I have been severely remiss in not keeping this tawdry little blog up to date recently and that is simply because life has got in the way (self-important blogger has life, SHOCK!).
We managed to get out of Dodge (or The Anasuria as it is otherwise known) and then I had friends down to stay for a few days (Self-important blogger has friends, SHOCK!). No sooner had their tail lights reached the end of our road when the phone rang with the news that I was off to the Curlew.
Now, I’m not sure who out there has actually been to the Curlew - or the ship of the damned as it is more rightly known – but if you have you will probably know that their internet access and availability is ‘limited’ at best. As such I was not able to get the requisite half hour in which to cobble together the usual rubbish that I throw your way.
The main reason I had no time will be explained in the following entry…
A Guilder Is Always A Guilder…
There is an old Dutch expression apparently,
Which is said to explain why Dutch people are incredibly tight. I have known several Dutch people in my time and found them all without exception to be thoughtful, kind and perhaps above all generous. I cannot say with any certainty where such an idea or expression would come from (Much like during any World Cup my money is on the Germans!) but it could possibly have found its creation on board the Curlew.
‘A Guilder is always a Guilder’
Seriously, they know how to get their value from something on there. I used towels that appeared to pre-date ‘Eastenders’ and were less of a bath towel and more of an uncomfortable handkerchief…but that’s another story.
I arrived onboard the vessel with no hint or preview of the terrors which were to come, indeed, I had almost entirely forgotten the fate which befell me less than a year previous when I had to close out the shutdown for my company.
It took a mere half hour on board to realise that I should have perfected my ‘Sickie’ voice and thought up some lame excuse not to go…
After a prolonged travel day due to weather and general Chopper problems I finally arrived around eight in the evening, I was the only one to get off the chopper at the Curlew (always a lovely experience) and was greeted not by my ‘Back-to-back’ but by both of them. You see I was to be the entire Dayshift for the time being. For the past few days both days and nights had been operating with 2 on shift (already down on what most of our procedures advise) but had still been working manfully in their attempts to get the job done.
No matter. It was Wednesday evening and I’d been assured that my helper would be on the chopper the following day. He was not. So I naturally felt more than a little complacent, feeling that no Ops Super in their right mind would ask one lonely operator to perform a leak test, even an easy bottle test, on their own. I was right; no Ops Super in their right mind would have done that. This Ops Super didn’t seem to have the necessary qualification however and so did indeed ask me to perform a solo leak test.
‘We’ll help you out’He so nicely volunteered.
After a couple of days of solo working (including stripping down a split unit pump) the cavalry arrived - in a way.
Imagine John Wayne in one of those old films but instead of a mighty steed, he was riding a severely asthmatic Donkey and he didn’t have a sword…or a rifle…or his trousers on…
You get the idea!
My helper on days greeted me with the terror-filled words,
‘This is my first trip offshore.’Great, I would have to run the pump and oversee most of the rigging up and hose runs.
What did I care? I had holidays booked and only had to get through one more week and then I could go home and take several showers to wash away the stench of utter despair.
Don’t get me wrong, I always give 100% when I am on the job and performing leak tests of any equipment - especially when you know that your helper has fewer hours on the rig than some seagulls – but my heart simply wasn’t in this one. Perhaps it was the pile of paperwork that my predecessors had simply not had time to process or organise, perhaps it was the general malaise amongst the Operators on board, most of whom had either only just transferred onto the place or had only just handed in their notice and so were not entirely dedicated to the cause.
Mostly though I think it was when I looked at the Pre-job meeting form that is always entered in the front of the job file. I marvelled at its optimism, under ‘Duration’ it said ‘7-14 Days’.
We were now entering week 5.
That even managed to cajole a smile from me (the first for some time). That smile was quickly removed when I looked at the signatures of said document to find that we had 4 on Days and 4 on nights at the start of the job. Even about a week before I had got there they had been operating with the same number of personnel.
No, I can’t say I enjoyed my time on the Curlew and with any luck I have put things in motion to ensure that I am not asked back…
To Be Continued