Hell on Earth

After a couple of days with little to do, the last three days on Isla du Margarita were very busy. On Thursday morning, we were finally able to receive the replacement WatchKeeper payload from the airport.

The old payload had been stolen from the buoy while it was at sea.

The replacement system was next generation, and came with new cables. These all had to be reterminated and run through the hull glands. That took the majority of Thursday.

When the system was stolen, it left a lot of connectors exposed to the elements for some time. It took some time to clean these connectors up.

On Thursday afternoon we stopped by the airport on the way back to Porlamar and Nemer grabbed a rental car since both of the drivers would be leaving on the boat the next day.

As Nemer and I were headed to the buoys on Friday, there was a sudden flapping from under the car. It was as though one of the tires had blown out. When we pulled over, it was more serious. The engine was covered in oil and it was draining out onto the ground. While Nemer stayed to wait for the rental company, Otto came to get me.

By mid-morning, we were ready to assembly the top section (with all the electronics and sensors) onto the bottom hull section. It was critical to get this done in the morning as the ship was due to leave with all the muscle after lunch.

The last day and a half was used for training, setup and testing of the buoy.

My original plan for returning to Canada was to take a mid afternoon flight on Friday to connect to the midnight departure of the flight home. When my departure was delayed by two days, the only available flight from Isla du Margarita departed at 0700. This meant a 0530 departure from the hotel.

The flight arrived at the Caracas airport as planned at 0800 leaving me with over 16 hours to kill in the airport. In most other cities this wouldn’t be a problem. The problem was two-fold.
– the Air Canada check-in doesn’t open until four hours before the flight departs and
– the power has a tendency to fail.

The power failed twice in the morning. Each time for ~1 hour. During that time, the temperature goes from 20 degrees C to near 30. The food court is located on the third floor and for almost an hour after each outage, the elevator and escalators where shut down.

I spent most of the day on the 1st floor (literally) near the AC counter where there seemed to be a bit of free Wifi. I ventured out a couple of times for a $25 cheeseburger and $15 chicken dinner.

Once the counter opened, I was at the front of the line and quickly made my way to the Admiral Club past security.

Now I’m sitting in my upgrade seat on the flight from Toronto to Vancouver. Overall it was a very good trip. The client was happy to get two of their buoys back online and I got to spend 10 days in the sun…and lightning…and dark.

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