The day finally arrived - I had to go do some work ( SHUDDER ) well lets be specific here, by work I mean PAID work, for anybody that owns and lives aboard a boat understands that we all work, we just don't get paid !
For a boat is a living thing that constantly battles decay, it has to be maintained and cared for, once you allow it past a certain point it becomes difficult, if not impossible to turn back the clock and the boat will sink into the murky depths never to be seen again.
I had to go earn some cash to make sure that Blown Away and her crew were suitably prepared for the coming years, so with a heavy heart I packed my away bag and said my farewells to Andrea and the ginger idiot (Nelson) .
My flight plan (courtesy of the company I work for) entailed an early 2 hour flight from Barcelona to Charles de Gaule in Paris and then doubling back on myself to fly OVER Barcelona (ish) to Port Gentil in Gabon, once in Gabon (Africa) I had an internal flight across country to the border of the Congo, where upon I was to board a helicopter and fly 150 miles offshore to the research vessel Geo Wave Voyager- it was a great plan.
I had ordered a taxi for 02:30 and as he had no access to the marina car park we had arranged to meet outside of the marina near the security barrier, (first mistake) so dragging my feet, myself Andrea and an over excited dog walked the green mile to the barrier.
The sound of disco was getting louder as we walked and it was clear that several of the shabby looking night clubs were open and in full swing , in fact there were a number of people standing outside and some clearly drunk laying on a wall.
Its very difficult to blend in when you have a bright green travel bag, an attractive blond girl friend and a very large ginger dog in tow, so it wasn't long before we had a drunk wandering across to see what was happening, so I quickly said my goodbyes and told blondie and gingerie to bugger off back to the boat.
Sadly not quick enough as the large drunken gentleman decided to follow said dynamic duo down the entrance ramp towards the marina, so with an even heavier sigh and visions of a nose bleed and black eye I dropped my bag on the ground told the taxi to wait (he didn't get out ) and I chased after the drunk.
After a short altercation the security guard from the marina turned up and the said drunk was sent back to the wall from whence he had set forth, I meanwhile walked back to Carlos the taxi driver (what a hero) and sped off towards Barcelona, mean while Andrea sauntered back to the yacht blissfully unaware and Nelson sat on deck licking his nuts and waiting for dog food as per usual.
An hour and a half later we arrived at a fairly empty looking terminal with most of the revolving doors closed and a few weary looking travelers milling around inside of the coffee shop lounge, many hugging a mug of coffee - great somewhere was open !
My flight from Barcelona to Paris was painless, but in my head painful, as flying two hours North when your true destination is four hours South makes little sense and anyone with a degree in math's will now realize I have a six hour journey ahead of me.
The next flight duly arrived and left on time, the Air France crew diligent in their duties, even the croissant was fresh for a change, the flight was even less painful with noise cancelling head phones and the choice of movies from the headrest in front of me was pretty good...... sorted.
Gabon (third visit) is fairly relaxed by African standards , heavily French and now decaying from lack of investment, the port is a thriving African community and a true mix of nationalities, even walking the streets you feel reasonably safe.
My next flight was a small fixed wing turbo jet (mega noisy) took me to a local hotel where after 20 plus hours of travelling was a welcome sight, although it was fairly short lived as my next travel wasn't to be the planned chopper flight taking an hour ....OH NO
Chase boat from hell trip for TWO DAYS...oh please I'm to old for this shit ! so me , the French security detail, the MMO (Marine mammal observer) climbed aboard the good ship Stormbas 2 a thirty year old ex Norwegian pilot boat and its Filipino crew, off we jolly well go !
The trip out to the survey site and my base for the next five weeks (geo wave Voyager) was not the most enjoyable of journeys, in fact the other people travelling with me were sea sick most of the way, so when we arrived at the main ship there were a lot of smiling if a little green faces appearing from their cabins.
We were transferred to the mother vessel by the sister ships rescue craft as Geo wave Voyagers is busted (hence I am here ) as they need to operate the work boat for a while as a rescue vessel and the ships crew cant operate it.
So here I am sat miles from shore on a ship , there's little or no internet, the sat phone is restricted to 40 mins for the entire five week period, the TV in the room doesn't work and Im told there is no sat TV anyhow, so my time is spent in the gym or walking the decks .
Mean while outside the window, the skies may move and the sea may be moving , but life on here feels stationary, activity is very little, we have no streamers deployed as we are just a source boat for another vessel, so our "guns" are the only equipment in the water ,very little for the coxswain to do under these circumstances other than sit and wait.
With our fast rescue craft out of option ,I am solely here as a stand by in the event of a man overboard or a crew transfer to another ship, while to some it may seem money for old rope , I ADORE my freedom, the ability to move from place to place virtually unimpeded , yet here, Im a caged bird , forced to look out from behind the wire ......
Two weeks in to the trip now and nothing much to report - the food is good - the ships crew are excellent - the seismic guys are few and far between , just twelve on board for a 24 hour period , so 2 in the instrument room at any one time, 2 in the offices and 2 in the gun shack ,its very quiet , zero social activities.
I found a shared server with a million movies on it, so when I finish my 12 hour shift (6-6) I download a movie onto a hard drive , retreat to my cabin and fall asleep after an hour with a mug of tea going cold on the desk in front of me.
Conversation is hard to find, the French security guy speaks good English , so we often share a few words, there is a Cornish MMO on board , mainly on th bridge, occasionally we cross paths and exchange a minor joviality " hi how are you" - " yeah good ta" - "see you later "- well actually no you wont .
Occasionally we get a new person come over for something or another , Im always first to greet them as they get off the FRC , hello , Im here ,over here ,Talk to me first, TALK TO ME.... Im thinking of putting a wig on the exercise ball in the gym and doing a Tom Hanks Castaway moment , may even call him Wilson. ( sounds to similar to Nelson - gone off that idea ! )
We are having quite a few whale sightings ,numerous turtle sightings and my all time favorites , hammer head sharks , of course there were rumors of great whites etc , though no one has yet taken a picture , Hammer heads are quite big enough thank you, theres nothing worse than seeing that long sleek shadow - especially when its as long as the work boat .
Don't even get me started on the number of whale sightings !