Sitting in a bus-stop waiting area, waiting for my wife to pick me up here in Richmond outside the Chevron refinery. I just stepped off the boat after a hitch of about 37 days. This was my first trip with Sause Bros. towing and I felt that it went quite smoothly. There was certainly a learning curve as I figured out a new way of doing things and working with new people, new boats and new ports. At times, it was overwhelming, but I nestled in, took good notes and slowly began to figure it all out. The captain gave me a good review today, so hopefully they keep me around for bit.
For the past 3 years, I’ve worked with containerized cargo barges, loading and unloading, lashing and unlashing. The container barges are pretty simple and the boat crews have to manually handle all the lines upon arrival at the docks. The tank barges that we deal with at Sause, have hydraulic winches to do all the hard work, we simply have to make sure the lines get lead correctly and that the barge is on spot for transfer operations. Makes for a much easier job, but it comes with a little bit of a learning curve.
Sause put me on one of the newest boats in the fleet, the “Cochise”, which was built in 2007. It has 7 staterooms, 3 heads a large galley, satellite TV and wifi. The latter 2 were having some issues, but the wifi worked most of the time. The boat is extremely quiet, spacious, comfy, plus she rode fairly good compared to what I’m used to. It also has a computerized winch system that allows you to punch in a number and the winch will stream the tow in or out to the preset number all on its own. This particular boat also has an elliptical machine and rowing machine onboard to ensure that we don’t get too lazy and fat. Many nice positive attributes and features.
The crew was really good, seasoned and helpful as I scratched away at the learning curve. Sause likes to keep its crew on roughly a 42-day rotation, but everyone is on a different schedule. We went through a full crew swap during my hitch, so I got to work with 2 separate Captains, 1st mates, Engineers, Asst Eng., Cook and so-on. All good guys.
So, for the next 35 days or so, I’m off work, paid, home, enjoying my off time. The dispatcher has me on roughly a 35 day rotation so that I can make my daughter Megan’s graduation in June. After that, I’ll most likely be going back on a 42-day rotation.
So, it's time for the honey-do list and 35 days of rest and relaxation...