Home again, a month late!

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Yet again I have failed epically at following up with my blog. Well done Esmee!

So, I’ve been home for a month now (that’s how rubbish I am!). I must say, I was pretty glad to be back on dry land! Not that I don’t enjoy my job! I love working offshore, but I missed my home comforts! My double bed, in a room which doesn’t creek all night, food I actually want to eat! But I must say… It was so quiet at first! I was so used to there being people around all the time!

The last few days on board we’re pretty hectic! The Geo is in charge of organising all the data to be sent back to the office, so it was a day of getting data backups from other departments and making sure all our projects were complete and included all the necessary data! Not very exciting I’m afraid! We made it back into port 6 am on the Friday morning, yes, that meant a wonderful wake up call from the bow thrusters… I was not happy, but hey ho! No more being in shift for me, I was up at 7 am, ready to help finalise the job. It was both sad and exciting saying goodbye. When you live with people in such close confinement for periods of time, you just adjust to being around them and make really good friends. But the idea of my own bed and going out for dinner with my beautiful friend Meg was more of a draw! (Sorry Rhi if you’re reading this, who is finally off the Vigilant!)

One more stop, back at the office to data drop and handover, and then I was finally home! And out the door again within the hour! I didn’t want to fall sleep at 4 pm so Meg and I went to do a spot of shopping before over indulging in food!

So, for anyone who knows me, they know I’m generally sporting a nice variety of bruises due to being pretty clumsy. Well, this mixed offshore meant I had an even larger variety of bruises, but mixed with being back on land for the first time, felling slightly land sick (I swear this is a real thing) my clumsiness reached a new low, where I managed to not only drop a shampoo bottle on the floor of superdrug and break the catch, but smash a bottle of red, yes red, nail varnish all over the floor! I was so embarrassed… and covered in nail varnish! Opps! 


I’ve been so busy since I’ve been back. I’ve been working in the office writing the reports for the jobs I worked on offshore, my last one went today! How exciting. I’ve also run the race for like, been to Radio 1’s  Big Weekend, UEA’s Pimp My Barrow, spent  couple of days at home with my family, caught up with friends and met my friend Aimee’s gorgeous baby boy! Its been a busy month. Maybe I’ll catch you up in a blog post. I’m going to try and get into blogging a lot more!


E x

Folded PJ’s and weather down time…

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30/04/2015

01:30

I’ve just returned to my cabin to find that its been cleaned and my bedding changed!!! Which is a nice surprise… (On the researcher, I had to ask the steward for clean bedding) I must also add that my pyjamas and some other clothing I had left on my bed had been folded… not sure if I find this weird or not… I think I do.. but hey ho, I have a clean cabin!

We’ve spent a majority of today down on weather, this basically means we’re not acquiring anymore data because the quality is being affected by the weather… But no sitting around for me like I could on the Researcher, I had 79 PDFs to annotate and some interpretation to catch up on. There’s nothing really exciting to report, my PPE made another rare appearance when I went out on deck to help an engineer set up some equipment. Ohh… I actually got a vegetarian meal today!!! NO FISH! This made me pretty happy. But I’ve finished my supply of Reeces peanut butter cups… I’ve eaten so much junk on here, there’s just piles of chocolate and crisps and ice-cream! The magnums and the lion bars are my weakness at the moment!

Anyway, I can hear the sound of the pinger ticking away, so we’re obviously running lines again, so I better attempt to get a good nights sleep before tomorrow! It can be pretty noisy on board, there’s a really annoying creak in my cabin and I forgot my earplugs, but I’ve found just wearing my headphones at night helps a tad!

30/04/2015

22:18

So, we’re down on weather again! I’ve spent 10 hours of my shift sorting out data etc etc and its got to the point where I’m pretty much just making stuff up to do…

04/05/2015

00:59

Well my last attempt to write got interrupted by Game of Thrones, we were down on weather and I’d spent my whole shift up to that point at my desk so I decided I was allowed to join everyone else who was using the weather time to watch TV!

I find it quite difficult deciding what to do when we’re down on weather, which we have been all of my shift just passed and the tail end of my last shift. There’s quite a lot to do as the Geo, even when we’re not running lines, especially as the site we’re currently working on seems to be presenting us with hundreds of boulders to pick! Fuuuunn… But yeah, today, my whole shift has been down on weather and, I spent half of it, if not more at my desk, catching up with interpretation and organizing data, but then it just got to the point where, with everyone else watching tv, I felt I should get a chance to too. Seeing as it is Sunday! Well… was, I guess now its Monday morning. The vessels work 24/7, so Monday to Sunday I’ll work a 12 hour shift, so its nice to take a chance to just chill out once in a while.

Tomorrow (today) is bank holiday Monday! Feels so strange, you loose track of things like that at sea, even what day it is. I only remembered it was Sunday when I put the tele on and Sunday Brunch came on! I guess I kind of have to know the date, for our logs etc, but I just read it off the computer. Even what time it is gets a bit distorted. Especially when you have your lunch at 5pm!

The chef has been really nice lately and has started making me vegetarian meals every other day! I’m so grateful to not be eating fish every day, especially as it always seems to be a whole fish fried, and it’s a faf to be trying to pick around the bones! He actually served Lobster yesterday!! Yes lobster! Not freshly caught or anything, frozen, but still… I didn’t have any, it was served at my breakfast time and I didn’t think that would go down too well!

Anyway, I wish I had something more exciting to talk about, but I’m afraid the days are pretty much the same on board. It can get a bit repetitive, especially if your down on weather… So I’m going to leave it hear for now, speak soon!

Oh yeah, and it turns out, those 79 PDF’s I had to annotate…. I only needed to do 5… 47 less than I actually managed to get done… It took me 5 hours…

07/05/2015

01:12

Today has been spent sitting in the TV room with the rest of day shift watching Modern Family… I think we’ve got through about 30 episodes today… No joke! The weathers been pretty bad, we’ve spent the last two days down on weather. Its been around a force 7-8 most of the day, it got to a force 9 at one point and the swells reached over 3m… There’s been a lot of stumbling around and catching things that have fallen off tables!

It gets quite frustrating being down on weather, don’t get me wrong, after two weeks of working its nice to have a couple of days to relax, but theres just so little to do! Its not like you can go anywhere, the majority of entertainment is TV. It gets quite frustrating. Luckily I no longer feel sea sick! I’ve adjusted to being offshore now, but if it were like this for the first few days, I probably wouldn’t have been able to leave my bed, apart from if I maybe fell out because of how much its rolling around!

Time to attempt to sleep whilst being thrown around, I wonder how many bruises I’ll wake up to.

Oh, my cabin was cleaned again today… and my PJ’s folded!!

09/05/2015

02:31

Mini panic, my laptop had restarted itself and I’d forgotten to save all of this, but luckily Autosave did it for me!

I’m back in my little bunk after a long day working on what feels like the most complicated job and a good gym session. I will admit, I don’t go to the gym as much as I’d like to say I do, but after spending a couple of days sat watching TV because we’re down on weather or a day at the desk working, its nice to do exercise! There isn’t much equipment in there, just a bike (with the worlds most uncomfortable seat) a rower, a cross trainer and a weights machine. Well, I gets that is quite a lot considering how small the room is! A group of us have also started the 30 day planking challenge, which we’re shortening to 15 day, missing out every other, including the rest day… it could get painful!

Anyway, we’re finally working again. I feel like I’ve spent the whole day running between the little ‘office’ I work in and the lab where the surveyors and engineers are. Honestly this ship has a rubbish setup in that respect. The Geo should defiantly be in the Lab with everyone else, but on here the lab is just too small. It is literally two containers joined together on the back deck! But hey ho, we make it work. All the crew (survey and ships) are really nice and everyone seems to get on pretty well which makes everything run smoother! Don’t get me wrong, there are a few ‘heated discussions’ but on a whole, it’s a good atmosphere.

We’re on the final stage of the job! Supposedly 3 or 4 days work, but that’s just an outline. It could take weeks, it all depends on the weather, data quality and how much extra lines are needed. I’d have liked to be home for the election so I could vote, my postal vote application didn’t arrive before I left so I didn’t have that option. We could still watch the coverage on the TV, but its not the same.

That’s one of the things with working offshore. You miss out on things. Don’t get me wrong, getting so much time off is great, but due to the nature of the work you can only take holiday in two two week blocks so its really difficult to plan and agree to things. For example, I’m signed up to run the Race for Like in a week, I don’t know if I’ll make it back in time, and it’s Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Norwich the weekend after. Okay, these aren’t massive events, but as the vessels work 365 days a year, you can miss out on being home for Christmas, birthdays, new year etc etc.  Some company’s run 4 weeks on 4 weeks off, or other regular patterns, but most just work when there’s work. This means you may be sat at home for months on end, or the polar opposite, be at sea for 8 weeks, have 2 weeks at home then head back out for 8 weeks again. Its very unpredictable. But its what you sign up for when you take the job!

Anyway… time for bed. Another busy day for us tomorrow! I’ll actually make an effort to upload this!

E x

Travelling, arrival and my first week onboard…

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22/04/2015

16:30

So, I’m currently sat at Norwich Airport, ridiculously early (as always) waiting to check in, as, despite the check-in being open, they haven’t got a list of the passengers on the flight…. This could be interesting!

I’m feeling really nervous, my last trip away was amazing and I was accompanied by some fantastic people, this one has a lot to live up to. I am sailing with one of the lovely ladies I worked with before and the other Geophycisit’s I shall be working with are lovely! So all should be good! I’m more nervous that, unlike last time, I shall be on my own shift and have a lot more responsibility than before! It is however, nice to know they have the confidence in me for this though. I just don’t want to mess up!

23:22

So, here I am, snuggled up in my little cabin on the M.V. Vigilant. It feels so weird to be back on a ship, it’s been just over 5 months since I left the Researcher! The Vigilant is definitely more confusing, but I think I’ve got my head around where everything is! I’ve unpacked a little so my cabin feels more homely, I made the mistake of living out of my suitcase for the first part of my last trip offshore and it’s not pleasant! It’s nice to look around the room and see my own belongings. Tomorrows going to be a busy day of ship inductions and pre-job meetings, so off to sleep I go (after an episode of Once Upon a Time).

23/04/2015

21:39

Well, I never got a chance to upload yesterday’s post, todays been a busy day and since we left port, the internet has been painfully slow!

From what I have gathered do far with my offshore experiences, today was a pretty standard start of job day. Despite being on the midday to midnight shift, I was up at 7 for breakfast, ready to sign on with the Capitain (something everyone has to do when you join a vessel). After an induction tour of the ship, which is one of the very few occasions us Geos dress up in our PPE, we were then in organisation mode, trying to set up the job on the ships computer ready for the pre-job meeting. Aiding the ships crew with putting away stores is another of the rare occasions the PPE comes out to play and seeing the amount of boxes of magnums which were delivered had everyone excited! The Vigilant, without a doubt, has better snacks than the Researcher! Now just to not put on loads of weight! Ha.

The pre-job meeting followed, I can’t say it’s a thrilling experience, but vital to get all the information for the upcoming job. The rest of the day was just more time at the computer, trying to sort out silly issues with software, confusing the chart printer and getting a prepared as possible for the upcoming work (including eating magnums). A majority of the job ahead is pretty simplistic, yet a section of it, none of us have done before, so we’re just trying to get ahead of the game! We left Montrose at about 6pm and, surprisingly I feel pretty good (touch wood). It took me a few days to adjust last time I first got out to sea, but hopefully, I still have my sea legs. It definitely feels strange, hence why I’m already tucked up in bed at nearly 10pm, writing this before I watch another episode of Once Upon a Time!

The foods been quite good so far, although, I did have the test of making the chef aware that I’m a pescatarian, which, with a language barrier is always a little tricky! He seemed to be okay about having to cater for me, however I always feel so awkward having to ask them to make sure theres something I can eat, plus, eating fish every meal for weeks on end does get very dull! Being on the midday to midnight shift means I’ll only catch two meal times (we have set times, 07:00 – 08:00 for breakfast, 11:30-12:30 for lunch and 17:00-18:00 for dinner) but there’s always leftovers and I’ll probably skip lunch and have porridge instead, waking up and eating a full cooked lunch will not go down well! I’ve never actually done a shift like this before. My time on the Researcher I shadowed the Geo and we usually worked 08:00-22:00, so the day was a lot more sociable. I’m not really sure how I’m going to structure my day around my shift yet, but I’m sure I’ll work something out!

Anyway, my head is feeling a little bit funny and I’m shattered, so I’m going to chill and I’ll try and get this somewhere tomorrow!

27/04/2015

01:33

Helloo, so, I haven’t written in a couple of days, simply because if I wrote every day it’d get super boring and repetitive! My last two days have been working days! Woooo. We’ve started acquiring data and I’m a busy bee, which I like. We had a fire and muster drill the other day, at 11am, literally just as I got our the shower… I wasn’t aware we had a drill… that was fun! But yeah, basically we just run through the procedures that we’d go through for the event of the fire, which in my case is go to the muster point on deck in PPE (another one of the few chances I get to wear my PPE) with my life jacket and survival suit! Usually you have a responsibility, such as collecting the fire extinguishers etc, but due to this ship being tranship we don’t have that. So basically I stood out on deck in PPE and a life jacket for half hour, but it was nice to get some fresh air!

The last three days have been pretty much the same. I’m up at 10:30, I’ll have some breakfast… I’ve brought some porridge along with me because I miss the breakfast time, but there is cereal and bread etc, there’s always plenty of food! Then I’ll be in our little Geo office for 11:30 to handover from the night shift, then to work I go! On board I’m responsible for data QC and interpretation, so if I’m not happy with the data I have the responsibility to make the appropriate people aware. But mainly I’ve just spent my days at my desk, in my really dodgy chair, which was once a wheelie chair. But as you can imagine, a wheelie chair on a very rolly ship… disaster, so they’ve ripped the wheels off!! And it leans really awkwardly backwards and to the left…. There’s an art to sitting in it the right way!

I’ll usually break for dinner (well, my lunch) at 5pm, then on with work until 23:30 when I’ll handover to the night shift! Pretty straight forward. The main lab is at the other end of the ship, so I spend a fair bit of time going to and from to see whats going on and ask any questions. And obviously I have a Magnum break! There is just so much tempting naught food! So difficult to stay away from the buisuits, especially when I’m drinking tea all day long! Working offshore definitly increases my tea consumption. But I’m trying to mitigate the impacts of the chocolate and ice cream by heading to the gym each night after shift. I try and stay up till past 02:00, otherwise I wake up at 08:00 and im shattered by the end of my shift! I didn’t make it there yesterday though, felt pretty queasy, we were rolling around a lot! Then I’ll just head to my cabin, watch an episode of OUAT and go to sleep…

Until 06:00, when the bow thrusters seem to be tested (due to the fact we’re doing 500m zone work) and I’m rudely woken up!!! You would not believe how loud they are! And my cabin is right next to them!

Aaaanyway, that’s my working day on board, nothing too exciting. Now it’s time for bed for me, I’ll attempt to get this uploaded tomorrow!!!

E x

Here We Go Again…

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Holaaa guys, so, tomorrow I head off to join the M.V. Vigilant for my next trip offshore and, this time, I plan on actually telling you how it is as I planned to last time! 

Annnyway… So here I am, sat on my bed watching Once Upon a Time (which I highly recommend), finally feeling prepared.  I’ve now known that I’ll be heading offshore for just under a week (a little more notice than last time) and have been trying to sort myself out ever since. Despite having been away before, I had no idea where to start when it came to packing. I couldn’t for the life of me remember what I took before! Clothes obviously.. on that note, I just want to add, that there’s a washing machine on board and I can wash my clothes, so no, I didn’t have to re-wear clothes for 10 weeks on my last trip! (I was a little surprised about how many have asked me this question). I’m not really sure how I’ll do this, I’ll probably write various short posts whilst I’m away and upload them when I have internet! So, if you’re interested, stay tuned! 

Ex 

6 Months Later…

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Wow, so my attempt at blogging about my Year in Industry has gone pretty poorly… 6 months have passed since I last wrote about my placement and at that point in time I had only been working with the company a matter of weeks… Well now it’s almost 7 months into my placement and I have a lot to catch you up on!

So, where to start… When I last blogged, I was only two weeks into my placement. Following that I spent the next month in the office! Well, almost all of it but I’ll get to that next. I must say, I continued to enjoy the company, unlimited tea, wandering around in my socks and of course the work! I started to feel like I had a real grasp of what I was supposed to be doing and loved learning and experiencing what it was like working in a professional environment. Having only ever been a waitress/bar staff it was a bit of a shock to the system, I must say, even now I miss being on my feet and talking all day, probably why I enjoyed the offshore component to my placement more, but again, I’ll get to that later.

Anyway, one of my highlights of the past 6 months has to be the, let’s say interesting, week I spent completing the course in the Standard of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Basic Safety training course, a legal requirement for anyone planning to work offshore! The week started off with a long drive over to Lowestoft College, before getting lost in the car park, asking someone as equally clueless as me for directions and finally meeting the rest of the group I was about to spend the week with. With the day focused on First Aid training I felt pretty confident, having a good grasp on this from my time with St Johns, so when going over it back at home that evening, I was not aware of how nerve racking the next few days would be!

The majority of the next few days were spent learning to fight fires! Yes, I got to put out fires! After a morning of classroom training we then found ourselves dressed in full fire fighting gear, which I must note, is not designed for 5’4 women (I wish I had a picture of this), and off we went to the fire ground! The first day was quite tame, putting out fires in steel containers with different types of fire extinguishers, I really enjoyed it. Then we learnt to use the hoses and how to put out slightly larger fires.

The second day however, was much more intense!

This was the first time I had ever used breathing apparatus; I must say, I think it was the most challenging part of the course for me. It is such a weird feeling relying on a tank of air you’re carrying on your back to breathe. Eventually I got used to it, but I found it very off-putting at first. We spent the morning in a classroom learning how to put the equipment on, how to activate the mask and the tank and then we were led around the site, up ladders, crawling through small tubes and jogging out in the open. With the tank on your back and a large hard hat on and dressed in the bulky gear, most of these tasks are not easy. I really respect those who do this every day. It was hot, awkward and uncomfortable, but strangely fun after you got used to it! 

That afternoon we were thrown into the deep end! Old containers full of obstacles were set up on their site designed to simulate the ship. Within these fires were lit and the containers filled with smoke. In groups of 3, breathing apparatus on and hoses at the ready we had to go into the pitch black and use our newly acquired sweeping techniques (which make you look like you’re doing some very strange unstable dance), navigate around and tackle the fires. At first it was horrible; not being able to see anything, feeling the heat of the fires and being very aware that the only oxygen you have is that coming from the tank on your back. But after the first simulation (I think we did about 3 that day) it started to become strangely enjoyable. You’re very aware that you’re in a controlled situation with the constant support and guidance of the instructors (who I must say were great), and so you start to relax into it and can focus more on the task and less on the fear! Haha.

I will just say, if you’re planning on doing this course/need to do this course, you will smell awful afterwards! It took a good week to get the smell out of my hair! 

Slightly exhausted from the day before, I was pretty glad that the next day was only half a day at Petans, part of which was occupied simply by a multiple choice test. However, once more we donned all our firefighting gear, and into the containers we went. This time they made it a little more challenging with ladders and stairs to compete with but feeling more comfortable with the breathing apparatus and the smoke I was feeling a lot more confident! 

After scrubbing as much of the smokey smell off as possible, we travelled over to Lowestoft for the afternoon (I was not best pleased about this) to listen to a talk on responsibilities. After two and a half days of hand on firefighting there were many sleepy people trying very hard not to drift off! But we all made it through the afternoon and I went home to a very well deserved bath! 

The next day was without a doubt my favourite! Sea Survival in the pool! And no, even though you’re working at sea, you don’t have to be able to swim! Not once have I ever been asked this question (much to my Dad’s surprise). But I can and I love being in the water so I felt pretty confident about this day. 

Until they stood me on a platform above the water looking down at the bottom of the 10m deep pool and told me to jump… 

Can’t say I was too happy about that at first! But after a little encouragement from the great group I’d been working with all week I did it (and secretly quite enjoyed it). The day was so fun. It started with classroom training and then we were off. Dressed in our swimmys, overalls (again, they don’t seem to make these for short women) and massive life jackets, one by one, we jumped. Several times in fact; once with all the lights off, which honestly felt like you were falling forever! After learning to flip an overturned life raft and climb into it we simulated a variety of different abandon ship situations, which was in fact great fun! However I don’t imagine this is the case if you have to do it for real! The pool was nowhere near as cold as the North Sea would be! After drying off we had to sit one final multiple choice test and that was it! STCW completed… It was not what I expected it to be at all… not that I really knew what to expect but it was great fun. You really need to throw yourself into it though, don’t sit back. I was pretty scared at the beginning but after a quiet talk with myself I really got into it and ended up loving it! All apart from that smell… I had to throw away a sports bra which just refused to smell of anything but smoke!   

Anyway! I was going to tell you about the rest of my 7 months in this entry, But I’ve pretty much only made it to the end of week 4 and I have 10 weeks of being offshore to write about!

So, until next time!

E x