I want to dedicate this post to a great friend, awesome colleague, and an amazing father - Roosevelt. I can never thank him enough for the great memories that we had onboard. He really was an inspiration to me. I thoroughly enjoyed the time that we had spent together and he made every moment precious. He was an incredibly sweet guy and he will always be missed. His smile always warmed my heart and his memory will forever remain in each of the crew on the Geco Snapper. May he rest in peace and live on in each of our hearts.
After spending 8 lovely weeks onboard the Geco Snapper it was time to go home – or so I thought. The boat was headed into Galveston, Texas for some minor repairs; I thought that I was riding in with them. Instead, I was requested to go on the Gilavar (more about this ship in next post). Honestly, it did not hit me until the day that I was getting off the Geco Snapper on how close I became not only to the boat, but also to the crew itself. I had worked with two separate crews during my time onboard. Each crew brought a unique character to the boat and made the Geco Snapper really come alive. Sure, I was locked in the shower on the very first day that I arrived onboard – “How to Cope with Steamy Situations; Helpful Hints to Improve Your Breathing,” but even with its tattered floors, small restrooms, and strangely odd odor it was still home to me. After all, nobody’s perfect and this includes boats! Looking back I can still see the crew’s smiling faces every morning, smell breakfast that was being cooked in the galley at dawn, taste the freshness in the bread that was recently made, hear the crew laughing as they joked with each other, and feel the softness of my comforter as I wrapped myself inside it at night. I really had felt welcomed here and it was very hard for me to leave. Without further ado, I present to you my top 5 best flashbacks on the Geco Snapper.
|Phenomenal Sunset with Oil Rig on Horizon; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 04.2008|
|Cotton Candy Sunset with a Taste of Orange; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 05.2008|
5 Best Flashbacks on Geco Snapper:
|Powerful Clouds; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 05.2008|
|Drillship Entering Clouds; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 04.2008|
|Bright Clouds Align the Sky; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 04.2008|
1. Eating a smorgasbord of American food:
I love various cultural foods; since my time on the Viking Vision I had an assortment of Norwegian dishes (including rice pudding) to choose from – “Embracing Norwegian Culture; Hyggelig å møte deg.” I enjoyed trying different foods, but nothing beats a good ole American hamburger with lettuce, tomato, and cheese. Since I was working onboard with an American crew and on an American boat I had my fill of plenty dishes of American food. Most of the guys lived in the South and they added their own flavor of Cajun to the mix. I had the best gumbo onboard; I never had gumbo until then. The guys were really serious about their cooking and it definitely showed in the preparations of their meals. The taste was wonderful; I do not recall ever a bad dish! One of the ultimate meals that I thoroughly enjoyed were the “once a month” King crab legs! I was that girl in elementary school that would get excited if my mom decided to take me to “Red Lobster” for my birthday dinner. Maybe it was the “small town mentality,” but I absolutely loved this tradition. Of course, most individuals will tell you this is imitation lobster or not really your “typical” seafood restaurant. I never really knew what I missing until I started working offshore. Working offshore definitely has many perks, but the best one in relation to food is that it is, in fact, the freshest that you have ever tasted. The boats and ships are able to have fresh produce or provisions as sailors call them, come onboard. If I am really lucky I will have the chance to fish for our dinner that night (seems to only happen in international waters; more on this later). At that moment as I was excitedly eating my King crab legs and dipping them slightly in butter, I knew that I could totally get used to this lifestyle! Kudos to them for making the best American dishes that I have ever tasted; it simply was a great experience onboard. For this reason alone, they will always be remembered as, "the Awesome American Boat."
|Golden Sunset with Supply Vessel Pegasus; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 04.2008|
|Pink Sunset; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 05.2008|
2. Having the best birthday surprise:
As luck had it I was getting off the Geco Snapper in the early morning to transfer to the Gilavar. That particular morning happened to also be my 25th birthday. The first week that I was onboard the galley guys, Dave and Keith, had asked me to try the dessert that they created before dinnertime. I remember that it was vanilla cake with colored icing and sprinkles on the top. I do not favor the original “birthday cake,” but I did sample a small piece in the common courteously that I was asked to. It was okay, probably would have better if I actually liked cake (exception Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake). Afterwards, the guys asked me what I thought of their dessert. Without hurting their feelings, I told them that it was good, but that I preferred apple cobbler any day of the week. I did not think much of this conversation until we fast forward to the morning of my birthday. It was like any regular morning, but then I noticed the date and instantly did a “happy dance!” It was my birthday and I was able to view an incredible sunrise to welcome the joyous day. Like every morning I walked downstairs and greeted the galley as I filled my mouth with a couple of Cheerios. The guys were grinning from ear to ear, more so than usual. They told me to wait right there for a second as they had to go check on something. As I stood there waiting a delicious aroma of cobbler tickled my nose. All of a sudden a cobbler in a pie dish was presented right in front of me. I knew exactly what it was at first sight and I was tempted to take a piece. The guys enthusiastically expressed that they were not able to get me a “gift,” but thought that I would settle for apple cobbler instead. Of course, I quickly agreed that this was a far better choice. The guys asked me for me to take the entire apple cobbler with me on my voyage to the other ship if I could not eat it this morning. Long story short, I had a several pieces, offered the rest to the crew (which they willing took), and saved one piece for my trip to the Gilavar. Material objects like presents do not matter when your friends are there to accompany you. I would have been just as happy with or without the apple cobbler made for my special day. My stomach definitely thanks them.
|Calm Seas with Vast White Clouds; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 05.2008|
|Absolute Bliss; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 04.2008|
3. Being part of the crew:
There is nothing better like the feeling that you fit in somewhere. In this case, I was part of the crew. I could tell you a funny story about every single one of the guys onboard. Earlier I had mentioned Roosevelt. I would love to share his funny story with you. Roosevelt grew up with 3 older sisters and in a small town in Louisiana. He was the only boy and his sisters reminded him of that every day. He was a tough kid who looked up to his sisters and fought off the boyfriends that tried to steal his sister’s hearts. He was really protective and cared about their decisions in life. He tried to be a good role model, like they were to him. He and his sisters always played outdoors, even in the middle of winter. Roosevelt’s favorite drink was apple juice. His sisters decided to play a little prank on him. One day while he was walking home from school he was exhausted and wanted something to drink as soon as he got home. His sisters knew that he would be really thirsty once he arrived home (this was his normal routine). His sisters told him that they had fixed a glass of apple juice for him as he approached the steps to his front door. Excitedly he asked for it and they handed it to him. As his sisters sat there loudly laughing, he was slightly oblivious to what was going on. As he was about to take a huge chug of the apple juice, his sisters screamed, “Ewww that’s our pee!” He quickly dropped the glass as it shattered onto his hard concrete porch. To me this shows how great of a guy he really was, his response to his sisters - “You girls were going to make me drink your urine, yuck! I guess I have to figure out some way to get you all back! Thanks for telling me before I drank the “apple juice;” I maybe would have told you if you were in my shoes!” I absolutely loved Roosevelt’s witty sarcasm and his contagious laughter. I was happy to have shared his last few memories together. I was lucky to have had the chance to meet him in my life. He became one of my best friends on that boat. Every time I reflect of the memories on the Geco Snapper, I think of him.
|Ryan and I at Sunset; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 05.2008|
|Hot Abercrombie Model (My Personal Nickname) Winking at Me (He Always Did This!); Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 04.2008|
|Dustin, Ryan, and Captain John (from Maine); Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 04.2008|
Roosevelt was a great asset to the crew and so were all of the other guys onboard. Manny and Roosevelt were inseparable; both of the guys were equally awesome. Manny was on the path to become a record producer, while Roosevelt wanted to eventually get his sea time in and become a mate or officer to work on a boat similar to the Geco Snapper. Both of the guys loved the boat, the crew, and the general atmosphere. Quite frankly, I grew to love it too; maybe not as much as them though! Captain John from Maine was amused at my small hand-writing and decided to call my notes “the Benford Chronicles.” He had a great sense of humor and a refreshing perspective towards life. He would tell me stories about his travels, which, in return, would entice my desire to travel more. The galley crew was always in good spirits and as you read earlier, were amazing cooks onboard. Another Captain John (he was from Arkansas) was really cool; he joked around with me quite a bit. He loved to read and would tell me about his current books that he was reading onboard. He had a drive to work on the sea, like I did as well, which is why we got along so well. The seismic department was really laid back. I enjoyed having nightly conversations with the guys, especially Dave and Shaun. These guys would make me laugh for hours; it was nice to have great charisma on the Geco Snapper. We even watched Jeff Dunham’s comedic session of “A Spark of Insanity” several times; which made us uncontrollably laugh – “Swept to the Geco Snapper; A Spark of Insanity.” I met a really awesome medic named Nikki, who would love to tell me about her nomadic international adventures. She and I became really good friends at the time; we still remain in touch to this day. There were a lot of other crew members to mention, but these were my favorite memories with these individuals. I thoroughly adored my time with the crew and thanks to facebook we still remain in contact.
|Juvenile Brown Pelican Rested on Fence; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 05.2008|
|The Boys Waving Goodbye; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 05.2008|
4. Watching a juvenile Brown pelican on helideck:
For exactly a week, there was a friendly encounter by my definition of “the coolest bird!” I have never viewed a pelican in close quarters, as I did when he rested on the fence located on the helideck. He was quite a photogenic species and seemed to love our attention. He was pretty far away from land, which made me think that he flew hundreds of miles to say “hello” to us on the Geco Snapper. He did hunt at night briefly, which guaranteed that he would survive without our assistance. We were tempted to feed him bread, but we did not want to have him rely on us for his prime food source. Within nature, it is a good rule of thumb to not feed the animals (I am sure we have all seen these signs at the local zoo); however, if you are rescuing a bird from oil or exhaustion then it is okay to provide some nourishment for the avian species. In this particular case, it was best to leave this juvenile Brown pelican alone and let him rest. Consequently, this did not prevent us from taking loads of pictures of him. He was a beautiful bird - after all I had to add this species to my avian collection.
|Juvenile Brown Pelican with Streamer in Background; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 05.2008|
|Golden Sunset with Almighty Oil Rig; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 04.2008|
A few cool facts I learned about Brown pelicans: A) Brown pelicans can live for 15-25 years; B) It can hold approximately 3 gallons of water mixed with fish in its pouch. The air sacks beneath their skin and in their bones helps makes them buoyant; C) Unlike most birds, which warms their eggs with their breasts, pelicans incubate their eggs with their feet. They hold the eggs under the webs that stretch from the front toes to the hind toe, essentially standing on the eggs to warm them. This practice was detrimental to the species when the pesticide DDT was in common use. This pesticide caused thinning of the eggshells resulting in so many broken eggs that the species became endangered; D) A group of pelicans have many collective nouns, including a "brief", "pod", "pouch", "scoop", and "squadron" of pelicans; E) While the Brown pelican is draining the water from its bill after a dive, gulls often try to steal the fish right out of its pouch. They sometimes even perch on the pelican's head or back and reach in; and F) Nevertheless, pelicans are often victims of fishing hooks and lines, oil spills, pesticides, guns, arrows, cars, boats, and power lines.
|Rough-toothed Dolphin Breaching out of Water; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 04.2008|
|The Beautiful Creation of a Mixture of Dark and Light Clouds at Sunset; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 04.2008|
5. Sighting a Rough-toothed Dolphin for the first time:
Before each project I research which cetaceans I will be encountering during my time offshore. All of my preparations could not have warned me that I would see a Rough-toothed dolphin for the very first time – “The Unexpected Surprise; First Encounter with Rough-toothed Dolphins.” These creatures are definitely unique, but it was because of this specific project that I was able to view numerous pods. After I witnessed my first sighting of this specimen, I gathered some online material and started examining details about this marine mammal. I will never forget the crew’s reaction as I was explaining about the sighting – they were so intrigued to learn more as I was too. I self-taught myself everything there was to know about Rough-toothed dolphins on the Geco Snapper. After the first approach of the Rough-toothed dolphins, I was prepared for the quick identification of the second sighting and so forth.
|Violent Clouds Encompassing Oil Rig; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 04.2008|
I will never forget the friendships that I made on this project and the memories that I had with Roosevelt. It is caring individuals like Roosevelt who remind me on a daily basis why I love my fabulous, but unique lifestyle.