Today, at work, I’m on board a Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessel, also known as an FPSO.
There were 72 of us on this converted supertanker: 68 men and 4 women.
For the men, it was a red-letter day as it’s unusual for there to be this many females in the space of a weekend. One female visiting was getting more common, two females visiting made it interesting but three or four called for washed and pressed coveralls and extra hair gel.
I remember when we arrived (by helicopter!), we were immediately led to our sleeping quarters which were on the Captain’s Deck, next to the Captain’s office. It was my first time ever on an FPSO and I walked around wide-eyed taking everything in. With each step, I mumbled to myself I’m on a ship, I’m on a ship…
Our quarters had single beds and it was four to a room with one en-suite bathroom. The years I spent in a hostel at school came flooding back.
The men were not shy. They were curious and most extremely straightforward. I recalled once, after concluding my interview sessions with them, we had tea and they took the opportunity to turn the tables on me – What did you study before? Where are you from originally? Are you married or single? Why?
I smiled and deflected each and every one of their questions. Next day, the little bit of information that I had accidentally blurted out had spread to most everyone on board. Lesson learnt? Men gossip too.
The amazing thing about being on that ship was that in my capacity on board, I had access to all areas from the turret to the engine room down below to the laboratory, which to me was such fun. As I went about I was just struck by the newness of this experience This is the engine room? Cool! Pretty warm, huh? Stairs very steep also yeah? Where am I now? Starboard? That’s right, right? Port is left? Okie dokie. You mean I can have juice 24-hours a day? Ice cream too? Heaven!
That first night, as I lay in my bed on board a vessel floating almost 200km from shore on the South China Sea, all I could think of was Wow.
It was a red letter day for me too.
What were some of YOUR red letter days at work?