Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving in the Gulf

Thanksgiving is the best of holidays. Less commercialized and more principled than the rest. There is no pressure besides eating what you've cooked and, save for orphans and sailors, spending the day with family.

The deck department has it good today. I told the Boatswain to have the guys write in four hours of overtime. They're all good workers and turn to nearly everyday so only standing their eight hours of watch and getting paid for twelve is the next best thing to a weekend. The engine department though doesn't have it so good on this November 25th.

Diesel engines are difficult to work on when a ship is underway. Time in port for engineers, which has been in short order this trip, is packed with preventive maintenance and repairs. We're sitting on the hook (At anchor) for two days awaiting cargo so what is an easy anchor watch for the mates and A.B.s is a hectic couple of work days for the engineers.

Swinging around the anchor five miles off Kuwait isn't the ideal way to spend Thanksgiving but the Stewards Department took the edge off the homesickness this afternoon with a holiday feast. The Stewards Assistant set the tables with white linen and candles. The appetizer spread consisted of crab dip, shrimp cocktails, deviled eggs and bacon wrapped scallops. Hams, seafood casserole, and three stuffed turkeys were baked. Candied yams, twice baked potatoes, wild rice and cornbread stuffing filled the edge of my plate. For desert a tiramisu and napoleons were made fresh plus cheese and chocolate cakes. As I made my way past the steward after supper rubbing my stomach he jabbed me with "I see you had the Stow Plan all worked out for that one mate."

Afterwards crew could be seen stumbling down the passageways to their rooms in hopes that sleep would alleviate swollen abdomens and light headedness. It was bar none the finest meal I have had at sea and all hands were extremely grateful for the massive efforts of our smallest department. The only things missing were my grandmother's creamed onions and rum in the eggnog.

Even in the Arabian Gulf, a place I have long held as having no redeeming aspects, there is much to be thankful for. The health of my friends and family, employment in a profession I enjoy day after day and support from home when I'm away. Having now spent three of the last six years sailing to this part of the world I am also very thankful that there are no sand storms where I live, only snow storms, and that the hills are covered in trees and the valleys fertile. It's a long way from home but once that cargo is loaded and lashed in the holds the second mate can plug in the waypoints for our return voyage and we'll be back on the coast before New Years.

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