Apologies to blog readers of this very fine (though recently un-attanded) site.
I got back from the Bombay trip on December 22nd, worrying close to the big day but, as it turned out perfectly timed in the end.
The Indian trip was really quite fascinating. Mumbai has a population estimated to be some 18 million souls. That’s bigger than the entire population of Holland, with a fair slice of Belgium thrown in to help matters and the complete headcount of Luxembourg. The most amazing thing is not that there’s so many of them but that they all seem to be on the city’s roads at the same time, with their hands on the horn (ooh er madam) desperately trying to go from the same starting point to the same destination …at the same time. Gridlock on the M25 has nothing on the place, thankfully.
The client has a problem in not being able to moor semi-subs when the seasonal currents reach 4.5 knots. My brief was to find out why and report. I had a partially formed conclusion before I ever arrived there but spent 12 days out there confirming it. I travelled over to the East coast to Rajahmundry (by Falcon private jet…sigh…wonderful, all air travel should be like that) then by car though idealic farming country to Kakinada where a lot of the east coast oil fields are serviced from. Looked at some support vessels and tugs there; some were wonderfully managed and maintained and others, despite their youth, were complete kak heaps. Just demonstrates what a firm hand and a motivated crew can produce or of course the complete opposite. The bad boats were very dispiriting to visit. Maritime nightmares that were desperate for a good night’s sleep. Sad to see.
A night in a charming guest house where I was charged the equivalent to £1.80 for a night’s accommodation and two fantastic meals (the cook was very apologetic that he couldn’t produce western food, I was thankful) then offshore by helicopter to look at ‘badboy’ rig. No names no pack drill, but it was not at its best despite the efforts of a cheerful and cosmopolitan crew.
Helicopter back to the beach. Not Rajamundry this time but Viskhakhapatunam which was 90 minutes away and I feared for my tumtum, that’s a long time to go without refreshment (it is for me anyway!). Feared I needn’t have been becuase half way through the flight we had a picnic, the finest Asian delicacies consumed from a knee balanced picnic at 4000 feet and at 135knots. Wonderful.
From Viskhakhapatunam it was the Indian equivalent of Easyjet/Ryanair on a bad day but that said we got to where we were meant to be going (eventually) and the driver was there to whisk me back to 5 star (and £330 a night) opulence. On reflection, with the exception of the broadband connection and satellite telly, I’d rather have been at the guest house in Kakinada. The food was just as good and served with a lot less pompousity and smug self importance. Addtionally I wasn’t interrupted every 3 minutes by a robotic staffer asking if everything was all right.
Days of report writing followed and then the dreaded presentation to management. I decided that brevity and honesty was the best plan.
‘Gentlemen, mooring in high currents, (pregnant pause to build the drama), NO CHANCE. Let’s think DP, byee.’ Well it wasn’t quite like that but the sentiment is bang on!!
BA business class back to Blighty (thank you God, whoops, forgot I’m a convert to the Richard Dawkins school, thank you evolved universe) and welcomed to the bosom of my family with a suggestion that I go shopping and buy some presents for them before it’s to late. I reply that I, of course would love to such a thing but the annual re-union of the Margate RNXS gets underway in an hour so could I have a lift to Ramsgate please. That’s right, the pub near the chippy by the harbour. Thanks.
It’s the innate charm, it never fails.