Change of Plans

Things are always up in the air with me lately. I was supposed to come out here for 6 weeks as DPO. I came out as DPO and after a few days, I was informed that I was really supposed to be MSL (marine section leader). Basically MSL is the same thing as a chief mate.

Whoo-hooo! I got promoted. But I didn’t want to be. I probably would have refused to take the job in the first place if they had told me the truth about what they wanted.

The company who hired me and the client who hired them both refuse to pay me as MSL tho I have been doing the job now for a couple of weeks (since last crew change). So. I am leaving.

How many people do you think are happy to do the work of one job and get paid a much lower rate for another job? I think only very young people trying to break in, to prove themselves. Or really super desperate people who have given up their pride and principles and have nothing at all to live on. We all do a lot of things we may not like to when it comes down to survival. Thank goodness I have not got to that point yet this time around.

I’ve worked too damn hard, for too damned long in order to earn my license. I don’t like the fact that they seem to think it’s worthless here.

I will go home after only 4 weeks of work. Very disappointed with the whole operation.

Oh well, it’ll be nice to be home for a while. I just hope it’s not such a long while! I need to find another job asap!

I’m hoping hurricane Harvey didn’t do much damage to my property. It would be nice to be able to stash some of this paycheck (just in case).

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SoCS: When I Get Off Of Here…

socsbadge2016-17

…I’m going to have a nice long rest. Not that things have been too awful here so far, but the hitch has just started and I know for sure that crew change is always exhausting. You’re up for work for 12+ hours and then you’re up to watch the pre-departure video about the helicopter (you’ve already seen thousands of times). Then you wait hours for the chopper (if you’re lucky). Or the boat if you’re not.

Then you transit from the rig to shore. Minimum of an hour on the chopper. Maybe 8-12 hours on the boat if you’re not. Then you transit to the airport. That takes another couple of hours. Then you wait some more for your flight. You finally get home after another couple of hours of nodding off.

I usually do absolutely nothing for 2-3 days after I get home but eat, sleep and take a look at the huge pile of mail I’ve collected after being gone for 2+ weeks.

I’m due to be here for 6 weeks this hitch. I know it will get to me before it’s all over.

When I get off of here… I will rest. 🙂

Working

I did get a job last week! I’m so glad it worked out! Even a few days offshore makes up for a lot. I’m hoping this job will last a while, but I really have no idea. They just said ‘2 weeks, maybe’.  I left early Friday afternoon. I flew to New Orleans, got picked up by the crew van and was delivered straight to the ship at around midnight thirty.

I didn’t even really meet the other 10 guys in the van with me, since everyone was exhausted and trying to catch a few winks on the ride to Fourchon (tho it was too bumpy for me).

On arrival, I got a quick familiarization with the captain, then assigned my bunk and tried to catch a few hours of sleep. I’ve been on the 0600-1800 watch since then.

That’s a good watch for me. I haven’t ever really worked an anchor boat, so it’s not something I can do by myself. I try to watch the captain as much as possible. He’s been doing it for ages and he’s really good.

The divers all seem to be pretty decent. I don’t really see much of them since I spend most of my time on the bridge and they’re always out on deck. We have about 45 people on here, total. It gets pretty cramped when more than a couple of people are in the same area at the same time. Like the galley at meal times, for instance.

The cooks on here have been doing a great job so far. There are 3 of them (plus an OS who’s helping out as a galley hand). They’re working around the clock to keep us all fat and happy.

We’re working on a project out here with a couple of other boats. One is a tug boat we use to help us pick up and place our anchors. We’re a ‘4-point anchor boat’. I’ve done a lot of diving work, but always either ‘live boat’ or DP (dynamic positioning). This is totally different.

I’m learning a lot here. That’s always a good thing. 🙂

I’m Back

It feels like much longer than it was, the 27 days I was out there without internet. I was so grateful to have even a few days of real work again! I was hoping for more, but things are still very, very slow offshore. Every one of us on board was so thankful to have a job after a long dry spell.

Too bad, but the company finished up all the work they had lined up and so laid me off on Saturday. There was some talk about more projects coming up in the near future, but nothing definite.

I can survive another couple of months off of that job. I have a class lined up to teach the week of June 25th. Maybe by the end of the month something else will come up?

The price of oil is still under $50/bbl. Until that changes, I don’t see much hope of a decent job. But even a few days every now and then will be enough to get by on. I know most people are thrilled at the low price of gas at the pump (tho it should be about $1 less going by price/bbl- all that extra is taxes!).

I would probably be thrilled too if it didn’t wipe out my entire profession. Every sector of the maritime world is tied to the offshore sector and the price of oil. When it’s low and the offshore sector shuts down, people migrate to deep sea, towing, fishing, etc. Shutting off any options to do anything else on the water.

Shoreside jobs are a total waste of any mariners skills and training and don’t come anywhere near offering even the worst pay/benefits we earn on the water (and it’s not all about the money either).

I’ll spend the next couple of weeks catching up on things I’ve been putting off: exterminator, dentist, house cleaning, oil change, car wash, doctor, painting projects, taxes, etc. All kinds of fun stuff like that. 😉

Hopefully, I can keep things interesting with some stories from the recent past. 😉

Buzcador Breaks Free!

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.

Buzcador Barges Through the Bayous

 

It took longer than expected, but we were finally ready to go. The plan was to be towed out from Berwick, down the Atchafalaya River and out through the bay. The Buzcador would depart Berwick as an “unmanned barge”.

Wondering why we had to get towed out? Why we couldn’t stay onboard? Because even though we were light ship, we had no cargo, little ballast and just enough fuel and water to make it- we were still really pushing our luck with our draft. We didn’t want to take any chances with our engines.

The Atchafalaya is not a very deep river. It has a lot of shallow spots. It’s also unique in that it’s actually replenishing the land in it’s delta. Most of the rest of Louisiana is loosing ground to the sea.

 

Our draft was over 12 ft and we knew we would be touching the bottom in at least a couple of places. Also, the intake for our engine cooling water was going to be sucking mud the entire time- not good!

So, we got underway about noon. The mighty Miss Edmay would be pulling and the Basin Endeavor would be pushing. The Buzcador would be ‘dead ship’ until we hit the sea buoy.  No engines, no power, no lights, etc. We all scrambled over to ride the Endeavor out.

We did alright until we got to ‘Crewboat Cut’. We ran hard aground! I didn’t expect to have any trouble until much further down the river. The Atchafalaya River is always changing tho. We used to avoid this area by taking a bend in the river called the “Horseshoe”, but that stretch has been discontinued for navigation and the navigation aids removed. No telling what it was like.

Our 2 tugs tried hard to get us off the bottom. They struggled for at least 2-3 hours. Pushing and pulling, twisting and turning. The decision was made to call for another tug. We broke free just as the new tug “Mr Nicolas” arrived on scene.

They made fast and we proceeded on down the Atchafalaya. We made it as far as the ‘Lighthouse” before we were hard aground again. Another couple of hours spent to break us free, while questioning our chances of making it all the way out the river. The Lighthouse was only the 1st of the shallow spots I knew about. We still had at least 3 more to pass for sure.

The decision was made to turn back and try a different route. We cut the Endeavor loose as we turned into Bayou Chene and made our way through the ICW to the Houma Navigation Canal. I had some doubts about whether we would have the same problems there. I’d been through that way before and run aground there too.

Turns out, it was a good decision. We made it all the way out with no problems at all. I slept through most of it since I was going to be up all night on lookout. Nice scenery. I was  up to see Cocodrie, and the last lowland parts of Louisiana as we made our way through Terrebonne Bay and out Cat Island Pass.

We turned the tugs loose at the sea buoy, stumbled around in the dark until the engineers cranked up the engines, and we were off!

More to come! 😉

Nibbles

I’ve had a couple of nibbles in the last couple of days. Nothing positive yet, but I may be able to go to work soon. This is really the first time I’ve heard anything about offshore work since I was laid off. I’m hoping to get something definite out of them tomorrow.

It’s a huge pay cut, but it’s better than nothing. Not even having unemployment money coming in is really killing my finances! My job in Houston is down to 2-3 days/month. I just hope the work actually happens this time!

The price of oil has almost doubled since the first of the year, but it’s still not economic for the offshore drillers to start up again. So, no real work for me til that happens.  I know most people are hoping the gas prices stay low, but I can’t wait for them to get up there to around $80. That should be a nice happy medium. Get us all back to work and not cost too much at the pump.

A to Z: Ensco

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge. To post everyday (except Sundays) through April, one for each letter of the alphabet. Today’s post is Ensco.

Ensco is a drilling company. I’ve spent a couple of years working on a few of their drilling rigs. I’ve never been hired directly by Ensco (tho I wouldn’t have minded that). I was working as an independent contractor. So when they needed someone to fill in, they would call and I would go out to work.

I first started with them on a couple of rig moves on the Deep Ocean Mendocino (later renamed DS-5). Later I was hurricane master on the Ensco 8506 (semisubmersible). I brought it out of the shipyard to get it checked out and then on to it’s first well.

Ensco 8506

Ensco 8506

THAT was a great job! I really enjoyed my time there and was sorry it ended.

Ensco found enough of their own people so that they didn’t need to use fill ins anymore. I think that’s the same for every company in the oilfield at this point.

I’m sure most people are hoping the gas price doesn’t go back up anytime soon. I’m one of the few who’s hoping it does. I probably won’t be going back to work until it does. 😦

The Call

I saw this post on Facebook today and thought to myself “yep, that’s about right.”

I never thought I’d be this upset about being out of work, I’ve been through a couple of busts in the oilfield before and prepared for this one as best I could. I’m a lot better off than most people who’ve been laid off over the last year. But after 6 months without even a couple of days offshore, the stress is getting to me. It’s hard to think straight when financial pressure is always nagging at the back of your mind.

I think we’d ALL feel about like this guy when we get the call. 🙂

Motivation

Hmmm. How to get motivated when you’re not?

I just realized it’s been a few days since I posted here. It seems like the days flew by. Not that I’ve been all that busy. I haven’t been. In fact, I’ve been dragging around like a lump on a log trying to get motivated to do something.

Anything!

I was supposed to go to work last Friday. I didn’t. I finally got ahold of the guy I’ve been talking to about work yesterday and he told me that now he has ‘no idea’ when this job might really start. 😦

Since then I’ve been trying to figure out how in the hell I’m going to be able to make my finances last. I’ve been blasting through my savings and I can’t even figure out where the money is going!

Anybody have any suggestions?

News Tomorrow?

I left to come out to the ship Dec 15, thinking I would be here for the ‘normal’ 4 week long hitch. I heard last week that I wasn’t supposed to stay here that long and was scheduled to go home in only 3 weeks. The other day I heard that someone might not show up, so I might be staying even longer than the original 4 weeks. 😦

I hope someone is in the office tomorrow who can answer my email about when I am scheduled to get off of here.

United Nations Meets At Sea

   It’s like the UN out here on these rigs.

When working for American companies, there are usually only Americans on board. Every once in a while you might see a Brit or a Filipino. Probably because of the Jones Act and other rules and regulations.

The Jones Act is one of the most important of the laws regulating the American Merchant Marine. One of the provisions of this law for US vessels is that the Master and crew must be Americans. Of course, there are exemptions. Lots of them, really probably too many.

But that’s another story for another post.

The ship I’m on now is not American. The company I’m working for is based out of Athens. It was out of Norway but it has been taken over by the Greeks. I’m not sure yet how that is going to work out. It seems already to be bringing unwelcome changes.

But it is a nice change to have people from all over the world to work with instead of mostly just from the southern US. When I’m working in the Gulf of Mexico, most of the people I work with are from Louisiana, Texas, Alabama and Mississippi. Maybe we get a few from Florida and Georgia. A very few from the other states.

The reason for that is that the companies we work for do not want to pay for our transportation to and from the boats/rigs so most people they hire have to live close enough to drive to/from work in a reasonable* amount of time.(*What the companies think is reasonable is not necessarily what any reasonable person would think is reasonable.)

Since I’m now working for a company which is not based in the USA and we’re not working in the Gulf of Mexico, there is no restriction on who they can hire or where they can come from. I really like that. I love meeting people from all over the world. 🙂

On my last rig, the DPOs were from Ireland, Croatia and the Netherlands. Here, they are from Poland and Canada. The last rig had lots of Brits. There were people from Ireland, Scotland, England. There were people from South Africa and from all over Europe (Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Belgium, Lithuania, Italy, France, Spain).

Here, we have lots of people from Poland. We have people from Portugal, Brazil, Croatia, France, etc. We have lots of Canadians. We even have a couple of other Americans. I’ve met a guy from Azerbaijan and another from India. Some from the Philippines.

Of course, we have people on both rigs from Angola and all over Africa (Ghana, S. Africa, Liberia, Guinea, Libya). We are required to have a certain amount of our crew hired locally. We are supposed to train them up to take over eventually. I’m not sure of the time frame for that but it will probably take a while.

So I hope that will allow me to keep my job and they won’t take over from me for a while. Let me keep doing my job here a few more years til I’m ready to retire. 😉

So much of what goes on out here now is extremely complicated and complex. It takes a long time to learn the things we need to know to do our jobs. I know I am always having to go to classes. This place will probably be sending me to classes every time I get off the ship for the next year or so.

I’m not really looking forward to that. I used to really look forward to going to work. I used to really enjoy my work and loved looking forward to joining a new ship and seeing all the new places we would go. But they’ve taken all the fun out of the job. It’s not at all like it used to be out here. To me, at this point, the best part of the job is the time off!

Yep, let me keep working overseas until I’m ready to retire, that idea is getting better looking every day.

 

Around Aberdeen: Day 3

Another day spent out playing in the lifeboats off Aberdeen. The weather was still gorgeous and we had a good time practicing man overboard maneuvers, towing and ‘pacing’ (running alongside other boats in order to transfer personnel).

I got out in time to make it to the Aberdeen Maritime Museum before it closed. I had about an hour and a half to check out the exhibits.

I was pretty impressed. It had a lot of really nice stuff. They had a really great concentration on the offshore oilfields around Scotland. They had a scale model of the Murchison oil platform of the North Sea. I was surprised to see they had an example of a DP desk (an older model like one I started on).

They had some great stuff on fishing and whaling and shipbuilding. They had a few nice ship models and lots of paintings and photographs.

I especially liked the old sailing ships. The Thermopylae was built by Walter Hood & Co. for the Aberdeen Line. She was one of the fastest and most famous ships of her time and a really beautiful example of a clipper (IMHO the most beautiful ships of all time).

The museum even had a Newt Suit (rigid diving suit) and an ROV from Oceaneering.

I used to work for Oceaneering and spent a lot of time with the divers and ROV pilots. That was one of my favorite jobs. I never would have quit if they had continued to work my boat overseas. I LOVED that job! We had some great adventures and the crew was like one big family. Those were some good times. 🙂

I really liked the museum, but I didn’t have enough time to spend there. They closed at 5:00 pm. At least I didn’t feel like I wasted any money (the museum is FREE). 🙂

After the museum closed, I figured I would need to go shopping. I had called the airlines about my luggage after class got out and they told me they still had no idea where it might be. I had already been without any clean clothes since Saturday and so I really needed to break down and buy at least a few things.

I know most women are supposed to be really into shopping, but it’s not really my thing (unless it’s in a bookstore). 😉

I do love beautiful clothes, but they don’t really make the kinds of things I like in large sizes. It depresses me to go clothes shopping. Nothing I really like fits me right. 😦

One of the guys at the training center had told me about a place to get cheap clothes, so I headed up the street to look for it. On the way, I found the tourist center and stopped in for some information and to ask about a tour on the chance I might have the time.

I found the store and shopped until they ran me out at closing time. I really didn’t buy much, just a pair of pants, a pair of shorts and a couple of shirts. It still cost me about 50 GBP! I wouldn’t really call that cheap. Not for the kind of (really cheap) quality I got. At least now I had SOMETHING clean to wear and I could have my jeans washed while I was in class the next day.

Surprise! When I got back to the hotel, I had good news! My luggage had finally arrived! I was so happy to see it, I didn’t even mind that I had just spent 50 pounds for nothing.

Oh well, I guess I can always use more clothes (not). 😉

Pirogue- Lost at Sea

I’ve been working for the last couple of weeks on an ROV job. We’re working in the Walker Ridge area. It’s about 178 nautical miles SW of Fourchon, LA. Not much around all the way out here.

The other night on DP watch, we saw something flashing in the light around the windows. A bird? A bug? (Sometimes we get some pretty big moths out here). Turns out, it was a tiny little hummingbird.

Our crane operator Shane crept up on it and managed to catch it. It was so exhausted, it just sat calmly in his hands while we tried to give it something to drink. We mixed up some sugar and water and fed it by hand with a coffee straw.

Shane named the bird ‘Pirogue’. We don’t know why. We don’t know why Shane does anything he does. 😉

At first we put Pirogue in a water bottle so he would have a little room to move around in. It was just the only thing we could think of that we had handy. We cut the top off it, turned the top around upside down and stuck it back into the bottle. We fed Pirogue more sugar water and he started to perk up. We made the mistake of leaving the top off the bottle a little too long, and Pirogue was off like a shot! 🙂

He flew around the wheelhouse til Shane (the bird-whisperer) managed to catch up with him again. We put him back in the bottle and kept the top on to feed him from then on. 😉

Itchy (one of our ABs- don’t ask how he got that name) came up with a big 5 gallon water bottle (with the top cut off and some holes drilled in it) for us to move the bird into. We fixed him up a little nest of shredded newspaper in a cool whip tub. Shane made a perch for him out of a pencil. We put a cup of water in there with him but he preferred to drink the sugar water from the straw.

We hand fed him every half hour. Eventually, we figured he needed some rest so we put a dark towel over the ‘cage’ and left him alone til morning.

When I took the cover off him in the morning, I thought he would already be up and alert, but he surprised me, he was still very groggy. I almost thought he was dead, but he would blink his eyes at me verrrry slooooowly…

After about a half hour or so, he gathered his wits about him and started buzzing around his ‘cage’. Letting us all know he was HUNGRY. Everyone who came up to the bridge would stop by and take a few minutes to give him a few sips from the straw.

Pirogue has been making great progress. I think he might be able to make it the rest of the way home by himself now. Only one thing, the weather is pretty nasty out here now and is supposed to continue that way for the next few days. I’d hate to turn ol’ Pirogue loose, just to see him blown away in a heavy thunderstorm. 😦

That’s probably how he wound up on our boat in the first place. He might not get so lucky again.

So, I’ve decided to keep him here til we make crew change in a couple of days. I’ll turn him loose when we get to the dock in Fourchon. Hopefully he’ll be able to find his way from there.

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These birds live all over the Eastern part of North America. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the only ones that regularly nest east of the Mississippi. With a name like Pirogue, ours might be happy enough to settle in South Louisiana (but hopefully not in Fourchon itself). 😉

Since we’ve adopted Pirogue on here, some of us have spent some time on google. We’ve wondered how he would wind up all the way out here in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. We don’t usually see hummingbirds out here.

Turns out, hummingbirds migrate all the way from Central America to the US every year. I’m reading online that “many cross the Gulf of Mexico in a single flight’.

Well, they would have to, since there’s nothing out here for them to eat or drink. Until we started drilling for oil out here in the last few years, they had no way to stop for a rest either.

Imagine, flying for 500 miles or more without a break! Scientists have found that they fatten up a lot before they make their yearly migration. They may double their body mass.

Pirogue is a ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) . They’re bright emerald green on the back and grey-white underneath. Males have a bright, ruby-red throat patch, tho it only really shows very bright at certain angles. Pirogue is a male, he has a very obvious red throat. He looks almost iridescent. 🙂

They usually eat nectar. I know people use bright red feeders to attract hummingbirds so the red coffee straw was a good way to get Pirogue to eat and drink here. I learned that they also eat small bugs for protein. We don’t have any of those handy out here. (Good thing!).

Wikipedia says that these birds can live to be 9 years old, tho the males rarely make it past 5. I have no way of telling Pirogues age, but I hope he makes it through another migration. Maybe he’ll have learned to stop by another ship to get some help next time too. 🙂