Wednesday, January 15, 2014

‘Stand By For Heavy Rolls’

If there’s one thing that all us true ol’ salty Crackerjacks have in common it’s the love of King Neptune’s beautiful deep blue and the wonders that come with it! Have you ever been on the ‘IO’ when the surface was as smooth as glass… with flying fish over the bow & porpoise both port & starboard… bearing witness to three or four water spouts as far as the eye could see?!? It’s Gods great gift to seafarers around the world!!  

Then there’s the other side of things! Where Gale Winds & Heavy Seas were like nature’s fury! The kind of force where everything from Timbuktu to Bumfuck Egypt gets tossed around to the tune of a giant mambo dance while laundry bags… cables & anything else hanging under the sun was swing’n back & fro like a pair of monkey balls!! The ship would bounce like a cork in a bathtub as the latest make and mod of greenhorn shipmates would turn to their racks with a penchant weakness for motion sickness!!!

Stand by for Heavy Rolls.... Batten all Hatches and secure all Gear Adrift."

Yes… these were the Ride’m Cowboy style dancing with the devil raging seas! There’s nothing like salt spray and ocean turbulence to make for a good night’s sleep!! Tearing through saltwater, full speed ahead, slicing like a flat spoon with that bulbous sonar dome crash’n through the waves!! It was like a crazy roller coaster ride in the wild blue yonder!!!

Waves crashing down from every direction… getting caught in the trough… the deafening sounds of waves hitting the hull! Junk you hadn't seen for months came falling out from under racks, angle irons, vents & overhead lights!! Anything from nudie mags… to happy socks… to dried up bricks of hashish from deployments gone past!! Things not bolted, welded, or somehow secured for sea became airborne missile hazards that could do a cha-cha dance on your nogg’n!! Never mind the valve stems, firemain handles, pipes & gauges that played hooky on your cranium!!!

Then there was the rain topside… the rain was like ice picks on your face! It was even worse at night in Dog Zebra darken ship conditions!! I could’a done without all that shit!!!

My first ship was a frigate… a Knox Class… the USS Baglady! I remember taking heavy rolls wondering if we were gonna capsize?!? Someone once told me those frigates were designed to tip over the stack when the boat took more than a Sixty Degree role?!? Hell… I don’t know, figured it was probably more let’s bullshit the new guy kind of fun… like the Captain’s Crank, a ‘BT’ Punch or blow’n the ‘MPA’!!

But my most memorable experience was in the Aleutians on the ol’ Baglady! I was the MK68 Director Tracker afforded the privilege of heading above decks in Kapok & Rain Gear to relieve the watch!! The weather decks were secured for all non-essential personnel and being in the Aleutians in the director was the most wretched, thankless, cold, dark and never-ending job in the Firecontrol world!! I had never been so gauddamned cold in my entire life… At times I think my veins resembled the likes of an Icy machine!!!

From the Director I got a front row seat right above the Signal Bridge watching ‘green water’ crash over the bow as it pierced through the waves submerged ten or fifteen feet! One moment the bow is buried deep in a giant swell… the next it’s popping up skyward pointing at the heavens above!!!

"Gunplot, Director... Hey when’s my relief showing up? I’m gett’n tossed around like a rag doll!”

“Director, Gunplot… Yeah, more like gett’n tossed around like a salad… who you got up there with you?!?”

“Yeah, yeah, fuck you and the horse you rode in on!!”

And so it went… like an idiot on a mechanical bull seemingly disregarding Newton’s laws on gravity while bouncing around like Richard gauddamned Simmons doing flamboyant musical aerobics with fat guys and the wind blow’n like a cry’n coyote in my ear!!

“Director, Gunplot … … Director, Gunplot … …   Director, Gunplot…  Are we in today or are you just ignoring me?”

“Gunplot, Director… it’s colder than Eskimo Pussy up here… and my nuts have drawn up my ass so tight I couldn’t reach them with a knitting needle!”

“What’s wrong… you feel like you’ve been stuck on the tilt-a-wheel for too long?”

“Oh yeah, I’m having more fun than a gauddamned tornado in a trailer park you fuckers!”

Those cozy asses down in Gunplot always liked to get your goat… all they did was sit around listening to music, chain smok’n & scratching their asses…

“Gunplot, Director… can I get a relief for a head break, I’m dancing around like a shak’n dog shitting hammer handles up here and my eyeballs are float’n I gotta pee so bad!”

“Director, Gunplot… you don’t need no truck stop… you got a piss bottle up their!”

“… Yeah, last time you fuckers put Icy Hot around the rim… I didn’t pee the same for three days!”

“Director, Gunplot… you about two bricks shy of a full load?”  

“… Come on man, I feel like I’m giving birth to a gauddamned porcupine!”

“… I see your point but I still think you’re full of shit!”

The love never got any better between shipmates… but it didn’t matter much at that point! Hell I was so far down the food chain I could feel the algae nipp’n at my dingleberries!!

As a young Crackerjack you get hassled a lot… it just went with the territory, the low man on the totem pole! Hell I  never understood the point in having a director tracker in such heavy seas… made about as much sense as a tail gunner in the space shuttle!! I was taking a thirty to forty foot elevator ride up and down every swell!!!

With all that up & down… up & down… I think the screws got more air time than Howard Stern…

“Gunplot, Director… I’m bouncing around like a pinball up here! One more trough like that and we’ll be one tilt short of a rudder if you know what I mean!?!”

“Director, Gunplot… Did you say on tit short of an udder or one tilt short of a rudder?!?”

“… You know I’ve learned something up here all alone in the dark… no matter how hard you guys beat me down, I’m still able to get it up!” 

“…. Catching a stiff breeze up there are you Danny Boy?”

“… You old fuckers, always calling a gale force hurricane sized wind a stiff breeze!”

“… The rougher the seas, the smoother the sail!”

“… You fuckers are stuck on stupid!”

Yeah, normally I wouldn’t of got away with talking trash to my Workcenter Sup. or anyone else in the division for that matter but under the circumstances they gave me enough slack… besides at that moment… as far as I was concerned, I was the only one that mattered tethered to a gyrating spindle on the upper decks in a zillion knots of wind… dress out in a neon orange kapok jacket & rain gear soaked in salt water look’n like a giant ‘Stayfree Maxi-pad’!!!  

Yeah… there’s nothing like being tossed around in Mother Nature’s angry fury!  Nothing like bouncing off lockers, DC equipment & angle irons like a tennis shoe in a washing machine!! We must’a been nuttier than a port-a-potty at a peanut festival… but what did we know?!? All in all look’n back it was a hell of a lot of fun acting like a bunch of idiots in a log roll’n contest!! Nothing like grown men piss’n in the wind some having fun while others were so scared they were shitt’n spaghetti strings for a week!!!

They say the cream always rises to the top… but shit floats just as well if you know what I’m say’n… and I had a lot of fun either way you wanna look at it!! Simple pleasures for simple minds I suppose…


  1. My first ship was a FRAM destroyer. I can relate!

  2. Try Westpac on a wooden MSO if you want a real ride!

  3. The ONLY time I was ever sea sick was Feb 2005 headed to San Dog from Everett on the Mighty Mommy off the coast of Oregon. She was planting her nose deep in the water, hiding mount 51 deep under water and taking spray over the bridge..

  4. Never was seasick but did get sick at sea because I swallowed tobacco juice while dipping. I remember one time the ship took a good roll as I was getting in the 68 director and the hatch smashed my middle finger so I was running around with a splint on it for awhile.

  5. MK86 GFCS (all mods) FC here. Been aloft underway too ;) First ship was the Goldy, a DDG, the last Adams-class destroyer in the fleet. She was a beauty! The best ride though was on a SpruCan call-sign Forerunner transiting the Southern Ocean into Tasmania. That green water you had up on the Signal Bridge we saw too. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.