Sunday, October 1, 2017

A slight case of the ass

It's been too busy too blog these past few days. I get up, I work, I shower, go to bed, repeat.

  Whatever the word from on high may be, this rotten little POS barge, my company's red-headed neglected stepchild, has been nonstop, and trying to keep it running is a nonstop business too. Pumps overheat, gens shut down if you look at them funny, oil just ends up everywhere and the accommodations are about on par with a Pakastani hospice.
 That being said, I'm doing well. I'm working over, so this is just money to be made beyond my salary, so that's nice, having it available. I was excited to have gotten a tugboat babysitting job, but my current home away from home away from home needed someone, of course. No one will voluntarily stay here, and it shows the worst of what a tankerman can do if allowed to go feral. Pots and pans put away dirty, decks and bulkheads unscrubbed, engines with unknown hours on the lube oil, etc etc... and it's a bad luck boat, too. Some career ending injuries... and today.

 This barge has 3 pump houses on deck. 2 amidships, and one more forward. We were alongside an oil tanker in ballast today, and 1/2 way through a small transfer. I had just gotten out of the bunk and was looking over the papers and computer while caffeinating, and hadn't taken the watch yet. The other guy on here is talking about what's happening, as we start the info exchange that comes with assuming a watch. He's looking out the porthole and says in a slightly alarmed voice "What the fuck?" 

 I look too. There's a ballast overboard discharge on the ship, about 8 feet above our deck level, and an 8-inch torrent of white water blasting out at fire-hose force, all over and inside one of the pump houses, which have a hatch propped open for cooling, unfortunately facing directly the ship.

     We both run outside, doing the pee-pee dance/shut down arm-wave semaphore and yelling, and the water slows down and stops after about a minute. The pump is running- as luck would have it, the stream was broken by the top of the hatch coaming of the pumphouse, so the engine deep inside didn't get hosed... but there was a foot of water sloshing around inside the pumphouse, which doesn't have drains, as it's also a containment zone for the engine, a big Detroit, which slings oil everywhere by nature... so now there's about a thousand gallons of seawater in the house.

 Luckily, a coolant leak the other day led me to get on hands-and knees and wipe out the whole deck of the pumphouse, so there was almost no oil sheen in the water.

 Since this barge has no permanent crew, feral tankermen behaving badly while away from their own homes get awful sticky fingers. Fuckers have left almost no pans or silverware, spares are nonexistent, and there's no portable pumps, so I cut an old piece of hose, make up a siphon, and dump the pumphouse water on deck, where I can watch for a sheen and also where we have means of containing any oil from getting over the side. Of course I get a mouthful of ballast seawater/oil traces/20 years of soot, footprints and what have you, too, and start gagging. It tastes like soap and shame. But I decant 90% of the water by simple siphon and there's no oil in it, it being under the surface of the skin of water still sloshing in the pumphouse, so that's a good thing. We have a draft load of oil to load tomorrow, which means the pumps will be cranking out overtime, and hopefully these prone-to-overheating pump engines will boil off most of that leftover water. Still, I expect I'm going to get steamed like a carrot when I check on the pump throughout that discharge.

 If it was a little colder, I'd be tempted to make Detroit Diesel Fish Chowder, but I don't like chowder when it's not below freezing outside. It's a winter dish for me. Still, if you want to make it, it's easy. You just need a Detroit Diesel, a metal coffee can and some ingredients.I don't make it on the HQ, because we have Cummins engines, which, obviously, just isn't the same.



Jill said...

sounds like a hell of a way to start your day- interrupting your caffeinating- bad news.
Lucky it wasn't worse!

STxAR said...

I was exercising the emergency generator at our tower site... when a guy walks in the transmitter room asking to borrow our microwave. We didn't have one. I offered to put his lunch on the generator to heat it up. He looked at me like I had grown horns or something. No imagination...