It’s hard to believe how much has happened in the last few weeks. From a new physical and work test to multiple drug tests (I had to submit hair for a drug test for the first time – I thought they’d need a few strands but turns out they want a whole lock of hair. When the girl in the clinic came at me with a pair of scissors I freaked out, not gonna lie) to the flight over the mountains, looking down at the tops of glaciers, and walking around Valdez at 9 pm and thinking it was the middle of the day, I got what I expected and a whole lot more.
On crew change day we got on a giant Voith Schneider tractor tug called Tan’erliq which took us out to our boats in the outports where they stand by several response barges for days and weeks on end. I was in love with the Tan’erliq but it was short lived, because after we made the crew change on the Sea Voyager in Port Etches (the bay just north of Cape Hinchinbrook) we headed up to a little spot called Outside Bay on the southern side of Naked Island in the middle of Prince William Sound, where two boats called Guardian and Bulwark are at the moment babysitting an oil spill response barge and a lightering barge, respectively. I’m on the Bulwark now which is an Invader class tug just like the boats I’ve been sailing on out of Jacksonville. They might be the same type of boat but the feel here is totally different. It might be the wood-paneled bulkheads and carpeted state rooms or the absence of acrid fried food smells (already I’ve met two amazing cooks – both ladies – who have brought back my belief that it’s possible to eat healthy at work) or the fact that when I look outside I’m met with evergreen forests and wraiths of fog, but this little boat feels more like a cabin in the woods. It’s what I remember of working on tugs in Alaska a few years ago. It’s where I came of age, and just being here makes me feel safer somehow. I’m happy to be back.
It’s definitely quiet out here and boredom is a hazard. But I have plenty to do and a lot to learn because even though it’s still Crowley, the way they do their paperwork is quite different and I’ll have to get used to a different style and work schedule. But hopefully soon we’ll go into port to do some tanker assists and I’ll get the chance to run a line boat!