[from the stabenow.com vaults, 2007]
We’re on strict water conservation, and so are restricted to sea showers. The first morning I heard this pipe I didn’t know what it was, so I filled the sink full of water, wet down my hair so I could get a comb through it, took a spit bath, got dressed, and went and asked somebody what I’d just done wrong. Turns out I could still shower, I just had to get wet, turn off the water, soap up, and then turn the water back on to rinse off. Whew. We get our fresh water from the sea, processed through what is called the evap, essentially a desalinization plant. Most of the time, no problem, but some countries are less careful than others about what they let run into the sea, so we’re more careful about where we fill up.
On the bridge this morning we saw three sea turtles, a mahi mahi, a pod of whales (they had little dorsal fins like a finback but they weren’t big enough, if anybody knows post a comment), and a marlin taunting the Captain with a tail dance. “It’s like an aquarium,” somebody said, and then a pod of dolphins showed up to ride our bow wave. Yesterday we saw a shark and a manta ray right under the surface.
After lunch we did a boat to boat drill, the bad boat takes off OTH, Combat acquires a vector and gives it to the good boat, which takes off in pursuit.
PO Karl Griffin, a member of the Snoopy team, is on the bridge with a digital video camera as our boats return, recording the events of the drill on film. The Snoopy team has a big black case full of three kinds of cameras, digital, video and film. Their job is to provide a visual record of operations, as backup for the legal case to be made against the suspects on the beach. It’s also an aide memoire. “Everyone on the boarding team writes a narrative,” says Weps (LTJG Kevin Beaujoin). Maybe somebody remembers they apprehended a twenty-foot blue boat with a black stripe, and the video record shows a thirty-foot black boat with a white stripe. Like that.
The seas are calmer today than they were yesterday, which is a lot easier on boats and crews, plus with practice the teams are hitting their stride. Our helo has some fuel issues that are being beaten into submission by our engineers, aided by a loan of parts from another cutter conveyed via a bag dropped by line to our foredeck from their helo (called a VERTREP, or vertical replenishment), which was very cool to watch (photos courtesy of SN Frederick Lamar and LTJG Mark Haines), and the flight deck firefighting crew is mustering in the hangar for helo refueling.
When I comment on the amount of fire drills we do, the XO says very matter of factly, “Oh, we’ll have a fire.” Which would be why we have to know how to put it out, fires are a not regular but not an unusual either occurrence underway. And it isn’t like the whole crew isn’t dreaming up new ways to set fires in their less than copious spare time. At lunch today, LTJG Josh Dipietro has a scenario about a smuggler ramming the Munro in a suicide attempt to avoid apprehension which leads not only to a holing of the engine room but a grease fire in the kitchen. Everywhere you eavesdrop Coasties are going “What if?” These people could write science fiction, except it’d all be true right now, never mind in the future.
Great steaks grilled on the fantail for dinner, yum, and then we were supposed to do another NVG drill this evening but another equipment issue cropped up. Captain and crew want to go to work and are ever so slightly unhappy after two days spent fighting a couple of equipment problems, any one of which would have pissed off the Pope.