Sunday, November 16, 2014

NOW HEAR THIS: Basic Seamanship Rant

Today's lesson/public service message from HAWSEPIPER.


  When working as a maritime professional, speak like a goddam professional. Use the right goddamn nomenclature, or be prepared to be thought of as a damn shoemaker.

 It's OK to slur certain words: 'Forr'ard' for Forward,' 'Foc's'le' for Forecastle. You can be crude and vulgar and still be professional, if you're creative enough. "Foreskin" for Forepeak is a good example.

 It's probably OK to not learn how to box the compass. But you should. By all means, however, know how to properly do your job as a lookout and learn how to report relative bearings.  A ship is not "At 4 O'clock" unless the time is, actually, 0400. It's "1 point abaft the starboard beam." The extra words and jargon are used for a reason. Your watch officer can get the gist of what you're saying even if the wind mutes half your words, and it's a precise statement with no possibility of being misunderstood.


 It's not a TWIX card, a TWIC's card or anything with an 's' sound at the end. That's a goddamned candy bar's name. It's a TWIC card, and when you mispronounce it or write it wrong, you sound and look like an ignorant ass. Stop it. You don't sit on the toilet to "take a shit's" so why do you insist that you have a TWIC's?

 Oh, also, learn to use the proper hand signals for overhead work or directing a fucking crane, please. When you do weird shit like slap the top of your head and point in a Hitler salute, you're telling the guy on the crane to steal third base, not come down on the boom. It's pretty fucking simple. Thumbs for boom, fingers for the runners, palms for swing, for your basic crane. You look like an epileptic in front of a strobe light when you do it wrong. Have some goddam dignity, for Christ's sake.

    Learn to tie the knots that are required to be rated as an Able Seaman, even if you're not. Imagine being a professional mariner, and not knowing how to tie a bowline, becket bend, carrick bend or surgeon's knot. If you're a mariner and can't do these, you're no fucking mariner, so quit pretending. You're a monkey, and not even a trained one.

It's OK not to know all the jargon. You'll pick it up as you go. You should know the names of all the parts of your ship, of course, and how to report the things you see and do. There will be shameful moments. For example, I can't make a Bosun's chair. For too long, my ass was too fat to sit comfortably in one, so I never learned, and didn't even use the prefab ones. Own your weaknesses and try to overcome them, right? I haven't gotten around to that one yet, so feel free to slut-shame me for it. I know I got it coming.

 And, for Christ's Own sake, every piece of metal that is not a bulkhead, deck or hull plate is not a 'fish plate." A fish plate is a fish plate, and is a railroad term. It's been co-opted to be used to describe the steel plate (sometimes also called a 'flounder plate' I hear) at the apex of a towing bridle... and that's about it.Know the proper terms.  Knowing how to communicate is important to knowing how to do your goddamn job.

*drops mike*



8 comments:

Jill said...

I agree, proper terminology is important. We're losing our skills out there for sure.
One thing, I think it's just TWIC,by itself (transportation workers identity card), so not TWIC card, that would be saying card twice.

Paul, Dammit! said...

Hah! Good point.

JayNola said...

The thing that amazes me about the TWIC is when you flash it at a TSA agent and they don't know what it is. ..

Anonymous said...

Me Thinks Seamanship 101 is a Touch Lacking at the big "V"...

Peter said...

I hear you. I served at sea in my late teens and early twenties, courtesy of the Gray Funnel Line in another country, and learned my seamanship there. It still grates me to hear seamen (merchant or military) use non-nautical language or display complete ignorance of basic tasks and duties. How owners can entrust their expensive ships to Third World seamen who sometimes haven't a clue, I just don't know . . .

How do US seamen compare to those from other countries? Have you made any comparisons? It might make a useful blog article.

Paul, Dammit! said...

Dear Anonymous- no, it's more across all tugboaters. I've never met a more lubberly bunch, when compared to commercial fishermen or blue-water mariners. There's a LOT more variation in quality among we of the brown-water set. I'm assuming that it's because they can get away with it, or, and it grates to say this, as I'm a Hawsepiper, because unlimited officers from academies get drilled in book knowledge and need to show it off by speaking properly, and fishermen have a more instinctual aversion to sounding like a fucking shoemaker.

Daniel Heil said...

I'm astounded on a daily basis at the grass-combing, stump-kicking, mud-licking, lousy, flea-bitten land-lubbers that are allowed over the gangplank to call themselves mariners on my boat. Just today I saw a fender - called "bumpers" by everyone except yours truly on this tub - tied off to the cap rail with a, wait for it, with a single overhand knot. Last hitch we lost a fender because the other deckie had "secured" it in such a way and dropped it over the side right into the drink. How long, O Lord?

Daniel Heil said...

And for the sake of nautical pedantry, TWIC stands for Transportation Worker Identification Credential, so, while vaguely redundant to say, "TWIC card", it's not like one is saying, "TWICard card." Selah.