I finally made it back to work yesterday. I was supposed to leave to come back to work last Tuesday. I had to wait until I got a visa from Angola before I could actually leave to get on the plane. My company emails me a document that I have to print out and bring with me. I got it late Monday and flew out of Houston at 1600 Tuesday afternoon.
I got to Luanda early Thursday morning 0500, stood in line for quite a while (they took everybodys temperature, checking us all for ebola). Then got my visa put in my passport and so ready to move from the international airport where I flew in, to the domestic airport where we fly out on the helicopters to the rig.
Instead, I was surprised when the agent informed me that I was not on the list to fly that day. I got to spend the night at the hotel. I didn’t do much there but try to sleep. I also TRIED to catch up on some emails, but that’s it. The internet at that hotel is SO horrible. IF you can get it to connect at all, it is SO slow. It’s really not even worth bothering with it. But for some reason, I always do try. It’s very frustrating!
I did manage to get a few hours of sleep, not enough to really get back to normal but much better than the usual rush to get right on the ship and to work. I did appreciate it.
Yesterday, I was up at 0430 and on the way back to the airport at 0530. I had a huge problem with checking in for the helicopter flight.
It seems the baggage allowance is only 15 kg. I have 2 bags. My hand luggage is 10.7 kg. I will not go anywhere without it. It has my computer, my paperwork (licenses, passports, health records, etc), medicines, kindle, phone, cameras, cords, adapters, etc. I really don’t know WHY that little bit of stuff is so heavy, but I think the bag is probably at least a couple of kg all by itself.
My checked luggage weighs 15.6 kg (this trip). I have pared it down as much as I thought I could get by with. I am willing to have them send that out to me later. Last trip they lost my checked bag on the way to Angola for weeks. So, I could get by (if I have to) without it. I did mention that to them a couple of times but they ignored me on that.
Of course I would prefer to have it. I have my own comfortable (as much as possible) boots. A jacket (it gets cold on these vessels at night). I froze last hitch until someone remembered somebody left a jacket in the drawer and I borrowed it. A few changes of clothes. Toothpaste and shampoo that you’re not allowed to bring on board the planes with you anymore since 9-11 (and they charge a FORTUNE for out here- $38 for a tube of toothpaste!). A few snacks (sometimes the food really SUCKS and you just need a little taste of home- literally).
Most people here come back to the same vessel every time. So most people can leave all their clothes, etc on board. Most people do not NEED to bring everything they’ll need for 4+ weeks with them every time. But since I am still in the pool and never know where I’ll be assigned next, I DO need to bring everything with me, back and forth, EVERY TRIP.
The people checking us in at the airport for the helicopters don’t care about that. They don’t like to cut any slack. I do understand that the helicopters are very strict about their weight limits. They can not and will not fly if they are overweight. Or even close to their weight limits.
BUT, there is some variation in the allowances. For instance, they have a standard allowance for body weight. I’m not sure what it is, maybe 100 kg. So, if I weigh only 50 kg, ( I WISH), then I should get more baggage allowance. But it doesn’t work that way.
I was lucky to be in line with the OIM and a couple of other guys from my rig that had some room in their bags. We split my extra weight 3 ways between them and then I was finally allowed to check my bags! WHEW!!
I really don’t know how I will be able to cut my baggage weight any more than I have already. I will have to see how I do this trip and if there is anything I don’t use that I could possibly leave at home. I really think they ought to make allowances for people that don’t go back to the same vessel every time.
I’ll worry about that when I have to get ready to come back to work next hitch. For now, I’m just glad to finally get back aboard and start settling back in for another 3-4 week long hitch out here. 🙂