A Travellerspoint blog

On our way....at least a little bit

Kaitlyn had a suggestion which I am taking, which is to go ahead and write the blog parts in advance so that I can post them in our brief moments of internet availability.

Today is Friday January 9, and we finally left the shipyard this morning at 9 AM. It was great to see that place slowly retreating into the distance.

Our project manager brought out a rear view mirror from some car. He mounted it on the upper deck of the ship just so he could stand back and watch that yard disappear in his rear view mirror. Finally, after years of delay, we are beginning again.

All this is of course assuming that the next two days of trials at sea find nothing really wrong with the ship that would take us back into the ship yard.

We anchor tonight a few miles from where we started, still in the semi shelter of the harbor mouth, but deep enough that they can conduct anchor tests, lifeboat tests, emergency system tests, etc. They have 20 hours of tests scheduled here.

Then we take off on a rapid maneuver test through the Malacca Straits. Full speed left and right turns as well as a sequence of maneuvers in reverse (like going backwards for 10 minutes with sharp turns and then a rapid stop.) Most of us will spend this time making sure everything in the labs actually is as tied down as we hope it is, and picking up and retying anything that fell.

Back to anchorage that night for a few more tests, and then into a new harbor, one for standard shipping NOT a shipyard, on the other side of Singapore. We will be there for a while until we get everything loaded, stored, and setup for the transit which is supposed to start on the 25th.

As I write, the ship is swinging slowly around its anchor point. I am sort of glad I took the Dramamine this morning.

Posted by pafrag 21:38 Comments (0)

Christmas has come and gone

Well, Christmas came and went. If everyone had not been wishing people Merry Christmas all day I am not sure we would have noticed it much. The big difference is we had a half day off. Of course there was an emergency drill in the middle of our off time, but, at least it was a bit of time to relax.

Best part about Christmas was calling home (Christmas eve for them) and getting to see / talk to my family. The video was a bit broken, but we took turns and it worked out ok.

The galley crew did some interesting things with vegetables and fruits, coming up with animal and plant shapes, really amazing. They put them around the tables for Christmas dinner. There was a ton of food. The picture below is the center "appetizer table". The main kitchen (which you can sort of see in the back) served beef wellington, lobster, and turkey.


Robbin advised me to buy gifts for my developers before I left College Station. So they got presents. They were really surprised and seemed very pleased with them.

I bought a game, Sins of a Solar Empire. Real time strategy game involving interstellar exploration and conquest. Fairly interesting. It has enough variability that it will be a while before I can fully explore it. Takes me about three days to play one game, since games last 3-4 hours and I rarely have that much connected time (unless I choose not to sleep). It has an online mode, but nobody plays games online here, not even the WOW addicts. One of them tried to hook up, and got a latency of over 2 seconds. Our satellite network bandwidth just isn't good enough.

Starting to be a bit tired most of the time. I am told it is normal for this type of schedule (12x7). Only been here just over two weeks. Some of the people are going home this week, they have been here two months. Most of them will be back on the 17th of January for the transit.

Ship is currently set to leave the shipyard this Friday for harbor trials. The dock workers are rapidly becoming fewer and much more of the ship is being "commissioned". A few items still waiting on final inspection / correction to be certified seaworthy, like covering exposed pipes/wiring in one of the stairwells. There is still a LOT to be done, but now the work falls to the ship crew, Transocean. They will be contracting work crews to come in and finish up the many tidbits left hanging instead of letting the shipyard continue to do a terrible job. All this will be done at another dock across Singapore, no longer in the shipyard.

Posted by pafrag 03:19 Comments (0)

A short trip

We got off a bit early on Sunday for good behavior (at 3 PM instead of 6PM). So I decided to look around a little.

Got a lift into town to the nearest mall (Boon Lay) and caught the MRT into the middle of town. MRT is Metro Rapid Transit and is a subway, except in many parts of the island it is actually above ground.

Took 40 minutes to go 14 stops. My guess would be about 10-12 miles as the crow flies. Wall to wall people in a big long train. The cars are interesting as they have no ends. That is you can see the entire length of the train in the inside. Or at least you can if you stand a head taller than everyone else around you.

Wandered around the middle of Singapore a bit. Got some photographs of St Andrew Catholic Church and some strange architecture. Visited the Digital Life Mall (also called Funan). They claim to have more IT stores than anywhere in Singapore. They could be right. I have never seen so many laptops for sale in one place before. Six floors of stores mostly dedicated to computers, the gear, furniture, and accessories around them. Bought a headset with microphone to use with skype.

Singapore seems to be stretches of office and apartment buildings connected by malls. They are everywhere. I saw four malls in my short walk in the downtown in area. These are city block multi-story structures. The MRT stops all seem to be associated with malls.

My word for Singapore is haphazard. Nothing appears to be planned. You have "ultramodern" buildings built 50 years ago next to brand new buildings in the old european style next to something else. None of the streets are straight and the names change randomly as you drive down them. The people are a complete polyglot of every Asian group and Indian, with a sprinkling of every nation on earth tossed in for good measure. I believe I heard German, French, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and a few other languages I could not identify all being spoken in the period of a 30 min walk down the street.

Singapore is crowded. The malls, the streets, the MRT. I saw two huge parks from the MRT, the Chinese Gardens and the Japanese Gardens. First two places I have seen in Singapore that actually had room for more people, but the walkways in those parks were still crowded. Just the grass had open space, though there were small clumps of people sitting out relaxing.

The shipyard is crowded when the workers are here, as is the ship itself. Came back to my room two days ago and found five people working inside of it. I would have guessed that it would be difficult to get 5 people to move around in here, but they had panels down and propped up everywhere and they didn't seem to be having a problem. Now the power works and I have all my lights, both of which are nice.

Haphazard also fits the ship far too well. The walls do not meet at 90 degree angles, not only with each other but with the ceiling and floor as well. Have I mentioned the stairs. The steps, even in one flight, are not the same height. You get two or three the same, then they noticed it wasn't going to work out at the top, so they changed the height of the next ones, and then the next crew decided that wouldn't work and the final steps are slightly different. Small differences, but really noticeable when you are carry a box up and down the stairs.

The elevator on ship still does not work. Funny, huh. Who could guess that letting each floor assemble its part of the shaft by themselves and tack it onto the ones on either side would mean the shaft wasn't straight? Or tha each doors on each floor don't line up with the openings. They have cut and pasted with steel and the thing mostly works, but apparently it needs some custom work on the controls to get it to quit stopping with 4-5 inch drops/rises when it gets to a floor. Of course, this means we move freight inside the ship by hand on the stairs.

They changed out ship crews yesterday. The food is still good, but I think a bit greasier than the last crew. We will get the other crew back again before we sail.

That is it for this morning.

Posted by pafrag 13:01 Comments (1)

The saga continues

Not much of a saga actually. Work has become very consuming as we try to meet each set of deadlines and deliverables. Freight, construction, painting, etc. all cut into our development time. And of course there are the more common problems of things aren't quite the same as when we developed and tested this on shore. Causes lots of minor rework and frustration when things don't work as expected.

My exercise program has fallen off drastically. On the good side, my knees are slowly adapting to the stairs. Stairs are a major part of life here as you can't get anywhere without using stairs. Since the elevator does not work, this means all freight is moved to the outside area of a deck, and hauled to its location, often via stairs.

Examples: a picture of the main stairwell. This is the widest and gentlest stair in the ship. Most steps are 8-9 inches high and reasonably sized.

These are the outer stairs (which I carried my bags up when I first got here)

The stairs in the hotel stack are extremely narrow at 5 inches average per step and vary from 9-10 inches high. Fortunately they have very sturdy double railings.

Back to the grind.

Posted by pafrag 03:12 Comments (3)

Pictorial layout of the ship

For those who are interested, the office web site has a nice online diagram of the ship.

Follow this link


On the left menu, start with accommodations. I am on the Fo'c's'le deck (Forecastle) which is the deck above the main deck in the front of the ship. My room number is 6F-19.

If you look at the bridge deck, my work area is currently in the science office, since it has AC (most of the time), power, and network connections and can hold all four of us. We will eventually be moving down onto Lower Tween (Computer area) where we will work in the science user room since the normal programmer's office is designed for one person. This area is currently full of boxes and half assembled cubicles and generally used as a staging area for all the IT gear being distributed around the ship.

Posted by pafrag 06:17 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

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