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Fishing with an Endless Rope

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posted by Jay on September 14th, 2009 at 5:16 PM

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In Portuguese West Africa, namely Cabinda, Angola the “Key Victoria” by Key Drill was working for Gulf Oil Company, pretty close to the mouth of The Congo River. The rig was brand new so we had a bunch of stuff that had to be done. One problem was that the hands were all from Zaire and spoke only French. Our normal languages were Portuguese or English. Since Key Drill was so smart, they made sure that all of the drillers could also speak French. They hired a bunch of French speaking Coon Ass drillers. What a great idea. Coon Ass French to communicate with hands from the jungle, not a good idea. The hands had never worn shoes before so their feet were so wide that we could not find steel toed boots for them to wear. They worked barefoot instead, in cutoffs and tee shirts, even on the rig floor. We did have some hard hats for them. Needless to say, some of these guys were just a little spooked. They had never seen a drilling rig before and had no idea what was going on. You just had to herd them into the work that you wanted them to do and they would work willingly. We had drilled our intermediate hole and were ready to run casing. We had no 13 3/8 in. power tongs to screw the pipe together, so we rigged up an endless rope and roped the casing in the hole by wrapping the endless rope around the casing several times and then around the Cathead to make it turn. We landed the pipe with the collar about 3 ft. up in the rotary table. Bob thought that he would mess with these floorhands a little, so he walked over to the casing and hollered down into the pipe HELLO and it ECHOED BACK, Helloooo, Hellooo, Helloo. Bob told the Gulf Company Man, Claude, that he thought that maybe somebody was down inside the pipe. These Zairian floorhands went nuts wanting to help get this guy out of the casing. They could hear the echo and REALLY DID THINK THAT SOMEBODY WAS DOWN IN THE PIPE. Bob leapt into action; he grabbed the endless rope and tied it to the end of the air hoist, which was being run by the Gulf Company man who was going along with the joke whole heartedly. We repeatedly fished for the ECHO, trying to get the ECHO to GRAB THE ROPE, Grab the Ropeee, Grab the Rope Rope Rope but we could not fish the guy out of the hole. We explained to the hands that we just had to move on, rig time was very expensive, you know. Bob and Claude forgot about the ECHO and just went on with placing the cement head on the casing and cemented the string of casing into place. Claude was still running the air hoist. The next morning a crew boat came along side and the police came onto the rig and arrested Bob and Claude for killing the hand that was down inside the casing. The ECHO was dead. Bob and Claude were in really big trouble. Try explaining to people that live in a flat jungle what an ECHO is. Three or four dictionaries and many interpretations later, we no longer played such games. Jail ain’t no fun in Cabinda or anywhere else, really. But, really, not in Cabinda, Angola. If we had not had the proper head count on the rig, we would be in jail, today.
Trust Me,

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