Friday, July 30, 2010

Nothing new

So its been a week since my blog, and nothing much has happened. We have put our skimmer back in the water and are ready to go. But there is no oil in the area to skim. We docked up in Mobile bay last night. In fishing news last night was the most fun fishing I have had in a long time. We caught 63(25 were mine) fish and most of them were white trout.(2 speckled trout, 2 bottom drum, and several catfish though we throw them back.)
So they seem to be scaling back the effort a lot so I am not sure how long I have left in this job, but we will see.
The sad thing I haven't told yall most skimming crews don't ever skim, we were the number 1 crew simply because we are the only ones who actually spend the night on the water and actively search for oil. Other crews stay in hotels, taking 2 hours to get to work and then only practice skimming for about 3 hours or so, and then they take 2 hours to get back to shore. And even if these crews get out early enough, the scout boats who go searching for the oil go home at 2 every afternoon,(but most of those have been laid off by now too) I even heard a skimmer capt. tell someone the reason he doesnt skim is that he doesnt want to have to go through decontamination.( ie. he doesn't want to get his boat dirty)
I did alittle research and less than 10% of the oil from the valdez spill was recovered. So in the end this clean up effort is all a show. They are sinking it all with the mentality out of sight out of mind, even though it will probably wash up for the next couple decades.
I am sorry I havent posted any pictures. Unfortunately my internet connection is awful, making uploading next to impossible. But I will post them as soon as I can.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hurricane Bonnie

Hey everyone,
The past week has been fairly disappointing. We haven't been catching much oil; and on top of that our bladder system was leaking oil because the workers on the barge did not put a cap back on it. So we have been skimming oil for the past 2 weeks and its been going out the back of the bladder. We couldn't see that they hadn't put the cap back on because it was on the underside of the bladder. The worst part about it, we got them to lift the bladder back onto the barge to see what was wrong, thats when we saw that the cap was missing and oil proceeded to shoot out like it was coming out like a fire hose. (don't worry we recovered of that oil, but god knows how much we lost riding around). Now that tropical storm Bonnie is coming this way, we have been scrambling to get every last bit of equipment out of the water and moved downed to a naval base in Gulfport. In other news, I finally got a fishing pole and have been catching white trout, catfish, and bottom drum (and the occasional shark). We fish at night and no I dont eat them. We also helped do some air monitoring. I wore what is called a passive air monitor. It was a round disc worn on my shirt, after a days worth of wearing it, it gets shipped off to a lab to find out exactly how safe the air is. ( I rode around taking air samples, the air is every clean in my area) Well this isn't a very long blog, but we really haven't done anything new or exciting to tell you about. So if you have any questions please ask and I will edit in answers.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hey everyone,
Before I begin this entry I want to first apologize about how sporadic my entries are. My goal is to somehow post once a week, from now on.(not quite sure how I will be able to do that, but I am gonna try)
Well I have been out for about a week and half. The first day back was hell. We got our skimmer back in working order, but we had to first, fix a section of boom. It was more difficult than I expected; we also had to reattach our bladder and hose. So by the next day we were back running again, skimming oil. This week has been like the usual, we patrol our respective zone and skim any oil we come across( this week we didn't get all much). The currents and wind have been pushing most of the oil away from us. But we have been training other skimmers lately, who aren't producing results like us. (apparently we are just that good;) ) On saturday, our belt system seemed to get slower and slower until it virtually jammed up; so now it needs to be repaired, which brings us to why I am back on shore.
Here's something that happened about a month ago I forgot to show everyone. Back when the tropical storm was spinning off thunder storms and slinging them our way, we had a lot of storms roll up. Well we were out on the back deck during a drizzly storm when all of the sudden a lightening bolt hit one of the nearby barrier islands. The lightening caught the brush on the island on fire, so I took a picture of it. It was pretty crazy how close it was to us. Thats a boat anchored on the other side of the barrier island in the background of that picture.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Troubled Waters

Hey everybody,

It's been awhile since my last entry. I apologize I have been offshore for awhile now. This last trip has been more of a headache than anything. Last I left ya'll we were going back out to patrol our designated waters. It was going great the first several days. We filled our bladder full of oil, but this time it was different; there seemed to be a huge build up of gas inside the bladder. We had to go offload it even though it wasn't really full of oil. We took our bladder to a barge to be offloaded, which usually takes at least 3 hours if they have nothing else they are working on. Anyway, later that night (around 8 o clock) they called and told us to come get our bladder because the barge was headed for Pensacola. The barge was literally about 1000 yards away from our shrimp boat, but our skimmer is so slow it took us about 15 minutes to get there. The waters were calm when we left, but out of no where a storm came along and made that 1000 yard trip a 2 hour long endeavor on the ride back. The storm took out our canopy we had up for shade. It was rather interesting as waves broke over the side of the boat and my capt. singing the theme song to Gilligan's Island and sideways rain/wind. Everytime we made a little progress, a wave would come along and push us back, we eventually made it to the shrimpers.

After that we had more troubles. The next morning we had a problem. There was a kink in our hose that pumps the oil into our bladder; so we used a winch on the shrimp boat to pull up the bladder and fix the kink. Well, long story short, we got a rope caught on the prop of the shrimp boat that was attached to the back of our bladder. So the capt. of our shrimp boat decided to get the other shrimp boat to come pull on our skimmer (which is attached to the bladder) to free everything, well doing that caused the hose connected to the bladder to rip in half. This made the Shrimp boat capt. quite angry, so he quit right there on the spot and left. (He comes back later) We tried to calm him down but he wouldnt. (Most seasoned shrimpers are just like him its go, go, go and if you can't fix it why are you here.) He was upset that it was gonna take us a day to fix a problem he caused. We got it fixed, and got to skimming for the next several days.

The capt. of the skimmer decided he needed time off so he left for a month and we now have a new boss to get used too. Since he has come on we have had nothing but trouble. In one day we ripped a hose off, our skimming belt also ripped in half (the treadmill looking thing), the hose in turn took out a leg of my canopy destroying our tent for the second time. And our boom somehow ripped in half.

On top of all of this hurricane Alex forced us out of the water, but before we could come in we had to get our boat decontaminated at a barge. The barge took 3 hours to do it, and all they used was a pressure washer on the outside which just knocks the oil from one place to another. Oil doesnt really come off like that. Our boat looked hardly clean but we took our it to dock, and went to the hotel to get some sleep. We came back to make repairs on the boat the next morning and a safety man came over and noticed oil and sheen were coming off our boat, because of the worst decontamination job ever. He took a photo with his iphone, and I left to get supplies. I came back 10 minutes later and there were literally 50 safety men quarantining off our boat. So they boomed off our boat and began scrubbing it down, and preventing me from doing work so I got 2 days off. It really was kinda ridiculous to watch these guys work, does it really take 20 men to clean a 8 ft, blow up zodiac, or 20 men to run boom around our boat, and tie it off? It really was too funny, a coworker got a video of what Im talking about (which will be posted soon). But finally, they got our boat cleaned up and we are now underway.