Friday, 21 December 2012

Let the Games Commence

Well I safely made it across the Atlantic again. Obviously this crossing was a bit different for me. There was an absence of rinsing, sanding and watch keeping. My only excursions outside were to take part in our Atlantic crossing games and to have a swim about one day of of Barbados.

I am happy to say that things started to *click* work wise about four days ago. Strangely enough this coincided with me discovering and starting to use our Crew gym. The gym is a converted play room which has Scifi murals and a slide which descends two floors. It is the perfect place for me to exercise.

I did some freakishly admirable hacking the other day to balance one of our TV Sat domes. Without a proper weights kit I used some nuts, bolts and cable ties. This worked incredibly well, so well it will be a shame and a little bit embarrassing when a professional comes to balance it properly.

Barbados is nice enough. I had a traumatic shopping experience when I went to the local computer super store. I was not sure I was ever going to leave that part of the island. However comparing Barbados with other parts of the Caribbean it is obvious that people take pride in their houses and enjoy a good standard of living.

We got the firm word from our stand in Captain about what we can say with regards to cruising plans. All I can say for now is that i will be spending New Years and Christmas in a familiar place with at least half of Hollywood and the wealthier enclaves of Europe.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

The really deep and dreamy end

Bon Journo.

Well its been a week since I left the Middle East and I thought it was high time I wrote something. It's been an adventure of the rather large persuasion. I don't live an ordinary life but I guess I never have.

I got out of Qatar in one piece. In an odd turn of events it rained solidly the whole day that I left. There was some nice poetry in that. I landed in Roma in the evening. It took me days to get across the airport. My NZ cap is as good as diplomatic immunity in Italy at least. I'm not even sure passport control stamped me in.

I had a short flight to Pisa and then I waited for a while for Dan, one of my new colleagues to pick me. We had a drive to La Spezia where I finally got on board my new home. Now I have signed a confidentiality agreement, but I have a pretty good understanding of how these things work. I don't think will be treading on anyones toes by sharing a little bit here on this very blog.

First impressions, an overpowering desire to append wow to every sentence. She is a stunning boat and everything is so shiny and new. I have spent the last week getting lost on an hourly basis but I am slowly starting to get a feel for things. We had a fire drill yesterday and I found my way to my muster station without too much hassle, so that is good to know.

The crew accommodation is top notch and I have a positively cavernous cabin to myself. This is a big plus as given our size we do not tie up that often.

my cabin

My department is a subset of Engineering. There are four of us in our office which is broadly speaking Electrical and AVIT. Having spent many years in offices, it is both satisfying and comforting to return to one even if it is a bit chaotic. Rest assured I have my label maker out and am making gentle improvements.

My desk

We have a staggering amount of Apple equipment on board. We have a staggering amount of everything for that matter. Sadly there are a few mountains to climb with regards to the AV system but there is a plan and if I can make a good impression over the next few weeks the next year will be a very exciting time.

That is not to say things have not been exciting. Oh no. We had a sea trial on Tuesday which was heart in the mouth stuff and I am glad that I had been here for a couple of days otherwise I might have packed my bags and left. My wife used to always say "All I want is a normal boat" I thought about this on Tuesday evening "Honey all boats are crazy"

We left on Tuesday for Gibraltar, the passage was quite bumpy and there was a bit of spontaneous reorganisation all over the vessel. Our office was shaken up a bit, thankfully we have an unending supply of cable ties. 

Gibraltar yesterday was an anticlimax. We only had a berth for 8 hours as there was a ferry coming in. I did get to go ashore and stock up on Protein powder. It was very odd to see shops openly selling alcohol. It was hilarious to see an English magazine in the crew mess with a tops bums of the year feature this morning.

The highlight for me so far? This morning we raised the helicopter pad to take on our helicopter. I took a couple of photos.

It was eerily spine-tingling stuff. Im sure the blokes and the blokes at heart will agree.

Thats it for me and the Med for now. We are Barbados bound.


Saturday, 1 December 2012

Finishing my Tour of Duty in the Middle East

I remember being quite dispirited and low leaving my last boat. Our Med season had been a grind and I dont think we ever had time to get over our brush with death and the man over board we dealt with in the Bay of Biscay. My wife had returned home to New Zealand and I was quite fed up. That said I didn't write anything down and to be fair time has healed a lot of what I was unhappy about.

I don't think time will be quite so kind with my time here. I have already penned some of my grievances. There are many juicy things that I will not be able to write about until I have finished in this industry. Outside of work these castles made upon sand and the fragile society that surrounds them still puzzles me. It doesn't feel right. The Doha fire tragedy that happened two days after we arrived is still dragging its way through the court system. The thing that mosts irks me, is having my broadmindedness slowing eroding away. I do believe I have developed racist traits living here.

My Sister called this my tour of duty and I think thats the best description. Everywhere I have travelled or lived I have felt or seen common threads. Here the threads are so tenuous that I might as well have been living in a space station for six months.

I am still not free and will not feel so until I am on that plane. I broke a few rules leaving here. Usually there is a one month notice period. Through careful negotiation and clever writing I got that down to a week. For my residency to be cancelled there were numerous paper hurdles that normally take a month to process. Fortunately I had unwavering faith that I will join my new boat and I am not supposed to live in the sand. My final paper work came through 2 hours before the close of business day on Thursday. I will fly out of here at 11:45pm on Saturday.

That is my glance back over my shoulder. My future is incredibly bright. There is much to be happy about. I am in good health, I have a great job to look forward to. I now have a 50% work/life balance. Im going to be travelling to places I have never seen. I am going to have plenty of things to write about.

Let the dice fly high.