Thursday, February 21, 2013


Ready? Set. GO!!!

There we were, all set for a Houston, TX crew change. Sitting peacefully at anchor waiting for our berth to become available. The "Contest" was in full swing. Life was good.

And then the phone rang.

"Pick up the hook and head for Corpus Christi (my favorite place) ASAP!"

The best laid plans (and flight arrangements) laid to waste.

So began the tugboat version of a "Chinese Fire Drill".

As we were starting the engines and getting ready to haul anchor in order to get underway, we were also waking up the guys who were off-watch. We had all booked our flights to leave out of Houston the following day. All of those flights were now null-and-void. We also had to call our reliefs to let them know that their Houston plans were also just sent directly to the garbage can (or recycling bin, for those who are environmentally conscious).

Our wheelhouse isn't designed for 6 guys to be talking on the phone, booking flights on the computer, and sending text messages/talking to their relief as I'm trying to maneuver the boat. Or any other time, for that matter.
Plus, some people on our crew are more technology savvy than others. Which becomes blatantly obvious when you have less than an hour for everyone to complete all of the required cancellations and re booking before we get offshore far enough where Internet and phone is no longer available. Time was of the essence. Monkeys. Footballs. You complete the sentence.

Even with mass confusion and chaos reigning, we all managed to get everything done before communication blackout arrived. We even got a phone call saying our berth would be available upon arrival in Corpus Christi. Which was a relief, considering past crew change performance and the less-than-stellar forecast for the next few days. Plus, going to anchor would mean another day of the "Contest". Berth on arrival sounded good to us.

Sometime during the morning hours, berth on arrival, turned into "go to anchor". Which then turned into "the job might be cancelled". Which turned into "we don't know". Our second best laid out plans might be going into the recycling bin as well.

As it turns out, we went straight into berth. The Captain has a few less hairs from being unceremoniously ripped from his head during all of the commotion/uncertainty. But at least one thing went as planned. Berth on arrival.

The eggs would finally live to see another day

However, as all things Corpus Christi crew change go, it's not all rainbows and unicorns. TPWSNBN decided that it would be easier for the guys flying in to just keep their flights into Houston and then drive to Corpus. So we don't expect them to be at the boat until 3:00 AM. At the earliest.

In addition, we also got to perform a random drug test when we got to the dock.

No better end to a trip than getting off the boat a couple of hours late, in Corpus Christi, after having to pee in a cup.

This blog practically writes itself.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


SITuation REPort

I lost.

I survived the first time we were at anchor. But then we went to a different port, anchored offshore, and the contest was started anew.

I forgot.

I woke up, came down to the galley, and less than 20 minutes after we dropped the hook (and less than 5 minutes after I woke up), I got busted. 

So 5 Jalapeno peppers for me it was.

Oreo's favorite drink
The only consolation I have is that I wasn't the only one. The Chief Engineer and one of the Tankermen got busted as well. Some of us took their punishments more gracefully than others. We had to institute a "five-minute cooling down period" between the time you got busted until the time where you once again eligible to participate again. It allowed for a 5-minute tirade of swears and maritimer-type language to be expelled free of charge to let you "think about what you have done".

I may not have been happy about it, but I did manage to take my punishment tirade free. However, I also took my punishment with a full plate of dinner, a LARGE glass of milk, and two slices of bread.
It kind-of helped.
Sort of.

We are once again at anchor. The "Contest" is back on. I wonder who will fall this time?
It better not be me.
If it is, you can be assured I will use all 5 minutes of the allotted "cooling down period" to let my feelings be known.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Contest

When you sit at anchor you tend to get a bit bored and a little bit stir crazy. Honestly, we would all much rather be working than sitting around counting down the minutes until crew change. First of all, it makes the time go by faster.  And secondly, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop“. 

When you put seven guys together for two weeks the pack mentality has a tendency to take over. Practical jokes can be the norm. We have an innate ability to try and push each others buttons. For some reason, our “go to move” is to attack each other with homosexual references and gay double entendres.  Last hitch things got a bit out of hand. You could scarcely say a word without someone muttering some sort of snide remark about that person’s sexual orientation. 

This led to the Captain enacting “The Contest”. 
Simple in theory. 
Starting at noon, no one could say, reference, or infer anything remotely homosexual towards anyone else on the boat for the next 12 hours. 
Simple right? 

Are you Master of Your Domain?
For the next 12 hours I have never seen a boat quieter or have seen people avoiding contact with each more in my life. The place was an abandoned ghost town. It was a lot funnier and a lot more difficult than originally thought. Amazingly, everyone behaved. No one lost and we all got a good chuckle out of the lengths that people went to in order to follow the rules.

Well contests are only fun when someone wins or (in this case) loses. So this hitch, we enacted the same contest. Starting at midnight, “The Contest” would begin anew. This time there would be no 12 hour limit. We would play until we picked up the anchor and continued with our work. It could be 3 hours or 3 days. There could also be multiple winners/losers this time. The punishment was determined to be 5 JalapeƱo peppers to be consumed in rapid succession (when we go grub shopping again I want to up the ante to Habaneros).   

Our fearless leader, one of the originators of “The Contest”, was the first to feel the wrath of the JalapeƱos. He didn’t even make it 12 hours. Realistically, he didn’t even make it a full 6 hours, considering that he was off watch and asleep for 6 of those hours. “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it” would seem to be an appropriate saying. We all got a good chuckle out of the Captain turning different shades of red as he ate his lunchtime pepper punishment.

It’s only a matter of time before the next crew member falls.

I’ll let you know if it’s me. Although it may take a while for me to be able to regain the ability to type on my computer. 
I’m of Scottish and Irish descent. 
I might just melt.