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. 🙂

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A Typical Day On A Drillship

I decided to join in on Jasons’ challenge over at the Opinionated Mans blog. He’s collecting a pretty cool collection of posts from people all over the world. Everyone is posting about where they’re from and what it’s like there. I’ve really enjoyed hearing from everyone.

I really have 2 totally different places I could call home. I live in a small town in Texas, but I actually spend more time out here at work than I do there. So, this is really more my home, out here (at sea).


For at least half the year, I live onboard something like this ship I’m on right now. It’s about 228m long and 42m wide. We usually have between 165-180 people onboard (almost all men). There’s not a lot of space on these ships for living quarters, so almost everyone shares a room. I am lucky to only share with one other person. We are on opposite watch so we’re never in the room at the same time. Some people have 4 to a room and also share heads (bathrooms). I am also lucky to have a private bathroom in my cabin. 🙂

It’s small, but comfortable enough for only a month at a time. Most people are regular on board here and they can bring things from home to fix things up a little bit. I’m still in the resource pool, so I can’t bring much with me. I’m just happy that they have a catering crew here that keeps the room clean and does the laundry. That saves a lot of time. They also take care of all meals. 🙂

I can really only give a very basic description of what it’s like out here, since every ship is different in some ways and the same in others. I’ve been on this one now a couple of times since July. We’ve been working offshore Angola, about 85 miles W of the Congo River. I’m working here as DPO (Dynamic Positioning Operator). My typical day out here (this hitch) goes like this…

Wake up at 22:30. Take a shower. Get dressed. TRY to get online to check email (internet access is very iffy out here). If that doesn’t work, fiddle with my photos in Lightroom on the computer. Head up to the bridge by 23:30 for watch.

Take the elevator up 2 decks to E deck, walk up another flight to the bridge. Get a cup of coffee and chat with my relief before starting to go over the checklist. Go through the checklist. Call everyone for communication checks (engine room, drill floor, standby boats). Then stand my watch for 12 hours on the bridge with a half hour break for ‘lunch’ at 06:30. Since I work from midnight to noon, this meal is actually breakfast that is being served. We have eggs, bacon, toast, pancakes, ham & cheeses, fruits, and something usually left over from last night so that people who’ve been up all night can have a different choice.

I work until noon on the ships bridge, looking out for traffic and monitoring the DP system while the drillers are doing their thing. We’ve been working in shallow water lately, so things are more stressful than usual. The difference for us is; we don’t have very much time to react if things start going wrong.

When watch is over, I walk down the 3 flights of stairs to my cabin (or 5 down to the galley for lunch). Then I try to check my email and work on the computer for an hour or 2 before bed. If I really get motivated, and the weather’s nice, I might go walk around the helideck for a while.  I TRY to get to sleep by 1500 but I usually run late. I never manage to get enough sleep out here. 😦

There’s not usually much to look at here. We might have a supply boat alongside to watch. We can see the flares of the FPSOs (Floating Production Storage Offloading) a few miles away (they’re very bright at night). That’s about it at this location, but sometimes it can be really awesome at sea. Just to see the wild ocean in all its many moods. Or the night sky in all its’ glory, with no lights for hundreds of miles to interfere with your vision. Or schools of hundreds of dolphins keeping you company as you steam along. Those are some of the reasons I love it out here at sea. 🙂

Maersk Finder, Offshore Supply Vessel (OSV)

 

So, the entire month I’m here, it’s basically: eat, sleep and work. Nothing else to do out here but look forward to getting off and going home. 🙂

I only have 5 more days til I’m due off. Or, as we say out here, 4 more and a wake up! It’s always good when you get to the single digits. 🙂