11 Dec 2007

And Then There Was Just Too Much Google.....

We haven't exactly been stretched during this shipyard game. In fact there is no hint of stretch what so ever; is that all one word? The rig, as I may have mentioned before, is presently just a tin box which has been handed over to the shipyard people. The few of us that are hear hang out in an office block just inside the shipyard gate within quick walking distance of the rig should we decide to go along and have a look.

The saving grace is that the computers in this here office block are plumbed into the Web-a-net. Without that we would all be seriously nuts by now. Or, should I say, more nuts than we were at start of play.

Over the past few trips I would guess that, between us slack handful of fools, we have Googled just about every word in the English language - and some made up words just for fun - and were starting to get a little desperate for something to Google.

Then, for three of us at least, a break was presented in the form of a half day away from the yard to do a HUET course. I note my spell chequer doesn't like HUET which is short speak for Helicopter Underwater Escape Training. While on the subject of acronyms, I found over on a Douglas Addams site that WWW actually takes longer to say than the three words, world wide web, it's supposed to be short for. How about that then......

So, where were me at? Ah, HUET.


This picture is not Singapore, but gives you an idea what it's all about.

The course has us three fools put in a helicopter mock up and lowered into Singapore harbors pristine waters. This is how it goes from there - first go the water comes up to your chest, you release your seat belt and exit helicopter by the window. Next go you are lowered 'till the water is over your head, release seat belt and exit helicopter by window. Trick this time is to hold your breath while under water. And then under water again but this time using something new to us. A re-breather. This re-breather thingy is a tube you stuff in your mouth the other end of which goes into a bag attached to your life jacket. Cool? If, like me, you can't swim, it's the strangest sensation, this idea you can breath under water, even if it is, I guess, as the name of the kit implies, just your own air going in and out. I do believe I held my breath anyway.

The purpose of the training is to teach us passengers the sequence to follow in the 'unlikely event of an emergency.' This sequence goes something like this - the pilot will announce an emergency and to prepare to ditch, which roughly translates to 'prepare to die.' You then put one hand on your seat belt fastener ready to release it, and the other hand on the lever thingy that will jettison the window. Just a note here, you are trained NOT to let go your seat belt or shoot out the window 'till the helicopter has sunk. Got that? Sunk. In fact, once the water is over your head you must count to 7, slowly, then, and only then can you go. Got that? It's sunk and you still need to count to 7. In training I got to 1.2 and I was off, much to the dismay of the trainer.

So, OK, helicopter in the water, one hand on belt and one hand on window levery thingy, take a deep breath just as water goes over your head - I didn't need training on that bit - count to 7, or 1.2 if you can't swim, allow panic to sweep over you and get out and up to find air.

And I did it. But now things get a tad complicated. We are going to use the re-breather. This kit, all incorporated in the life jacket, has a silver lever and a red knob along with a stuff in the mouth bit and a nose clip. The training now goes something like this - in the water and sinking, mouth piece in mouth, yes mouth, nose clip on, yep, you got it, nose, breath normally, water up to your head, take deep breath and blow, pull silver lever, push red knob, continue breathing. Don't forget to get your hands back on your seat belt and the window. Jettison window, open seat belt and battle your way out and up. I ran out of hands pretty quick but adrenalin got me out and up no problem at all.......

We now find we were sent to the wrong course; should have been a three day total sea survival course. More an' on I guess.

And now we are back to Google. HUET works, even a little video on one site, and all the other course bits work, but please don't do the red knob bit...

As a by the by I did read a long time ago that the reason airplanes carry life jackets is down to a governmental procurement foul up way back in the 1930's. And apparently there is still an old, small passenger liner out there on the ocean with 232 parachutes.

Quote - Dave Barry;

“Scientists tell us that the fastest animal on earth, with a top speed of 120 feet per second, is a cow that has been dropped out of a helicopter.”

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