Wednesday, February 25, 2009

home sweet home

I'm home finally!

I'm rested from 12 hours of sleep in a bed big enough to roll around in, unlike my 2feet wide bunk

I'm rich well, getting there anyway

I'm going out tonight to see my friends that I've missed a lot, Baloos gonna rock!

SHOOOOOOOTERRRRRS!!!!!!!! nothing to add to this :P

Friday, February 20, 2009

countdown to go home

If all goes well I'll be home in five days!

The last trip out lasted only 48 hours... the rig tow has been postponed due to weather and since the ice is not quite there yet there was no need for us to hang around.

We came back yesterday morning and have been on one hour stand by since, meaning if the phone rings, we have one hour to get back on the boat and leave... this obviously does not apply to me that much... I have no where to go, except stores and bars... the former are closed after 6pm and drinking alone is not my style, but the guys from around here can go home at night (could someone buy me a plane so I can go home at night too?)

Infos are scarce and changing...
It seems that the tow will now take place on Wednesday, weather pending, and we'll be in port till then.

That causes a slight logistic problem, because crew change is on Wednesday... so we might be off the boat a day early, and the other guys will go for the tow (it takes 14-18h to get to the rig site)
but there's always the possibility of emergency tow because of the elusive iceberg (heard a lot about it, haven't seen it yet) so it could be that we leave now and come back... eventually...

Since things are a bit hazy and there would be no point in making 12 people twiddle their thumbs in the galley while the ship is towing, we unhooked Mill 29 (that's the rov you can see in my pics) today and sent it to the shop. Half of our crew (the 6 guys who live locally and do not require a hotel room) jumped ship and went back home (lucky b!). They'll be doing some improvement work on the rov until crew change day.

The rest of us are still on board and we'll be doing a slip/cut/re-termination of Mill 29's umbilical for the next few days. Which brings me to my next post...

ROV 101

What the %*@& is an umbilical re-termination you ask?


Information and commands from the pilot's computer are relayed to the rov by a serie of cables. It goes like this (in a very simplify version) :

joystick -> computer -> winch rotating junction box -> umbilical -> cage rotating J box -> tether -> rov

A lot of strain is put on the first 15m of the umbilical, because it's the part that holds up the cage/rov when it's lowered in water and hoisted back on deck. The cable is 7cm thick and metal armored, but still, every 6 months, we have to cut back part of it, and re-plug it to the j box. If we don't do that, the fiber optics and smaller wires start to bend and break and we lose signal.. not exactly a good situation when the rov is 100m deep and all your screens go black...

Sounds easy enough, but the un-biblical is not just one cable.. it's about 7 millions small cables all twisted together, in 4 millions different protective shields, coated in anti-corrosion goo and enclosed in a metal casing... kinda like this, but bigger :So, we cut back the damaged part, take the metal shield off on a length of about 70cm, then separate, clean and strip all the wires. Each end is then fitted with a little metal hoop except for the 5 @#&%$* fiber optics who are a whole other story I won't get into right now, that will be screwed on individual connectors in the junction box.

Since we had to unplug the umbilical to take the rov to the shop, it seemed like a good time to do the re-term right now instead of waiting for its due date next month.

So tomorrow I'll be swearing a lot, trying to pry out all the flimsy teeny wires out of their shields without breaking them :P

Monday, February 16, 2009

just in time

with 4 minutes to spare before loosing wi-fi and all comms... I posted some pictures of my time here! enjoy :D

and off again!

We're sailing at 13:00 today... return date... need I say it? unknown!

Crew change is the 25th... and it usually happens on time, so let's hope it will be the case.

The schedule is: go out there, tow a rig, come back next Monday or Tuesday

What might go wrong:

The rig might not be ready to move yet (sounds very complicated and the weather doesn't help one bit). The anchors are somewhat temperamental too and do not like to be rushed or swung around... strong winds and waves make them cranky and uncooperative. So it might take a while to complete that task (not us... the boat crew). We might end up watching tv and playing darts while the poor sailors coax the anchors into a better mood.

There's a storm warning for Wednesday and Thursday that might delay the towing, and bring us back early to port... or give us a serious watery roller-coaster ride... I will try to film it if I can manage to stay in an upright position for more than 5 sec at a time :P

There is an iceberg warning in effect for all of next week.. that monster piece of floating ice, just about the size of Australia (almost), has been under observation for a while... it's coming down the coast of Labrador and was still far away last month, but someone must have given it running (swimming?) shoes cause in the last week it went into hyper drive and is heading straight towards a rig. If it keeps it up, we'll have to haul ass over there and move the rig out of the way while the giant icicle passes by... which should make for interesting visual too...

I like the constant changing of plans.. keeps things interesting :)
It also makes this expression very common : "ye-e-eah... about that..." (followed by: it's changed a bit now)

Speaking of expressions, Newfies have a very strange habit of putting ss everywhere "I says", "we goes"... it's like being surrounded by a bunch of not-so-creepy Gollums :S

Anyway, that's it for now.. might be back online in 2 days or 9... who knows!

Time for the final preps to sail out.... cause that's what we do's and that what we likes! ;)

Friday, February 13, 2009

My new look

Which one am I? :P

The shower

The fun-est part of life offshore is trying to take a shower. The shower itself is 2'x2', with a corner cutoff. The walls are made of some mysterious compound that retains a temperature of about -2c no matter how hot the water pouring on it is.
Add to this a moving/rolling-with-the-surf floor and a typical shower sounds like this:
dum-di-dum HA!!! dum-diHAA!! la-la-WOOO! Dum-di-DOH!! la-la-lHA!! dum-di-WAAA!!! tra-la-la-lHAAA!! tabarnak fuck this!!!!

There is a handle on the wall you're suppose to hold on to, not to swish all over the small space.. but how am I suppose to wash my hair with just one hand?!?!? This was SO designed by a guy with a receding hairline >:S

the waves...

... in the Northern Atlantic, in the winter time, can vary from 2-3m to 10m and up.

2-3m is like going home after a couple of tequilas....

4-5m is like trying to walk after 15 shots of tequila...

10m is like clinging on the walls, hoping to reach your destination, after 25 shots of tequila...

We had a night of 17m waves... that's like forget the tequila, Godzilla is shaking your house like a cookie jar, trying to get the last crumbs out of it...

I was nearly thrown off my bunk,
the chairs who were not tied up ended up waltzing exuberantly in the lounge
and everything that was not glued down now belongs to the little mermaid

It's quite something to be sitting on a chair and suddenly start sliding all the way across a room... it's even more impressive when that chair is a heavy-wooden-no-wheels chair :P

Newfie accent...

... is incomprehensible... somewhat Scottish, but mumbled at lightning speed. Not all people are hard to understand, but Newfoundland is the place in the world where I've had the most trouble understanding when people talk! Part of the problem is that the expressions they used have never gone beyond NL... so it's a whole new language.. kinda...

Newfie weather...

... is like in Scotland.. changes every 10 minutes.. it goes from thick fog to sunny to snow storm to cloudy to windy enough to blow you overboard to dead quiet... in one afternoon (include rain, hail and waves that varies from nil to 10 meters swell, and you have the whole day).

I understand why Scotsmen decided to set shop here, it must have felt like home, but why anyone else would is beyond me! Seriously... a foot of rain one day, that freezes overnight, gets covered by a snow storm, melts in 2 hours causing floods all over the place, snow again, winds that average 50km/h, meaning planes are canceled or delayed every other day... are you guys insane?!?! move for f*** sake!!! keep a summer house here (it IS a beautiful place) but spend the winter somewhere else!!!

Two weeks onboard done!

The first trip out, that was supposed to last a couple of days, got extended to 2 weeks... we were stand by for a rig (in case it explodes and we have to get its staff outta there pronto) and couldn't leave until another vessel came to replace us.

It took me 2-3 days to get used to the constant movement of the ship... and I still lose my balance from time to time (which, apparently, is extremely entertaining for everyone else). I didn't get sea sick, just a bit dizzy at times for the first 2-3 days.. and I was getting some ghost of a headache for a while. I guess I can be a sailor afterall :P

First impressions...

The job itself is fun.. when we have things to do. Half the time the weather is too bad to go out. I've learned a good lot still, but mostly safety stuff. This is normal for February, apparently. When the weather gets better the days get really busy.

There is a serious obsession about safety around here (the primary reason being that we get safety bonuses twice a year if we're careful... no incident on your hitches = +2500$ on your paycheck every 6 months!!!). It's getting a bit ridiculous at times though... we'll all end up in a hamster bubble if it keeps at this rate :S

The amount of paperwork involved is schizophrenic too. During the weekly inspection of our work site, I noticed one of the hooks on a safety chain was rusted. 10 minutes to replace it, but 2 days, 3 signatures and 5 different forms (to be sent to 3 different people/offices/organizations) were required to complete the HSE report of this “unsafe environment”. N-u-t-s...

The guys are ok. They were a bit unsure on how to “deal” with a girl on board, but they eventually got over it and all is fine... except for their choice of tv shows... Wheel of Fortune, The Price is Right, Coronation Street, the St.John's news and WEATHER?! Who cares what's the weather like on land?? were 14h away from any solid ground!!!
I told them I didn't know I was onboard with a bunch of old ladies... they said the office was supposed to have warned me :P
At least I get the hockey games.. though with the way the Habs are playing these days I might as well stick with the granny shows... equally boring, but less depressing :S

Half of the crew (6 guys) spent the last two weeks in the shop while we were offshore. The full team has been reunited today.
We're not on 24h rotation yet, there's no need for it. So we have a safety meeting at 7:30am and then try to find maintenance stuff to do to keep busy until 5pm (minus 30m breaks at 10am and 3pm, and “Hollywood lunch” from 11:30 to 1pm). I'm not exactly exhausting myself... I've learned the pre-dives checks and some hydraulics.. and how to make the simple job of finalizing a dvd last 8 hours :P all you need is 4 incompatible dvd burners and voila! A headache of logistic

I got to fly a bit around the cage yesterday (my first Oceaneering flight yay!), to get a hang of the control... it's quite different to fly in the ocean with the surge, surf, movement of the boat and all (compared to in a loch or on a simulator.. my 2 previous experiences)... but I didn't crash, break or explode anything, so I'd say it's good :D

We're back in St.John's today, supposedly until Monday.. Millennium 3 (the second rov) has been fixed in the shop and was brought back on board this afternoon. The Osprey is supposed to tow a rig on Thursday, but depending on weather it could be now, or next week or who knows!

Towing a rig when we're onboard is a waste of $$$ for Husky, because no one is allowed on deck while the towing is taking place (too many cables that could snap and kill someone.. See? Safety again :P) but Oceaneering is still billing them for us being stuck there, even though we can't work yay! Stealing money from the oil company!!! hehe