Tag Archive: personel

Making a playlist for someone carries the same rules as making a mix tape for someone (you remember mix tapes don’t you? If not I pity you).

For those un initiated in the wonder that is a mix tape, I shall attempt to describe to you what one is/means. A collection of songs recorded one by one for someone else.

A mix tape is a wonderful thing because someone (if they have done it properly and not just recorded the top 40 without the in-between bits) is a true reflection of how someone thinks of you. Someone has sat down and over the course of an evening or 2, (I’ve been known to take a couple of weeks perfecting some) and gone through their record collection and picked out songs that mean something about you to them. They have sat down and devoted a few hours thinking not only about you but about what you will like, not like. Trying to gauge your reaction about a song. Working out the best way to present the songs they want you to hear and so on.

Plus they have sat down and recorded each one individually in a certain order. A lot more work goes into making a mix tape than ever could go into making a Spotify list or iTunes. With these you can fine tune them up to the final second you present them to someone, whilst a tape has a certain finality about it.

But there are rules about doing these things, remember you are using someone elses words and feelings to say what you want to say. Theres no point in putting a song in about heavy drug use and death in a mix tape you’ve made for a 1st date or similar (Johnny Cash – Hurt no matter how brilliant a song is NOT a 1st date song).

You also are taking someone on a musical journey, so the songs have to blend together slightly, no point going from Jason Mraz to Goldie, to No Doubt in 3 steps. It just doesn’t work.

So here are some rules (that I use) to make a semi decent mix tape/playlist.

No Duplicates of Artists – Unless the whole thing is going to be done in Pairs.

No Duplicates of songs – This includes remixes, covers and so ons.

The recipients favourite song can’t be at the beginning of the tap/list – otherwise all they will do is listen to that track and miss out on the other 14 or 15 songs you’ve specially chosen, and that would be a waste of work wouldn’t it?

The 1st song has to be one of the better songs of the tape/list – You want an attention grabber, something that’s gonna grab them and make them want more, but the next track can’t be better otherwise you’ll be running out of great music so bring it back a gear. Then slowly build up again to a great song then BANgdrop in the best “favourite” song.

Use good quality music – No one wants to hear a song you’ve recorded off of LW radio, it ruins the whole feel of the thing. Same goes with when recording, don’t use a worn out cassette if you are doing it on tape.

Avoid songs over 8 minutes 57 seconds long – Anything over this and they will start skipping the tracks and when they start doing that the temptation to skip lots will be to great to over come. That time is chosen as it’s the length of Guns and Roses – November Rain. One of the few songs over 8 Minutes I can listen to repeatedly.

Include a track listing if it’s on CD/Tape – Especially if you are putting in songs that are off an album and not singles. you’re suing your music “collection” to produce this tape/list. You want them to know every song you have chosen, and also if they refer back to it they can quote songs, and not resort to humming it to you.

Dont be obvious with your choices – If the recipient has mentioned she likes Kings of Leon don’t make a tape with the main song choice being Sex on Fire, see if you can find a really good B side, something they may not have heard before, and don’t be afraid to go back in time with your choices either. Dylan and Springsteen are still good choices, if you find the right track that says what you want to.

Dont use old playlists – every time you make a list/tape for someone make sure its a brand new one, not a rehash of one you made for someone else. It’s just not fair if you are going to make an emotional statement of a mix tape for someone to give it to someone else, you wouldn’t photocopy a love letter to send to 2 or more people would you?

Anyway these are what I consider all the time when making playlists up.

If you think that you have any rules that should be added please leave a comment below.




Drilling Support Tern Alpha

OK so we are now working Tern Alpha drilling.

The rig has been shut down for a month or thereabouts for maintenance. So we are there to standby it providing it with cargo and pipe and whatever has been loaded onto us in Aberdeen.

We are carrying 1170 tonnes of Fuel, approximately 1100 of it in cargo form, a couple hundred tonnes of Base oil.

We are carrying about 60-70 boxes on the deck. These contain amongst other mundane items, things such as, racks of nitrogen bottles, large tanks of methanol, deck generators, deck air compressors, PPE, food, specialist drilling equipment, drill heads. The more mundane items are items such as decorating equipment, general spare odds and sods, PPE, wheelie bins, office goods and so on.

We are also carrying drill pipe, which are approximately 10-15 metre length pipes, slightly large in diameter than scaffold pipe. These interlock (on the rig) when they are drilling and drive the drill bit which is many many many metres below the seabed. From surface to seabed is 167 -175 meters, and the actual oil is much deeper than that.

The Tern oil field has a approximate oil capacity of 27.8 million cubic metres of oil or 175 million barrels, or 5640000000000000 tea spoons (that’s 13 zeros).

The weather at the moment has made working a bit hard as if there is too much of a swell, the boat moves up and down to much when along side to the rig, which is stationary. This makes it difficult and bloody dangerous to lift cargo off, so anything over 4 metres is really a no go for us. 2 nights ago when we were coming back into port it was 10 -12 metre swell with a 40 -50 knot cross wind. This is typical weather for this time of year up here, so around this time of year it is critical we get back to port and back top the rigs with the cargo as soon as possible.

I hope this little insight has been informative!

Cheers and ta


Red skys and all that

OK then you all know the expression

Red Sky at night, sailors delight, red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.

I guess you can replace the word sailor for any other job, Shepard.Street cleaner/Sandwhich maker/Senior assistant to the Crown

But where did this expression come from – experience mainly but I shall now try to explain the science behind it.

As the sun sets and moves lower in the sky,the colours observed are those in the longer wavelengths of the visible light spectrum (orange and red). At night the sun is in the western sky. A red sky indicates clear weather in west. Since weather generally moves from west to east, a red sky indicates that the west is clear and there are no approaching weather making systems

So red Sky at night Sailors delight – calm seas ahead.


In the morning, the sun rises above the eastern horizon, And the red colours observed are those in the longer wavelengths of the spectrum. A red sky in the morning therefore indicates clear weather in the east. However, since weather generally moves from west to east, a red sky indicates that the east is clear and therefore deteriorating weather is approaching from the west.

Red sky in the morning sailor take your Sturgeron 15.

This picture was taken on the morning of the 28th of november – rather ominous after my meagre amount of research.

The Channels

So it’s the closing week of this month of work, we’ve had brilliant weather up until 3 days ago when we hit force 9 severe, and rising we were tossed about like the proverbial cheese down a hill, and didn’t we know about it, pretty much the whole ships crew except the ex fishermen had no sleep for nigh on 36 hours or more. And the 24 hours we had in port were well liked and taken advantage by most of us in some hardcore snoozage.

But as this is the last run out this trip to the oil rigs i thought Id explain what “The Channels” are.

It’s a feeling you get when you are near the end of the trip and you get all excited about going home, and you get fidgety and days seem to go on for ever. I still get them occasionally, cadets always get them.

The expression comes from when ships would leave the UK and might not return for a year or more. And they would come up the channels and see the White cliffs of Dover and know that they were nearly home! Seeing the White Cliffs was the first indication that they were nearly home and the excitement would begin.

So thats the Channels.

Only 5 days hopefully and home!!!!!!

Ta Ra



Hello from an extremely rocky and rolly North Sea

We hit the weather at about 0200 this morning and I got thrown (literally) out of my bunk at 0415 after managing to get to sleep at about 0100. Since then I have been thrown into 7 door frames,, thrown off a sofa 3 times, seen the Cook chase roast chicken around the galley after they escaped from the galley stove in a cooked bid for freedom, and hand a banging headache.

We have a couple of greenies on deck. This is when a very large wave crashes on deck and dumps pure water as opposed to just foam and white stuff. It is actually quite exciting for a while when weather gets like this. You get to see the sea in all its glory and doing what it does best.

I also feel that when the weather is like this our job holds greater significance as we still work through this weather, we still carry cargo out to those that need it and still get from point Alpha to Echo, Via Beta, Charlie and Delta.

Our job is to get the cargo to its point of requirement, in some of the roughest seas.

It makes me feel alive and worthwhile doing my job in rough weather, its makes me feel more unique. Its makes me feel that this is a job not everyone can do and that I have the correct mindset and the correct minerals to do it.

Not until you’ve been able to walk on the bulkheads (walls) because the ships been listing (leaning) over so much due to weather can you say you’ve seen bad weather.

The sea at the moment is dark dark blue, and between the mountains of waves bearing down on us the wind is blowing the water into mini ripples. There are waves breaking all around us, and as we plough through the water we are leaving a bright brilliant blue mixture of foam and water in our wake.

The spray from the ship’s bow as we punch our way through another wall of water is pretty impressive and in the short time I was on the bridge, the spray came up to the windows many times.

I love weather like this, i just wish it would let me sleep that’s all.

But as the old saying goes “Weather is a great metaphor for life – sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, and there’s nothing much you can do about it ”

So next time you are complaining about the wind or rain, remember some of us out enjoy it, some of us work with it, some of us fight it and some of us live with it. To me it’s another day at work, but one that makes me feel that more important, because I’m out here doing it.

Inky Black

At the moment we are standing off a rig waiting to start backloading containers of used gear, garbage, and anything else they don’t need on them from Tern Alpha.

I was out on deck getting some fresh air and just looking around and my view was one of something that always reminds me of Christmas.

It reminds me of driving along the front in Penzance towards Newlyn and Mousehole to see the Xmas lights. Looking out to sea and seeing the pinprick of lights on the horizon of passing ships. Night time ships spotting always makes me feel melancholy yet happy.

Tonight is no exception, looking out and being surrounded by the oil rigs in the Cormorant field and surrounding oil fields. Everywhere I look across the inky black still seas is a pin prick of light, evidence of life, human activity and work. Tonight is quite eerie out there. The sea looks more like Black oil it’s so calm, the reflections of the oil rig lights are clear.

I love nights like this. Where you can see the North Sea oil drilling process in its prettiest form. Seeing dozens of Christmas trees balanced on the edge of the ocean.

It might be because I’m still new to the offshore shipping world though I like seeing this. When you are deep-sea you only see ships in approaches to port. Very rarely do you see another ship when you are out in the open ocean. So seeing this amount of activity in one spot that isnt next to land to me is weird. Whether it be Drill ships, supply ships, standby ships, Anchor handlers, survey vessels or the odd fishing boat, I still get fascinated at watching ships in the open water, as its something Ive rarely seen. Despite working at sea Ive seen very few ships at sea.

Now I know I havnt been a very good blogger of recent but I have been busy and Im not always able to get internet signal or sit down long enoug to write something that I feel happy with.

Tonight was one of those nights where I felt compelled to write some words down for you guys who read me blog.

Hope its been good for you



Work 2

Ok then the aft engine rooms

On Normal ships there would be 2 long propellor shafts running through these spaces but as we are a diesel electric ship we don’t have propellor shafts, we do have a lot of cabling though running through this space connecting the propulsion motors.

The first room of the aft compartments is the switchboard room, this is where most of the main circuit breakers for the main equipment is, where the frequency converters for the propulsion and thruster motors are (you get variable speed of the motors with the frequency converters)

The technology is pretty cutting edge for the frequency converters and complicated and I’m not going to attempt to describe how it works.

On the Main switchboards are the generators, this switchboard is able to automatically connect and disconnect generators and load and deload them.The process of putting a generator on the board is called synchronising. The oncoming generator has to be going at exactly the same speed and producing exactly the same wave form of AC electricity to go on the switchboard. This does it automatically.

Anyway here it is

The next section on this ships engine room is dedicated to the carrying and discharging of bulk cargoes for the oil rigs. These bulks are

Base Oil – A drilling face lubricant

Mud – Used to lubricate and flush out the drill bit on the oil rig, it is a compound made to order and is damn expensive heavy messy and horrible

Brine/Drill Water – Water used for
Flushing and cleaning on the rig

Fresh Water – Used keep people alive on the rig

Diesel Fuel – Used in the rigs engines

Cement/Barite for sealing and capping wells and drill pipes

Methanol – Used for cleaning the drill pipes

All of these have dedicated tanks and pumping equipment.

They are just regular pumps so no needs to describe them, except the Cement and Methanol.

The Cement is pumped to the rig by using air as a carrying medium. To shift the tonnes and tonnes of cement we use tonnes and tonnes of air so we have very large compressors to supply them.

These are the cement tanks (well the upper half) there are 8 in total

And these are the compressors

To give you an Idea of size the motor for these (which is laying on it’s side) is approximately 60cm wide and 1.5ish metres long.

The next compartment (The aft most) contains the propulsion motors – these motors through a 90 degree bevel gear, shaft, then another 90 degree bevel to drive the propellor.

We also do not have a rudder as the azipods (the technical the drive setup we have) rotate to push the ship in which ever direction, they can rotate 360 degrees and so we do not need Stern thrusters, as the pods the job of a thruster, propellor and rudder all in one easy job.

The propellors are CPP variable speed.CPP stands for Controllable Pitch Propellors. This means the actual blades change angle, More angle = more power = more propulsion, combine this with the variable speed and you have an infinite amount of options for power and speed!

We are leaving port today after nearly a week alongside broken, one of the Frequency Converters blew something inside it, we had to wait for it to be made and delivered from Norway and an engineer to fit it. But after all that it’s been tested and works fine! We will shortly be loading Cement (about 120 Tonnes) and our deck cargo is fully loaded!

Then after that off to the big blue wobbly wet thing!

If you’d like me to explain anything else in detail or ask any questions please let me know and I’ll be happy to reply as soon as I can.

I’ll continue soon!

Ta Ra



Right then the main part of the ship – THE ENGINE ROOM

The engine room is the heart of any ship. From here everything that the ship requires to move, operate and work is either found here or made here.

All electricity is made here, the propulsion is operated and rotated, the steering gear is located, all fresh water is pumped, the storage fridge compressors are, and everything that controls and cools and monitors all this appointment.

I will split the blog over 2 blogs – the 1st (this one) will concern it self with the forward portion of the engine room. Obviously each engine room is different so I will describe this – my current one.

Just remember also as an engineer onboard a ship it is our responsibility to fix all of what you see and more!! It’s very rare that we have to get some one from ashore to come onboard and fix stuff for us.

Anyway I hope you enjoy!

The first part of the engine-room I will introduce is the Engine Control Room

From here the majority of the systems can be monitored and operated, from starting and stopping engines to moving ballast around to aid stability, to pumping cargo and transferring fuel around the vessel.

This ship is diesel electric.With this form of propulsion the engines are not connected to the propellor, instead we have 4 diesel generators that create electricity this is then used to power large electric motors that drive the ships propellor (via a gearbox). Obviously the same electricity is used for hotel supply.

These engines are 16 Piston V blocked Caterpillar engines we have 4 of them and can supply approximately 2.5MW of power each or 41666, 60W lightbulbs, at 60HZ frequency 690V. This then goes through various transformers for Hotel Supply (220V) industrial Supply (pumps/motors/AC plants/Fridges) (440V) and propulsion / deck cargo (690V).

Here is a picture of the top of all the engines

The noise that these engines produce is immense – the next photo is a screen shot of a decibel meter – this is with one engine running – when all 4 are running it truly is deafening and can be well in excess 120 dB

These 2 very large electric motors (approximately 6 foot tall not including the mountings) are what drive the bow thrusters. The bow thrusters are what assists the ship to move sideways and also keep in position when we are at the oil rigs. These are not on when we are steaming to anywhere and are only on during manoeuvring (i.e. coming alongside or at the rig).

They are the main pieces of machinery in the forward engine room compartments.

Other smaller pieces of machinery are the Air compressors, compressed air is used to start the engines, this is either by direct release into the cylinders to start the initial rotation or by an air start motor on the flywheel, these engines use the air start motor, this is the same principle as a starting motor on a car engine it’s just air powered not electric powered.

We also treat all sewage before it gets discharged to ensure that it causes no harm to the environment, this is the sewage plant

There are also chilled water compressors which creates chilled water for the AC systems.

Also fridge compressors for the cooks large fridges and freezers, along with all the cooling pumps for the machinery the ships fire pump is in the machinery spaces.

If there is a fire onboard we are all trained firefighters and can fight majority of fires.

All fuel that we burn in the engines is purified first, we used Gas Oil onboard all ships in my company which is a relatively clean fuel – it’s the same diesel used in cars but with slightly different antifreeze properties. It is cleaned centrifugally (spun very fast) and the impurities are spun to the outside and discharged to the sludge tank. This purified fuel then goes to the service tank before going to the engines.

This is it for the forward engine compartments, next blog I shall Attempt the aft compartments which concern themselves with electrical distribution, cargo handling, ballasting and propulsion

Hope you found this informative and not boring!


Ta ra



My cabin

Here are some photos

They are taken from the entrance door and are taken by my rotating

1st you’ll see (hopefully) my television and DVD – essential for when there’s nothing on sky (which we are lucky enough to have most of the time even at sea!) and also for when we work re rigs and the oil rig blocks all Internet and television signal – I can always fall back on my WDTV box of tricks! Harddrive to TV movie magic box.

Then we have my day bed or more commonly known as a sofa it runs port to stbd, so if the ships rolling to much to sleep in (bed runs FWD to Aft) there’s always this option. The down side with this is that if the ships corkscrewing (pitching and rolling and every movement all at once) then you have no option but to not sleep usually. The fan is because it’s hot and sticky at my end of the corridor. I live on the portside of the ship which is traditionally the side engineers live on on ships, and my cabin is down the end of a corridor away from the stair well entrance/exit so this means my end of the corridor is nice a quiet and almost feels like my own private little place – there is also a door leading outside by my cabin, so easy exit and can quickly get fresh air and see what’s going on on deck and outside.

Then my porthole – not alot to say about this except it’s on the Port side
Of my cabin.

For those of you who can’t tell the difference Port is on the left, 4 letters in each word PORT LEFT, whilst starboard is on the right (or STBD as it is generally written).Also Port is indicated by the colour red (port is a red drink) and STBD is green

Then my bunk – approximately a single bed with boards round to limit the chances of being thrown out – it has happened to me once on this ship and it bloody hurt! My head and pillows are at the Fwd (Forward/front/Bow) end and feet pointing aft (back/stern) end.

Then the toilet and shower. In olden days the engineers were the only guys with freshwater showers due to the amount of showers we took daily whilst the rest had saltwater obviously now though we all have freshwater (smaller crews and larger tanks)

Then a view from my door – optimum real estate baby!

Then my wardrobe which has my immersion suit in it – think of it as a one size fits none all in one wetsuit including boots head cover and light – about as comfortable as being mangled.

And that is my cabin on board here

It’s basic but is my home to all intents and purposes for 50% of the year,it’s rent free,furnished, don’t have to pay for utilities, and has AC, all toilet tissue and washing tools provided and towels and bed clothes

I think though a little personalisation is needed besides the pictures of mum
And dad and Robyn and Cheryl cole and Dita Von Teese calendars.

I was thinking of getting my own bed clothes what sort do you think? If you’ve read this far let me know please!!!

Ta ta for now

Hope pictures load


So here I am again on a train going away from one love to another – except I’m not cheating on anybody – I’m off to my 2nd life the life that constantly changes yet is the same. I am back off to sea!

Yarrrrrrg she be a cruel mistress!

My day so far has consisted of going to sleep at 0030 this morning after a particularly well played session of Words! Then waking up at 0330 because my girlfriend has developed food poisoning. I caught my train at 0557 to St Pancreas then to terminal 5 to catch my plane to Aberdeen at 0855.

I know a lot of people won’t be able to understand how I can leave home for a month, turn off the home switch and switch on the sea switch, it’s easy to be honest after all you do it from 9-5 I happen to do it for 28 days that’s all!

But you only have weekends, bank holidays Xmas and 3 weeks off a year whereas I get 6 months, a small price to pay in my opinion.

Yes there are hardships and you miss things – I’ve missed my girlfriends passing out and cadet of the year presentation, various birthdays and anniversaries and many things on top of that!I had my 18th,19th,20th,21st,22nd,23rd,24th and 25th all away and my 27th will be away aswell! I just hope I’m in port so I cam grab a slack half of Guinness!

Time at sea as hewn me into the person I am today, is crafted my response to dealing with situations and occasions, admittedly they are the usual hyper stereotypical male way of doing things but that’s what working at sea is like.

But I dither without talking

So on the train excited yet sad , excited to be going away and seeing my mates and yet sad for leaving my mates and loved ones. Unfortunately it’s the one thing I do envy the normal workers you get to see your loved ones pretty much everyday not us.

But you won’t hear us complain (much) as much as we look forward to getting off at the end of the day we enjoy coming back if we didn’t we sure as hell wouldn’t do it!

You’d think after all these years I would be a relaxed traveller but no I’m not relaxed until I get on the plane, then that’s the only time I relax on the journey, then when I get to the other airport I get stressed again looking for the lift to the ship which aren’t always organised (which they should be). Plus it knackers me out even travelling where you effectively just sit tires me out! Tonight I will probably have 10 – 12 hours sleep then only 5 or 6 hours a night for 2 weeks then another 12 hours then 6 hours then home! Alot of people sleep as much as possible as they only do half a trip (sad maths that)!

But anyway the guards whistle blows and I’m now of the Heathrow Express surrounded by Americans and holiday makers – such joy when you are off to work!

Anyway thanks and ta I’ll update what we have done this trip in a few days!

To those of you wanting to follow my weather keep an eye on shipping areas, Viking, Fair Isle and Cromarty – http://bit.ly/aubawF red = bad

Ta ra