The boat captain of M-2 was holding a meeting
below prior to starting the day patrol. As the
engineman on board, I took this time to go through
my daily check engine room routine. The procedure
was typical. I first checked the port side engine;
checking the oil and freshwater cooling levels,
checking the sea strainer, draining accumulated
condensate from the fuel tank and making a general
check for leaks and loose nuts and bolts. Next I
would repeat the procedure on the starboard side.
On this particular morning the starboard engine
was idling and in forward gear. We did this when
the tide was moving to prevent dragging our anchor
out of position. After checking the fluid levels I
went to the rear of the starboard transmission.
With my left foot I stepped over the turning shaft
and coupling as I had done a hundred times before.
With my foot placed near the petcock on the bottom
of the fuel tank, I began to bend down to open it.
At this moment I felt a strange tugging sensation
to my left leg. Within an instance I realized the
bolt heads on the coupling had snagged my left
pants cuff and was proceeding to pull my pants and
leg toward the shaft. Shoving my left foot against
the edge of the decking, I locked my knee and
braced my hands on the exhaust pipe and fuel tank.
In this position I was unable to reach the
shifting rod to put the transmission in neutral so
I stiffened my whole body against the unrelenting
shaft. Since my tour in Nam, I had gotten out of
the habit of wearing a belt and this helped save
my legs. The shaft pulled and ripped the material
from my left leg, all the way to the waist. Before
I could sigh in relief the tugging started on my
right leg. The waist of the pants didn't rip in
two so the shaft kept on chewing at the right
pants leg. The other thing that saved my legs that
day was the pants had been washed in salt water
and sun dried enough times to deteriorate the
fabric. If the fabric had been in new condition
the pants wouldn't have ripped apart as they did
and my legs would have wrapped around the shaft.
After my catastrophic adventure was done, I became
mad at myself for being so careless; commencing a
tirade of profanity. As I stomped out of the
engine room into the berthing space, all eyes of
my shipmates were focused on me. Their perplexed
looks and then giggles and snickers made me
realize I was standing there with nothing on but
my jungle boots. I had also gotten into the habit
of not wearing a shirt and boxers.
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M-2 and his service with SEA FLOAT
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