Friday, September 7, 2012

Behemoth in the bay

Thursday evening saw us again at St. Philips for our usual practice session.  Again the conditions were very calm, much like all summer.  Conditions were not very challenging for rescues etc but the drill rig Henry Goodrich was in Conception Bay, about 2 kms away.

I set off in her direction by myself.

Getting closer to the rig my mind drifted back almost 40 years to the time I worked on drill rigs on the Grand Banks of Newfoudland.  That was 1973-74, a lifetime ago.

I worked on similar rigs but there had been some changes in design.  For one, the derrick, the structure rising in the center of the rig, was now enclosed.  Back in the day, on the Sedco I the derrick was open, something like a miniature Eiffel Tower.  The derrickman then was fully exposed to the elements every time he had to go aloft when they took the drill string out of the hole.  I, of course, had to climb to its 100+ foot height for the view.

Another innovation from those days too was a retractable stairway that can be lowered to the deck of a supply boat to disembark passengers.

In my time, a basket attached to a large ring was lowered by crane onto the deck of the heaving ship to fish passengers off.  In one motion I had to throw my luggage into the basket and jump on before the heaving ship dropped away from under me in the swell.  Young and oblivious to the danger.   

Some of the lads arrived dwarfed by the massive drill rig.  The Henry Goodrich is 98 m long, 77 m wide and 47 m deep from the platform floor.  It looked like its own island in the bay.

Another advancement since the '70s was the addition of launch ramps (sticking out under the helipad) to release the lifeboats.  Back then, the lifeboats were winched down straight which of course becomes problemtic if the rig is being heavily tilted.  Again, no sense of danger on my part but the deficiency was cruelly exposed on the night the Ocean Ranger sank in 1982. 

Four more guys showed up to have a look as we were on our way in.  The light was starting to fade as we made our way back into St. Philips cove.  As I drove home  looked out at the Henry Goodrich all lit up like a Christmas tree.  It was a formidable sight.  Not a normal paddling destination but the change was a refreshing one, for me anyway.


  1. Hi Tony, I always like to come across ship's and other things too :o)

  2. So I notice in your blog *lol*

    The good thing about the Henry Goodridge is that she was no risk to run us down!

    Tony :-)