Monday, 31 October 2011

The Homecoming

Long time apart

Off seeing another place

Joy at her return

Admiral, There Be Whales Here!

Basic Recruit Training - Done

QL 3 Naval Signalman Training - Done

Basic Seaman Training - Done

Posted to a ship - Done

And now I am ready to sit on some exotic beach somewhere, beer in hand, a palm leaf fanned over my head
Life as sailor is about to get good

Away we go off to.... Ketchikan Alaska???
That does not have the ring of sandy beaches, warm breeze and bikini babes.
Ketchikan? Why the #$%( are we going there?
I am sure anywhere will be better, hell I would even vote for Seattle - nice place to visit I later found out.
Yes Sir, we go to Alaska.

What I didn't know at the time was that to go to Alaska, we frequently take the Inside Passage - some of the most beautiful scenery you can imagine. Okay, so this trip will not be a total waste of time. grumble grumble...

When one first steps on board on of Her Majestys Canadian Ships as an ordinary seaman, one gets to learn about the more mundane tasks of running a ship. One such task is lookout. Yes, even in this day and age a real live pair of eyes is employed to look forward and tell the Officer of the Watch that there is a ship, log,  rock, oil slick, boat full of bikini babes ect ect ect just over there, and by the way, can we move in a bit closer to that boat?

It was a lovely day, sun was shining, no wind, nicely warm and there I was, on the port wing, being look out. Oh look, another beautiful waterfall - yes, how lovely (ho hum, the other 50 were much nicer). Oh look OOW, a log in the water, perhaps you wish to steer around it? Oh Sir, btw, did you see the.....

Two gray whales start broaching in front of the ship.
I haven't seen anything like that before in my life.

"Yes Ordinary Seaman, I saw it. And I am sure the entire ships company heard you tell me."

Opps, I was a bit on the exuberant side in my report.

Well, that changes everything, no one told me I would see whales and stuff. Now its worth being out here.
By the end of that trip I was a confirmed whale watcher. I got lucky and saw a couple of orcas, a few dolphins and a humpback. Way cool.

From there, the next 24 years would bring other sea critters into my view, and a few of them right at my feet, but that is another story


Sunday, 30 October 2011


Back in the good old days of the Roman empire, when a unit had displeased the general it would be decimated. The General would walk the ranks and count each man, when he reached 10 - that man was killed. The count would begin again until each man was counted. "Pour encourage les autre" as the french would say. Talk about a waste of talent.

One of my last voyages as a sailor was to Hawaii. A lovely spot, one that I have had enough of seeing (at least Pearl Harbour). We left port to find 3 meter seas on Constance Banks. Now 3 meters isn't much of a swell for a 100 meter ship, but when that swell is at the harbour entrance, what the hell is it going to look like on the open ocean? Word was passed down to secure for heavy seas and we all took it to heart. If it wasn't tied down or put in a tight spot, a roll of duct tape was employed. Bouy J was 4 hours away. We secured the ship and waited.

We hit Bouy J and the 3 meters jumped to 11 meters. Man what a ride. The moment we hit that swell the CO declared the upper decks out of bounds. The ship was sealed and we turned toward Hawaii.
6 Days of up and down. The ship handled it reasonably well but below decks things were a bit harried. If you weren't on watch you were asleep. If you weren't asleep and we able bodied, you cleaned as best you could or helped care for those who were incapacitated by the sea. At one point we had 5 guys in the Junior Ranks mess who were on IV fluids because they were so dehydrated. Every day there were two or more pipes of
CASUALTY. The cooks could not cook, we all ate a lot of sandwiches - those that could eat.
Life on the bridge was pretty wicked. While the ship rode reasonably well, we were shipping green frequently - for those who don't know the term, when a wave breaks over the bridge and all you can see is green.

Life was like this for 6 days. For those of you who believe us sailors are all godless heathens, let me tell you - there was not a single atheist aboard.

And on the 7th day the Gods looked down on us and said "ENOUGH"
The sea flattened
The wind calmed
The clouds parted
And we all breathed a sigh of relief

The hatches were opened
Clean air scrubbed through the ship (the air below was getting a bit crunchy)
and we had a day of rest - the following day was lent over to a good scrubbing of the ship.

We got to Hawaii 3 days later and when we got there, we landed 26 men who had been damaged by
the trip so far.
26 men out of 210.

Who says times haven't changed?
Later on I found out the the CO had been ordered to go around that storm. Apparently he
decided that we wasn't subject to the desires of the Admiral.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Bay of Fundy - a new wonder of the world

At the beginning of my naval career, when I was a reservist, I was posted to a the Rapid - an ex RCMP vessel.
This was a great little ship, about 80' long with a crew of 15. 
We were tasked to escort a bunch of whalers (15' boats pulled by oars) as they did a race across the Bay of Fundy. It was a beautiful day - light breeze, calm sea, sunny and clear. Away we went across the bay watching the teams of rowers pull their boats with all their might. As it turned out, the team from CFB Cornwallis won that race.
Now we had the somewhat lessor task of towing these whalers back to the other side of the bay. We tied 3 of them astern of us and our sister ship, the Rally, took the other three. It this point it was about 3pm, still a beautiful day, calm sea, light breeze, clear and sunny (cue the theme song for Gilligan's Island)

We were about 1/3 the way across when the weather started turning rough - wind picked up, waves picked up, it got dark and the fog settled over us. The ropes that were used to tie the whalers astern of us decided to snap so we had to stop and retie them. This twice more and the Skipper said enough, secure them with a berthing howser. We had an extra one and there was very little chance that this would break - 3/8 braided nylon is pretty tough stuff. It took an hour to get the whalers re secured. By this point the wind and waves had really picked up and we were being really heavily tossed about, not a lot of fun at all. I was told to go below and put my head down so I could catch a few winks of sleep before I was to take a spell at the helm. Sleep, oh bliss, just what the Dr ordered!
I laid my weary head down and immediatly was out. I was happy, warm and deep in la la land when there was this loud banging against the hull. I stumble out of bed, into my wet weather gear and lifebelt, up to the upper deck just in time to hear the skipper yell "CUT THE ROPE"

Oh shit, as the banging continues I see the three whalers right along side the ship. This is bad, they should be 100' behind us, not right alongside where the towing hawser can get tangled around the .......
A high pitch whine finishes that thought as the starboard engine shuts down. Yes, the towing hawser is now firmly wrapped around the starboard shaft, effectively cutting our available power in half. At that moment we were about 2 hours away from the safety of our harbour. That 2 hours jumped to 6 right there and then. The skipper decided that these whalers were now a serious threat to the safety of his ship and crew so he cut them free and headed for harbour on 1 engine. 

It was very miserable weather wise. 15 foot seas, 40kt winds, rain and fog. It was a very long and cold trip from there. Because of the fog, we needed to have a fog dodger rigged - that means a man right at the front of the ship, looking for things for the ship not to run into. When my turn for the duty came I was really looking forward to seeing the buoy that marked the entrance to Digby harbour. Let me tell you I was looking really intently, whipping the rain off my glasses every second or so.
Oh thank you God, there it is, we are not going to die. We sailed into harbour and pulled up alongside our sister ship. The skipper said "Well done lads, off to bed with you". Really? It was 1am, we had been up and running full bore for the past 16 hours and he thinks we needed to be told to put our heads down?
I was asleep in moments.

The next morning I woke, got myself moving and saw the beautiful sunshine streaming down through the port hole. I dragged myself to the upper deck and then noticed that the tide had gone out, way out, out so far that the jetty was 30' above us. In the Bay of Fundy, when the tide goes out, it does not mess about

The Bay of Fundy, it is a wonder. Have a look see if you have oppertunity, just don't do it for a 3 hours tour

Thursday, 27 October 2011


Braided leather

Black, supple lightening bolt

Takes her breath away

Sunday, 23 October 2011


Why me, he wonders

What is it I do so well

Hearts beat in his wake

Wax Off Wax On

Every once in while I would become obsessed with one small thing while on board - that set of files needs to be sorted, that book needs to be repaired or some such. On this particular day I decided that the flats in front of the CCR needed to be re waxed.

The procedure that most people used to re wax a deck was to dump some wax stripper on the deck, count to 20 and then remove the sludge with a mop. I decided to go old school on this particular chunk of deck. Hands and knees with a  green scrubby and water. It took me close to an hour, doing 1 tile at a time but it was beautiful. Every last bit of wax was removed. People were afraid to step on it and leave boot prints but I didn't care, I was going to rewash it before the new wax went down.

My next watch - being the long mids, was between midnight and 7am. The ship was relatively quiet, anyone not on watch was in bed. The CCR flats is about 10' long by 8'wide, there is a hatch going down to the next deck, three doors going to offices (two of which were unoccupied at the time) and a door leading the next compartment. I strung a lenght of tape about chest high and put a sign on it saying  WET WAX. Remember that sign.

I wash the deck, and get started. I get a cloth to spread the wax and lay down the first coat. I make each coat very thin so that it dries almost instantly. Putting down each successive layer takes about 5 minutes and I let it sit for another 5 minutes before starting the next one. As I am working people having to go through this area go slowely and ensure they don't step on the deck as one would expect a decent person to do.
Some where about coat 15, this junior officer comes to where the tape and the sign are hanging, ducks under it and steps on my deck, looks at me and says "Oh, are you waxing the deck?"
What was your first clue you fuck tard? Was it the smell of wax wafting in the air? Was it the sight of the wax container you stepped around? WAS IT THE SIGN SAYING WET WAX THAT YOU DUCKED UNDER? I am so glad that some of our leaders can pick up on these clues so readily. As it was, I was just beginning a new coat so he stepped on a dry spot and didn't damage the work I has been doing. The fuck tard left the area without another word.
An hour and 10 coats later I decided it was enough. Man that deck gleamed. I got everything put away and was just getting ready to wander away when the XO approached the door where the fuck tard was, put his foot down and yanked it away - thinking the deck was still wet. His reaction to my deck made the whole exercise worth it. Over the next few weeks I got several requests to do the same to other chunks of deck but none of them came with the appropriate enticement attached

And that is Wax Off Wax On

Saturday, 22 October 2011

The Magic Words

A la peanut butter sandwiches....nope, not that one
Hocus pocus.....nope, not that one either
Please.... ah, there it is

Please, smile and thank you will get you a long way along the great road of life.

"Hi, can you please help me?" will probably go a lot further in getting your issue dealt with than "Hey, get off your ass and fix this"

The smile is the second part of the magic. Walk up to that harried clerk, the person who has dealt with 20 cranky angery people and smile. The first reaction you will get is "oh, a nice person, someone who isn't going to yell at me because of some elses mistake. I will do my best for this person."

"Thank you" is the final element of the magic. That gives the over worked, under appriciated clerk a feeling of peace and happyiness and the thought that the job is worth doing and maybe, just maybe they can make a differance in someone elses life.

Go on, give it a try. You just might be surprised at how well it works

Army vs Navy

Well, here it is. Who has the better job - the grunts or the squids
Looking strickly at it from a living conditions outlook, you tell me

0700 (that means wake up grunts)
Squid, gets out of his rack (that means bed, with clean sheets and pillows) and goes over to the washplace. He goes and has a hot shower, shaves in hot water and then gets dressed and goes for breakfast. At the galley he places his order to the happy smiling face behind the line and waits while his meal is carefully perpared with the freshest of ingrediants. Moments later his hot, properly seasoned meal is artistically arranged on his plate and served to him by a smiling cook. The squid takes his meal and goes to a table and enjoys his breakfast, at a leasurely pace. He enjoys pleasant conversation with his table mates, discussing the latest news and how wonderful the rest of the day will be.
Grunt, gets kicked by his foxhole mate and told to wake the fuck up. He scratches his pits and tries to work out the knots in his back that were caused by the rocks he was sleeping on. Damn, no shower until tomorrow, oh well, the guy beside him stinks too. He sticks his head up and looks around for the breakfast wagon. After an hour if finally shows up and he gets what is left at the bottom of the pan scraped into his mess kit and told that the coffee urn is broken so no coffee this morning.  Grunt then chokes down his "meal" and bitches to his mate about how the "$##%#@ cook must hate them cause we always get this shit".
So folks, there you have it. Who has the better life?

ps, the bit about the squid getting his meal properly seasoned is mostly a lie. In the 20 years I spent in the navy, I have not every had a decently seasoned meal. The meal is always artistically arranged on my plate thou, usually by a grunt <g>

Murphys Laws of Combat

Remember everyone, Murphy is an optimist

1. Incoming fire has right of way

2. Friendly fire, isn't

3. Never share a foxhole with someone braver than you

4. The easy way in is mined

5. If you are low on ammo, don't draw attention to yourself, they may be low on ammo too

6. A sucking chest wound is natures way of saying slow down

7. If the enemy can't get in, you can't get out

8. The enemy will attack on two occasions, when you are ready and when you aren't

9. The best combat plan will survive the first 30 seconds of combat

10. When in doubt, keep your head down

11. Those who make the plans are rarely, if ever, on the battlefield to see how bad they work

12. Always remember, your rifle is made by the lowest bidder


Learn it
Its easy
It works
And it could be you who is there when its needed

Being able to say all of this from experiance is a little on the mind boggling side - okay, so thats not quite accurate. I really think I should go change my knickers but I digress.

It was a fair day.  The sun was out, a few clouds, nice little breeze, all in all a perfect day to have parade.
Half way through parade, someone in the front rank passes out and crumples to the deck.
No big deal, it happens and just about anyone in the forces you talk to will tell you that they have done so or know someone who has.

Two people go to help her to the side and they have to pick her up and carry her... this is not so typical.
They get her to the side line and tell me to call 911.
Okay, we have now gone way past the ordinary.

I head into the chapel, look at the secretary and tell her to call an ambulance. She looks back at me and says "Why?"

Stunned by the stupidity of her question I did not say "Listen you stupid bitch, phone the fucking ambulance and then we will talk"
Instead I answered her with "someone out there isn't breathing"
By a small miracle, she picks up the phone and does the 911 thing.

I leave the office and move into the chapel where a hulk of an air force photo tech has this tiny girl in his arms. This tiny girl is in her best uniform, her nice white shirt almost glowing. It is also pretty difficult to see where the shirt ends and the skin begins.

The hulk lays her gently on the ground and I reach for her carotid artery to find a pulse.
I failed to find one.
And she isn't breathing


Tunic is quickly undone, tie is loosened and I check for a pulse again
Nothing and she still isn't breathing.
Buddy does ten compressions and I give her two breaths.
I listen, and feel
Still nothing.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I am praying "please dear God, please don't let this little lady die,  not here, not now"

God hears and answers all prayers, he really does and today the answer was "Okay".

She opens her eyes and starts breathing.

Okay, she is not going to die on my watch.

Thank you God.

There are three of us with her, telling her she is safe, keeping her calm and wondering where in the hell the ambulance is.
At one point she starts to get upset about not being on parade and that her boss was going to be pissed at her and here boots are messed up and, and, and....

I gently hold her down and in my best voice of authority say "Able Seaman, sit down. I will talk to your boss and make sure he understands. Your only duty at this moment is to sit here and wait to go to the hospital. You are not doing anything else until further notice."

She took one look at  me and decided that she really didn't need to be anywhere else. At that moment, she was still pretty pale and probably not able to move very far anyway.

Fire fighters show up and give her an O2 mask and I being to breathe again.
About 15 minutes later the ambulance shows up and she gets up and walks to it. All I need you to do is not collapse on the way there and all is good.

The ambulance dudes see that she is no longer in immediate danger and take their time with her. Getting all of her info, talking to me about what had happened, ect ect and then they drive away.

10 minutes later the parade is over and this girls boss comes running to the back of the chapel where the ambulance was. I grab him and tell him the good news and that she was fine, safe and at the hospital. He thanks me and goes for his car to follow.
Several minutes later the parade chief grabs me and gets the whole story again.

I finally decide that the parade is over and I walk myself to my office, get changed and pretend to go back to work

A bunch of people give me the "Good one Johno" and sure, I am more than a little pleased with myself. Its not everyday that sort of thing happens.

2 hours pass, mostly in a haze of "Holy shit, did that really happen?" I spend the rest of the day going over the events and writing it down because I know that there is a whole shit load of paperwork that is going to be generated and my name is going to be on most of it. Most of the adrenilyn has washes out of my system so I am a little on the wasted side but doing okay. Everyone at the office knows and has given me the pat on the back.

A month goes by and it is parade time again. I am wandering around the drill hall waiting to form up and I spot the air force guy. I wander over to him and we exchange "holy shit, that did happen" words and look around. Yes, there she is. Still tiny as all hell and a proper color. I wander over to her and look down (can't help it, a very tiny girl) and tell her that the events of last parade are not to be repeated. With a shy smile she promises that she will behave.

That was the day that it all came together.
I have taken the class, thought yeah yeah, I will never use it, give me my paper and let me go home.

The class is a couple of hours long
Take it
You don't know when or if you will ever need it
And you won't forget the day you do

Gays, lesbians and heteros and the sanctity of marriage

The sanctity of marriage, two people standing before their deity  and saying "I will have you before all others".
What a great thing to do. Out of all the people on the face of the planet, I choose you to be with.
Marriage is not for everyone, and the day my wife and I got married it  was the only way for us.

Why shouldn't Steve and Gary be able to do the same thing? How about Mary and Ann? How is it that them expressing thier love for one another sullying the sanctity of your marriage?

Lets look at a few of the outstanding examples of marriages that have happened in our time.
Britney Spears comes to mind as a shining example. Her "marriage" lasted what, 5 hours? This is an example to us all.
Elizabeth Taylor - the serial bride. She got married 8 times, Richard Burton even got it twice. This is what we should look up to?

George Takei and Brad Altman. How is it that them being married is harming you? Do they love each other? Do they care for each other? So far there hasn't been any great tabloid splash with the two of them and all I can say is "Good on you guys" Be happy and be well.

For those of you who are frothing at the mouth and thumping your bibles, take a chill pill - take two or three. God loves us all and God wants us to be happy. If God, being all seeing and all powerful, did not approve of gays or lesbains God would do something about it. Put your bibles down, stop screaming hatred and look to your own actions. When you can prove yourself to be perfect then you can start to look at the people beside you

Care and feeding of your Yeoman

Yeoman - from Wikipedia " In the Royal Navy, the Canadian Navy, the Royal Australian Navy and other maritime forces based on British naval tradition, a Yeoman of Signals is a signalling and tactical communications petty officer."
Back in 1997 when I was about HMCS Cowichan, a 1960s vintage Bay Class minesweeper, I had the title of Yeoman. I loved that job, I got to guide young  officers on thier journey toward becoming fully fledged members of the officer corp.

One particular class of very junior officers I was training had come to me on masse and said "Yeoman, please help us understand all of this tactical signal stuff we have to do. The guy that taught us at school didn't teach us anything, he just read the book and said - END OF LESSON, DISMISSED". They all looked so sad and with huge puppy eyes, I had to take pity on them.

I made the first version of my famous book "Care and feeding of your Yeoman". It was a best seller within the junior officer classes that came aboard my ship, so popular that the junior officers from the other ships in the training squadron came to me and begged for their own copies. Damn, I should have charged more for each copy.

The first page of the booklet said something to the effect of "Hi, I am your Yeoman, I am here to help you become real officers. Within these pages is all you will need to know about fleet manoeuvring and tactical signaling."
The second page of the book read as follows
"Breath, if you fail to do this you will pass out, fall down on my deck and bleed upon it. If you bleed upon my deck I will be sorely pissed at you and will make what is left of your life aboard this ship HELL"
They all thought I was joking.

Then one day, up on the bridge, the unthinkable happened. One of the junior officers failed in her breathing. She stood up straight and passed out. She keeled over and face planted herself on my deck. Man, the Captain just about had a heart attack. Well, we hustled her down below and found out what had happened, she had not eaten breakfast. The Captain had some strong words for her about that.
The upside of all of this was that she did not bleed on my deck, so I forgave her <g> but I did get her copy of my best seller and made her read the second page again. 
She promised to never again do the unthinkable on my deck and carried on with her course. As it turned out, she became very good at driving the ship.


Carbon dark dirty

Heat pressure transformation

Sparkle in the sun


Liquid white clean smooth

Beaten with fury and skill

Delicous desert


It is in all life

Cool wet nurishing to all

Hydrogen rusted


The eyes are shut tight 

Mind adrift in the cosmo

To return next morn

Stories from the Front Seat

At one point in my life that has been, I drove taxi. Some nights this was a less than glamorous job but others had there moments.
Sitting up in the drivers seat gives you a very good view of the world as it really is, here is one such glimpse of the world

It was a dark and stormy night - water from the sky = green for the wallet.
It had been an awsome night, I was looking forward to a well deserved sleep after a $300 night of alcohol fueled generosity.
It was 0330, I was downtown and thought, awwww heck, one more ride and I go home. So I check into dispatch and get sent down to a place called Merlins (it has had 3 new names since then). Anyway I pull up and  two very attractive ladies, with barley there dresses, and one guy pile into the back of my car, guy sandwiched between his two female companions.

"Airport please"

Nice, for an end of the night trip, another $50 going into my pocket. SWEET.

Off we go, meter running at full bore and me happy as a pig in poop. After a few minutes, the two ladies decide to play Madonna and Britney with each other over the guys lap. Gah! Not fair. I have to pay attention to the road and that sort of thing does get to be distracting.
We get close to the half way mark of the trip and buddy asks if I could pull over at the gas station so they can get smokes and water. Not a problem.

I pull into a parking stall, stop the car and the two ladies fling open the back doors, ooze out of the cab and begin to empty their stomacks all over the tarmac. The guy is beside himself with embarassment.
"OMG Sir, I am so sorry about that!!!"
I turn to him and say "look buddy, they are outside my cab emptying their stomacks on the pavement and not in my car, the meter is still ticking away, there is no problem."
This calmed him down some and he went out to help his friends.
10 minutes later we are back on the road again, the ladies deside that they really don't feel like playing kissy face anymore. Hmmm, I wonder why? We get to the destination and they pile out. Buddy gives me $70 to cover his embarrassment and when I went to do my apres shift car clean, I found another $20 in change that had spilled out of thier pockets.

A fine way to end my shift

Death Calls

A voyage to there

Driving down the road of life

Cell phone makes its call

Friday, 21 October 2011

War Games part II

War games are all so much fun.
This particular one was in southern California a couple of years ago.

Once again, the ship I was on was classified as the "bad guy". Is it me or something I said that made this happen again?
Anyway, our task was to go and harrass one of their brand spanking new cruisers - one with all the bells and whistles. The CO knew where it was (more or less) and so he waited for the fall of night and got us to rig upper deck lighting to make us look like a fishing vessel. As it turned out, there as a legitimate fishing boat between us and them - talk about good timeing

So there we were, going south in a nice friendly line. We could see the fishing boats lights and the cruisers lights way off in the darkness. All of a sudden there were three helos in the air and they went and swarmed the fishing boat, thinking it was us. Well that was just sweet, the CO turned the ship around, cranked on 28kts and charged the cruiser. Someone one on the cruiser must have figured out that the "fishing boat" over there wasn't exactly friendly when the CO sent a message to them saying something to the effect
"Three inbound Harpoons (ship to ship missle), have a nice day hoser"

Score another one for the bad guys

Thursday, 20 October 2011

War Games

Give a boy a toy and he will play with it
Give a man a ship and tell him to go, he will have fun

Case in point, my first CO
Heck of a man
Heck of a captain
And boy oh boy could he drive his ship

Every two years all of the Pacific Rim nations get together and wander over to Hawaii to play together - mostly an excuse to have a multinational piss up but thats sailors for you.

One year my CO was given orders to "go harass the aircraft carrier"
For those who do not know such, the aircraft carrier is the high value unit of  the fleet. That means it is surrounded by all of the other ships to protect it. All of the other high tech ships of the US navy were around this carrier, protecting it from us - a 1960's vintage escort destroyer.

Late one night the CO watched the pattern of landing aircraft flying over his ship and decided that the carrier was "that way Officer of the Watch". The OOW pointed the ship "that way" and away we went. It being night the CO decided save a bit of electricity and ordered the lights put out - all of them, and the radar, and everything. We went dark. Totally not legal but all is fair in love and war.

Forward we steamed until we saw the first bump on the horizon, one their brand new cruisers. We kept going, right by him, 2 miles off his port beam. We were now inside the circle of protection and there she was.
Big, bold and right in our gun sites (not that we had much of a gun but that is another story). The CO told direct control of the helm and brought his ship right alongside the carrier, we were so close we could see their sailors walking on the upper decks. He then had all every bit of electronic noise turned on, as well as every light he could  muster.

Holy #$%^. You never saw a larger bunch of people absolutly panic and freak out all over the place. There were about 5000 men on that ship, and I bet most of them needed clean knickers right then. The CO counted to 30, shut everything down, turned the ship around and left the same way he came in.

We were ordered into Pearl Harbour the next day. When we got alongside the CO went ashore and was immediatly picked up by a black staff car. He was taken before the US Admiral and our Admiral where he was promptly "chewed out" by our Admiral.
"That was bad! Bad boy! Don't do it again! BAD BOY!"
"yes sir, I was bad, I won't do it again. I'm sorry"

The CO and The Admiral spent a couple of hours after that "discussing" the event - apparently there were a few empty beer bottles after that discussion

Friend or Foe

So there we were
Sailing out of San Diego Harbor
Minding our own business

"THEY HAVE LOCKED ON TO US!" is screamed up from the Operations Room.

Rewind the tape a couple of hours for the back story

One naval tradition that we do our best to follow is to salute other warships within the limits of the harbor. You really can't go wrong, a matter of polite respect. You sail by, you salute the senior shipand the salute is returned. How easy is that?

My first ship, the Qu'apple, 300' long (more or less), top speed of about 30 knots (with a tail wind), armed with the mighty 3"70 gun. The three ships in my squadron had just finished a great visit to San Diego and were heading home. After leaving the Naval base in Diego you pass right by the Marine Air Base, a sub base, and a refueling station (more or less in that order). At the refueling station was USS New Jersey - as in battle ship, think big, think fast (40+knots), think heavy armor (better than a foot in most places), think BIG GUNS (and lots of them), think missles and you get a pretty good idea that she is an impressive ship.

Here we come, the three ships of us destroyer escorts, in a friendly line, doing 15 kts. We pass the New Jersey and all three of us salute, nice and formal, nice and friendly. Someone on New Jersey was awake and all three salutes we returned with proper respect. "Hi, nice to see you, fair winds and following seas". We carry on to the open sea where we are due to point the ships north and head home.

Fast forward a couple of hours

Our three ships we on a course of 270, doing 15kts, in a happy column. For some reason there was a very heavy fog over the sea that day. No big deal, that is what we invented radar for.

Sailing Sailing over the ocean blue..

"THEY HAVE LOCKED ON TO US!" is screamed up from the Operations Room.

First reaction is one requiring clean knickers to be sought.
Who are they? And what is locked on to us? And, by the way, bring the ship to action stations if you would be so kind.

After a few intense 2 minutes, the ship is locked and loaded, ready for.... we still arn't sure yet. Eyes peering into the mist off our starboard beam we wait
and wait
and the fog begins to lift.
And there, in the parting fog is USS New Jersey - yes, the ship we saluted a couple of hours ago, remember when I said BIG GUNS? Well she has 9 of them, each one will spit out a chunk of steel the size a weight of a small car at you from 20 miles away. And all 9 of those BIG GUNS were pointed at us.
Time for more clean knickers.

The fog cleared some more and then, as if someone on the New Jersey woke up and saw what he had his BIG GUNS pointed at, all nine of those guns snapped forward and the Jersey cranked hard to starboard and cranked on some speed. I suspect someone didn't want us to recognize who she was.

I hope someone fell on his sword for that, or at least had to pay for our knickers to be washed

Hang On Tight

It seems life is harsh

Racing to the next new thing

Roller coaster ride


If there is one thing I can always have a fond memory for, it would have to be the Banyan. Every once in a while, he Captain would decide it is time for a good old fashion bbq/party on the quarter deck - the back end of the ship. The ship would be put on a smooth course or the anchor would drop, the bbq would be dragged out, the fishing lines would go out and we would all get together and socialize. Not a bad way to spend a couple of hours.
Not withstanding any of that, we would also be issued our two beers. That is right, issued. Each man was given two beers, one of the great benefits of being part of the Canadian Navy vs the US navy. They may have some really cool toys, but we have beer.
One of the best banyans I can remember was way back in the late 80's. The ship was anchored off of San Clementi Island - somewhere off the southern California coast. The banyan was in full swing - we had two bbq going at full burn, everyone who was not on watch was back there having a good time. The sun was shining, the sea was dead flat and there was a gentle breeze just coming over the port quarter. Life at sea was at its finest.
From around the corner of the island we heard the roar of a small boat approaching . After a few minutes, a small torpedo recovery boat came into view. We all watched in amusement as it approached and started issuing commands of you need to leave immediately. We responded with a shower of beer cans, empties of course because wasteing a can of beer was paramount to treason. I suspect if we had thrown a few full one at him he would have been a bit happier to see us. As it was, he turned his boat around and sped away, muttering under his breath.
The party continued for another 20 minutes or so until the CO got a call on the radio. Apparently the US Navy uses this island as a gunnery range and they really wanted to fire a few hundred rounds in our general direction. The CO was asked polietly if he could see his way clear to unfouling the range. In his infinate wisdom the CO said he would move his ship. I liked this CO, he could drive, he could sneek up on an aircraft carrier (more on this on a later post) and he had flair.
The party was wrapped up in a hurry when we were told that the US Navy was about to lob high explosives in our direction. Yes, they were our allies but somehow we weren't all that trusting of their ability to keep the shells where they belonged

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Perchance to Sleep

Some unfortunate people think that they must have the latest and greatest of toys in order to be happy. Some others insist that having a bank roll that would choke an elephant is the key to happiness. Ask any sailor and you will be given one answer - a solid nights sleep.

A long time ago when I began my life at sea, sleep was a mystical beast. I knew what it was, I knew where it was to be found but I never really got my fill.

My first rack was aboard HMCS Quapple, a 1960 vintage destroyer escort - she was a wonderful ship.
As I was a combat operator, I was assigned to 8 mess - 56 men directly aft of the engine room. Now, you may think the person you sleep beside snores, they have nothing on 56 very tired and grumpy sailors. To get to my rack, I had to climb down the ladder to the mess deck, tread my way forward past stacks of racks and lockers and then to the forward end of the compartment. Once I made my way to where my rack was, I had to climb to the top rack of three and lay down my weary head. The steel wall inches away from my pillow was about 1/2 thick, on the other side were the steam driven turbines that drove the ship forward.
For two weeks I barely slept a wink and then I was given the gift of selective hearing. I no longer heard the engines, the steam, the engineers swearing at everything. Nothing, peace at last. I could sleep through it all.
And then the action alarm would go off.
Every freaking night
I am glad we did those drills, it meant we could retrieve someone in 6 minutes if he fell over the side. Not to bad. But damn it, let me sleep a bit please - I do have watch in 2 hours.
If it wasn't a Man over board (MOB) drill, it was a  fire exercise, or a flood repair, or a missle attack or a......
Now, this wasn't every night, it just seemed that way.

Being at sea is a 24/7 job. Sure, the normal work day was from 8 to 4 but that wasn't the end of it for me.
I was privalaged to stand 1 watch in 3. That means I got to stand at my duty post for 4 hour and then got 8 off. That meant the longest time I could possibly be asleep was 8 hours. Subtract from that, time for me to eat, shower, get to my post and relax a bit and my 8 hours shrank significantly. Then add the ACTION alarm at any time......Can you see a pattern here?

To this sailor and most others you will find, Sleep, give me a chance to rack out and I will be happy.
Throw in a pillow and blankie.... what more is there to have?

Be well

Need for speed

Important person 

Screaming up the highway

Radar Love

Soft Mist

Gray shadows afar

It is out there waiting

Will it be found

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Office Cut

Fold lick stamp and send

Repeat fold lick ahhh the pain

Blood flows down the page

Silver Ball

Rush toward the wall

Rebound and scream off again

Shot back to the fray

Red Dawn

Sol breaks horizon

Spilling blood across the sky

Batten the hatches

Hey Cabbie

An arm extends

Hailing my skill and drive

Person arrives home

Excuse me Sir

Can you spare some time

I have lost my way forward

Oh look, a new job

Cleaning Stations

A clean ship is a happy ship, and a how lot less smelly. Try living in the same room with 50 other guys and you will know what I mean.
Every morning at 0800 the pipe rings out
"Out Pipes, hands to cleaning stations, morning watchmen to breakfast"
Every freaking morning its the same damn thing, you get up, you shit/shower/shave, make your rack, have some breakfast and then put your feet up and wait for that faithful pipe. I would be waiting there, baited breath, waiting to see where I would get to clean this morning. It was a pain in the butt job, but it needed to be done every morning. Flats, heads, mess decks and your work space. Hands and knees, buckets of soapy water and a bit of elbow grease for 90 minutes. As I said, a pain in the ass but considering the alternatives, not a bad way to start the morning.
The Canadian Navy does not run the cleanest ships in the world but we are pretty close - I think the Japanese beat us out on that. From what I have seen, they actually have teams that all they do for the day is move from bow to stern cleaning. They actually go and polish individual brass screws. The one time I was aboard one of their ships, I was pretty impressed.
On the other end of the scale I have been on a few US ships and was glad I never had to sail on one. The idea of cleaning on the ship I was on seemed to be push the dust bunnies into the corner., but I digress..

Sitting on the deck, brasso in hand and making the valve cover gleam. One of the better parts of doing cleaning stations, you got to sit down and look like you were doing some serious work. I was in love with brass, I love making it gleam. I can't tell you why, only that it makes my heart go pitter patter. One of the worse days in my career happened when I was told to paint a brass fitting on the bridge - my soul was ripped from me and tossed over the side that morning.

Ah well, such is the way of the world.


Monday, 17 October 2011

Paint Ship

How often have you heard that our ships are held together by held together by paint and duct tape? Well, the truth of the matter is that this is not too much of an exaggeration. A common saying about the ship is "If it moves, salute it, if it doesn't, paint it" really rings true. Upper deck maintenance is a frequent task throughout any working day and frequently you will see sailors out with a can of paint.
Now, we all know that the proper way to paint is to wash the surface down, sand and feather the edges, prime,
then the paint goes down.

Well, as sailors are all very busy, sometimes a few steps have been know to be skipped, like all of them save the final one. Hey, the rust will be there tomorrow to do this all again, what is the worry?

There is also a proper day to do painting. This day is generally recognized by the sky clear of clouds and this day defiantly does not have the letters SUN prefixing the day. Sometimes, the overzealous forget about what constitutes a good day for painting. Case in point, one SUNday in the mid Atlantic, the ship I was sailing was steaming bravely to the Azores. The Captain came up to the bridge and decided it was a proper day to apply color topping - a thin oil based paint, to the deck. He turned the the Buffer and said "BUFFER, paint the deck". The Buffer looked at him and said, "Sir, its Sunday, the men deserve the day off."
"Buffer, paint the deck"
Buffer looked at the radar screen and saw all of these lovely puffy clouds being painted on the screen
"Sir, the clouds..."
"Aye Aye Sir"
The Buffer set out to accomplish the crazy bastard <read into that - CAPTAIN> orders.
We all got out and painted, watching those lovely, fluffy clouds watch us.

When the final stroke of the brush was finished, the clouds said "CHARGE" and set to chase us
Captain saw the clouds and ordered full speed
Clouds said "homey don't think so" overtook us and dumped. We ended up with this dark paint  spashed everywhere and had it running down the sides of the ship. 4 hours of work on a Sunday afternoon, gone.
We were some unhappy
The crazy bastard decided to remain in his cabin until we got to the Azores.

The first task when we got to the Azores?
Come on, I am sure you can guess....

And that is all about painting in the Royal Canadian Navy

In the Navy

Okay, so I spent a few years in the Navy - somewhere between 22 and 24. I  thought it was only 20, but the Chief of Defence Staff seems to think 24, others think 22 - who am I to argue with those who know better?

It was a hell of a good ride, got to see stuff that no one should see, stuff that everyone should be privileged to see and a whole lot of whales. Made it around the world in somewhat more than 80 days, I guess we really haven't gotten any faster than Mr Fogg. I have stepped foot on or shaken hands with someone from every continent on this planet, sailed on every one of the 7 Oceans, and made it around Cape Horn.

Now I am a land lubber - I have hung up my uniform and let my hair grow out a bit. Last night I was reminded of the vast number of stories rattling around between my ears and told that those stories need to be shared.

Fair enough, for better or worse, I will let those stories out.
The good ones
The ugly ones
And those that are just plain silly.

I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did writing them

Friday, 14 October 2011


Explosion of joy

It was long with held from her

Bliss and happiness


When does one plus one

Come out equal to far more

All and naught to see


Water drops collect

Shallow small hold in my hand

Peaceful and serene


Water drops collect

Shallow small hold in my hand

Peaceful and serene


Caffine daily start

Glucose to spike through the day

Little pill to sleep

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

A Sailors Life

When the sea tower 

You look up to see the green

The belief is there

 When the decks heave to

 You can 't  stand upright at all

 Belief is there too

 When the clouds part

 The sea calms and the sky clear

 You can't but believe


The body ages

Aches and pains grow with each day

As does ones value

Memories gather

Of that which was long ago

Gather them in close

What has past dies not

So long as it stays within

Ones value does grow

Death and Taxes

Not avoidable

Both bring dread and terror

Await for your peace


Cast away the fear

Be bold, do that which you fear

Grow toward your goal


Carbon atom here

O H molecule there

Fuel to power all

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Safe injection sites and other crimes against society

It is good to know that drug users in Vancouver have a nice safe place to shoot up.
It is nice and warm, clean water and a nurse sitting there to help them if they OD.

How much is that costing you? 
That nurse, why does she sit there when she could be doing something important
like helping your friend survive a car accident? 

Why are we forced to pay for this to happen again and again?
Here in Victoria they hand out free needles to drug users and yet people who are forced to give themselves their own medical injections must pay for their own needles. 
The spread of this pandering to the the lowest common denomination must stop. How long will it be before one of these "people" we have paid to get high comes to your home and attacks you so it can get its next fix?

I have heard the term harm reduction. The money that gets shoved into these people each and every day can be used for something of value - like that lady over there with a small child who no safe place to call home. 

Tell your local public servant where you want your taxes spent. 
It is your money, they are there to serve you

Yes We Can

He stood and said it

How can one do it all

You must do your part


Split by the powers

Hate grew, the world fought back

Tear down the wall!


Primp, fluff, pluck and paint

Never enough can be done

It will all wash off

A Picture

A simple pencil

Move it to mark the page

Draw it for your joy

Wonderful View

Gentle to the touch

Graceful rise to behold

Lost in Heaven


Quiet settles in

Terra begins her long rest

Waiting for the spring

Think About It

Between your two ears

Sitting there making decisions all day

Use it or lose it

Far away

A voice from afar

Stirs feelings to surface

Confusion descends


  The room is opened
Too late, it is gone
A hand reaches out and grabs

Too late, it is gone

Enemy Mine

Darkly foreboding

Plotting against those they "serve"

Its election time

Crime and punishment

Guilty says the judge

For your crimes you are banished

Four walls and a bunk

Don Cherry and the gladiators

Well the great Don Cherry has spoken again, bemoaning the fact that hockey is no longer the gladiator match it used to be.

Poor Bunny

When this game was invented, the idea of the game was to put the little black thing into the net.
I doubt that anywhere in the minds of those who invented the game did the idea occur....

"One of the ideas of the game should be to see how many people can be maimed"

and yet how many of the players today are getting hurt due to the actions and desires of people like Don.
Todd Bertuzzi immediately comes to mind.
6 years ago he sucker punched Steve Moore, ending Steves hockey career right then and there. Todd apologized" and carried on doing what he did best - being a goon for Don Cherry.

After listening to Don whine about the good old days, the CBC stood up and said "We don't support his views". What a load of crap that is. If the CBC doesn't support his views, show it and fire his ass.
Until we no longer have to listen to Don whine and moan about how things aren't like they used to be, there will be more career ending events like Steve Moore and Sidney Crosby.

Don, go away and find somewhere else to get your fill of blood - I hear that you can find some action over in Afghanistan

Washing away

Pouring from the sky
Rain washes away what was
To bring something new

Monday, 10 October 2011

Flown Away

Tiny bird grew up

Time to leave his nest and home

Fly strong my son


How much is there left

And they want from my how much

Who gets what and when

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Good morning

awake this morning

smile back from the mirror

best start to the day


to teach one must learn

forever new ideas

young minds to lead

Death rides by

He rides a white horse

He has no malice, fear not

He but brings you change


Work and sweat and earn

Each day a new fee to pay

Never to be free

Where am I

petals of pure silk
lain on the ruby field
silver crescent moon


smooth unblemished plain
hills and valleys to explore
hidden jewel waits

dimpled hills to climb
gentle sun warms your voyage
seek hidden valley

almond eyes sparkle
speak volumes to the world
with nary a sound

Live or die

eagle on the hunt
circles until the prey moves
   talons slash the air

hidden in the grass
safety waits mere feet away
scurry to my home

to live or to die
only the gods can decide
be full or alive

Beggar on the street

Pity me they cry
I am helpless and unclean
I have no fortune

Pity me they wail
The world has past me by
I have no hope

Why should I pity
you can wash, you have to give
give out and receive

A new beginning

About 2 years ago I began a blog that quickly became a place for me to write Haiku.
I had no idea I could actually do such but somewhere inside there were many of them
waiting to be written.
Time past and I fell out of wanting to write on that site, so it is time to begin again here.
Should you wish to see what was written before, have a look here

Beyond that, sit back and read a few
I love feed back and if you have one you would share, I would love to hear it