Here I was this morning, feeling good and all ready to go home. I even managed to get an upgrade to business class for the 10+ hour flight from Amsterdam. It was expensive but I thought it was worth it for a 10+ hour long flight. I just HOPE they’ll give me a refund!
I was looking forward to arriving in Houston after getting at least a little bit of rest on the plane so I wasn’t falling asleep at the wheel as usual after being up for 30+ hours.
I woke up to the sound of rotors on the bridge, NOT a good sign.
I got up early this morning so I could finish up last minute chores before heading home. Strip the bed, finish packing, put away a few things. I had to go up to the bridge by 11:00 to weigh in for the chopper.
The 1st one should have already come and gone by that time. Nope. It still hadn’t left. The fact that they have gone down to only 1 chopper for the entire field (to save money) meant that my chances of making my flight home today were falling by the minute.
This seems to happen fairly often over here. The 2nd chopper (the 1st one flies back out) has a pretty good chance of not making it to the beach for one reason or another. For one thing, these choppers won’t fly after dark. It gets dark by about 5:00 PM. If they get to the rig much after 3, they’re likely to drop you off at another rig somewhere on the way since they won’t make it to Luanda before dark!
Today, the screw-up was caused by a couple of government officials who had to visit one of the other vessels in the field. So, instead of flying here to pick us up and fly us to Luanda, the chopper had to stop at a couple of other vessels first, then here and then go to Soyo at the mouth of the Congo River to drop off the officials. That stop in Soyo adds about an hour. Stopping at the other vessels adds a half hour or more.
I’m pretty sure the government of Angola can afford it’s own helicopter. In fact, I’ve seen quite a few pretty nice ones sitting on the tarmac at the airport. Why can’t they use their OWN helicopter to fly out here to do their business???
Instead, (I assume) to save money, they take over the oil company’s chopper and screw up a few dozen people’s vacations! Now I know that us regular, ordinary people don’t count for diddly-squat in the eyes of any government official, but when the company ‘motto’ is it CARE’s for its people, it seems they could do something to ensure this kind of thing never happens again.
So, instead of being able to get off, have a leisurely ride to the airport, time for a couple of beers and a fairly relaxed flight home, we waited anxiously for word of the 2nd chopper. It’s the SAME helicopter, so we did a lot of speculating about timing. If it left here by noon, got to Soyo by 13:00, to Luanda by 14:00, etc. If it left Luanda by 15:00, we figured we might just squeak by. It would be close, but we probably could have made our flights out tonight.
But no! The decision was made to leave us all on board (to save money of course). So instead of at least getting a night to relax in the hotel, we’re all still here on the ship. HOPING to hell that this whole episode isn’t going to happen again in the morning!
I still have no idea what flight I’ll be on tomorrow to go home, but at least I’m on the 1st chopper in the morning! 🙂