be a flicker of light in there, eh? (Just keep it quiet. Don’t advertise the fact you’ve ‘read Moggy’. The Sky Gods, the Loud Ones, they don’t like competition/criticism approaching their holy self-elevated altar, you know. Just pretend to worship at their holy tabernacle…

“When I grow up as a pilot, can I be as haughty and condescending as you, Sir? “

…and then do your own quiet -cautious- decision making.)
But the most important thing?
You see, flying helicopters in general, to include flying ’em off tuna boats, or being a mechanic on a tuna boat, is like a cup of tea. A Thinking Man’s Game. Or, served in a rice bowl, it’s like a bowl of tea. It’s all in how you make it.
I’m always -really- disappointed when I read in emails (I’m how certain people in certain places habitually dish out this type of admonition:

“They’re all a bunch of monkeys, basically. The Chinese, the Koreans, the Philippinos, the Indonesians, they are useless piles of crap. The quicker you realize that they are sub-human, ignorant, and totally stupid, the better it will be for you. Just go out there, make the money, don’t take any shit of anybody, stand your ground, and you’ll be alright…”

Wow. People say that? Yes, people say that. A lot. Or imply it, with their actions. It’s common. I know a “Chief Pilot” who habitually hands out that deep and meaningful philosophical learning. Do people ACT on that advice/ take that seriously? Yes, impressionable people act on that advice, and take it seriously. All the time. It’s not good…
Whole libraries have been written about psychology, human relations, the dynamics of personality and group leadership. It would be presumptuous for me to portray myself in any way as an expert. I’m barely competent to stand trial in the appeal court in Heaven, never mind wax forth knowledgeably about… a bunch of monkeys. Nonetheless, with apologies in advance, let me try and suggest a ***mindset*** for you to take with you, if you are a “First tripper”, or a sprat “Anchovy Head”…

4) “Instant Walls”

People are… people. Humans are… well, human. What you are confronted with, very often, is a legacy of past experiences, trials and tribulations, carried forward to today. The man you meet may be carrying many monkeys on his shoulders. He may be… awesomely biased.
Time and time again in Life, including my five years on tuna boats, I have encountered “instant walls”.
Borderline, instant “hostility”. It’s called, technically, “prejudice”. But no mind, how does it manifest itself? Well, here’s an example. I had learned one of the first of many hundreds of Chinese words, and it was “Hello!”. “Nee-how”, if I remember correctly. So, I was on my first boat, causing unintentional chaos, (something to do with a refuse barrel) and this assistant engineer wore this permanent scowl. Boy, can these Chinese scowl! They must invest a lot of muscle effort. Smiling takes a whole lot less muscle power, they say. This guy was ALWAYS pissed orf with everything and everybody. Most of the crew that I would greet with my elementary Chinese would smile, and reply.
“Moggy! Hello! Nee-how!”
Hey, now we’re buddies. They would learn some more English. I would learn some more Chinese. Frickin’ hilarious. Endless stories. We got along like a house on fire. Lots of joking. But the second engineer? He wanted none of it. Scowl. Scowl. Scowl. I kept trying. I was always pleasant. The later incident in the toilets, truthfully described elsewhere, was terrible unfortunate, but totally accidental.
“Hello!”, I would say, as I passed Number two Engineer.
Scowl. Silence.
I would look at the bystanders, quizzically. They would look at me. I don’t think they liked him much either. I would try again, eyebrows raised, questioningly.
“Hello…?” “Nee-how…?”
Scowl. Silence.
Titters of amusement from the other crew. Slight helpless shrug of shoulders from Moggy. Hey, I’m trying!
But what does that communicate to the others? Humanity. Just trying to be pleasant. Not taking offense. Light heartedness.
Who knows… what a guy like that has been through? Sure, he may be a certifiable ass-hole, with no hope or redeeming qualities. There are plenty of those about. Plenty. But he may also be a guy who is carrying a whole bunch of monkeys around on his shoulders. You just don’t know.
I talk to everybody. At Fourchon base, in Louisiana, some poor fellow came in to clean the toilets. Older gentleman. Seventy years old. New hand. He -shyly- had to ask us pilots where said toilets were. I picked up on a French accent. “Parlez-vous Francais?” I asked. His face lit up. Beaming. Two hours later, after a fascinating and animated (much arm waving) conversation in French (he told me how they had lived in the last settlement on a barrier island, before rising sea level and a hurricane forced them to abandon their old way of life) the old boy had to excuse himself. He had some toilets to clean. Those messy pilots are lousy shots. “Sure!”, I said, having really enjoyed myself. I went back to my book. Some of my fellow pilots spoke up.

“We were just saying amongst ourselves… you are the ONLY guy we know who can have an animated two hour conversation with the guy who is trying to clean the toilets!”

There was a strong hint of disapproval. Maybe I was talking below my presumed status…
I laughed. “Don’t be like that! The guy was fascinating…!” And I proceeded to translate some of the old boy’s life story.
Dazed looks. Head shaking. Amusement.
I talk to everybody. Everybody has a story. I intensely enjoy solitude. A quiet morning, with the early sun beginning to sneak in over the Sabine National Forest tree tops. And I intensely enjoy conversation. Crowded places, like crowded bars, I hate. I go quiet. Too much talking. Not enough listening. Everybody focused on holding forth, strutting, expressing themselves, making out how good and knowledgeable and brilliant they are. Twenty four pilots in a bar, and twenty-three of them talking, loudly, all at the same time…?? Is anybody l-i-s-t-e-n-i-n-g? Not my cup of tea. I like to talk, and I like to listen… to people, or the wind, sighing through the pines.
Caution: People pick up on your mindset. If you hold people in contempt in your mind, try as you might, you can’t hide it. People will know. And why should you? Who are you? Really? Better? Are you sure?

I was flying in Africa. We had local -National- Pilots, who flew as First Officers. American Captains. Oh, and one dysfunctional Irishman. Some of the American Captains were great. A few were highly condescending towards the locals, and they didn’t bother to hide it. It led to animosity and entrenched. Put it this way, if your last name is “Semen” and your nickname is “Steaming”, it might just be a hint that not everybody loves you? A hint? Not that Universal Love is ever achievable. You’ll always tick somebody off. But we oughta try? It took me a while. When you first walk over to a bench which is an entirely occupied by a sea of black faces, scowling darkly, and you say “Hi!” and plonk your butt down, and start yapping as if it’s all in a day’s routine normality… well, it raises eyebrows. Conversation is strained, superficial, polite. They wish you would go away. But if you persist, chat-chatting away, after a few weeks, it’s a normality. “Here comes Moggy!”. “Got any spare ear plugs?”
Thus we soon got along like a house on fire. I speak French, (and German) (and Dutch) (and American) (and Moggy-bullshit, apparently) and we could gab away in a language not understood by my fellow pilots, and pass irreverent jokes about John Wayne and ‘pregger’ American Hamburger bellies. As they strutted (or waggled) past, nose in the air, looking slightly ridiculous, not paying us low-life giggling dudes any attention. In juvenile fashion, we passed off really crude jokes, falling around laughing.
There came a day we had a conversation, that mimicked, almost word for word, conversations I had been part of elsewhere in the world. Including, on tuna boats.
“Ah, Moggy!” (smiles)
“What’s up, you funky AAAAAh-freak-AAAAh guys?”
“Ah, Moggy, sit down!”
And I would sit down, and we would banter, and Bee Ess, and pass around the latest gossip. Then:
“Moggy, you okay! We like you! Some American pilot we not like. But you, crazy Irish man, you okay!”
“Well, that’s good. I like you too! Will you lend me fifty dollar?”
“Fuck off, Moggy!”
“See? See? See how you are…?”
Etcetera, etcetera.
Mother Nature -all Our Mother – is awesomely beautiful. We, her children, should revere her, and respect her many children. They come from widely different backgrounds, cultures, and are blessed with all kinds of gifts, talents, and varying degrees of tolerance and compassion. Some are more heavily burdened than others with hatred, bitterness, contempt, pride, prejudice, or a cruel and predatory outlook on their fellow creatures.
(photo of blue earth)
Now the trick is to tell ’em apart. One day, when I’ve figured that one out, I’ll let you know the technique. Uh-huh…
The most important item to pack for your first trip on a Tuna Boat? Seriously?
***Mindset***. Open mind. Speak softly. Be slow to judge. Reach out.

“They’re all a bunch of monkeys, basically. The Chinese, the Koreans, the Philippinos, the Indonesians, they are useless piles of crap. The quicker you realize that they are sub-human, ignorant, and totally stupid, the better it will be for you. Just go out there, make the money, don’t take any shit of anybody, stand your ground, and you’ll be alright…”

The “Chief Pilot” who is famous for regularly imparting that advice to his new recruits…
…and (some) of his obsequiously loyal (loud) suck-up devotee lootenants in the Tuna Fields…
I pity their hearts’ blindness.
That speaks of a stunning poverty of the spirit.
* * * * *

In Conclusion:
Adventure calls! All sorts of funky people out there. If you like to laugh? Go explore the world, fly helicopters off Tuna Boats, keep the spinny side up, meet strange people, see strange places.
Respect your fellow Man. Respect Nature. Nature is “All Our Mother”. Threatened and fragile. But, oh, so beautiful. Write Your Own Life’s Manual.
If you are well educated (many Tuna Heads are!), don’t look down or sneer at those less fortunate.
If you are poorly educated, and have maybe suffered grievous humiliation in the past on account of that fact, don’t therefore carry forward a chip on your shoulder. Trust me, (and lend me fifty bucks?), the world is full of academic morons and intellectual imbeciles. Give me the good hearted ditch digger, the cheerful truck driver, the conscientious toilet cleaner, for company on a castaway desert island. Keep your brilliant (but cynical) walking Brain Box. How many times have you met people who are academically and intellectually brilliant, emotionally immature, and spiritually DEAD…?

To any new Tuna Pilot, to any new sprat “Anchovy Head”, I would say, simply:
“Awesome! Be careful! Remember that little amber caution light! Rock on, laddie! Take an open mind! Crank up the volume! Never quit…”
“Drop me an email, and let me know how it works out!”
Fly Safe & Peace.


Last edited by Francis Meyrick on February 15, 2015, 11:28 am

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