Friday, September 26, 2008

name that smell

So, today was trash day.

On a ship, plastic and oily waste gets segregated and stored, so that when it is convenient, we can dispose of the trash ashore. Jettisoning plastic into the ocean is NEVER done, and is one of the most well-adhered-to shipboard regulations...and today was the day when it was time to dump the trash. A launch came into our anchorage last night and dropped a couple of dumpsters off for us. We humped all the trash from the storage areas to midships- a bit of an event, as there are two flights of stairs and a 250-ft. walk involved. With 9 warm bodies, it did go quickly.
So my part in this affair was to hump the plastic bags and throw 'em down onto the main deck. Some of these bags will weigh up around 60-70 lbs, so I sling 'em over my shoulder and do a Santa style walk to the ladders... and, unfortunately, one of the bags leaked a little, but I didn't see it right away. No oil, thank God, but there was a little stagnant water involved.

So I'm walking with my bag, and I get this sulphurous smell assaulting me. Like rotten eggs, wet moldy laundry, a gym locker, and maybe a little poop in there, too.
Flashback: twice a year, we had to move the lobster holding tank on The Notorious B.O.B.'s lobsterboat, and scrub out the dead crabs, fishbones and mud that got under there. The smell was identical: ammonia and sulphur- well, hydrogen sulfide, actually- the smell of low tide, which is dangerous in enclosed spaces, so folks, don't be sleeping in any trash bags full of stagnant water, OK?

Anyhow, while I'm flashing back, this black water is dripping down my back, through my boilersuit, underdrawers, and my nether regions. I was pissed, but I have a sinus infection, so I can't smell too much. Everyone else could, though. I was, ah, unpopular there for the rest of trash time. One guy said I should shit myself so I smelled better for everyone else.

Let me tell you, a shower never felt so good.

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