Goodness, where did the days get to?
Just spent the best part of 3 weeks in the French town of Brest. Big port there, big naval base too. The job was a casualty tow. A little ship had been clobbered quite badly by a much bigger one. The little ship was so badly damaged that the crew abandoned it. They were picked up quite quickly by helicopter and the ship itself was taken in tow by a salvage tug and taken to Brest for cargo discharge, tank cleaning and repairs.
The owner wanted the ship repaired in a yard 3000 miles away from Brest. They needed a tug, a plan and a connection and that’s where I came in. Most noticeable things about the attendance?
It rained a lot. The young and hopelessly naive protested in the streets most days (the pension age thing), setting fire to chairs, blocking the entrance to the shopping mall, mobbing Mc Donalds. The riot police seemed to turn up about an hour after the protestors, followed closely by the fire brigade. It all seemed very good natured and just a tadge choreographed.
The French authorities insisted the the remaining FFO bunkers on the casualty vessel should be removed prior to the the tow, sensible (and an IMO requirement too). The quantity was around 200 tonnes and it took some organising and around 8 insulated road tankers over a 2 day period. Once done the ship got fined a huge wodge for landing dutiable fuel without the correct permissions and bonds. Deep joy. Only in France? Well, possibly not, the UK authorities too are well known for their hand wringing knickerknottingness. The only suitable tug available in the market, by the way, was 39 years old. I checked her out and she was fine, cleaner nad better maintained than many much newer vessels. And, tug owners take note, she had decently sized bunker tanks!! No refuelling required on route. Lots of the modern ‘escort’ type tugs need to refuel every 8 to 10 days. Useless!!
Monday —-HOME —-and notice to quit life as a marine surveyor served to those wot govern. Time to earn a living without travelling round the earth to do it.
Wednesday–make a presentation to 250 of the high and very mighty of the London marine insurance market at Clothmakers Hall in Mincing Lane. My presentation was the least professionally delivered but I think I got the facts right and didn’t overun the time slot. A very interesting speech on the future of the UK power generation industry from the head honcho at Centrica. A sharp cookie and no mistake about that, did paint a bit of a bleak picture though. The guest speaker was Michael Portillo. I didn’t stay to see him. No political comment intended, it’s just that he’s yesterday’s man.
Wednesday also saw our ‘wonderful’ Vaillant boiler repaired after a 50 hour wait for the breakdown engineer. Thankyou Homeserve for the melodrama. The damned thing was only serviced a month ago too. Very irritating. Having spent over £3000 having a plumbing upgrade at ‘the other place’ which included installing a Worcester Bosh boiler, it was distressing to hear the boiler chap describing them, with eyebrows raised, as ‘not as good as they once were’. More joy then.
Right blog readers of the world, thanks for looking in. Safe journeys to you.