Capt. Gregory C. Daley

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Sea Stories
Rio de Janeiro to São Luís, Maranhão, Brazil

December of 2008 we delivered the Faridah Tide, a Fast Supply Vessel of 175 feet overall length (FSV 175). She has four main engines delivering 1800 HP each for a total of 7200 HP. She has a bow thruster which can function raised as a tunnel thruster or can be dropped down to act as a 360 degree azimuth thruster. Her top speed is around 20 knots. She can be controlled by two dynamic position computers to operate safely near structures and ships.

Our crew of 9 consisted of three captains, three Engineers, and three AB'S (Able Bodied Seamen). The voyage was 2,100 nautical miles which lasted 5 days. We stopped in Recife to refuel.

We supported Devon's Drillship Deepwater Discovery for several months. They drilled an exploratory well in 7,000 ft of water about 120 nm from São Luís. The currents and tides were treacherous. Currents ran up to 6 knots inshore and 3 knots offshore most every day. The tides were up to 21 feet, Tall as a two story building!

The pictures on this page are cropped from a full size picture which gives a better perspective to what is being shown. To see a picture full size, simply click on the picture and it will appear full size in a new browser.


Click on picture to see an enlargement. From Niterói, a large city across the bay from Rio de Janeiro, a small boat took me out to the Faridah Tide, which was anchored in the harbor. We passed the Naveri shipyard where there were twelve Tidewater boats in various stages of repair and overhaul.

The Naveri shipyard looks like something out of a horror movie. Many of the waterfront properties in the area and in the city were old and run down. They looked like they would have really been something in their day.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. The shipyard is still in full swing as you can see from the size of this vessel in dry dock. They had many projects under way.

Two of the vessels going North for the Devon project. The Faridah Tide is in the distant left and the Hebert Tide is in the near right side.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. While waiting for departure, we had several inspections and briefings on rules and regulations and procedures. These ladies were instructing the crew on the various colors of garbage cans we had on board and what goes in what color can. There was also an extensive reporting system that went with the program.

We also loaded up on commissaries for the trip. It is late December so we had to be sure we had a few traditional Brazilian Christmas foods on board.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. Our illustrious crew after a fire drill. They wouldn't smile for me. I finally got them to crack up laughing. The German Chief Engineer was one of the best I have ever had.

The bridge chairs were dangerously wobbly. I had a bad experience with one crew member on the Louis Tide in Mexico. Sure enough, the bolt holding it in place was about to drop out. It wasn't easy to fix, but with the accelerations of this boat, it was important.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. We had plenty of time for safety drills, so that is what we did. Here we are practicing a Man Overboard Drill (Person In Water Drill).

It is a good opportunity to see how well maintained the equipment has been kept up. The guys enjoy it as well.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. And we found out that we had a problem. Either the guys weren't really up on outboard motor starting or the motor needed some overhauling. Probably a little of both!

And here comes our rescue craft being towed in by a rescue craft that happened to be passing by. The strong ebb tide could have pushed them out to sea, but it would have taken a while.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. When we began to weigh anchor, we were in for a surprise. Some other boat threw this large plate into the water. If we had tried to snag it in our anchor line we could not have. But after seven days and nights of swinging on anchor, the steel cable anchor line managed to wrap itself around this irregular shaped object.

After hours of poking at it with poles and grappling hooks, it became obvious this was going to have to be removed by hand.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. So we launched the dinghy without starting it and towed a crew to the anchor line by hand from the side of the boat. I had to start the boat and move forward to slack off the tension binding the cable to the plate. We were successful after a few hours.

We moved the boat into Niterói for loading for the North. We passed the Brazilian Naval base, their equivalent of Norfolk.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. Alberto Struck was the Superintendant for the job. New to the company, he is an Area Manager trainee. In spite of the fact that he is a lawyer and his nickname is Crash, he is a great guy. He worked with my brother in law's practice in Houma on a case.

This is one of the many traditional Brazilian Christmas dishes. This was a bread stuffed with a variety of goodies. Brazil has no shortage of good and interesting foods, especially fruits and vegetables.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. We left Rio early Christmas Eve morning. The seas were terrible. The only two people who weren't sick were me and an AB. As soon as my Chief Mate, a seasoned seaman, got out of his rack, he started vomiting. We pulled into the bay at Vittoria for the night and had a quiet Christmas eve night.

The next morning, Christmas Day, everyone was feeling better. The weather had calmed down some and we managed to keep more people on their feet. We proceeded to Recife for re fueling.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. I mentioned that I liked Mousakka, a Greek dish, made of eggplant, cheese and ground beef. You can call this Brazilian Mousakka - a huge steak covered with four large slices of fried eggplant and melted cheese. I call it death by brick because you feel like you have a brick in your stomach 30 minutes after you ate it.

New Year's dinner was quite a feast. The shrimp looked and tasted more like lobster than shrimp to me. The puffed pastry were very good as well. And yes, that is my serving. I did not eat it all. Most of it fell down the stairwell during a particularly bad roll we took.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. It always improved my attitude to bring my own bed linens and comforter from home. It's a bit extravagant, but well worth the effort for the ambiance.

Finally, we are moored at the Itaqui dock, a large industrial complex five miles south of São Luis. This dock is used by a large Brazilian mineral company Valle de Rio to load iron ore and bauxite (aluminum) for transport to Louisiana. An even stranger coincidence, I invested in this company a year prior very successfully.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. This area is notorious for its tides and tidal currents. Tides can range over 21 feet from low to high in one day. Currents can be up to 6 knots. If your boat only makes 6 knots, you would make no headway. The pilots were not used to seeing a boat as powerful as this one. We could handle the tides and currents and did not have to wait for slack. You can see the range of tides from these pictures.

Gangways were quite a challenge, Sometimes they went down from the main deck, Other times they went up from the upper deck!

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. During my six months on this Brazilian contract I was only able to leave the vessel two or three times. Seeing the cathedral and town of São Luis for a few hours, albeit at night, was one of them.

Here is the usual low tide at its lowest. It's quite a challenge keeping up with mooring lines if you don't want to hang from your side. We learned the benefit of using the bit across the deck. This worked really well.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. Remember that bow we were looking at near my stern? This is what the rest of the ship looked like. All of these ships were large ore carriers, loaded with iron ore and bauxite.

Our first trip to to Devon's Deepwater Discovery. It was a twelve hour ride, about 120 miles out from São Luis. The water was blue and full of fish. The current here ran from 1 to 3 knots, which made holding station on DP particularly difficult.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. Drilling a well is a 24 hour per day operation especially when you are spending several hundred thousand dollars per day to lease the equipment. There are 100 plus personnel on board including captain and crew, doctor, drilling people and a variety of mud, cement and logging folks as well. Quite an operation when you think about it.

The Hebert Tide is working alongside the rig. She had strong enough thrusters to hold position.
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Click on picture to see an enlargement. Looking at these pictures now, I am so impressed with the weather! These blue skies are so beautiful and make for picturesque photos. The Deepwater Discovery worked in Africa before this job. These drillships criss cross the oceans, putting down holes where the geologists feel are the best chance of finding oil. You never know for sure.

Sunset on the South Atlantic, well just barely. The location was less than one degree of south latitude. We were working right on the Equator.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. Why does the Safety Lady from Devon looked so scared? Had she heard about Crash's experiences? Reminds me of a deer in the headlights.

Ahh, much more comfortable now receiving instruction from Captain Daley.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. You can see how low the tide can get and how dirty the water is coming from up river. That is the Hebert Tide moored bow to bow with us.

There was a series of minor accidents in the area. My chief engineer contributed. He tried to fix something he had no business fixing at sea and almost cut off his finger. He had no small boat experience and it showed.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. The açaí berry makes the best juice! Of all the things I miss about Brazil, this is at the top of the list. It is supposed to be very good for you as well. I was very healthy for the six months of this contract.

Time to go home. Finally, I am in the hotel in São Luis waiting for my flight to Lafayette, La via Brasilia, São Paulo, and Houston. The flight was late and I had to lay over São Paulo till the next evening. But that is another section of photos. São Luis is a couple of islands all connected by bridges.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. The streets are paved with cobble stones which came here as ballast on empty ships to be loaded from here.

This is the government administrative buildings guarded by the federal police. They have a very nice view of the river and the ships going in and out of the harbor.
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Click on picture to see an enlargement. The Captain of the Port of the State of Manhão is the state official over the harbors and waterways. In other words if you do something wrong this is where you report. I was glad to only be sightseeing!

The federal courthouse in São Luis is quite an impressive structure for the size and wealth of the town. This is for my sister Janet and husband Stan.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. The Cathedral of São Luis appears to have a lot of history and interesting tales associated with it. Sadly, it was locked up and I could not visit inside. The large structure to the right is the residence of the bishop and, I would assume, the diocese offices.

Rainbow over São Luis. You can see how the tide is ebbing and the river once deep enough to float ferries and boats is now a dry mud bank.
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Click on picture to see an enlargement. There were three minor accidents in two days on two different boats which caused the area safety manager, regional safety manager, Juan Campos and Regional Vice President, Gerry Kehoe to visit Crash, aka Alberto Struck. We had just gone through a period of extended contracts some by as much as three months and exhaustion was identified as one of the causes of the problems. I was very much impressed with Juan Campos. It is rare to find a corporate person with such understanding of and empathy with the human situation. He will have a large positive impact on the company.

Click on picture to see an enlargement.

Click on picture to see an enlargement. Portuguese tile is one of the main building components used in Brazil. It is very resistent to the weather and mildew. You will find the tile in the oddest of places, but it is always beautiful Here it is used to decorate a stop light.

This magnificent Portuguese tile mural, depicting some of the early history regarding the conversion of the natives and the settlement of São Luis, Maranhâo, stands fifteen feet tall and thirty feet wide. The detail in this work is truly incredible.

Click on picture to see an enlargement.

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Captain Gregory C. Daley
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