Friday, April 26, 2013

In Which Not Much Happens, But We Enjoy Ourselves Anyway

I had the opportunity to move the boat twice thrice last night. THREE TIMES!

This is noteworthy because, a.) things have been really, really slow for us this last week. As the pool boat for our client we get construction and special projects. We aren’t supplying a production field on a regular basis, we’re not running for a drilling rig. And b.) I’m new to the boat, and to the port.

Here on "crewboat row," we squeeze 'em in tight. Sliding a 30-foot wide boat into a 36-foot wide hole with 20 knots on the beam is all sorts of fun.

The deckhands are grading me, and I’m told I’m averaging “A-“ thus far. I can live with that.

So, anyhow, the downside to running only every other day is I’m not getting a lot of wheel time, necessary to really be comfortable with my new boat. The upside is that when we do run, destinations and cargos are varied.

I did stay up into the day watch a couple of days ago when we caught a run just to see what Belle Pass looked like in the daylight. It’s always good to be able to match radar returns to a visual image.

And I’m not complaining. Soon enough, I’m sure, they’ll be running the bottom paint off this boat.

Boat or Ship?

Try to define the difference between a boat and a ship, and you’ll come up with all manner of criteria:
  1. Ships can carry boats, boats can’t carry ships.
  2. Boats lean in to a turn, ships lean out.
  3. When a ship sinks one steps into a boat; when a boat sinks, one steps into the water.
  4. Boats have only one deck; ships have multiple decks.
  5. Ships carry cargo, boats do not.
  6. Boats have operators, ships have crews.
  7. Boats are vessels under 500 tons, ships vessels over that.

Out here, we call most of the vessels boats – even the 280-foot platform supply vessels (like the 3,000+ ton Gary Rook, left) that are clearly carrying rescue boats under a davit on the weather deck. I suspect that a vessel of the same size, configured with a more traditional aft house, would be called a ship.

By many definitions, the modest 165-foot crewboat I work on could be considered a ship; it requires multiple individuals as crew, it has more than one deck, it carries cargo.

The boat I’m on could carry another boat – even a sizable boat, such as the 100-foot crewboat just down from us. I’m guessing too that whether a vessel leans into or away from a turn depends in great part on where the vertical center of gravity is on a given day.

Tonnage is tricky, as all sorts of smoke and mirrors (and doors and floors and machinery spaces) may obfuscate a vessel’s objective displacement.

I will tell you this: my boat feels really big at first, but looks a whole lot smaller when lying alongside a big platform supply vessel. And it positively shrinks somewhere between week three and four of a hitch.

Déjà vu, Sorta

The lead captain on this boat has been with the company almost a decade-and-a-half. I think I wrote in an earlier post that he was just over here filling in while the boat was re-crewed. 

Actually, this has been his boat for quite some time and he’s been trying to get to his new boat, currently in shipyard, and has been delayed while a suitable and stable crew is found for this boat.

Anyhow, he’s experienced, skilled and only occasionally grumpy. (Okay, really he has a pretty ready laugh and some great stories).

Earlier today, noticing his “Corpus Christi Harley Davidson” t-shirt, I asked him if he has a bike. Two, it turns out, with a possible third in the offing, and he not only told me about them but whipped out his phone to show me pictures.

Ah … sociability. It’s almost impossible to over-rate.


  1. Good light-hearted observations.
    I need to figure out how to make that little thumbs up icon. Spoiled by facebook.

  2. Submarines are referred to as "boats". (Fun fact: to the submarine vessel thing, we refer to the crew being "in" not "on" vessel.)

  3. such a nice written blog. Really amazing. Its always been good to travel on a boat. i really enjoy it. keep sharing your more experiences. Yacht Charter Dubai