Wednesday, January 25, 2012

‘Steel Beach Picnics and Swim Calls’

Boys and Girls, do you recall how beautiful and peaceful the water was on sunny days in the Indian Ocean with seas as smooth as glass as far as the eyeballs could see? The freshest air you could ever breathe with seagulls circling overhead, porpoises at the bow and fly’n fish pass’n by ever so gracefully… Remember Steel Beach Picnics and Swim Call in the Deep Blue where the nearest land was only a few miles underneath your feet???

In an environment devoid of civilized influence, restless sailors begin to get vocal and well… vocabulary degenerates to the four letter two step and the  worthless sons-a-bitches start losing sleep over why we were operating wire brushes, chipping hammers, needle guns and knuckle busters under that hot… hot sun...
After jackassing Five Inch rounds, missiles & small arms to their proper magazines... wrestling the big monster oil booms and spam wire using all our sweat and muscle, standing port and report watches eyeballing surface contacts, air contacts… radar contacts… ‘Oh Shit’… MAN OVERBOARD!!! Not to mention some of the most fouled mouth cussing ever invented by man.
This was the type of thing that made us what we were... a real team. A bunch’a  sweat soaked sons-a-bitches cussing like a whore in church and running hard 24/7... It was tough times...
But after days of hard work and lots’a character building we were always looking forward to a day with a light breeze that made the mid-summer heat bearable. . Everyone had been working extremely hard and it would be a great time to throw a shindig on the flight deck…
We dubbed such a celebration ‘The Ol’ Steel Beach Picnic’… It provided a break in life regulated by countless hours of monotony and continuous watch cycles.
Perhaps on a Sunday at about noon… the ship stopped all engines and went dead in the water…  the Messenger Of The Watch got on the 1MC,

 “Attention All Hands… Steel Beach Picnic on the Flight Deck ”

The fiesta was now underway... an event that would make any outdoor party fanatic proud (without beer as the exception).

It was a time for the crew to lay back, relax and enjoy… there was bouncy boxing,  put-put golf, volleyball, water balloon fights, tricycle races, karaoke, a ship’s band with the Baglady’s ‘Randy Hanson’ as the lead singer… thought he started the Hansen Brothers when they came out!!!  There was also fishing off the fantail, bobbing-for-apples, hula-hooping, pie and hot dog eat’n contests, basketball competitions, wiffle ball tournaments. sumo wrestling, where Sailors don larger-than-life size sumo suits… and last but not least my favorite, talent shows with skits of buffoonery!!!
Couple of Butter Bars thought it funny watching me hit the elliptical in the ship’s Gym and apparently reminded them of ‘Tony Little’ and his Gazelle Commercials… so there it was… ‘Chief Swing’ doing the Gazelle thanks to Ensign Kip Wilkins for the fun times… or watching Ensign Cooper’s video of dancing like a rodeo clown on the missile deck for the whole crew to see!!!
Then there was the Kiddie Pool!! You can’t have a Steel Beach Picnic without a kiddie pool!! This was usually supplied by the local air wing onboard… and if you got the pool you can’t forget the Beach Chairs. We always had Beach Chairs!!! Oh, and the Cabana Umbrella we liberated from some fancy restaurant at our last foreign port visit!!!
And if we were out long enough… somewhere in the area of forty or fifty days without a port call… beer was acually served in limited quantities…. I think it was two to a ‘Crackerjack’ or something of the sorts…
At some point, if we were really lucky the ol’ man or the XO would put out ‘Swim Call’ over the 1MC… Remember how high it was off the flight deck? We’d do big cannonballs and blow depth charge holes with a big splash...

I remember Swim Call over Mariana’s Trench or there abouts on the Mighty Momsen… imagine losing your keys down that ditch!!! I guess the only thing that can live down in them depths would have to look someth’n in the way of the ‘Cracken’ or some other Leviathan of the deeps of lore!!!

Yep, swim call was exactly what it sounds like..  A bunch’a rowdy squidoos jump’n off the side into the DEEP BLUE SEA... and there ain’t noth’n like crawling up the cargo net so you can take another twenty-foot plunge…  It’s pretty scary to jump off as your adrenaline is pumping, but once you get there it feels good, and the water is really salty, but it’s a great time...

There were always lookouts posted... shark watch lookouts...  with M-14 sharp shoot’n Seargent Yourk type rifles…  cause there was mean stuff out there swimming about…  Great big nasty mean stuff that came with dreadful teeth… was hungry and could eat you. No one told me everytime I hopped off the fantail, I was a down home fish’n lure for Jabber Jaw the Great White!!! I thought sharks only ate girls in bikinis… Nobody said they ate Navy Sailors!!!

Sharks are mean sons-a-bitches. I saw one on Discovery’s Shark Week… they’ll chew chunks outt’a the side of a twenty-five foot bayliner!!!  Losing body parts is just a light desert for those bigg’ns!! It would take one hell of a chunk outt’a your liberty plans…
 After a day of hot sun and plenty of fun… you had those summer nights to sit on the fantail and enjoy the glowing moon... calm seas... phosphorescent aqua suds gliding past the water line floating aft into the glow of the moons reflection off the surface of that great big ocean... Soft, light cracking sound made by the ensign flying above the yardarms... It doesn't get any better than that.
We were forming lifelong friendships with our crews… we were teams of hardworking fun loving ‘Crackerjacks’!!!
“Hey you gut bandit Stew Burners outdid yourselves… That was some Great Chow!!!”

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