First Day on the Job (Dec 10)

It feels like today is my first real day on the job since this is the first day I’m the only pilot on this boat, the only one that will be flying this helicopter, doing these missions. We trained mostly on landings, and a bit on operations, but a lot I will have to learn as I go. I’m excited and nervous at the same time, sitting here writing this I know I’ve got at least a day before we are in any place to actually use the helicopter because we have to get out of the waters of Tarawa to start fishing so I have time to prepare.

Roxy and I are going to do an engine run up tonight, which will be nice for me to get in there and start it up again and make sure everything is running fine and get our heads in there around the helicopter itself. Anxious nerves, excited apprehension, I’m ready but am I really? We will see. I know I can do this, but there is something that will and should always make you a bit nervous when you do something for the first time.

On our way out of Tarawa we steamed due south for a long time and ate dinner. I don’t know if I’ve just made a good friend in the cook or if he was trying to see how much he could get the American pilot to eat, but either way I had a filling dinner. We grilled, which is something of a favorite meal for the crew, steak and pork. The steak is Bulgogi, prepared and seasoned as you would expect at your favorite Korean resto and was delicious, the pork is bland and flavorless like pork is but the crew seemed to gravitate towards it so I took hearty servings of steak.

The cook noticed our tray (grill) was low on steak though so he rushed over with another massive scoop full of steak and threw it on the grill. My sister, Jen, would be in awe at how much Bulgogi was sitting in front of me. So I kept eating for a bit and then decided it was time to tap out and make room for another crewman, not as though any were waiting but I just assumed they were. Still the crew pounded through pork cutlets, and when I got up to leave the table (with a large serving of steak simmering on the grill) the cook motioned for me to sit back down and pointed to the steak. Oh, this is my steak. I had no idea.

So there I sat with two other crewmen, and the cook (who decided it was time for him to eat steak as well) eating through another large serving of steak. It was awesome, a great meal, but very filling. On my way out of the kitchen I grabbed two slices of bread (because I knew in a few days that would vanish entirely) so I could make a peanut butter and honey sandwich as a late night snack after my workout.

That’s exactly what happened too – after digesting a mountain of steak for a bit I took my watch off (that means business) and grabbed my workout gloves, wireless headphones, and mp3 player and went up to the heli-deck for my regular routine of pushups, situps, and dips. Then I moved down to the upper deck and found our pull up bar by the cabin for some more work. I wedged my phone into some hose nearby where I knew it would be safe from the pitching action of the ship and got to it.
I did learn one valuable lesson today though, and it was something I had wondered about and now know the answer to. You see on the last trip we met up with a bunker ship to refuel and pick up some good. I ordered a case of orange juice and a case of water. I made the mistake of assuming that when we met up with any other bunker it would have the same inventory so I decided to pass on buying water and juice cases in port (because in Tarawa it’s crazy expensive) and held out for the bunker ship.

We met with it last night and the 2nd officer informed me, because I was patiently waiting on the bridge to place my order, that all the fuel ship had was beer and Soju, and the Captain had decreed that only Koreans can buy the Soju. Then, with a smile, he asked me how many cases of beer I wanted and I told him that I wasn’t going to drink at sea (I may change that tune in a few months we’ll see) and didn’t want an order.

Next port of call I’m buying two cases of juice and a bunch of water.

Published by wanderingnick208

Nick Henderson is an FAA rated commercial pilot, world traveler, blogger, podcaster, photographer, and all-around good guy. His love of travel, adventure, food, and fun has taken him around the world and back again. Now he's sharing that adventure with his wife Abigail. Follow their journey on Instagram @wandertogether208

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