Tuesday, 10 September 2013

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

Apologies for the apparent hiatus in updates recently but as you will see I've been rather pre-occupied...
I've previously called the 'Lost Weekend' the bane of the leaks tester's existence (lloyd-cole-never-sang-about-this-but.html) but even one of them would have been preferable to the near constant movement I've had to endure over the last few days.  
We had been out on the FPSO (a-useful-glossary-of-terms.html) for an entire 2 days when the Ops Super came to me to let me know we had to send 2 guys off and possibly all 3 of us.  Normally this is great news and its not often that a rig will admit that they got you out far too early that quickly!  However, this time it was not so good as I had the unenviable task of deciding who should go and who should stay.  I am not great at playing God (although I have been practising for some time now) and always find such instances to be wearisome in the extreme.  This time though I was given a helping hand when the rig literally gave me the two names they wanted off - and mine was one of them!!

Of course there was the still delicate matter of informing the unlucky one that he wasn't getting off (there was a possibility that he would get off on Saturday but this was to be depending on chopper availability which currently is not what you want to hear!).  I must say that he took the news with good grace as he himself put it 'At least I'll know I'm getting paid!'.

At this time we were not guaranteed to receive 'Standby Pay'...

The plan as it stood was that we would not be needed to return until 'Wednesday at least', which seemed optimistic.  I had spoken to Senior Ops guys who told me that the shutdown was slipping further and further back and most were not expecting to start shutdown works until nearer the weekend.  I had primed myself for a good few days at home.

And now we get to the 'good bit'!!  Oil Week had drawn to a close and most of the suits and part-timers had left Aberdeen in a far worse state than they found it.  The taxi services were beginning to free up once more and even some hotel spaces could be found by the more resourceful among us.  Still we were booked into our staff house just outside the city centre.
When we finally landed, some 3 hours later than we were due to we got a taxi with very little problem and were looking forward to a couple of quiet beers and bed.  I had a flight that was suffering from 'Oil Week syndrome' as it was the second flight on Saturday (the first being fully booked by gits!) and not until 4PM but my colleague was travelling back to Sumbergh and was leaving much earlier.
Upon paying the taxi driver we started to hear the usual suburban wail of what we thought was a car alarm somewhere in the distance.  It was only when we opened the door to the staff house that we realised it was the internal fire alarm, it was also incredibly loud!

After many calls back and forth we had reservations at another hotel across town (actually pretty near the airport, making the twenty quid taxi ride we'd just 'enjoyed' almost completely pointless!) but we still had to wait for the fire brigade to sort out the alarm.  I was mightily impressed by both their response time and their commitment to such a minor call (2 tenders and 6 guys!).
The problem was apparently a faulty sensor in one of the rooms and was reset so as to not be a problem any longer so we decided to keep our rooms in the house rather than traipse across town at such an ungodly hour.
We dumped our bags and set off in search of a decent bar (Union Street being only half a mile away).

It was very pleasing to find the trendy bars of Aberdeen filled once again with the young and beautiful people who clearly have far too  much time on their hands given the sheer amount of work that must go into their hairstyles...I wish I had a stake in a Hair Product company sometimes.

After a couple of beers, which took entirely too long to order - bloody cocktail bars! - we set off back to the house.  Nearer and nearer we crept as it became clear that the alarm was indeed sounding once more.  A few texts later we were on our way across town to our reserve hotel.  We arrived just after midnight and literally crashed.
Sometimes getting stood down is not all its cracked up to be.

The next day developed in very much the normal manner, I slept in, watched a bit of telly and booked my cab nice and early for my trip home.  I checked in in plenty of time and made my way to the Business Lounge (the joys of being a regular traveller!) for some well-earned (?) free beers.  I got into Manchester Airport on time and waited for my taxi home, what could go wrong?!
The taxi was a little late which the driver put down to having the wrong mobile number for me, I let him off as I was feeling good.  The trip home was uneventful and I was greeted by my two young boys with beaming smiles and even a hug or two, all was right with world...

At this point in a normal homeward journey I would sit and relax a little before trying to return my belongings to their rightful place.  This time I wasn't granted that breathing space.
My wife was preparing me a ready meal curry as I was not in the mood for anything challenging, indeed I wasn't really in the mood for anything other than my bed.  Just as I was sitting down to the sumptuous feast my phone sprang into life.

'They need you back on Monday...So...I will need you to come up tomorrow...'
Silence
'You still there?'
'Yes...'  It is quite difficult to sound anything other than annoyed through clenched teeth.

So it was that I was booked in for a tea time flight some 22 hours after the flight I had come back from Aberdeen on.
My wife was working Sunday so I got to see her for 2 hours in the morning and for a total of about 6 hours when you add in the scant time we had together on Saturday night. <<<<clenched teeth>>>>

Then of course there is the little matter of actually getting out to these places...
We had a 9AM check in on Monday morning.  Now, on the Wednesday previous we had a 10AM check in which was instantly changed to a 3PM flight, so I had little confidence in seeing the rig any time before mid afternoon.
This flight was moved to 1PM as they were giving themselves decidedly optinistic updates on the flying schedule.  And so it proved.

You really haven't lived until you've had not just breakfast but lunch too inside a Heliport!!

At least it was free...ish...

Neil Hannon Rocks!!