Foul Weather Courage

By Bruce Yernberg

It was 1968. I was in the Navy, classified as a Shipfitter. I was stationed aboard a Minesweeper left over from the Korean War. There was no need for a welder aboard a wooden boat. Like the “boat” I was on, I was assigned various seamanship tasks not worthy of a fulltime specialty but all carried some responsibility.

Living conditions were oppressive. The heat overseas was unbearable and we often slept on the deck using canvas scraps for covers.  It was always the rainy season. The wind whipped up the sea and provided an extra amount of pelting wetness.

On one assignment we were looking for some floating debris. We found it. Our boat was skippered by a former enlisted man who now was a Warrant Officer. He was a superb seaman. The deck crew was run by a weathered old bosun mate.  He wasn’t a “Chief” but we called him that.  He was a true lifer.  I was 20 years old and operated the deck winch.

The rain, blown by the wind, made it difficult to see while I wore heavy Navy protective glasses.  The rolling of the boat by waves, whipped up by the wind in shallow waters, made it difficult to stand steady at the winch control. It took two hours according to the boat’s log to rig the debris and bring it aboard. The “Chief” bosun choreographed the deck action like a director of a ballet.  One of his arms constantly gave me signals. His booming voice and other arm directed his rigging crew. When done we mustered at the mess area where we had hot coffee and blankets to warm.  As I stood shivering leaning against the bulkhead, sipping coffee …  the deck “Chief” passed by and said; “ya know Yernberg if you want to be a good sailor, now and then ya have to put up with a little #%&! *^ foul weather”.

As Progressives the political storms have turned against us. We face more foul weather than ever before. If we gather our courage and work together, we can weather the storm. May we all learn the lesson of putting up with a little foul weather. We can then find the debris and dispose of it.