Dash Me

“Dash Me”I was working as a mechanic at Hyster Forklift in New Orleans, La. and an Italian friend of my boss “Mr.Pat Horn” came by to see him as he was on leave from working offshore (mainly) and onshore in Nigeria, West Africa. His name was “Deano Pablo Vincent Martini”. He was a character to say the least. He had a heavy Italian accent, was short and stocky and he came to the USA when his submarine was captured when it surfaced in the Gulf Of Mexico and was trying to buy fuel from a local shrimp boat. Martini met his wife at Camp Plauche prison when she came to write letters home regularly to Italy for him. He asked my boss “Pat” if he knew of anyone interested in going to work on a Derrick Barge #11 mostly offshore in Nigeria, West Africa.The Hyster Forklift Shop I Worked At.I was single and in my early 20’s so I said yes! The company that I worked for was called “Oceanic Contractors” on the door of the building located in downtown New Orleans, but the company name I signed up with was called “J Ray McDermott. They are a hugh, perfectly run company worldwide. I had to go get an extensive Physical locally, a series of painfull shots for my new International Medical Record that went along with my passport. The nurse said: “take your weight of this leg” my left, and she stuck a big needle in my rear, then she said “take your weight of the other leg”, and she stuck it in my other cheek and gave me the other half! It was a “Gamma Globulin” shot. Man was I glad that was over! They also gave me some pills that I had to take everyday for a month before I left, to prevent me from catching Malaria. I had to take a pill every day when I was over there from a big pill canister located in the galley where we ate meals and we had to take them when we returned home for 3 weeks too!It took about 7 weeks to get the flight to Nigeria, they had a Military Coup and killed the leader of the Nation over there. We flew to Charles DeGaulle airport in Paris, France first and I scheduled a 2 day layover to see the city. It was a fancy airport, they had these big tubes that shuttled people in several different directions. I went to the Meridian Hotel in Paris, at the front desk I found a cab driver that spoke a little English, and the lady at the desk told him a list of all of the places that I wanted to see in French! We spent a half a day driving around to see all the sights, and I ended up at the Eiffel Tower. I chose to walk up all of the winding stairs to the big deck where you could see everything for miles around. It was great fun! The next day I was walking around a mall near the hotel, and I got some real “French Fries” at McDonalds! Later, I ran ito a blonde headed girl walking around the mall, her name was Stephanie, I started talking to her and she was a Prostitute!! She took me to a little hotel with a French Maid, that worked one of those exposed metal cage elevators that took us upstairs to our room. The room has these giant pink lips on the wall, and a bed that was shaped like a heart. They had a B-day, and a toilet, we both washed up and you can imagine the rest. Eiffel Tower ———-The Stairs I Climbed —–Line To Catch The Elevator Eiffel Tower Looking Up ——-Restaurant In The Tower —————————Tour Boats Arch De Triumph ———-Paris From Eiffel Tower—— Hotel MeridienThe next day I caught the flight that took off for Nigeria, we had to land in Acra, in Ghana, West Africa and wait until daylight to takeoff again and land in Nigeria. The airport was near Lagos, Nigeria. It was a mess, after getting off the plane, everyone had to run for the air Nigeria flight! Then, I got lucky, and caught a Widgeon airplane for McDermott that took off from land, then was going to the land in the river near the yard in Warri, Nigeria, It had pontoons and it landed in the water at the Warri, River at the J Ray McDermott yard. I was there for a few days, it was shocking, they had a motel with a rack of skeleton keys for all of the rooms, they were all the same! The view out the window was a giant pile of trash in the center yard. When it got dark all of the power in the area went out, I found out why they had a candle in the room with matches! That night, I took the mattress off the bed and put it in the foyer against the door to the room and slept on it. Twice that night someone tried to steal all of my stuff in the room but I was sleeping on the matress, they woke me up and I punched the door hard and they ran away. Glad the doors opened up to the inside! The Widgeon Aircraft ———–The Pilot Flying The Plane ——– Landing In The Warri RiverThe first time I went to the Derrick barge, I got on a Tug boat, called the “Gulf Wind” with a captain named Captain Wally Hebert. It had just come over from the United States, and on the way to the barge offshore near the country of Angola, used to be called the Belgian Congo. We got fired upon across the bow, and were stopped by a Russian gunboat, with a Cuban crew! They borded the vessel and Captain Wally had a 22 caliber pistol and they took it and left. I was seasick as a dog, stayed in my bunk and could not wait to get off! I got on Derrick Barge 11 (DB11), it was a relief or so I thought, I had to go up and down 14 flights of stairs all day unloading the tools that were sent out on the tug. We were working 18hrs a day, and it was very hard. We finished laying the pipeline to the shore and then we took off going north and then we heard that someone blew up the refinery! Working in these 3rd world toilets anything can happen! Derrick Barge 11 ————– Derrick Barge 11 In The Warri River —- In The Machine Shop in DB11One day the Nationals (local workers) all got on the tug boat the Gulf Wind and they mutinied. They got tired on the camp boss, (a Lebanese guy) serving them sacks of “Gary” (the food the locals eat) being full of Wevills. They comandeered the vessel back to the dock in Nigeria! They came back to work after it was straightened out days later. I remember going out with the tug boat Gulf Wind to pick up barges of the pipe that we layed and having to bring a big 12 volt battery and tools with me in case I needed them to start the anchor winch and get the anchor up. I rode on the front of the barge watching the Dolphins in the crystal clear blue water as they played as we moved along! Most of the barges had Hydraulic starters though. Sometimes the batteries would be gone, yep, someone paddelled all the way out their in a dugout to steal the batteries so that they could have lights in their village hut! Tugboat “Gulf Wind”— Port Of New Orleans — Captain Wally Hebert In The Kacki ClothesThere was a medic on board DB11, he had a small portable house up under the heliport. He had giant bottles of prescription drugs from overseas in England mostly. We used to get: “Cement pills” to plug you up, and “Dynamite pills” to get you going again! The camp boss and the food was cheap and inferior! They had the hairs still on slices of bacon! It was nothing like working offshore in the Gulf Of Mexico, they had great food there! A guy that I worked with “Jerry” was hooked on “Darvon” pain pills. He had hundreds of them! Anything that was wrong with you he would say: “you want some Darvon”! He was always out of it. The Galley In DB11— Below Decks In DB11 — Gabriel (lathe) – Ben – (down low) Peter (left) – John (rear)The Four Guys In The Image On The Left Worked With Me All Year, They Were Great!We went back to the McDermott yard in Nigeria for 2 months to change the swing gear in the Gantry crane from steam driven, to electric driven. Their were several places that we used to go eat near Warri, one was a place that served delicious Escargo, I never thought I would enjoy snails, but they were truly delicious. Another time, we were coming back to the yard and they had a big gathering of people all walking to this place where they executed people. The policeman said, your have never seen an execution? We said no and he took out his billy club and beat all of the people out of the way and took us right up front to watch! He said no pictures and we went along with that. They shot a man and a woman that the they tied to two big poles with the Warri River in the background. They shot them both at the same time. One of them stole a watch, and the other 8 Naira (8 Naira was about 12 dollars at the time). Capital punishment is the name of the game. It was unreal. I used to say: “Today another Dollar, tonight another Naira”. nike basketball shoes . Another time I was in a cab coming back to the yard at night, it was stopped by the police (they wear camaflage clothes with AR 15’s) and I was arrested for murdering a guy at the beach. I had $112.00 dollars on me and that was how much it cost me to get out of it. If a cab driver got in a wreck, the police would take him out of the car and beat him right there on the spot. These are the most crooked people I had ever seen. Having An Execution! ——————- Dash Me, Dash Me….., —- Fishing In The Warri RiverAnother time, I went in a local bar with other engineers and when we sat down, there were instantly 4-5 girls on us all with different colored wigs, blondes, redheads etc. The were all grabbing our pants and trying to get us to go with them to a Hotel. Unreal! There was a whore house located right outside of the McDermott gate, it was called the “Block House” It was always open to visitors and there were plenty of girls there. The Block House ———————– Me In The Barge ————— My BunkI went for a truck ride to this magnificent place to go swimming, there was me, a rigger, and a welder. We cut up and split a fresh Pineapple on the ride there. All the while I was singing: “Oops there goes another rubber tree plant”! We were driving through rubber tree plantations! It was a spring that flowed fresh water that you could drink right out of the ground and it flowed into a muddy river somewhere. It was an amazing place. We met the Chief who owned the land when we were there, a real nice guy, I took his picture and I took several pictures of the place and some young locals paddeled by in a small dugout. I have a picture of me paddeling the small dugout with a piece of wood for a paddle in the crystal clear water! The Crystal Clear Spring ——- The Chief Who Owned The Land —Locals That Paddeled By Me Paddeling In The Abraca River ——- I Sunk Their Boat! —— Me After Recovering The Boat!When I was leaving, their are guys at the airport where they take your luggage away to the plane and the guy in my line says: “Dash Me” that is what many of them would say:”Dash Me, Dash Me” it means they wanted a Naira Tip or you would never see your luggage again! They say “Dash Me” everywhere in Nigeria! Hence the name of this story. After about 6 months I had to come home for a week and get my impacted wisdom teeth removed, I did it in the dentist chair and man, I was glad when it was done! When we were flying back overseas I made a listening device from a pen and a funnel shaped piece of paper so that I could listen to the movies they were playing through the arm rest without having to pay for the headphones. I just raised the arm rest up! When the jet landed an elderly Cajun Boat Captain who was sitting next to me said: “Hold on there cuz, the shit is hitting the fan”! The jet blew out a tire when we were landing and the pieces of tire were flying up near the window! The pilot leaned the plane over and we landed OK! I caught the McDermott Widgeon in Lagos (the Capital of Nigeria) to fly to an airstip in the middle of nowhere, he dropped me off and said I will be back in a couple of hours, he had to refuel the plane and do a few other things at the McDermott yard in Warri. He never came back! The 747 Swiss Air I Flew In ——————-DeGaulle Airport ——–McDermott WidgeonI found out and saw the wrecked plane later, when landing the plane in the Warri river he forgot to pump up the landing wheels that were down and when the plane landed it instantly flipped over, crashed and sunk! No one was killed Thank God, he got banged up real bad. The plane was ruined. The pilot left me out in the bush and all I had to spend the night was a sheet, a local had brought it to me, that was it. I fell asleep that night and when I woke up the sheet had moved off my face, I was under it when I went to sleep. My face was covered with all sorts of bites and welps, from mosquitoes mostly, and I know that is when I caught Malaria!!!!!! It never got to me until after I came home for good, (more on that later) the next day a British “Bristow” Chopper had picked me up to fly me offshore to a heliport near DB11 where a boat could pick me up and take me to the barge. When the Chopper took off the tail rotor flew off and the Chopper made a slow decending spiral into the Atlantic Ocean!! The pilot got out OK, the Big Gantry Crane on DB 11 picked up the very wet chopper and put it back on the heliport for later repairs I guess? Bristow Chopper ————The Door Is Open As We Go Offshore ——The Tail Rotor Came OffAfter I finished my 1 year contract, I flew to Brussels in Belgium to pick up my bonus check on the way home. An interesting town! After I got back home I fell in love with a local girl, and we were on Lakeshore Drive in New Orleans at night making out in my car and that is when I got these terrible chills, I was freezing, and shaking, then I would get red hot, sweating profusely and then I knew I had Malaria. It is not fun. They put me in Mercy Hospital and brought me 4 pills to take every 2 hours in a small white cup and I gave them the bottle of pills when I checked in! Someone at the hospital called a lawyer and told them about me I guess, because a lawyer called me when I was sitting in the hospital bed! We sued MeDermott under the “Jones” act. They gave me back the bottle of pills when I left the hospital. My 1969 Camaros ——————- My GS1100 Suzuki – Me With A Big RedfishThis 1 year contract was the most event filled, exciting trip I have ever been on!! I really did enjoy it immensely!!Robert P. Bertaut Sr.