Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Another Soggy Saga Installment

Welcome back, thought I'd dwell on the shower foibles a bit longer. In my former life, when I was working to be precise, I had many occasions to hitch rides on seagoing vessels of just about every imaginable sort. They ranged from aircraft carriers and their smaller brothers-in-arms to merchant vessels, mostly those under contract to the US Government for one purpose or another. Each of these ships and boats (includes occasional submarine rides) came with its own special form of adventure. The subs were far and away the best for food, okay for accommodations, but woefully short of sunlight. I doubt I'd last but a few days on one, although their crews have the unique status of ALL members being very congenial. Guess you'd have to be if you're stuck in a sausage-shaped tin container for months at a time. (did I say that?) All the crews, military and civilian, were overall extremely welcoming and anxious to make you as comfortable as possible. The best surface ships would be the merchant ships and the ocean going tugboats operated by the Navy, although the ride on the tugs would be off-putting to those sane folks who, unlike myself, don't care for roller coaster rides in heavier seas. The food on the tugs and the berthing were generally the best, and the crews small and tight-knit. The most exciting were undeniably the aircraft carriers, although their available quarters were often less than ideal because of the sheer number of folks (usually 5,000+) aboard. The food was okay most of the time, although the preferred dining was at the CPO Mess as they choose their own menus and usually run their own little diners tucked away from the bustle above. The ingenious and varied places they find to tuck sleeping quarters away, along with the plumbing required, can make for interesting stays. As the various components in Combat Control Centers and several other areas need cooling to operate properly, the ships have what's known as "chill water". This is pretty much self-descriptive, i.e. CHILLY water. I'd probably never have known this but for the stay I made on one ship where the showers and head (bathroom) where I was bunking was directly below one of these computerized spaces. It seems that the plumbing to the shiny new bathing facilities was added in the last days of a recent re-fit, and apparently done with all due haste in order to meet the sailing date. This resulted in the hot water not being operative and scheduled for repair next port they visited. The cold water did work though, and being in warm climate, normal water temperature would be bearable for a short transit to the next port. Great plan, and it would seem, the reason the stateroom I was given was so lonely. This room was in "Junior Officer Country" where they put the officers of lower rank and civilians who happen by. This particular stateroom, my home for the 6 day trip, had six racks. but only myself and one other civilian staying there on a very crowded vessel. The reason became painfully clear when I ventured down the passageway to the communal head on the first night out. There I was, all settled in for a short jaunt with nothing to do but to get underfoot while watching the planes and sailors perform for an audience of one, and off for my nightly shower. As I brushed my teeth and trimmed my beard a bit, everything was seemingly great. It wasn't until I ventured into the "rain-locker" that I discovered the true reason the head facilities were mine alone. Not only did the hot water faucets not work, but the cold water, far from being tolerable, was in fact hooked up to the chill water being piped into the computer center on the next deck up! This meant the water temperature was in the 55F-60F range in that particular shower facility! It also meant the choice of an exceptionally short shower or trudging down one deck and along a long passageway to take a comfortable shower in the next nearest communal officer's head. Being a brave soul, and rather unambitious when it comes to traversing a ship in flip-flops and minimal clothing just for a bit of comfort, I opted for taking showers using a series of VERY short bursts of water. This was much like having self-imposed "water hours" like on older vessels, when water would run short at times, and showers were limited to 2-3 minutes duration. Looking back, I believe I'd have opted for 2-3 minutes of comfortable showers vice the freezing cold and extremely short variety. When I arrived at my destination and checked into my hotel, the first thing I did was take a very hot, very long shower. As one who prefers moderately warm showers, this was rather unusual, but I just felt I DESERVED it that one time just to warm back up. Until next time, take care.

10 comments:

ursusdave said...

Let me see now; ya say you is tellin a story here about when ya used ta be working, but here today yur very busy with rebuilding French autos and others, you're a good landlord, ya help others with their small business endevours, ya helped me with my blogging skills and you never met me, you write stories for us to read on here, you are involved in Veteran's rights issues, you surely do a whole lot more I don't know about but ya don't consider it work? Looks like a lotta work ta me Mike.

Mike S said...

Those things I enjoy and they allow me to avoid the "chores list" that the missus keeps full and up-dated daily:)

RC said...

Oh big hairy deal, you had a cold shower or two...I had to use the hose at the fish cleaning station this weekend...Talk about cooooold!!!! A wrinkled red man with goose bumps is not a pretty site...
OK...I'll give you credit for an entertaining, well written story even if you used the words flip-flops and minimal clothing together...I hope you didn't wear socks with them...a fashion fopah...
Good story, keep 'em coming...RC

Mies said...

Sounds like your a shower expert...What about the one other person in the room with you? Did he use your short burst system too? That probably was a very long 6 days....Interesting story, Thanks...

Morse said...

Really great story, Mike. I didn't realize that the military allowed civilians to tag along for the ride, but then again it is our tax dollars that make those boats possible.

As for choppy seas, I'm another who enjoys the rougher rides. I was recently on a ferry in a stormy passage. I spent the entire time out on deck with a camera.

Mike S said...

If you work for Uncle Sugar or contract out to him, you can get rides if needed to do the work. At times it was the only way to get into under-developed places quickly and safely:)

Hahn at Home said...

Ah, but you got a shower...when I was young, we had to spit into the wind and hope it blew back so we could get a shower. Those were the days.

Ann said...

The "short bursts of water" reminded me of the showers (when there were any) at the church camps I attended as a child. I don't think today's youth would put up with it....

Linnea said...

Hey, six years in the Navy here and never been on a ship! (Seems odd, but I'm thankful for that, at least most of the time...)

Sounds similar to our experience when we first moved to Germany. Something about fuses that I didn't quite "get" when forced to deal with the home issues myself after The Economist was sent elsewhere (the day our household goods shipment arrived)

The Guy Who Writes This said...

Too bad there is no dry cleaning for humans.