Friday, 13 October 2017
The sequel to the dismissal of a Master working in the Australian Offshore Oil and Gas Industry and who failed a routine D&A Test has been handed down in a decision by the full Bench of the Australian Fair Work Commission.
The full bench set aside the original Commissioner's decision that the Master's dismissal was unfair due to previous unresolved issues in his employment affecting his judgement. The Master consumed ten full strength beers while in transit to, and at the hotel where he was accommodated before, joining his vessel. As a consequence, the Master blew 0.047 before breakfast on joining day during a routine D&A test. I'm not going to try to paraphrase the decision, but the full bench's reasoning is plain English and logical.
I've left the Company, but this issue, the investigation and the ultimate decision to dismiss the Master was a difficult one for me and my former Crewing Director. The full bench's quashing of the original 'unfair dismissal' decision is a vindication of the Company's and Industry's 'zero tolerance' to drugs and alcohol in the offshore oil and gas sector. People, boats and rigs are safer for it.
Link to Nine Finance '10 beers too many' segment Friday 13th October 2017.
The Antipodean Mariner
13th October 2017
Friday, 29 September 2017
Rural Cambodia doesn't have the frenetic pace of Saigon. My hosts for the day, Cambodia Motorcycle Adventures, run a fleet of dirt bikes for serious enduro riders. But that's not me and my choice was the Countryside Immersion Tour on a Honda 125 Dream. Now, don't under-estimate these bikes! They are the backbone of Cambodia's economy and solo, with the whole family, pulling a 'tuk tuk' (taxi) or farm trailer these little bikes are indestructible.
My guide Narith and I had the best day exploring the countryside around Siem Reap. I won't bore Blog readers with a blow by blow recounting of the day, but rather the philosophy of invisible tourism.
Tourism impacts the destination country in many ways and it's often impossible, no matter how hard you try, to visit and just see the country in its natural state. Tours must be organised, temples marvelled at and trinkets accumulated.
Riding a Honda 125 Dream in Cambodia (along with hundreds of other identical bikes) makes you invisible. We wove our way through back roads, along the top of rice paddy dikes and around water-filled potholes that you'd swear were result of an artillery barrage. Riding at between 20 and 40 km/h, I saw village and rural life at its best. If I made eye contact, there was a double take, a smile and a wave.
Narith just pulled into tracks, driveways, village stalls and farms and explained to me what activities were going on. When I asked Narith whether these people were his friends or part of the tour he said no. He was a Khmer and they were Khmer and that they were genuinely interested in telling a Barang (me, the foreigner) about their lives.
We rode all day and covered just 98 kilometres. So different from 600 kilometre days in the Northern Territory just six months ago. I left with nothing more than a 500 ml water bottle of farm-brewed rice whiskey, purchased from the farmer/distiller for US$1 and some fantastic memories. Returning to the luxury of the 5 Star Hotel was surreal.
Cambodia has beauty, tragedy and optimism all mixed together in the middle of a complex political situation. My day on a Honda 125 Dream gave me a precious window to the Cambodia that most tourists don't see, and I loved it. My thanks to Narith for his insights into Cambodian life, and Po the tour boss for organisation and photos.
|Rice whiskey distillery, direct to the public|
|Family business husking dried beans for market|
|Narith making it look easy|
|How deep is that shell hole?|
|A Barang, a Khmer and two Hondas|
Wednesday, 20 September 2017
Apart from being cosseted in luxury aboard a small river cruise ship, I was 'geeking out' on the inventiveness of the Vietnamese and Cambodian mariners (can I call them that?) whose life and livelihood is derived from the River.
There is no end to the ingenuity displayed when loading rice husks. A byproduct of rice threshing, it is used as fuel for cooking, firing pottery and as cattle feed to name a just a few. Because the husks are so light, the utility river craft will never get down to their marks (an abstract concept on the waterway). Boat crews rig outrigger posts and re-bar mesh overlaid with plastic netting to create hoppers.
|Loading rice husks at the riverside rice mill|
|Full laden and ready to depart|
|LPG 'Senna 3' bound downriver|
Monday, 10 July 2017
A Master claimed he had been unfairly dismissed after failing a pre-joining breath alcohol test. His case was heard in Australia's Fair Work Commission and the decision published online. In Paragraph 122 of the decision, the Commissioner makes specific reference to the perceived binary decision facing the Company's management;
It is not apparent that any other disciplinary outcome was considered for Captain Rust. Whilst I accepted above that [the Company Manager] considered Captain Rust’s response prior to making the decision to dismiss him I am not convinced that he considered if rehabilitation (as is allowed under the Offshore Drug and Alcohol Policy) or any other penalty was a possibility. It appears that the consideration of penalty was binary – dismissal or not dismissal.In this respect the consideration by the Company was, in the circumstances, too narrow and that the Master's dismissal was harsh [Para 126].
In practically interpreting and enforcing an Industry-compliant Drug and Alcohol Policy, the question of the binary penalty remains unresolved. Drugs and alcohol are prohibited aboard offshore supply vessels, rigs and offshore installations for the safety of individuals, assets and the environment. D&A testing is routinely conducted to minimise the probability that individuals affected by alcohol or drugs will, by their actions, contribute to an accident or incident at sea that may harm them and others.
If a drug and alcohol free workplace is established as the industry norm, employees educated in the policy, a testing regime established and penalties for breach understood are there alternatives to the binary penalty? Does an individual stopped by a Police Officer when driving with an excess alcohol content have a non-binary penalty option? Can that individual bargain with the Police Officer that a 'zero tolerance' policy by the Police is unfair and that alcohol or substance rehabilitation is an alternative to the penalty in law after failing a breath test?
Access to non-binary penalties have two critical pre-cursors;
- The prior self-recognition or self-awareness of the issue by the individual, and
- The self-declaration of unfitness or breach by the individual before detection.
The Antipodean Mariner
Wednesday, 5 July 2017
|Shooting the Sun, Port Phillip Bay|
GPS has proven to be remarkable robust and no commercial vessel can effectively navigate without the reliability and precision provided by the constellation of US-developed and maintained satellites.
There are Celestial Navigation blogs and web resources for readers interested in the mathematics of spherical trigonometry. Latitude was the first dimension to be accurately calculated, and for centuries early mariners would sail east or west along the known latitude of a port, island or headland. It was with the development of the chronometer by John Harrison in 1773 that finally enabled time to accurately kept at sea and the celestial position of the Sun, Moon, planets and stars to be calculated by the mariner. Nautical tables by Norie and Bowditch reduced the complex calculations into additive logarithmic tables capable of use by mariners (and not mathematicians) at sea.
With a sextant, a watch and the Nautical Almanac it's possible to fix a Line of Position (LOP) to an accuracy of about two nautical miles anywhere on the Earth's surface. The caveat of the LOP is that multiple LOP's need to be plotted and intersected to fix a position. The Sun shines most days and is by far the most 'useable' celestial body for mariners. On an ocean passage, LOP's calculated from Sun sights taken in the morning are run forward at the vessel's course and speed to the calculated time of Noon (Meridian Passage). The latitude is calculated from the highest altitude that the Sun is observed when it crosses the ship's (and Observer's) meridian.
To 'shoot the sun' from terra firma, I needed a sea horizon and a clear sky. Queenscliff, Victoria sits just inside The Rip, Port Phillip Bay's channel to Bass Strait. The Observation Tower at the marina gave height and a clear horizon past Swan Island to the north east.
|Nries Tables, Sight Book and Nautical Almanac|
Data for my 'best' sight on Saturday 1st July 2017:
DR Latitude: 38० 15.9' S
DR Longitude: 144० 40.2' E
Height of Eye: 25 metres
Sextant Altitude (corrected for Index Error): 22० 18.8'
If followers of the Blog would like the solution, drop me a line and I'll send you the workings. There are free Android apps on Google Play Store which will calculate the altitude and plot the intersecting longitude, and the Nautical Almanac is available online as a PDF with Correction Tables. With the information needed freely available online, the biggest hurdle is getting yours hands on a sextant. A navigation quality drum micrometer instrument (not one of those faux reproduction antiques) will cost $300 - $500 (Tamiya, Davis, C. Plath, Husun).
The 'impracticality' of celestial navigation is that it takes up to three hours to fix position using the sun, and around two hours (pre-calculation of altitudes and azimuths, sights and plotting) for stars. Pre-GPS, mariners had to allow for wider 'position ambiguity' which is no longer tolerable in the commercial world of shipping. It is however, an art and practice worth preserving.
The Antipodean Mariner
Nautical Almanac and Correction Tables
Nautical Astronomy App (Google)
Wednesday, 24 May 2017
Bikes are still my big love, but they are a solitary pursuit. In Victoria, the regulations for owning 'hobby' vehicles has been modernised and vehicles 25 years and older can be registered for 45 or 90 days personal use without the need to gazette Car Club events or meetings.
I started looking around for a Saab 900 Turbo (pre-1988), but good examples with high kilometres were still fetching over $7,000. Good fortune smiled on me when I dropped a colleague home and spotted an unloved, gold Mercedes Benz parked in front of his house. Commenting that I was looking to buy a classic car, his lightning-quick comeback was that he was looking to get rid of one.
|Day 1 - clean, just apply cash|
The car, a W126 380SE saloon, had been his personal drive and then gradually dropped down the pecking order until I saw it with windows down and full of leaves on the street. On a handshake and an undertaking to see whether it was worth saving, I got the car running next day with jumper leads and drove it home. A specialist Mercedes Benz mechanic gave it the 'once over' and said that while it has good bones, it would take about $6,000 in repairs to get a good $3,000 car (his words exactly).
The Mercedes Benz W126 series was one of the Company's most successful and longest production runs. Between the W126's launch in 1979, and replacement by the W140 series in 1991, over 818,000 saloon in the standard and long wheel base 'L' variants. 58,000 of the first release 380SE's were produced between 1979 and 1985, before the 3.8 litre V8 engine was upsized to 4.2 litres (420SE) from 1985 to 1991.
My main reasons for buying the car and embarking on the preservation (not restoration) route were;
- The car only had 160,000 kilometres on the odometer and a service history through its two Owners over 28 years.
- The paint and body were in great condition, with clear coat intact no rust in the chassis.
- The leather interior was perfect.
|Before - rust in the drivers door|
|After - insert panel, primed and painted|
|M116 3.8 litre V8 with 4 -Speed electronic shift auto|
|2016 Flemington Classic Showcase|
Wednesday, 3 May 2017
The bikes performed flawlessly and we had no mechanical issues with either the Triumph or BMW. To put the distance into some sort of internationally recongnised context, the transcontinental USA crossing - Los Angeles to New York via Chicago and back is 9,004 km.
Bruce's Metzler tyres were in great condition at the end of the trip, and wear was hard to discern. The Triumph's Michelin Road Pilot 4 tyres are still legal but have heavily profiled, especially the front tyre. The first few days heading north, through South Australia and the North Territory, we experienced strong SE cross winds, and think that the combination of a heavier bike 'leaning' in to wind, fairing down force and road camber cut up the right side of the tyre. No scary moments though, and they have done their job.
We started to trip checking oil and tyre pressures, and ended just giving the tyres a cursory glance for any nicks or embedded objects. The Triumph was always able to 500 km+ range, while the BMW, with a 16L tank, had about 370 km between drinks.
My Samsung S5 Galaxy phone and Galaxy S2 Tablet were perfect for recording the trip. The Canon G11, while a beautiful camera, rarely came out of its case as any shots were 'stranded' until they could be uploaded to a PC or laptop. The telephoto lens and tripod never saw action. Similar with the GoPro Hero 3 - high maintenance to setup and to get good results with.
The Helinox stretcher and campfire chair were invaluable for relaxation and a good night's sleep. Lightweight and compact, both are highly recommended for the road. The collapsible fireplace was well used and a great way to end a night. LED lamps lasted for ages and gave good light for setting up. The water bladder was good for roadside stops, but two 1L water bottles would have just as good, and cheaper.
We carried UHT milk, porridge sachets, tea and coffee for breakfast and one 'reserve' meal of canned tuna and boiled rice. We could have ditched (or eaten) the reserve meal as we could always get fast food at Roadhouses, towns or servos.
My Nolan N44 helmet, in open face configuration, provided great peripheral vision, wind protection and Scala Rider G9 nice sounds. Music is a great filler for the long road sections and gave good enough sound through foam ear defenders.
I wish I had taken...
Junk that did a trip around Australia
The bike has had a fresh change of oil and new filter. I managed to get the unloaded beast up on the workshop bench, stripped off the fairing panels and clean out the inaccessible road grime. The bikes is well within Triumph's 16,0000 km service intervals, but I have changed the synthetic oil more frequently. 10,000 km oil and filter intervals are inexpensive maintenance and satisfying to do in the workshop.
|Loved up, ready for the next adventure|
Friday, 28 April 2017
Wednesday, 26 April 2017
Tuesday, 25 April 2017
Monday, 24 April 2017
Sunday, 23 April 2017
Quite a bit to post today. The target was Kandos in the Bylong Valley, a town I had stopped in in 2011 riding back from Maroochydore on the K1100LT. Staying on the New England Highway to Tamworth, the Powerhouse Motorcycle Collection was a must- stop and I had the run of the place for an hour with the Duty Curator. 100% bike heaven.
The next bit went west a bit due to poor navigation skills. I picked a road different to the recommended route, and which changed from seal to gravel half way up a mountain range. It was the classic 'investment' decision - turn back and waste 50km or press on. I pressed on at 25 km/h, passed by locals in 4WDs. A glimmer of hope as the road reverted to back to seal was dashed by gravel again. A warning sign of water over the road (it was blazing sunshine) turned out to be an actual creek washout over the road with about 10m of muddy water of indeterminate depth.
There is nothing less suitable for a stream crossing than a Triumph Trophy, and with my heart in my mouth I sized up the problem. Some 4WDs had made a single track to the side of the waterhole and remembering the saying 'Look where you want to go and the bike will follow', I headed for the single track paddling like a duck. I bucked and wove through to other side and thought I was going to throw up. Captain Obvious later observed that I should have stripped the bike and carried the luggage over first.
When I got to seal proper, I almost cried. There was the double indignity of finding out that I came out 30km past where in needed to enter the Bylong Valley anyway.
Bylong to Kandos didn't disappoint and I stopped at the Anglican Church. The Church Is still consecrated and they had had a service that day. Two cousins were cleaning up the grave sites of long lost relatives and had a key and I got a tour inside the tiny chapel.
The stained glass windows commemorated both the Gospel and young men of the Parish who had died in WWI and WWII.
The valley will soon be opened up to open cut coal mining - it will be interesting to come back again in fives years time. I made Kandos and splurged on motel. Washing is done, pub is next door and the MotoGP is on TV at 5am tomorrow. Riding to Gunning tomorrow to meet Alex and a night in Canberra.
The Antipodean Mariner
Saturday, 22 April 2017
Friday, 21 April 2017
After 20 days on the road together and almost 8,000 km, Bruce and I went our separate ways at Goomeri, Queensland. Bruce is taking a coastline loop to catch up with friends and to be back in Melbourne on Thursday, and I'm staying in the countryside to Canberra. Big man-hugs on the roadside and I don't think either of us wanted to make eye contact at that moment. A very emotional parting after such a fantastic and unique shared experience.
Thursday, 20 April 2017
The Grey Nomad season ticks along all year, but really picks up in May after the end of the 'wet season' and cooler temperatures in the Outback and Queensland. To give you an idea of the relative numbers of Nomads, here's the powered van site area in Emerald...
Wednesday, 19 April 2017
Over the last two days, we have been working our way south from Atherton, through Innisfail, Townsville, Charters Towers and tonight in Emerald. The Bruce Highway was narrow, congested and slow, and we took the first opportunity to head back inland to the Central Queensland Tablelands. We are living well again now that we are back in the reach of supermarkets, and have a well oiled routine of one setting up camp while the other buys in the night's meal and wine. Last night was Greek chicken, potato salad and beetroot with a Sauvignon Blanc - we finished the last of the Johnny Walker with coffee.