Shortly after my Mexico fiesta – “Eagerly Awaiting the Majestic Mexico Venture; Coastal Road Trip,” I received a phone call to pack my bags, in this instance, I had to “attempt” to finish my “To Do” list, kiss Adrian goodbye, and head to the Orlando airport all within the same day. Thank goodness this is a normal routine, where I can gather my essentials, some electronics, and few clothes in a timely fashion. When working in the offshore industry, you have a tendency to inherit this trait fairly quickly, whether or not you intended to in the first place.
Regardless, if you stick with the basics and are smart with the portions that you pack in your toiletry case, then you will get through your offshore rotation with no stress. When I formulated a mental checklist in my head (I complete one every project), which analyzed all the tasks that I wanted to do before my next project, I found myself satisfied with the results.
A loud beep stirred outside my condo and alarmed a few of my neighbors walking by with their dogs. I popped my head out the door and saw my shuttle patiently waiting for my presence in the driveway. I gave him the “one moment please” look and rushed inside to grab my belongings. Once the shuttle dropped me off at the airport, then it was onto a new adventure.
I was uncertain how I was to arrive at the project. For instance, there were mainly three ways, in which one could mobilize to a project. The first and most efficient way was to show up in a helicopter rock star style. Some of my most memorable moments included the pilots, me, and the other crew at some 5,000 feet up in the air overlooking the ocean bay. If you remember my time on the Viking Vision – “Helicopter Ride to Viking Vision; the Quest for Sperm Whales,” I was awarded the experience to ride on my first helicopter traveling to my very first project in the Gulf of Mexico.
The second method was to travel to the project site on a smaller boat (normally smaller than the mother ship or main source vessel on the prospect); this could entail a supply vessel or chase boat. I have had several small boat transfers several times up until this point; with their small quarters this allowed me the opportunity to make friends with the crew onboard. Sometimes there are exceptions, in which case, a fire rescue craft (FRC) would assist the crew and transfer them from boat to boat on the project site. I had a similar event happen to me on the Gilavar – “First FRC Adventure; Departure to the Gilavar,” where I was transferred from the Geco Snapper to the Gilavar by solely the FRC. The third approach was to “walk on” the ship at dock, where she has been anxiously waiting for her crew members to come onboard. At that time, I had not had this type of crew transfer yet, but I projected it would occur in the future. This method was great, because it gave you a perspective on how large the boat was compared to the average human. I have several photos that show the size comparison of a ship vs. human being in future posts.
I had arrived in a timely manner at the Radisson Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana. I have always enjoyed my short visits here, though some of those “short” visits had lasted three days! Regardless, I had been here several times before to embark on my other projects. It was amusing that the front desk manager recognized me each time I came to check-in. The staff was always accommodating – they had the responsibility to tell each of the crew members what date they were leaving for the ship and what time they should be ready in the lobby to leave the hotel.
Since I knew little facts about this project I asked my friend, the front desk manager, about twenty some odd questions when I showed up that afternoon in the hotel. He explained to me that I was to be met by my other two colleagues and various crew members that had arrived this late morning. He emphasized that a bus at 7am will pick the crew up and shuttle us to the airport to catch a helicopter to the prospect site.
The following morning we were greeted by an agent who assisted with the crew members. We were all shuffled to the New Orleans airport base. On the other side of the runway, where the airplanes land their passengers, there was a helicopter base with six choppers lined up parallel to each other. This was the moment when I felt my stomach rumble a bit; waking up really early that morning did not help! In spite of how my stomach was feeling, I was definitely excited to ride in a helicopter again.
|Dorian Daniels in Helicopter En Route to Regent; Gulf of Mexico: Polar Sea 07.2008|
The driver of the shuttle guided us to the entrance of the building where we had to check-in for our helicopter flights. We were all shuffled to the security guards to weight our bags and ourselves, show our proper identification and certifications, and check-in for our flight. Once we all went through this system, the realization sunk in that we were about to embark on a new adventure and leave the ocean bay behind us!
After the safety video finished, we were taken to the helicopter. Soon as I knew it, I was fastening my life jacket straps, buckling my seat belt, and placing my headphones over my ears. This was it; I was strapped in and ready to go!
|Me in Helicopter Before Takeoff; Gulf of Mexico: Polar Sea 07.2008|
The two hour journey went quick; as we had begun circling the mother ship vessel, the Western Regent, excitement overcame my body and a huge grin on my face could have been by the crew members below. I envisioned whales breaching out of the water, dolphins bow riding the ship, and the sun sparkling down on our helicopter as we approached the helipad of the Regent.
I cannot tell you how great of a feeling it was to know that at that exact moment, “Life is good.” The whole world seemed miles away. Here I was in the middle of the ocean looking forward to my next project that lied in the passage of absolute serenity. I was on to my next chapter in life – the time when I excelled in personal growth and became a leader.
|Marine Mammal Scientists on the Polar Sea (Left to Right- Halina, me, and Meghan); Gulf of Mexico: Polar Sea 07.2008|