By Dan Mass
|Towards the end of the 1973 Med
cruise Charlie Johnson and I decided to do what we all had talked
about for some time, paint a "H" in front of the OG56 on
the bow. We were tied up to a pier some where, I don't even remember
where. So after a heavy night of testing the local wine, Charlie and
I with our newly found liquid courage lifted the keys to the paint
locker by taking them off the hanging pants of the BM1 while he
One gallon of black paint, brush and a boatswain's chair was all
we needed and off we went to the focsle. Now in case you forget, the
boatswain's chair is a board tied to a heaving-line which is no
bigger than a clothes line. I lowed Charlie down over the side and
secured the line around the bits on deck. Next I sent the paint down
on another line. Charlie kicked off the side of the ship and swoops
the brush down, then out and in again repeatedly painting the
"H" on inward swings. When he is done he throws the paint
in the water and hollers "OK, pull me up!" My response is
" I can't pull your fat ass up, I'll swing you up to the
side." I start swinging and he starts yelling "NO!"
Man I'm really leaning into the swings trying to get him up.
After he is moving rather well the line snaps. Poor old Charlie goes
flying through the air sitting on this boatswain's chair, civilian
clothes, shoes, and wallet. He smacks his knees on the stowed anchor
going by and flies into the drink. He could have drowned because I
hit the deck doubled up in laughter. He got out OK but to this day
he thinks I cut that line.
Fortunately, we were not busted and thrown into the brig for our
midnight paint job. All that happened was that Charlie, a.k.a.
"Crowbar" had to paint over his handy work the next day.
You see, when that rope snapped, I could hardly breathe I was
laughing so hard. I forgot all about Charlie and managed to make it
to the deck compartment doubled up with laughter. So buy this time
some guys were awake when Charlie came walking in soaking wet
screaming "You no good #@&$#!!! You cut that rope!"
Well with all the commotion, next day everyone on board knew what
had happened. We certainly didn't mean any disrespect to the old
girl but she was getting up there in age.
Charlie lives here in Washington, Pa where I live and is married
to my cousin. To this day he thinks I cut that rope. Charlie....come
Spanish Riviera Skinny Dippin'
by Dan Mass
On the summer Med cruise of 1973 we had our R & R in Valencia
Spain. Two weeks on the beautiful beach of the Spanish Riveria was
just what we needed.
Right away, we met a merchant mariner from Trinidad named
Rudolph, who missed his ship and was stuck in Valencia until he
figured out what he was going to do about his situation. Rudolph
hung out with us for the next two weeks. He ate on the ship and once
we let him sleep in shaft alley but a first class snipe found out
and put a stop to it.
Charlie Johnson (remember the HOG story) and I would take cartons
of cigarettes hidden in our guitar cases on the beach and sell them
for a nice profit. With the proceeds, we bought rum and coke. The
first few days it was a shot of rum and the rest coke. A few more
days it was a shot of coke and the rest rum. A few more days and we
quit buying the coke. We slept on the beach every night except when
we had duty.
Towards the end of the two weeks, late at night on the beach, 3
or 4 of us decided to go skinny dipping. Bad decision. There we were
in our birthday suits throwing sand and carrying on like… well
drunkin' sailors. Then a young Spanish couple out on a moonlit
romantic walk hand in hand came upon us in our naked splendor and
quickly went back from where they came. In a matter of minutes, two
very large Spanish policemen arrived. Naturally, our decision making
process was a little clouded so we started to swim out to sea. Well
we sobered up rather quickly and came back in to the beach, got
dressed and proceeded to walk with the policemen to prison we
thought. We had not walked far when our friend Boyd Driggers, a 3rd
class bos'n mate who had been drinking at a café up the beach came
to our rescue. With him was Rudolph who could speak Spanish very
well. He explained to the policemen that Driggers was the Captain of
the ship and that we were going to be punished severely for our
actions. Well after some lengthy conversation between Rudolph and
the police and some cussing and yelling at us by Driggers, the
police consented to letting us go in the custody of the
"captain". Once set free we all went up to the café and
had a few laughs and a few drinks. It was almost nice to get
underway and leave Valencia because we were just having to much fun
for it to be good for us. Anyway, there is always another port to
raise hell in.
This was to be my last of three Med cruises and by this time I
was an old salt. I could tell the new guys "yea I wrung more
saltwater out of my socks than you been across." But as I
remember all the friends I made and all the sights I have seen I can
say today that those were some of the best times of my life.