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Published: June 14th 2011
the plane left Schiphol airport to fly via Seoul (South Korea) to Yuzhno Sakhalin Airport where the plane touched ground at 17.00 May 25th. The same day we went directly to the office and meet the project team. After a brief introduction and arranging our safety gear we all went to the GaraGara hotel and signed in. On the ground floor of the hotel was a Karaoke bar with good sushi. The next day at 7.00 the breakfast was ready and 7.30 most of the project team went walking trough a park to the office, this was a nice walk of about 10 minutes. The week before there was still lots of snow and now plants start popping up from the ground and growing so fast you could hear it.
The port of Korsakov is located in the south of the island Sakhalin and was around one hour driving from the office. Most vessels already arrived and needed to be prepared for the project located more than 800 km up north. Between the superintendents the tasks where divided and together with Arjen I became responsible for the “Fantastic Four” four Russian vessels namely: Debrovnik, Grif,
The first ice we encountered on our trip
SP111 and Captain Charkov. The main task was to bring them up to the safety standard of Van Oord we needed allot of housekeeping, inductions and welding jobs. Because nobody spoke English we had a translator to explain all about safety and the planned adjustments on the vessels. On the 28th in the evening we went with all project to a nice restaurant and afterwards to a good club (located below our office ). Sunday morning we had our safety induction to project where all crew and other involved persons where (in total two days due to the amount of people). This was an interesting eye opener and a clear difference between dredging projects and offshore projects was shown. For my self I still need to make up if I like the Off-shore world. The next week Arjen was mainly busy with safety inductions of the “Fantastic Four” and having the introductions while I was onboard of the vessels arranging drip trays, welding jobs, and fuel soundings of all vessels. Next to that SOPEP material had to be sought out and brought onboard.
Saturday was a very busy job and I stayed in the port on the accommodation vessel
“Trinity Explorer” and moved in the cabin and prepared some small jobs in the evening. The next day Sunday June 5th we planned to leave port if the Ice field was moving away. We got port clearance on Monday and thus could sail up north with the first convoy consisting of 3 tow combinations, the accommodation vessel, one small hopper, 3 survey vessels. One small group which where not speed limited exciting out of 3 vessels went ahead.
The weather in general is foggy and cold and the viscosity of the water is getting thicker. Due to these more or less artic conditions and very cold sea water we hold emergency drills for survival suits (without these suits a person can’t stand this water more than 3 minutes. The medic onboard gave a clear description about hyperthermia. One Orca has been spotted already and soon we enter an area where many fur seals should live. It feels like a nice and challenging expedition with allot of responsibility and many preparations before we can start.
I have a cabin for myself with a small desk for my laptop. But in the evening we mostly enjoy the recreation room with
a movie. I plan to go to the gym before that but it did not come to that yet due to the work load.
Now (several days later) we have a problem with our satellite connection and are out of internet and phone connection. So This will be posted when we are back in civilization (if you can call it like that ) The last news is that also our project site is again closed by ice and we have to wait, we still need to sail 2 days to reach it to see the situation with our own eyes.
Tonight between 8th and 9th of June I am starting the night shift. During the day several vessels have encountered ice while sailing up north. We called back all vessels and regrouped. The Trinity explorer is the leading vessel and we first tried to find the end of the ice field towards the east. Later in the evening two Russian vessels came from the north and warned us that the ice field is slowly heading south. So the convoy is now heading back the direction we came from. Now I am on shift and we see now
and then still lumps of ice, the crew onboard have not experienced this before and many photos are made. The main priority is that all vessels remain safe that is why we head back to Korsakov port. I shall briefly explain what I personally experience now:
This afternoon around 6 the first sheets of ice (small les than 1 m across) floated on the dark coloured sea water. The ice sheets had very nice and all different forms and sizes. Combined with the fog all around us this place feels like a forgotten barren location. Due to the ice we decided to head instead of north towards south east and later would head east to see if the ice sheet had ended there. When sailing east we encountered large and dense ice fields and all headed back south. It is excitement and amazing but next to that little scared and unpredictable.
Out on the bridge its around freezing and the dark water is one huge lightning show caused by all the plankton. It’s amazing to see like we sail trough complete darkness with millions of stars all below us. There is no light to be seen at
the horizon and next to our convoy of vessels we are complete alone.
15th June, I am still in the nights and a safe new sailing route is prepared and 3 vessels are already at site. Near the shore the sea is still covered by ice and we adjust our working plan. We are heading to site and will arrive in 2 days (Friday morning). Back in the port are some delays and I am asked to stay one week longer. As usual that is no problem we are here to make a project! So I will be home one week later but that is good so my Holliday with Marcel and Ricardo to Canada is sure!!!
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