We're on track for a record-breaking month in terms of tons of cargo carried here at HAWSEPIPER's Afloat Global HQ/money factory. We're moving oil, folks, and we're moving ALL THE TIME.
Last January was also a blockbuster. So it goes. Seems to be the busiest month for bunkering around the NY area. My guess is that it's a combination of restocking from Christmas, popular late-model cars being shipped after having been well-received in their new model-years' debut a few months ago, and home heating oil season. Add to that the increased traffic headed to Albany NY via the Hudson river (Albany is a convenient pipeline terminus for shale oil from the Midwest), and you've got some ship traffic. Well, that and my employer locked down another two contracts from bunker suppliers here in NY... which, I think, pretty much makes all of them, now.
So business is booming here in the land of the ice and snow.
Down here on the shit end of the stick, practically speaking, this means that we're BUSY. Most of the time, nonstop. Jobs are stacked up in a queue, and we're perpetually late because terminals are also crazy busy, ship's engineers don't give a shit, and the ONE boom boat that services the entire port of Bayonne NJ is apparently run by a narcoleptic. Seriously, Bayonne is all about the terminals, and they have ONE frigging boat to run oil-spill boom around vessels while they load (a legal requirement), and, while it's admittedly frustrating to lose time and sometimes work because we can't get unboomed, at any time there might be 6 ships and 10 barges actively loading and unloading at the same time. That's some serious business.
What this means for us is pretty much we roll out of the bunk, eat, caffeinate, look over the cargo plan, and relieve the watch, stand our watch (loading or unloading, we finish, the tugboat comes, we make them up, they bring us to the next job. In between we scramble to scan, fax and scribble, filing one job and planning out the next. Then the other guy wakes up, eats, caffeinates, looks over the cargo plan, relieves the watch, and you shower and go to bed. Repeat.
Not a lot of time for fun or to wind down, but so it goes. Every couple of days, there will be a delay or 3-4 hours between jobs while you wait for the tide so we can go into a berth, and then I scramble to do maintenance and catch up on paperwork and the hundred little things that need doing. I never quite catch up, but I don't fall far, far behind, so it's doable.
Am I complaining? No. This is how we pay for the quiet weeks later in the year, and, so far, once a week I have a major delay or a simple but large job where one of us can run ashore and stock up on food, pick up supplies and drop off bags and bags of paperwork. Also, trash, which also comes in bags and bags. Since it's so busy, only gasoline barges and guys with major maintenance issues get shore access, so everything is done remotely, by tugboat.
Yesterday was my turn to go ashore, and it was OK. It could have been glorious, but I managed to get some black oil on a brand new shore-going jacket and my best pair of jeans. Dammit, now I've got a $150 set of work clothes. So it goes. That wasn't enough to stop me from getting a quick 5-mile walk in and to stock up on green stuff before running a couple of pallets of boxes and bulky stuff like mooring lines and a new liferaft back out to the anchorage, where, on arrival, everything was sent up via crane, stowed, and I jumped into the shower, then bed.
So, after that, back to the routine. Wake up, eat, caffeinate, check the load plan, relieve the watch.
Lost on the Last Continent, Episode 20, Prison Pit
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