Friday, January 25, 2013

"Hey, did we mention..."

 I had my fingers crossed that we were going to make our 2359 Thursday night crew change

“Hey, did we mention that the berth you are going to won’t be available until later than you planned?”
And so started the first kinks in our well laid out, well thought out plan.

“Hey, did we mention that the product you want to pump off is too hot for the terminal to accept?”
More delays. But then... hope

“Hey, did we mention we can pump this stuff off faster than we thought we could?”
The barge guys step up to the plate. We’re back on schedule.

“Hey, did we mention there is supposed to be fog tonight?”
Run slow for reduced visibility (aka fog). Curses!

“Hey, did we mention that the river level is up and you can make really good time running with the current?”
Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead! Back on track.

“Hey, did we mention that the customer wants you to run slow to conserve fuel?”

“Hey, did we mention the winds and the weather offshore will be in your favor the entire trip across the Gulf?”
ETA here we come!

“Hey, did we mention that there is no launch service available to run the crew offshore?”
So instead of arriving at our destination exactly when we said we would, we have to run 3 more hours to get to a different destination, so that we can get to a location where a launch boat is available.

“Hey did we mention that someone told the launch boat that it was going to take 5 hours to get to the secondary destination instead of just 3 hours?”
So even though we are already 3 ½ hours late, we are now going to have to wait for another hour and a half until the launch boat is available.

“Hey, did we mention the launch boat is only certified to run 6 people at a time?”
Now we have to leave at least one guy behind, and the launch boat is forced to make two round trips, in order to change out the entire crew.

“Hey, did we mention that there is a security zone around a passing ship?”
Of course, this means that if the launch boat encroaches too closely, or passes too fast, the U.S. Coast Guard will turn your boat into Swiss cheese.

“Hey, did we mention you are now six hours late and your flight leaves in one hour?”
Too bad we still have an hour and a half drive ahead of us just to get to the airport.

“Hey, did we mention that you have to go to both airports in Houston?”
Airports that happen to be on completely different ends of the city and are at least an hour apart.

“Hey, did we mention that there is a snow and ice storm on the whole entire Eastern seaboard?”
So even if your flights don’t get delayed, at least you get to drive home in an ice/snow storm.

Well, we did our part.

We made our ETA and arrived just when we thought we would.

Too bad everything else blew up in our face. 

Hey, did I mention that is the exact reason why I write this blog?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Time and tide wait for no man

When our boat initially came out of the shipyard we used to crew change at 0600 on Tuesday mornings. When we got repositioned down to the Gulf of Mexico it shifted to a 2359 (military time) Tuesday crew change.  We usually catch the last flight out Tuesday nights and the first flight home on Wednesday mornings. Now, we are supposed to switch over to Wednesday 2359 crew changes.

In theory, this is all well and good. You still get two weeks off after spending two weeks in prison on the boat. But the problems occur when people can’t plan a proper crew change or just don’t want to come back to work.  

Case in point…

This year we worked on both major holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now Christmas was on a Tuesday. So, being the nice guys that we are, we told the other crew that a Tuesday crew change didn’t make sense and that Wednesday would be better so that they could spend Christmas at home with their families. Makes sense, right? Well, the “person-who-shall-not-be-named” decided that he didn’t want to come back to work on Wednesday either. He decided the he didn’t want to come back until Thursday. So even though he got to have both holidays off, we wouldn’t be able to go home and celebrate Christmas with our families until Friday. Not cool! Alas, that is exactly what happened. I’m still not happy about it.

Well, fast forward the two weeks that we are home and it was once again time to prepare for the on-coming crew change. Which is now screwed up because the “person-who-shall-not-be-named (TPWSNBN)” pulled his little “not wanting to come back to work” stunt is now on Thursday night.

Except it isn’t. 

Now it is on Friday night at 2359, because they didn’t plan ahead and were at sea on Thursday.

Except it isn’t.

LaQuinta !!!
Because when they got to the Mississippi River the river was closed due to fog. So even though we had to fly into New Orleans on Friday night, there was no way to get to the boat. So we got to stay at a hotel on Friday. So now the running joke on the boat this week is that every time we see one another we shout, “LaQuinta!!!” Because that’s where we stayed. The LaQuinta Inn. Which is seriously less funny when you try to explain it.
So now crew change is going to be Saturday morning.

Wait for it…

Except it isn’t.

Saturday noon?


Saturday afternoon? 


After a wonderful Continental breakfast at the (shout it with me) LaQuinta!!! Inn. And a subsequent stop at McDonalds to get 16 breakfast burritos (because we could). And a stop at the local Wally World to shop for grub. We finally got on the boat at 1330. 

So a 0630 Tuesday crew change, which really is a 2359 Tuesday crew change, which due to Christmas was a 2359 Wednesday crew change, which because TPWSNBN decided wasn’t acceptable to him was a Thursday 2359 crew change, which turned into a 2359 crew change on Friday because of poor planning, which got delayed until 1200 Saturday crew change because of weather, actually took place at 1330 on Saturday.

We are supposed to get off the boat at 2359 on Thursday.

I’ve got my fingers crossed.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Dad of the Year?

Happy little trees
When you work on a boat six months out of the year you are bound to miss some things.
Birthdays, Anniversaries, Christmas, assorted other holidays (my favorite being Arbor Day), and the birth of your son (that’s a fun story).

Sometimes you also get to miss the less than enjoyable things. 

Like your 5 year old daughter going to the hospital for surgery to get her appendix removed.

My daughter had, what we thought, was a bit of a stomach bug for the last two days that I was home. She was nauseous and had a fit (or two) of throwing up. Nothing terrible. She is a grade school kid who attends a petri-dish called kindergarten. A stomach bug or a cold can be expected. Thankfully, she was feeling much better on day #2 and accompanied me to the airport for my journey back to work. 
The next day, she spiked a fever and was just generally miserable and not her usual joyous self. So off to the urgent care clinic she went.
They too, were under the impression that it may just be a stomach bug. But the pediatrician seemed to think that something didn’t just add up. [Bad pun Alert] His gut feeling (uggghh) was that there was something else that may be the problem. 

She doesn't look miserable

So off to the hospital they went. 
Blood tests, poking and prodding, ultra-sound, and some other assorted tests later, the people at the hospital thought that she might have appendicitis. But they weren’t sure. Mainly due to the fact that my daughter wasn’t your atypical appendicitis sufferer. Most people are in so much pain and so miserable that they are hardly able to function. Not my daughter. Nope. She was giggling and playing around and poking her brother. Miserable was not an adjective you would have used to describe her. So they gave her some IV fluids and some antibiotics to try and clear up the “stomach bug”, as we were still calling it. 

The next morning she was her usual jovial self. The hospital was all set to discharge her and send her on her way. And then she spiked a fever again. Back to the drawing board.
This time they went full on crazy with the tests. Blood work. Ultrasound. CAT scan. DOG scan. Some other scan. The full Monty.

Might have appendicitis, turned into, “She needs to go to the children’s hospital in Charlotte because she HAS appendicitis.”
So off to Charlotte they went.

Now fast forward two days, and they are on the way home. 

Minus one appendix.

My kids are troopers. My son had pneumonia and spent over a week in the hospital. My daughter had appendicitis and could have cared less and wanted to play in the playground at the hospital the whole time. It’s a good thing they inherited their pain tolerance from their mom.

And what did Dad contribute to this whole situation? 
Not a G#@-damn thing! 
I’m on the boat. Seven-hundred miles away. I have a cell phone. That’s about it. 
I’m not quite sure it propels me into the category for running for “Dad of the Year”. But it doesn’t make me feel any better about it. 
Missing birthdays is one thing. 
Not being there for your kid while they are in the hospital is something completely different.
I like my job. But I really hate my job too.

I would be a total s#$t if I didn’t mention Shandi and Jon, our friends who stepped up to the plate and hit it out of the ball park for us. They were nice enough to watch my son and do all of things that I couldn’t do while my daughter was in the hospital. I am forever in debt to them and all of our other friends that offered to help. THANK YOU!!!