By Garland Davis
Everyone who reads the crap I write may not have experienced the joy of riding a Forrest Sherman can through a South China Sea Typhoon. I’m an old Bastard if I repeat myself chalk it up to senility and dementia.
There is not a roller coaster or amusement park ride anywhere that can hold a candle to riding a destroyer into heavy seas at high speed trying to maintain station on the carrier. If you like carnival rides, then this is the place for you, it doesn’t cost anything and lasts for days.
It comes with swells that look like a three-story barricade moving toward the bow that bounce those in the ship around like a flea on Miley Cyrus’ twerking butt. The extreme pleasure of being thrown around like the peas in a baby’s rattle is something that the average person cannot even imagine.
The big assed carriers roll a little and just push through with a slight pitch and roll.
Not so the Tin Cans. It’s “roll and toss and pitch you rusty son-of-a-bitch.”
There is a majesty to heavy seas. It is damned near impossible to witness the incredible power of heavy seas and deny the existence of a creator. Only a God could wield that unrestrained power.
One moment, it seems the bow is pointed toward the heavens and the next moment is buried in a forty-foot swell with water streaming through the scuppers, scouring the decks of any unsecured objects, and smashing up over the pilot house. “Put another quarter in Mama, I want to ride it again.” Accompanied by lateral motions, figure eight stern gyrations, the slamming of the screws as they come out of the water, and the visible flexing of the expansion joints.
Inside the ship, men are tossed about, forgotten items fall out of hiding places in the overhead vent lines and wire ways. Meals become an endless succession of soup, canned chili, cheese and horsecock sandwiches, coffee, bug juice and milk if available. Now we know why they pay us sea pay.
If you are lucky and have bunk straps, you lash yourself into your rack to try to get a couple hours sleep, or else you hang on and hope to stay in the bunk. Your teeth hurt from clenching your jaws. Your smokes go flying from your pocket to never be seen again. Guys shoot their lunch. Cockroaches are packing to go ashore as soon as you hit port. The cooks in the galley are cussing as they try to put together a meal. And guys safely in their racks who need to take a whiz ask themselves,
“Do I really want to struggle to get to the head to wade in vomit and water swirling across the deck and try to piss in a moving target while trying to not puke myself.”
“Stand by for heavy rolls,” means that all the shit that just flew by you from starboard will be coming back from the port side and you wonder is there anything left in the overhead that hasn’t fallen and hit you in the head.
“Now supper for the crew, watch standers head of the line.”
“Hey Dave, do you think it is horsecock sandwiches?”
“Does a hobby horse have a wooden asshole?”
“Bring me back some crackers, I’m afraid if I go to the mess deck and try to gag down another horsecock sandwich I’ll puke again?”
“Damn, who is steering this son-of-a-bitch? Who has the helm?”
“I do, next watch.”
“How did I end up on a sea going vomit barge? Fuck it, I think I’ll strike for Corpsman and hide in Sickbay for the rest of my career.”
“Hey you know you love it, where else could a redneck like you from North Carolina with the I.Q. of a cockroach get a job throwing trash in the Pacific Ocean?”
“Hey, you assholes knock it off, grown folks are trying to sleep.”
And so, it went, for days at a time, crap banging around in lockers, shit sliding back and forth across the decks, the acrid smell of gastrically dissolved cheese and horsecock sandwiches mixed with stale coffee permeating the berthing compartments and heads.
Stumbling around, zinging off bulkheads, doors, piping and each other and being seventeen or eighteen years old and realizing that the recruiter who promised you a thrilling life of wonder, oriental girls, and adventure was a lying shore duty son-of-a-bitch.