Capt. Gregory C. Daley

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Sea Stories
Crew Boats In Mexico

In 2006 Tidewater operated over 50 boats out of Ciudad de Carmen and Paraiso in the Bay of Campeche in Mexico. A crew boat delivers passengers and supplies to platforms, rigs, vessels and derrick barges. The oilfield is owned and operated by Petroleos Mexicanes, PEMEX, the national oil company of Mexico.

Crew boats in Mexico range from 120 feet to 175 feet. Two of the ones I commanded were 155 ft. by 35 ft. (the Mineral Tide) and 137 ft. by 30 ft. (the Jennie Tide). They typically have four engines totaling 4400 hp to 5500 hp. The two outboard props turn outboard in front of the rudders and the two inboard props turn inboard. This enables you to walk the boat sidewards. Some though not all have bow thrusters, further facilitating control.

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. The Mineral Tide is a 5500 hp crew boat with a bow thruster. She is 155 ft. long and 50 ft. wide. She is documented as only 98 domestic gross tons. She was my first command in Mexico.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. The Michelle Tide is on the left. This photo was taken on my first day in the Campeche field. She is loading and backloading from one of many jackup rigs in the area.

The Jennie Tide is on the right. She is a 4400 hp crew without bow thruster. She was my second command in Mexico. A little more challenging with less power and no bow thruster.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. The deck space on a crew boat is actually quite large, much larger than the passenger seating area. Although these are called crew boats, they are rarely used to haul crew. In 6 months I only hauled passengers twice. Instead they are used for moving material to, from and between platforms and work vessels.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. These are typical of the lifts made to and from the deck. The left is a large nitrogen tank being lifted to a platform.

The right is a jet fuel tank being loaded to a semi submersible platform.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. Lifting lengths of pipe safely is quite a challenge as shown on the left. If the slings come together and the pipe slips out and becomes a projectile which can easily penetrate a person, a deck and or the hull which would sink the vessel. Much care is taken when these are lifted.

The right photo shows the crew hooking up a sling to the hook for the lift.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. Good food is always valued at sea. It is traditional on Sunday to grill steaks, sausage and chickens on the deck. What makes it interesting is using a paint brush to baste the food. You won't believe how good sliced steak with avocado rolled in a tortilla is - especially if eaten fresh off the grill outdoors.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. Mexican mariners love their seafood. The shrimp are always great. This is a shrimping port. One or more of the seamen used to work as a fisherman. They can walk the docks and find all kinds of fresh seafood, including some interesting looking crabs.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. Passengers ride on crew boats with about the same level of comfort as coach class on an airliner in extreme turbulence. These are from the only two passenger trips in six months.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. Two ways of transferring people from vessel to platform or reverse are used in Mexico. One method is a walkway or a bridge which is lowered to the stern of the crewboat. We are not tied up! As Captain, you have to maintain the position of the boat so the people can safely cross. Quite a challenge in a sea state. This method is fast as the people literally run across the bridge.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. The other method of transfer is using a personnel basket or buda as it is called in Spanish. Transferring eight people at a time by crane takes quite a while to move 77 passengers. Once again, the position of the boat while the basket is on the deck is critical.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. Sometimes the boat needs to maneuvered into a really tight space. Squeezing a basketball court sized deck into a spot with six inches to spare on either side is quite a challenge.

At the platforms we sometimes have to squeeze into some tight spaces between platforms, vessels, and other objects to position ourselves under the crane.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. We are alongside Yuum Kak Nab, a new ship being commissioned to load oil into tankers for export worldwide. We are upwind of a barge with mooring lines in the water.

On the right we are under a bridge positioning our stern for a lift to a platform.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. Training is critical. You never know when a disaster will hit. Each member of the crew needs to know exactly what to do even in his sleep. Here crew members learn where and how to use firefighting equipment.

On the right, crew members learn what to do in the even the boat sinks and we have to utilize the life rafts until we are rescued. The white cylindrical objects behind the crew contain a life raft which blows up to hold 20 people. We have four of them, sufficient for 80 people. Can you imagine 80 people in 4 rafts waiting to be rescued? Better to never have to use the inflatable rafts, but important to know how. Note: today open toed shoes are totally forbidden both inside the boat as well as on deck. Times have changed since 2006.

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Click on picture to see an enlargement. Maintenance is a never ending battle against the salt water of the sea and the abuse of constantly using equipment. You never know how many engines will quit on you while out at sea. Our mechanics are excellent and stay very busy!

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Captain Gregory C. Daley
PO Box 3826, Lafayette, LA 70502

email: info@CaptainGreg.net

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