– 3 –
“How would you like to start her engines?” Alan asks, coming into the mess for a cream biscuit.
I jump up so fast I almost bang my head against a shelf.
I don’t end up doing any of the work actually involved in starting the massive diesel engines. Mostly just follow Alan around the iron forest of the engine room, asking him what and why he is doing what he is doing, which he obliges with gusto. I draw the links between priming a tug engine and that of a (diesel) passenger vehicle. The same principles apply to both, except the tug’s is about 34527 times bigger, which means all the components are as well and require more involved process to get going. I discover the 44 gallon sized drum with a “Mitsubishi” label at the head of one of the engine blocks, is a turbocharger. And that I can budge the priming handle all of 2mm. I’d make a hopeless crew member.
After he finishes the starting tasks, we go back into the engineer’s control room (for want of a better description, as I don’t know what it’s called), where I get to push the buttons that start the twin power plants turning over, and call up to the wheelhouse to inform Bruce that we are ready to go. It isn’t much, but puts the “stupid” element back in the permanent grin on my face.
Alan winks. “Excellent work.”
Later, while i grabbed a couple of portraits, I mention the astronaut-ness of his crisp white overalls, which are remarkably clean after a good few hours on shift.
“I thought I rather looked like a fighter pilot.”
“Nah, they’re white. NASA, definitely. Mission Specialist.”
I think he likes the idea.