Night-time Marine Maneuvers

For me, there has always been something ineffably romantic about ships at night. There was thunder, lightning, and rain earlier. Now it’s 10:30, and the ship that Don charters to bring in his fuel just docked. The fuel is moved in tanktainers, but they’re not taken off of the ship. Instead, they attach the fuel hose and pump it into the big tanks ashore.

After the storm the night is still and calm, which is a good thing since they need to dock right next to the ICE. Oh, my friends, the few stars showing through, the gentle warm tropical breeze, the lights of the ship, men moving to tie her up, shouted orders—”Trowim lain kam lo hia”, “Throw’m line come long here”.

I call up to the bridge “Iu klos long behain”, “You close long behind” as the ship starts to drift back into the ICE.

The skipper looks aft, runs inside, kicks the big propeller into gear, the engine grumbles. A swirl of muddy water spins out from under her stern and pushes the ICE back against her lines while the boat comes to a stop. Slowly, the men tie her up.

Pictures can’t begin to do a nighttime scene like this justice, but here are a few anyway …


tanktainer01.jpgThe ICE looks big until it’s up against a real ship. The stern of this one is higher than the pilothouse of the ICE …tanktainer03.jpg

The mumble of the big ship’s engine will lull me to sleep tonight, they’ll be pumping until the morning and they’ll leave the engine running. It powers the whole ship so it won’t be turned off for such a short stay.

Top ‘o’ the evening to all, and for my gorgeous ex-fiancee who worries about me, yes, dearest lady, I did put on insect repellent before going outside. I’ve had malaria four times and truly don’t want to get it again …




One thought on “Night-time Marine Maneuvers

  1. Willis, I love the way you write. It’s like we’re sitting around a hot, crackling, popping campfire, and your words are the only other sounds as you weave these tales, causing the younger ones to drift off to sleep. Thank you for sharing them.


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