Fire Fire Fire

26 04 2016

Fire is one of man kinds oldest tools. We cook with it, we heat our homes, forge our tools…. the list goes on and on. A controlled flame is an amazing thing.

An uncontrolled flame, not so much. A beautiful thing to watch, but the raw destructive force in front of you can be a deadly piece of beauty.

As a race, we have worked hard to kept the flame under control and failing that, someway to kill the beast if it gets out of control. On shore if a fire breaks out, we can call 911 and have the fire department show up. When the ship is 100 miles out to sea, calling 911 is not going to net a whole lot of usable results so it is up to the ships crew to do the duty. With the reality of it being either get the job done or start swimming.

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6 Times 22 = Good Eats

13 01 2016

At the end of the day, it is time to fish, at least that was the general thought pattern in the Navy.

It seems that when ever the ship drops her anchor forward, there are always a few fishing lines dropped aft. Frequently such droppings produce a salmon, some cod or once I saw someone catch a shark (a small one) but the one that I remember the most was just off of Kitamat.

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At the end of the day

25 11 2015

“Hands to clean, into night clothing”

After a long day of painting, chipping old paint, painting and the other assorted things that make a ship survive another day, this pipe rings out as a relief.

The ships crew has been fed, cleaning stations have been done, the Captain has inspected his ship and deemed all is well. The pipe is made and anyone not on watch may break into a slightly less formal/operational mode of dress. For the lower deckers, that means a tee shirt instead of a work shirt. The mess is open for business and mates will gather round and play some euchre, swap some salty tales or express their displeasure at Chief so and so…..

For me, I tried to be on the upper deck for this pipe, as it was frequently made just before sunset. Sunset at sea was always a peaceful time for me,  at least those days we weren’t going through a freaking hurricane. The sea would be calmer, the wind would be calmer, people on the bridge would be a little more mellow and then there was sunset.

Sunset at sea is a beautiful thing. You stand there and watch as the sun slowly sinks below the horizon, changing in colour from yellow, to orange to red. Millimeter by millimeter Sol would lower behind the edge of the earth and, if atmospheric conditions were just right, you would get to experience the emerald flash just as the sun disappeared. I do not know what it was about that flash, but every time I got to see it I knew that all was good in my world.

A brief moment of peace to mark the end of the day



His Majesty

14 09 2015

The sea is a vast and mostly unknown part of our world. There are mysteries tucked away in the deep dark corners of the sea that will remain unseen and unknown. As a collective, we know far more about our immediate celestial neighbours that we do about lies a meager 1 mile below the surface of the waves.

The one thing that is known by all sailors, no matter what race, colour or creed, is who rules below the waves-

His Majesty, King Neptune

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The Mark I Eyeball

13 05 2015

Back in the days of Iron Men and Wooden Ships, naval gunfire was a matter of point, shoot and pray. Most of your guns were cannons that fired out of a whole in the side of your ship, aiming meant having the side of your ship pointing at the other guys ship. While you were lining up to do this, the other guy was usually doing the same thing. The order to fire was held until the very last second to ensure that as many of your guns were pointed at him as you could and the closer you were to him, the better. I wonder just how many times a naval gun battle turned into a game of chicken with the winner being the man who fired first.
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Hands to Bathing Stations

26 02 2015

On board any ship, there is a big push to be clean. Clean the deck, clean the heads, clean the galley and for Gods sake give your pits a good scrubbing while you are at it. Two hundred men, in a floating can, in the middle of nowhere and nowhere to go. Be clean, or at least as much as the water supply will allow for. The first ships I served on were stream driven, thus were constantly in need of desalinated water, no water and the ship no go. That water was supplied by two evaporators in the boiler room. Once it was produced, that water was dished out in the following priorities

feeding the engine

feeding the crew

cleaning the galley

cleaning the rest of the ship

cleaning the crew

Notice where the crew sits? Sometimes water would run a bit low so the first thing to go would be daily “showers” for the crew. The quotes come from the concept that a shower was supposed to be 5 seconds of water to get wet, off water, soap up, 15 seconds water to rinse off. Anyone caught using more water than that would be condemned to watching the evaporators for 4 hours – that meant 4 hours in the boiler room with the grimies – er the engineers.

Funny thing thou, the cooks never seemed to have that restriction. They always seemed to be permitted to shower.

Bathing stations was a rather interesting event that happened when the water was warm. The CO would decide that the crew was rather on the ripe side so he would order the ship to be stopped, the engine intakes shut and the buffer to break out the emergency supply of soap. Each man was issued a bar, marched up the the upper deck and told to take a long walk off of a very short gangway. It was a long way from the end of the gangway to the water.

Now, for all of you who are concerned for the well being of the crew, fear not, safety was first and foremost on the mind of the CO. Land was only a mile away, anyone can swim that in warm water. Of course that mile was usually just beneath your toes. Not only that, the CO was always up on the bridge wing, keeping a close eye on his crew. Usually that eye was watching through a rifle sight. I bathed well knowing he was watching me for I knew his hand was steady and his aim was true. Should any shark think about coming too close I knew the CO would hit the target – it was a good incentive to ensure the CO was not pissed at you that day <g>.

Bathing stations was a pretty neat evolution, a bit freaky but what is life without a few seconds of blind terror?

The Holy Place (part II)

24 02 2015

Sometimes you just have to be prepared for all of the stupid to happen again.

If you have not already done so, please have a read of The Holy Place. This will provide you with some much need backstory.

I joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1987. At that time I signed on for an initial term of 3 years and was told that if I served 20 years I would be granted a pension. I did my time at CFB Cornwallis (basic recruit school), graduated from my trade course and was posted to my first ship. As required by my trade, I worked diligently to obtain my Top Secret security clearance. After a bit of a mess up, I was deemed worthy to be in the Holy Place. All was good.

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