I am on a first name basis with our support and management staff, and I have found this very helpful in keeping the HQ in compliance and running like, well, if not a Cadillac, than an old Corolla, anyhow.
A few weeks ago we had a dockside day where we performed various required tests on board, stuff that has to be done periodically. It was also a good chance for a walk-around with the office staff. Like always, a fresh set of eyes can see things that I might gloss over, subacute issues. Let me explain.
To borrow the term from the US Navy, we have gripes about the conditions of equipment on board. There are 'up' gripes, where we identify sub-optimal things that will need attention but not immediately (wear and tear, upcoming expiration dates, things like that), things that will not affect how we do our job, and then there are 'down' gripes, things that need attention now, or that have the potential to create trouble.
A walk-through with our local shoreside staff- my vessel supervisor ashore, and the port captain), will usually include discussion about my list of gripes, and we'll go over options in seeing them addressed, and discuss opinions on when and where we can address these things or do better in monitoring them. This is good for everyone, as it's easy to get complacent on my part, or to make assumptions, and for our shoreside support, they can see overall conditions, and also bring fresh eyes aboard. Sometimes they DO see things I don't, which is always disconcerting but also welcome. A rust spot under the plastic sheathe of a safety cable, things like that, which I might not catch but which could become a problem.
I suspect that it's a two-way learning process, as well .I know enough to know, for example, that I have 2 1/2 full turns left in the stuffing box of one of my cargo drop valve stems, and that valve has only needed its' stuffing box nuts tightened down 1/4 turn in the past three years. So when asked about it, I talk about it, and my rapport with the port captain is such that he knows I'm already aware, and he trusts my judgement. In such ways we reassure each other that we're watching everything for mutual support.
So yesterday one of the health and safety inspectors from the Main Office (as opposed to the local office), the HQ, came down for a walkthrough, basically doing the same thing with a fresh set of eyes and a slightly different perspective. I know the guy a little bit, and he knows the job, but he doesn't know the barge, or me. Somewhat different process as a result, and while it was professional and cordial, it wasn't the same, which is both positive and negative. He doesn't know, for example, whether or not I know the last time the cargo crane cable was cropped, or whether or not part of our deck containment system chafes certain mooring lines. Without the assumptions made about situational awareness, having a fresh perspective can sometimes provide positive insights.
It can be a little annoying though.I've said before that you can shave a monkey and make a tankerman out of him, but the difference between competent and good is a pretty vast gulf. Thing is, the safety guy from the HQ doesn't know me, and doesn't know which camp I'm in, as far as whether I lick windows or do crossword puzzles in my leisure time, so it'd be rude of me to hurry the guy along. And in the end he did find something good, something we could be doing better. AND, hopefully, in talking through things with him, he can bring that with him to his next job.
Well, 6 days more, anyhow. I've got channel fever pretty bad this time. I have SO MUCH to do when I get home, between finishing the move out of my house and moving the last of the stuff into the new house. I'm ready to get the hell started so I can finish up.