PEACEFUL TIMES - EVEN DURING WAR,
are found at Sea
by Ed Rostine and Ken "Jake" Jaccard
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Shipmates, our friend and former Hancock Shipmate Ed Rostine recently wrote me about things I had forgotten about during our time on ship - about feelings that one should try to remember, during the hurried times of our current lives...
"Jake, the last time you wrote you said that you needed some peace and quiet so you could get some rest. I know the feeling. I am well rested and I get plenty of sleep but I do sometimes miss the solitude that we got at sea. The sound the ship made as it cut through the water, watching the luminescent trail of the ships wake, and the wind in your hair as you sat on the front of the flight deck drinking a cup of coffee watching the sun come up or set. Those were indeed wonderful moments.
When I was in Arizona at Thanksgiving I saw and experienced things in the desert that reminded me of the peacefulness at sea. (When I could find it.) Take care my friend, Ed.
Ed, gees what a nice letter. I had forgotten about such a *little* thing until you struck the cord in this letter again. YES! You are certainly right about the feelings of Peace and Solitude one would find at sea. I too, remember the sound of the rushing water over the hull, as our sleeping compartment was not far from the hull (also remember the creaking that the ship made as she rolled over a heavy swell - the compartment was right over an expansion joint). But unlike a lot of fresh squids at sea, I found the heavy seas more comforting than disconsolating. I slept like a baby in them.
Remember my story about going up on the flight deck during the Typhoon 'Gloria'? "All hands stand clear of all weatherdecks due to high winds and heavy seas..." Ask my bud, Dennis Milliken can attest, Jake was sort of weird .
But what a feeling! I loved going up to the Bridge's observation deck (signal Bridge), at night, during a full moon, and letting the wind blow through my hair (the stuff that has since migrated to my ears). Those were the days. I also went forward on the flight deck and sunned myself, as did you, and when I saw the movie, "Titanic," and how the two kids were up front on the bow, letting the seas pass by below them; it brought back instant memories of the passing seas below me, and also the dolphins and flying fishes, and the wonderful sensations that only those who experienced them, can truly know about. To this young sailor, it was just like the feeling of flying without the aid of an airplane!
I won't forget either how Hanna was tested nearly to her breaking point in those typhoons, as she took heavy rolls - which were more than 45 degrees each way. I can still remember as if it were yesterday, walking the length of the hangar deck during these seas, and having no fear in me which later, I thought was strange.
Did you recall how we goofy sailors would all huddle up in the hangar deck for the ships movie? The old projector must have had a coke bottle bottom for a lens, but it was a MOVIE, and even a current one too. I think I went up there just to feel a part of the experience.
You'd also find little Jake on the fantail. This was BEFORE the dark days of drug deals and other shady things on Hanna. She was taken along with the rest of society into those dark days of protest during Vietnam, where she experienced her first attempt at mutiny and racial riots.
I can still remember hanging back there long moments watching our pet tag-along Albatross. That bird followed Old Hanna and her 3000 man crew across the Pacific, and hung tight with us the 7 months we were deployed. How do I know it was the same bird? I was close enough to see her dimples (probably the only girl I got that close to during the cruise other than the ship).
I enjoyed those silent moments on that rocking city. Most enjoyed was duty nights at sea, when I'd spend my quiet moments in the Captain's Office, writing letters, and poems while listening to the tapes on my new tape recorder I recently bought at the Yokosuka PX. I still have those poems and tapes. But it was the gentle rocking that I loved the most. So soothing. I have scarcely found a moment since the time I left ship that I have been so peaceful and even content.
When I hear the poem, "I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky.." I know darn well the emotion that the 'sailor' who wrote that poem knew about, and needed so bad again.
And yes, only in the Desert, or high up in the mountains have I found some feelings that equal those on Hancock that I experienced on WestPac, '63.
I had a *special* place in the High Sierras, that gave me this solitude, 13,400 ft above sea level, out of Independence. Golden Trout Lake, where I'd hike up with a pole and only a back pack. Those were wonderful youthful times of great sensation. How come, guys, we lose these feelings of vibrancy as we grow older? I can just barely remember how wonderful the senses were as a kid; just about everything! Music, the air, the birds, the trees. I hiked a lot in my youth. I had a favorite place in the San Gabriel Mountains, which I called, "Cry Baby Rock" above La Crescenta. It was my special place, an out cropping of rock that you could sit down on and look down on the valley below.. and truly be at peace. May we try to recapture these moments again, if only in fond recollection!
May we old salts have Fair Winds, always,