Monday, July 14, 2014

Mortal Enemies

Superman had Lex Luther.
Optimus Prime had Megatron (because the latest movie installment is currently in theaters, so it’s topical).
Aquaman had Black Manta (because it’s nautical, so it’s always topical).

For me, it’s Corpus Christi, TX.

It’s like a broken record.
Or deja vu.
Perhaps you have heard, I don’t like Corpus Christi.
We have become mortal enemies. Arch nemesis. Arch enemies.
We just don’t get along.
At all.

Crew change was rapidly approaching. We were just wrapping up another job and were more than content with a quick trip to Port Arthur, TX. Or just heading out to anchor and sitting there until the launch boat approached with our reliefs.
Then the phone rang. Stupid phone.
Off to Corpus we go for the next job. Wave goodbye to a nice ride to one of the Houston airports for a direct flight home. Nothing flies direct to CRP. And that is where our problems began.

We had done everything in our power to make crew change go smooth. We had arrived at the sea buoy with plenty of time to spare. Made it up the channel and safely into our loading berth with just the right amount of time to go. Not too early, not too late. But just right.
Not a bad representation.
 A quick nap. A quick clean up.  A quick shower. And we would be on our way to the always-closed Corpus Christi Airport to await our early morning flights home. But, this is Corpus. Even when things are going perfectly, they aren’t going perfectly. Enter the non-direct flights to Corpus.

Corpus is a tiny airport. Therefore, only tiny planes fly into Corpus. The big airlines use tiny planes to shuttle people from their big hub airports to the tiny airports. So, you need to fly to a hub airport and then on to your tiny destination in the tiny plane. Essentially, more steps lead to more chances of things getting screwed up. And since this IS Corpus we are talking about, any chance to get crew change screwed up is a bad thing.

Enter Dallas/Fort Worth airport. The hub that I now love to hate.

The oncoming crew (part of it) got stuck in Dallas. Pretty sure it was weather delays. Honestly, it doesn’t matter. It could have been that the airport was under attack from flying monkeys with laser beams on their heads. Point being, more than half of the oncoming crew was stuck in Dallas and we were stuck in Corpus. And we weren’t going anywhere until our reliefs were on the boat in Corpus. Salty swear words were thrown about.

So the other half of the crew (the ones whose reliefs actually made it to crew change) waved goodbye. I didn’t wave back. For one, I was pissed that we were stuck on the boat. Again. Another reason for the lack of waving is that I was too busy making phone calls in order to get everyone in and out through port security. Claims of not having the required list of the crew members going on/off (a.k.a. Gate List) was holding up the oncoming crew. So they asked if I could fax them a list. Fax? Really? Do I look like I have a Delorean powered by 1.21 Gigawatts of power on the stern of the boat? Is this 1985? How about an email?
October 26, 1985 to be exact.
Then the driver said he didn’t have any orders to take the off going crew members to the airport. For some reason he was under the impression that a ‘crew change’ just means that new people show up and we discard the old crew members with the trash. Or something as equally as stupid as that. So I got to wake up some more people with phone calls at midnight and ruin their day just as much as mine had been. Then, to add insult to injury, port security then said they didn’t have a gate list of the off going crew members. Which is odd, considering that the list that I had just faxed emailed to security had a list of BOTH oncoming and off-going crew names.
Apparently, all is well that ends well, because a few hours later I got a picture of one of the recent escapees sampling a beverage at the now open CRP airport. Bastards!

Now remember the part where we had arrived with just the right amount of time? Not too little, not too much? Well when the other crew is going to arrive at the boat 12 hours late and it takes less time than that for the barge to get loaded and ready to sail we have a new set of issues. It was a real possibility that we would be gone and the other crew would still be on their way from Dallas. Crew change isn’t good for your blood pressure. Amazingly, the terminal said we could stay until our reliefs showed up. Amazingly, our company said we could stay until our reliefs showed up. Amazingly, our charterer said we could stay until our reliefs showed up. It was a trifecta of relief, literally and figuratively. Or maybe it’s just that people will agree to just about anything when you wake them up at midnight.

Twelve hours late, we finally headed to our least favorite airport. Where we had to wait another 4 hours for our first flight of the day. At least we got to watch the US Men’s National Team in the World Cup. Which none of us could care less about.
True story.
Full disclosure: I played soccer all through high school and in college. I still enjoy playing soccer to this day. However, I can’t stand watching the professional game. There is not enough offense and the dramatic faking of injuries is abysmal. I have absolutely no patience for it. I feel like I should care more about it. But I don’t.
More my speed.
So we watched (kind of) the game. But, in fairness, the bartender was more fun to look at than futbol match. We had lunch. A beverage or two. Or more. And waited for our flights. Then we waited some more at the next airport (remember, no direct flights from CRP). Had dinner. A beverage or two. Or more. Watched the highlight/lowlights of the soccer game. And then headed for home.
I got home just before midnight. 24 hours from the time that I was supposed to be off the boat.

Corpus Christi is my mortal enemy.
If this keeps up, I’ll need to design a superhero suit.
No capes!


  1. Maybe you need to get multiple shirts as in your previous post with "Excrement Happens" to wear on change over days !

  2. I like that idea. If I only knew someone who printed t-shirts as a hobby...