Tales from the Boatswain’s Locker


I got this story from Brian, a Boatswain’s Mate and previous contributor who has a knack for spinning a good yarn.

A few years ago, Brian’s ship visited Naples for a port call, and the Sailors were given “Cinderella Liberty” (they had to be back aboard before midnight). During the evening, he and his buddies were enjoying the time off a little too much. Here’s where we pick up his story.

“A good time was had by all, but we all knew we had the Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads. Well, somehow I got separated from my buds somewhere along the way. As I made my way back to the ship in the wee hours of the morning and the fun was wearing off (funny how that happens), I knew I was in deep kem-shi.

“As I made my way down the pier, I noticed there wasn’t anyone on the quarterdeck of the ship. Now, even in my current state of disrepair, I knew that wasn’t right. However, as I got closer, I could see that the OOD. POOW, and Messenger were all on the fantail with their heads hanging over the stern lifeline with fishing poles!!! One of them had hooked a monstrous eel and they were all looking at it. Now, I’m sure you’re all thinking, ‘Oh you gotta be kidding.’ But I’m not. The world was not as dangerous then as it is today, and you didn’t have to keep your guards up for scumbag tangos like you do now-a-days. Well, as you all know, when you go ashore in a foreign port, you must sign the log with time departed and time returned. So since their attention was momentarily diverted, I took the opportunity to slip up the brow and duck inside the door furthest aft, right next to the quarterdeck. I didn’t sign the log, (but) I didn’t think I could do it unnoticed. It was an incredible stroke of luck to get back onboard without being seen. However, being the brilliant Boatswain Mate I thought I was, I already had begun to formulate a plan. So I crawled into my rack for a couple hours of sleep.

“I had barely closed my eyes when revile went. I jumped out of my rack, and feeling like a hundred bucks, headed to the mess deck for some greasy eggs. (Just what I needed) Well, it wasn’t long before my Chief was jumping all over me. Blankety blank blank blank, what the hell happened to you last night? They tell me you weren’t back on board by pumpkin time!!! Now, before I had headed up to the mess deck, I had gotten with the 2nd class BM I worked with, and told him what I had done, and the plan I had. I already knew he had gone back to the ship early the night before. After I told him what the watch was doing when I came back, he told me when he had come back aboard, the watch was checking out a beautiful Italian girl on the pier and they didn’t see him come back aboard either. But he signed the logbook and was covered. I said, ‘That’s perfect Joe! You can claim you found me out in town drunk and brought me back aboard with you! Since they didn’t see either one of us, they can’t prove otherwise! We’ll just say it was all you could do to get me to my rack, and you forgot to log me in when you did.’ After I assured him no one had seen me come back aboard, he agreed.”

Brian was eventually taken to a Chief’s review board where he told his story so convincingly that any potential charges were dropped.

“I could never have gotten away with it if Joe hadn’t had my back. But I worked hard and I played hard and that mentality served me well, my entire career. So Joe, if you’re out there, and you read this, this Bud’s for you!”

Thanks, Brian!


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