Wednesday, October 10, 2012

First Week of October

I figured my birdwatching would be curtailed nearly 100 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. And while it’s true that I have no 50 or 60 species days out here, I continue to see interesting birds. Only a cuckoo has been a quick and easy ID.

Apparently, this is wren week out here; I’ve added two to my list – a Winter Wren, distinctively tiny and dark, hopping about the deck with its tail cocked-up, and (tentatively) a Marsh Wren, which took up residence in the wheelhouse last night.

Both are winter residents of the Gulf Coast, and perhaps farther south. Whether these are migrating birds that decided to take a break on one of the many platforms out here, or resident coastal birds that went astray, I don’t know.

I do know a production platform on the outer continental shelf is no happy place for a wren; not a lot of bugs out here, and the platforms themselves have galvanized steel grating on the decks. That means there’s not a lot of fresh water.

On the boat, we have moths and the occasional cricket that ride out with us, and there’s usually a puddle of freshwater somewhere on the deck.

As I write this, the field is coming alive with radio traffic – helicopters up and flying personnel from platform to platform. I’m thinking we’ll probably stand by on our buoy today, as the seas are building in the wake of a front that blew through about two hours ago.

Our dispatcher knew it was coming and had us finish our backload yesterday.

With seas running less than two feet and a couple of hours of standby time at the far south end of the field yesterday morning, I continued work on the top of the wheelhouse; got the handrails whirewheeled and primed, scrubbed the entire surface and put another coat of white on most of it.

The midnight-to-noon watch is a tough one for getting boat projects done on the deck; not enough light to easily work the first half of the watch, and too busy running the second half.

The other watch got our two new deck lights up a couple of days ago, and yesterday evening replaced one of our old Carlisle & Finch searchlights with a brand-new, but not much brighter Perko light.

If the sky clears, I’ll try to finish up the top of the wheelhouse and get our sidelight boxes painted this morning. We also have half a cable of 2-inch polypro that needs to be made up into a couple of mooring lines.

Last time we were at the dock, we received a large pallet of really useful supplies. It’s nice to be finally getting some of what we need.

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