It’s not fun…

…when the toilets don’t work anymore. Especially not when they haven’t for the past few hours either…

A lesson for all future Naval Architects: Vacuum toilets on a ship suck! Literally…

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Trapped with 110 men

By the time I will return to shore I will have lived 35 days on an oil drilling rig, “trapped” with up to 119 more men. We stay on here for (usually) 28 days, working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Sleep deprivation is normal, so is rarely shaving, jokes that should never been told anywhere else but here, cussing, more cussing and swearing like fuck. Simply put all guys on board here are “tough guys”: Physically working hard, pushing themselves every day to perform as best as they can. And you better, because pressure out here is high. Time is money, especially when the customer bills you in 15 minute intervals. If you can’t keep up with the pace on here, you will be ran off.

While everybody else is mentally preparing for the Christmas holiday season, business on here continues as usual. We just fixed a broken major piece of equipment and everybody is back to the daily grind, while the maintenance department can shift down a gear – for now.

But don’t be fooled thinking people on here work like machines and have no heart whatsoever. Or have you ever walked in your bosses office at 10pm just to walk in on him singing full heartedly along to Elton John’s “Your Song”, just to make one of these offshore-only jokes. Everybody laughed and then everybody sang along. No where else I have seen grown men being so daydreamy when listening to Christmas music or thinking about their wife, kids, girlfriend, family…

So yes, the amount of jokes being made about me for being German or somewhat of an smart-ass is tiring, but in the end it’s just a way of coping with the stress out here. Because if push comes to shove they will help you out and that makes working out here worth all the difficulties. No matter how much we argue, yell and joke, in the end we are here to get a job done. And it’s done best as a team!

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Island of Light

When there is no moon out and the stars are hidden behind clouds, we are like a brightly lit island in the middle of the ocean. Who would have thought a drilling rig could look so amazing?

Constellation 1 at night

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South Africa: Elephants and Leopards :)

During my last rotation I stopped in Johannesburg to visit my friend Maria. Since there is not a whole lot to see in Jo’burg we decided to drive to Pilanesberg to go on a little safari.

It turned out to be one of the best trips I have done so far. The game reserve is well run, allowing animals to keep their normal behaviors. We saw Rhinos, Elephants, Impalas, Buffalos, a Leopard while hunting, a Cheetah and a Caracal.
See for yourself:

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a hard day at the office

The setting: A, B and C work for on the same project.
A is directly on site, B and C in the office.

The Emails:

A to B:
Hello B,
Additionally to the report X issued his own. It is attached to this email.

The content needs to be addressed rather quickly, hence I wanted to ask you for assistance.
Could you just walk over the installation with this report and take pictures of areas that have improved in the same way they have been taken in the report? Areas that still need attention should be discussed with the supervisors.

Thank you,

Unfortunately B – who was already swamped with his work load – was not very enthusiastic about the request. In his response he referred to the recent paint work:

You`ve got to be joking right?????  I will stick a brush up my a** and paint the decks at the same time….lol

Knowing B his email was not taken too seriously. Especially not by C, the manager of the installation. In best people management manner he responded:

Please let us know what size of brush you would like – small, medium, large, EXTRA large, etc

 Thank you,


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City of God

You might have seen Fernando Meirelles’ movie ‘City of God’. It has been a while since I last saw it, but a few impressions I still recall vividly. One was the all present joy of people in their daily life. No matter how difficult one’s circumstances, people would take it with a broad smile. I took that as one of the typical white lies a movie shows us. I mean, nobody could really be that happy…
The second thing I remember of the movie was the extreme violence in the favelas. I remember a scene in which a maybe 6 year old boy shot another kid.

Now that I have been to Rio I can say that the joy of life is visible everywhere. I cannot remember having been surrounded by such a positiv attitude in a long time. Wherever I went people were laughing, singing, playing instruments or passionately following a soccer game. And somehow everybody was wearing at least a hint of a smile all day :)
Unfortunately the violence portrayed in  the movie must still be very present. More than once I saw the police driving around with their guns hanging out the window, one hand next to the trigger. Fortunately enough I never had to witness it.

On one of my days off I had decided to enter a favela. Thanks to the advise from a local I knew that the favela I was to explore had been pacified a few month back. It was a very intense experience: the narrow streets, the all brick buildings, power and phone cables hanging everywhere. I felt a little bit like an intruder watching kids that could not even afford shoes playing soccer and trying to glimpse into the houses to understand what life in a favela was like. I was surprised by the contrasts I found: Some tenants had their own chickens and grew some vegetables and lived in tiny rooms, while other had giant flat screen TV and satellite dishes.
I decided not to post any pictures of it. It just doesn’t feel right. But of all the rest I have a small selection for you. Enjoy!

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