Monday, June 23, 2014

Humor in Uniform - SEASICKNESS


Unforgettable Memories of My Navy Days

As a young Sub Lieutenant, in the latter half of the 1970’s, the first month of my “sea time” was sheer bliss, as our ship was berthed alongside in harbour at Bombay (now called Mumbai) for a “maintenance period”.

Every evening, we would imbibe a generous amount of the best Scotch Whisky in the ship’s wardroom and then go ashore to enjoy the delights the “maximum city” Bombay had to offer.

Suddenly, the fun time was all over, and we were off to sea.

It was monsoon time, the sea was rough, and as we headed out to sea, our ship, a frigate, started rolling and pitching quite furiously.

Individuals started getting sea-sick.

The doctor had hit the bunk in the sickbay in anticipation, in harbour itself, the moment special sea duty men closed up.

At Both Watches, I told the Master Chief: “This is my first sailing on this ship. In case I get sea-sick, you take charge.”

My Master Chief Petty Officer (MCPO), a grizzled old sea-dog, who was arguably the senior-most sailor in our branch, and certainly the senior-most sailor on board our ship, said matter-of-factly: “Sir, you will not get sea-sick.”

“How do you know I will not get sea-sick? You have never seen me sailing. You don’t know anything about me,” I said to him.

“Sir, we know all about you. The wardroom steward tells us that you drink almost half a bottle of whisky every evening. And, Sir, at last week’s party at Sailors’ Home, you drank all of us under the table – you drank almost a full bottle of rum and then walked back all the way to the ship as if nothing had happened,” he said with genuine admiration in his voice.

“But what has drinking got to do with seasickness?” I asked.

“I don’t know the theory, Sir, but in my long service I have observed that heavy drinkers never get seasick,” he said.

As we sailed, and the sea got rougher, I observed that what the old sea-dog had said was true.

Ours was a non-airconditioned ship in which the Officers’ Cabin Flat reeked of the awfully nauseating smell of FFO (Furnace Fuel Oil), which made the nausea even worse, and most of the officers were terribly sea-sick.

There was a stench all over the ship as officers and sailors were retching and vomiting due to seasickness.

Only a few officers remained unaffected.

I was one of the lucky ones who did not get sea-sick.

I realized that the Master Chief was right.

The officers who were not sea-sick were all heavy drinkers.

A few days later the Fleet Commander embarked on board our ship.

He was a towering figure, over six feet tall, with an impressive beard and an imposing personality.

I was surprised to see this grand Admiral getting sea-sick.

In fact, there was a bucket kept for him on the bridge.

You guessed right – the Admiral was a non-drinker, a strict teetotaller.

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All Stories in this Blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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