Reliving a WestPac Cruise

Reliving a WestPac Cruise

Garland Davis

Preparing to leave home sit in your car and let it run for four hours before going anywhere. This is to ensure your engine is properly “lit off.” Before leaving your driveway or arriving or departing any other location, set the Special Sea Detail and make your kids stand on the hood of the car for an hour while you wait for your next-door neighbor to provide a line handling party.  Make sure your boat trailer with the Liberty Boat is attached to the car.

When driving in foggy or inclement weather set the Low Visibility Watch. Require your children to look out the back window and make reports on anything they see. Give your wife the lookout to Starboard and the dog to Port.

Carry on the underway routine while at home. Empty all trash receptacles and sweep down the entire house three times per day. Have your spouse set off the smoke alarm.  Grab a pair of headphones (without Walkman) and microphone (without cord), run into the kitchen and stand by the stove.  To no one, in particular, say “Stove manned and ready.”  Stand there for four hours doing nothing.  DO NOT sit down.  After four hours say “Stove secured,” once again to no one.  Return to your normal duties.

String lines (ropes) between your roof and your neighbor’s roof at 0500 (5 am) have all family members assemble on the roof wearing life jackets and hard hats.  Stand around until 0800).  Send everyone inside telling them it will be 2 hours until they will be needed and they should get breakfast. Wait until the first fork of food is in their mouth and call them back to the roof.  Transfer the contents of your neighbor’s garage to your garage using the lines strung from roof to roof.  Repeat every three days changing the times to randomly interrupt every meal. Every three days rig a hose between the garages and transfer the contents of the heating oil tanks between the houses.

Assemble the family in the front yard 0600 (6 am) each day.  Have the kids line up side by side to the full width of the yard.  Tell them you have hidden a gold nugget in the yard, and if they find it, they won’t have to line up in the yard for one day. Have mom walk behind them with a bag and collect whatever they find.  Have the kids walk slowly toward the other side of the field, heads down, no talking, picking up every piece of chewed gum, lint, or pebble and hand it to mom to put in her handbag.  Remind the children that there is a golden nugget so that they will be excited and look more intensely.  The purpose of this FOD walk down is to keep the lawn mower from sucking something into the blades and spitting it out the other side.

Install a 10-inch composite loop fire main system in your house.  Designate a closet in your house as a repair locker, equip it with firefighting gear.  Hold fire, smoke, and flooding drills every day. At least once a week at about 0230 (2:30 am) have your neighbor sneak into your house with a bell and a bullhorn.  Instruct him to get as close to you as possible without waking you then ring the bell and scream through the bullhorn “Fire! Fire! Fire! There is a Class Alpha Fire in the Galley!”   As soon as you peel yourself off the overhead, get half-dressed and run for the door, have him yell, “This is a drill!”

Secure the showers.  Put everyone on “water hours” and don’t permit anyone to bathe for five days.  Make your son stand midwatches on the water heater (evaps) for violating water hours and taking a hotel shower.

Enlist your son’s paintball team run through your dining room waving their paintball guns and shouting “Security Alert!” At this, you should drop to the deck. Security Alerts are best conducted when the deck is wet from scrubbing or at meal times.

Lock your keys in the house and wait three hours for the locksmith.  This simulates all the waiting in the chow line, the pay line, the ship’s store line, and for shots at sick bay.

Have your wife open a loaf of bread early in the day so it can dry out, take some bologna, salami, and cheese out of the wrappers and leave it in the reefer from supper to midnight.  Have her get up at 2330 (11:30 pm) and put it on the counter along with a pot of either cold or overly hot soup.  Also, have her heat up some canned apricots also.  Make sure she serves glasses of orange Bug Juice (Kool-Aid) with a single ice cube in each glass and the coffee that she has kept hot since breakfast. While she is doing this, have a couple of fresh baked apple pies cooling in the corner, so the aroma fills the kitchen.

Have the neighbor with the bullhorn and bell run through the house yelling “General Quarters, General Quarters, Man Your Battle Stations.” Button up your shirt to the neck; pull your socks up over your pant legs; put on a scuba mask and breath into a paper bag while trying to read your least favorite book. Do this for an unknown length of time.

(Carrier Operations) Have your neighbor stand across the street on the darkest of nights.  Give him a flashlight with a cone on the end so that he can signal you when the coast is clear of oncoming cars. When you’re halfway across, have him change the signal as a car is ten feet from you and blaring its horn.   Break into a sprint and trip over the curb as you try to find the darkest set of shadows to hide in. Assemble your neighbors on Super Bowl Sunday in the street with push brooms.  Turn on all the garden hoses available and use extra strength dish detergent to wash the street.  When half done, turn on the fire hydrants to the part you haven’t washed drenching everyone. Move all your neighbor’s cars in a seemingly random order 3-4 times a day. (aircraft re-spotting).   Ensure at least 10% are deemed hanger bay queens (aircraft that are used as a parts store for other squadron aircraft) and don’t bring them out of the garage for six months while removing 1-2 parts per day. At the end of six months give your kids three days to make them all perfect again. (Simulates preparing for Squadron Fly Off) Draw straws to see who must use them first.

Cover your garage with plate steel. Label the door ‘RADIO 1.’  Buy an old Cadillac. Take the tires off.  Hire a crane and have the operator lift the Caddy six feet and drop it on the roof of the garage every couple of minutes for two or three hours while you try to type inside the garage.  This simulates gunnery practice or shore bombardment simulation,

In winter stand outside your house in a light jacket, with a white hat that doesn’t keep in heat and a pair of latex gloves for 2000-2400 (8 pm to 12 pm) quarterdeck watch. Invite every person you’ve ever met to your house at 2330 (11:30 pm). Liberty expires at midnight (“Cinderella Liberty”).  Salute every person that gets near you and grant them “permission to come aboard.” Have your wife relieve the watch at 2345 (11:45) dressed in warm clothes. Go to the kitchen to find that the only thing left of midrats is a slice of hard bread, a slice of cheese melted to the plate, and a single apricot. Hit the rack to get a few hours’ sleep.  At 0200 (2 am) the neighbor arrives with his bell and bullhorn.

Liberty call.  Drive to the nearest lake and get your kids (Boat crew) to put your boat in the water.  The oldest kid is the Coxswain; the middle girl is the boat engineer and the smallest (dumbest) boy is the Bow hook. Have them fool around with the boat for at least two hours before you are ready to depart the pier.  Have them take you across the lake to a seafood restaurant and club.  You have an overnight, so you can catch the 0500 (5 am) liberty boat tomorrow morning.  Go into the club and drink about six beers during the first hour, then switch to Tequila shots. When your wife comes in as instructed, make a move on her.  Buy her a drink, pay her a “Bar Fine” and agree to a price for sex.  Pay her the amount she asked for and wait while she goes to the head before you leave.  Drink some more Tequila, wait, wait, drink some more, wait.  Finally, they announce the bar is closing.  Pay them an exorbitant amount for a pint of the worst bourbon they have and stumble to the pier where you drink it and pass out.  The boat crew finds you at 0445 (4:45 am) and manages to get you aboard.  Puke while riding the boat across the lake.  When you get to the Marina eat some stale crap out of the vending machine (Roach Coach), drink about a gallon of orange soda, all that’s left in the machine, and drive back to the house.

Spend all the next morning sitting in the kitchen drinking coffee and regaling your neighbor with tales of a great liberty and your sexual prowess.  Ask your wife what is for lunch and bitch about whatever she is cooking.

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