Capt. Gregory C. Daley

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Sea Stories
Supply Boats In Mexico

Tidewater operates over 50 boats out of Ciudad de Carmen and Paraiso in the Bay of Campeche in Mexico. A supply boat delivers water, diesel, mud 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.

Supply boats in Mexico range from 170 feet to 250 feet. The ones I commanded were 167 ft. by 40 ft. (the Gulf Moon) and 165 ft. by 40 ft. (the Louis Tide). They typically have two engines totaling 3000 hp to 5000 hp. They have a bow thruster enabling sidewards movement.

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 Gulf Moon is a 1982 Halter Marine Supply Boat, well built and suited for her tasks. She has a gross tonnage of 674 international tons and 296 domestic tons. She has a large steam driven pile driver on her deck weighing several hundred tons. She is a real work horse.

Click on picture to see an enlargement.

Click on picture to see an enlargement. The Louis Tide is also built by Halter Marine. She has a gross tonnage of 807 Panama Canal tons and 289 domestic tons.

To the right is the larger Louis Tide with its high stack. Gulf Moon and Louis Tide have what's called a low stack.

Click on picture to see an enlargement.

Click on picture to see an enlargement. The Gulf Moon is replenishing a work ship and dive boat. We brought a refrigerator freezer and other equipment to the Agile on the left.

We are replenishing helium bottles for the Toisa Puma on the right.

Click on picture to see an enlargement.

Click on picture to see an enlargement. A heavy lift is being accomplished by the main crane of a derrick barge. It is so nice to have calm seas when the lifts are this heavy and large.

Sometimes supply boats are positioned into tight spaces just like crew boats. I am backing the Gulf Moon into a very small space between the wire cables of the anchors to the left and a Stinger floating in the water to the right. Don't try this at home, especially if there is any weather.

Click on picture to see an enlargement.

Click on picture to see an enlargement. Oilfield work is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are no weekends, holidays or other special days. We work 90 days and have 30 days vacation, which gives us 90 days of vacation a year.

The work continues through the night. There are 4 watches crewed by two groups. You work the 6 to 12 watch or the 12 to 6 watch which is 12 hours work per day. You eat, bathe and sleep in the other 12 hours.

Click on picture to see an enlargement.

Click on picture to see an enlargement. The bridge of the Gulf Moon is fully equipped. It has a gyro compass as well as magnetic compass. It has 4 VHF radios and an SSB radio with ringer, not including the handhelds. She is equipped with two RADAR's and three spotlights. AIS is very handy, giving the names, bearings and distances of the vessels around you. This allows us to contact conflicting traffic by name eliminating a lot of the guessing. We have a variety of rudder controls with varying sensitivity. The autopilot is rarely used.

Click on picture to see an enlargement.

Click on picture to see an enlargement. Like most oilfield work boats, the Gulf Moon has a second helm facing aft so the OOW (Officer of the Watch) can see where the work is being done as he maneuvers the vessel. This station has a full set of controls which can be selected to operate from either station. Of course everything is in reverse. Pushing on the gear selector puts the vessel in reverse which appears to be forward when seated at the aft station.

Click on picture to see an enlargement.

Click on picture to see an enlargement. Someone in some country had a lot of free time on his hands. He created a real work of art. There must be miles of cordage forming all types of marlinspike all over the boat, but especially in the wheel house. I've never seen anything like this.

Click on picture to see an enlargement.

Click on picture to see an enlargement. Someone in some country had a lot of free time on his hands. He created a real work of art. There must be miles of cordage forming all types of marlinspike all over the boat, but especially in the wheel house. I've never seen anything like this.

Click on picture to see an enlargement.

Click on picture to see an enlargement. Another tight squeeze alongside a derrick barge with a platform in front of us and anchor cables behind us. Sliding into this position requires the utmost care and skill.

On the right a tug has taken the derrick barge under tow, a normal proce3dure in the oil field. What is different, is that we are still tied alongside the barge unloading our cargo. This puts a lot of strain on our mooring lines.

Click on picture to see an enlargement.

Click on picture to see an enlargement. The photo on the left is why we are reluctant to use our autopilot. An unattended autopilot led to this vessel hitting a fixed platform, wiping out the quarters platform. Thinking the captain dead, the mate responsible committed suicide. Although injured, the captain survived. I thought this was folklore until I saw the pictures and reports.

The supply boat on the right is in a bad winter storm in the North Sea. Doesn't look like a fun ride, does it? I wonder what the Captain and crew were thinking at this time. I went through bigger seas than these when I was in the north Sea, but luckily I was on a much bigger ship, a self propelled derrick barge.

Click on picture to see an enlargement.

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Captain Gregory C. Daley
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