26 September 2012

In Case You Were Wondering

Misty, rain-swept hills in the morning
The winds persist in coming from the southwest.
The northeasterly winds have been delayed.
The weeks crawled by with many bleak mornings and unpromising evenings. Nights have stayed uncomfortably warm, whilst the passing of days did not portend any overdue change.
In the thick of this I finally sat for the Instrument Base Check after my Raya relief, mortified at how overcontroling I became when automation was disengaged. I am still such a probie on the 225.
The Terengganu Crude Oil Terminal at Paka underneath a storm cell
The haze has weakened, losing its battle against the sun who commanded coastal storms to temper the opaque scourge which we blame everyone else for and steer clear away from in case it recognises us as its forebear.
I think I am beginning to settle down into the cycles, of work and being off, of flying in haze and returning home in bad weather. This is an aircraft which really inspires confidence in my being able to make it home. I can just set up the Flight Management Computor and watch the blackened world of ferocious storm clouds outside my window make way for the Super Cougar as she weaves her way steadily to the finals approach, like it was to her, just another day at work, business as usual.
A derrick-laying barge sitting off Bekok A
Then after a while you get to notice that some weeks the planners are kind, alternating evenly between assigning you 0700H musters, 0930H and 1300H late mornings.
This week has been a healthy dose of 0700H musters, with split duties to remuster at 1300H for a second sector of flying. A 1300H muster means a departure time between 1445H and 1515H, with a late evening arrival.
Do oil rigs look like Roman lamps?
Somehow late evening arrivals make me crave for a hot cup of Indian tea. I am not a tea person. I am a coffee person. I dare say I would readily take it intravenously if it meant I got my caffeine fix, but I fear that I would screw the recent unrelenting spate of Drug And Alcohol (DNA-laughable tag isn't it?) Tests.
And so it was that this evening, on return from two and a half hours of flying from 1300H, I decided to revive myself with tea.
A rust-red oil tanker syphoning off from Floating Storage Offshore Puteri Dulang

Post-shutdown, walking back from the dispersal, I found the crew-room still crowded with the crew on standby from their 1400H return from offshore. They were busy chinwagging about the latest celebrity gossip, trying to decipher what on earth Pussy Riot consisted of, debating if felines were involved. I never got involved in any of this genre of discourse, falling miserly behind in my ability to provide suitable fodder for the masses.
I busied myself instead, with laying out the food from the rigs on the counter so that all could partake in the spoils of the day's skirmishes. There were four styrofoam packs comprising cakes and buns. I wasn't hungry. I savoured the heat of my self-stirred cham, flavoured rich with three tea bags.
The other captains reached into the packs, chewing away with the hunger that the interval between lunch and tea time evoked in them. Out of courtesy they left me two morsely cakes, since I was the last one home from offshore, and they returned home.
I myself nearly gave in.
Till my reaching hand paused short of the cake, my eyes noticing that no, dessicated coconut does not belong on a savoury cake of fried dough and anchovy sambal.
Closer inspection confirmed that what looked like dessicated coconut was the one thing, soldierly experience notwthstanding, that could make my stomach turn. Eggs. Please, no pictures, not even gleaned from a word search engine, okay?
That settles it. You would think otherwise, because you see rigs of all sorts above pristine waters, but:
There are flies and roaches and rats in offshore rig galleys.

06 September 2012

Pome En Route Ome

The sea has many moods and wears as many skins
When tempestuous you see furrows upon her brow
But brave little boats endure the tossing and the pitching
With coloured peasant-cloths billowing upon their bows

I am not her tenant for I am merely passing through
As I soar over her steamy breath in the light of early morn
But though I am a sailor of the firmament of white and blue
I plead she does not consume me for I shall soon be gone
There are islands on her body that men have built from steel
With pipes that plunge to draw her black gold sap which feeds
All that moves upon this smoky world in vessel or wing or wheel
The myriad rigs, the deep fathomed digs, the portrait of our greed
But the men who work are as you and I pursuing a daily wage
I ferry these miners in sectors through clear and through cloud
I carry men, I carry women, the menial, the learned of every age
All temperaments and creeds, the burdened, the humbled and the proud
I am an offshore pilot and I am a prisoner upon the waves
Thus the salt and the rain are my daily fare as I take to the sky
A human trafficker if ye must, mothers and fathers my freight
Yet no affinity to water in my veins, a predicament I cannot deny
The ships and barges are my laden companions, I watch them from above
They say that akin to them when rotors stop my own toils will be done
And thus I bid farewell to the fishing boats trawling their treasure trove
May their helmsmen also see their bonny wives when the sun is finally gone
The shoreline sentinels, timeless islands, my beacons, my milestones home
The long finals to runway OneSix, or through Labohan's scenic Lane Four
They unfurl the asphalt carpet where this Cougar will be finally towed
Till another sunrise finds fishermen, captains and cargo parlaying offshore