Turned out one of the captains on another of the company's boats had a family emergency he needed to get home for, but the boat had just been called for a long run. The plan, approved by the office, was for us to swap boats, with his ride picking him up from my regular boat later in the day.
The other boat pulled into the slip and we laid alongside. I threw my bags over the rail and followed, clambering across the tires.
As I stepped into the house, the other captain rushed down from the wheelhouse, shook my hand, and said: "Let me show you a few things." Steering: switch it here and there. This is where you're going (it's in the GPS). The engineer knows the boat really well -- ask him if you have any questions. "Thanks again!" and he was gone.
Only then did it dawn on my sleep-befuddled brain that not only was I filling-in for a captain on the boat, I was filling-in for the captain presently on watch. The 100-mile run? That was going to be all mine.
The 24-hour watch. Awesome.
As it happens, it turned-out to be a pretty nice week.
This other boat is the largest in our fleet -- on of two 172-footers -- and has been retrofitted with a Kongsberg Dynamic Positioning system. I didn't turn it on.
Staterooms are large (desks, even!) and mattresses relatively new and comfortable. More importantly, perhaps, the galley was well-stocked with Dr Pepper and the crew was both pleasant and helpful. Not to mention entertaining.
Not that the week was incident-free: we had a generator go tits-up halfway through a run and another evening had a scare with the air conditioning.
The other watch lost our gangway right before a run, but the engineer and I went fishing when we got back and were able to recover it.
Like I said, a pretty good week. It's always interesting to learn a different boat and a different job and to meet new people. Here's hoping all my relief captain hitches go as smoothly.