I haven't said too much about my last port stay - mostly because it was borderline traumatizing. Just kidding. Just kidding I'm not. In all honesty, it was almost a saga. It was one of those port stays.
It actually began days prior to arriving in port when we stopped in Khawr Fakkan, U.A.E. for bunkers. (Taking bunkers means the ship refuelled.) Everything was going so great, we dropped the anchor, the bunker barge rendevoused with us, we got our fuel, we heaved anchor, we began bringing the vessel up to sea speed......and then suddenly there was a really big banging noise.
We all looked at eachother and said, 'Main Engine, why are you banging like this?'. It's funny now but, at the time it was VERY clear that there was something VERY wrong with the Main Engine. It turns out that the connecting rod on the number 6 cylinder had essentially fallen off. Nautie Friends, this is bad. VERY BAD.
Five days, 9 tech reps and one less cylinder later we limped out of our 'un-official anchorage' and headed for Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.
Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. is where we were to discharge all of our cargo - including the two heavy lifts we carried from the States.
In addition to the cargo operations we were scheduled to have an external audit, CO2 and Fire Extinguisher inspection, Freefall Lifeboat and Rescue Boat inspection and a Tech Rep for our Liebherr Cranes. It was going to be busy.
Truly, all you need to know about this port stay is that it was 'effin hot.
I'm talking like 120 in the shade - and the humidity - oh my god the humidity! (For some reason people always assume that the Middle East is a desert and therefore it's a dry heat. Not! It's humid as all humid can be.)
The discharge of the heavy lifts went very well. The lifts went soooo much better than our first go round!
Now, to answer some questions I've received over the past few days...
There were two heavy lifts. One weighed 216 Metric Tons and the other weighed 279 Metric Tons. The smaller one was a GE generator and the larger one was a GE gas turbine. (Dad, you asked me what the photo in my snarky post was....this unit is the generator....the smaller of the two lifts.) The large unit required two cranes to move.
The Stevedores hook up the cargoes whether we're loading or discharging. When we're loading they hook the pieces up on the dock to be lifted and then they come aboard and lash the cargo to the deck. When we're discharging they come aboard and remove all the lashings and then attach the slings to lift the pieces out of the holds. The ships crew is standing by to make sure they have all the gear they need, that they don't damage any pieces, that all the cargo is secure.
For routine cargo loading and discharge the Stevedores also provide a crane operator. For the heavy lifts sometimes there are special crane operators - in this case two operators were flown from Germany - no lie. The ships crew operates the crane to move lashing gear into place for the Stevedores and they also move the tween decks (or pontoons) so that the lower cargo holds may be accessed.
Back to the saga. All the cargo has been removed from the vessel - it's time to head to the next load port....Oh wait, we can't! We still only have five cylinders up and running.
We shifted from our cargo berth to a lay berth. Engine repairs commenced. Psych. That would be too good to be true. There was a huge lead time on the required part soooo the Main Engine was buttoned back up - the number six cylinder was still out of commission and we chug a lug lugged out of port.
We are now limping through pirate infested waters on five cylinders. No lie. Talk about the little engine that could. You can almost here her wheezing, 'I think I can, I think I can...'.
I can't wait to see what the next port has in store for us...or where the next port is for that matter.
p.s. you know what kinda sucks about being a chief mate? you never, ever get to go ashore...