Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Offshore Water Survival

The recent Macondo fire and blowout reminded me of the school Dresser Atlas sent me to. We were, among other things, required to jump off a 50' platform into a deep pool, wearing coveralls, (I guess we were to shed our steel-toed boots), and in the "correct" position: one hand holding the nose, legs crossed, ankles locked, one hand shielding the groin. Head straight, eyes on the horizon: looking up or down throws one off the vertical.

I had to go twice before the instructor approved. I looked down, and sure enough went in at a slight angle. Next time, as hard as it was, I kept my eyes straight forward and went in straight. Perfect. I plunged all the way to the bottom of the 10' pool, and my rear end touched the bottom before I swam up. One guy could barely swim and was scared, but he was tough and overcame his fear and finally made it.

I grew up in Florida for a while, and we swam a lot and jumped off ropes into the water, and I had been off the high dive a lot at pools but 50' seems a lot higher.

On a drilling rig, the floor is about 100' off the water, at the least. I spent a couple of years working on the offshore rigs (or on land). Looking over the railing on breaks we would contemplate the possible eventuality of jumping. Someone said if you feel the flames licking at your ass, jumping gets a lot simpler. I don't know. Anyway, that was years ago.

One of the surviving crewmen on the Deepwater Horizon jumped from the heliport deck, which is higher, maybe over 120'. I can barely imagine this. I'm not sure I want to.

The patch is mine. I saved it.

No comments: