Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Across the pond

So, this was the story as we crossed the pond, out of touch with the entire rest of the world, for two, very long weeks:

Day 1 without sat comms.  We all find ourselves occasionally reaching to check email, or Google some vital piece of triva, or trival piece of vita.  Seas are calm and its getting hotter as we head West by northwest, toward the equator.  The sea looks beautiful and somehow more expansive.

Day 2 without sat comms.  Fire drill today.  My job was to grab someone and police up two spare lengths of fire hose, a nozzle and a couple of hose wrenches.  Carrying a section and nozzle in one arm and the wrenches in my back pocket, I crossed the helideck to the bow and started down the stairs to the foc'sle deck, below.  I didn't make the first step.  They were slick with spray from the bow.  My feet shot out from under me and I rocketed down the stairs like I was shot out of a cannon.  I slid all the way out, flat out on the foc'sle.  The back of my head hitting each stair on the way down sounded like a machine gun-baseball knot back there, now.  The arm carrying the hose and nozzle smashed into the flat bar of the stair rail at the bottom, as I shot by.  Ripped open my wrist and it swelled up like an August tomato.  I've got bruises from the back of my head to my heels.  Back is shot to hell.

Day 3 without sat comms.  Took 45 minutes to get out of my rack and into a hot shower.  I am one sore mo fo.  Eating lots of pain pills and muscle relaxers.  Medic just shakes her head when she sees me.  I was damn lucky.  There is no medi-vac from this far out.  Still hurts like a bastard, though.  We are beginning preparations for the torture of 22 poor souls who have not yet become shellbacks. Looks like I am King Neptune, again and the Chief Nav, my comely (homely) wife.  He keeps nagging me for a new outfit for the ceremony.  I told him I'm not made of money and if he wants a new dress he better damn well make it himself.  After all, I've got to make my own crown, trident and braces for my wrists.  Lots of cardboard, tin foil and spray paint...I now needs me robes, belt and sandals.

Day 4, no sat comms, dammit.  System crashed.  Re-booted one of my servers and found out it was connected to the sat comms.  With no sat comms it hangs on WAN and I am dead in the water until sat comms are restored.  Found a beard for King Neptune.  Recycling Santa's kit...

Day 5, no freaking sat coms.  No system.  Lost samba connection to system.  Time for house-cleaning.  Drudge work.  Well, that took all of an hour.  Only like a week to go, dammit.

Day 6 of this crap.  Work on the UPS (uninterruptable power supply that powers critical systems in times of crisis) means shutting down my entire system.  With one server hung and one process inadvertantly shut down, I am not happy about the prospect.

Day fucking 7.  We're nearing the middle of the Atlantic.  I completely shut down my system, then spent 4 hours bringing it back online.  Nearly everything was restored and I am back in business, preparing for my upgrade.  Time to begin work on preparations for the ceremony.  I need a trident, crown, hair, big fucking mustache, beard, some sort of robes, cape.  Also have to set up some of the props and find myself a comfortable chair for a throne.  I'm not holding court on a work bench.

8.  Obtained a purple sarong from a Malaysian fellow.  Made hair, crown and trident.  Still need a damn cape and a throne...made a couple of tubs to dunk the pollywogs in.  Tomorrow is the ceremony.  Can you imagine swimming in a large vat of assorted juices, sauces, balsamic vinegar, cooking oil, grease, with a bucket of 4 day old food scraps mixed in?  I'm talking egg shells, veggies, rotten meat, prawns, etc?  The crap each pollywog must drink will be much the same..

Day 9.  Long day!  Started just after dwan, preparing tubs for them to be submerssed in, filled them with a horrible mixture of everything foul we could get our hands on.  Set everything up, put on out costumes and led the pollywogs through the ritual.  It was a blast. but once again, I was a very pasty white, partially clothed, King Neptune, venturing into the equatorial sun.  I'm totally sunburned and exhausted.  A few of us had to clean up after the ceremony, including washing the helideck with a fire hose and that just wore me out.

Day 10.  We are still in the middle of the Atlantic, though closer to Brazil, than anything.  We have detoured slightly to come alongside San Pedro Island-a tiny, largely unknown Island.  It is, as far as we know, uninhabited and desolate, but we'll see in just a few more hours.  Well.  During a drill where we moved around the ship, refreshing our knowledge of various fire-fighting and first-aid apparatus and techniques, we passed to the North of the Island, or Islands.  A motley collection of small rocks many hundreds of miles off the coast of Brazil.  We saw three, small boats, a lighthouse and a satellite dish.  No people.  Very small, maybe a half-dozen acres at best, all rock and sand, coral and beach.  Beautiful when viewed from the perpective of this rusty, old tub, but otherwise not much to look at.

Day 11  Nothing happening.  Internal audits, wandering around the ship, laundry and sweet boredom.

Day 12.  We're several hundred miles off the coast of South America, heading northwest past northern Brazil toward French Guayana and Suriname.  I'm reduced to filing old emails and wishing I had some laundry to do.  The weather has been unfailingly, hot and sunny with scattered clouds and fair seas. I see a lot of flying fish fleeing the bow wake.  Looking forward to working out tonight, as the past two nights have been my nights off.

Day 13.  Nothing.  Fuckall.

Day 14.  We received the codes for a new satellite, but nothing works.  I wonder about my family.  For all we know, WWIII has broken out, or the sun is about to go supernova.  We are all frustrated.

Day 15 Woo Hoo!  Sat comms are back.

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