Monday, August 9, 2010

My Life At Sea

The Marcona Transporter

Milos and Joyce doing the "Bump"

My friend, Joyce, was married to a merchant marine. Milos was out to sea for 9 months, so Joyce came to live with my roommate Renee and me for that time. Joyce received a telegram from Milos that he was going to be docking in San Pedro, California on a Saturday morning and he invited the three of us on the Italian oil tanker, Marcona Transporter, for the weekend. He had received special permission from the captain to have us on the ship. We left work after 5:00 p.m. on Friday night and drove all night.

It was very hot when we left Sacramento, so the three of us were in shorts and crop tops. It was very late when we arrived at Denny's in San Pedro, and it never occurred to three naive females that walking into Denny's in the middle of the night dressed in shorts and crop tops was not a good idea. I'm still wondering how we got out of there alive.

We got to the pier about 2:00 in the morning, as I recall. We didn't want to get a hotel room for just a couple of hours because his ship was coming in at 8:00 a.m. So we "slept" in the car on the pier--rather Renee slept and I kept Joyce from going out of her tree with excitement.

We were treated like princesses on the ship--and our wishes were their command. We ate dinner at the captain's table. We received a personal tour of the ship, including the engine room. We watched a minor oil spill on the deck and an expert crew quickly take care of the problem without any oil getting to the water. We sailed from San Pedro to Redondo Beach and had lunch in an expensive Italian restaurant with a couple of handsome sailors. Then we returned to the ship for more fun while the oil was taken from the ship.

A mild oil spill being contained with sawdust

At some point a Filipino crew member found us and told us we had to leave the ship because the captain said if we waited any longer, it would be too dangerous. Now, bear in mind that I walked up a plank onto this ship, and I assumed I was going to get off the same way. I was quite astounded to find out that I was getting off quite a different way! It never occurred to me that as the oil was taken from the ship, the ship would sit higher on the water. I mean, really, would you have thought about that?!

The Filipino sailor took his belt off (we're not talking safety harness here--we are talking about the belt that held his pants up), tied a rope to the belt, put the belt on me, and then I was lowered from the oil tanker onto a tugboat way far below. Scared the living daylights out of me! I shook for HOURS afterward. I refused at first until it became clear that the captain had ORDERED us off the ship, and we were leaving one way or the other! It was THE most terrifying experience of my life!

I was such a basket case afterwards that I got my own hotel room and ordered room service for the first (and only) time in my life, even though it was way out of line with my budget. I think if I had been anywhere near Milos that night, I would have boxed his ears for getting us into that situation. It took me all night to calm down prior to the trip back to Sacramento!

The moral of the story is: Ask a LOT of questions before trusting a sailor!

Proof I was once "somewhat" skinny.

Milos working in the engine room.

1 comment:

  1. Gabrielle ValentineAugust 20, 2010 at 10:34 PM

    Oh, my! What an adventure! I would have been terrified, too!