This week I'm 'working over,' which means that I'm on my scheduled off time, but am working anyhow. Since I took a week off to ride out hurricane Irma, I decided to work rather than go home on my regular time off. The work was available, and it gives me a chance to keep in coffers full.
For whatever reason, I was placed on a clean oil barge, something I haven't done in I think about 8 years.
Clean oil service is actually quite a bit easier than bunker work, which is my usual m.o. It's mostly dock-to-dock and closed gauging, which means that the tanks are physically kept closed for the most part, and vapors are collected and burnt off by the terminal when loading, so there's no pervasive and eye-watering stink that is associated with black oil. Good thing, too, as gasoline, which is what we're carrying, has far more VOC's (volitile organic compounds) that are hazardous or harmful, compared to the relatively tame but still not healthful vapors of bunker fuel. Both are dangerous and unhealthy. Gasoline moreso, so there's greater emphasis on containment of vapors.
End of the day, it's much of a muchness compared to my usual work. Oh, it's cleaner, much cleaner work, and there's no ships and foreign ships' crews to deal with. The schedule is generally less breakneck and far less chaotic. It's actually pretty nice.
Nice isn't high up on my list of things I have to have, though. Truth is, I could see this getting awful boring before too long. One week isn't very long, I don't have much to worry about there. Things are unfamiliar enough that I have to be more vigilant and mindful of the differences between what I'm doing and what I normally do, so my stress level is up, which is not a bad thing. Increased vigilance. Still, it's not rocket science and there aren't a million charterer-specific rules that I have to parse when dealing with the half-dozen companies who own the oil that I normally carry. There's ONE charterer on board this barge, and they have their rules, which are mostly the same as everyone else's... and don't get me started on the paperwork! Oh, so nice here. 3 pages of documentation. Bunkering, each load produces a half-inch thick sandwich of tax forms, declarations, MSDS's, contracts, pro-forma declarations, etc etc etc. Wasn't always that way, of course. Bunkering required about 4-5 pages just 5 years ago. Progress, my aunt Fanny, I guess.
I can't say as I know enough to really know what the next 6 days will hold. Either way, it's something different, and given my recent feelings of work getting somewhat dull, this is to the good.