A Day at the Office

Filed under: — Anastasia @ 1:00 pm

2009 has gotten off to a rocky start.

I’ve been sick for the last two weeks. A2 left (both the office and the country). And there are some major upheavals happening at work – not the “my job is in peril” kind of upheavals, but definitely the “my job will be stressful for a while” kind.

So it was a welcome bit of good news when I was invited to work on my favorite dive boat again.

I crewed for the first time last December, and I guess I didn’t embarrass myself too badly, because the captain made it sound like he’d ask me back.

And he did! I got to go out last Saturday – ironically, the charter was for Hollywood Divers, the shop I got my DM with and will hopefully get to work for once classes pick up again. We spent a gorgeous day out on the oil rigs. The nice thing about the rigs is that it’s almost as fun to stay topside as to dive, especially when it’s sunny and flat out like it was on Saturday, and the sea lions are all going crazy playing around the rigs.

Keeping an eye on the air fills:


For those of you who ask: “what do you do if you’re not diving?”, I give you a list of boat crew duties:

  • Prepare paperwork for the divers, check certification cards and nag them to fill out forms
  • Untie the boat (and tie back up at the end of the day). I’m having to learn a few knots, and the particular ways that the existing crew like things to be tied/stowed.
  • Keep the snack bowls filled
  • Be prepared to unplug the marine head. I haven’t had to do this yet, but I plan on thinking of it as another good learning opportunity when it inevitably happens.
  • Fill tanks. This is actually kind of fun. The basic concepts are simple, but the exact details of which knobs to turn in what order and which gauges to watch requires more attention than you’d think.
  • Help tech divers gear up – attach stage bottles under their arms if they can’t reach the clips, help them stand up from the bench, etc.
  • Deal with anchoring the boat (and sometimes tying off the other end to a rock). This can actually be a workout. When diving at Catalina in Dec, the main crew guy (the poor man who’s stuck teaching me everything) would swim a line out to a rock and tie it off. At the end of the dive, he’d go out and untie it – and then I have to haul him in on that line as quickly as possible, before the boat drifts into anything. Hauling a fully-grown man through the water at high speed really puts your shoulder muscles to the test.
  • If diving the oil rigs, throw a line to the divers to haul them away from the rigs for pickup. I sucked at this. So I practiced a bunch. Now I suck slightly less.
  • Usher divers off the boat and hand down cameras or scooters as necessary.
  • Help divers back ON to the boat (hand up cameras, stage bottles, scooters; pull off fins).
  • While divers are under, stare at the surface of the water for a solid hour in case someone surfaces in a panic. I need to remember sunglasses next time.
  • At the end of the day, wash the boat. So far I’ve only worked on “rinse days”, when we hose everything down with fresh water and also scrub the deck with dish soap (actually kind of fun in bare feet). Once or twice a month they do a full-scale cleaning, which I imagine is a little less fun.
  • Keep an eye on divers in between dives in case anyone starts acting weird. By weird, I mean “having symptoms of decompression sickness.”

If everything goes well (ie, no rescues), it’s actually not that physically demanding a job – I’m getting  to spend a day out on the water, hanging out with a bunch of divers. It can be a little hard to watch them all jump in while I have to stay dry, but it helps to remind myself that what I earn can go towards my next dive!

Hopefully I’m learning fast enough to be useful; I would love to keep working with these guys.  It’s a wonderful boat with a terrific crew, and I’m extremely proud to have the opportunity to be part of it.

1 Comment

  1. Rather a fun story — thanks!

    Comment by Sarah — 1/19/2009 @ 10:15 pm

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