Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sh*t Captains Say

I love old captains. You know, the guys who started out on shrimp boats at age 13 and have ridden-out at least a couple of hurricanes. These are fellows who have bent a few wheels, put a boat or two on the mud, and can fix just about anything that floats. Maybe they don’t read a lot of books, but each carries an encyclopedia of common sense and hard-earned knowledge in his head.

The best are happy to teach, and people like me owe then a great deal.

They’re often judgmental, too, as in: “That right there is a no-boat-running motherf*cker.”

Or, as the captain of a boat (four miles away) said to me over the radio the other night as I was picking my way down the Atchafalaya River for the first time: “Son, that spotlight burns out you gonna be in a real mess, ain’t ya?” (My reply: “Nah, I got two.”)

On my first overnight solo watch offshore, the master’s instructions were pretty simple: “Just keep going thataway, and don’t run over any of them green dots (radar returns). You oughta be okay.”

Captains aren’t the only ones out here who say funny stuff. The other day we were sitting around in the wheelhouse and our engineer was speculating about where he could build some parts storage shelves in the forepeak. I recalled that I had seen the door to my closet stashed up there.

“I can just put that door back on, right? Get it out of your way?”

“No, you can’t,” he replied. “Training captains aren’t allowed to have closet doors. In fact, you’re not even supposed to have a door on your room.”

The excellent mariner's site gCaptain has a great member-contributed list of captains' witticisms here.

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