Flying in an aeroplane is very common for seafarers, be it while joining the ship, signing off from the ship, or traveling for a vacation.
But joining a ship by Helicopter might be a dream of every seafarer.
Even I wasn’t any exception, I always dreamed of flying in a helicopter, but I never expected it to happen while joining my 4th ship.
In this article, I want to share my experience of joining a ship by Helicopter.
If you are following my blog, you must have read my experience as a fourth engineer on board ship, where I mentioned about joining my 3rd ship as a fourth engineer by Helicopter.
How it started?
Actually, I did two contracts as a 4th engineer on the same ship of a company, but due to an excessive waiting period and no increment in salary and rank, I had to switch over to another company.
Fortunately, this new company had an urgent vacancy of the fourth engineer, and at the same time, I also wanted to join a ship ASAP.
After a telephonic interview, I was asked to go to New Delhi for VISA documentation, which was when I came to know about my joining from Hay Point, Australia.
I was very excited as I have never been to Australia before.
Later I came to know from the crewing manager that there isn’t any boat facility available at Hay Point anchorage, so I have to join the ship by Helicopter.
The moment he told me this, I became more excited, and I started telling my family about the same.
Why they spent so much on my joining?
The ship departed from china with 2 second engineers on board, they had a crew change at China, but due to some company policy, the previous second engineer was requested to sail parallel with the new guy till Australia.
But the company never expected the ship to get an anchorage of 50 days at Hay Point.
And as I earlier said, there wasn’t any boat facility for a crew change. Hence, the company preferred to signoff both fourth and second engineer by Helicopter instead of paying 2 second engineers at the same time.
I started shopping for the next six months. You might also like to read, “must things to carry while joining a ship.”
Finally, the day has come of joining, but before that, I have to undergo Medical examination in Chennai.
I flew from Indira Gandhi International Airport at 0400 hours and arrived at Chennai International Airport at 0600 hours.
There I booked an Uber cab to drop me at the DG approved clinic, but unfortunately, due to some communication gap, I couldn’t get that taxi.
Then I hired a local taxi from the taxi booth by paying double the charges of an online cab and finally reached the clinic.
There I completed my medicals and then took another taxi to reach the hotel.
I took a quick shower and informed the crew manager about the medicals. He asked me to quickly come to the office for completing the documentation, as my flights were booked for the same day.
I quickly took all my documents and left for the office.
The office was just 10-minute walking distance from the hotel, and on the way, I had Veg fried rice with Manchurian and mushrooms to relax my empty stomach.
I reached the office at sharp 1500 hours; there, I met the crewing manager, his assistant, Technical superintendent, and other company officials.
They briefed me about certain company policies; I cleared all my doubts, signed all the papers, and picked my bag of Boiler suits, uniform, and safety shoes, and returned to the hotel.
Then I relaxed for 2-3 hours in the hotel to prepare for the longest journey of my life.
Departure from India
The first flight from Chennai International Airport to Hong Kong was scheduled at 2300 hours.
I left the hotel at 2000 hours, reached the airport by 2100 hours, checked in the baggage, and reached the departure gate to board the first flight of the longest journey of my life.
I was so tired from traveling that I just had my refreshments in the aircraft and went asleep.
On an international flight of 5 hours, we generally don’t get to sleep much as it takes a lot of time to distribute the meals and drinks, and they wake you up at least 30-40 minutes before landing.
So I got a sleep of about 2 hours on a 5-hour flight.
Then I reached Hong Kong International Airport, where I had to wait for 14 hours to board the next flight to Brisbane.
Here I would like to give you a little advice: always carry some USD handy while joining or signing off from a ship.
I had a couple of dollars due to which I saved myself from starving. Thanks to BURGER KING.
After passing 14 hours at the airport, the call has finally come to board the next flight to Brisbane.
That 9 hours flight was the most luxurious flight of my life, the seats were super comfortable even in the economy class, legroom was superb, and there was more space to walk than in a routine flight.
I was famished, so I asked for an extra meal on the flight, and the cabin crew arranged it for me.
After this long flight, I landed on Brisbane Airport, but don’t think it was the final destination to board the ship.
Now I have to Change from International to Domestic terminal via Bus.
I reached the domestic terminal of Brisbane Airport, and there I had to wait for more than 4 hours to board the last flight to Mackay.
Unfortunately, the last flight didn’t have the meals included in the ticket fare, and due to this, I had to starve for some more time.
Then I reached the Mackay Airport, where the agent was waiting to drop me at the helicopter station of Mackay Airport.
By the time, I was starving of food, but the excitement of flying in a helicopter was overcoming my starvation.
My experience of flying in a Helicopter
Here are some pictures of moment.
The experience of flying in a helicopter is much better than flying in an aeroplane, and there are many reasons to justify the statement
- First of all, the passenger capacity of a helicopter is very less. I was the only one sitting in the chopper after Pilot and Co-Pilot.
- Unlike aeroplane, helicopters don’t require a runway to take off; the experience of taking off from a stationary position is terrific.
- Being a Marine Engineer, I loved the sound of its Engine,
- It flies on a shorter altitude, so you can easily take some photographs and make videos of your experience.
So, finally, I landed on the ship, I had no time for taking over from the previous fourth engineer as every minute costs hundreds of dollars to the company.
But fortunately, the previous guy was one of my batch mates from DMET, so I already took over from him on WhatsApp.
You can read my experience as a fourth engineer on board ship by following the link.
So, guys, that was my experience of joining a ship by Helicopter, I hope you find it exciting.
Do share this blog post with your friends and let me know in the comment section below about your unique experiences.