[from the stabenow.com vaults, first posted February 17, 2004]
So I got to do a courtesy call on another Coast Guard cutter.
Which means I got suited up like the BTMs and took a boat ride.
I can’t tell you how hard it has been NOT to beg, plead, whine and cry to do this. I didn’t because I’ve already been given so much in just being allowed to be on board this ship, and because I don’t want to make my hosts feel bad when they have to tell me no. Also they might get used to it, and we wouldn’t want that.
And then last night in the wardroom the Captain says, oh so casually, “Want to go for a boat ride?” I nearly sprained my tongue getting the “YES!” out.
Captain Wiedenhoeft of the USCGC Acushnet has been reading my blog and since the two ships are about to meet up for a day’s worth of drilling, he has invited me to visit. He and some of his officers will come over in their small boat and will bring back the XO, me and a few others to their ship. Ltjg. Nolan outfits me with a dry suit, helmet, gloves and boots.
The next day the winds are calm with only a slight swell, hallelujah. I eel into my dry suit (a procedure XO Thorne likens to exiting the birth canal) and head for the fantail, which is outside and the only place we’re going to stay cool in those suits.
The Acushnet’s small boat noses up to our port side and we clamber down. It’s not far and it’s pretty easy, except that my too-big boots keep falling off. We cruise (there is no other word) on over to the Acushnet and repeat the process in reverse and I trip over the side of the ship and literally fall into their arms.
The Acushnet is 213 feet long, has a crew of 75, and is one of the oldest ships in the CG’s fleet. She’s got brass fittings and still sports wood trim that I haven’t seen on a boat since I was a kid on board the Celtic. She must be well loved because she shines. Her EO, Lt. Streitmatter, tours me over the ship and afterward we meet up with XO (ours) and XO LCDR. Wolter (theirs). From their deck, the view of the Alex Haley riding an easy swell against a blue sky, a bluer sea and the jagged blue-white peaks of the Aleutians is enough to take my breath away. By now, she looks like home.
We cruise on back to our ship, I fumble up the ladder, losing my boots all the way, trip over the ship and splat on the deck at the feet of both captains. Charlie Chaplin would have been proud.
Remember FS3 Gallegos and the big grin he had all over his face when he came back from his first boarding? That was the same grin I had on mine.
About this blog–when I began posting news of this trip to it, I thought I was doing it just for the Danamaniacs. It turns out many family members and friends of the crew, as well as other Coasties, have been reading it, too. I’m humbled by the email I have been receiving, thanking me. You’re making me feel like I’m paying my way, so thank you.
(But don’t forget, when those pictures of me falling into both cutters start circulating on the Internet, it was the boots’ fault.)
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