Gulf of Mexico: Life Off-Shore (Pics)

First of all I want to say thank you to everyone that’s been reading the latest posts, commenting, and messaging. Some loyal readers that had been waiting in the wings for me to start putting content back out – and some new readers! Welcome! I’ve been getting questions about certain aspects of being a helicopter pilot flying Oil and Gas in the Gulf of Mexico, so I’ve decided to field them here. The one I’ve been getting the most so far has been “What is life like off-shore?” Though my account of my current conditions are not representative of ALL platforms you might find yourself “living” on – it’ll give you an idea of what to expect.

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Perks of Living International – Tailors

So, admittedly there are some pretty awful things about not being home in the United States. My friends and family are all back there and I miss the hell out of them. However – that being said, there is too much amazingness in this world to NOT travel and live abroad. I’m going to start writing a bit about the perks of living abroad, to include tech and food and anything else that strikes my fancy.  Continue reading “Perks of Living International – Tailors”

The Purge (Dec 4)

Today is our last day at sea before arriving in Tarawa and I now get why everyone has been in such a good mood today. Just like when flying into another country you aren’t allowed to bring in most fruits and vegetables and meat products, definitely not meat products. So began the purge, and it didn’t just mean food items.

Men who I would occasionally spot smoking a cigarette here or there, were going through an entire pack at a time, not wanting to pay taxes on their duty free smokes from Fiji, and all the alcohol that was purchased at sea from the resupply ship, that had to go too.

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Expect the unexpected.

Today I was told to be ready for pickup from my hotel by 7am. I was downstairs, checked out and sitting waiting patiently like a good on time soldier in the army. 15 minutes early. That was a mistake. For two reasons, one – I’m on Fiji and nothing here runs on anything other than Island Time, and two – the communication between the company, the boat, and the port agent up until now has not been exactly stellar. By the time 8am rolled around I had begun to realize this and asked the front desk if I could take my breakfast (which was included with the room) in the lobby. They were happy to bring me a plate with scrambled eggs, sausage, fruit, and toast. And one glass of delicious island juice. I have no idea what kind of juice it was, but it was sweet. I can rule out mango since I know the taste of mango like nobodies business (thank you Davao!).

Then 9am rolled by. Ok, I’m starting to worry at this point. What kind of time am I going to have getting to the boat, on the boat and settled before we weigh anchor and set sail on our voyage. Yesterday I was told that we were leaving at 10am. It was getting close. I think my regular check ins with the company were starting to drive poor Karen crazy. She kept echoing “just wait, just wait” to me, as if I was gonna take off and go on a pirate gold seeking adventure or something. At this point I didn’t know anything other than sitting and waiting. I was getting really good at it too.

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The Adventure Begins

Today I started on the way to the South Pacific to take on an adventure of a job. What some might call the true last bastion of the “wild west” for helicopters, I was hired recently by Tropic Helicopters to fly on one of the Tuna Boats that was out fishing the region. They say that this is the adventure. They weren’t kidding. I’ve spent the last two weeks putting in my notice, packing out of my apartment, moving out of my office and packing and repacking my bags for the trip. One year, that’s the length of my contract – so I’m bringing a lot of gear with me. It’s probably too much, it almost always is, but I’d rather be over-prepared than under-prepared.

An adventure. It started before I had hardly left my home. My original plan was to fly from Spokane to Portland, and then from Portland to Los Angeles and on to Brisbane. From there the idea was to fly into Honiara in the Solomon Islands and go over to the company base, do some training on the MD 500 I was going to be flying and wait for my boat to show up.

That plan changed. As my plane landed in Portland, my first stop, the familiar buzz of my phone going off in my pocket exploded. Message after message came in – naturally I was curious. HR wanted to know where I was, was I with my luggage, what kind of time did I have in Portland and again in LA, where my bags checked all the way to Honiara or just Brisbane – and they needed to know now.

It would seem they needed me somewhere else. Instead of going to Honiara like originally planned, they wanted me to divert and go directly to Fiji, where I would meet my Korean fishing boat, and climb aboard. Her name, the ‘Caribe’.

Of course I had questions. What about my training, what about my schedule, how many pilots would be on this boat, what was the plan going forward. It would seem I was to meet a senior pilot in Fiji and he would train me – on the boat – during the sail from Fiji back to Honiara. Where he was done with his contract. Well, isn’t that fun.

I’m writing this passage from Portland International, waiting for an email with my new tickets and for my plane to board. Still bound for Brisbane, over-nighting in Fiji, then getting onto my Korean boat. No better way to learn how to land on a moving ship in pitching seas than to do it for real the first time right? The Adventure Begins.

Checking an item off of my bucket list.

I was sent to Murray, Idaho with one of our company R44’s to fly rides for their Molly b’damn Gold Rush days festival. All in it was a really uneventful weekend in a sleepy town nestled in the beautiful North Idaho mountains. The real pleasure of this assignment was the chance to do something that I think every young helicopter pilot wants to do in their career, and that is – go helicopter camping!

All day as I was taking off and coming in to land with passengers I was eyeballing this beautiful field next to the creek below where we were operating. It was open enough to put my helicopter right on the bank, and was close enough to the town that I could lock up and walk in for dinner. It was settled – I was landing there at the end of the day to make camp.

Here are a few pics from the best camp site in the world.

Continue reading “Checking an item off of my bucket list.”