Friday, November 20, 2009

ENS Steph Wood 20 Nov

“The capital of Guatemala is Guatemala”-- the only nugget of information I retained from the grade school South American countries and capitals song. Guatemala was quite an experience. We had two options when we pulled in: go to an all inclusive resort or get on a bus to Antigua. From what I understand, we arrived in the great country of Guatemala the same week of the year as the rest of the world’s vacationers, either that or Soleil Pacifica was having a killer deal because the entire resort was booked solid. Awesome.
I figured that Antigua would be something like a city in the states, just closer to the equator. My speculations were entirely incorrect. I was struck by how cinematic it was. Street vendors peddled ponchos and jade to wandering tourists, while women dressed in homespun clothing walked the streets balancing large baskets of fruit or fabric on their heads. The roads were narrow cobblestone and the whole place smelled faintly of cigarettes and rain. I felt out of season in my shorts, t-shirt, and flip flops. What I needed was a small machete, Indiana Jones hat, cargo shorts, mid-shin white socks, and some variation of hiking boots. Despite the undiscovered and old world feel 720 did manage to locate one concession to modern day demands—Reilly’s Irish bar. If my estimates are correct, nearly 97% of the crew made it this place in the course of a two day port call. It was fabulous and ridiculous, to be certain. We only had two days to catch up on sleep and relax, but I can safely say spirits and morale have lifted significantly. After all, we are in the home stretch--32% to go.
Thanksgiving is coming up and from what I gather there will be a highly competitive, artists only, hand-turkey competition in addition to the traditional holiday feast. Crayons to the ready!

Friday, November 13, 2009

SN Jade Cude 13 November 09

After leaving Panama on the 25th of October, we went right into holiday routine. The crew was able to get some rest before starting up operations again. Most of the crew could be found in their racks sleeping since the trip to Panama was exciting enough to wear them out. SHERMAN has only been underway for a little while now and the watches and boat lowering evolutions (for us Seamen) continue to tire out the best of us. Seamen and the Boatswain Mates stand watch on the bridge of the cutter with the Officer of the Deck (OOD) and the Conning Officer. The Seamen rotate between standing lookout (looking for vessels), helm (steering the boat), and messenger (making pipes and routing chits).
On Halloween, after knock off ship’s work, pizza was served on the mess deck to get the night kicked off right. After dinner, we went trick-or-treating in the officer’s staterooms, followed by a costume contest. The best costume that got elected by the crew was a trio of old memories. OS2 Marenco, ET3 Sherman, and ET3 McCullough who dressed up as (in order) Mario, Luigi and Princess Toadstool won the contest by far. Everybody that participated had fun and we all got candy and ice cream!
About a week later, an e-mail went out to all hands that on Sunday, November 8th, morale boat rides would commence on the starboard boat deck. For about 3 hours, anybody who wanted to ride on the small boats, which we use on boardings, could come and enjoy the festivities. Wave after wave of shipmates went out over the horizon and came back with plenty of smiles to go around. Going 15 knots and flying over swells in the open ocean can make anyone happy. Morale definitely rose and gave everyone that little extra push to make the following weeks more enjoyable.
SHERMAN pulled into Costa Rica today, November 10th, to receive fuel and supplies only to pull back out around 2000 the same night. Loading up on everything we need to sail again, SHERMAN is back to patrolling the calm seas off Central America, saving lives and keeping the Pacific drug-free.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

5 November 2009

Amazing how fast these patrols go by. The last few weeks have been filled with the usual underway fun. There has been a certain computer guy that has brought back the "fist pump" from way back in the day as the new method for displaying absolute awesomeness. Nevertheless it has been fun to watch. SHERMAN has been patrolling diligently throughout the last couple weeks. Work hours have been long and job lists have been cleared.

Recently we had a port call in Panama. I had never been to Panama before this time however, I must say I enjoyed it thoroughly. There is nothing easier to deal with than a city with gigantic malls and lots of shopping. Even better than that, they use American currency. I managed to get some great food from Panama and the hotels there were definitely top notch. The second afternoon about 30 members of SHERMAN took a time out and offered assistance at Aldeas Infantiles SOS, an orphanage located outside of Panama City. We helped around the orphanage with painting and outdoor maintenance of this peaceful haven. After the work was completed we were treated with lunch provided by the mother and children of each house. Each home unfortunately houses about nine children. I watched them as they waited for me to finish my lunch in anticipation of the ride on the back they were all waiting for. It was a real pleasure to be able to bring happiness to those children even if just for one afternoon.

On the third and final day I found myself ultimate relaxation with a fellow first-class BM of all things. We went to a golf course called The Summit. We started off the beautiful morning with breakfast at the clubhouse followed by a half hour at the driving range to shake off some of the rust from not playing for a year and a half. All I have to say, is I do not think I hit the rust off. Both of us having not played in some time suffered the same fate. We found ourselves chasing balls and coming nowhere near either of our handicaps. Nevertheless, there was sunburn involved on my account. The pool followed on the seventh floor of the Veneto hotel and mixed in with the relatively cloudy day and nice party music in the background was the perfect ending to a relaxing port call.

Now in closing I want to mention a couple of items that you can take for what they are worth but I think I have learned valuable lessons from.

Number One: If you are not really capable of growing a mustache you probably should not try to compete with the guys that are capable of growing them. I myself have not partaken in this underway tradition, but I have seen many good men suffer because the attempt was made. I also am starting to think if you want to command a cutter in the Coast Guard, the ability to grow a moustache is a must. This of course is just an observation.

Number Two: Never think as a TAD guy onboard a vessel that you are going to take out the CO and BMC when it comes to P.O.D Trivia time. I was approached at a time that I will not say and was told that I could not be allowed to be in first place. My response time to trivia has never been the same.

Well I think this should do it for a little while. I wish everyone ashore the best, especially my family and everyone's family onboard SHERMAN.