Box Ops

[from the stabenow.com vaults, first posted February 8, 2004]

Today we are on holiday routine as we do what the Coast Guard calls “box ops”, essentially running a repetitive route inside a box we draw on the radar, to remain in the lee of St. George Island (one of the Pribilofs) which is protecting us from gale force winds. We’re in a sucker hole, a sort of breathing space between two lows, so there is actual sunshine on us while at the same time the two storms fill all 360 degrees of horizon with dark clouds.

The captain says the crew calls it “helo day routine” because we fly as much as we possibly can. We launched the helo this afternoon and brought it back this evening, when it did five touch and goes and a hot refueling, which means they refueled it while the engine was still on with the blades still rotating. I was happy to watch that via closed circuit TV from the bridge, thanks.

No SAR calls. Today, 911 for the Bering Sea stayed in the firehouse.

Helicopter Landing - 2/6/04

A lesson for today: How to go to the bathroom in fifteen foot seas and thirty knot winds. Wait for the tilt of the deck to be in your favor, stagger across the floor and slam into the head door. Open the door and trip over the raised door sill into the bathroom, being careful to let the door clip your elbow as it swings back with the shift of the swell and the resulting tilt of the deck. Grab the handle bolted to the wall, straddle the toilet and do your business while riding the seat like the mechanical bull in URBAN COWBOY. Don’t, repeat, do not flush while still seated.

Aren’t you glad you’re on dry land?

Note: See Chief Merrifield’s poem about box ops on the 2/14 blog.


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