A sad tale from offshore Egypt

Blue so deep you feel you could drown if you stared too long. Not like Westbrook Bay. Grey, brown, muddy brown, muddy grey. Sometimes, on sunny quiet days it’s green and nice. Rarely, though at least once or twice a year, inviting.

The small birds descended, in their hundreds onto the busy working deck. Sparrows in the main but some finches too, and, some tiny exotics. We are 70 miles from land and the wind is strong and pushing them away from it. We are their last hope then, us or death.

The giant carousel laden with subsea umbilical turns, ceaselessly. Orange clad men, reflective tape at queer angles, dash about the deck highlighted in the harsh electric faux-day. The tiny feathered things are confused and panicked and weary.

We eat like stuffed Kings at a banquet yet there is no food for the arrivals, no water, no rest, no haven. The fluttering diminishes as the days pass. The numbers lessen, as does the attention paid by the unwilling observers.

Today, at first, just one then not long after, none.


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Do you think this is genuine?




I am Mrs Theresa COLEMAN, a Sierra Leonean, the wife of Late DR. JOHNSON COLEMAN of blessed memory. My late husband was the chairman of Sierra Leonean National Diamond & Gold Corporation. My husband was killed along with my three children in our Freetown residence while I was out. They were assassinated by rebels led by Major John Paul Koromah on 18/06/98. Because my family never supported the way Major John Paul Koromah and his splinter group overthrew our legitimate President, Tijan Kabba and forced him to exile.

After the assassination of my husband and three children, when the African Peace Keeping Forces (ECOMOG) soldiers were in control of my village MENDE, I left my hide-out in my village. When I was searching for some information in our family villa, I found the key to my late husband’s underground strong room, I discovered one metallic box containing twenty eight million US Dollars (US $28,000,000.00)

Meanwhile, I made an arrangement with a fisherman that operates a fishing trawler boat who smuggled me along with the box that contained the money through West African coast waters to Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, where I deposited the box as family valuable and artifects in a security company.

Now, I have decided to look for a trustworthy and reliable foreign partner who will assist me by using his bank connections to transfer this money for investment in his country. I suggest offering you (20%) of the total money if you will assist me to have this transaction done.

(1) To help me used your bank connections (Company or personal) to transfer this money for investment in your country. (2) Provide a lucrative business where this money will be wisely invested. (3) To help me to secure a permanent residence permit as I would love to spend the rest of my life doing business overseas.

It is advisable that you will come to Abidjan to meet me in person to enable us know one another and thereafter, sign a written agreement that will improve the basis of mutual trust. Every other information needed will be given to you on request.

Note that your urgent assistance is needed to facilitate this transaction. For confidential purpose, you should handle this transaction with utmost secrecy. Looking forward to hearing from you soon. For more information contact my only survival son Mr Benson COLEMAN on the above Tel/Fax number. Thanks for your prompt co-operation.

Yours faithfully,


Cylinder head maintenance on #3 main engine  'Maersk Supporter'. Absolutely nothing to do with Gambian politics. The last time allatsea was in Gambia (1963) Banjul was called Bathurst and was well remembered for being a mosquito infested shitheap. Bless.

Cylinder head maintenance on #3 main engine ‘Maersk Supporter’.

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On this day 5 years ago

Recently it was my very ‘appy berffday. I’m now 14 years and six weeks older than the more optimistic estimates made by family members around thirty years ago. In those days I did tend to live a rather boozy hedonistic lifestyle so a life expectancy of 40 was regarded as rather conservative. Ahh the marvels of healthy living.


Maersk Mariner at Trinity Quay, Aberdeen, 1996

Memsahib allatsea has rather usefully purchased one of those mini handheld computers with ‘brain training’ software installed. I’d seen the adverts on the telly and she must picked up on my interest. Well done that lady. Last night I had my first go at ‘What age is your brain?’ I’d rather not share the value the stupid thing came up with safe to say it wasn’t accurate or complementary. That said, we had just wellied a large bottle of French fizz (thankyou Steve and Mel) and I’d followed that up with sociable quantities of Gordan’s finest so I wasn’t on the best numeric form.
In a quiet moment a few minutes ago  I repeated that test and was  scored at 47 (ahem). What inordinate and dis-proportionate joy that news has brought. Dear me, the shallowness that age consciousness brings, I stand ashamed.
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A plug for my bro

This is a shameless plug for my brother’s firm’s (he is one of the owning partners) latest product in the world of ‘Apps’.

He like allatsea earned his living as a sailor type for a large part of his life, albeit it in a faggy noncyponcy ‘technical’ capacity. It still counts though :o)


curbi is big in Tennessee and about to get bigger!

We’re excited to be attending the Tennessee Association of Independent Schools 2014 Biennial Conference.

This is the first time we’ve taken curbi on the road and we’re looking forward to sharing the curbi story with many more people.

The TAIS 2014 Conference is on November 2 and 3 at the Brentwood Academy, Tennessee (just outside Nashville).

curbi will be on the show floor at Booth 10 and will be presented by Justin Magraith, curbi Product Director and Bradley Chambers, Director of ICT, Brainerd Baptist School at 10am on Monday morning.

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Originally posted on Shawn L. Bird:

Oh, back row,

You’re so cool.

Won’t do your school work.

Hang out at the smoke pit.

Drunk all weekend.




The front row

gets its work done,

laughs with friends,

finds healthy fun.

They will graduate,

get into college

and employ you

at minimum wage.

It’s never cool

to peak in

high school.

View original

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Nearly time to sail

That’s it then, this bit, done.

One carousel loaded with 29km of umbilical and a 200 tonne reel with another 6km of the stuff loaded on to the reel drive. Sorted.

Just waiting for customs clearance to sail now. Being where we are that could take a good bit of time, all day some say. The joys of Africa eh? No wonder thousands of them are willing to take the chance of drowning to escape the place. Poor sods. It seems that just about anyone who wears a uniform is some kind of money extracting criminal. Ghastly carry on.

Anyway, disgruntled European observer twaddle aside, once we do get the OK to go, it’s not long to the field and hopefully the weather will allow us an immediate start. Eleven days of un-interrupted effort should see it done and then the good (but ridiculously overcrowded) vessel NC will depart the area to Cadiz to demob and yours truly will go home to Blighty with a bit of luck.


Empty cable reels prior to removal from the deck and a full one being installed.


Cable being transferred from the transport ship to the installing vessel via the VLS.


Nothing to do with boats. A tiny G10 amp miked up at home prior to being fed into a 200W PA system  through a Behringer 12/02 mixer. For the technophiles out there the microphones are  an AKG C1000 and a Peavey Pv2. Long live ROCK!

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Cutter at Damietta

They use the helideck, located forward on the vessel, to ‘walk the circle’. It’s 20m in diameter so reasonably generous as these things go. The captain and chief engineer are keen walkers spending every lunch hour power walking around it in serious fashion. Both men are in their late fifties, around 5 foot 8 each and slightly built. They both wear upmarket trainers for the walk, carry blue ship’s issue towels in their right hands folded in an identical manner and exhibit deep devoted suntans. They both sport tailored shorts with brown leather belts and nothing on their tops. They walk in step, purposefully and at great speed. Few words are passed between them and the object of the exercise appears to be ‘Who will crack first?’

Woe betide any fellow walker who causes a break of step or a deviation from the pace. Allatsea did. Inadvertently, He’ll be scarred for life.

Spooling of the 29,000m umbilical continues gently and to now safely at a rate of 6 m/minute. With luck they should be completed by lunchtime on Tuesday and following seafastening etc etc we’ll be off to location to play the installation game.

It’s barely 0800 but already the heat is fierce and nagging and sapping. Very glad this old body doesn’t have to work outside in any physically demanding role. Leaning on a rail and looking suitably quizzical is about the limit of these old bones. The deck crew are a cheerful bunch and the hours spent dealing with what must seem like relentless monotony are dealt with in good humour. It’s nice to see.

Just how expeditiously we get completed and returned to blighty remains to be seen. The weather’s normally the gaffer in these matters but equipment breakdown, cockups and changes of plan all play their part. Allatsea’s got his fingers, knees and eyes crossed that the joys or Westbrook will once again be experienced before the end of the month.

U16 and U15, be completed, it is spoken.


Steve Close at Wester in July and not in Damietta spooling cable.

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