Westpac’rs Reunion 2017
17 May – 21 May
By Garland Davis
The reunion runs from Wednesday through Sunday. Some of us will arrive on Monday and spend Tuesday setting up the hospitality room with tables, a memorabilia display of items donated by members, and of course icing down the beverages and setting up the bar in preparation for Wednesday.
The first day of the reunion, as each member arrives, he, or she, is rang aboard and entered into the official reunion log. This process begins with an occasional arrival from time to time. As the afternoon progresses, the ringing of the bell becomes a cacophony as more and more people arrive. By late afternoon as many as six people surround five or more tables and the noise level rises as greetings, catch up conversations, sea stories, and laughter permeate the room.
The Asia Sailor reunion is in full swing. As the evening progresses attendees come and go. By midnight one table is surrounded by the hardcore. Laughter prevails. Sea stories feed on each other as the early hours of morning pass.
At 0630 early risers and the hackers who made it a night muster in the mess decks of Buckingham’s Restaurant for breakfast, the first group off to explore Branson while the latter group goes off to check their eyelids for light leaks for a few hours.
By 1300, the normal people begin to assemble in the Jungle Room and the all nighters begin to show up, searching for hangover meds, afraid that they will miss something. Ski and his army were off early to the range to shoot some awesome weapons. An early raffle of donated items will be conducted. Proceeds of the raffle are donated to charity by the Asia Sailor Westpac’rs Association. This evening members wishing to do so may attend a stage show, “Raiding the Country Vault.” Mac and Kathy negotiated a very favorable group rate for us Westpac’rs. After the show the “hardcore” will assume their positions in the Jungle Room.
Friday morning will see a repeat of Thursday’s breakfast gathering. Members will separate for sightseeing and shopping trips. By 1000 members will begin appearing in the Jungle room. In the afternoon, the ladies present will drink wine while attending a painting class. Their creations will be auctioned to their husbands after the formal dinner Saturday evening. Monies earned will be donated to our charities. Friday evening, a group of us will go off to a Karaoke Night at a nearby establishment. A hardcore of non-singers will maintain the watch over the coolers and the bar.
Saturday morning comes with many members beginning to look a little frayed around the edges, but they shake it off and “sailor on.” By mid-afternoon attendees are kicked out of the Jungle Room so staff can set it up for the dinner. Members go off to get buffed up for the evening. The evening commences with members crossing the gangway and being rang aboard. This is followed by the National Anthem and the colors being presented. Dinner is served.
After dinner, the assemblage is entertained by the Asia Sailor’s “Not Quite Right Quartet,” which consists of from three to six persons, depending on how many are sober enough to reach the stage. Then an asshole, who considers himself a writer and comedian, tells a few lame jokes and auctions the wives’ paintings to their husbands. His wife tell him that he is not as funny as he thinks he is.
As the evening comes to an end, some members, planning to depart early next morning bid farewell to their shipmates. Many stay late, knowing it is close to an end. The stories and laughter go into the night.
Sunday morning, many members meet for breakfast. At 1000, members gather in the Jungle Room for a solemn two and four bell farewell to shipmates who have passed over the bar since last year and to remember those lost in previous years. Each member draws a tot of Pussers Navy Rum and at the conclusion of reading the names toasts those who have gone on before us.
As the day passes, People say goodbyes and leave for home. Those of us staying until the next day, break down the memorabilia tables and pack up the remaining bar supplies for next year. Finally, there are a couple of coolers and a dwindling number of people gathered around a table.
In 2014 Mac and I ended the reunion at 0130 Monday morning and logged the reunion secured. Last year about 0030, Mac, Kathy, and I did the same.