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Seas and Swells


Hog

The seas have been like this for days.

Plunge

The storm is curving around, chasing us in a giant arc.

Roll

The best place to be is amidships, in the crew's mess.

Sag

The mess deck is too crowded, so a second poker game is started in the main berthing compartment.

Climb

The high-stakes game in the after torpedo room
folded up due to the discomfort.

Right

The swells seem to be getting larger, ever so slightly.

Hog

Our length, and our speed, match the period
of the swells with unfortunate precision.

Plunge

The rolls are always to the same side,
sometimes up to 35 degrees.

Roll

The dishes won't stay on the table,
even with the raised trim around the table edge.

Sag

When we climb a swell, the sonar dome under our bow sometimes comes out of the water. So we turned off the sonar.

Climb

The sonarmen just do paperwork. And they perform
some preventive maintenance on the sonar gear.

Right

The loose parts and tools tend to fall down behind things, making it worse instead of better.

Hog

Each plunge into a trough risks raising our propellers
into the air, over-revving them.

Plunge

The engine governors become unreliable as the motors overspeed, backfeeding voltage to the generators.

Roll

So we connect the propulsion motors to the battery,
which can cope with the power surges.

Sag

And we have two engine-generators running,
to keep the battery charged up.

Climb

Green water is washing over the deck, and over the bridge,
so we keep the upper hatch shut.

Right

The main air induction valve, three feet across, is only eight
feet above the water line, so we also have to keep it shut.

Hog

So we use the snorkel induction valve, which
allows only enough air for two engines.

Plunge

We keep the snorkel mast lowered, with its
induction valve only 22 feet above the water line.

Roll

Waves are washing over the top of the
snorkel mast at that modest height.

Sag

We turned off the mechanism that shuts the twenty-inch valve, and we just let the water run down the mast.

Climb

The sea water follows the air piping down to the
engine room bilges, which we pump frequently.

Right

We are now all experts at getting a boat stowed for sea.

Hog

When the bow plunges into a trough, the torpedoman
forward weighs less than an astronaut on the moon.

Plunge

And when the climb starts up the next swell, he weighs as much as the fat lady at the sleazy bar along the waterfront.

Roll

The ones of us who tend to seasickness have
tied themselves to their racks long ago.

Sag

The rest of us tend to congregate in the
crew's mess, for company.

Climb

Everything is difficult to accomplish when it is this rough.

Right

A ship sags when its bow and its stern are supported by separate swells, and the trough provides little lift amidships.

Hog

It hogs when the bow and the stern are over troughs,
and a swell is lifting the middle.

Plunge

Fully loaded for sea, our stability is rather low.

Roll

In other words, we tend to wallow in the swells,
rather than to snap back upright.

Sag

That is why we keep the snorkel mast lowered
instead of raising it higher out of the water.

Climb

We keep all of our masts low,
to preserve what little stability we have.

Right

As we roll, we tend to spill air out of the openings at the bottom of the ballast tanks, letting sea water come in.

Hog

So every half hour we run a low-pressure blower, sending air into the tanks to force the water out, restoring a little stability.

Plunge

Walking amidships requires sea legs. Walking in the forward and after rooms requires athletic ability as well.

Roll

Shaving is too risky. Heck, soapy hands are risky enough.

Sag

In fact, the simplest bathroom functions require
planning, the proper supports, and coordination.

Climb

The most remarkable thing is the way that Shivers,
our morning cook, can scramble the eggs and
fry the bacon as the galley heaves around.

Right

And pity the poor, seasick mess cook
who has to wash the dishes.

Hog

Every four hours, the radioteletype tells us
where the storm has moved.

Plunge

We already know, of course, from
watching the change in the wind direction.

Roll

Two hundred feet below us there is calmer water.
And we can easily get down there.

Sag

But we do not carry any extra air to breathe,
so we can not wait out the storm.

Climb

And attempting to surface in this weather would be suicide.

Right

So we ride it out on the surface.
As sailors have done for millennia.

Hog

Those thousands of amperes surging into and out of the battery cause it to produce hydrogen gas, unexpectedly.

Plunge

But since we monitor the hydrogen gages even when we're seasick, we notice it and take precautions.

Roll

Back in the mess deck, the wagering is listless. But the poker continues, either on principle or from desperation.

Sag

Sleep is the best recreation now,
but that only works for a couple of days.

Climb

Reading is popular, also. Westerns. Solid ground. Dry.

Right

I'm going to tie myself into bed now.

Hog

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