Steel Beach

[from the vaults, 2007]

March 18

In the back of the bridge is a stack of cardboard boxes. This morning the captain materialized in the middle of ENS Dan Schrader’s OOD (Officer of the Deck) training watch to toss one of the boxes over the side for a simulated man overboard drill. We go through it twice. The first time the captain coaches Dan — “What do you do first? What’re you going to do next? Okay, what now?” and instructs him in rudder and speed settings. We’re running on one screw, which complicates our turn to starboard to recover our man overboard, and information is coming loud and fast from the conn, the helmsman, the bosun’s mate at navigation, Chief Wes Guilmartin (the qualified OOD under whom Dan stands his watch), course, speed, wind direction, the minutes our man has been in the water.

The first run through Dan is a little hesitant, looking at the captain for instruction, which is freely given with neither criticism nor condescension and which is accepted in the same spirit. The second time he is more confident (especially when he employs the captain’s teakometer, lining up our man overboard with the line of teak railing on the port wing of the bridge) and our simulated man overboard is so close to our portside that if I had longer arms I could have reached out and snagged him myself.

The captain says that’s about as perfect as it needs to be, and departs the bridge. ENS Schrader, nine years enlisted and a recent graduate of OCS, is a serious young man but I believe I see a hint of a smile on his face when he says afterward, “Interesting times.”

Fish on and landed


Steel beach was piped before noon for the fantail and the hangar deck. Lawn chairs and bermuda shorts boil up from crew quarters, as do fishing poles and tackle boxes. PO Joshua Hendl caught the first fish of the patrol, a mahimahi, a beautiful irridescent green blue creature. Also imminently edible.
Later Captain Lloyd caught a much smaller one.

Lest you think it’s all (steel) beach and (very) deep sea fishing, let me point out that we are at present steaming south toward our duty station, a matter of many hundreds of miles. When we get there, holiday routine will become much more rare.

And don’t forget, the Coast Guard is 911 for any area they are in.

They don’t.

Click here to order a copy.


Dana View All →

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9 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Loved your thorough account. It feels, like we are so much better connected to our daughter. We live in Kansas City – having her out on the Munro is quite a distance and we miss her a lot. She does the baking and works nights. She would love to meet you! She is an avid reader and I’m sure she’ll run and get your book as soon as she can – as will her dad and I.

    Thanks again for keeping everyone informed. It’s awesome!


  2. On the Munro it is nice to here about their day, but what about the other crewmen on board? What goes on with them also. I am asking because my son is on board, and would like to here about of course what goes on in the other guys days.

  3. Delighted to hear you’re all aboard for the (virtual) ridealong with me. I’ll be on board for almost a month and I’ll do my best to cover all the ship’s activities from the engine room to the galley. Stay tuned.

  4. Dana…Loving this account of your tag-along. My FIL was on the Guard 45 years ago and I’ll be printing these for him to read. I’m sure the changes will shock him and also bring back memories. He has never talked about that time of his life, so maybe this will get some interesting stories out of him!

    Tell those men and women we appreciate their service!!

  5. Well it looks like we now have a new favorite author We will look for your book and read it. We are PO3 DUNCAN’S grandparents and are very proud of him!!!!

  6. We are learning more from you than we ever have from the XO, even through we are his parents.
    We feel we are a part of the trip and look forward to reading your “postings”.
    Thank you, Dana and Thankyou COASTIES for always doing a great job.
    Eric and Margaret Rothchild

  7. George and Pat — I found PO3 Duncan and then I lost him before I got a chance to say hi for you. Don’t worry, I’ll find him again. There is an awful lot going on in the way of training, as well as the jobs everyone has on a regular basis underway, so it’s like trying to follow around a bunch of blue mosquitoes. Not a very felicitous analogy, and they don’t sting, but they’re always buzzing around doing something someplace else from where they were five minutes before. Hard to keep track. But I shall persist!

    Later–wait a minute, is he a gunner’s mate? And a photographer? If so, we had a nice talk about how great Alaska magazine is with paychecks. Not something you could say about every magazine out there. Or even most.

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