Riding the Storm

Riding the Storm

Watching storm Ciara raging outside watching the trees bending with the howling gale-force winds. Listening to the rain lashing the house windows. Seeing the news reports on the TV from the coastal areas of the waves breaking over the sea defences.

It brings back memories of being at sea in similar and often worse weather conditions. Being out on the upper deck, being frozen and soaked to the skin, after being hit by waves breaking over the ship (Being Goffered) gripping onto the guard rails for dear life. Often as conditions worsened the upper deck was placed out of bounds with all hatchways and watertight doors closed up and dogged tight. All loose gear stowed away and secured.

Walking, often staggering, negotiating through the main passageway, being bounced off the bulkheads, climbing ladders and companionways hanging on as the ship rolled violently. Water sloshing around the deck. Water dripping from the overhead airconditioning vents. The noise of the waves thumping and crashing into the ship’s side.

The feeling vertigo-like being in a high-speed lift or elevator as the ship climbed to the crest of a giant wave then dropped violently into the trough before climbing again the next wave, the screaming of the screws (propellers) as they come clear of the water as the ship crested a large wave, the whole ship vibrating as she recovered from each assault of the sea.

The sound of pots and pans, crockery crashing to decks accompanied by the colourful expletives from the Chefs in the gally. Chasing unidentifiable food around those metal trays. The best that the Chefs could knock together in those conditions. Eating one-handed the other hand holding onto the food tray in an attempt to avoid losing your food onto the deck

The constant smell of vomit from those with a more tender constitution (seasick)

The luxury of those few hours of sleep when not on duty or on watch. Being tucked up in your pit (bunk/bed.) With the roll bar up. This to prevent being rudely woken up by being pitched out onto an often waterlogged deck

Eventually coming back into the harbour. Stepping off the gangway and onto solid unmoving ground feeling the strange sensation of the deck not moving under your feet. then trying to walk in a straight line without rolling to the movement of the ship.

Although this to some may sound quite horrific. I miss those times at sea of being cold wet tired and uncomfortable perhaps I’m a bit of a masochist.


9 thoughts on “Riding the Storm

  1. Fred Swett says:

    lol I sure do know first hand what you said here. How hard it was trying to climb a ladder as the ship was going up a wave, and then hitting my head when ship went down the wave. Ouch! Remembering to spread-eagle in my bunk, so as not to spill out onto the deck. Awesome times for sure.! thanks for the memories, Mate
    Fred Swett


  2. Been there, and done that especially in the North Atlantic. Not just the rough seas, but ice in the winter transit kept us battened down. Being a Stewburer was lots of fun keeping rhe galley equipment from flying. Never had any problem getting seasick, but alot of the crew had a hard time. As far as the racks went had to keep them triced up unless you wanted to go flying. I would sail again on that tin can, USS Gearing DD-710.


  3. Mike Carter says:

    Why the hell would we put up with this shit???? But, of course, we were always heading somewhere that had exciting places to see, Al-Key-Hall to drink and ladies to do.


  4. Steve says:

    South China Sea 1975 on board USS Oriskany we were sailing to Hong Kong or should I say tried to outrun a typhoon. When the screws on a carrier extend above the water, the bow dives into the waves, you feel the shudder of the ship…. Its an exhilarating feeling and true adventure. But we had taken a beating. There was some good that came of this, the storm tore the starboard flight deck cat walk and peeled it back like a fish hook. We couldn’t launch aircraft and the only option was to return to Subic for 2 weeks of repairs. Officers were disappointed as they couldn’t meet their wives in HK… the crew was ecstatic….we could go back and see all our wives, Rose, Tessie, Luz, Imelda at Sierra club, Catwalk, old west….etc…etc… life was good and the wives were waiting!


  5. jimcc51 says:

    Darn , you had air conditioning and bunk bars to keep you from falling, we had to tie ourselves in our bunks with straps, slept topside on th 0-1 deck in the summer heat when possible, otherwise sweated it out below , 1960-65 on a Gearing tin can


  6. Don’t know about the “Seven Seas” but had plenty of oceans to ride off of both the east and west coasts. Many think that Boats just dive deeper when the sea state begins to get a little gnarly. Not so on Smoke Boats! Hurricanes? Road em. Typhoons? Same-Same. Storm warnings? We left port. We had No Shelter From The Storm on Diesel-Electric Submarines. Gotta love the water anywhere around the P.I. and Nam, other than during Monsoons, Typhoons, or Tsunamis. Left Okinawa–again due to weather– to meet Typhoon Alice head-on. After Torpedo Room does do figure 8’s and the screws do scream. As an Unqualified Puke on my first fleet boat,(NO SNORKEL), I got to stand watches on the helm, planes, and lookout. Great incentive to learn very quickly because being up in the shears when everything topside is covered with saltwater ice in one of those Nor’ E’sters, sucks, BIG TIME! We really were Blue Noses. One time heading north in the Pacific(not a peaceful ocean)for Navy Days or some such thing to show off the USN Ships of War, more than half of our little armada had to divert to San Francisco Bay. Lucy us! We got to plow the surface beyond the 100-fathom curve because we can’t dive in those kinds of seas. And, in so-called calmer sea states, it is difficult to snorkel. Every time a wave covers the main induction the diesel starts pulling air from inside the pressure hull creating a vacuum. The engines automatically, at seven inches, shut down,(but not always!). Meanwhile, every orifice of the human body has given up whatever air molecules were available to the internal combustion engines. What does that mean exactly? You don’t wanna know!~kw


  7. Mike Gardiner says:

    As a young SA in 1st doc onboard DD561. It was thrilling being at sea until west pac’s in 60. 1st typhoon things really rough. Still ok but when I went to compartment about 1900 to sleep for upcoming mid-shitter. Here’s old GMG2 Sosa in the middle bunk (seniority) seriously on his rosary. It was then that I got scared and started taking everything more serious. All weathers. Evolutions U/W refuel/replenish (mostly done at nite off Formosa). Rode the seas another 23 yrs bailed as BMCM. loved the sea though. Just a real healthy respect. Best regards to all my former ships mates who sailed em with me.


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