Showing posts with label The Bounding Main. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Bounding Main. Show all posts

May 9, 2015

Quote of the Week, (Destroyer Sailor Edition)

From the youngest of the heirs to Camp Jiggleview, of which I am Commandant, upon reporting aboard his first salt-water ride:

It's very cramped but she's a beauty ... I got very lucky and got the top rack so I can sleep on my side if I so desire.

Dec 6, 2014

Nautical Distractions (6)

Immediate drama is over for the youngest heir to Camp Jiggleview, of which I am Commandant.

He graduated from boot camp. We had an excellent visit and celebration at Great Lakes and environs. Now  he begins learning to just grind it out. Metaphor for life as well as an accurate description of most of the military experience.

It comes easier with compatible companions.

Nov 15, 2014

Nautical Distractions (5): One More Sunday

Naaah, not  John D. McDonald's "One More Sunday" laying bare the absolute corruption of the teevee-preacher industry.

I mean the final boot camp Sunday of the youngest heir to the Estates of Camp Jiggleview. Tomorrow he will ensure his fellow sailors have their chance to worship with whatever congregation they prefer, attend his own services, chow down at the "noon meal," and then, I wouldn't be too surprised, finally kick back for a couple of afternoon hours.

You see, he is now a sailor rather than a recruit, according to the United States Navy. That happened sometime in the past day or two when Company 018 completed "Battle Stations," the final test, the SHTF drills aboard a mockup ship. To prove it, the Navy confiscated his blue ball cap emblazoned "RECRUIT" and handed him one announcing "NAVY."

It's a bigger deal than it sounds like. Every piece of boot camp literature I can find suggests that the new cap means his superiors -- still meaning almost almost everyone in the service -- will return to him at least a smidgen of the respect  they have demanded for themselves since he was tossed from the O'Hare bus into the whale belly some eight weeks ago.

He earned a  meritorious bump to E2 early in the game and may -- I don't know yet --  have snagged another to E3. Nevertheless a very junior sailor has  a long row of elephant turds to shovel. We hope to help fortify him for it. Seven days from today some of the people who love him will be out there for his first actual day-long liberty call after formal graduation.

All the cheeseburgers and fries you can handle, Pardner. And I understand your dad is bringing a cigar. :) 

Sep 23, 2014

Nautical distractions (4)

If I am not mistaken, today will go down in the history of a small Iowa city as the Day the Beard Got Flushed

Tomorrow the freshly shaven takes his departure, and I like to imagine that  he glances at the Mississippi River on his childhood doorstep and thinks: "See ya. I leave you now to master waters far greater than your little peetrickle flow." 

I look forward to having him here again on one of his early leaves so that he may confirm his suspicion that his new employer will never equip him with arms so fine as those he knew in his extreme youth.

Godspeed, Son.

Aug 28, 2014

Nautical Distractions (3)

A lad for whom I hold infinite affection has just turned 19. When he is precisely 19 years and one month old he will have heard this phrase:

"Your other left you boot sonuvabitch!"

He is pretty well coordinated, so perhaps the tormentor will have screamed it at some other confused youngster taking his first marching steps toward becoming a wave-riding defender of the United States Constitution.

Call it a culture shock beyond the understanding of the twee Yankee tourist distraught at discovering  she can't get a truffle in Pago Pago.


Hi. I'm from Grampsington and I'm here to help!"


Among the several humiliations the Navy has in store for you is language.  Call it a wall instead of a bulkhead and you will be loudly informed that you are whale-turd low, an arse-pimple afflicting everyone from the Chief of Naval Operations down to Davy Jones, not to mention all of the training petty officers to whom your personal arse now belongs.

Hence a vocabulary primer:

Port is left, that part of the ship left of the center line. (Port and left each have four letters.)

Port is also associated with red -- and with even numbers -- and with a red channel marker called a nun buoy. Hence the mnemonic "Even the red nun drinks port." (Sadly, you have already lost enough innocence to know that port wine is red.)

Starboard is the right-side half of the ship. I never heard a really good memory aid. Maybe "R"(ight)  and "S (tarboard)" are consecutive letters. It is also associated with the color green and odd numbers.

Bow: the front, usually  pointy end of a ship.

Stern: The back end. Usually square, or squarish compared to the bow.

Fore: Toward the bow.

Aft: Toward the stern.

Abaft: Like aft except in reference to some point, such as "abaft the beam."

Beam: The middle of the ship, half-way between bow and stern. Often, not always, the widest part of the vessel.

Deck: What your mom calls a floor.

Overhead: What your dad calls a ceiling.

Passageway:  Generally, what your brother calls a hallway.

A door usually goes though a bulkhead.

A hatch generally goes through a deck.

Salt or Old Salt: A seasoned veteran.

Salty: What you will consider yourself beginning about your sixth week of Boot Camp.

Boot:  A rank beginner. What everyone with one more day in service will consider you -- right up until the day you retire.

Have fun, Pardner. Remember to invite me to the ceremony installing you as Chief of Naval Operations.


Aug 3, 2014

Zippo side bar (or) Nautical Considerations (2)

Let me tell how it was in the Old Navy, Son.

We all smoked. A few limpies carried Ronsons to illustrate their elevation above the common herd. Most of us, though, real sailors, carried Zippos. And we didn't pay the exorbitant ten or fifteen cents for lighter fluid at the Ship's Store.

Instead we had an irregular series of Zippo parties. We borrowed a Planters Peanuts can half full of gasoline from a friendly snipe. They kept it on hand for the Handy Billy.

We slipped the works from the case and dunked them for a few seconds. Perfect fill and we were good for a week or more of wind-proof (hah)  flame to set our Luckies and Camels alight.

It was all part of military wisdom, midnight requisitioning, the art of cumshaw.



Cumshaw: An unauthorized transfer of United States Navy assets from one use to another. The penalties for getting caught ranged from an ostensibly disapproving grin to thirty or forty years in Portsmouth Naval Prison.

Handy Billy: A portable water pump for clearing flooded spaces. An exceptionally talented snipe could often make it run and pump.

Midnight Requisition:  See cumshaw.

Military wisdom: Something of an oxymoron but, at a deeper level, a necessary survival tool.

Snipe: A man in the engineering department, such as an EM.

Jun 20, 2014

Nautical Distractions (1)


A personal event directs my thoughts back many years, to boot camp where a lad's exposure to sea stories begins. He learns almost immediately the difference between a fairy tale and a sea story. One begins with "Once upon a time," the other with "Listen you guys, this is no s--t."

A kernel of truth embellished with all the literary art forms makes up the best of the sea stories, satire, parody,  mockery, (especially self mockery), mild fantasy, wish fulfillment, and so forth.

Literal minded people are too quick to scorn the sea tale as just so much bull s--t.  Winfred Blevins* had it right even if  in a different context.  Referring to the tall tales of the Rocky Mountain fur trappers (about 1820-1845) he observed: "What was wanted here was not fact but entertainment."  He also notes that the yarn is a form of journalism even though a detail here and there requires heavy discounting.

The young sailor is well advised to listen with patience and appreciation  -- or the best approximation thereof he can muster -- even to the banal ones he's heard before. It will make him a better ship mate  in the eyes of his fellows,  and that is one of the pillars of a happy cruise.

Of course, he may absorb so much that he'll wind up as an aging blogger. Never mind. That's just another one of the perils of the sea.


*Give Your Heart to the Hawks  ISBN  0-380 - 00694 -4, p. 76