Mandan man back on dry land after 161 days at sea

Local News

After a 40-day stint at sea turned into more than five months because of coronavirus, a crew member from Mandan is back on dry land.

“I left February 17 and got back July 26, couldn’t get anybody to come on the boat,” said Nick Tomac.

The Mandan native worked on a seismic vessel just north of Abu Dhabi where he recorded sound waves to find oil beneath the ocean floor.

“We had a two-year job there. You shoot seismic for two hours one way and turn around and shoot back the other way, and do that 24/7,” Tomac said.

Because of coronavirus, there were no crew changes available, making his 40-day trip four times as long.

“It sucked. We were wanting to get home,” Tomac said. “There was like 40 people on board and there were two people, two Texans, they did quit.”

Tomac has been working on seismic boats since 1984 and took only six years off starting in 2014 while he battled brain cancer.

On his way back to North Dakota, he says he was surprised by the lack of people on the plane.

“When you flew over in February all the planes were packed, the airport was packed,” Tomac said. “Coming home from Amsterdam to Houston, we had maybe 20 people on that big plane.”

Despite the pandemic, Tomac is just happy to be home.

“Summer in North Dakota is when you want to be here. You don’t want to be here in the wintertime,” Tomac said.

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