Slept the sleep of the dead, yesterday. A long, black, tunnel I barely escaped tonight at shift-x. Made it in with a minute to spare. Good thing traffic was light on the way in. Rush hour in the companionway can be a bitch, so it's the customary excuse for being late, out here. Anyway, the circles under my eyes no longer resemble boot-black and I can talk without mixing up the words-a definite problem at shift-x.
On this ship I have my own office, just off the instrument room where all the activity taks place, steering the ship, monitoring and driving the in-sea gear, as well as recording and QC of the data we collect. On my last ship, I sat in the middle of instrument room, with 8 people directly behind my back, talking and shouting at each other. It's strange, quiet and a little lonely sitting in my office, here-this after complaining about the distractions and wearing my headphones for a year...still I'm getting work done a bit easier here and I have exponentially more to do now, without another senior to share the administrative tasks with.
Speaking of differences, this ship contains quite a few women. There are at least 3 on my shift and possibly 8 on the whole crew, though I'm not sure-I still haven't met everyone and am familiar with only a few of the crew from days gone by, or my last trip on here in '05-'06. That reminds me to say a few words about "The Admiral".
I've finally found out that one of my old captains as well as one of my favorites, has retired. We lost touch after I was last on here and I found that he retired after guiding this ship through a category 5 hurricane off of Australia, on the trip following mine. He and I went through 3 hurricanes during one 5 week trip off the coast of Newfoundland back in the '90's and at that time he vowed to retire if he ever got caught in another. Ten years later he was true to his word. I will miss him and our nightly, world politics arguments over coffee and cigarettes, in the day room. He was from Germany and has been at sea over 40 years. He had a great sense of humor and knew his place in this world.
I will always remember the time I received a phone call while I was sleeping off-shift. He answered it for me. It was from my brother, to inform me that a family member had been struck very ill (not PW, or the kids). This captain knew me well enough to know that I wouldn't request a chopper and leave. He took down all the information I would need and want and during the night, organized an evac chopper for first light. He booked my flights and an hour before first light woke me to give me the bad news and my travel details. He was already packing my bags and told me to shower, eat and hit the heli-deck. I don't know any other captains that would choose to make that call, except maybe one, but I don't know him quite as well. Here's to ya, Admiral. I hope you and the wife are already sailing that little boat around the med, or down to South Africa. Keep yer powder dry and stay masts to the sky, always.