Sunday, May 31, 2015

busy little bees

It's been a busy week here at HAWSEPIPER's Afloat Global HQ/ Money Making Factory.

 I'm not kidding- there has been the odd 3-hour break here and there, but for the most part, we're moving oil from terminal to ship, then steaming right back to another terminal.

 Someone's making money. Mostly the shipyards, I think. My employer is cranking out new tonnage every month, and there are a lot of new faces here around NY harbor as our mariners upgrade licensure and new entry-level folks are put in the pipeline as trainees.

Yesterday was a cruel mistress. We had loaded cargo for 2 ships the day before, and  finished discharging oil to the first ship at about 0200 yesterday By 0400 we were sitting pretty, and got a whole 90 minutes of lay time. After that it was time to head to the next ship. I woke up and came on watch as we got ready to moor alongside a cruise ship, and took care of that. We were hopeful of time to get groceries on board, trash off, and our supplies for the month loaded aboard before heading to the next load.

 It wasn't to be. A last minute change in plans, and we went right from the cruise ship to another dock, there to load a small quantity (about 150,000 gallons, miniscule, for us) of diesel for two dredge boats that want fuel after breakfast today.
   RayRay, my Sancho Panza here at the Q', woke me up at 2230. He polished sufficient booty over the phone to score us shore access at my company's NY HQ dock for the 9 hour break we have waiting for our discharges. So he and I got into his car and went grocery shopping at the ghetto grocery store at 11pm, which was better than you'd think. No 500-lb ladies screaming at each other and waving their EBT cards like bloated and deformed fan dancers. No hookers fighting while waiting for their pimp to pick them up at the curb. In fact, it was pretty peaceful, just RayRay, me, some old folks and some 2nd shift workers on their way home.

 We have this steel basket/cage that's about a cubic yard in size, and that we loaded with trash that was too heavy to survive being tossed onto the dock, and swung that onto the pier. Couple of trips with a trash cart, and we are feeling good about keeping the flies down for a few days. We threw our groceries in the cart, than loaded up the freezers and such. I'm leaving in a few days, and like to buy a month's worth of heavy shit before I go- soda, frozen meat and chicken, etc. That shit is ridiculously expensive to buy in New York.

 From there we headed to the warehouse, and the steel cages that contain supplies left for guys who come in after hours.  
 Once a month or so I order the stuff we need to keep going. Consumables, cleaning supplies, light bulbs, gloves and rags, etc... we stole a heavy cart and humped all the boxes and cases down the pier, and loaded up the basket and swung the crane back on deck. From there it was a matter of zipping up the ladder and stowing everything, and by then it was 2am.

 Anyhow, as soon as I sign this off, I have to start the paperwork that comes with our cargo discharges later this morning. I'll be going to bed before that starts, I hope. We work a 48-hour watch cycle, so every other day I'm up from midnight to 8am, which ensures that everyone gets to see the sun, and also that everyone gets experience doing everything that the barge is called to do. In that way, everyone can do every job that we normally do. Some guys hoard experience, preferring to do the complex jobs rather than delegate to subordinates. While I do NOT like training people, I make sure that every time I have to do something that my second man can't do with confidence, he learns how to do the job, so that next time he doesn't need me, or, at worst, only needs me there to hold his hand for cofidence building.

 My shoreside supervisors are kind folks. They know that neither I nor Big B, the other big cheese here on the 'Q, like training, so they don't punish us by putting trainees on here. I'm an INSANE type A personality, and so is Big B, and I'd be a miserable trainer, and worse, I'd be ready to suck-start a shotgun on day one. I do not play well with others, and the single biggest draw to my job (other than the paycheck) is the fact that our permanent crew here on the 'Q all respect the need for me to have my alone time. Having a trainee shadowing me is my idea of punishment. I just don't like people that much. We have worked hard to cultivate an environment here on board where we're all good, close friends, and that's such a rare and fragile thing that the least interruption causes gastric upset and hissy-fits.  Point in fact, one of the best things about working on the 'Q is that we can sit at the dinner table and talk for 2-3 hours if we feel the need, but some days we will sit at the table for those 2-3 hours, reading or watching TV or whatever, and not one word is spoken because we're not in the mood for that. Even living in confined quarters, it's possible to have comfortable solo time with another adult 5 feet away, if you're both of the proper mindset.

 Anyhow, time to go. I've got trees to kill and landfills to fill with empty ink cartridges. The HQ runs on diesel and paper.

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