Now that the dust has started to settle and I am home again, I figured I should get a little more writing in about the new job. The first hitch went fairly well all things considered. It was slightly shorter than a normal hitch, and part of it was orientation and classes, however it definitely took just as much out of me as normal.
It has certainly been a big adjustment coming from ECO, in a lot of ways. Orientation was a four day affair that was very in depth and very well presented, if not long winded at times. The commitment to safety and the company way of doing things obviously runs deep and is taken quite seriously. However their commitment to their employees was also something I found fairly clear from the get go. For one I, and everyone else there, got paid our day rates from all of orientation. Further more many of us had to take a few refresher classes before reporting to vessels, we got paid a partial day rate for all of those classes. As for lodging, HOS booked hotels and rental cars for us, all on the company dime. Not everything was perfect, however you certainly couldn’t complain about much! Coming from ECO and the you are lucky we employ you attitude, it was definitely a big change for me. That being said, while Hornbeck has thus far treated me well, this is still work and it is a boat company. There are challenges like with any boat company and like any sailor all you can do is get past them and then bitch about it at the galley table.
The training classes turned out to be a lot of fun, I was there with several friends from school as well as quite a few friends of friends. Whenever you get a bunch of mariners together it often turns into a band of brothers meets cheers situation pretty quick and the jokes and stories start to fly. We stayed in Lafayette and if you are every there for training you have to check out Deanos pizza, which makes some of the best BBQ pizza I have ever had, as well as Pampalonas Tapas bar. Both really great places to eat and drink.
A good percentage of the new hires from my group headed to vessels in shipyard, as did I. I ended up on the HOS Beaufort, a Super 200 recently back from the better part of a decade in Mexico. It had been working as a well stimulation vessel for Halliburton while there. Luckily I missed the worst of the demobilization period, and arrived during the clean up, touch up, and organize phase. Bollinger was a hive of activity with a lot going on, including a stretch job on one of the two vessels Odyssea Marine recently bought from C&G.
It was a sprint to get the vessel out of shipyard, and a crew that had never worked together before ready for a USCG inspection. In the end we got it all done, passed USCG and also got the annual FMEA DP trials done. It was nice to be more involved with the FMEA trials than I have gotten to be in the past, as well learn a lot about how the boat DPs in a short period of time. Fortunately it has a Kongsberg system which I am already familiar with, what is new is that it is DP-1 and of conventional propulsion. That is fixed pitch propellers with rudders and clutches, and a single bow tunnel thruster. She doesn’t like to do certain things and knowing when to change your rudder and main engine allocation before a position move is key. As far as driving in manual, she is actually a bit of a sweetheart. Large rudders, a good bow tunnel, and fairly good controls. In many respects it is a lot like being back on Odyssey, being of similar size and propulsion. At the end of the day it is just fun to drive something with conventional propulsion and air controls again. Its a skill set I haven’t gotten to practice much and it was good to shake some rust off with the fourchon shuffle.
By far the best part of the hitch was the trip from shipyard to fourchon. We had been at Bollinger in Larose and while its a shorter trip down bayou Lafourche to fourchon, due to size we made our way out the Houma Nav canal to the gulf, and over to Belle Pass. This is a great trip to make if you are a boat nerd and photographer like me. It was too soon with a new crew and captain to break out the go pro for a video, however once I went off watch at 0600 I was snapping away with the Nikon. Here are a few shots!
The Weeks dredge yard in Houma was a photographers dream, it would have been really fun to walk around there during sunrise and sunset one day. Piles of dredge pipe, bouys, crane parts, barges, just all manners of equipment. Most of it appeared to be scrapyard bound, but it was still really cool to see. All of these big marine companies have tucked away yards with old equipment. In many ways they can be like the former soviet union is with military equipment. Who cares if it was built in during WWII and is hopelessly obsolete, we may need it one day! A little further down the canal is Leevac Houma, where I had dropped off a friend just a week or so earlier. They had a new Tidewater boat under construction, as mentioned in a previous post, and the HOS Thunderfoot in for a shipyard period.
If you need some tugs, of various sizes, horse power, type, and age. Give Crosby a call, they seem to have a couple extras, you know just in case.
After passing the Houma Nav Canal swing bridge we came upon Offshore Speciality Fabricators Incorporated. They had a lot of equipment in their yard including the massive derrick barge, D.B. William Kallop. Coincidently the captain I used to work with at one time towed and set anchors for this barge during his time at OSFI. Shortly after passing OSFI we came upon the ECO yard at LAship, with several new builds and a major refit underway, as covered in the post . After that it was the long more or less straight away down to the Cat Island pass and the gulf. I took a nap for most of that and came back on watch right at the Belle Pass jetties, and seemingly back to the world. We even passed one of the friends that convinced me to come to Hornbeck, and we got to shout a greeting as we passed.
Now however I am home again and as fun as work was, being home is much more fun. What is even better is having almost a whole month at a shot now to enjoy the therapist fiancé, the puppy dog, and my family and friends. That after all is what life is really about, regardless of how nice the boat you run is, or how well they pay you.