It Was a Shining Time

by Bob 'Dex' Armstrong

I can't imagine going to sea and never getting to bounce around in 'surface turbulence'. Just going out, going deep and staying there. Must get boring.

Loved it when the old girl got to kick up her heels in heavy weather... loved the roll and pitch of a round bottom smokeboat... Loved the creak and groan as she wallowed around in the swells. Loved the cussing of the lads who rode her as they tried to make their way fore and aft, getting slammed in all directions... Loved riding heavy seas. It made you feel great to be a sailor.

I think I would have loved riding cans except for the horseshit regulation of the surface craft Navy... That bosun pipe, uniform of the day and clean white hat crap.

Don't understand what nukes see in that coal mine life of just going down for a couple of months of cracker box living... Just out and down and then up and in again. How can you call that 'going to sea'? That 's gerbil cage life... No feeling a rolling deck... No salt spray in the face... No watching your plate do the North Atlantic waltz across the messtable... No shit falling out of the overhead... No sound of tons of water sloshing through the superstructure and no lying in your rack being rocked to sleep.

Wouldn't like riding an ocean-going giant elevator.

They say you don't miss what you never had which is one of the reasons I don't miss sex with Princess Diana. But riding a saltwater subway isn't my idea of a good thing. No damn diesel smoke... Jeezus, no damn any kind of smoke. What kind of submarine duty is it without looking aft and seeing that smoke?

No lookout duty... No laughing when you take one up the fairwater and over the bridge with the better part of a gallon of water running down the neck of your foulweather jacket and soaking your skivvies. No foulweather gear spread over Fairbanks covers to dry. No sea birds... Oh, you gotta have sea birds. Watching soaring seabirds was the extra bonus God gave young men who chose a life at sea.

No porpoise jumping in your bow wave... No watching bow bouyancy going over one and under one... No ships passsing in the night... No late night signal light exchange of lighthearted bullshit... No high line transfers. What kind of life is it without all of that?

I think I know why the Navy invented the boomer pin. They wanted to compensate sailors for all of the good stuff they stole from the poor bastards.

"Here's a trinket for all the really good stuff you don't know you're missing."

They never sent me my Princess Diana pin.

I couldn't do it... I couldn't crawl into an iron monster and spend a couple of months watching lights, computer screens and my toenails grow.

Riding boats today must be like being a kid raised in a safe deposit box. What would it be like to be riding a boat that never came in with patches of missing paint... Decking gone... Line locker lids left somewhere on the ocean floor... Dished in limber holes and no stern light? No wild stories to tell over a couple of cold ones... No "Jeezus, you should have been out there with us" lies.

Gringo said it best...

"It was a shining time."

It was.