[from the stabenow.com vaults, 2007]
Relieving the Watch
LTJG Josh Dipietro
“Why’s this engine overloaded? What the hell you been doing all watch?”
“Overload, what the hell are you talking about, look at the rack reading, look at the scav air. We are acting perfectly within published parameters, the only thing wrong here is you can’t figure out how to fix your stupid overload light. Huh, freaking overload.”
“When’s the last time you checked the scav air? Have you made any adjustments? What are you gonna just ignore that light? Damn, Lumpy, just drive it like you stole it. Don’t worry, Main Prop will spend hours fixing our shit cause you don’t feel like standing a competent watch.”
“At least I stand a watch and don’t get everyone to relieve me to smoke and joke. So, what’s for lunch?”
“Oh, its chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks and corn on the cob and they actually cooked it right this time so its isn’t all mushy or raw. You better get up there while they still have the pie, too!”
“Alright, Andy, take the pass down real quick so I can go get some.”
“In the booth, MPA has the EOW.”
“See ya in the gym at 1900.”
“See ya, Lump.”
SN Caleb Critchfield
“Liberty, liberty, liberty! Liberty is hereby granted to expire in accordance with the plan of the day! Now, liberty!”
These are, without a doubt, the sweetest words ever heard aboard USCGC Munro. After three straight weeks underway we finally pulled into our first official port call. The weather was hot and sunny, there was a mountainous jungle looming over the pier, and several hotels and bars waited to be occupied.
A small group of us went to a local hotel to get rooms. After about an hour there admiring the room and the small jungle in the courtyard, complete with aviary, we hopped a cab to the bar.
If avoiding contact with anyone from the boat had been our goal that night, we would have failed completely. Every department and every rank on the ship was represented by at least one bar patron that first night.
At the end of the evening many bowed out gracefully. Some went kicking and screaming, but no one was left behind. After a day of Powerpoint presentations on the dangers of drinking too much and the sudden reversal of a strict liberty policy, none of us were willing to risk the wrath of command. We may have been relaxing, we may have been trying to escape the pressures and responsibilities of underway life, but we all looked out for one another. Everyone made it back to the boat, or the hotel, and lived to regret the previous night.
The next morning twenty-two of us woke up early to go on a horseback ride. It took us through town and deep into the jungle to a small open air restaurant. There we dined on local cuisine, met large barking rodents, and set out on a hike through the jungle. Three streams, a large jungle swing and one rest stop later we reached the falls.
Here we luxuriated in a deep pool fed by cascading water and zipped through the trees on suspended wires. We made our way back to the restaurant and mounted up. Not even halfway back the sky opened up. The rain dissolved one camera and almost dissolved pockets full of money.
There was more revelry that evening, but not so much as the previous night. The crew had hit their stride and settled in and there was a much more relaxed air about the entire crowd. That night was all about slowing down and enjoying the remaining time in port.
Imagine being at work twenty four hours a day seven days a week. You work and eat and work and sleep and work some more. You don’t get to go home. You don’t get to see your friends or your family. You live at work.
Port calls give the crew a chance to get away from work. They allow all of us, from the Commanding Officer to the lowest ranking Seaman Apprentice to take some time off and relax.
OS3 Carson Russell
Carson Russell wrote a very nice piece about the metamorphosis from pollywog to shellback, and then discovered to both his and my dismay that the time-honored, purely voluntary and entirely safe ceremony is undertaken beneath an oath of secrecy.
“There are ceremonies for crossing many different parts of the ocean,” he says. “On Munro we did the crossing of the line ceremony for crossing the equator into Davy Jones’ territory. We started as pollywogs and became Honorable Shellbacks. We had an excellent time with it, and we’re anxiously waiting to do the other line crossing ceremonies sometime in our Coast Guard careers.”
In the meantime, here’s a photo of Carson, his fellow pollywogs, and their Honorable Shellback sponsor, EMO Jimmy Olson.
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Author and founder of Storyknife.org.