Last night I had one of the most frustrating jobs I've ever done since I took up bunkering as a full-time gig.
Nothing abnormal about the job. We were fueling a product tanker in a shitty anchorage, one we don't often use because it's exposed to some swell, and it was blowing some, and there was a small swell, about 2-3 foot. No big deal. I had a tugboat with me, but it wasn't one of our regular experienced NY captains, but an out-of-towner, and he certainly didn't feel good about what was going on.
Look, some motion between the bunker barge and a ship is OK. Moor properly, and your mooring lines will absorb shocks and work together. When there's an equal strain on all lines, shock loading lines isn't so much of an issue. I did NOT like bunkering in 8-10 foot swells last winter down off of St. Maarten, I'll say that, but we did it. Given that, bunkering an an obnoxious chop is just that, obnoxious.
Once we were free to actually do the cargo transfer, the ship dragged ass. Oh, my Lord they were slow. No shit, there was ample crew, and no multitasking. While the AB's were taking the blank off their manifold connection, I couldn't swing my crane and run a cargo hose to them. While I was running the crane, the engineers could not sign papers. While the men were connecting my cargo hose to the ship's bunker manifold, the surveyor could not gauge tanks. Literally, only one thing could happen at a time, despite there being me, 4 deckhands, 3 engineers, a cargo surveyor, and a partridge in a pear tree on hand. At any rate, it took 11 hours to do a job that should have taken 4. By the time I went off watch, I had a headache and was hoarse from screaming. On top of that, the engineers insisted on spending time going over paperwork in my galley, and I'm not kidding, they smelled like onions and hot garbage. One guy looked over my shoulder, and, God help me, I gagged from the smell. I've got an iron stomach for that stuff. I used to dissect sharks one handed while eating a tuna salad sub with the other, or do things like stick my upper body into a bait barrel and hang suspended by my waist to get the last herring out. In July, after the herring had been outside for a few days. But no, these guys smelled so bad, after I showered and went to bed, I smelled my T-shirt from my laundry bag, which was under my bed.
But you know, today's a new day, and it marks 14 days on board. Couple weeks to go, and I'll be home to Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife, who, without fail, always smells nice. And realistically, it really could be worse. I mean, check this out:
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