Hoping Not to Meet Harvey

I’m heading out to work early in the morning. I have a 2 AM wakeup call so I can meet the bus that will get us to the dock by 5 AM. That’s where we’ll hop on the crew boat to take us out to the rig I’ll be working on for the next 6 weeks.

I was so excited to finally be going back offshore for a halfway decent hitch. Six weeks sailing as DPO will do wonders for my mindset (and my bank account). All was going well (with just a few minor annoyances) until I happened to hear about Harvey.

At the moment, it’s just a tropical depression. Hanging out just to the North of the Yucatan Peninsula. Predictions are for it to strengthen over the next couple of days. Even becoming a hurricane by landfall (Friday).

Of course, no one can ever predict what a tropical storm or hurricane will do with 100% certainty, but it has me worried about my property. I’m even a little skittish about my own self going out to join this vessel that I really have no idea about.

I’ve never sailed on anything like it before. For one thing, it’s round. Here’s a picture I got off the internet.

But it is a semisubmersible dynamically positioned drilling rig and I’ve worked on plenty of those. I hope the ballast system isn’t as convoluted as the last one I worked on. 🙁

I assume it’s much bigger than it looks in that photo. According to the specs, she’s 100 m  diameter. Built in 2013, so shouldn’t be in too bad of shape (unless she’s been stacked for a while). I haven’t found anything yet about her contract status. Hopefully they found a decent contract and she’ll be working for a while.

It’s been way too long of a dry spell for so many of us out here. Let’s hope things are finally starting to turn around. 🙂

If you don’t hear from me in a while, it’s just because I might not have much internet access or time at work to get online. I’ll be back when I can. Hope you’ll stick around. 🙂

Maritime Monday for April 17th 2017: Big White Cloud

In between trying to keep up with the #AtoZChallenge, I still managed to read the weekly post from Monkey Fist. There’s always such interesting stuff in there. My favorite articles this week (other than the stuff on John Cale- who has long been a favorite of mine) was the stuff about the weather. I also really liked the photographs. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did…

Since leaving the band in 1968, he has released approximately 30 albums. Of his solo work, Cale is perhaps best known for his album Paris 1919, and his cover version of Leonard Cohen‘s “Hallelujah“. Cale was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Velvet Underground in 1996, and […]

Source: Maritime Monday for April 17th, 2017: Big White Cloud – gCaptain

Flower of the Day: March 6th 2017

Since I’m not sure which flower Cee is picking for her flower of the day today (I see some tulips and daffodils and maybe a lily), I am posting a favorite photo I took a while back. These are tulips.

The flowers in my yard don’t look this pretty. At the moment, they are just starting to bloom. I have citrus trees, narcissus, miniature roses, mums, petunias, clematis, lilies, and a few others. The ones that grow best are the weeds (clematis vines cover everything)!

I was going to work in the yard this weekend and start planting. I have grapes, raspberries, pomegranate and lots of flowers to plant. It’s been raining all weekend and so I’m waiting for things to dry out. I think that’s what killed so many of my plants last year. It rained so much right after I planted them. I hope we don’t have floods like we did last year again (supposedly a 500 year flood), but the forecast is calling for rain all week and there are flood warnings out for the rivers again already. 🙁

Buzcador Goes to Sea

We finally made it to sea!

It only took us about a day extra to meander our way out through the Louisiana bayous. Instead of heading straight out down the Atchafalaya River like we planned, we had to backtrack to find a way out where we wouldn’t keep running aground.

#AHTS #Buzcador underway in #Atchafalaya River

We headed back up the Atchafalaya, passed through Bayou Chene, took the ICW to the Houma Navigation Canal and made it to the sea buoy at Cat Island Pass around 2200 our second day of the voyage.

We scrambled back aboard the Buzcador at the buoy and thanked our trusty tugs Ms Edmay and Mr Nicolas. We finally got underway under our own power for the first time. It was a beautiful night as we made our way through the offshore oilfields, heading almost due South. The stars were bright, the seas were calm and we were making decent time. Nights like that are why I’m always ready to go sailing again. 🙂

The night sky is so awesome far out to sea! There’s really nothing to compare.

I don’t know why I was expecting to see more traffic. Shipping has been dead– at least in the Gulf of Mexico- where so much shipping is related to oil. Since the price of oil dropped like a rock- from over $100 to mid $20’s- a year ago. Hundreds of Gulf boats have been stacked. It happened too quickly for any reaction but huge layoffs. I’ve heard there’ve been more than a half million people laid off in the oil fields already (and still nothing but bad news).

Even passing through the Yucatan Channel and further South, we saw very few ships. With the opening of the new Panama Canal, I expected to see lots of big container ships passing by. I thought we’d see tons of local freighters and fishing boats once we got past Cuba and into the Caribbean Sea. But I never saw much of anything till the approach to Cartagena. Even then, traffic was very light compared to normal.

#chart showing progress of the #AHTS #Buzcador

We spent a full 10 days underway- more than twice as long as expected. We had some problems with the ship. Nothing really unexpected. The Buzcador had been cold stacked for years before we were brought aboard. Mechanics had been working frantically for weeks to get everything done so we could deliver her to her new owners.

Nothing was done that didn’t ‘need’ to be done. IMHO we were cutting it close, but after 9+ months without a real job, I was ready to take a few chances in order to earn a decent paycheck. Sure, I was happy as hell to get an AB job! A captains license doesn’t mean shit when you can’t find a boat!

Our engines worked fine for the first day or so. After that, we had to baby them a bit. The port shaft bearing was overheating and the starboard generator had problems with the oil pressure. We cut our RPMs down and made about 6 knots (close to half speed). The weather didn’t help much either.

It started kicking up before we reached Cuba and never let up. The mainmast shook so bad when we hit a heavy sea, we wondered when it was going to come crashing through the wheelhouse on us. Part of it had already fallen off when the other AB went up to change the masthead light before we left.

#mainmast of the #AHTS #Buzcador

mainmast with #backscratcher hanging off

We sprung a couple of leaks around the ship and occasionally more pieces would fall off. Most of the outside lights around the house were falling off and full of water. Good thing we didn’t need to turn them on. 😉

The AC system for the house leaked. It got so bad that I would scoop up the water with a dust pan every time I went by. A couple of days like that and it got worse all the sudden. The whole room was awash. We were dumping 4-5 5 gallon buckets every couple of hours! Marvin the OS (ordinary seaman) finally got a chance to take a look at it and sent the water somewhere other than inside the AC room.

The pictures don’t look so bad, but we had over 8′ seas for most of the trip, over 10′ for a day or 2. We were bouncing around like a cork (which didn’t help our speed either). The weather was squally most of the way and pretty much overcast after the first couple of days. I never really got to see the stars again once the moon grew full.

sun breaking out behind the clouds on a rough day at sea

It was getting to the point where we were starting to worry about our food, fuel, water supplies. This entire trip was only supposed to take about 6 days (I wound up spending 21 days aboard). We were also worried about catching our flights home.

‘Starvin’ Marvin’ and Noel the mate, had a fishing line out. Marvin cooked us up a couple of nice fish dinners. We had a dorado (dolphin/mahi-mahi) one night, a tuna the next, and a barracuda one day that no one would eat but him.

We actually did just fine. We didn’t run out of much of anything (just laundry soap and jelly -for the PBJ’s). We had plenty of beans and rice every day thanks to Marvin. I helped cook a couple of times and so did the Chief Engineer ‘Middle Aged Mutant Ninja Turtle’. (Captain Todd gave us all nicknames within a couple of days- I was ‘Jilligan’- like from Gilligans Island). 🙂

#ships crew, #engineers

Sing-Sing, Chief Middle Aged Mutant Ninja Turtle & Starvin’ Marvin

We were able to increase our speed after a couple of days. The engine crew was sure busy that trip! Chief Engineer (Ninja Turtle), client rep (Colombia) and oiler (Sing-Sing) spent most of their time down in the super hot and noisy engine room, trying to keep us going.

Kudos to them for working so hard! It seems there was always something going on down there. I’d make my rounds at night, go down there to check up on them and they were always in the engine room, checking the bilges, checking the bearings, checking the temperatures and pressures. Always having to fix something.

#night sky at #sea, #full moon

I spent most of my time up at night, as lookout. I was night AB (able body seaman). I worked from 1800-0600 every night once we got underway. Sid the Sloth was the day AB, he relieved me in the mornings (below right).

 

It was actually a nice change. Capt Todd (above left) was on from 1000-2200 and Noel the mate was on from 2200-1000 (tho it seemed he never slept and was always on the bridge). Between rounds I would talk to them about previous ships, ports and people we’d worked with. Telling sea stories is another favorite activity of mine. 😉

Since this was just a delivery job, we weren’t really concerned with all the usual things we’d be doing to take care of the ship. For instance, as AB, normally I’d be spending all day chipping and painting, cleaning and greasing, etc. This time, I spent almost all of my time as lookout on the bridge. I tried to help in the galley when I got a chance, cooked a couple of times, and cleaned up the house when it got too bad.

Still, we were glad to reach Colombia. I went to bed before we got the pilot, when I woke up, we were all fast in Cartagena.

More later.

 

More Rainy Days

What is it with the rain? It rained ALL weekend last weekend. Does it somehow know when we’re all off work and looking forward to some time outside in the sun?

It’s been raining ALL day today. I heard some super loud thunder this morning, it even woke me up! I thought the tree was going to fall on the house again!! I heard on the news we even had tornados. There has been some pretty bad flooding around the area. It looks like it might rain tomorrow too. 🙁

Another weekend ruined! I didn’t even get 1 trick-or-treater tonight. 🙁

I did see one neighbor still carving pumpkins in his spookily decorated garage. He tried to scare me with his flying ghosts as I took my walk this evening. He said he had a couple of kids come by, but he has quite a few of them as neighbors.

This is the first time I’ve been home for Halloween in years, I’m kind of disappointed. 🙁

I’m glad I didn’t get dressed up.

 

Saturday Sail

I’m going sailing again tomorrow. I signed up to go a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to get at least a couple of sails in while I was home this time. My time off work is running out way too fast. I hope the weather holds!

Last I checked, it’s supposed to rain. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping it doesn’t. The wind should be just about perfect for a day out on the bay. I’m not going to quit if we get a little sprinkle, but I don’t really enjoy being outside in a hard rain either.

I really hate it when my glasses get wet and fogged up and I can’t see!

I’d better get to sleep soon. I wish I didn’t have to get up so early to do these trips! To be on time at the dock, I’ll need to get out of the house by no later than 0900. That’s cutting it close.

So, I ought to get up at 0600 to get everything done before I leave. Ugh! 🙁

Gorgeous!

After the last couple of days, I was glad to wake up to some sunshine! I’m heading back out on Galveston Bay for another Icicle Race today. The weather report shows sunny and cool. Just the way I like it. 🙂

8am 9am 10am 11pm 12pm 1pm 2pm
Forecast
Sunny
Sunny
Sunny
Sunny
Sunny
Sunny
Sunny
Mostly Sunny
Temp (°F) 40° 43° 48° 51° 55° 57° 60° 60°
RealFeel® 38° 43° 49° 54° 57° 59° 60° 58°
Humidity 86% 78% 68% 59% 50% 44% 40% 39%