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Friday, February 11, 2005

Bravery or Stupidity?

I was working on a vessel in the North Sea and we had some highly specialized and valuable diving equipment onboard that needed to be transported to Rotterdam harbor in the Netherlands in a big hurry. The only passage available was a small barge that was being pushed by a Belgian ocean going tug boat. The equipment was loaded on the deck in the open and I would ride in with it on the tug to make sure that it arrived safely. When we arrived in the harbor area the barge was boarded by about 6 dutch longshoremen to assist in the handling of the barge and seeing that it got tied up properly at the correct docks . The tugboat captain sent a deckhand to wake me up and explained to me in his broken french/flemish dialect that the equipment might be in danger of theft from these men and that I perhaps should go aboard the barge and have a look. It was still quite dark, yet just before the sun came up and the captain urged me to take his flashlight.

I climbed up aboard the barge and was halfway across the deck when the flashlight quit and I continued on in almost total darkness when I hear some rustling noises, and as I got close to the bow, I could see the outlines of several men rummaging through the boxes and crates and some of the equipment had actually been pulled out of their boxes ! Now being all by myself and that I can't speak a word of dutch and these guys don't look all that friendly, I was scared as hell to do or say anything, I mean they could have killed me I realized later after thinking about it. What I did was strode right up into the middle of the group and asked loudly what the hell did they think they were doing! I suddenly realized they had not noticed my presence until I spoke up, in english, and they all turned and looked at me kind of startled. They looked confused for a few moments, looked at each other then slowly wandered off to their positions without a word.

A little while later after I realized what I had done, I thought it was maybe the stupidest thing I have ever done!. No way was the equipment in those boxes worth my life or even injury! what do you guys think?