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Old 14th Nov 2011, 22:41
  #29 (permalink)  
I'll mak siccar
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Tir nan Og
Posts: 282
One was an aviator, with wings to prove it. They were right there on my bosom, hard not to see, because I was wearing an RN battledress.

The Lords Commissioners decided it would be good for Davaar to spend some time at sea, so to sea one went. The Lords get what they want. The sea was not very deep, mind you; South coast.

Our trusty vessel was the junior ship in a flotilla (squadron?) of four tasked with pretending to sweep mines out of The Solent. I was the navigator. The captain was not an aviator.He was what some called a "Fish-head", which I never did, not to his face anyway.

He had a preference, which he voiced, for the No 5 Reefer over the battledress. Puddling to and fro in The Solent he asked me for a course to steer, which I gave him, right swiftly.

"Subby!", he said, to me, "How did you work that out so quickly?"

"One in sixty, Sir", I said.

"What's that?", asked he.

"For small angles, Sir", I said, "The sin of the angle equals the angle. One takes one's thumb and ..... " I could see I had lost him, and I was right. He liked his ship navigated by a big brass ruler on rollers on a flat table. That, he told me, enabled them to steer to half a degree.

"Well", I thought but did not say, "You lot could not steer this tub to within half a degree in a month of Sundays!"

He indulged his wit at the expense of aviators and the one-in-sixty rule. He may have mentioned keel-hauling. I did not much care for him nor, I suspect, did he for me. However, he had several rings and I had but the one (if I were wearing the No 5 Reefer; on the battledress none at all). All the same, I paid him great respect, throwing an occasional "Sir" into my repartee.

The payoff that day was to be a trip to France; Rouen.

When we had swept The Solent clean of mines it was time to go, save that the senior ship had lost a dan-buoy. That is a channel marker-buoy. It fell to the junior ship to find said dan-buoy, and only then go off on the jolly to France. When I say it fell to the junior ship, I mean it fell to the navigator in the junior ship.

Every one here will know already that the Solent is odd in that in every day it has four tides, unlike most coastal waters which have but two. Everyone here knows that.

The senior ship claimed to have a positional fix for where they had dropped iff their dan-buoy. Maybe the anchor cable had been too short? Dam' right. Must have drifted in the tides. They were all fish-heads who understood such things.

I laid off a series of the courses the tides would have taken over the eight hours the buoy had been loose, changing every thirty minutes to allow for those four tides. Then I worked out a resultant, off-set the current tide, and gave the Captain a course and time to steer for the dan-buoy. Off we went.

The time to steer elapsed. Should be about here? Needless to say there was no sign whatever of the dan-buoy. The captain was looking far ahead through his binoculars like Nelson at Copenhagen. Not a thing. The officer-of-the watch was doing ditto through his binoculars. The navigator, namely self, was doing much the same.

Not a dan-buoy between us and the horizon. This was the cue for the captain to launch into a tirade against the navigator.

The navigator laid his binoculars down on the chart-table and walked over to the starboard (I can see it now; it was starboard) wing of the bridge. Hark! What do I hear? What can be this strange bumping noise against the side of the ship? Down looked the navigator. Yes! 'Twas even so! We were neatly alongside the senior ship's dan-buoy.

"Oh Sir"!

Last edited by Davaar; 15th Nov 2011 at 14:22.
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