posting by Dave Henry
Last night I was setting the trash by the curb and took a moment to look at the stars. Holding my hand to block the neighbor's porch light, I tried to see if I could remember any of their names.
On a couple of occasions over the last four years my wife has asked if I wished I'd stayed in. Every time I've truthfully answered that I still think leaving active service was the right decision and I have no regrets.
From time to time, though, something will pull me back, like how last night gave a brief reminder of sitting on the top of the sail at night, just you and the lookout and the light from the stars, the moon, your pipe and the reflection of bioluminescence off the belly of flying fish.
There wasn't a single place in the sky you couldn't find a star if you looked hard enough. The slight chill of the breeze brought on by a full bell.
I can honestly say I don't regret my decision, but I also have to admit I do sometimes dream of going back just for a day.
Follow-up by mOOse
Dave - Its funny you posted this. When I got out of work last night at midnight, I noticed some activity to the north. The Northern Lights had a show going on and I decided to drive down by the coast where artificial light is minimal.
I sat for two hours and witnessed the most active show of Aurora Borealis I've ever seen. Great majestic flashes of light in spires, sheets and bursts filled the north sky.
We are so far apart yet stood together last night, if only through the wonder of the heavens we were seeing.
Follow-up by Olgoat
Here's an related excerpt from 'Dex' Armstrong's recollections of his time spent on the Requin.
"Being at sea wasn't that bad ... especially riding the surface. Some of my finest memories are of nights standing watch on the bridge.
Summer nights were great. The boat would knife along and sea water would rise up along the tank tops, slip away aft and cascade off, leaving millions of twinkling phosphorescent stars winking back at you in the wake. It doesn't get any better than that.
Every now and then porpoises would play in the bow wave... coffee always tasted better on nights like that... and if you could get a visitor to the bridge to assume your watch for long enough to allow you to drop down to the 0-2 level and catch a smoke, it sure made life worth living."
Follow-up by John Ackerman
One of the most enjoyable parts of my career was exactly what Dave describes: standing watch during a calm, peaceful night. Millions and millions of stars and it made one think of many things. therapeutic to say the least. It is an experience I'll not soon forget.
Another very peaceful experience was lying-to conducting a battery charge on a night like I have just described. The watch routine was less stressful and gave us more time to reflect on things in general.
Follow-up by Patty Wayne
In January of 1986 while in Diego Garcia our Engineer was leaving the boat with his telescope. A few of us inquired as to where he was going, and he told us that he was going to get a view of Halley's Comet.
Four of us went to the control tower at Diego Garcia International Airport and spent most of the night looking at the comet, Crux (the Southern Cross), the Large and Small Magellenic Clouds, and other various celestial objects which couldn't be seen from most of the states.
Follow-up by Bob Harrison
Brings back some memories to an old skimmer, too. I might add that I can still see a sea as smooth as glass on a clear moonlit night with the light of the moon reflecting from the undulating surface for as far as the eye could see. It kinda made you think that the sea was alive and it was one of the most vivid memories of sea life that I have.
Follow-up by Park Dallis
Last night I was driving back from Tok, Alaska to Anchorage... got in at 0300 but had a great show of the Northern Lights for the first 3 hours of the trip. There's not much light pollution on that stretch of road and the views were spectacular.
That flashback of nights on the bridge is very familiar. I loved going to sea and when we stationed the Maneuvering Watch for getting underway my station was on the bridge also.
Follow-up by Myron Howard
When I started standing throttle watch on BREAM, I always took the 12-4's. And you just reminded me why. I would go up on the bridge nearly every night and have a couple cups of coffee and several Camels. I always stayed up between the mid and the 12-4 and slept the other 8 off. Never saw too many movies but saw a lot of great sun rises.
Follow-up by Ed597
I remember cruising in the Med, on lookout. This was summer of course. Nothing but stars and state 1 seas. It made port & starboard watch standing a little easier. I just couldn't wait until my turn at lee helm came around. Climb the ladder to the sail and sit for hours.
But a winter Med run, that's another story!
Follow-up by RamJet
Geez Dave, I read your post and had a "misty-moment". Then pad and mOOse waxin' poetic about the northern lights, what memories!!
I remember just such a night, crusin' in the Med, sea like glass, all of a sudden "ALL BACK EMERGENCY!!! The old Cobbler shuddered from stem to stern, the old man comes runnin' out of his stateroom in his skivvies. "What the hell are we backin' down from?" he bellowed into the first mike he could reach. A moment of silence was followed by the timid reply, "The moon sir."
Seems the old moon had popped up over the horizon or out of a cloud, looking all the world like a mast head light, dead ahead of us. Brought a sleepy watch to full alert.
Follow-up by Mike Maloney
This is one advantage skimmers have over us. I remember being on the Coast Guard cutter at night just staring at the sky looking at the stars. It's a view you never forget, makes you realize how small you really are in the grand scheme of things.
Wished could have stayed on there little longer, heard the Klingons and the Federation had a wicked battle right next to the moon after we left.
Follow-up by Cool Bob
Damn this thread brings back a lot of memories, like when I would get off of watch in the engine room and go con some seaman to let me stand his watch on the bridge (in fair weather of course).
Man I loved it up there looking at the stars and always looking for a contact and disagreeing about the AOB. There was something about seeing another ship at sea that really got to me. It is like knowing you are not alone in the vast ocean. But love to look at the stars.