Carronade The Yankee Sailor Carronade

The Sea is a choosy mistress. She takes the men that come to her and weighs them and measures them. The ones she adores, she keeps; the ones she hates, she destroys. The rest she casts back to land. I count myself among the adored, for I am Her willing Captive.

I've relocated to a new Yankee Sailor.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

The Grass is Greener Syndrome

Today we’re moored at the cruise piers in Nassau, Bahamas, surrounded by cruise ships. We arrived late yesterday afternoon, and the sea detail passed with just a few wrinkles. A buoy was missing. The tugs don’t like to push, only pull, and we weren’t as ready with towing hawsers as we should have been. The channel was narrower and the turn tighter than it looked on the charts. But, we got in safely and the pilot, who had brought our ship in the last time it was here a decade ago, mentioned that the ship looked much better than he remembered. The nicest touch was when the passengers aboard the Disney Majesty cheered when we got the first line over, the Boatswain’s Mate of the Watch blew the whistle and announced, “moored, shift colors”, and the color detail hauled up the ensign and jack. We had manned the rails, too, so that added to the spectacle.

A few messmates and I took a wander around the waterfront, and over to Atlantis, in the evening. Roomie was doing shore patrol, so none of us came back broke and hung over. The town is kind of dirty, it’s expensive for the average Sailor ($4-$5 for a beer – Sailors judge the cost of everything by the cost of a beer), but Atlantis was impressive. It’s certainly well designed to part a tourist from his money. They’ve got a big aquarium, with a lot of impressive sea creatures, and a nice casino. Great eyeball liberty, too. There were too many kids around for my taste, though, mostly because it reminds me how much I miss my kids.

Today is my duty day, and it’s been interesting to watch how people on the cruise ships react to and interact with us. If you observe long enough, you can identify three distinct groups, two crews and the passengers. Most Sailors spend a little time during the day gazing at the cruise ships and their passengers wondering what it would be like to relax on a ship instead of work. Many of us also take time for a little eyeball liberty to identify the most appealing members of the opposite sex.

On the cruise ships, some of the crew, particularly the officers will stop to check us out. I’m sure they wonder how we live, where we’ve been, what the food is like, and how well we get paid. The Deck officers are no doubt wondering how well the ship handles, and the engineers look grateful they work in a diesel and not a steam plant. This is what we most often wonder about them. A few clearly look like they wish they could blow something up when needed.

Many of the passengers stop to gaze at us, but their expressions are more difficult to discern. Most have some look of wonder, but all show mixed feelings. From the older passengers, perhaps many of them veterans, come looks of admiration and respect. Some of these passengers will walk over to the ship and ask for a tour, or to buy a command ball cap. There are no general tours, though, in the post-9/11, everyone could be a terrorist, world. This is one more sign that our military is becoming more distant from the people we’re supposed to be defending, but I won’t get started on that here.

Other passengers show looks of disappointment, perhaps because they regretted leaving the service or not serving at all. Children get that big-eyed, “that’s so cool!” look, and the occasional woman will notice she’s being noticed and make the most of it for the benefit of her self-esteem. Some of them will even smile and wave.