Errands for Landlubbers

Cartoon from the "Broadside" collection by Bacon

There was no end of tasks for "boot" sailors on Rainier which were
designed solely to point out, good naturedly or not, his
lack of seagoing skills.
Here are a few samples from the bottomless pit of available examples...

Go get three fathoms of "chow line".
Hey, boot...go below and ask the snipes for an "EM punch"-
a few sore shoulders from that one ! For a REALLY sore shoulder,
ask for a BT punch ! And while you're there pick up a "bucket of steam".
And...While you're at the EM shop, get some more batteries
for the
bsound-powered phones.
Send that FTSA forward to Mount 31 and keep a lookout for "B1-RD's". If the FTSA you sent forward didn't see any "B1-RD's" (BIRDS)tell him to look for "C-GU-Eleven's" (SEA-GULLS), suggests Joe Jacobs.
Check with the Quartermaster for some "relative bearing grease"...and if they're out of that, get "red oil for the port running lamp".
Looking for word for home or want to send that letter ? We reach the "Mail Buoy" tomorrow ! (That one seems pretty "antique" now, what with e-mail available aboard most Navy ships, but I suppose there'll be a computer-related errand developing soon- Any ideas?
"On your way back, pick up three feet of "fallopian tube" from the corpsman in Sick Bay !
...and my personal favorite- a QM specialty...
"All hands wishing to view the International Date Line
lay forward to the focs'le..." There was always quite a crowd...some of them waited half an hour before we took pity on them. Somehow, ET's seemed the most gullible for that one. But they struck back when the poor unsuspecting boot asked for the ET's "special tool".
Another all time favorite is the "Sea Bat" many of you were fooled by that one ?
From the USS Nitro web page, this oldie but goodie-
Claude Eaton, SA, 1937. It was on the Old Nitro that I learned about the "Sawdust Pump" I was a passenger in 1937 enroute to San Diego. A Seaman Second Class just out of boot camp, I was assigned to work in the Sick Bay. A PhM2c sent me to the Carpenter Shack to fetch all the lumber and things to build some shelves. After completing the work he told me to clean up. I was sweeping up the sawdust when he mumbled something about a "boot" who didn't know about a "Sawdust Pump." I just put down the broom and went back to the Carpenter Shack and asked to check out a Sawdust Pump. After checking with all the Carpenter's Mates they decided that it must be on the Bridge. The Bridge people thought it was in the Paint Locker. From there I was sent to the After Steering Room. Now I got wise. A Sawdust Pump was like "Red Oil for the Port Running Lamp."

This one was submitted by a Rainier shipmate who swears he heard this word passed on the 1MC one fine afternoon-
"Now hear This- All hands Forward lay Aft. All hands Aft lay Forward-
All hands Amidships, Stand By to direct Traffic!"

Here are some others collected off the web...

The trainee navigator is told that the compass needs adjusting
and to fetch the compass wrench from the engine room. On one luxury
liner the engineers hoisted an enormous 50 kg, 1 metre long wrench onto the
shoulders of the trainee who had to stagger up a 30 metre oil-covered
The prank backfired when one trainee became so angry at
learning it was a prank that he dumped the "compass wrench" overboard.
A similar tale is told of the tuning pipe for the foghorn, another unwieldy
prank item also kept in an inconvenient place.

Sending someone to the Chiefs Mess to turn off their lights when "darken ship" is piped.

Richard Jeffery of BAE SYSTEMS recalls a fools errand from his days in the
Royal Navy. "The Royal Navy had countless tricks, I can only remember two well
organized ones: "The coxswain for towed target practice" where newly
recruited seamen were asked to volunteer to steer the targets that were
towed off the back of ships; and "The Malta Dog Shoot" (which Richard nearly fell for) - Malta being a regular port of call, when days before a ship was due
in Malta, signs and letters would go up on notice boards claiming an
outbreak of wild dogs on The Island and volunteers were asked to go on a
hunt to shoot them. Volunteers had to sign up on notice board.

A box of radar contacts

A look at the Golden Rivet. (This was supposed to be the last rivet installed when the ship was built, ala the Golden Spike in the was usually in the shaft alley.)

Get a Fathom of Shore Line from the Boatswain's locker'

Sending someone to the Chiefs' mess to turn off their lights when "darken ship" is piped.

And finally, this classic announcement over the 1MC...
"Seaman Stains- report to the Laundry."

Got some others ? Send them in and we'll publish them all !


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