Thursday, April 18, 2013

"To Our Ships at Sea" *

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
The first mate has fallen over board.
He’s half a mile behind!

Craig’s dad, Ted, sang this as I explained our man-overboard procedures to our parents for their day on Alberta Crewed a few weeks ago.  It was a joke from his WWII navy days; something about a stuttering crew member who couldn’t get the words out in his excitement so was asked by the captain to sing the problem.  Ted has a quiet wit that sends us into hysterics at the most inane events.

Ted was a signalman from 1943 to 1946 on Examination Vessels out of Halifax and spent weeks at a time out in the wild, north Atlantic Ocean.  He used semi four flags and operated the signal lights using Morse code to communicate with vessels wanting to enter the harbour.  His vessel also patrolled for German submarines.  (We recently learned that several German submarines were captured here in Florida at that time).  In spite of sitting atop the ship during rocky seas, Ted’s only sea sickness experience was his first day after the shore cook sent him out on a full stomach.  

Ted’s time on Alberta Crewed triggered many navy memories for him.  He remembered that a cup of coffee was a mug-up, and the daily rum ration was called up spirits.  “You drank it or lost it.  No saving it up.”  He described the ritual of folding his dickey (scarf) seven times to represent the seven seas.  Signalman-ing was hard and dangerous work but I sensed that Ted really liked being at sea.  He spent his day on Alberta Crewed at the helm, fascinated with every dial, switch, line, and sail.  I’ve always said that Ted is the one you want with you at museums.  He ponders and reads every display and has a curiosity about the world like no one else I know.  He is also the mate I’d want beside me in stormy seas. 

Kennedy Space Center

Ted Clements, the original designer of our boat, has been writing to me about his father’s experiences in WWII.  Ted Clements knows every bolt, latch, curve, and wire on our boat, as well as how to solve absolutely anything we throw at him.  He is incredibly generous with his genius and writes a fascinating blog at  Anyone buying a boat, dreaming of buying, or just along for the ride will find it fascinating.  He writes in detail about why particular design decisions are made and how to best utilize all of the features of our boat, and for that matter, any boat.  It was through one of his postings that we learned about our formerly-known-as-escape-hatches   Notice the beautiful boat in the photo J.

These are the hatches in each aft cabin that open up to the water below the boat which we thought were for escape in emergencies, particularly a capsize (which will never happen!).  It is more likely, however, that the person(s) outside will need to get back in to wait for rescue.  We now ensure the lock bars are off and the get-back-in hatch can open easily before we leave. 

As to Ted Clements' WWII connection, we have been corresponding about the chance of his father, who also served in the navy on Canada’s east coast, knowing our Ted.  They haven’t made the connection yet but the thread continues as we hear stories from the two of them that tell of their daily lives as young men with adventuresome spirits and fierce commitments to their country.   It is safe to say that they are both responsible for the life we now lead, on land and at sea, and we are most grateful.

And on Alberta Crewed, our Ted continued to captivate us with his poetics:

A marvelous bird is the Pelican.
His bill holds more than his belly can!

*The Blog title is a Traditional Naval Toast, taken from

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