Monday, March 16, 2009

Don's 50th

No seismic crew is complete without it's fair quota of Newfies. Therefore when we saw that Don's 50th birthday was rounding the corner we would make an effort to do something special since he was stuck on a boat, offshore New Zealand, in a uncomfortable swell 3000 miles away from his family.

So a grand plan was hatched to produce a lunch worthy enough to make his day. All we had to do was find out his favorite food.

Attempts to gain family email address were in vain as no one could quite pluck up the courage to stare over his shoulder long enough to memorise the details. Time was running short and we were desperate.

Smooth talking Rooker the Cooker offered to casually strike up a conversation with Don in order to extract the precious information. What followed was a serious breach in communication between the organizing team. Not only did Rooker the Cooker ask about Don's favourite food, Ingy, Haydn, Troy and Ewalina did as well. Our Don is a cluey kind of guy and had us worked out fairly quickly. No doubt he started working this to his advantage by the time the last people had asked.

So the Titan catering crew had it all organised by game day with a equally impressive birthday cake. We managed to get a few smiles out of him.

So what did Don choose as his favourite meal?
a) Boiled Seal
b) Beef Jerky
c) Licorice
d) Spaghetti Bolognaise

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas

A very merry Christmas and happy new year from the crew on the Pacific Titan.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


We've managed a few trips out in the Workboat this trip for various reasons. The weather off East Timor has been very kind. Ingvild got her first chance to launch the boat on the 1st of September and made a great job of it.

Thanks to Chris Burton from Western Whale Reasearch Pty Ltd for the shots.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Grimstad and the house of Thor

"What are you doing here in Norway Mr Ryan?" The pasty faced Norwegian immigration officer asked.
"I'm here to learn how to drive small boats." I replied jetlagged and really not enjoying the chit chat.
"You don't have small boats in Australia?"

That pretty much summed up most of my conversations with the locals on my latest trip over to Norway. My company had enrolled me on a small boat driving course in a little coastal village named Grimstad on the southern coast of Norway. Over the next few days we would familiarise ourselves with our 'Workboats' and procedures that would enable us to work on our deployed gear while out at sea saving the company tones of $$$.

Grimstad we were told by our excellent instructors at SafeMar was the home of champion bike rider Thor Hushovd. Being a fan of The Tour de France I was over the moon and was seriously considering going around to his place, a well maintained, typically Norwegian fashioned house facing the fjord. I was told later that he was skipping the Norwegian winter to train in a warmer climate elsewhere. Being Australian it would have been criminal for me not to go over and at least sabotage his bike in some way giving our man Robbie McEwan another minor but helpfull head start for the Tour. Tommy the instructor went on to explain that Grimstad was a mecca for sun depraved Scandwegians in the summer. The story goes that thousands flock to their summer houses, deploy their boats into the fjord and go zipping around the islands occasionally crashing into each other. It was hard to imagine this sleepy village ever being the center of activity at any time of the year.

We spent 4 days out on the Grimstad fjord dressed in our protective orange survival suits. A colleague of mine had been so lucky as to join me for the course all the way from New Zealand. An Australian and a Kiwi in Grimstad proved to be all too much for the local news station who immediately dispatched a news crew down to the training centre to see what our deal was?

The weather turned it on for it's foreign visitors whilst there. We experienced 3 out of 4 really fine days out on the fjord witnessing Grimstad at its best. When I wasn't eating kababs or Dolly Dimples pizza I was admiring Grimstads rustic, small town character. If only beer were cheaper in this country it would be so much more of a pleasure to visit.

Saturday came and my visit to Grimstad was over for now. I had organised a HUET course (Helicopter Underwater Escape Training) the next week on Wednesday. This gave me ample time to hit the slopes of southern Norway. After harassing every local Scandwegian on all the immediate skiing resorts I had built a consensus, that all roads led to Hovden.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Apart from being a enourmously tricky country name to spell and famous for it's great beers I really didn't know much more about this Eastern European country. Ever since XXX (corny I know) I had really wanted to visit Prague.

Getting from the Airport into the old city was a little painful but having said that I don't believe I had chosen the easiest of routes. A bus followed by a transfer to a train eventually had me in old town square. Don't expect any help buying train tickets just press buttons and hope for the best.
My choice of accomodation was Old Prague Hostel. The central location and free internet came in real handy.

Prague has a reputation for being super scenic so I came prepared with my new Cannon EOS 350D and no idea how to use it. So what does one do in Prague apart from trying to get in the frame of as many tourists holiday snaps as possible? I had great fun on the Prague pub crawl. If you are ever there grab a handfull of people and give it a crack as it's a massive night out.

I was in a bit of a classical mood and czecked out my fair share of musical concerts including Vivaldi Four Seasons, Mozart, Bach and a whole host of other stuff i have absolutely no idea about. The quality of the shows was fantastic although im in no way a classical music connoissuer.

It was really interesting to learn about Czechs painfull past including communisms cruel grip of the country and it's peoples. A visit to the Museum of Communism was well worth the trouble and really placed a few of the towns landmarks like Wenceslas Square in a differant light. Haunting as well to learn of the legacy of Jan Palach who set himself on fire to protest against the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union.

After a trip to your number 1 travel information website in Czech Republic I was off to Cesky Krumlov. Cesky didn't dissapoint. I stayed at Krumlov House Hostel. This place deserves a special mention cause the girls at Krumlov Hostel were second to none and really made everyone feel at home during their stay in Cesky Krumlov. In my opinion you cannot stay anywhere else.

Cesky Krumlov was even more photo worthy than Prague and a real eye opener. I spent most of my time walking around trying to take as many photos as possible. Cesky was short of many other activities apart from drinking and resauranting.

Being the winter there was not that much else going on. I imagine the summer would be much more eventful with Kyaking down the river that snakes itself in and around the small town.

But my time in Czech was coming to a close as I prepared for the ride over the border into Austria. Leaving the country it suddenly dawned on me that I had only learnt one word from the Czech language; Pivo = Beer. How appropriate.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

El Nido

Crew change in October took place in El Nido on the island of Palawan, Philippines. I had heard for some years working offshore the legend of El Nido so when I found out we would be crew changing there I quickly thanked the seismic gods. Crew changes don't come much better than this in such a scenic untouched back drop.

The crew of Pacific Titan landed on the beach of El Nido almost like a invading force. The local populace was spared however as the 5 week thirst took hold of the troops. As if by some strange power everyone started to head for the bar. Bags were literally thrown in rooms at the Lally and Abet hotel as the mad rush for the bar ensued. The drinking went on in earnest, everyone being oblivious to the 4am wakeup call for their flight back to Manilla.

A lucky few managed to wrangle a bit more time in Paradise me being one of them. We moved our accommodation up the beach to a place called Rosanna's which I found to be a lot better. At 700 pesos a night El Nido vacations are friendly on the pocket too. Make sure you bring plenty of money with you though as there is no ATM in town. I managed to get by scrapping up bits of foreign currency I had lying around. Everyone is happy enough to exchange you pesos.

The main town/beach of El Nido was the launching point for our ventures. Development of beach front took me by surprise, I was suspecting something more grandiose. New developments are kept to 2 stories with existing infrastructure already pushed to service this arrangement.

I found the beach free from hagglers maybe because of the lack of tourists? I don't know? If you are upmarket then El Nido boasts some fine resorts within 40 minutes by boat around the islands.

There is plenty to do in Paradise, you can rent canoes, snorkeling equipment or take one of many boat tours around the islands. The snorkelling is fantastic almost everywhere and i'm betting the diving is even better. Unfortunately I still haven't sorted that one out yet.

To get here you need to fly to Manilla and catch a local connection which flies direct to El Nido. ITI will get you there. Other places worth visiting on Palawan are Puerta Princessa and Basuanga.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Cambodia Reflections

I flew into Phenom Penh on the 8th of August with absolutely no expectations. As with most of my travels this one wasn't planned with much precision. My hotel happened to be one of the seediest shady places in the city. Change you say? It's holidays and I couldn't be arsed. I thought that if I drank enough I probably wouldn't notice my room anyway. Putting my hotel woes behind me I busied myself with a walking schedule for the full day ahead including the National Museum, The Royal Palace and the Markets.
I was approached by very amiable tuk tuk drivers during my walks who after the standard introduction started hassling you about rides to the Killing Fields. It was something in the way they approached you that put me off, therefore I did not venture out to the killing fields or the Tuol Sleng museums. Previous travel advice and experience had steered me away from using tuk tuks.

It wasn't done deliberately, it's just the way it turned out that my tour of Cambodia was relatively Khmer Rouge free. Ironic perhaps that it was one of the only things I knew about this country.

Morning came and surprisingly I managed to make the morning bus to Sinoukville. Piece of Advice no #1: When travelling by bus in Cambodia choose Mekong Express wherever possible. I know this because my Sinoukville bus WASN'T Mekong Express. Thankfully some future travel companions would send me in the right direction.

Sinoukville was great fun, a town built by the sea specifically for good times. Being the off season in August there was plenty of places to choose from, some places even offering free accommodation, I ended up at Monkey Republic near Serendipity Beach. It was blowing a force 10 gale when I arrived and raining buckets, most of the bars along the beach had copped a hammering. Over the next few days the sun came out, the beach cleared up and the real Sinoukville came out to play. I teamed up with a couple of girls from the USA who provided some memorable company. If we weren't drinking from Vodka buckets we were lying in the sun somewhere getting toasted because of Malaria medication.

Since our schedules matched perfectly Team USA and myself continued our trek together up to Siem Reap after a overnight in Phenom Penh. I was impressed with the markets in Siem Reap as well as Pub Street where you could go for dinner and watch the local Apsara dancing. A early rise the next morning saw us rushing off to Angkor Wat to witness the sun rise. We befriended a local Tuk Tuk driver who's character went straight to our hearts. He was to be our transportation for the rest of the stay. Angkor Wat I believe lived up to it's reputation my only regret being that I wish I had a better camera. The truly staggering question was how many hours had been put in to making this place. I imagine the ancient Khmer civilization was a grand one.

Hoping that Angelina Jolie was around the next corner we continued on to a series of Temples built around the ancient city. Walking around here it sinks in, the fact that at one time the Cambodian people might have been the center of the civilized world, their country in the near past plagued by decades of civil war and bought to it's knees by the horrors of the Khmer Rouge. Does that have anything to do with mesmerizing smile of the Cambodian people? More questions to be asked and I really hope to be able to get back there to have them answered one day.