Sunday, August 02, 2009

Adventures In The Mediterranean

I've always kind of regretted that I left the sea when I left the Navy, those many years ago. I've always loved the idea of sailing, especially of traveling by sailboat. I don't (regrettably) have any experience with sailboats, but in the Navy days I was occasionally engineer on a 50' power utility boat. I always enjoyed working on the utility boats. One of those really fun jobs!

Once in the seas south of Mallorca, we had to make a transfer of some people and supplies from one carrier--my ship, the USS Saratoga to another--the USS FD Roosevelt.

Turns out, the swells were about 20 feet--which the aircraft carriers didn't even notice, but the utility boats did.

I had the bow line, I was standing 'pon the foredeck ready to tie up as we approached the Roosevelt, and as we made our approach, a massive swell kicked the boat up and toward the side of the Roosevelt. The swell ebbed suddenly, leaving me about ten feet in the air, just holding onto that line for dear life!

The next swell brought the boat back up, violently (as far as my body was concerned). The boat surged upward as I fell downward, with painful results. I landed hard on the foredeck and managed to hang on. I got up and tied the line off and got back into the hold before the next big swell, which banged the boat into the side of Roosevelt. It knocked everyone off his feet but the Bosun, who was hanging on to the wheel. I still remember the bruises and muscle strains from that bit of acrobatics!

Ah, for the good ol' days!

The positive part of the story was liberty in Palma the next day. What a town!

From the Adventures of a wandering boy.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California


T. F. Stern said...

You might have enjoyed a similar experience this past week when a Continental jet hit air turbulence. Those not wearing a seat belt got to slam into the ceiling and float in the air, even if only for a moment, prior to crashing back down. Several of them were injured, some seriously. No thank you, I like my feet on solid ground.

Glad you shared your story.

Col. Hogan said...


I'd take the hit on the head before I'd let those TSA goons feel me up. Nooooo, thanks! I'd fly, except that it involves dealing with the goose-stepping nazis at the government airports.

When I used to fly, I always stayed belted in except when going to the bathroom. A plane I was in leaving out of Miami, back in the 1980's, dropped for several seconds. Fortunately, it was just a few minutes after takeoff and they hadn't yet turned off the seat belt sign. Seems like folks paid attention to those signs more, back then. A lot of folks were scared, yours truly included, but the stews remained cool.

Chatelaine said...

Sailing is fun, Col. I didn't think I'd take to it like I have, but I did. Now that I know what to really expect when out on bigger waters, I'm sure I'll be better about it next time.

But I do still keep finding bruises. Got one on my leg the size of a silver dollar, dark too, looks brutish.

MK said...

Sounds like fun times CH. I'm sure you don't miss the injuries though. :)

Col. Hogan said...


At the suggestion of a friend, I've started reading the Horatio Hornblower series by CS Forester. I'm sensing that they're stories for boys, but I'm enjoying the first one, anyway.

Early 19th century military sailing at its roughest.

Col. Hogan said...


These things are always a lot more fun in hindsight. Some of these little tales of my youth are fun to relate now, but they weren't a lot of fun at the time. Of course, that's one of the benefits of being young: You can better take the hits, and you never think you're going to die.

steveintx said...

Let me tell you brother, you DON'T want a hit on the head.

I used to date a girl whose daddy had a 28 footer and we went to Catalina a few times. Once we got caught in a blow and wound up about 80 miles from shore. Talk about a kid from ND being scared outta my mind. I'm glad she knew what she was doing though. One thing about it, I found I didn't get seasick.

I try to never fly anymore. Not ecause I'm fearful, but because of the intrusion. When I did I always wore my seatbelt. I began wearing a seatbelt long before it became law or became popular only for one reason. If a wreck knocks you out of the chair you have absolutely no control. When you go in a ditch or hit something big with 30 tonnes pusing you, ya usually lose big.

smartass sob said...

At the suggestion of a friend, I've started reading the Horatio Hornblower series by CS Forester. I'm sensing that they're stories for boys, but I'm enjoying the first one, anyway.

Those are good stories; I don't know if they are "stories for boys," but I enjoyed reading them in my early 20's. Forester also wrote "The African Queen," which I'd read and liked when I was in high school. Didn't think at first that I'd like Hornblower, but after I got into it I began to appreciate the detailed portrayal of early seamanship and British Navy life.

Apparently Forester did his homework; I recently had a conversation with a man whose uncle served on a British sub during WWII and he said that the Admiralty's attitude toward its men had not really changed much after all that time. The submarine crew had been captured by the Germans, although the boat had been sunk (I believe.) The Admiralty seems to have thought they should have all gone down with their ship. Someone wrote a small, hard-to-find novel about all this, which I borrowed and read from the man I had the converstion with - but for the life of me I don't remember the title of it or the name of the submarine.

You're gonna really enjoy the Hornblower books. I wish I could read them again for the first time.