Among the Big Ships

Even if you have never stepped foot onboard a boat and have no desire ever to do so, I sincerely hope that through this blog, “Among the Big Ships,” you will find the inspiration to be a better person, leader and in turn, become more successful in life and business.

I struggle to figure out how I arrived at this point in my life. I come from a broken home where I endured unimaginable abuse as a child at the hands of my stepmother, Janice Martin.

My parents, Water William and Patricia Ann Tuennerman divorced as I was entering elementary school. Not long after, my father remarried. A few years later my father was diagnosed with cancer and soon after, succumbed to this horrible disease. The following year, my biological mother committed suicide. At the age of twelve, I found myself isolated from my extended family and subjected to almost daily brutality at the hands of my guardian and stepmother.

To escape my situation, I joined the United States Navy at the age of seventeen and reported for boot camp even before receiving my diploma from Christiansburg High School, in Christiansburg, Virginia.

Today, I reside in New Orleans, Louisiana with my wife Ann and our two dogs, Delta and Skipper, following the sale of my ownership interests in one of the fastest growing “QSR Plus” concepts in the United States.

While I evaluate the next chapter in my career, I want to take advantage of this time and share a bit about my journey. I have elected to be vulnerable and bare details that are unknown to many, including my wife, to provide hope and inspiration to others.

I am a firm believer in being involved in one’s community and that offering a helping hand to others is an obligation we all carry. “Among the Big Ships” and the telling of my story is meant to do just that; offer inspiration to others, regardless of your path through life, and to let those who are lost at sea know, that there is hope.

Why “Among the Big Ships”

I still remember the very first time I entered a Shipping Channel at the helm of the Sailing Vessel “Mr. Cocktail.

The Houston Shipping Channel is the second busiest seaport in the United States, thirteenth in the World, connecting the Port of Houston with the Gulf of Mexico. More than 8,000 Shipping Vessels and over 200,000 Barges navigate these waters, annually. It is 530 feet wide, stretches for 50 miles and has an average depth of 45 feet.

Now consider that the typical Container Ship is over 1,000 feet long, 106 feet wide, is 130 feet from the Bridge to the Waterline, and travels at 25 Knots. The margin of error is virtually nonexistent. The wake cast-off by one of these Container Ships is measured in the tens of feet.

While I had the benefit of daylight when I first entered the Channel, it is difficult to describe the fear one feels the first time they encounter one of these goliaths. Sailing, under the best of conditions, requires focus and attention. Nothing will make you feel more insignificant than to have a Container Ship pass you, at 25 Knots, yards off the port side. To find yourself among these Shipping Vessels as they traverse the Shipping Channel will leave you awestruck. To have anything less than the utmost respect for these ships, their crews, and the skills it takes to navigate these waters is foolish. It is easy to feel as though you do not belong, or you are out-matched.

Feeling out of place, be it underway, in social settings, or in the boardroom is not a new feeling for me; I am quite comfortable in that “skin.” The parallels are uncanny and most appropriate for this blog, “Among the Big Ships.

[If you want to know more about me, my life, and accomplishments, check out my personal website at PaulTuennerman.com]

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