I've been sleeping like shit this past week.
Normally I sleep better on board HAWSEPIPER's Afloat Global HQ/ Gas n' Guzzle than I do at home. This just hasn't been the case this past week.
We've been nonstop since shortly after I got aboard. The longest I've been on watch without running cargo has been 90 minutes. Now, I'm not bitching here, not at all; someone's gonna pay me, they're going to expect me to work when asked to do so. That's fine. It's just been bad luck- bad weather, bad berths, bad people.
It's been gusty but not too cold since I got back almost a week ago. Tugs bouncing off us, us bouncing off docks, etc, etc. These things happen no matter how perfectly you plan and execute a mooring or a making-up.
For some reason, we've been dealing with container crane noise to an unusual degree. I don't know if the local stevedores just released a bunch of trainees or what, but we spent one night where people were exercising the roll motors on a container crane, which is accompanied by an ear-splitting 3-tone alarm. Right over our heads, for 8 hours, most of which was my off-time. There was no sleeping that night. The very next watch, we were discharging into a big container ship, and the two cranes working over our heads were just SLAMMING containers off each other, to the point where I watched a stack sway up towards our bow, far overhead, and stayed the hell away from our bow for a while, and the noise of the operators crashing containers into place was so intense that the vibration carried through a 1,000+ft 100,000+ton ship and rattled the dishes in our cabinets. For hours.
So, between that, and the healthy eating I'm doing these days, I've been plenty grumpy. Nothing like working in the cold and damp for 8 hours, followed up by a salad with no dressing except for pepper and vinegar and a piece of baked chicken the size of my palm. Bon Appetit!
So, tonight, 2 hours after falling asleep, I am woken up by our tugboat blowing the whistle, trying to get the bums on tonight's container ship up and out of each other's asses and to pull up our lines. This took an hour, whereas normally it runs 10-20 minutes. Nothing to do with our tug, which has great boat handlers on boat watches. After an hour, I'm half-dozing, when the crash of container lashings right over my head starts. It's the sound of broken glass, pretty much, having these steel rods dropped from a height onto the deck of the ship about 25-30 feet over my head. Then the cranes start smashing the containers off the cell guides in the hold of the ship right next to me.
So, no sleeping through that. I get up. My partner, Big B, is an eggplant color, after fighting with a slow, lazy and uncooperative engineer from the ship. B is more patient than I. Whereas I will fuss and threaten, make phone calls (having the ship's agent call and wake up the captain to tell the engineer to hurry the fuck up and do his job is one of the great pleasures of my life on board. Nothing soothes anger like spreading it) and pressure ships' crew to get cargo moving, Big B will be curt and patient, and seethe for but a moment. He's 10 years older than me, and will probably live longer than I will.
At any rate, I hit a patch of zen just before coming on watch at midnight. Since we're carrying a large load of diesel and a full load of heavy fuel oil, it's going to take up most of the night and all of the morning today to get it off of there. Much of which can be spent productively. So, amazingly, despite what would normally be circumstances that would lead to a personal meltdown, I'm OK, and thankful that B got to fuss out the ship's crew, and I get to be Good Cop by just pumping cargo and keeping my head down and yap shut for once.
The Writer as She’s Spoken
17 minutes ago