Monday, August 10, 2015

some days

We've all had those days.

    Yesterday, in a word, sucked.

     Chinese container ship. Taking a slightly bigger than average load of oil and diesel.

 Well, fuck me gently with a chainsaw, the US Coast Guard is on the ship, cayying out a Port State Control inspection.

 When Uncle Sugar's Sea Scouts are on the scene, everything is FUCKED. They're doing an important job, keeping everyone honest and safe, but there's no feedback loop here, so when we get moored to the ship, we have to sit and warm our thumbs in our own exhaust, sometimes for hours before we start to work. So, after a while, the frantic phone calls are coming in, and if we're carrying oil for more than one ship, the next ship either has to wait or not have oil, which can make everyone cranky when you're talking about tens of thousands of dollars in penalty time when a thirsty ship goes off-hire.

 So everyone's cranky now, including yours truly. When, four hours later, the ship's crew finally shows up, it's a hot mess. No one speaks english, and, early on in an oil transfer, that's sort of OK. Eventually before we start actually moving oil, I've got to touch base with an English speaker to hash out the details in a pre-transfer conference, but while we're passing papers and hooking up oil hoses, pantomime works fine. Crane move commands are supposed to be universal, although most non-American sailors don't know the signals (and many Americans don't either, sadly, but some do), and hooking up the hoses isn't supposed to take 90 minutes. Maybe 20. But today it was 90.

 OK, not every ship has the same size pipe connections. We have reducers that allow us to connect to about any manifold connection out there. So these guys are trying hard to be efficient. They send me down a diagram of the connections with measurements for EVERYTHING. In millimeters.
 I've got to swallow my pride here. I'm actually REALLY good, for an American, at using the metric system. Years of practice as a scientist in my past career iteration. But these guys are sending me measurements in millimeters for every dimension of their diesel and black oil connections, none of which match the one criteria I need to know- the internal dimension of the connection flange. I've got everything else out there. They even mention the grade of steel that the damn thing's made of, and the manufacturer's name. But not the one thing I need. So I eyeball it, grab a 3"X4" reducer for the diesel, (a little reducer weighing about 25lbs), and hang it off the #1 hook of my crane, which also is holding the end of the diesel hose, and I swing that up to the ship, about 50ft overhead.

     After  a minute or two, the frustrated Chinamen are yelling at me in their language, that they need a reducer. I point literally 18 inches over their heads, to the #1 hook on the crane, where the reducer is still hanging. They point right back at me. I pantomime EVERYTHING, pointing at my eyes, then overhead, trying to get them to look up. Nothing. Guys are just as dumb as shit. They are now waving arms and yelling back at me. Their arms, magically, are passing withing inches of the reducer, which is slowly swinging just over their heads in a slow arc.

 Anyways I have had enough. I don't like being yelled at in English, and if I want to get yelled at in a foreign language, I'll just go home and fight with my wife. I step over to the crane controls, drop the hook about a foot, and let the reducer bonk the hardhat right off the main asshole's head. Perfect shot. His hard hat drops the 50ft or so to my deck, cracks in half like an egg, and I got it just right- he barely felt it. But the yelling was, I'm pretty sure, the Chinese word for "SHIT!" I point up at the reducer again. The guys, no apology, connect the reducer and eventually my hose.

 So, dispite a 4 hour delay, the crew of this ship were so retarded that they managed to delay us another 3 extra hours, so we were 7 hours late coming to the next ship in our queue. This was a rotten old chemical ship at the end of her life, so they weren't on a big money charter, and apparently could wait. That job went well, but we missed the tide for our next load, so there's ANOTHER 5 hour delay while I'm sitting here, typing this, waiting for the tide to turn and we can continue on to our next job.

 Well, fuck it, tomorrow's the halfway point of this tour.

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