Monday, July 7, 2014

At work on a Holiday

I am writing this on July 4, and for good reasons, more than one person is working here today, by choice. It brings back a happy memory from 1949, when I was one of four officers in a Wreck Dispersal vessel. (Our job was to blow up ships that had been sunk in shallow waters, in order to allow for unfettered navigation.) We would always return to harbor for holidays, such as Christmas, Easter, and Whit Monday, traditional holidays in the UK. Two of my fellow officers were married, and the third was "dating", as we would say these days. I was very popular, because we always needed to have one officer on board, and I would volunteer for this, to allow the others to spend the holiday with their loved ones. The task on which we were engaged required many long hours, seven days a week, and so we were allowed sixty days of "leave" (vacation) in a year. I was the Navigating Officer, and rather enjoyed the work. When we were within sight of land, we referred to my work as "pilotage", a task which was greatly assisted by what was then a new invention, allowing us to fix our position within a hundred yards or so, thanks to the intersection of three radio beams from shore-based positions. I greatly enjoyed the quiet days when I was in charge of the ship while the other officers were on leave. I spent most of my time reading, with minimal interruptions.When working on a wreck, HMS Annet could carry out its task in coastal waters without me, so I took my leave when it suited me. However, I did envy my colleagues who had female companionship when they were on leave. My first "relationship" was still over a year in the future.

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