Oh boy, nothing is simple, not even going home. I'm not crazy about long trips although the circumstances of my home life have lately lent to my ambivalence regarding extended amounts of time spent at sea working. None the less around a hundred days out I start to feel a little french fried and yearn for the ultimate release from the cramped interior of a jet liner as the gravity pulls you into your seat and you know that eventually you'll be stepping off a bus into the cold night air in Dover New Hampshire to walk into an empty home. Nothing could seem better right now.
The ship was supposed to do a short cable repair, four days is what the chief mate predicted. Then another fault, a few kilometers further up the system was discovered. We spent a day with one end of the cable aboard waiting to see if a speedy permit could be pushed through so as to knock out two repairs at once. The reply was no, it will take another week and to get this job done first. Well that's good I figured, it would have taken two weeks to bury all that cable after it had been picked up and stowed in our tanks. I should be home by next weekend right?
Wrong. We have suffered a slight mechanical malfunction in one of the stern thrusters and it appears that this very well could require the services of a dry dock which despite the economic climate are all filled up with customers. In the mean time we are sitting in Dynamic Position mode off Malaysia waiting for a decision from the company. The most I know is that tomorrow morning early we will rendezvous with a dive vessel so that photographs of the malfunction can be taken. Today's self inflicted ROV inspection didn't reveal the source of the problem though it was interesting to see the stern thruster up close and personal form the video display on the bridge. Not many ships have the capability to inspect themselves.
I must keep my mindset flexible despite a yearning to be away from work for the remainder of the winter. Anything could happen and I could get stuck though I know the captain is ready to head home so that should help my situation. Most noticeably I'm having a harder and harder time finding motivation to do anything above and beyond my normal responsibilities. I'm resigned to being relieved and don't feel the urge to reinvent the wheel as I normally do at work.
Joining the boson to attach floats to the ROV umbilical cable today was somewhat therapeutic. We cut two meter lengths of 3/4 inch manila, put a quick eye in one end and secured them around big yellow inflatable balloons. These were then made off to the control cable at intervals sufficient to keep it afloat and clear of the ship as the ROV dove under the hull for the inspection. The weather was cool and a stiff 15 knot breeze swept across the deck. For an hour I yearned to be a cadet again with no more worries than a chipping hammer and doing whatever the boson or mate told me to do. Then again I don't miss my days on chemical tankers all that much.
It has been interesting to observe the behavior of the short timers on board, myself included. We are prone to wandering thoughts, short attention spans and out of place remarks. I crack up at the least bit of wit such as when the chief mate responded to the a ringing phone on the bridge by saying "It sounds like a telephone". Really, I almost lost it but he's a funny bastard as it is. We also pay a lot of attention to the menu. Directly after dinner the other night one of the short timers came up to the bridge and asked out loud "What's for dinner tomorrow" as he sat down to check the menu on the computer. Again, I almost lost it.
So things have been getting a little squirrelly around here. I keep on picturing myself as a small rodent trapped in the glass enclosure of the bridge waiting to be let out but that's just fourteen fortnights at sea talking. I have my guitar and a gym and plenty more work I can do with the boson so I'll manage and just wait it out.
If you're still reading I have included a link to gCaptain where you can peruse the baddest boat to come out of Portland Maine in a long time. A 370 foot Jone Act Multi Purpose Supply Vessel. Awesome! It's good to know that were still building more than just Aegis Destroyers on the coast of Maine. I would often pull over to the side of the road on my way to Munjoy Hill to watch this ship being built by Cianbro corporation. I hope it won't be the last.