Is software the devil in drag

Allatsea has faced gun toting drunk border guards in Malabo, irate wives, irate husbands, mad mums, lunatic socialists (aren’t they all), mono-syllabic fascists, life leeching tax inspectors, rabied doggies and Margate’s finest BUT  none of those occasions have EVER given rise to so much angst and worry as dealing with in-house produced software like wot he’s dealing with today gnash gnash gnash.

Details won’t be revealed here save to say life would be a lot easier if said software would disappear in flash of cyber justice.


On a happier note, dropped the van off at the mechanics in Westgate earlier on. Needed to get back to the desk sharpish (to deal with errant software mentioned above) and rather than spend half an hour walking the two miles back to the Towers, bundled the old ATB into the back of the van and used it to ride back. Wanting to avoid the risk of being run down by yer typical rush hour jamjar hero he took the seafront promenade route. The tide was up, right up, wavelets lapping at the rails, there was no wind, co clouds, no-one else about. Gorgeous, absolutely wonderful ride home. It really is, a very lovely place to live. Sometimes though, familiarity breeds contempt. It had in this case until this morning opened his eyes again.


Nine thousands tonnes of jacket going walkabouts in Verdal, Norway.

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Easter blighted by travel to work. Not completely blighted, travelling out on the Sunday, but enough to be, blighted, so to speak.


Never mind.


Genesis gig from 1973 playing on You Tube, a great rushing wave of nostalgia is washing over the office. Allatsea was always very suspicious of folks wot liked mainstream pop stuff. If ever there was a situation (and there was, frequently) when he found himself liking a song or track that could be so described he would immediately take steps to either pretend he didn’t like it (in public) or re-designate its genre  as alternative prog, underground expose or inward house, anything to allow him to continue liking it in the public forum without shame. Pathetic isn’t it. That said Steve Hackett’s work is still worth listening to, big time. The towers will often don travelling kit and make the pilgrimage to see him and his band. The first time we saw Genesesi was circa 1971 at Gravesend’s Woodville Halls and admission was around 50p. Those were the days…..sigh. Not all folk are so picky though. The other day when the towers asked daddy Dan where Dan was (Dan is a 38 year old chartered engineer) and was informed that he’d gone to the O2 to see ‘Take That’  we couldn’t help but blurt out, shocked, ‘Christ! Has  he really?’. No shame in that house hold obviously. God help us.

In a similar vein BBC4 was re-running ‘Guitar Heroes’ late last night, mostly wonderful stuff (Ronnie Wood is NOT a guitar great, not then, not now, not ever), Johnny Winter’s version of  ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ though, was wonderful wonderful wonderful stuff. Drifted off to bobos very happy indeed. A lovely day it had been all the way through. Mate Mick P was newly returned from his winter sojurn in Spain, very fine to see him again. We marked the occasion by spending 8 hours in Wetherspoons. Thank you Wethers!!! Any place where you can  get a large plate of cod and chips and mushy peas…..and a pint, for £6.50 has got to be applauded and supported. Judging by the crowds in there, it was. Long may they continue. As for Mr Thorley, a local pub operator famed for attracting the town trash, in quantity, to his establishments………………..let’s hope he continues to do so.

So that’s it for today, Air Chance flight to Nantes at 1415 from LCY tomorrow. At least the telly news won’t be mandatorily showing footage of the Royal Baby. Frankly parading the newborn as some kind of  ‘aren’t we clever, isn’t he/she cute’ trophy statement, royal or otherwise, is sickmaking. Bleurghhhhh!!

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Boats, memories, places, friends


Venting the dry bulk tanks, North Sea, 1996, Maersk Mystery


Working the S7000, towing her (as an assist vessel to her own thrusters) from Ushant to offshore Pointe Noire. Maersk Mariner.


Aberdeen circa 1996/97. The diminutive Maersk Trader. The Shetland ferry (P and O) can be seen in the background.



Three ‘hands’ on MV Zealence circa 1984. We were paid ‘shares’ of the cargo freightage rather than set wages and we  supplied our own food. Some times it was good money and sometimes very poor. During the miners strike, it was good, around £900 a week running coke from Calais to Mistley Quay, Essex.



Barge handling (a dark art allatsea always found), West Africa. S7000 on the horizon.



Aberdeen, Trinity Quay. Mariner and Trader on the spot market. Some days the  ships go out for £6000/day, on another when the market was really  tight and rigs needed moving, £100,000 a day. Just to get  things in proportion, the fuel and consumables were extra of course. The Mariner could burn 50 tonnes a day (ifo) when cranked up, that’s around $30,000. The joys of it.


RFA days. 1977. RFA Tidereach. Pictured the 8-12, Engineer, mate and sparky at around two in the morning. Nowadays you’ll be dismissed for sniffing a barmaid’s apron, then it seemed mandatory to drink like a whale.


Quart in a Pint Pot, 1996, Colonel Brown and disciples, drunk nunky in the background.


Two of the hands on MV Kindrence, London and Rochester’s finest. The company was quite infamous for the eclectic nature of its crews.The one on the left was a Medway thug and nothing more, the one on the right was as daft as a brush and maintained that he only slept with his sister once.


Another Kindrence hand. True to stereo type, and like all the rest of us on there, odd…..but nice.


Swansea 1976 (allatsea was always very lucky with the exotic destinations visited), British Cormorant. Note the ‘proper’ cargo ship coming through the cut.


My closest friend, Kevin Smith, pictured in Dover in 1999. A  Master Mariner AND ATPL, sadly killed by the bastard cancer three years ago. The nicest man I ever met, certainly the coolest under pressure.


Moi, Maersk Finder, 1998. A PSV rather than a AHT, the Finder was the worst, un-happiest year of my maritime life. Running between Asco Peterhead and the BP ETAP field 8 hours out of Aberdeen. The five week trips were non-stop hell on Earth as far as the driving Mates were concerned. No DP and  one mate watches. A ludicrous workload. After four trips I’d had enough. Went back to AHTs and never looked  back. To this day I have an aversion to Peterhead and ALL things ASCO.


Look carefully, 4 BP Bird Class tankers laid up in Barry Docks 1976.


Blimey, taken several centuries ago, mr and mrs allatsea playing publicans. The mental scars are still visible, even in low light. The pub, despite the carnage of the industry in recent years, is still trading, just. We left in 1995. Thank God.


Ken the 2nd Engineer on Maersk Mariner, demonstrating why only young and fit people should ever go topless.


Las Palmas, cargo ops to S7000, discharging a 40 tonne reel of 83mm wire….from the forward hold!! A rare thing in the offshore world.

Steve Close Pointe Noire pool

And finally for this post (‘hooray’ they cry) Stevey Close getting out of the Pool on the  way home from Mariner via two bars and the swimming pool at Ponte Noire. Happy days they were.

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The Thanet Clive Fart Column

Working For the Council

A bloke goes to Thanet council to apply for a job in the council leader’s office.

The interviewer asks him, “Are you allergic to anything?”
He replies, “Yes, caffeine.”
“Have you ever worked for the public service before?”
“Yes, I was in the army” he says, “I was in Iraq for two tours.”
The interviewer says, “That will give you 5 extra points toward employment.”
Then he asks, “Are you disabled in any way?”
The guy says, “Yes. A mine exploded near me when I was there and I lost both of my testicles”.

The interviewer grimaces and then says, “O.K. You’ve got enough points for me to take you on
right away.
Our normal hours are from 8.00am to 4.00pm, but you can start tomorrow at 10.00am – and carry on starting at 10.00am every day.”
The bloke is puzzled and asks, “If the work hours are from 8.00am to 4.00pm, why don’t you want me here until 10.00am?
I’m not looking for any special treatment y’know”
“What you have to understand is that this is a council job,” the interviewer says,
“For the first two hours, we just stand around drinking coffee and scratching our bollocks”

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Sunny Margitt

Spring is truly here, in fact it was so sunny and pleasant today that we of  the towers partook of a late afternoon perambulation along the foreshore. Sights to behold, only the culture centre that is Margitt could host such celebration of beach style, a feast for the eyes?

Capture Drunk on beach

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Boats, drivel and other stuff.

MV Robin

Pictured in Lowestoft circa 2009 or possibly 2010. The good but terribly uninteresting ship, ‘Robin’. The beneficiary of lorry loads of public and legacy cash to restore this boring old un-miraculous hull and tow it to somewhere as a museum piece which will dull the senses of any maritime enthusiast and singularly un-inspire  the layman. A complete waste of money in our ‘umble opinion guvnor.



An ex MCA ‘fast cat’ and proposed for use on the Thanet Windfarm Project. The smallest boat allatsea has ever ‘audited’. It wasn’t used. Far too small to be of use to man or beast on anything other than the smoothest of inshore waters.


Ballast panel 541

The ballast control panel on a large launch barge. Can’t remember which one, probably one of HMC’s.



Another ballast control panel on a launch barge. After 10 years of looking at these things the memory starts to merge, sadly. Probably another of HMC’s but possibly one of the big Saipem units.


Pipe-laying on Apache 2.


Where you bolt  a blade to a wind turbine nacelle.


Looking along the insides of a turbine blade, in this case for a 3.0MW Vestas unit.


Racks of WTG blades on a self elevating installation vessel.Fully loaded the vessel had 27 blades, 9 nacelles and 9 WTG towers. In good weather and if the ship’s engineers weren’t being girly precious about their jacking routines, 9 WTGs could be installed in 5-6 days. It rarely happened of course. Lessons learned? Insist that the SEIV has more than one person capable of operating the jack up equipment. Most of them do of course, some, who should know better, don’t.


Rows of Nacelles at Dunkirk, bound for Blighty windfarms.


Lay barge UR101, Pegwell Bay, Kent, export cable pull in. The cable installation company ‘Subocean’, went bankrupt shortly after this picture was taken. I think they were absorbed into Technip. Their nick-name was ‘Pubocean’. Truth be told, we never met anyone from ‘Subocean’ who impressed. They were all nice and charming  though, so can be forgiven anything and everything.

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Westbrook at the dead of night.

Ssshhhh! All is quiet. No traffic on the road, just two ships anchored in the Roads, telly on mute, the gentle hum from the pooter cooling fan the only discernible sound. Very calming, very nice.

Apart from a short visit to mummy allatsea to check on the old girl, the day has involved nowt but stagnation and sloth.  True the keyboard took a bit of a hammering at times but as physical movement and industry was concerned, bugger all. That said there was a half hearted attempt at one point to set the world of culinary experiment on fire by making up a bowl of hummus using half chick peas and half  pearl barley. It was very yum but unlikely to get tongues wagging in any sense of the word. Still, a marked improvement on recent attempts using the more traditional approach. Imho of course. No imminent call to appear on ‘Saturday Kitchen’ expected. The only reason us at the towers would like to get such an invite would be  so that the chance of bumping into Greg Wallace (him off the telly) would improve a tadge and then we could tell him, face to ugly face, just what a blagging fraud he is. Ahh, deep joy at that thought. Come to think of it though, he probably gets told that quite a lot, millions of times a day, most likely.

Off to France next week. Good Friday will be spent in or around Nantes. CMID’ing a freighter.  There’s very little in the maritime world that is more dull than vessel audits, but that said  it will be done with good grace and enthusiasm. Clients pay a fair old wodge for such services so only fair to give them what they pay for. Board with a smile, a hefty dose of cynicism, a 50 page checklist and all will be well. I note that said vessel is Russian managed, so fingers crossed all the documentation is in the  language of the good and the great and not in Cyrillic or similar. The thought of travelling in the Catholic nation that is Belle France may prove to be  a bit of challenge over the Easter holidays but time will tell on that. Time to dust off the Tom Tom and venture forth by jamjar probably the best bet. Relying on trains and taxis  not a good idea this time.

The picture below has absolutely nothing to do with the previous three paragraphs. It was taken in a Tabernacle Street tavern (just of Old Street, London)  and the reason the photo was taken was not to celebrate chip culture or record a momentous pub lunch but rather to support any subsequent litigation. They charged allatsea £5 for that plate of anaemic garbage (around 25p a chip) and ‘me and the boys’ were not happy. That said, after  four pints of Amstel, allatsea really didn’t care any more.


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