Monday, April 21, 2008

Seaman or glorified deck hand?

I picked up a book in a used book store some time ago, "Basic Seamanship and Navigation" by Edward A. Gibson,published in 1951. Mr Gibson served in both the merchant marines and in the Navy and is, according to the title page, Able Seaman, First Class Boatswains mate.

In the preface Mr. Gibson writes:
"It has become the fashion lately to consider a ship's deck force as not much better then a group of glorified ferryboat deck hands who need do nothing on a modern ship but lean over the side all day gazing at the view. The real seaman are supposed to have disappeared with the wind ships. Writers of sea stories to the contrary, however there is still a good deal a seaman must know before he rates the title."

Gibson then claims:
"If a man learns all the seamanship given here and he implements his knowledge by years of practical experience at sea he may some day have the pleasure of hearing an old-time boatswain grudgingly refer to him as a seaman. The writer is acquainted with an admiral who happens to be also a seaman. He know more then one boatswain's mate who can lay no valid claim whatsoever on the title"

"Now, the fact of the matter is, a seaman is a seaman whether he is on a battleship, a Luckenback ship, a yacht, or a fishing schooner."

Now, I don't think he should be knocking ferryboat deckhands that way. I once witnessed a ferryboat deck hand, on a St Lawrence River ferry, lasso a bollard with a mooring line as the ferry neared the pier. At the time - I was about eight, I though it was the most awesome thing I had seen a man do - ever.

No comments: