So my ship has been out to sea the entire week without me and of course I can’t help but think gosh I should be out there, I’m definitely missing valuable time working on qualifications and all of that shit. Well I wish I could say I didn’t think about that once but I’m a huge nerd and I did miss it. One of the best things about my job is being out on the water and driving the ship. I mean I can’t help but say I’m a little excited about the things I do.
So while my ship has been gone without me I am stuck in school learning about things I can’t speak a word about. Which don’t get me wrong, that is very intriguing as well.
My first time as the conning officer was not so good let me tell you. Things went from bad to worse at a very fast rate. It was the day that I thought this might not be life for me after all. But it has gotten much better since. Let me reminisce with you for a hot second.
Just a few months ago it was my first time out on the open water. It was exciting and exhilarating all at the same time. One significant thing about my first underway was that the captain was not with us. A commodore was embarked taking his place for a few weeks. Captain W. I will never forget him. He’s the captain you imagine captain’s to be. Very fierce and always saying something, which in the end always seems to work out in the right way. I had just taken the conn, first time, and it was not going well at all. I had some simulated experience driving the ship at a class I had taken previously, but nothing could have prepared me for this. I was messing up everything. Always saying the wrong thing, and struggling through the words. I was slightly miserable and extremely afraid I was going to get kicked off the bridge on my first try.
Captain W came up to the bridge which made me much more nervous and this is not even twenty minutes into the watch. Gosh. Then seconds later they call “MAN OVERBOARD, MAN OVERBOARD, starboard side”. Nobody had even told me there was supposed to be a drill and apparently they had thrown oscar (the man overboard dummy- bright orange fake guy) into the water from the flight deck. I had no idea what to do except to run to the starboard bridge wing and hopefully figure something out once I got there. The only good thing I did right was order a left right rutter and then I was completely clueless.
So I run out to the bridge wing and one of the guys on the training team joins me and says you really don’t know what you’re doing do you. I looked at him with a blank face and shook my head. I’m doomed was all I kept thinking.
Of course we are joined seconds later by captain W and he wasn’t to happy with the job I was doing. I hadn’t thrown a smoke float into the water, we hadn’t raised the man overboard flag, and we definitely had not blown six short blasts on the ships whistle because well I had no clue what was going on. Can I also just add the fact that I had only been onboard the ship like three weeks. But whatever, they expect you to know everything in this profession.
So he starts helping me to drive the ship. (one other thing I would like to state before going on is the fact that he definitely had no idea this was my first time on the bridge, and I surely wasn’t about to tell him) So he started to get slightly aggravated with the fact that I was incapable of doing anything right. Then he was ordering me to drive the ship. Of course something went wrong with the port engine and we ran over oscar completely while trying to rescue him. I was slightly mortified but all I did was repeat his orders and continue pointing at the man in the water.
It took us almost thirty some minutes to retrieve him, an all time worst. It should take only about ten at the most. It was a disaster in the making. I heard some harsh words which I shall not repeat, but in the end I somehow made it through. Then the captain left the bridge and I thought that was that.
Of course it wasn’t.
Four hours later, ten minutes before the end of my first watch, the captain reappears on the bridge and sits in his chair. A menacing fact. The only thing I could hope was that he wouldn’t see me, that he would let me slip away undetected. I did my first turnover, blundering through it, because I had never really seen it done and then I was about to leave when the captain calls my name. I look over to him and he is beckoning me to him. There’s nothing that I can do but go… unfortunately.
I walk over to him and receive what I know best as my first serious ass chewing… in front of the entire pilot house. MY only response to everything was “yes sir” “yes sir” “yes sir”. I’m not even sure exactly what he said but I gave him my most stern face and repeated yes sir to everything about how terrible I had done, about how I needed to learn a lot more, about everything.
I said yes sir until he dismissed me and I did not run but I beelined my way off the bridge as fast as humanly possible without looking like a scared rabbit. Overall my first real ass chewing went pretty well, but it was a hard first one. I can only do better than that I guess.