A day on the Dolphin

I re-learned the idiocy of taking a pair of binoculars from a very chilly air conditioned control room outside into the hot, moisture laden Ghanaian breeze. Instant water making apparatus, rendering them unusable for the intended purpose. Oh goodness, the shame!! Especially as this was witnessed by assorted rig pigs (fervently cynical wrt the abilities of mariners as it is) who immediately shuffled off chuckling under their breaths. I could feel that what little credibility I might have had just evaporated as quickly as the humidity had condensed.


As I write this we are waiting for our two tugs, the Pacific Patriot and Pacific Parakeet, to be cleared inwards by the Ghanaian authorities. This process would take less than half an hour in Europe. So far it’s taken 6 hours with no conclusion in sight. Ah the joys, the joys!!


The two tugs are red and white and new. They are also very small. Both with 4800 BHP and a bollard pull of 61 tonnes ish. The skipper of one, proudly quoted his bollard pull from his shiny new certificate, to three decimal places.  A BP accurate to one kilogramme eh Mr Captain? Such slavish and, to be harsh but honest, moronic, reverence to figures does not bode well for the forthcoming operation. Neither does the rather puny pull, which (accurate to 3 decimal places or not), are well short of the 180 tonnes (per tug) I was rather hoping for. Maersk Shipper, blue, big and with 235 tonnes of bollard pull, has just trundled by, towing the similarly sized (to Bulford Dolphin), M G Hulme and showing not the least bit of stress or strain. So that’s what envy feels like! I was master of a Maersk ‘S’ type and didn’t it them very much; today however I’m pretty sure I’d have a change of heart.


The morning was spent deciding the procedures and anchor sequence for the move. One of the tugs (Captain Kilogramme) has no anchor handling experience, pretty useful for an anchor handler (?), so that one will be put on the tow bridle and left there out of harm’s way for the duration. The company actually buying the rig, have sent only 5 people out here. They have until Friday (just 72 more hours) to learn the complete in and outs of this substantial lump of kit, I don’t envy them their task. They actually take ownership tomorrow morning at 8 ‘o’clock, less than 20 hours to go. If I was them, I’d be wearing brown trousers and contemplating a rapid change of career. Then again they’re probably a lot more positive and able than me. Or of course, hopelessly optimistic.


The weather, I suppose predictably, has decided to add a bit of interest to the mix. The wind’s increased to around 15 knots, up from it’s normal 5 or so, and is coming from the same direction as current. In normal circumstances those environmental conditions would be a rig mover’s dream but because our two tugs are only a third of the size and power that we expected, it makes life more of a challenge. We’d better be on the money then.


The foods pretty good here, the air conditioning works, they’re a jolly friendly bunch on board, there are phone links to blighty and, thank you lordy, Satellite telly. It’s not paradise but it’s not far short :o)


Whilst sitting out here bobbing around waiting for the tugs to get clearance, I thought I’d write a poem (I’m a poet but didn’t know it ….. until recently when a gypsy woman told me, she said ‘Son, you’re an artist that starts with a P’) about time and how it passes and how we, as individuals in individual situations, regard it, use it and generally perceive each day.


Here we are then.


Wednesdays and Tuesdays and Mondays are bad.

Fridays are wonderful but Sundays are sad.

Thursdays take forever and Saturdays tend to be a blur.

I wonder if it’s the same for people doing stir?


I’ll get my coat.

About allatsea

Sixty year old master-mariner. Absolutely gorgeous. Well wedged.....when compared to a Nairobi street urchin. Sorted, in that I haven't been in court recently. Hopelessly optimistic, terminally disappointed. Good with cats and other fluffy things. No musical talent. Generous to a fault provided it's someone else's round. Political centreist with far right and left viewpoints. A green activist from the hydrocarbon position with nuclear leanings. Averse to avarice but always happy to receive lottery wins, gifts, windfalls, legacies, prizes and wet sloppy kisses.
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