Monthly Archives: August 2014

Nationalism, the ugly enemy of peace

By Charles MacleanFrom here in Argyll, where I grew up and have lived most of my life, the road to September the18th looks decidedly rocky.

For some time now, Scotland has been suffering from a sort of ideological occupation. There is nothing identifiably Scottish which the nationalists haven’t claimed as their own and harnessed to their cause. Opposing arguments in support  of the  union are routinely dismissed as being  negative, faint-hearted, ‘talking Scotland down’, or scaremongering – the SNP’s retort  to any question it cannot or will not answer.

What scares me, what should scare us all in Scotland, is the government-approved spirit of  intolerance that would silence every voice which speaks out against the delusion of independence. In the divisive form of chauvinistic thinking that now permeates our national life, even the most loyal, patriotic Scot who ventures an opinion which doesn’t flatter  the separatist agenda may be branded a traitor; guilty of what might be termed, Turkish-style, the sin of insulting Scottishness.

There is a muzzling of dissent, here in Scotland of all places. I find it ominous that at an official level any attempt to raise concerns about the consequences of separation is either prohibited or swiftly shut down by the nationalists. Our universities, our cultural and financial institutions, the business community, the media – all have come under  pressure, even intimidation, from the Scottish government. Ever since the SNP took over the reins, there have been  creeping interventions in the organisation of the civil service, the NHS,  policing, the law courts and education with the sole aim of  promoting the nationalist agenda.

Make no mistake, the SNP has been preparing for this moment.

We need to talk about  nationalism. It seems extraordinary, as we approach September 18th, that this subject is so rarely discussed.

In any serious discussion of the independence issue, there seems to be a hesitation, a polite reluctance to mention the N word. It’s as if the world’s catastrophic experience of nationalism, which Victor Gollancz called “the greatest of all evils”, has no bearing on the Scottish situation – the  given, of course, being that the SNP is committed to civic as opposed to ethnic nationalism. The nice, not the nasty, kind. Because it’s about  ‘us’, we are asked to  embrace  Scottish nationalism as a uniquely friendly, benign variety that may be seen in the light of our own ancient history but not  with reference to the  European experience of the last two centuries. It’s considered quite acceptable  to  dust off the Declaration of Arbroath, but irrelevant and unfair to  compare Scottish nationalism to, say, the secessionist doctrines that tore apart  former Yugoslavia.

Comparisons are indeed odious, but the question brings to mind Salmond’s historic declaration on the Balkans, describing Nato’s intervention in Kosovo to thwart the Milosevic program of ethnic cleansing as “unpardonable folly”. An  isolated slip-up? If only that were the case. How confident can we feel in our  leader’s judgement after his more recent comment on world affairs, blurting out his self-reflecting admiration of Vladimir Putin for restoring  Russian national pride?

There are, of course, examples of  countries  that have achieved statehood with endurable birthing pains and without violence, but the point I want to make here concerns the  never far-away possibility that nationalism, an inherently dangerous creed with the potential to do great harm to Scotland and its people, may unleash forces that nobody will have voted for when they put a cross by ‘Yes’ on the ballot paper.

We owe it to our fellow Britons, as much as to ourselves, to ask what happens post-separation if the dream turns sour? When scapegoats are needed, when ethnic minorities reassured by smiling inclusion start to feel like turkeys who voted for Christmas. How, for instance, will the 500,000 English, Welsh and Northern Irish people living in Scotland  be protected from disillusioned ‘real’ Scots when disputes with rUK  turn, as they almost certainly will, increasingly bitter? Under an austerity regime, who will protect the poor, the old and weak?  Things, as we see every day on the news,  can  fall apart in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.

But this is Scotland, I hear you say, not Syria or eastern  Ukraine. It could never happen here.

There’s a misconception, ardently promoted by the nationalists, that a majority ‘Yes’ vote in September will not only deliver a better deal for Scotland, but lift this country up onto the higher moral ground it would naturally occupy were it not shackled to the other ethically inferior parts of the United Kingdom. Separation, we are told, the freedom to run our own affairs without interference from Westminster, will give a future Scottish government the powers to build that gentler, fairer, more equal society that we all supposedly want. A dishonest, queasily supremacist appeal to  voters – we  Scots, it implies, are not only different but better than others. This is the big, dangerous lie at the heart of the ‘Yes’ campaign.

It may boost Alex Salmond’s popularity to conflate separation from the UK with a cloudless Tory-free  future, but one thing doesn’t necessarily lead to the other.

The  trouble with nationalism is that it does not  represent a coherent set of beliefs, policies and aims that define its essence, as socialism, liberalism or conservatism can be said to do. There’s nothing  to stop Alex Salmond  presenting a leftist  program one day, then lurching  to the  right on the next, while still keeping the nationalist faith.  Nationalism is not about finding ways to improve the lives of  ordinary people; it’s an emotional response to something  that may not even  exist – a supposed historic injustice or the utopian dream of a glorious  future – but  that  can be nurtured and shaped  into a destiny-fulfilling vision, a  promise. For  those who espouse the cause, the path too  often leads to unquestioning  support for the leader.

Our own voluble leader never knowingly utters a sentence in public that does not contain the word ‘Scotland’. I regret to say his tireless, narcissistic boostering of  the native sod has paid dividends, making the man himself not easy to differentiate from our ‘restored national pride’. The ubiquitous chip on the shoulder, Salmond can boast, has been replaced by the hand of destiny.

Now we barely flinch, as we  really should, when we hear passing references to ‘Alex Salmond’s Scotland’.

It is not Alex Salmond’s Scotland.

A brave, honest leader would consider it his paramount duty to enlighten the people of Scotland, but the first minister, who likes to talk about ‘a nationalism of the heart’ – yes, he actually uses those words – sees nothing wrong in playing the ‘wee bit hill and  glen’ card.

Nationalists are sentimental by default. But there’s an assumption here, a cynical one, that Scottish people –  traditionally canny, cautious and hard-headed enough to have welcomed the union in 1707 for the rescuing prosperity it offered and delivered – can  be easily exploited, can have the wool pulled over their eyes, simply because they  love  their country.

As a Scottish and British patriot, with an affirmative, deep affection for my country, I’m for taking down not erecting barriers and borders, for independence of  mind and spirit  – not for sinking our individuality into  the warm puddle of belonging. I support  the view  that all men are brothers and  that we owe more to our common humanity than to the particular country we  happen to have been born into. Over the long forced march to this referendum, I have yet to hear a single argument  for breaking up the United Kingdom   that  cannot be defeated simply by saying:  ‘No, we believe in people coming together, not in division and discord.’

When George Orwell wrote that nationalism is “the  worst enemy of peace”, he meant at home as well as abroad.

What I fear most from the nationalist vision is the narrowing of the Scottish mind, the stealthy erosion of expectation and possibilities, the limiting of our children’s horizons. It surely goes against the grain that as Scots, the most generous and outward-looking of  peoples, we are being asked now to  turn in on ourselves? For the most part, young  Scottish people don’t buy the nationalist  dream. They want nothing to do with the grim, blinkered  descent into this shabbiest of  ideological ‘isms’. They show no more interest  in becoming Little Scotlanders than they do in joining Ukip. It must indeed be galling  for the SNP, after purposefully enfranchising the youth of Scotland, to have to acknowledge that the tactic has backfired – that the brave new future it  plans for us belongs to those who prefer  their country to stay part of Britain.

Billy Connolly, a fearless stand-up supporter of the union, put it  simply: “The more people stay together, the  happier they’ll be”.

How did we get here? How is it possible that so many thoughtful, kind, well-intentioned Scots, not all of them nationalists plan to vote ‘Yes’ on September 18th? Dissaffection with Westminster rule, with the status quo, may explain some of the giddiness; in the voting booth, the heart will certainly determine where many put their X. But nobody should be in any doubt that however honest and heartfelt  their intention, a ‘Yes’ vote is a nationalist vote.

The Union is barely fifty years younger than British democracy itself and the Scots played a grand, disproportionately influential part in creating and running that democracy, which for all its faults is still the envy of the world. It’s worth holding onto, worth  fighting for!

That dodgy botoxed bird  wott runs the argentine is kicking off again. Her country is bankrupt and has defaulted on its huge loan from WONGAWORLD.con  The people are getting restless and she needs to divert their attention away from lynching her from a lampost outside the palace. Cue imperial rhetoric at  a volume turned up to eleven.
‘Get out of our beloved Malvinas’ she warbles.

Right, splitarse, listen to this.

Dear Argentina…

NOW look. You’ve been whining about this since 1767 and it’s starting
to get on my wick.

I’ve ignored you until now, because you’re very silly and your greatest cheerleader is Sean Penn, a man who pretends to be things he is not and once hit his then-wife Madonna with a baseball bat, tied her up for nine hours and abused her.

If he is on your side, it’s not a good side to be on.

But today you’ve written to Prime Minister Dishface demanding he enter negotiations to ‘return’ the islands we call the Falklands and you call Malvinas, 180 years after we cruelly stole them from you with our jackbooted naval officers of totalitarianism.

You were ‘forcibly stripped’ of these jewels in the South Atlantic and your people were ‘expelled’.

Only, that’s not quite what happened, is it Argentina? Someone obviously needs to remind you, and probably Mr Penn too, of the facts.

Allow me to start by saying there are probably things we can all agree on. War is bad, for example, and colonialism – aside from the roads, aqueducts, education, health reforms, economic development, culture, food, integration and innovation – tends to be a bad thing too.

We could probably avoid an argument over the fact that the Falkland Islands, in and of themselves, aren’t exactly pretty. There are no hanging gardens, no waterfalls, no exotic wildlife. They’re a windy bunch of rocks a long way from anywhere, although I grant they’re
nearer to you than they are to us.

Which begs the question about why, exactly, you never bothered to settle them.

When they were first discovered by a Dutchman in 1600 there was nothing there but seabirds. No people, no cultural heritage for anyone to trample over. Just a windy bunch of rocks.

Ninety years later a British sailor was blown off course and sailed through a bit of water he named Falkland Sound, and 74 years after that the French turned up to form a colony.

WAIT! I hear you cry. The French colonised the Falklands?

Why yes, and 18th century email being what it was the British turned up two years later and built a settlement on another one of the islands and claimed the whole lot for the Crown, unaware the Frenchies were already in residence.

The French sold out to the Spaniards a year after that, who put the colony – containing French people – under control of a governor in Buenos Aires.

Three years later the Spanish picked a fight with the Brits, kicked them out and after a peace treaty let us back in. In 1774 the Brits, overstretched by the Americans kicking off, withdrew and left a plaque behind asserting their claim. Thirty two years later the Spaniards departed too, leaving another plaque, and in 1811 the last settlers
threw in the towel.

We were back to empty, windy rocks known only to whalers and sealing ships, and two memorial plaques.

In 1820 an American pirate called David Jewett took shelter there, and finding the place deserted promptly claimed the islands for a union of South American provinces which later became Argentina.

You lot didn’t realise this for a year, but still didn’t settle the islands. Instead a German who pretended to be French called Luis Vernet came along, asked the Argentines and the Brits politely if they minded, and founded a little colony of his own.

It took him a few goes, but eventually he established a settlement, you named him governor and gave him the right to kill all the seals. This quite hacked off the Brits, who wanted some seals for themselves, but Vernet placated us by asking for our military protection.

It all got a bit hairy in 1831, when Vernet found some American seal ships, arrested their crews and sparked an international incident. The Americans sent a warship, blew up the settlement, and hot-headedly sent the most senior settlers to the mainland for trial for piracy.

The Argentines sent a new governor to establish a penal settlement, but he was killed in a mutiny the day he arrived. The Brits, quite reasonably, decided the whole thing was a dog’s breakfast.

And now we get to the bit you’re unhappy about Argentina, the invasion and forced expulsion.

The Brits arrived two months after this mutiny, and wrote to the chap in charge of the small Argentine garrison. The letter said: “I have to direct you that I have received directions from His Excellency and Commander-in-Chief of His Britannic Majesty’s ships and
vessels of war, South America station, in the name of His Britannic Majesty, to exercise the rights of sovereignty over these Islands.

It is my intention to hoist to-morrow the national flag of Great Britain on shore when I request you will be pleased to haul down your flag on shore and withdraw your force, taking all stores belonging to your Government.”

Now, there are many ways people can be oppressed, forced, compelled and abused – just ask Sean Penn – but a polite note is not one of them. The Argentine in charge thought briefly about resisting, but he didn’t have many soldiers and besides, most of them were British
mercenaries who refused to fight. So on January 3, 1833 you left, Argentina, with wounded pride and your nose in the air.

You had never settled the islands. Never established a colony of your own. Never guarded it with a garrison of your own soldiers. They had never, ever, been yours.

And now to the matter of that expulsion. The log of an Argentine ship present at the time records the settlers were encouraged to stay, and those that left did so of their own free will and generally because they were fed up with living on some boring, windy rocks.

Eleven people left – four Argentines, three ‘foreigners’, one prisoner, a Brit and two Americans.

Twenty-two people remained – 12 Argentinians, four Uruguay Indians, two Brits, two Germans, a Frenchman and a Jamaican.

As the imposition of colonial power on an indigenous population goes,
that takes some beating. And for the sake of clarity I should point
out that a human melting pot like that makes the place about as
British as you can be.

A few months later HMS Beagle, taking Charles Darwin to the Galapagos for a long think, popped in and found the settlement half-ruined and the residents lawless. There were several murders, some looting, and in 1834 the exasperated British sent Lieutenant Henry Smith to run the place.

The islands have been ours ever since, and is now home to almost 3,000 people descended from settlers who came from Britain, France, Scandinavia, Gibraltar, St Helena and Chile.

At the same time, you went on to fight wars with most of South America and colonise provinces with indigenous populations by killing or pushing them out.

When your government was broke and facing strong opposition in the 1980s, you invaded them to divert attention of the voters with the cost of 907 lives, and it cannot be unrelated to your letter that in a few weeks you face being ejected by the International Monetary Fund
for lying over your economic figures.

At around the same time, the people who now live on these boring, windy rocks in the middle of nowhere are having a referendum about who they would like to govern them. You will ignore this, because you believe they do not have a right to make up their own minds and have repeatedly refused to talk to the islanders about your claims.

So allow me to make a couple of things clear. Firstly, the history of these windy rocks is an utter mess but someone had to take charge, and you weren’t up to the job. We did it pretty nicely, considering our record in other places.

Secondly, only jackbooted colonial scumbags refuse to listen to the democratic voice of the people who live somewhere, so you really ought to wind your hypocritical warmongering necks in.

And thirdly – well done with the wine, and the beef’s pretty good, but if you want to negotiate let’s start with you taking back your Total Wipeout, because as cultural imperialism goes it’s pretty offensive, and you might want to think about handing Patagonia back to its people
as well.

After that we are quite prepared to let you come and holiday on these windy rocks, where you will be invited to pitch a tent anywhere you like within the 13 square kilometres where you left 19,000 landmines last time you visited.

We know they’re a long way away. We know there’s not much to the rocks, and there might be oil and it might give someone a claim to Antarctica.

But we also know something you don’t – which is that a well-run, law-abiding and happy bunch of rocks is the best bunch of rocks you can hope to have. You’re no more up to that job now than you have ever been.

In case our position is still not clear, the above could be summed up as: No.

Yours sincerely,


Sumburgh Head,

A ditty written by a late fifties master mariner.  Absolutely gorgeous.  Well wedged…..when compared to a Nairobi street urchin.  Sorted, in that I haven’t been in court recently. Hopelessly optimistic, terminally disappointed.  Good with cats and other fluffy things.  No musical talent. Generous to a fault provided it’s someone else’s round. Political centreist with far right and left viewpoints. A green activist from the hydrocarbon position with nuclear leanings. Averse to avarice but always happy to receive lottery wins, gifts, windfalls, legacies, prizes and wet sloppy kisses.

Wet and Horrible
Windy and grey
Spray going everywhere
It’s not a nice day

North Sea Oil and Gas, some thoughts on the future


By Tim Walsh (g Captain)

On the 50th anniversary of the issuing of the first licenses for the extraction of oil and gas from the UK continental shelf (UKCS), we asked oil executives what their main concerns were in an increasingly challenging period in the sector’s turbulent history.

The consensus was that the industry needs to learn to collaborate if it is to survive these challenges.

Issue 1: Operating expenditure is going up while production forecasts are going down

Production from assets fell by 38 per cent between 2010 and 2013, equating to a drop of around 500 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe) and a drop in tax receipts of approximately £6 billion.

In exploration, just 15 wells were drilled on the UKCS last year, compared to 44 in 2008, while operating expenditure rose to a record level of £8.9 billion, and is expected to increase further to about £9.6 billion this year.

But there are reasons for optimism: while approximately 42 billion boe have been produced from the UKCS to date, it is estimated that a further 24 billion boe could remain.

Issue 2: The contracting model is failing from the cost base perspective

Attendees at an executive briefing noted that the supply chain had received little mention in the Wood Review. Significant sums were being spent on ‘low value-high volume’ work, leading the executives to consider the question: is there a genuine appetite within the industry to look at a transitional approach to costs in terms of fixed price agreements?

One executive commented “We’re not talking about the 2009 solution of going in and saying rates have gone down by 10%. That’s not going to work. We have got to see cleverer business models. That may include more remote location working not just in Manchester … but going much further, to India or China for example, to try and get services from there.”

Issue 3: The industry is not planning for decommissioning

Oil executives in the North Sea recognise that the industry needs to plan more effectively now for end of life assets, or face potentially catastrophic consequences down the line. “The industry is not planning for decommissioning, we are just hoping (an incident) won’t happen, then when something does we will cope with the crisis and everybody will jump into action. But nobody is willing to take that first step,” the head of one company said.

It has been suggested that decommissioning costs should be included in the design stage to offset their impact.

Issue 4: A new regulator will not change anything

While the Wood Review’s approach to regulation is welcomed, many executives are questioning what we can expect to be different this time around. “Why should we expect a new nirvana with the Regulator?” asked one operator, while others expressed doubt as to whether the Regulator would be able to push back against future treasury demands.

Issue 5: The industry is facing a knowledge shortage, not a skills shortage

While much has been made about the shortage of skilled people in the oil and gas industry, not enough is made of the importance of knowledge transfer, which requires greater collaboration within the industry. “Working on a brownfield site can give you the ability to learn the skills to work on a greenfield site, but you need to have gained that experience beforehand to make that change,” said one director.

All these issues require collaboration in an industry in which, as one operator said, “competition is bred into you”.

These concerns are just some of the key points raised at an executive briefing we held with executives from across the industry.

A Humanist Perspective

Some people believe that what is right and wrong never varies from situation to situation and that it can be expressed in constant and unchanging commandments.

They often look to religious texts or authorities to discover what they think a god wants them to do.

A humanist view of morality is different.

Humanists do not look to any god for rules but think carefully for themselves about what might be the best way to live.

This approach means we have always to be empathetic and think about the effects of our choices on the happiness or suffering of the people (or sometimes other animals) concerned.

We have to respect the rights and wishes of those involved, trying to find the kindest course of action or the option that will do the least harm.

We have to consider carefully the particular situation we find ourselves in and not just take any rule or commandment for granted.

We have to weigh up the evidence we have available to us about what the probable consequences of our actions will be.

This way of thinking about what we should do is explicitly based on reason, experience, and empathy and respect for others, rather than on tradition or deference to authority.

It might sound hard but luckily most of us do it most of the time without really thinking about it.

Morality is not something that comes from outside of human beings, gifted to us by an external force like a god.

When we look at our closest relatives in the animal world, we see the same basic tendencies we recognise in ourselves – affection, cooperation, all the behaviour needed to live in groups and thrive.

It is clear that our social instincts form the basis of morality and that they are a natural part of humanity.

Of course that is not the end of the story.

The long experience of tens of thousands of years of human beings living in communities has developed and refined our morality and we are all the lucky inheritors of that hard work.

But it does not mean that there are not people who do harm, or make bad choices.

But ultimately, morality comes from us, not from any god. It is to do with people, with individual goodwill and social responsibility; it is about not being completely selfish, about kindness and consideration towards others.

Ideas of freedom, justice, happiness, equality, fairness and all the other values we may live by are human inventions, and we can be proud of that, as we strive to live up to them.


From the front line, Atlantic Frontier

It weighs in the order of 8500 tonnes and it’s turning up on location a tadge earlier than expected or indeed, needed. So the reasoning behind this scheduling must be that they want to hang their washing out on this steel latticed behemoth? Surely there’s no need when there’s a perfectly good 24 hours a day laundry service available onboard our hugemutha*ucka SSCV? Aah, perhaps they’re going the organic route on such matters?

The mammal watchers have arrived on scene too, a sure sign that they hope to start banging away with the world’s largest pile driving hammer (MHU 3500) sooner rather than later. I hope so. The nerves and sense of ease are never really relaxed until such time as the piles have been driven and fully grouted. Get the buggers in is what I say.

The ones for the subsea storage vessel are 96 inches in diameter, 68 metres long and weigh quite a lot, around 400 tonnes. Crikey. Big yes but not yet on the scale of some the mono-piles used in the windfarm industry these days. Some of those darlings weigh in at around 800 tonnes, have wall thicknesses of 80mm and diameters of 8.5 metres. As my dear old granny said when I told her about them, ‘Fucking Jeessus H Christ’ she blurted, shocked to the core. Aye Gran, indeed!! They’re big muthas.

So all is well out here at the moment other than the weather hasn’t read the script and doesn’t realize, it seems, that it’s August. Things should be  gentle and stable. They’re not. Gnashing of teeth can be heard for miles as frustration sets in and timescales get squeezed. Frankly I blame it all on Concord. Hurtling about the skies  for 30 years polluting our lovely upper atmosphere (cheerfully forgetting the zillions of other belching jets and myriad nuclear explosions from the air test heydays) with its four smelly old turbojet engines. ‘Ghastly, pointless thing’, said Gran, ‘give me a 500 Knot, high bypass turbo fanned wide-body  any day’.

She knew her stuff did Gran.

Want to move something ‘out of gauge’ by sea? Want to insure it?


Then prepare a ‘Transportation Plan’ containing the following…..

Enjoy :o)


1)   General contact details  (of the nearest bordello)

i)      Roles, responsibilities & organisation (who’s going to pay for the service requested)

ii)     The name address of an understanding lawyer.

iii)    Installation documentation (how the transportation document resides within the project T&I manuals)

iv)   Milestone dates (what time you’d want to get home)

v)    Route details (availability of taxis and/or night  buses)

vi)   Transportation vessel details (who’s driving and is it a nice car)

vii)  Weather forecasting (what clothes to wear)

viii) Contact numbers (should you want to rent a room)

ix)   Emergency notification chart (handy people to know if it all goes    tits up)

x)    Notifications ( if you decide to start a new life in South America)


2)   Vessel departure

i)      Construction Yard quayside

ii)     On-hire & delivery details (as applicable)

iii)    Pre-sailaway checks

iv)   Customs clearance

v)    Notifications

vi)   Decision to depart

vii)  Tidal variations

viii) Weather criteria for sailaway

ix)   Handback and sailaway (as/if applicable)

x)    Transportation ballast arrangements

xi)   Stability information for departure


3)   Transport to the field

i)      A passage plan in compliance with IMO resolution A.893(21).

The plan should address and be prepared to cover the entire voyage or passage from berth to berth, including those areas where the services of a pilot will be used.

The detailed voyage or passage plan should include the following factors:

  • The plotting of the intended route or track of the voyage or passage on appropriate scale charts: the true direction of the planned route or track should be indicated, as well as all areas of danger, existing ships’ routeing and reporting systems, vessel traffic services, and any areas where marine environmental protection considerations apply;
  • The main elements to ensure safety of life at sea, safety and efficiency of navigation, and protection of the marine environment during the intended voyage or passage; such elements should include, but not be limited to:
    • Safe speed, having regard to the proximity of navigational hazards along the intended route or track, the manoeuvring characteristics of the vessel and its draught in relation to the available water depth;
    • Necessary speed alterations en route, e.g., where there may be limitations because of night passage, tidal restrictions, or allowance for the increase of draught due to squat and heel effect when turning;
    • Minimum clearance required under the keel in critical areas with restricted water depth;
    • Positions where a change in machinery status is required;
    • Course alteration points, taking into account the vessel’s turning circle at the planned speed and any expected effect of tidal streams and currents;
    • The method and frequency of position fixing, including primary and secondary options, and the indication of areas where accuracy of position fixing is critical and where maximum reliability must be obtained;
    • Use of ships’ routeing and reporting systems and vessel traffic services;
    • Considerations relating to the protection of the marine environment; and
    • Contingency plans for alternative action to place the vessel in deep water or proceed to a port of refuge or safe anchorage in the event of any emergency necessitating abandonment of the plan, taking into account existing shore-based emergency response arrangements and equipment and the nature of the cargo and of the emergency itself.
  • The details of the voyage or passage plan should be clearly marked and recorded, as appropriate, on charts and in a voyage plan notebook or computer disk.
  • Each voyage or passage plan as well as the details of the plan, should be approved by the ships’ master prior to the commencement of the voyage or passage.

ii)     Reporting

iii)    Ballast configuration

iv)   Arrival information

v)    Environmental limitations of sea fastening / cargo

vi)   Application of weather routeing

vii)  Stability information


4)   Contingencies

i)      Contingency procedures

ii)     Ports & areas of safe refuge

iii)    Agents

iv)   Tidal / draught (underkeel and air) restrictions

v)    Damage

vi)   Safety & Emergency Preparedness


5)   Appendices (in support of the procedure – as applicable)

i)            Drawings

ii)           Figures in

Big brekky

Big brekky

I’m looking in the mirror and what do I see

Something rather horrible looking back at me.

Well, that’s what a week of eating four meals a day in a ‘dry’ regime does for you. This being offshore malarkey is all very well but it does have its drawbacks too. The ‘unhealthy’ regime for a start.

Now  I’m well aware that the food thing is all about self discipline and common sense and  that there’s a well equipped gym on board…………………but………………’s just not the same as being at home and all that that provides. For a start in Westbrook you can have an aerobic cycle ride along the prom without 20 tattooed Hartlepool scaffolders mouthing ‘fat wanker’  at your feeble efforts on the bike machine, or the twenty something genius project engineer patronizing you with ‘slow down old man, we don’t want a stroke victim here’. It’s all too much for a sensitive thing like allatsea, it really is.

On the plus side, the weather, and more importantly the predicted vessel motions are looking positive for a start later today. Come the first day of September and this giant of a mutha is set to be departing field and preparing for its next job, deep down the line in the sunny south. Offshore Angola. That said, we’d better get a shift here then, and get done sharpish.


The picture below is a snapshot of the left cylinder bank of the engine in the family urban-panel-van. Not overly practical in that the engine weighs some 16 tonnes and the van’s total all up weight is limited to 2.2 tonnes……………………………………… Doh!!!


A long slow gentle roll and  weather  being very good greets our arrival west of Shetland. It’s the first of August and these are the kind of conditions a chap expects on this day in the year.
Breakfast, served in the large all-comers messroom, utilitarian yet homely, robust and welcoming. Bacon, eggs, beans and a large slice of rye bread. It hit the spot. Few folks around at this time of day and those that are seem happy with their own thoughts and company. So be it. Fortunately my table companion is in a chatty mood. Similar outlook on life afloat from a meal companion makes for a nicer brekky and so it is. Yum yum.
Through the teeth and round the gums, watch out tum tum, here it comes.
The job is going to be convoluted, more so than usual. The weather, always the master of ceremonies, will be so even more. Let’s hope it’s read the script? We’re west of Shetland and even in August the conditions up here can resemble February….anytime. A month to do even if there are no delays or ‘deviations from plan’. That’s a long time. Tis for the yours truly anyway. Though he likes to miss the summer road chaos that is Westbrook, he doesn’t like being away from the  Towers and the contents thereof…….so to speak.
News from WA. The family are coming over at Christmas, this is good news indeed and to be looked forward to and welcomed. Can’t wait.
A few days later.
August forgot itself over the last few days, strong NE wings, naughty water running to Hs 3.5, pooh visibility and grey skies. Blimey, right horrid it was. Monday has brought improvements thankfully. Much less anger in the seas, the winds have eased and decided to originate from the SE for a while and we can see for a couple of miles at least.
The DSV is back on location and has divers back in the water again. Doing whatever they’re doing that divers do. Rather than me, whatever the wonga they get, normally huge, it’s not enough. The nearby drilling rig, seemingly weathered off overnight, is also doing what it should be doing.
One of the barges has turned up.The big floaty thing that will, in time and under control, will be sunk in the right place the right way round is due here later tonight. The weather forecast and the predicted SSCV dynamics are predicted to be within tolerances. Fingers crossed then, ops will get underway later and proceed, gently, carefully and without incident through to a successful conclusion. We live in hope.
On a more mundane and pertinent point, why is it so bloody cold on this thing? A million pounds a day spread cost and they can’t, it seems, put the heating on.