Category Archives: DiData

Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (HUET) & a Sad Day for my Car! – Luanda

In order to get access to the FPSO (Floating Production Storage and Offloading) vessel, or any offshore rig/vessel, you have to complete at least Helicopter Underwater Escape Training, which is exactly what it says it is.

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The Simulated Helicopter Chassis, which they drop in the water and spin around!

The ESSA training facility is based at Cacuaco, just North of Luanda. 14 kms from the centre of town. That’s 1 hour to get there early in the morning, if you leave before 06h that is, and 2-and-a-half hours to get back at 16h30.

The facility itself is built on a hill overlooking the town of Cacuaco, right on the edge of the bay, with an am amazing view of the beach. The center is used for all forms of offshore training and can also cater for a full STCW95 course, along with fire fighting, and many other off-shore petroleum related courses. The ESSA facility is also home the largest number of cats I have seen since arriving in Angola. There were about 10 of them just around the breakfast deck alone.

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1. Cacuaco  from Essa. 2. An underwater wellhead/”Christmas Tree” unit.

The training session starts with a breakfast, which if had known, I wouldn’t have had breakfast at home, so only grabbed a drink. From there we attended a theory session which lasted the morning, and then lunch, followed by the issuing of overalls and water shoes, and then off to the pool. We had our heart rate tested and given the signature of approval, issued with helmets, and the training begins.

The HUET training uses a simulated Helicopter module, which is attached to a pulley system that drops you into the water. It also has a rotation motor on it so it can spin you once in the water.

Before starting the training you are split into groups for 4 people per group. The module contains 6 seats, 2 for the pilots right in the front, and then 4 for the passengers at the back. The passenger seats are 2 in front, right next to the open doors, and the 2 at the back, next to portholes, which are the equivalent of windows. Each seat has the standard airplane buckle seatbelt. The front doors are primarily for those students who can’t swim. Oh, what, I forgot to mention that there are people on the course who can’t swim?? Yeah, that’s right, people are put through this who can’t swim. Now that is pretty mental I must say, as I was even nervous beginning this, but for them . . . it must be really scary.

The testing procedure is thus: You swim to the module, which has been positioned just on the water line in the pool, climb in and secure yourself with you seatbelt. If you can’t swim,you are escorted out there by the divers. The module is raised, then slowly lowered into the pool, whilst the trainer calls May Day, May Day, May Day, then Brace. You brace yourself, protecting you head with your had that is closet to the exit, and the other hand grabs the seat to steady yourself.  He then bangs his hand on the side to signify the crash. Once you hear that, you grab the exit, in this case a rail, or the window frame, but in real life the window lever, or door lever. and look towards it. The water rises, and just as it is below your head, you take a deep breath, and begin counting to 15, after fifteen, you release your belt, and exit via the door, or window, pulling yourself through, out and up. Very straight forward. The 15 second wait is to allow the blades, in a real-life situation, to stop spinning.

You are not even 1 metre below the water at any time, but it is the feeling of being in a “confined” space that is disturbing. There are 2 divers just outside the module under the water at all times. So, there really is nothing that can go wrong. Except for PANIC itself! And PANIC was a big one that day.

We were all given a dry run for practice in the module on the ground still. That was very basic. Then the guys climbed into the pool and had to submerge their heads for 15 seconds to experience the sensation, whilst holding onto the side. This was also so the guys who can’t swim could see what it feels like. After that, group 1 was off. I was in group 2. The guys ran through their paces and the module submerged. It hadn’t been underwater 5 seconds when 2 very frightened guys breached the surface, and doggy paddled like hell to get the edge of the pool. It was quite amusing to watch I must admit. Hey, don’t get me wrong, I am not making fools of them at all. I think they must be seriously brave to get through that without freaking completely. However, it was early days yet. The trainer, Joao, or John in English, was very cool, and very, very good. Great guy,and he handled the students fine!

Then it was my turn. I hadn’t mentioned to anyone yet that I used to be a Scuba Diving Instructor in a previous life, about 4 years ago, and decided not to either, as it wouldn’t look very good if the Scuba Diver Dude with over 500 dives landed up losing it!! 🙂 There is only thing that pretty much stresses me out,and that is water up my nose. I don’t know why. It is just one of things. Otherwise, I am rock solid under the water. No worries with anything . . . except water in my nose. Once I spend a bit of time in the water, then I’m sorted. So this was gonna be interesting. The last time I had been in the water was in Cape Town on our lovely 8 degree dive, about 2 weeks previous to this. So, at least I should be okay. The first “landing” was fine. Nothing to worry about at all. You just hold your breath, wait a bit, release your belt, pull yourself out of the hole. I was at the back left. Being a pool, you have the benefit of being able to open your eyes, which if you think about is kinda cheating, as you probably won’t in the ocean. But hey, why the hell not. So I waxed the first attempt. I must have been down for about 20 – 25 secs before coming out,which means I am theoretically alive still! Yay!! 🙂 Piece of cake.

We watched the next 2 groups go after us, and there was a White, French dude – a chef apparently – who was one of the non-swimmers. He just managed with the first “drop”. Everyone else was pretty cool with it. Some guys popped out early, within a few secs, the rest were fine.

So, onto round 2. This was going to get a bit more interesting. In this round we were to be spun around. virtually 180 degrees. So the module is lowered into the pool, and then spun thru 180 degrees whilst it is still sinking, to simulate the helicopter flipping. This is apparently what happens in about 90% of all helicopter water landings, so it must be done. Especially when the rigs here, are all at sea! So, we get back in and the the sequence starts again. we start rotating whilst sinking this time, and as it flipped to the left first, I had to hold my breath longer than the required 15 sec, as it only really stabilised and stopped moving after 25 secs. It was a bit weird being upside down I must admit, and I didn’t really have any issues with water up my nose either. I had just exited the module and was surfacing, when I suddenly felt a guy behind me. What the hell? He had touched my shoe and had come through the same window I had. That was just weird. The trainer told me I had gone out the wrong window, which I thought was wrong, as that would have meant that I had swum across the module, not far, but still just strange, as I remember myself exiting the window right by me. I watched the next dump and noticed that I had come out the right window. The muppet who had been sitting next to me on the other side of the module had actually swum out my window after me! I told him and the trainer, and then he realised that that was correct. Sweet, so I had been right. I had been wondering about it. The cook made this one too, but he was mega stressed after it, and it looked like he was close to cracking.

Round 3 was exactly the same, just we went the other way round,so I only had to grab my breath at the end, just before I dipped under the water, and I was only under for a secs before it stopped and I could “escape”. By this time we were all pretty much old hands at it, and I was tempted to muck about on the last go, as Blythe had done when he did his HUET. The last round they had swum to the Cockpit and stayed there for like a few secs longer, taunting the divers by hanging around under water longer than required. 🙂 At this stage I decided to just complete the training and chill. Also the chlorine was seriously killing my eyes. So I just did the usual escape and got out. I was also at this stage intrigued to see how the Frenchman coped. Well, he didn’t. I think this third time was just too much for him, and PANIC set in in a big way. Shame. Poor dude. I really felt for him.It is one hell of a thing to be thrown in a pool, and then told you have to do it whilst tied up under the water. Man, no way. I would’ve gone to find a different career.

After the HUET stuff we did a bit of basic sea survival on a raft, and practiced dragging and huddling. Basic stuff.Then they elected me as leader for the raft evacuation, which was cool. It meant I was the first one out. Sweet. Cheers Suckers, I am getting the helicopter outta here!!! haha 🙂

So, that was pretty much the HUET in a day, and I had to admit to the trainer at the end that I used to be a Dive Instructor, whereby he said he wasn’t surprised as I looked very calm underwater. This was surprising, as even I thought I was a bit panicked at times. God, would have been great to see the faces of the others then! The day ended on a good note for all, including the Chef, as he wasn’t going to be doing that again in a hurry, and to date there has never been a ditching of a Helicopter off Angolan Waters. Let’s keep it that way.

UPDATE: ESSA, the HUET Training Agency in Luanda, can be contacted here: http://www.essa.co.ao/contacts_en.shtml

I was called at lunchtime by my mom to inform me that the guy who had taken my car for a test drive the day before I left, had decided he was dead keen and was taking it. Great news . . . but at the same time, I was a bit bummed. I absolutely my loved my little gas guzzling Jetta 2.3l V5.

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My Baby! 🙁

It was a really sweet machine, and had gotten me out of a lot of sh!t in the past. Okay, it had also gotten me into loads too. 😮 haha It is gonna be sorely missed, and I wish it the best of care in the hands of it’s new owner. Lucky guy!! But,time to move on I guess. Now to start saving for that RS4!!  🙂

Well, it was a great day, and fun was had by all.

Click.

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Written on the 31st May ’08

Avoid the Cops – Luanda

So, I got back to Luanda around 13h in the afternoon to find everyone at the house fast asleep. I was also knackered from my really late night the night before, like 2 hours sleep or something stupid . . . my fault, so I hit the bed too the minute I arrived. This was after about 2-and-a-half hours of on-off sleep on the 2 flights up.

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Yes that is a Wimpy. The “Best” of South Africa! 🙂 Taken whilst travelling, so a bit blurred.

So the flights were interesting. I got the Emergency Exit seat, not that I would have been any good in the case of an emergency, as I was really exhausted from the night before. Got to bed around 03 I think, and had to get up around 05h for my flight. And I wasn’t even out partying.That would have been explainable at least! 🙂 But it was a good evening, regardless. So I literally passed out in my seat. I woke up about 20 mins before we landed and saw the guy next to me had a whole of papers out on his tray. I happened to notice the logo at the top, as one does . . . and said:

“Quinton or Sigi?”

He looked at me and said “Quentin”. My my, what a small world. I had just been on the phone to Quinton from Unison in Cape Town about 2 days earlier regarding a BP installation in Luanda, but we had never met. He was on his way to Windhoek for a business trip. Not going to Luanda. Lucky for him! So weird man, what a small world huh!!

The flight from Windhoek to Luanda was different. We were on a much bigger plane this time, something in the upper 737 range, a really big one, with 4 seats in the middle.Luckily I got stuck next to my favourite type of passenger, a young Portuguese Angolan Family, consisting of a mother, who didn’t give a toss about anything else, and 2 young kids who were an absolute nightmare, and kept kicking and knocking me, and hitting my leg with her hand, the little bitch, whilst I tried to sleep. And the plane was RAMMED, so there was no escape for me! 🙁

I arrived and cleared customs, which was a primary concern, considering I had our new House Asset in my laptop bag, along with 3 x controllers, and about 8 games . . . the asset is the new XBox 360!! Something to keep the kids happy. And I was worried as I don’t speak Portuguese and decided not to use the services of our protocol man, as he is just a waste of money in my opinion. So,I was nipping a bit. But cleared without having my normal bag scanned. Sweet!

So, got home and slept for 2 hours. The guys were chuffed when they found out about he XBox. That’s cool. After the last “tour of duty” I really needed something to keep the guys happy and busy at night.

Sly and PG told me their rather “hectic” & funny story about the night before. They had gone to a club called the Da Pub, know to be rather dodgy apparently, and as they were leaving, they had organised for Jeje  the Driver to meet them outside as they didn’t have their phones with them, they walked out meet him. They spotted him across the road, and they were just about to cross, when a Police Van pulled up, and bundled them onto the back. The Police vans here are all pretty much open-top Landcruiser bakkies. Pickups for you foreigners. With a bench on the back that the cops sit on, facing outwards towards the sides. So Sly and PG get hauled onto it, and Jeje decides to follow. The cops drive them around a bit, and then decide that they’ve spent enough fuel, and now need to make their costs back, so they have a feel,of their trousers, remove their wallets, and lighten their load by about $120 between the 2 of them. Oi. They got dropped off on the wrong side of town. Luckily Jeje had seen them and had been following otherwise they’d be stuffed. They started arguing with the one guy, who realises that they may have made a mistake when they find out they don’t speak any Porra, and he has a chat to them. Their money however is not returned. They returned to the house, considerably poorer!

The following week they logged it with BP’s Alpha Zero, security department, and told another guy who works there. His old man managed to track down the vehicle and occupants from that night, as they had gotten the vehicle number. To date nothing has come of it I don’t think.

Well, its been a fun return to Luanda!! 🙂

Click.

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Written on the 30th May 2008.

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Cape Town Carnage :) – Time Off!

Okay, so as many of you know my last trip into Angola was a complete disaster the last week I was there. Things had just been getting progressively worse as the month progressed.

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Cape Town from the Tampon Towers 🙂

Luckily I managed to get back to Cape Town just in time for the 2 day week. 3 public holidays almost in a row led to some serious debauchery and over-indulgence on my side. This was well timed, as I was in serious need of a break after my last week in Luanda. Well, I took serious advantage of it!

We: The Pharmacist, Bokkie and myself, hit Oblivion on the Friday night which was pretty good. I landed up at Tiger on Sat after rugby with Borat, and that was once again a late night. Can’t remember much about the night to be honest, but it was a good one, and I got pretty drunk, and landed up getting some chicks blood all over my jeans, which apparently I had caused when she fell off her chair, but I very much doubt it. Well, Johnny Walker doubts it! 😮

It landed up being a week of complete excess – the public holidays very well timed for me!

I got a dive in on the Wednesday afternoon with The Advertiser and a college friend of his, and we did A-Frame which was chilled. Not too cold and good to be back in the water, especially with my new mask, a Mares X-Vision, which was just great. I had borrowed one briefly in Sharm when I was there back in 2004, and as my Cressi had now given up the ghost, it was a good purchase. Very happy with it indeed. Vis wasn’t bad for A-Frame, but the wind was absolutely howling, so it was cool to get under the water. The Advertiser found us an Octo, which was always cool to see and there were the usual “strepies” (fish) hanging around the A-Frame itself, with loads of starfish, with the big legs.

Borat and I hit Tiger again on the Wednesday night as Thurs was a public holiday and it landed up being an absolute ripper. I actually started off at Jade bar in Green Point  with the Sales Man, and a few of his mates. From there we went to Karma in Camps Bay, which was okayish. Borat pulled through and then very aptly called it a “Coloured Jol”, which it seriously was. haha

From there we HIT Tiger . . . and  . . . I can’t actually remember what happened next. I do remember running around Harfield Village at about 04h30 trying to wake people up to help me with my car, as I had run out of fuel – not immediately obvious to me at the time – something to do with dicing Borat back from Camps Bay and burning the rest of the half a reserve tank, and then forgetting to fill-up when I left Tiger . . . oi vey the Sales Man comments! 🙂 The funny thing is the cops drove past me twice. Anyway, I called Borat and he said he would pull through. 30 mins later, he hadn’t arrived, and I had finally sobered up enough to realise that I was actually covered by the AA, a company thing, a good thing, and I called them and made it their problem. The guys arrived about an hour later, now around 06h and had to knock on my window, I had fallen asleep again, whilst listening to Harry Potter on my iPod, and was now completely lost in the story too. The AA dude found a 500ml bottle in the road, which he took off to get fuel in, luckily for that, as they don’t carry with them, and I waited another while for him to return. He did manage to get me going, and I headed off home to sleep big time! And still with no word from Borat. I called him a  few times, to no avail. Think it went straight to voicemail, and texted a few times too, but they never got delivered

I got a text from him at around 11h30 that morning saying: Got busted by the pigs on my way to you, just got home now. And that was it. I didn’t hear from Borat for the next 4 days, and I reckoned it was cause he was miffed with me.

Thursday afternoon I got out a bit and went up Lion’s Head, as it was great weather. The lack of gym showed very quickly though with me being completely stuffed, without my pump halfway up the path, just past the paraglider’s launch point. It was also probably due to the fact that I had hammered it getting up there, and that wasn’t very clever either.

My phone decided to give up the ghost around about that time, and the sim card just died! Little did I know what fun I was about to have trying to get it replaced.

Saturday I decided to go diving in the morning after the relaxing dive I had had the Wednesday. So pulled through to Hout Bay to head for a dive from there. Met up with the dive crew from ProDivers. We heard reports from the guys coming in that the vis was amazing, like up to 20m at parts. Hmmm, that was ringing bells in the back of my head, but I couldn’t remember why . . . I got my kit ready and we launched from there. We were supposed to do some site or other but the swell was pushing a bit so we landed up doing Vulcan rock instead. The boat stopped, we all kitted up and dropped in, and BANG it hit me what great vis in Cape Town meant. BLOODY FREEZING WATER!!! 🙁

Like 8 degrees freezing!!! Man it was cold. My head got serious “ice freeze” on the way down,and I just remember my body going f#ck this is cold! The dive lasted about 25 mins max I think – I didn’t have my computer on, the strap was broken – and we all agreed unanimously when the DM said time to surface! It was a great dive though, and the vis was truly amazing. Probably about 15m there even with the effects of the surge around the rock. Saw loads of urchins and some really large starfish. We were also joined by a few seals at the end of the dive, and they were rather playful, which is always cool to have with.

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Fish and Soft Corals

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Starfish and Urchins

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Seal and Diver

When we got back to the boat the one diver was already there. She told us she got about 5m deep and decided no way it was too cold, so cancelled her dive. Clever girl. Once back no land I decided I was only doing one dive, that was cold enough for me that was. My hands were burning the entire way home due to the senses finally returning to them from the sheer cold of the dive. Our Instructor Exam had been done in 11 degrees, but this took the cake! Won’t be doing that again in a hurry! And will definitely remember what great vis means next time round!

Headethrough to Tiger that evening, once again, and who did I see at the one counter on the far side?? Borat. Hmm, he hadn’t beein in touch sine Wednesday, and to be honest, my phone hadn’t been in operation since Thursday afternoon, so I wasn’t actually sure if he was pissed with me, or just hadn’t been in touch. I went over and said Hi. Well,to cut a long story short,he had been pissed with me at first, then got over it, and then said that  if it happened again, he would call me a taxi! Now that’s a mate. He had also been trying to get in touch, but my phone was off,so once again we were on the lash! 🙂 It was a good sat night and fun was had by all.

Monday morning early I nipped through to Malmesbury to get my new Jumbo Passport I had ordered, as mine was due to expire in March of 2009,and judging by the amount of time I was due to be spending out of the country, I decided to organise a new one 2 months back. I had already been informed that it was waiting for me. The reason I couldn’t have it posted was due to the fact that I still required my current one for travel, so had to go get the new one in person. Why Malmesbury? It is a little trick for Capetonians. It is only about 40 mins out by car,and is a fairly pleasant drive. You get there at 08h45, and there is literally no queue. You land up being first, second or third in the queue, and are pretty much done within half and hour. Not like having to wait 4 hours in a queue at Home Affairs in Cape Town somewhere,only to be told you have to wait again for the form, etc. Absolute disaster that place. I believe you can also get your drivers done in Malmesbury. That’s on the cards soon too, so I think I’ll be taking another trip soon enough. Plus there is also the Engen where you can stop off at for a decent Wimpy breakfast on the way back. 🙂

From Malmesbury I headed straight through to the Angolan Embassy to get my Visa sorted. I arrived around 10h30, and it was an absolute disaster. The queue was at about 47, but I managed to get in fairly quickly,for once,only to be told my LoI (Letter of Invitation) had not yet been received. In order to travel to Angola, you require a Letter of Invitation from an individual there. Our representation company usually sorts this out for us, and I had organised mine way in advance. To be told it wasn’t here, meant that I would have to request a new one and come back tomorrow. This would also mean my 5 day ordinary visa would now have to be treated as an Emergency Visa, and cost an additional R250! Which it did. I landed up returning every day for the next 2 days, as when it did arrive it was then missing some sort of contract number, which we had NEVER included in the past, and had never had a problem, but now we required it to do on there for them to process. Why was I not surprised. So I eventually got my application in on Thursday, which left 1 day to get a visa, as I required to have it by Friday afternoon, to fly out on Sunday morning. This is pretty much unheard of, getting a visa in 1 day, but I managed to wrangle it,and I collected it Friday afternoon. Why do we have issues every time we go to the embassy? It is crazy man.

I also put my car up for sale, as if I realistically only going to be spending approx 4 more weeks in the country,it didn’t make sense to keep it, especially since it was still be paid off. So I advertised it on AutoTrader and literally got a call the very next day by a guy who really wanted it. He took it for a test drive a few days later, and job done, he took it. We had to get a few minor issues sorted,which dragged on, once again Cape Town service :(, and then eventually he got the vehicle. I was sad to have let it go,as I absolutely lvoed my little Jetta V5, but at the end of the day, at least he will get pleasure from it, and it removes one more burden from my life, especially since I know that my sister had been driving it whilst I was away!! 😮

I got one hell of a Tummy Bug on the Saturday, the day before I was due to fly out, and was literally man down the entire day. Cramps and the the good old toilet tap scenario! Not cool,especially when you literally have to t spend a whole day flying the next day! It didn’t help either that I only got 2 hours sleep on sunday morning before getting up to go to the airport. My eyes were burning whilst I was showering I was sooo tired, and I almost fell asleep in the shower from exhaustion.

Next thing I knew . . . I was back in Luanda, for another tour of duty!

Click.

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Loving Life

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My Week of Hell – Luanda!!

I haven’t updated this in a while and I suppose it comes down to the last week I was there. My week of Hell. The last week of my last tour of duty was hell! Absolute Hell! And I’ll explain why.

We had 3 project guys arrive on the Sunday before I left, along with our new engineer, PG. Another Zimbo. He seemed really cool, and pretty chilled too.

Water Truck

A water truck, delivery water to “The Hole!!” Basically the reservoir. This is across the road from us.

Things started going wrong from the minute they arrived. I hadn’t prepared their rooms as well as I should have I will admit, not that there was much to prepare. Their Aircons weren’t working, purely because things in Angola take sooo long to organise, they had been on order for about 3 weeks, and I hadn’t put the Moz Nets up. That was purely because BP didn’t have, so I hadn’t gotten around to getting them. So, I landed up giving the one guy mine, cause I wasn’t using mine anymore. I just sleep with the fan on now, and don’t worry about the mozzies, as they don’t seem to bother me much. I also went out purchased 3 fans for the rooms they were in. Do you know how hard it was to get fans? We landed up going to one of the local markets with the driver and Warren and his Girlfriend, Raquel, who is Angolan,so she knows the lingo and the deal. Thank goodness.

The one project engineer had an absolute sense of humour failure as it was, and was not at all pleased with the situation. I don’t blame him now that I think about it. He just hadn’t been prepped enough about the set-up.That and the fact that the aircon and nets weren’t up. The others climbed onto the bandwagon from there.

Well, things went from bad to worse that week. I had bought a gas stove/electric oven unit for the guys, as we were cooking off 2 useless hotplates and they were crap. So it was a long time coming. That set us back a fair sum, but was worth it. It was delivered on the Monday, but I then found out it didn’t come with a plug, and we didn’t have sufficient cables to connect it up. The aircon guys arrived on Monday night and hooked up the aircons. Thank God!

Monday afternoon we found out the water had run out. The driver called the water guy and he tried to organise delivery. At 17h30 I found out that ther was no water still, and the guy couldn’t deliver. He didn’t have, so I called another guy and he said he would deliver later that night. Well, at 22h he still hadn’t delivered, and we realised that we weren’t getting any water that evening.

Tuesday: The next morning I headed off to Sonnills base early, with only having had a bottled water quick shower. Mental. Tuesday morning the water was at least delivered, in the late afternoon. Tuesday night the power in the house blew. The generator was on, but the main circuit kept tripping. We obviously didn’t have candles – who needs candles when you have the biggest generator in the world? Well, we did apparently. The wiring was getting hot, and then the whole main circuit breaker would trip, wiping out the entire house, both upstairs and downstairs. This must be due to excess load on the circuits! Crazy.

Wednesday, was more house power issues, then the guys laid into me about the house and how bad everything was, and I suppose they needed an outlet, so it was me, as I represented the company. What pissed me off though was teh lack of support I was getting from the Project Manager. He was supposed to be handling his guys, and he was on their side. Just a bit unfair. I took it personally,as I hate to disappoint in everything I do, and I then landed up just hating it, and wanting to get the f#ck out! REALLY BADLY!

Thursday: The water went down again, but this time there tank was full, so what was the issue? I landed up stripping the water pump. YES, ME, STRIPPING A WATER PUMP! It had been making a weird noise on Tuesday when the water ran out. The guys had left the pump running, there was obviously no auto cut-out for it, so it just ran and ran the whole time. I think it had stuffed something inside. So, I stripped it and found the issue. The impeller had broken off inside, so the pump was spinning and running, but the impeller wasn’t sucking water up! Thank goodness I did, as the guys could only make it that afternoon. At least now they could come with a spare, as opposed to only checking the problem then. They only actually arrived that evening with the new one! More bottled water showers. Happyness all round!! NOT! Then, still that morning, Jeje, the idiot driver, went and locked the keys in the car, whilst it was on in the driveway. Don’t ask, I just don’t know!! So we had to wait 3 hours for a spare key to arrive. I was so tempted to just break the window and tell him to pay for it!

Talk about the House from Hell!!! Everything that could go wrong pretty much was!!

I left the next day, on my way back to Cape Town, very much contemplating telling DD it wasn’t going to work. I actually didn’t have time to run the house to that level whilst still trying to keep a customer that was being very finicky and full of sh!t about small things happy! They would have to understand, it was the customer, or the house. I was the moer in. I was tired, exhausted, and pissed off. I had been crapped on, had worked my arse off to keep the guys in the house happy, had done my best, even stripped a pump to keep things going, and all I got was a “We’re definitely going to be taking this up with management in Cape Town” line! Well, they could go to hell for all I was concerned. It had been along tour, and I needed a break more than anyone else!

I arrived at the airport, having not organised protocol, as old Camilo was useless, and didn’t do much for us. But, guess who I bumped into at the airport??? Camilo. He was a little surprised that I wasn’t using them, maybe feeling a bit guilty about forgetting about me when I arrived a month earlier, and suddenly helped me through for free. Wow, well that was great.

The flight home was a little long, but it was a pleasure to land at Cape Town international, and not worry. I hit oblivion immediately, and met Dave there.

Great to be home! For 2 weeks!!!! 🙂

Click.

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Field Support Vessel – Luanda!

Today we, Warren and I, got a chance to check out the super new FSV for the FPSO. It is a huge FSV and has recently been refitted in Norway, and is a stunning vessel. BP only have one room, the size of a pantry, with 4 desks, but that is all that matters I guess to get us onboard.

FSV - 01

FSV – Boubon Oceanteam 101

The FSV contains the ROV (Remotely-Operated-Vehicle) equipment that will monitor all the pipes and well heads, and providing assistance to the operation. We had our 15 minute Safety briefing, or however long it was once boarding the vessel, and then got the tour. We had been issued PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) from the base. We were given Steel Toe Boots, Helmets, and Clear Safety Glasses.

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1) PPE – Sweet! 🙂 2) Nice Shoe Covers Buddy!

The cabins were amazing,and I reckon I could easily do 28 days at sea in those conditions. Not these small pokey little things, but actual decent room sized cabins. Nice beds, each room en-suite with shower, a separate desk, TV and Hi-Fi system. Pretty sweet.

We got to see the Bridge with a view that commanded respect. We were higher than all other vessels in the area, except for the container vessels. We saw the Helipad, a massive area on the front, and the rear deck, where the ROVs and all the rest of the kit belonged.

The crew seemed to be a mix of Norwegian, British, French and a Saffa (South African) that we met in the Galley.

The Galley was sweet, and the food really good. Man I could easily eat like that 28 days a month! 🙂 I had a burger with fries and salads, and then even had jelly and custard for dessert. Sweet!

It was a really cool trip and well worth it, and definitely what was needed after the weeks shite I had had to put up with.

This was organised through Sonills Port, the Harbour area, and we got a lift back to the BP Warehouse building with Tango Delta. Warren and I were crammed into tiny little seats in the back of a Hyundai for the trip back, and it was seriously cramped. I said we would not sit int he back on the trip back to DeBeers, as that could take hours, even though it is only like 3.5 kms, if that.

We got a new vehicle, luckily, and headed off back to DeBeers. This was about 13h15. We arrived . . . 16h25!!

Traffic - Sonills

Rammed! Even the Cop on the bike is struggling to get through!

3 Hours, 20 Mins to travel less than 4kms!! Why??? Because the harbour on a Friday and Thursday is an absolute f*ck-up!!! All the trucks pull in on those days, adn there is only one entrance and exit, the same as the entrance, to the harbour container depot. All this is via one road that also services the entrance to the actual port and relevant support bases. Obviously being African Portuguese the drivers of the respective vehicles don’t give a toss about anyone else, so they all just go at the same time. Each vying to get their own little bit of space in front of the other. Traffic control??? What traffic control. It doesn’t;t exist. SO at one stage we we literally parked in the same spot for 2 hours. We didn’t move an inch for 2 hours. Me, I slept! 🙂

I was woken when I heard my phone ringing. I was so tired from the weeks happenings that at first I didn’t realise it was mine, and almost missed answering it. Quality.

Well, I won’t be going back there in a hurry that is for sure!

Click.

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Loving Life

When you just CAN’T Win! – Luanda!

Well, this is more about work, and how sometimes you just can’t win at whatever you do. So, we have had a massive issue on the FPSO, network wise. We had a device failure, a router Supervisor blade failed. We do carry spares, and managed to get it up, eventually.

On that note, a couple of things to take note of

1) Always double check the IOS version of the replacement blade. This is to prevent about 2 hours of wasting time trying to figure out why routing is not working.

2) Always think logically! It helps! 🙂

3) Get to the source, and remove the obvious issues immediately!

So we had a router Supervisor failure around 08h00 in the morning. We replaced it, and got the box back after a bit of hacking! Shortly afterwards we were made aware of a desktop issue, with regards to the desktops not getting a DHCP address. To cut a very, very loooonng story short, and we all know how I love those, this issue resulted in us logging a P2 call with IBM/EDS which landed up in us being on a conference call at 23h00 that night.

Issue unresolved, but a temporary fix in place, we left work at around half-past-midnight. Pretty insane actually. It was one hell of a day, and I’ll get into the nitty-gritty later.

The next day we were back at work at 08h, and I was approached by one of the managers to find out if I had completed a change that was scheduled for 23h00 the previous night. This was the same night that the we were running with a P2 issue on the FPSO, that luckily to us we were able to prevent it from going to a P1, which basically means that it is a financially business impacting issue, which means that practically all business unit owners are made aware of the issue, and you start calling out the big boys. So basically we were pretty much doing everything in our control to prevent it from getting there.

And this manager proceeded to kak me out because we hadn’t implemented a change – to rectify the time displayed on the phones, it was fast by one hour and five minutes and pretty much all the users were already aware of the issue – because I was running with a P2 issue on a vessel that is solely responsible for recovering their close on $11 Billion investment in the country!!! When I explained that we were busy with the major issue at the time, he didn’t care. All he cared about was his bloody time change! Well, that just goes to show where their priorities lie, and what little they understand of their actual business. Unbelievable. I am actually still in disbelief over what happened that morning. And they wonder why they are no longer number 3!!

Helloooooo??? Here is your answer right here! Do I really give a sh!t?? Well, yes I do. Why??? Because I try my hardest, damndest and best to do what I do well. And, at the end of the day, to be treated like this . . . just shows complete ignorance, and is just plain discouraging and demoralising.

To top it off, a few days later I got a call from some w*nker at BP/EDS who thought that he was the absolute sh!t. Called me up and proceeded to crap on me about the fix we had put in place and who gave authorisation to do it, and how we must take it off immediately, regardless of the consequences – try the site being down for about 3 hours whilst changes are made to manually reconfigure all the devices – because they had control, and this was wrong. Well, I fought him on that one, even after being quizzed and spoken to like I was a little boy, and a level one desktop jockey! And I didn’t remove the fix, and wasn’t prepared to either, because we were being proactive and providing a working solution, and all you were doing was providing an administrative f*cking nightmare with all your processes, and procedures that were just plain crap! Bureaucracy 101! Mate if you ever want to see what a network looks like, and what providing service actually means, come on down to Luanda and I’ll happily give you the TOUR!! Then you’ll understand what you are supposed to be supporting. Mr Microsoft Active Directory Muppet! Once again . . . another reason why you are NOT number 3!

Well, this issue lasted about 6 days, and was finally fixed. It was a networking issue, but related to patching, not config, nor hardware.

It’s been a long few days, and probably the hardest on me yet. It has been demoralising, and just plain depressing. Doing what one does best, and getting no support, nor encouragement for what you do. Instead you get hassles, issues and some prick on the phone, who thinks he knows better, even though he is nowhere near your site, and hasn’t even had the courtesy to read the lengthy emails you have been sending regarding what troubleshooting steps you have taken to try resolve the issue.

Amazingly enough the only support I seem to get is from the expat (UK-based) staff who come out for a few weeks at a time to manage certain arenas. So, why is it that they seem to understand and the locals, with a few exceptions – as there are few good guys – don’t?? I call it Attitude. The only thing that makes you in life.

At this stage, for the first time ever, I am counting down the days till I go home! Right now, I just can’t bloody wait! I need a holiday and a refresh and it’s only been 3 weeks! 🙁

Enough.

Click.

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Loving Life – kinda

Warren, Another Braai, Bellas – Luanda!

So, weekend has finally arrived. Thank goodness! The last 2 days have been seriously long and hectic with this bloody FPSO network DHCP issue! 2 Long Nights, and long day on Saturday! 🙁

Rubbish - 01

A typical roadside scene of rubbish everywhere.

Warren, a new engineer arrived on Saturday, and I went straight from work to pick him up. Sly and I were still dealing with this DHCP issue. After two 16 hour days, we found ourselves back at work at 09h on Sat! Not fun!

Warren is from Namibia, though previously from Cape Town. He has worked in Zambia, Mauritania and a few other countries in Africa, so should handle Angola just fine. He seems like a nice dude, having met him briefly at DD in CPT when I was there. He has just been on IPT training, so hopefully he can add some more support to our environment, though he is actually here for another project. An IPT project. Surprise, Surprise!

We celebrated with another braai, of which Blythe pulled in with another dude Bradley, who is managing the cabling of the new BP building. Also a fellow Capetonian. Cool!

More good meat, and more G&T’s! 🙂

Another late night followed by an early morning. We were planning on getting out to Mussulo, but it didn’t happen due to the rain. It had been raining the entire night before, on and off of course, and Blythe cancelled the trip due the chaos that would ultimately ensue on the roads.

We (Sly, Warren and myself) headed out to Bellas to go shopping, and do a bit of looking and grab a late-ish lunch. We headed through to Shoprite to change a bit of cash. However Shoprite Cambio was closed. Man, this was bad, as we had a sum total of about  4000 Kz between us for lunch, as the chick there did say that if the Cambio was closed, they would take Dollars at the checkout counter. R400?? Man, that’s plenty! Wrong! That’ll get like 3 of us a roll and a coke each! We checked out the prices at Portugalia, and figured we could get 3 burgers, and 3 drinks and have about 400kz left over. Yeah, 1000kz per burger and about 200kz per soft drink. Uh, yes, that is R100 per burger!!! 🙁

So I ordered, which once again was a bit of a farce as the dude didn’t speak English, and had to get the chick doing the drinks to help him out. After waiting at our table for about 30 mins for our food, we were now really, really impatient. I had already checked about 4 times for our food. As I was bored I checked through the receipt again, and noticed that we had only been charged 500kz per burger. “Hang on a sec, that doesn’t make sense!”

I went back to the counter and checked out the menu again. We had “Burger no Pao” printed on our receipt. What the f#ck?? Burger NO roll!! How the hell do you have a burger with no roll?? Haha. Quality. Only in Luanda I guess. Or maybe it is a Porra thing. Anyway, it took about 10 minutes to explain the issue, and eventually I got it sorted. Our food however had still not arrived. Ten minutes later it, the burgers arrived. Sonder “Pao”!! Man, this was a joke. It took me another 10 minutes to of waiting at the counter to get our rolls. Man, what a joke. I won’t be back here on a Sunday!! Carnage!

We got back to Shoprite, to find the Cambio open again. Obviously the chick had gone for lunch. I was seriously miffed, as had we had more cash, we could have gone elsewhere for lunch. Bummed! Well,the burger did the trick anyway, and we did a big shop and bought a tub of ice cream, at R79 a small tub. It’s just wrong!

Chilled that eve and got to bed fairly early. In preparation for another long week, still trying to fix the DHCP issue.

Bummed.

Click.

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Loving Life

Chillout to Dine – Luanda!

Bruno from JHB flew in for a few days as there was a Telecoms Conference in Luanda and he was here to help out with a few things. Andile Ncaba (A big Chief of DD South Africa) came through, and on that note, a DD Dinner was organised at Chillout on Wednesday.

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_MG_3916 _MG_3974

Chillout!!

Chillout is a really nice venue on the Ilha, and the two youngsters who run it, whipper-snappers, I call them, running around with their iPhones (in Angola!) and jabbering on about this and that,  would fit in 100% in Cape Town, all flash and groomed, wearing the threads and acting full of the great All-Importance Cape Tonoians are so well versed at, have no clue about customer service or management. Talk about an experience. Bruno had been running ragged, along with Maria for about 3 days. Maria works with me at BP, but as she knows lank about Angola, she is Angolan, she helped out with a lot of the organising and Bruno also talks Porra, so he can get by quite easily. The venue was booked for about 50 people, of which they expected about 30 to show up. Well, Andile at the last minute decided to invite like all the conference delegates, and literally about 75 rocked up. Which was a problem considering we only seating for 50, and then we were missing chairs.

We managed to organise with the venue next door to borrow a few chairs, and when the staff went to to get them, they returned and dumped the chairs they got at another long table they had laid out for a local party.Nice huh!! We organise the chairs, and they go and use them for some other function. Were they concerned in the least?? No way. They couldn’t give a damn. Why?? Well,we’re not locals. Just another company function that they’ll probably never have to deal with again. Damn Straight they won’t!!! Well, we had a pretty big function, and it must have been an even bigger bill, and I can tell you one thing . . . they’ll never get another cent out of us again. I might go back there, but I’ll definitely make sure I am full of sh*t when I do!! 🙂

It was an interesting evening, and I did get to meet Andile himself, and also the Local Consulate General of the South African Embassy here. He was a really cool dude actually. Told him I’d pop in when I get back from my next trip home. Come shoot the breeze, what have you. He was quite keen for that. So we’ll see.

I had 2 Caipirinhas during the evening,along with a few Sprites, and I was pretty tickets I’ll admit. Come 22h30, I literally hit powerdown mode. It was okay though as most people had already ducked, so I organised for Oscar to take me home. I practically passed out on hitting the bed. Bruno got home around 02h. Legend! 🙂

It was a night to remember for one of my first out in Luanda and quite interesting too.

Click.

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Loving Life

S T O P – It’s just petty – Luanda!

So, this blog is not so much based on Luanda, nor Angola this time, but more on the one company I am here to support.

IMG_3967

I don’t think they offer 1 Hour here! 🙂

They have a process called STOP cards. Basically it is a HSSE (Health Safety Security Environment) thing. It requires anyone who sees something that looks out of place from a Health, Safety, Security Environment perspective to log it on the system, and then that will be highlighted and reviewed by management and the HSSE Team personnel. So, basically if you see a plug with a faulty wire, you must log it. If you see a power adapter on the floor that is not secure, or in the way of something else, you must log it, etc, etc, etc.

A great concept, and an excellent way of highlighting concerns, or issues. So that is really good.

HOWEVER, requiring personnel to log 5 cards a month is rather childish I feel. Trying to enforce safety on people is a bit stupid. I think that highlighting the concerns every month, and having a mail that goes to everyone to inform them of what the major issues are/were is a good idea. Having HSSE awareness days is a Great idea, but ENFORCING it on people is pretty stupid. Don;t get me wrong, I am all for HSSE, but having to now spend time finding things that are wrong, is not very conducive to a natural flow I don’t think. I have already noted a few things myself that I would log if I could, but I can’t as I still don;t have a Login onto the network Come to think of it I haven’t actually had a Safety induction session yet, and I have been working in the building for 6 weeks. That’ll be a stop card tomorrow I think! 🙂

What I do take exception to is being told that my team looks bad, as it appears that we don’t take HSSE very seriously. Why?? Cause members of my team haven’t logged 5 cards a month! Mate, childish!! Seriously childish. With all these processes and procedures, it is a miracle that anything actually gets done.

But . . . . then again, we know who does all the work here don’t we?? 🙂

Click.

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Loving Life

Need a laugh ? ? ? What the f#ck are these Haydn??? And what were you doing with them at Gawie’s Wedding??

IMG_3952

Another Week Disappears, down the d”rain” – Luanda

Well, it has been a rather calm week, apart from all the rain, and the issue of the National Criminal Investigations Building collapsing last Friday night.

DNIC

The former DNIC building. 😮

I found this article, on a very disturbing website: www.safetynews.co.uk

“NCID building collapse kills 24
It is thought that the Angolan Interior Ministry may invite Portuguese Engineering Laboratories to participate in investigation of the weekend collapse of the 7-storey National Criminal Investigation Department in Luanda, ongoing recovery work on Monday saw the death tally rise to 24, with more than 150 people injured. At the time of the collapse 180 people were inside, including 145 detainees. The building was constructed 34 years ago during the Portuguese colonial era, it is alleged that the top floor was added later and a substantial generator was also later located on the top floor. Quite a number of structural collapses in African towns and cities feature additional development without building control. 1st April 2008.”

That pretty much sums it up I guess. Life in Africa.

Didn’t get up to much this last week. It rained and rained and rained. Literally everyday in the afternoon. Sometimes twice a day. The weirdest thing is coming out of the building during a downpour, and I mean downpour – think standing in your shower, on full blast for like 15 minutes – and getting hit by this heat wave. I am so used to it being cold and cool when being in rain, that in Luanda the temperature is still the same, just the humidity rises, and it is just plain weird. You are literally sweating under cover outside during a shower! The rain actually gets so dense and the downpours are so severe at times that we actually lose microwave communications between sites. Now that is pretty hectic. The outskirts of town just turn into a complete mud bath. vehicles get stuck, huge potholes develop – the size of cars – and roads get washed away. Traffic gets jammed or stuck. People spend hours in traffic on trips that usually takes minutes.

I met a few of the BP big wigs that were down for the week. Interesting chaps. They gave a few very interesting presentations on BP and some internal issues that were pretty much aimed at the DCT (IT) department. A few pointers that affected us, DD, but nothing to worry about. Ate out  a few times too. Went to a new restaurant, new for me, old in lifetime, where the food wasn’t great, well I didn’t think so, but the rest seemed to think it was okay. They must have drunk far more than me! 🙂 I have actually cut down loads on my  drinking – mom – she seems to think I am becoming an alcoholic! I wish!! Anyway, I had the Bacalhau, a salt dried cod, with potatoes. It was alright, but I definitely won’t be having it again in a hurry.

Friday was a public holiday in Angola. The celebration of the signing of the Peace Accord. 4th April 2002. Just 6 years ago. Incredible. Ash and Sly worked, but I chilled at the house. We all worked Saturday, and then Sunday was a day of rest for Sly and myself. We headed off to Shoprite Palanca in the mornign to get a bit of shopping done.

Bruno arrived in the afternoon, coming in from Johannesburg via Windhoek. He was also bringing in the corporate gifts and had a box full of them. His flight landed at 13h10, five minutes early, and the first people came through around 13h35, pretty quick for Luanda. By 15h when the following Windhoek flight had arrived, Bruno still hadn’t appeared. I had already called Sly to double check the time in my mail to make sure that I got the time right. Yup, I was right, so where was he? At this stage I managed to get a peak of a very flustered Bruno. Stuck at Customs!! haha, they had nailed him for the corporate gifts. He managed to clear about 15 mins later, and explained that he was having trouble trying to explain to them what they were and how much the cost. He eventually got a cost for the USB Pen/Pointer units from JHB to be around $2.59 per item. The useless staff weren’t exactly helping to aid the progress of clearing the items. And he SPEAKS Porra! Man, can you imagine if it had been someone like me! I would be without gifts that would be for sure! 😉

We had a meal at Caribe restaurant, cum club, on the weekends, on the Ilha, and it was pretty good. Sly had the prawns, and they were absolutely amazing. The size of two fingers in width (I have small hands –  yeah, yeah, I’ve heard al the jokes) and they looked fantastic. I had the Espetada de Mariscos (Seafood Kebab). Good. Bruno had the Prego steak, with Egg and chips. Classic Portuguese meal. It was a good night, and by the time I hit the sack I was knackered.

Should be an interesting week ahead with old Andile Ncaba coming up for the Telecomms Conference in Luanda, and us having a delegates dinner at Chillout. Time to rub shoulders and mingle.

Network! 🙂

Click.

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Loving Life!  – My old byline from my UK days