Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

02 March 2007

Drilling Rigs and Tall ships

Okay, to answer my, "Where's Bob been?" emails...it's been a busy week that has left me with little time to blog. We had two - count 'em, two! different photographers doing stories on Guanaja and to whom we provided the bird's eye view you can only get from a helicopter in exchange for the promise of some "good press" for Guanaja. Plus, the boss was in town which always generates excitement. Plus, we had some special guests down from the States and wanted to make sure they had a good time. So we all had our hands full this week. Me, I did a lot of flying. It was almost like work! You know...if what I do could be even remotely classified as "work"...which it can't (just don't tell my boss).

I'll tell you how our minds work. They play tricks. I was flying from our cay to the airport one day this week, and I saw a couple of "things" sticking straight up out of the water. Immediately I think, "jack-up rig." A jack-up rig is a drilling rig with these big legs (usually three or four) that stick way up above the rig structure. The rig itself can float, and is towed out to the position at which it's going to work. Then the legs get "jacked-down" to the seafloor. Once they hit bottom, they will stop but the jacks keep working, lifting the rig up and completely out of the water. If the water is deep enough, you might not see any part of the leg sticking up above the rig itself. But then I thought, "Wait, it can't be a jack-up here in Guanaja...Or can it?"

Here is a picture of a small jack-up rig.

This rig can operate in a hundred feet of water or so. Anyway, that's what I thought I saw. It shows how long I was working out in the Gulf of Mexico. Because here's what I actually saw.

The Harvey Gamage

Easy mistake, right? Tall ship...jack-up rig... Maybe not. But from far away and at a quick glance, the two masts looked like...oh, never mind. Like I said, our minds are funny.

The Harvey Gamage belongs to the Ocean Classroom Foundation, based in Rhode Island, in the United States. They have three such ships and they take people on various trips (teenagers in this case, apparently). It's probably expensive, but probably worth it. You can read more about the Harvey Gamage here. The page has a link to the "ship's log" which is an infrequently updated account of where they've been and what they're doing. It does show them currently in Guanaja, and I suspect that the next entry will read: "A crazy helicopter pilot with two photographers hanging out of the doors circled around us for about thirty minutes like an annoying mosquito the other day. And now, every time it flies by (which it does a lot) it simply must buzz us to see if any of the girls are skinny-dipping. The pilot appears to be a middle-aged, paunchy, balding pervert. I think I shall report him to the FAA." (See, the captain of the Harvey Gamage writes a lot like me.)

I have no idea how long the Harvey Gamage is going to stay. Perhaps it will be gone in the morning, which would be a shame. I'd like a chance to talk to the crew, and with the kids, to see if it's really an educational experience or merely an MTV "reality show" without the cameras. Whatever, it looked like the kids were having a great time!

There is plenty to talk about this week. It will all coming spilling out very soon.


Hal Johnson said...

Enjoyed this post, Bob. But, I'd like to know: when you thought you saw a jack-up rig, was it lunchtime? If so, did you immediately think of seafood gumbo? You can take a boy out of the Gulf . . .

Anonymous said...

Yeah, where has Bob been? You are never on skype anymore, slacker! When are you headed back up here?


Bob Barbanes said...

Actually Hal, it was early morning. I still had breakfast on my mind (and on my shirt, of course). But you know, for every superb rig galley out in the Gulf of Mexico, there are a ton of crappy ones where you wouldn't even want to drink the coffee, much less put up with the stank of cigarettes and roach spray. But I have to admit seeing the two masts brought back a frisson of deja vu of my former life. I was never a big gumbo eater (not an okra fan) but I can do some damage to a big bowl of crawfish etouffee, yeah! Oh Lord, I gained some weight while working offshore...started off a 150 pound skinny kid, ended up a...let's just say "slightly heavier" older gentleman.

And you know, it's funny, I do a LOT of overwater flying now. And it's so familiar, so comfortable...so much like what I used to do for PHI. GPS out for repair? No big deal. Keep heading "thataway" and I know I'll hit land (does not always work in the reverse though).

Matt, sorry, I will try to keep my Skype up more. But we've been so busy that it's hard to keep anything up for long.

Gene said...

But the question still remains..What is the rig doing there? Building a bridge? What a nice ship. Also I noticed in the picture a condo shaped building on a rock island! WOW :)

Bob Barbanes said...

Gene, my efforts at being "clever" sometimes backfire and make for confusing posts. In a short passage between the pictures I explained that I only *thought* I saw a jack-up but it was really the tall ship.

The building in the background is an interesting place called Dunbar Rock, which will be the subject of its own post in the very near future.

Brendan said...

Hi Bob,
I was cruising the web looking for info on the Harvey Gamage (now off the Yucatan) and lucked into your post.
My daughter is one of the students aboard. Thanks for the terrific picture...haven't heard from her (17 years old) in 6 weeks, but it is nice to know that she could not be other than thriving.
Did you ever talk to any of the kids?