BAFFIN ISLAND

BAFFIN ISLAND

Monday, March 15, 2010

MEXICO ON AN OIL TANKER - Part 1

I think my past life is more interesting ....for now anyway...so this is the story of my trip on a Canadian Oil Tanker to Mexico to work for a few months in 1987.
At the time my boyfriend was the Chief Mate of the Seaway Trader, an oil tanker owned by a NB company. She was a 75 year old 375 foot rust bucket suffering I know,  from metal fatigue
.
I joined her on the Great Lakes winter of 86 , much to the consternation of dear Captain Bunker, a curmudgeon of an elderly English sea Captain ! ' Women do not belong on ships ' ! he said .......of course the first thing I realized was that the Cap LOVED food, so being brilliant of mind, I asked the Chief Mate to give the Chef the weekend off and let me cook...  the Chef was estatic and drank the whole weekend ! ( biggest mistake he ever made) but that took care of the "women don't belong on ships "crap !!
Captain Bunker and I became good friends, I eventually had a very special place for that ole chap in my heart.
We spent many an afternoon passing up and down through the locks , bouncing off the walls on occasion as Cap, though a sweetie, sometimes screwed up on his maneuvers : ) all the while chatting about world affairs and the like. He seemed surprized that a woman knew stuff he knew, he was also surprized that I knew as much as I did about weather. Once I explained to him that I had helped the Chief Mate boyfriend with his captains exams , he understood.
We came down from the lakes in January, got stuck in the ice and had to be broke out, then proceeded on to Halifax. Once there,  we had a few days grace, hit all the bars then got the call for a refit and contract to Mexico ..Wooo hooo...
Shelburne would be our refit port so off we go,  me ...totally sea sick, as we were now out in the ocean sailing : ) . Finally  ! good old Shelburne...for a few weeks. We had to be in Mexico by the 19th of March and the Company figured it would take us 21 days ...ha...
Back to the Chef...the poor dear made a huge mistake by taking that weekend off...HUGE...the Captain decided he would rather have "the woman" as his cook : ) so I ended up not only with a trip to Mexico but a job to boot !!
Off we go, transderm behind the ear ,and enough stores for 21 days ( cheap company cut her to the wire : )
doing fine till we hit a storm off Cape Hatteras, and I found out what it meant for a ship to corkscrew !
What fun , the galley was aft, officers quaters forward. Now...in order to get to quarters with 15 ' seas breaking over the decks, the mates had to tie a large rope from aft to forward so we could get back and forth. Not a problem ! we would just time the last wave and run like hell !
The real fun was feeding my crew...yup...so it was sandwiches for a couple of days and in order to feed the boys I  had to get a couple of the crew in the galley to brace me so I could make them. We had everything tied down so nothing came snaking through the air to decapitate anyone.
Finally we make out of the storm just past the coast of North Carolina...and immediately we break down ! Apparently all that jigging around  really stressed some of out machinery. Its a wonder the ship hadn't broken apart from metal fatique !!
So the Chief mate and chief engineer take a lifeboat and head to shore to get a part machined.
Captain Bunker ; not being one to have his crew stay idle, decided to have a life boat drill....
The Captain and I positioned ourselves on the bridge deck to watch over the precise maneuvers of the second engineer and the deck crew as they prepared for the drill.
Everything in order ; the second mate winches the lifeboat out over the side where it immediately lets go its chains and falls into shark invested water : )
If you ever wanted to see an excited Captain and some freaked out deck hands ...this was the opportunity...over goes the life savers and up comes the boys, sputtering and cursing like banshees...I had to go below to the cabin so I could crack up in quiet : )

We lost 3 days messing around off the coast of Carolina getting our part machined and put back together before we can carry on to Mexico.
The weather is now warm and I am able to catch some rays, we have birds travelling with us, they stay on board as we are so far from land. Then the porpoises join us and ride the wave our bulbous nose pushes forward, playing , jumping around , they are so beautiful and stay with us for hours.
The Bermuda triangle was something we had talked about and wondered if we would get through unscathed , we did , nothing happened : )
3 days from our port of Coatzacoalcos, Mexico , we run out of food. I had been telling Cap we were getting low and now I'm down to a bucket of salt herring. Not good !!
But low and behold , the good Lord provideth ! and along came the flying fish !! Every morning the decks were full of these lovely fish who just flew in right off the tips of the waves. I told the crew...boys you bring me as many as you can and I'll cook them up as best I can. Well , I can tell you,....I could easily have written a book after that trip on " 101 Ways To Cook Flying Fish " !! but my crew survived and were happy ; ) to a point.
to be continued....

1 comment:

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