It has been a few days since my last posting and in an effort to catch up again here are a few photos of the ports we visited and an idea of what we have been up too. The days pass so quickly and it is nearly September already.
I dont know about you but I am not a great lover of seeing my visage in a photo. I can’t put my finger on it. I get photographed so often with guests and crew but I still am not overly fond of seeing myself. I look with a super critical eye. However today I was in a photo giving awards to well deserving members of the crew for their safety culture awareness and it reminded me of a story.
I was a Third Mate on a tanker. I was young. I had been around the world a bit and thought I had seen most things. In those days we wore grey short sleeved shirts, epaulettes, grey shorts, long grey socks and sandals. Not the prettiest image in your minds for sure. The Captain was a very rotund gentleman. So corpulent was he that it was only the belt on his shorts that was keeping his paunch from bruising his toes. The single button holding his shorts together at the waist was always under enormous strain. He was always the first at the table for lunch and dinner and we as junior officers would hang back in the hope we would not have to dine with him. He would get his main course and scrape it into his large bowl of soup whilst we looked on. I vowed that when I got to be Captain I would not be like him.
We were heading up the Chesapeake Bay to Baltimore on this little tanker. We had a cargo of 18000 tonnes of motor car fuel and aviation kerosene to deliver. The pilot was on the bridge as was I, the Captain and the Indian helmsman known as a Secunni who was steering the ship. The Captain had an awful habit of scratching nonchalantly at his round belly through his shirt whilst muttering to himself and occasionally whistling unknown tunes as he paced around the bridge. I was standing to one side of the Secunni, the pilot was on his other side and the Captain was wandering around the bridge muttering and whistling. For some reason, on this particular day the Captain was not wearing the belt on his shorts. The one button holding the waistband together gave up the ghost and shot across the bridge at an alarming rate. It valiantly tried to remove itself from the Captains glare by disappearing under the table upon which the kettle, tea and coffee mugs lay. It was only the fact that he was facing away from all of us that saved our eyes from a potentially catastrophic encounter with a small round grey projectile. The Captains shorts to my utter horror shot south around his ankles at an equally alarming speed revealing the largest pair of Y fronts I as a young man had ever seen. He cussed and swore and bent over to grab the shorts. Both the pilot and I were fixated on the scene before us. Quick as a flash the Captain whipped of his shorts and proceeded to chase the button in its bid for freedom across the bridge in his underpants. He moved swifter than I imagined he was capable of. He bent down to pick it up. The pilot and I averted our gaze. This was not pretty. This could scar weaker minds for life!
The Captain walked back towards us, shorts in one hand and button in the other. The pilot and I fixed our stare forward out the bridge windows pretending that we had seen nothing of the unfolding drama. The Secunni who was steering this tanker full of the most inflammable liquids on the planet was proffered the shorts and button and told to sew them back together. With doleful eyes he looked at me. Almost pleading. What could I do? I took over the steering whilst the poor man left to fetch a needle and thread and unite the button and waistband once more. The pilot was a true professional. He looked at me. I looked at him. Words were not required. The eyes said it all. What could we say? We carried on up the Chesapeake Bay with the Captain half dressed until the Secunni finally gave him back his shorts and I resumed my duties.
They say that a part of all these people that are supposed to be your mentors throughout your junior years stick with you. I have never forgotten to wear my belt.