Looks like me on the bridge.
The boson was Swedish; he was the only Swede on board. The ship was Norwegian and Norwegians, after events in W.W.II, didn’t like the Swedes much. The boson was also a heavy drinker. Somewhere about the sixth day the booze that some crewmen had managed to squirrel away from the officers began to run out. We didn’t know what was going on and couldn’t understand the sudden tensions that were appearing as men scrambled around searching for any remnants. Tempers were short.
Around two A.M. one morning Ron was awakened by someone bursting through his door. It was the boson with a gun in his hand! Drunk as a skunk and waving his weapon around he demanded the beer that he’d heard Ron had hidden in his bunk. Frightened stiff Ron managed to persuade him that there was no booze here and he left: muttering Swedish oaths.
The next morning dawned clear and sunny. The boson was late for work and when he did make his red-eyed and disheveled appearance he seemed not to remember what had happened during the night. Ron’s cabin mate set the bosun straight and warned him that he was close to being reported to the captain. The ship was truly dry now; all the gummy faces began to take on the glow of abstinence and good health.
The sea was calm; the weather clear as the ship steamed towards Japan. We were well out into the Pacific, had settled into our routine and were healthy and happy. Although we were still chipping paint and painting I really enjoyed the circumstances and I suspect this is when I really began to love the sea. This affection (or affliction) is hard to describe. It’s at it’s greatest when the sailor is on dry land and the responsibilities and dangers of living in a larger society are predominant. On the ocean the ship is your world: you can look over the rail and search the horizon and see no other signs of humans but your own small hunk of metal floating alone. From an oasis of order and satisfaction you can appreciate the beauty and chaos of nature. The ocean is huge and can be overwhelming but those mornings took my breath away.
It took years for this feeling to slowly disappear. Whenever I had an argument with my girlfriend or faced some kind of debilitating decision I was tempted to sign on to a ship, any ship.
One of those crystal clear perfect days Ron dropped a bucket of paint! He was up on a ladder painting a boom when the full bucket of yellow paint slipped out of his hand fell ten feet and splattered onto the freshly painted green deck. This wasn’t the worst part of the scene: oh no. The boson happened to be walking under the boom when the bucket came crashing down narrowly missing his head but managing to splatter his boots and pants. He was livid. He figured Ron had done it on purpose in retaliation for the gun incident. Well, you can’t fire some one and send him down the road at sea but there are other things you can do. The boson screamed at Ron, told him to clean up the mess then go to his cabin and wait for a new job!
-to be continued…