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The Oilfields

May 7, 2013

Day 003

So dawn of Day 3 brought us safely through the Khafji oilfield, with just a few rigs left which Kiera managed to capture at Dawn – a moment which I just managed to stay awake to see, despite mega exhaustion.  With two on a passage, there is usually just one person on watch at a time, both crew taking it in turns – but having three on passage means we can at least have two on watch at night time, when navigating the riddled waters of the Arabian Gulf!  Not that it makes much difference – a few years back, when on passage from Bahrain to Kuwait, we hit an unlit barrel or something when approaching Khafji.  Looked like a barrel, but since it had no lights it was hard to tell since it was pitch black with no moon and the brilliant lights of the flares turning the water in front of us an oily black.  I thought any objects would be silhouetted, but no – just black!  Once through the fields it’s a bit better, since then any barrels are actually illuminated by the flares from behind.

Oil rig silhouette in sunrise

The rigs are always easy to see in any light – the barrels not so much!

Anyway – three on watch – which we worked by having a rotating three part, nine hour, watch, which meant we were on Watch 1 for 3 hours, Watch 2 for three hours, and OffWatch for three hours.  Not as bad as it sounds, since being on Watch 1 meant you were Watch Leader and responsible for lookout, navigation etc.  When on Watch 2, you could do whatever, such as chores, read, or doze (when it was light, anyway), so long as you were on deck to help the Watch Leader when needed!  Off Watch meant your goal was to SLEEP!!!

Of course, it takes a few days to get into the swing of a watch – so by this time we were all struggling to stay awake for night watches – especially if the second watch coincided with the pre-dawn shift.  That was hard!

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