Sunday, May 27, 2012

Third engineer

I'm now honorary third engineer.  Before getting too excited for me about my promotion, understand we only have a chief and first engineer on this boat.  And I couldn't take second because although it's a fictitious and therefore vacant position, I'm sure there's someone more qualified.  The promotion I gave myself is really just kind of an ironic result of the bilge alarm going off last night.

Ya.  The aft bilge pump alarm was causing a scene.  So I went and turned it off.  Then I considered the possible implications.  Now, this is a fairly big boat and so it is a little different from a sail boat where you have one or two pumps to take care of all the water that comes aboard.  There are more pumps here than in Oprah Winfrey's closet.  Literally pumps everywhere.  But as far as I know, the bilge is at the lowest part of the boat and deals with runoff type water that collects low.

I comforted myself with the knowledge that the boat was quite buoyant with an empty hold and not too much fuel.  Just to be safe, I constructed a rudimentary protractor and other survey tools to keep track of the boat's attitude in the water so I could evaluate the various envelopes.  And I consulted the diagrams of the boat and in engineering to familiarize myself with the respective bilges.  Didn't seem to be anything wrong.

But let me tell you.  You know how when you think you're getting sick or something, every scratch in the throat takes on new meaning?  Like you can feel yourself getting sicker even if you aren't?  Same thing here.  Each little shudder of the boat had me all jumpy.  The bass blast of far away ships sounded like some new alarm that I had no familiarity with.  I looked on line to see if I could research the subject a little and found article after article that said 80% of boat sinkings occur while docked.  Because of faulty or poorly maintained equipment.  Including the bilge pump.  Ha!

I convinced myself it wasn't a big deal after hours of careful observation.  I'm almost embarrassed to admit that it had me somewhat rattled.  I would really hate to be the notorious night watch guy that let the boat sink.  Might even cost me my job.  When the real first engineer came today (I stayed up all night to make sure I talked to him when he got here) I got the Vietnamese version of Katie Ann functionality.  In his accented English he showed me around the boat some more and I asked quite explicitly, "which alarm should I be concerned about?".  He said, "Don't worry-the fire alarm.  If fire alarm goes off, call someone.  And leave."  Couldn't have said it better myself.

So laugh at me all you want for being a Peter panicker.  I'm the diligent freezer rat you want night watching your boat.  Cause I make crude measuring devices like the freaking Egyptians of antiquity.  I'm the guy who breaks into the service manual to learn what the hell is going on.  I'm the guy who walks across to the Dynasty so ask the engineer about the issue but then changes his mind when he sees that the damn Dynasty is doing three wheel motion with about a five degree list to starboard and a five degree pitch.  That happened.  I was like, better safe than sorry so just go make sure everything is ok and talk to someone who knows.  Got a look at their boat and was like, ya, better make sure I'm in worse shape than them before I bother anyone.  And I turned back.

And now I feel safe again.  I might no get any more shares with this promotion to third engineer, but the knowledge is reward enough.  Who needs more money when you can be third engineer and second mate at the same time?

No comments: