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The Offshore Diaries (Entry 6)

What is the food like at sea? This is one of the one-thousand-and-forty-six-point-two-four questions I get and this entry shall attempt to answer it. If food is your problem in this life, then this place is your solution ground. One of the service-hand companies onboard is completely dedicated to cooking, laundry, and – wait for it – cleaning your room and making your bed. I know what you’re thinking: easy life na. Well, the catch is that they try to make life easier because the work is hard. Out here, there are some jobs for which I have an utmost respect for the guys who do them, chief among them being roughnecks or floor men, as they are also called. From the name alone, you should know is not beans; more like three-day-old eba. Very strong!

Like I talked about in Entry 4, there are four meals every 24-hour day, and this service company employs cooks and utility staffs that carry out this duty. Food supplies are brought in via supply vessels. These are ships that make frequent trips to town to load food, equipment, etc. that are needed onboard the rig.

Make I no lie, if you brought your dog here and it fed just from the food being thrashed out here, it will become obese. Let me describe the average breakfast on most rigs at, say, a normal 5-7am meal. There’s eggs, both fried and scrambled, bacon, sausage, cheese, baked beans, pancakes, sardines, bread – which you can put in a toaster and make to your taste – and rice and stew. Some mornings, you get fried plantain and beans or noodles. If you think it ends there, you never see anything. There are different types of cereal, already opened tins of milk, skimmed milk in a packet (if that’s your preference), juice, usually orange or apple, then iced tea, bottled water and a fridge full of an unending supply of plastic soft drinks. The outrageously amazing part of this is that there’s actually no limit to what you can take. But out of courtesy and to avoid looking like you just finished a fifty-five-point-six-four day fasting, most people just asked to be served the barest minimum to retain their home training.

I remember the first time I came out here and saw food. I shouted “Okotie!!!” I had actually come on the rig just right before the 11am-1pm meal and I saw one of my many true loves. People who know me very well know that if I was Esau in the Bible, I can only give out my birthright if I get any one of two things: Ewa-agoyin with fresh Agege bread made on that day that the Lord has made, or chicken. And as my roving eyes settled on the heap of true love of everlasting chicken being served, I knew that my prayer that morning before coming out for God to allow only His will to reign in my life was happening. As a JJC, I wanted to be civil and ask for just one chicken lap and rice and stew. But then the person before me took on a Mountain Everest of Eba, Egusi and Ogbono soup mixed (Babes, be careful of guys that mix soup), with almost 2million pieces of healthy-looking Yoruba-cut meat, and 4 pieces of chicken wings and breast. He specifically made sure they gave him the breasts, and my spirit man winked at him in understanding. Immediately, because I shall be the head and not the tail, I said, “Eh sir, you that is serving me, please lezz just add two more laps of chicken. Abeg, because it seems it’s not only me that don’t have training here.”

One baba, probably weaned too early, came here and was drinking so much milk and eating excess food, that he had to be flown back to town because his case of running stomach had passed ‘Be careful’.

Wait, did I forget to add that there’s a baker whose charge is to fill a certain fridge with different types of cake? So, for those I-love-cake ladies, you go chop cake sotay e go begin pursue you for dream. Oh, and most galleys, which is what the place where we eat is called, come equipped with ice cream machines, coffee machines, a salad bar and all sorts of sinful goodness.

For every meal time, there’s a local and expat dish. On some days, you get pizza, burger, hotdogs, sandwich, lasagna and some funny-named meals. Them say one na “chicken ala king” and I didn’t see no crown on the chicken. Is that not yahoo-yahoo at work?  You also hear Tandoori chicken, Dirty rice, Beef stroganoff etc. Them plenty! Sundays are for barbecue. It is a day when meat is king. Any type of meat – heck, I’ve even eaten duck meat here. Barbecue isn’t done in the galley but out in the front of the drillship or a chosen place on the rig that’s open air.

In truth is: if you’re not careful and you’re a glutton, there’s the possibility of feeding yourself fat while you’re out here. Although I doubt the chances seriously, because when you chop finish and go out to the work area, you’ll work out every single morsel of eba, semo or laps of chicken that you ate.

The kitchen has a cold room where most of the food is stored. It is entirely possible for some of the meat, fruits and vegetable not to taste as it should because it has been in the cold room for so long.

Oh, and for some reason, drill vessels are not allowed to fish. So we get some bland-tasting fishes too on some days, which is ironic seeing as we are on water.

But the king of meals here are on Christmases and New Year’s Days, if you’re stuck here. (I will dedicate an entry with pictures to what it looks like on those days).

All in all, the rig usually has more than enough food to impress anyone with a large appetite. For me, I am yet to be impressed, because for all they have onboard, they still lack the magic food Ewa-agoyin and fresh Agege, and till the day they can provide that for me to throw back with cold Coke and scream Eureka, I am withdrawing one star and awarding food out here just four out of five. (Yes I’m petty like that.)

My name is Uncle Stephen. And this is my Diary.

About shakespeareanwalter

Walt Shakes(@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter.

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  1. At least now we know why you come home fat and fresh ?. Lovely write up ?

  2. Chai, I like the fact that as much as you make us ogle at the food, you still make us understand that work pass the food.

  3. See eh, because of this food, kuku employ me in the medical sservices edakun. Ah ah!!!!!

  4. Eezit not work? I wee do the work. Just let the cake keep coming. You can keep the ice cream and every other thing (okay except the chicken). Just cake, chicken and water I will work all the work. Lol

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