Underway and Alex Haley

[from the stabenow.com vaults, first posted February 12, 2004]

Some word pictures of life underway:

One of the bridge windows has been invaded by a mysterious dark green microbial growth. Members of the watch have been known to embellish it with a Marks-a-lot. This morning Seaman Oliver has replaced the previous dragon illustration with a kneeling marksman shooting a rifle. The XO then uses the next window over to illustrate the principle of “fetch.” Wind action on water building waves out at sea meeting no wind action on water close to land and cancelling each other out, if you must know. That’s how we get our lee.

the C-130 flyby - 2/10/04

I have never seen PO Brown off balance. No matter how hard the pitch or roll, it’s like every step he makes is spot-welded to the deck. Meantime, I’m doing the polka across that same deck and crashing into bulkheads, hatch handles and other crewmen. My arms and legs are covered with bruises, but at least I don’t hit my head on the ladders anymore.

There are only two things you need to know about FS1 Gage, that he has lost 35 pounds, and that he is determined to make everyone else on board find them. He bakes. I was on the bridge late one evening when he appeared bearing a plate of to-die-for chocolate chip cookies, warm out of the oven. A night or two later he had a hot frosted cinammon roll with which he was trying to entice the EO off his diet. Then he went below and made thumbnails and cream cheese cookies. Tonight he appeared with Rice Krispie Treats with chocolate frosting. He’s an evil young man and he must be stopped, but the crew loves him. It’s a mystery.

At the helm - 2/10/04

Everyone is taking Dramamine, which dries up the fluid in your inner ear and pretty much the rest of the fluid in your body while it’s at it, which is why people carry walk-around mugs full of juice and water 24-7. I, of course, did not bring one.

LTJG Jansen runs the ship’s store, a tiny box of a room down on the main deck crammed to the rafters with everything from DVD players to candy bars, and, hallelujah, walk-around mugs decorated with the Alex Haley logo and a saying of the man himself: “Find the good and praise it.” (I am informed that Chief Haley’s other saying was, “We’re screwed again,” but I am entreated not to have heard this. Too late.) Mr. Jansen sets up an account for me with the ship’s store and personally delivers a mug. Not just a man but a prince.

About Alex Haley. Before he wrote Roots he was a Chief Petty Officer in the US Coast Guard for twenty years. There are photographs of him in the crew’s mess, and in the Chief’s’ mess there is a large wooden hat rack presented to the USCGC Alex Haley by “the Baltimore Chiefs” in 1999. On it there are brass hooks for the Chiefs’ hats, including one hook labeled for Alex Haley, which is never used.

Courtesy of PO Brown, this:

On an average day, the US Coast Guard will

Save 10 lives
Assist 192 people in distress
Protect $2.8 million in property
Interdict 14 illegal migrants at sea
Conduct 109 search and rescue cases
Seize $9.6 million worth of illegal drugs
Educate 502 people in Boating Safety Courses
Respond to 20 oil and hazardous chemical spills
Conduct 19 maritime security boardings.

Yesterday, the USCGC Alex Haley was responsible for 1 of the 109 SARs and 2 of the 19 maritime security boardings.

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Dana View All →

Author and founder of Storyknife.org.

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