COAST GUARD CUTTER (CGC) HALFMOON
Powerful winds howling through the constantly shifting rigging playing a discordant, lunatic’s cacophony, the prow rose, ascending upward and upward, until, momentarily, all the man on watch was able to see was a world of roiling black clouds as the Halfmoon was seemingly pushed backwards on the water’s precipitous turbulence. Three-hundred-eleven feet aft, the twin propellers rose out of the water to spin uselessly as the ship hesitated on the crest of the wave for an eternal heartbeat, then, as the torrent’s momentum pushed the Halfmoon backward, the propellers bit once again and, tottering, the ship slid off the crest of the giant wave into its dark-green, near vertical trough, where it picked up rollercoaster speed and, with a shuddering crash, the prow struck, submerged, and flung a sheet of water backwards, dousing the shivering lookout on the flying bridge, sending driblets of cold water down the back of his foul-weather gear.
Now the man on watch saw only boiling green water.
Rising… Rising, again… Plummeting again… Again.
Below deck: Rotating with the motion of the ship, the crew instinctively rotated their bodies from hip to hip as their legs alternatively became longer and shorter.
Miscalculating his footing, “God, damn!” a sailor painfully barked his shin on the rise of the waterproof hatch.
Another sailor: “Fuckin’ helm! Holding his penis with one hand and the urinal with the other as his stream went from vertical to horizontal. “Can’t the fucker keep this fuckin’ ship steady long enough so’s a guy can take a fuckin’ piss?”
In the galley: Hissing, spitting, water and cooking oil sloped out of secured pots and pans onto gas flames and hot griddles.
Eating: Chow trays slid from side to side on the long tables as the men held onto their trays with one hand and the bench they sat on with the other while waiting for a level moment when they were able to release either the tray or bench long enough to shove some food into their mouths before dropping their fork or spoon to grab hold of the tray or bench again.
At night: Laying awake, listening as a forgotten screwdriver maddeningly rolled from one side, clanking into the bulkhead… then, rattling as it rolled, to the other side.
Sleeping: Shifting from side to side, subconsciously hanging onto the bunk frame… occasionally falling off.
The seas abated.
The winds subsided.
The outside air cold, invigorating.
Clouds floated from here to infinity.
Forward, to the east, beautiful to behold in the intense, cerulean blue heavens, virginally white clouds formed thin, stuttering banks broken by ragged strips of deep blue sky. To the north and west the clouds were thick and puffy with stark, solid appearing, three dimensions, leaving the definition of their phantom shapes to the eye, and imagination of whomever was looking.